Games like last night's 3-1 utter debacle against the Devils reinforced my reasoning. It has been a battle of mine for years and years to acknowledge that the players will never care about their on-ice fortunes as much as we fans care about them. But last night was a win for the bad guys, as the lackluster display proved that they just don't have that passion. Or any passion, as near as I could tell from the (literally) last row of the Rock.
The Rangers played a poor, predictable brand of puck at the Prudential Center that was easily countered by Lou's Losers. New York's caustic coach is left looking clueless as his yelling, screaming and atrocious sense of accountability has badgered his boys into being the Skating Dead. They are too afraid to take penalties that their offensive edge is gone and the defensive shell they fall back into fails when the best defenseman is missing and the goaltender is off his game. And let's just not mention the power play ...
Last night's gutless garbage begs the question, has this team hit rock bottom? Or are we going to see something worse on Thursday against the Isles? Is that even possible? I shudder to think of the reply ...
*Ok, let's mention the power play. The one time when it should be alright for the players to be creative, for Richie to be fancypasser, Nash to showboat and Gabby to shoot the wheels off. Instead, the utter lack of a quarterback has led to the same predictable passes through the same predictable lanes to the same predictable players standing in the same predictable positions. And, last night, that led to New Jersey having more of an advantage shorthanded then they did anytime else.
*The Devils did their best impression of last year's Rangers - blocking shots, stepping up, being daring - to smack down the ineffective offense of this season's edition of the Blueshirts.
*That being said, he was still better than Hank. The King has not been himself, likely due to a combination of factors - he didn't play during the lockout despite Frolunda bending over backwards to be able to afford him, and he became a dad. Not that I am one, but supposedly that changes ones perspective on what is important in life.
*Wasn't big on JT Miller when he was drafted, wasn't big on him when I saw him in Hartford, wasn't big on him when I watched the WJCs. But he was the best Ranger on the ice against the Devs. Of course, sadly, that isn't saying a helluva lot but kudos to the kid for a strong debut. He made some smart little plays and never stopped skating. Impressive stuff.
*Kreider looked more comfortable as the game went on, and it was nice to see him score. At the outset, it was clear he was afraid to get checked but, by the third period, he was more involved and more willing to take a hit to make a play. At the time his goal seemed to be a fluke, but replays show it was one helluva shot.
*Del Zaster: 37 minutes and 51 seconds of power play this season. No goals, one assist. And I'm not even going to address his defensive delinquencies on this evening.
*Arron Asham is close to being the most despicable, senseless signing by the Rangers all-time, getting close to Donald Brashear territory. Asham, a long time villain in these parts, was supposed to add his aggressive edge to the Rangers and instead plays like a pu... poorly, he plays very poorly.
*Which, of course, leads so some of my usual rhetoric - rhetoric that will be heavily denied in some circles, utterly ignored in some more and agreed with in others: the Rangers chances were ruined by Tortorella chasing Sean Avery out of town, yet again. There were dozens of games last season, last playoffs and on several occasions so far this campaign that the Grate One would have helped.
*PHW Three Stars:
3-Patrik Elias - three assists.
2-David Clarkson - two goals and one assist.
1-Martin Brodeur - 24 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Adam Henrique - Damn do I loathe this guy. Rapidly reaching the upper levels of most-hated Devils alongside Claude Lemieux, Scott Stevens and Mmmmmaaaarrrrtttyyyyy.
2-Elias - Ole Hepatitis himself is still kickin', still one of the more underrated players in the NHL.
1-Clarkson - The "bonehead minor leaguer" was allowed to run roughshod around the Ranger end and he made the most of his moment to shine. What a shame.