The Jets might not be the “same old Jets” anymore, but the Rangers sure look like the same old Rangers. After last week’s tease (6-2 and 8-2 victories), the Blueshirts are right back to being offensively and defensively challenged. Nothing’s going right for the team right now: They can’t score, their power play is useless, defensive breakdowns are back with a vengeance, they’re physically unimposing, Marian Gaborik is slumping, Henrik Lundqvist is slipping into a funk, their coach is uninspiring, James Dolan is still their owner, Glen Sather is still their president and the team is sucking the life out of Madison Square Garden.
John Tortorella recently took a page out of the Rex Ryan playbook and declared the Rangers the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Ok, of course he didn’t do that. Instead he engaged in a petty squabble with the local media, switched up his lines every 40 seconds or so, defended Wade Redden and then benched Wade Redden (again). His next trick will be to hold the whole team accountable by making them all a healthy scratch for their next game. Lundqvist will be on the ice by himself. The team won’t score and the goalie will be left out to dry, which will look like many of the games they play anyway.
There really are no answers for the Rangers. The team is poorly constructed, with albatross-like contracts strangling their salary cap situation. We’d all like to say, “Well, this is a rebuilding year, so once those bad contracts come off the books next season, things will really look brighter,” but that’s not happening. Or, “They may not score a lot, but at least they’re tough, relentless and work harder than any other team,” but we can’t. Or, “At least you can trust Sather and Dolan to always do the right thing, and they have a forward-thinking plan to build this team the right way.” Only in our dreams.
So as the Rangers slide down the standings, it’s looking more and more like the team won’t get on a roll or turn things around, because at this point they are what they are - sluggish, rudderless, soft and leaderless. After last night’s game, Tortorella said, “The best thing for us is to get out of town; the further the better.” You can run, Rangers, but you can’t hide.
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