Herb Brooks reminded his 1980 Olympians that “This team isn’t talented enough to win on talent alone.” It is a mantra the Rangers need to repeat to themselves over and over.

Even if Chris Drury, Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal were all healthy, the Rangers are still a flawed team that cannot win on talent alone – a statement that pretty much sums all but a handful of teams in the NHL.

The Blueshirts 6-4 loss served to tarnish their three-game winning streak because the Rangers failed to put in a complete effort. Never mind 60 minutes, they barely put in a period’s worth of play at the beginning and the end of the game.

While one loss does not a season end, the Rangers can ill afford to fall into the trap they fell into last night. After striking for an early goal – and unable to extend the lead – the team let their collective foot off the gas pedal and Atlanta blew past the Blueshirts much like Bryan Little did one the first Atlanta goal.

There is a reason why the New York Islanders always give the Rangers fits – much like they did in their Columbus Day matinee. Even with Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit, and John Tavares out of the lineup, the Isles managed to outwork the Rangers and come away with the win.

The Rangers inability to sustain the three-game winning streak momentum as a result of subpar play was not lost on Coach John Tortorella.
“We’re not good enough to let down,” Torts told Rick Carpiniello of the Journal News. “We’re not a good enough team, whether we’re healthy or not.”

“I think we know how we have to play, I really do. I think the past week or so, early in the year, it’s been a really good thing because it defined how we have to play,” the coach explained to Carpiniello. “We did not play consistently enough (tonight). That’s on us, and we have to find a way to do it better.”

Harsh words from the coach, but the most important thing is that the Rangers learn their lesson – especially during home games as the Rangers continue to struggle to win at home (1-2-1 to open the season).

As bad as the loss to the Thrashers was, it could have been a whole lot worse. Andrew Gross of NorthJersey.com reported that Artem Anisimov’s MRI “came up clean” and that the center should be ready to go against Carolina, according to Tortorella. The coach also said that Michael Rozsival’s hyperextended left knee should not keep out of the Hurricanes game.

However, one Ranger who might be out of the lineup is tough guy Derek Boogaard. Gross says that Boogaard has an infection in his hand as a result of a cut received during his scarp with Boston’s Shawn Thornton. According to Gross, the Rangers will recall Evgeny Grachev from Hartford as a precaution if the big guy is unable to play. Given that the Hurricanes do not dress an enforcer, it still might be worth the Rangers while to sit the Boogey Man.

Another favorite quote from Coach Brooks was “Great moments are born out of great opportunity.”

Perhaps, this is the opportunity for Grachev to jump start a season that has produced just a goal and an assist in nine games. What came easy for Grachev in the OHL is not coming easy at the professional level as he continues his struggles to find a consistency to his game.

While he might not have the best numbers among the Wolf Pack forwards, he does have the highest upside and this recall might just help Grachev, who is but 20-years-old, accelerate his development. The key will be to getting more than just a fourth-liner’s ice time.

With Boogaard possibly out of the lineup this weekend, it should give Tortorella his first real chance/excuse/opportunity to role four solid skating lines and provide that opportunity for Grachev to achieve his “great moment”.

Interestingly enough, it looks like Grachev could be reunited with Derek Stepan depending on how Torts arranges/rearranges his lines for the Carolina game.

Steve Zipay, in his Newsday blog, points out that Stepan and Grachev were effective as linemates during the prospects camp following the NHL Draft and hen again during the Traverse City Tournament. In five games in the September tournament, Stepan scored two goals and five assists while Grachev tallied four goals and an assist.

Unfortunately for Grachev, his progress slowed once Training Camp opened as Stepan’s stock continued to rise.

With Brian Boyle possibly staying as the third line center, the loser of the battle for second line center between Erik Christensen and Todd White could end up as the LW for Stepan and Grachev.

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