Two days after captain Chris Drury called his team out for being immature and unable to play well when games really matter, the New York Rangers showed that they were not willing to change any of that, as they fell to the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at Madison Square Garden tonight.
If there was one game this season that the Rangers needed to win, tonight was the night.
They came out and played a pretty good first period.
After falling behind early, Ryan Callahan scored on the power play, with Jokinen and Gaborik getting the assists. They would leave the first period with a 2-1 lead, as Gaborik also scored—his 37th of the season.
But the team’s play went downhill from there. Lundqvist let in two very soft goals in the second—to go with the bad one he allowed in the first—and the Rangers fell behind 3-2.
Then, less than a minute into the third period, two consecutive Blues penalties had the Rangers on a glorious opportunity to score—a 5-on-3 power play for a minute and 17 seconds. But not only did they fail to score, they failed to even register a shot on goal.
Gaborik and Jokinen played the points, and both were on their opposite wings—which made no sense at all. That was probably the single most embarrassing moment of the season.
In the third period, Wade Redden scored his second of the season—his first in 58 games—to tie the score at three apiece, but it was short-lived. Paul Kariya would net the eventual game winner just over a minute later.
The Rangers showed no urgency whatsoever. It was as if they realized that the season is over. They are still close, but after tonight’s performance, there is not a doubt in my mind that the season is over. There will be no playoff hockey come April—just a tee-off.
If Drury ripping the team in the newspapers could not light a fire under them, then nothing else can. It is obvious that the team has tuned out John Tortorella. Hell, I think that was apparent in December.
Either way, the future is very bleak. The Rangers will have to face Boston on Sunday, but I am not expecting them to show up. Even if they win, it’s still a tough hill to climb— a hill of their own making.
I'm really looking forward to Tortorella’s press conference later. What reporters will he curse off tonight? What players will he pass the blame off on? It’s about time he stands up and says that he himself is partially to blame.
But I guess that won’t happen until hell freezes over. The circus must go on.
On a side note, congratulations to Paul Kariya, who netted his 400th career goal tonight. Had he not been so injury-prone, he would have probably had 500 by now.
Please check out my sports blog, "From New York to San Francisco."