Hockey sure is a strange game.  We often talk of momentum being a key of a team.  If one were a believer in the momentum theory, then the Rangers-Hurricanes should have been a blowout given the Rangers two big wins over the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators and the Hurricanes 8-1 pasting they absorbed at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.

While it wasn’t a “blowout”, there were some ill winds blowing at the Garden as Carolina shutout the Blueshirts 4-0.  So much for momentum.  I guess hockey is like baseball where momentum is as good as your next day’s pitcher.  In hockey’s, and the Rangers’, case momentum is as good as your next game.

You know things are going badly when your most consistent line is Ryan Hollweg, Blair Betts and Colton Orr.  The HBO Line played with a spark and a passion that just wasn’t there for the rest of the forwards and defensemen.

All night long all you heard San Rosen say was, “Rangers shot, wide” or “Rangers shot, blocked”.  It is kind of hard to get any momentum when you are having problems getting the puck on goal – especially against a team that has been struggling all season long with their defensive play.

These games happen.  The objective is to string together a lengthy stretch of games in between the clunkers.  The problem is the Rangers only put two games between the Hurricanes clunker and the Dallas stars’ stinker on November 25.

It seems that the team has paid a price as Tom Renney put them through the type of practice that would make Herb Brooks smile.  The day after the Carolina loss, Renney put the team through their toughest practice yet.  While the coach might use the excuse of the Rangers having a couple of days off before their next game, it is no coincidence that it happened right after a lackluster loss at home.

When the Rangers get back to action, they won’t have any time to rue their effort against the Hurricanes because they play three games in the space of four days.  After facing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, the Rangers head down south the next night to take on the Atlanta Thrashers before returning home against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see if Renney turns to Stephen Valiquette in one of the back-to-back games this week.  Renney might want to prevent another poor performance by starting Valiquette against Toronto – hoping that his team will elevate their play in front of the backup netminder.  On the other hand, Renney might want to start Henrik Lundqvist against the Leafs in the easier of the two games.  However, the Rangers owe the Thrashers a little revenge after Atlanta defeated the Blueshirts in GM Donnie Waddell’s first game behind the bench after firing Coach Bob Hartley.

If I were Renney, I think I would roll the dice and start Valiquette at home and save The King for the rematch in Atlanta.  After all, Valiquette played well in beating Toronto in a shootout in his first appearance of the season during the Hall of Fame weekend in early November.

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