Rhythm and Blueshirts: The Good, The Bad and the Blue

It’s OK. I’m ready for all the haters to come at me.

Being away from this column for a week leaves a lot of room to tell the world (or the 10 people who read this column, four of whom are family members,) about the first disappointment of the season.

Islanders 4, Rangers 2.

It was like getting a knife in the gut.

My mom sometimes says that it’s more fun to hate a team than to root for one. Who knows how much truth there is to that, but this sentiment rang true during that game. The Islanders are kind of like the Yankees; you never completely realize how much you hate them until they’re playing your team.

The Islanders, at times, are the bane of my existence. They have left many scars from high school where Islander triumphs meant having to give my economics teacher a soda after losing a bet.

But the worst part of that game wasn’t even the Islanders beating the Rangers. It was the Rangers losing to the Islanders.

So far this season, there have been two instances where the Rangers have fallen to teams that were significantly worse than them. There is absolutely no reason why the Blueshirts should be losing to the Islanders or the Oilers. Even with Staal out and a new season where kinks are getting fine-tuned even in the first few games, there is no excuse to lose to teams like that.

The Rangers just get really complacent when they face teams they know aren’t as good as them.

They can take out the trash on teams like Vancouver. Vancouver who, if they weren’t the biggest choke-artists on the face of the planet, would have easily won that cup last year and are easily in the top three teams this season.        The Rangers almost always pull all the stops out against teams like Vancouver, Detroit and Washington. But then they go against teams like the Maple Leafs, the Islanders and Phoenix and they fall apart.

It’s never Hank. Hank has maybe eight bad nights a season at most. The defense gets really sloppy and the offense just seems incredibly too slow. They look lazy and, for lack of a better word, sad.

In past seasons, Ranger fans have had the luxury of using excuses for a very long time. Jagr was old, Naslund was getting old, Redden was old and sucked and the list goes on. But these excuses aren’t going to fly anymore. From now on, it’s going to come down to who is playing better that night or who is a better team

What’s most aggravating about watching losses to really bad teams is watching them crush the really good teams and seeing how great they can be.

The Rangers have pulled off two incredible wins against the Canucks in the past year; Wins that most people couldn’t even believe happened. And who remembers that game against the Blackhawks in 2009 where Chris Drury scored that PP goal during OT? Who remembers watching that game and thinking how incredible that was?

We all know this isn’t the same team as those teams were, but they definitely have the same potential—more potential actually—to achieve greatness than the past teams ever could. They’re a good team, but sometimes they are too sure of that. They don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone (points to the people who know where that came from).

They could probably use one more goal-scorer, but putting Brad Richards on that offense should be making people play around him better. Richards has the talent to do something like that, but the people he’s playing with need to start taking full advantage of that.

The Rangers always feel a little too at ease when playing teams like the Islanders and (gleefully now) the Devils. Tortorella can be a frightening guy, and he needs to put out a magnum opus of fear and wrath to show the Rangers that no matter who they are up against, they always have to out in a 100 percent effort. No exceptions, no excuses, just hard, down-to-the-wire work.

Hopefully they’ll realize that their old ways are only holding them back.

But as this column concludes for the week, one can’t help but sigh.

Only six games in, the Rangers prove that they will probably, yet again, be the most inconsistent team in the NHL.