Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thoughts from a Rangers fan

Here is our guest post from a Rangers fan and his thoughts on last night's game and the Pens and Rangers in general. His name is Mike and he runs the site nhlsnipers.com. Be sure to check out his site and thanks go out to Mike for sending his thoughts our way. Enjoy.

Coming into tonight's game I was a bit nervous. The Rangers have been playing pretty awful lately. Every game the Rangers play; they either win a very close one goal game, give up a huge lead only to have their fates decided in overtime or the shootout, or just flat out lose and look ugly in the process.

I looked at this game as an opportunity though as well to pick up some confidence for the Rangers. The Penguins are in the middle of probably the largest slump so far of the Malkin/Crosby era, at least that I can remember. It is one of those slumps that every bounce just seems to go to the opponent no matter what.

Sidney Crosby seems to be the only Penguin with any juice and emotion left in him still. We saw that in the Florida Panthers game with Brett McLean. While the whole happenings of that "fight" are very controversial, there is no question as to what Sidney was aiming for. He was trying to pick his lackadaisical team up off the ice and start playing like the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If I were a member of the Penguins, although that fight was not as pretty as it could have been, I would have seen my captain ready to fight for my team and that would/should give me enough emotion to start playing with some pride again. Let's be serious, Sidney is not Jarome Iginla or Eric Godard. Sidney should not ever be fighting. He is a playmaker, not a fighter. But he was willing to get his hands dirty and show his team that they need to step it up.

For whatever reason, the Penguins still came out into this game sleeping. Sidney was the only player who I saw have anything to offer and the results were what happens for a slumping team: the puck just won't go in the net. The one shift in the first period, Sidney had three very good chances to score and all resulted in a combination of Henrik Lundqvist making a great save or a goal post. That is unfortunately what happens in a slump; you just cannot buy a goal.

Besides that shift this game was pretty ugly on both ends of the rink. There were Powerplays left and right and both teams have had awful Powerplays basically all season.

As for the Rangers goals, they basically resulted from the Penguins bad luck, rather than the Rangers excellent play.

1. Dawes: Lucky goal that took a weird deflection on its way to the net

2. Mara: This slapshot was a blast, but Fleury should have had it. I think this shows that the Penguins just are not focused.

3. Drury: While it was a great goal, it resulted from Letang losing an edge in the corner. Letang is a stud and would have been there to break up that goal.

4. Gomez: Great effort by Therrian to throw it on the line with 3+ minutes remaining, but again the bounces just were not going the Penguins way.

Overall, I think this is just a slump that the Penguins and their fans need to work through. Everyone just needs to stay positive. The Penguins have 2 of the top 5 players in the world on their team. You can argue all day where they are: 1,2,3,4, or 5 but you cannot argue that they are in the top 5. The slump will pass when you have that on your roster.

I know it is easy for me to say "stay positive" as my Rangers have been playing average hockey all season and thanks to the Shootout and Henrik Lundqvist, they hold the reigns currently to the Atlantic Division. I expect a similar outcome to last season as far as the Atlantic is concerned. The Atlantic will send 4 teams to the Playoffs again, but who knows where the seeds will end up.

Stay positive Pens fans and I expect some moves to be made soon for the Penguins.

We know it's hard to stay the course and be positive right now, but that's what the Pens need from us. Hopefully this slump will turn itself around soon. Here is the preview of tonight's Thrashers game. Enjoy the game, or try to, and as always...Let's Go Pens!

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