by Jess Rubenstein
Sometimes I wonder what the Rangers spend more time practicing on, is it the cliches they are going to tell the media or the problem areas of the team. No team does a better job at saying what they have to do than the Rangers, sadly no team does a worse job of backing up their talk either.
Just once I would really like to see the Rangers walk their talk instead of showing Ranger fans how good they are at telling us what they need to do in order to win. It seems like every time I see someone with the Rangers telling us fans about how important games are, how they need to do this or that, or even better how they realize what the problems are that they go right out and lose.
Once again on the day of a game the local papers were full of quotes from various Ranger players and coaches about the importance of what they need to do only to go right out and lose to the offensively challenged Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. It really was a game they needed to win given the upcoming schedule the Rangers have staring them in the face as the second half of the season starts on Saturday.
They didn’t and fell 4 points behind the Fishies for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Even worse because the Fishies also won on Thursday night the Rangers are now 4 behind in the first tiebreaker, which is the number of wins. It becomes frustrating to watch the Rangers lose to a team that they really should beat.
It becomes even more frustrating because the talk they just love to do is almost never backed up with action. The saying goes “Walk Your Talk” and the Rangers just never do that. They talk about the importance of this stretch when they play 14 straight games against their Eastern Conference peers. They tell us that as a team they realize that this in many ways is the season given how these games are 4 pointers.
If these games are so very important to them then why the heck don’t they play them with the sense of urgency they talk about? I am at the point where I just don’t want to hear it anymore. I just want the team to shut the heck up and prove themselves by playing as if they mean it.
When they actually go on a roll instead of talking about the need for one then I will start to have some faith in this team. Instead the more they talk the more I realize that they won’t make it happen this season. It gets almost to the point where you know the same folks are going to say the same old tired stuff before they do.
I am sick of seeing Slats use the media to rip his players when he ought to be pointing some of the blame at himself. How many times do we need to see Slats say this player stunk or that play is letting the team down only to see him not doing anything about it?
How many times do we need to read his smart ass remarks like “What should I do shoot them?” when all Ranger fans really want to see is some of his promised accountability? By now most of the team knows that Slats isn’t going to do a single thing to make them work harder. Oh sure he will bench one player like a Hlavac but what about doing it to one of his stars?
He can’t say that nobody does it, as anyone who follows the NHL knows that already coaches like Tippetts, Ruff, and even the coach Slats didn’t want to hire Hitchcock bench star players when their play wasn’t acceptable. It is a crock and Slats isn’t fooling anyone anymore with his false promises and hollow threats of action. I guess he simply doesn’t know the NYC saying “Talk is Cheap”.
I know that many a fan thinks of Holik as a team leader but this fan thinks that Holik is perhaps one of the worst offenders when it comes to the “talk the talk but forget to walk the talk”. Last season Holik called for those who take bad penalties to be benched no matter who the offender was. He then went out and took several bad penalties in the very next game. This year it is the call to hold people accountable on the ice for their play so what does he do of course? Yep that is right it was Holik who made the blind pass that the Canes intercepted to score what turned out to be the winning goal.
It ticks me off when they are even now making excuses BEFORE they go out and give a crappy effort like Sam and JD did prior to the 5-0 buttkicking the Flames did on the Rangers. In the pregame our favorite shills were talking it up about how tired the team was from their long 4 game road trip out west. How hard it was for a team to play with energy after such a trip and I reached for the barf bag.
I am not about to feel sorry for a team that had close to 48 hours off before they played against the Flames. I can’t when I see several NHL teams that are playing road trips that go from 6-9 games. 4 games road trips are the longest road trips that the Rangers have on the schedule this year and they are done with it. Nor will I bring up that unlike most NHL teams the Rangers have their own team plane and don’t fly charter like the common-folk teams do.
The talk is cheap, it is hollow and more than anything else it is old. With each passing game the words that come from the Rangers are becoming a sad joke that has no punchline to it. They need to simply shut up and play the game with the kind of energy they spend in talking.
They need to stop looking for excuses to make or for people like the officials to blame. They are doing more damage to their relationship with the fans than they realize as if they think they boo-birds were bad last year just wait till they see what happens this year.
The Rangers have 41 games to supposedly right the ship but really when one listens to the team and coaches’ talk you get the sense that perhaps they don’t believe it either? It is as if the team has gotten such a fragile psyche that they badly need to pump themselves up. If it is so then boy things might be a lot worse than anyone realizes.
Either way I just wish the Rangers would stop talking about what they need to do and just do it already.