Friday, February 23, 2007

The Fans Have Spoken

Apparently, No.68's failure to take part in another shootout infuriated longtime Ranger fans today. Many flooded the airwaves of WFAN. Included was a call from my Dad to Benigno and Roberts. I didn't catch it. But I have a pretty good idea of what was said. Not only was this big news on the mid day show but it also became a huge story on Mike and The Mad Dog where flying solo, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo took many angry calls about Jaromir Jagr wussing out and showing his true colors.

While he might not be very knowledgable, Russo unlike his absent partner Mike Francesa has continued to take hockey calls from fans and has put in a solid effort. He even interviewed ESPN's Barry Melrose about the whole Jagr fiasco as well as the melee which took place upstate at HSBC Arena between the Senators and Sabres last night. We'll try to provide the necessary link when it becomes available. Fyi...Russo is 100 percent correct about why the Sabres were justified in retaliating for injured co-captain Chris Drury, who became the latest victim by suffering a concussion on a late hit by Chris Neil. Russo understands the difference between hockey and basketball. You can't compare the disgusting display which took place in Las Vegas during NBA All Star Weekend to what took place last night in Buffalo. They are very different circumstances.

In discussing last night's game with Steve, I made it clear to him that I am not using last night's officiating as the main reason the Rangers lost to the Devils. My main frustration in terms of what was called was the lack of consistency. But that doesn't take Tom Renney's club off the hook for blowing a two-goal lead in a game they controlled. This was one they needed. However, they didn't have what it took to finish off a very good hockey club. One that's made a living off beating the Rangers in big spots. And since we're on topic, when exactly was the last time the Rangers needed a win over their archrival and got it? It hasn't happened since Adam Graves beat Martin Brodeur on a wraparound in a second OT at CAA to eliminate the Devils from the postseason 10 years ago. It speaks volumes.

One other point on Henrik Lundqvist. It is understood that he could've kept Jamie Langenbrunner's shot out after he got a piece of it with his glove. But sometimes, flukey bounces such as that happen. It's part of hockey. Just look how close Petr Prucha was to forcing a fifth round. Beat the best goalie in the game but off the crossbar. That's the breaks. If you want to fault the second-year Swedish gold medal winning netminder for anything, go back to the second period when the Rangers came close to making it 3-0. Instead, Langenbrunner found Brian Rafalski, who beat Lundqvist from a sharp angle to cut it to 2-1. That opened the door. Sure, you could argue the shot deflected off Malik and changed direction. But it was one the affable goalie needed to stop. I'll say this about Henrik's play. Over the last month, he's been brilliant. He's close. He has done his part. It's that other superstar who hasn't delivered.

Regarding the bounces, it seems like it also helps explain one of the big differences between the two Hudson rivals. One seems to always get the bounces while the other just doesn't. You can be very good. But there also is a luck factor involved. It doesn't just pertain to the puck either. I've seen many high school basketball games where a kid takes a shot and it hangs on the rim and either goes down or falls off determining an outcome. That's sports. It's the difference between jubilation and disappointment.

When I was walking out of the building last night, I had a debate with a Devil fan about the calls. But it wasn't heated. We might've disagreed but that was all that took place. Instead, I asked where they were from to which they replied Jersey City. And I told them where I was from. End of debate. These rivalry games can bring a lot in terms of intensity. But the fun should never be taken out. Just because you might not agree with an opposing fan doesn't mean you should take it out on them or vice versa. It's a game! Not life. I hope some fans remember that in future rivalry games.

Fyi...watching highlights of the Isles' comeback win over the Leafs, it looks to me like Toronto was robbed. Up 2-1 in the third, an apparent Mats Sundin goal was wiped out. I didn't see this contest. So I can't say why it was. But the replay on Yes Network seemed to indicate that Sundin's shot crossed the goal line and then came out. If anyone has a definitive explanation on this, I'd love to get it. Especially in such a pivotal contest with playoff implications.

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