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TIME TO TAKE BACK THE MOMENTUM - Big Test for Blueshirts tonight

By Tony Grater

Okay Ranger fans, you’re not going to like the following statement. Really, you’re not. But I need to throw it out there, and just get it out of the way. So, brace yourselves.

The Devils have a better team then the Rangers do.

That really ticks you off, doesn’t it?

Here’s another one you’re not going like: Martin Brodeur is not overrated, and is not a product of the system. In actual reality, he is quite possibly the greatest goaltender of all time, and is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Henrik Lundqvist is a great goalie, and may get that invite to 30 Yonge Street in Toronto one day, but until then, Marty is an all-time great right now, and that’s just a fact of life, deal with it.

Hearing all of that sucks, doesn't it? Well, how do you think it felt to write? And I have one more for you to chew on: The Devils love these two facts, and they use it as motivation to beat the Rangers, every single time out.

Okay fine, I lied. There is one more, and again, I'm just being honest: The Rangers, at least not lately, do not share this same motivation, and THAT needs to change, starting tonight.

Be mad at me, piss and moan all you want, but it's reality. The Rangers have not been better then the Devils for most of the 16 years that have passed since that fabled Eastern Conference Finals, back in 1994. Yes, they’ve beaten the Devils in 2 of the 3 playoffs meetings since then, but by and large, the Blueshirts don’t take this rivalry as seriously as they should a lot of times, and it kills them more often then not.

Need proof? One only needs to look at their track record in the regular season against the Devils since ’94. And I’m not just talking about the 23-game unbeaten streak the Devils held over the Rangers from 1997 to 2001, I’m talking more about individual games. We all know in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, that consistency was a very hard thing to come by for the Blueshirts. However, every once in a while they would string together a few wins in a row, and would have, what seemed to be, a little momentum on their side. But it always seemed that they would play the Devils at just the wrong time. And then, just as everyone was starting to get their hopes up again, the Devils would send the Boys in Blue crashing back down to reality, usually in the form of a 6-3 blitzing that would send a Rangers season, already teetering on the brink, into a downward spiral.

The Rangers, of course, have turned this around the last few years, so there is reason for optimism. Since the lockout, the two teams have been pretty much dead even. The Boys in Blue even hold a slight 22-20 record over their cross river rivals, and that’s including the playoffs.

However, if you look closer at that record, you will see that since the 07-08 season, a season in which they took 7 of 8 meetings, and ousted them in the playoffs 4-1, the Rangers record against the Devils is just 4-4, being out scored, 21-15 in the process. Maybe you can say that things are just leveling off, as you would expect them to. Or maybe you could say the Blueshirts are losing their momentum, once again.

Whatever the case is, the Rangers are once again playing good hockey. Some would even say they’re playing their best hockey of the season. Henrik Lundqvist has continued to be the rock (no pun intended) the Rangers lean on to keep games close, and Marian Gaborik is having the best season by a Ranger since Jaromir Jagr, back in the 2005-06 season. Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Drury are all playing better again, as is Marc Staal. And Michael DelZotto has had a fine rookie season. But quite possibly the most important part of all of this, is that Sean Avery is beginning to have an impact on these games again. Love him or hate him, it is an undeniable fact that when # 16 is on his game, (being a pest, and displaying the occasional hockey skills), the Rangers more often then not, win games. And Avery has not really been the same since the stick waving incident against Brodeur in the playoffs, back in 2008. Maybe even he realized that he stepped over the line with that one. But he has changed his game, and up until recently, had not gained it back on a consistent basis.

The bottom line is, in order for the Rangers to avoid a late 90’s like crash back down to reality, they need to realize that the Devils are foaming at the mouth at the thought of beating them tonight, and beating them badly. It should piss them off in fact, because this is their biggest rival. Not the Islanders, not anymore. The Devils are the Rangers biggest rival, they have been for years. Only purists will tell you otherwise. You can actually compare it to a mini version of Yankees-Red Sox. And you can even look at Avery vs. Marty in a similar aspect as you would Clemens vs. Manny, at least in terms of hatred and venom towards each other. The Devils look at it this way, as do their fans. And the Rangers better look at it that way when they take the ice tonight. They need to hate the Devils, as much as the Devils hate them, and use it as motivation to beat them. Because anything less is unacceptable, and does not do this great rivalry any justice.

Think I’m overreacting and taking this too seriously? Well that’s what the comment section below is for. Give me your feed back, I welcome it.

In the meantime, Motivation 101, classes in taking back momentum that may be slowly slipping away, to be held tonight on 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets. Class time is 7 pm, and attendance IS mandatory!

2 comments:

  1. What a game!!! It was a test for both teams and a game that left you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!!

    Awesome blog as well!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was one of the greatest regular season games I have ever seen. It's a shame there had to be a winner and a loser. As much as I support the shootout, I wanted this to end in a 0-0 tie tonight. Thanks for the feedback by the way, spread the word!

    ReplyDelete