March 2011

Is the NHL’s most recent 10-games plus the first round of the playoff suspension to Matt Cooke a sign that the league finally has a clue in reference to a zero-tolerance stance on head shots, or is Cooke’s suspension merely a case of a blind squirrel finding a nut?

Call me a pessimist, but I am taking the blind squirrel side. For a long time the NHL’s idea of zero-tolerance is drawing a line in the sand and them erasing it on an ad-hoc basis.

Let’s face it, the Cooke suspension was an empty net goal in the world of suspensions. Unfortunately, just like many NHL players who miss on their empty net attempts, the NHL has a long history of shooting wide.

First off, the NHL should have dealt with Cooke problem a lot sooner than they have. A little over a year ago they had the chance to throw the book at Cooke for his vicious hit on Marc Savard and the NHL chose not to level a suspension saying they had no other recourse.

Of course they had a recourse. It was one offered by Don Cherry on a Coach’s Corner segment on CBC following the hit on Savard. Not only does Cherry review the Savard hit, but he goes on to detail the laundry list of “borderline” hits featuring Cooke flaunting the rules.

In discussing the hit on Savard, Grapes pointed to Rule 21 which deals with Match Penalties. More specifically, he pointed to Rule 21.1 which states

“Match Penalty – A match penalty involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game and the offender shall be ordered to the dressing room immediately.
A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.”

No matter what anyone says, any hit to the head is a match penalty because it is an attempt to deliberately injure a player.

The league should have been addressing this problem years ago when Scott Stevens was waylaying players with hits to the head. Stevens’s defenders were always quick to point out that the Devils captain was merely using his shoulder as opposed to an elbow or arm to the head.

The bottom line is the NHL should have used Rule 21.1 to put an end to any and all shots to the head. I would even be willing to give some leniency if it is a players’ first offense or even if the head shot happened by accident as part of an honest attempt to throw a check. However, none of these applied to Cooke back in March 2010 just like it didn’t in March 2011.

Of course, the NHL’s counter argument stems from the referees not using this rule to assess penalties – thus allowing the NHL a way to weasel out of doing its job – despite the fact the NHL can and does suspend players when no penalties are called.

Joe Yerdon of MSNBC Sports offered up the following evidence supporting a suspension for Cooke’s hit on Ryan McDonagh.

Cooke’s hit touches on a lot of things the league wants to eliminate from the game and makes him the perfect target for a message-sending landmark punishment:

• He delivered a blindside hit
• He delivered a blow to the head
• He targeted McDonagh’s head
• He’s a repeat offender

Turning the clock back a year or so, you could very easily replace McDonagh with Savard and have just as compelling an argument for lowering the book on Cooke last March.

Not even Pittsburgh’s GM Ray Shero could avoid the obvious – that Cooke has to be dealt with once and for all.

“The suspension is warranted because that’s exactly the kind of hit we’re trying to get out of the game. Headshots have no place in hockey,” Shero stated. “We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Headshots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”

When your own GM throws you under the bus, you know that you have crossed the final line and are beginning to run on borrowed time.

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, quiet on the matter is Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. While quick to hammer the NHL for its lack of action during last month’s Penguins-Islanders free-for-all, his silence in regards to Cooke’s latest antics speak volumes. While Nick Kypreos did write on twitter that Lemieux met with Cooke and offered an ultimatum of change or go, Lemieux owed it to the NHL to be just as outspoken in reference to Cooke or run the risk of being re-branded a hypocrite.

While it is stylish to drop the hammer on the NHL, the players have to take responsibility for their actions. Calls to repeal the instigator rule as a potential way to force the players to police themselves falls short because I don’t think it is enough of a deterrent by itself. The NHL and the NHLPA must work together to better educate players and officials (both on-ice and those in the league’s office).

In a February 2011 column for the Sporting News Today, Craig Custance offered that perhaps the offending player should have a bigger say in the suspension levied. I am not so sure I agree with at idea, but Custance did bring up one point that I had not considered before.

Custance wrote the NHLPA finds itself in a Catch-22 situation – they represent both the player accused and the player injured. It is a situation that has not gone unnoticed by players.

Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart was on the wrong end of a blindside hit that cost him a broken jaw (and 15 games missed) and cost Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos a six-game suspension.

“It’s a bit of a conflicting interest. As the PA, I guess they feel it’s their responsibility to try and get the guy as lenient a penalty as possible. On the other side of it, you’ve got a guy who is not playing and is injured who is a part of the PA as well,” Stuart explained to Custance.

“I think the PA’s best interest should be protecting players, not protecting a guy from getting a couple-game suspension.”

I have reprinted an article I wrote back in April 2002 when “Ranger Ramblings” was housed at a different web site. I have posted it again because, while the names and incidents have changed, sadly the problem the NHL and its players face have not changed in reference. It also contains a reference to I made about the NHL needing to do something about head shots as I railed against the headhunting Stevens did to the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2001 NHL playoffs.

As a Ranger fan, the inevitable question over Sean Avery comes up in reference to Matt Cooke. Yes, Avery does try one’s patience with some of his antics and some of the most stupid penalties taken. However, Avery has never been suspended b y the NHL for an ON-ICE infraction.

His only suspension, and subsequent anger management classes, came as result of his “sloppy seconds” comment. Given the laundry list of Cooke’s suspensions and non-suspension “encounters”, shouldn’t Cooke be undergoing some sort of anger management training as well?

Perhaps this latest suspension might prove to be the trick in policing Matt Cooke and his actions – if the following quote from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is to be believed.

Cooke said, “I realize and understand, more so now than ever, that I need to change. That’s what I wanted my message to be.”

While actions do speak louder than words, and time will tell, at least he admitted he has a problem and that is a first step for Cooke – and his 10-game/first playoff round suspension is a first step for the NHL as well.

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The following article ran under the “Ranger Ramblings” banner at a different web site almost nine years ago. I am reprinting it now to show that as the more things change, the more they stay the same.

RESPECT – The NHL’s Four Letter Word

On-Ice Incidents a Black Eye
April 29, 2002

Aretha Franklin sang about it. People struggle all their lives trying to build and earn it. National Hockey league players are showing an increasing lack of it towards each other. NHL official are losing it among players, fans and media alike. Of course, I am talking about RESPECT.

The NHL should be basking in the glow of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Instead, the league is facing mounting controversy as it closes its eyes toward the violence infiltrating the first round of the playoffs.

Richard Zednik, Kenny Jonsson and Michael Peca have all had their playoff runs ended. In Peca’s case, it is possible he is done for the rest of 2002. Despite all of these horrible injuries, the NHL’s best answer is to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Kyle McLaren for the remainder of the Bruins series with the Montreal Canadiens.
As the NHL’s Vice-President for Hockey Operations, it is Colin Campbell’s job the mete out punishment for NHL rule breakers. As the league’s disciplinarian, Campbell is proving to be just as clueless as he was as coach of the New York Rangers.

The best Campbell could do to teach McLaren, Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker a lesson is to suspend McLaren for three games.

And what is Campbell’s “logic” in this case? “Mr. McLaren delivered a dangerous blow to the head of his opponent and caused significant injuries to the opposing player. Mr. McLaren clearly must be held accountable for his action in this regard,” Campbell explained to Howard Ulman, an AP sports reporter (4/29/02).

So let me get this straight, McLaren delivers a “dangerous blow” that “caused significant injuries” and he only gets a three-game suspension? The only thing that does is protect McLaren from the rest of the Canadiens.

Is it possible Campbell deals out additional games at the start of the 2002-2003 season? I suppose anything is possible, but an additional suspension loses its impact if it is not meted out at the time of the infraction. It also puts the NHL in the worst possible light. The league looks soft on justice except when the media and fans exert pressure.

If the Canadiens have a right to be upset with Campbell, then the New York Islanders should be apoplectic in regards to Campbell and his refusal to punish Roberts and Tucker for their Game 5 actions.

The Roberts hit on Jonsson is even more frightening given the growing list of players who have had to retire due to concussions and post-concussion syndrome. One would think the NHL would do everything and anything to eliminate plays that put a player’s health in question.

Merely assessing a five-minute major to a player who charged nearly halfway across the rink to run a player facing the boards is not the way to protect its players.
The most frightening part of the Roberts-Jonsson incident was the actions (or should I say lack of action) of referees Paul Devorski and Kevin Pollock, “Daily News” sports writer John Dellapina (4/29/02) reported that Devorski and Pollock did not call a penalty because “they couldn’t determine whether Jonsson had suffered a head injury.”

The Tucker hit on Peca illuminates just how players have lost respect for each other. In today’s game, hip checks are rarely that. For every player who actually hits hip-to-hip, there is a player whose idea of a hip check is to drop down low and cut out a player’s legs.
In some cases the person getting hit also bares responsibility for this problem. Rather than go with the flow of the hip check, players are trying to force their way through the hits.

Back in April 1997, Stan Fischler defended the art of the hip check in an article written for “The Hockey News”. Fischler urged players to follow the example of then New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire. The current boss of the Minnesota Wild said, “Nowadays players don’t avoid the hit; they want to go through the other guy and that’s when they get injured.”

At first sight, I thought that was what happened on Tucker’s hit on Peca. It looked like Peca was trying to “jump” the hip check. After watching it on replays, you can see that Tucker has dropped down and made contact with Peca’s knees.

What we have now is a double-edged sword. Players are looking to bull their way through a hip check at the same time the contact on the hip check is dropping.
Campbell’s defense?

“The hit’s allowed in the rule book. Did the referee call a penalty? No. Do we like those hits when they’re administered? You always ask questions when there’s an injury,” Campbell explained. {Dellapina 4/29/02}.

If that is truly the case, then someone needs to explain how Tucker’s hit is legal when it is supposedly illegal for a player to throw out a leg on a knee-to-knee hit.
The interesting part of Campbell’s contention is that is wasn’t too long ago that he was as the other end of this spectrum. In March 1997, Mark Messier was on the receiving end of a “hip check” thrown by Detroit Red Wings defenseman Slava Fetisov. No penalty was called. The next night, New York Islanders defenseman Rich Pilon submarined Philadelphia Flyers center Eric Lindros. Pilon received a five-minute major and a game misconduct and Lindros received a bruised tendon in his knee.

During an ensuing pre-game report Campbell said, “What was acceptable 10-20 years ago isn’t [acceptable] now.” Apparently, it is still acceptable after all.

Another problem the league refuses to address is the idea of players who are going headhunting. Bruins President Harry Sinden can swear up and down that McLaren’s hit was “within the rules” (Ulman – 4/29/02), but the bottom line is that hits to the head are against the rules. That includes the types of hits Scott Stevens was using to lay out Carolina Hurricane after Carolina Hurricane in the 2001 NHL playoffs. It does not matter if the contact is an elbow, fist, or in Stevens’ case a shoulder. Any hit to the head needs to be dealt with swiftly and severely – just like the hits from behind and the checks aimed at players’ knees.

With today’s athlete being bigger and stronger, the idea of hockey being a collision sport, not a contact sport, is coming through loud and clear. These bigger and stronger athletes are wearing bigger and more improved equipment. It can’t help but lend an air of invincibility.

As a result, we are seeing more players hitting without thinking. How else can you explain a defender who sticks out his leg as a last gasp move on a hit? This knee-on-knee hit wrecks havoc with hockey player’s knees. The ironic part is that the player delivering the knee-to-knee contact is just as likely to get hurt as his intended target.

What does this all have to do with the cases of McLaren, Roberts and Tucker? The NHL has reached a point where its players can no longer police themselves. It is up to the league to see the headhunting, charges from behind and the hip checks aimed at knees are eliminated from the game.

Unfortunately, a three-game suspension is not going to get done. Then again, should we really expect anything out of Colin Campbell? Last year he had a chance to send a message to the entire NHL after Tie Domi assaulted Scott Niedermayer in the second round of the playoffs last season.

The NHL’s cop sent a mixed message at best by suspending Domi for the three playoff games and the first eight games of the regular season this year.

Would a 20-game suspension, in addition to missing the remainder of the playoffs, been enough of a deterrent to prevent what happened to Zednik, Jonsson and Peca?

Obviously we can’t be certain either way. The one thing we can be certain is that we will never know because Campbell frittered away the chance.
The NHL likes to think of itself as being the be-all and end-all when it comes to hockey in the world. It is ironic that they are far behind some North American minor leagues when it comes to disciplinary actions.

In the wake of the tragic death of Brittanie Cecil at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in March 2002, the United Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League moved swiftly and decisively to confront the problem of players who threw sticks into the crowd.

BC Iceman goaltender Bryan Schoen received a lifetime ban from the UHL after as a result of his actions in a playoff game against the Elmira Jackals. Jackals’ enforcer John Murphy speared Schoen late in the third period. Schoen grabbed Murphy’s stick and threw into the crowd at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

UHL President Richard Brosal acted swiftly and banned Schoen from playing in the league. It was not the first such incident for the league as Brosal set down lifetime bans for Muskegon forward Gary Coupal (1997) and Saginaw goaltender Stu Munn (1999) for the throwing sticks into the stands {Scott Lauber – “Press & Sun-Bulletin” (4/24/02)}.

While Brosal’s initial lifetime suspensions didn’t completely cure the problem of stick throwing in the UHL, Brosal’s action was consistent with past punishment. In fact, Schoen’s actions were less onerous than Coupal’s or Munn’s. Coupal had already received two 40-game suspensions for throwing his stick and Munn threw a broken stick into the crowd after a brawl in Utica.

The ECHL faced a similar situation with New York Rangers goaltending prospect Jason LaBarbera. While playing for the Charlotte Checkers, LaBarbera was pulled after being shelled for five second period goals in a playoff game against the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies. As he reached the Checkers’ bench, LaBarbera threw his stick – which bounced and hit an eight-year-old fan who was standing in an area that was supposed to be off limits to fans. {Bruce Berlet – “The Hartford Courant” (4/24/02)}.
ECHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Troy Ward had no alternative but suspend LaBarbera. The Checkers netminder received an 18-game suspension. AHL VP of Hockey Operations Jim Mill announced that the league would uphold the ECHL’s suspension and prevent LaBarbera from playing in the AHL until his ECHL suspension was completed.

It is not my intention to compare the NHL’s on-ice problems with those faced by the UHL, ECHL and AHL. What I am comparing is how the three minor leagues acted when faced with a problem as compared to the NHL’s lack of actions.

The NHL faces a major image problem with their lack of decisive action in three above-mentioned cases. The league fought (pun intended) long and hard to rid itself of the brawling image it received during the era of the “Big Bad Bruins” and the “Broad Street Bullies”. By rolling over and not handing down prohibitive suspensions, Campbell and the NHL reawaken the “Slapshot” images the league has long looked to put into its past.

Campbell continues to defend his lack of action. “To just bring the temperature down is not the reason we assess suspensions. We’ve got to assess suspensions when they deserve it, when they cross the line. And I know sometimes people can’t figure out the consistency. It’s difficult. But that’s our job.” {Dellapina 4/29/02}.

And it is a job that Campbell and the NHL are not doing. It seems that “people” (i.e. media and the fans) aren’t the only ones who can’t figure out consistency. The NHL has been most fortunate that only one player has ever been killed due to on-ice play. I just hope that is not what the NHL is waiting before finding its consistency.

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While Henrik Lundqvist is the New York Rangers most important player, Brandon Prust might very well be the Blueshirts most valuable player.

I know that kind of logic might be hard to fathom, but there is a method to my madness. Quite obviously, the Rangers playoff chances rest squarely on the shoulders of The King – especially with Martin Biron injured.

In a talent comparison, well, there really is no comparison. Lundqvist is an All-Star and a world-class goaltender while Prust is a third line forward. However, Prust’s intangibles point to him being the heart and soul of the Rangers.

On a team that Larry Brooks of the NY Post has referred to as the “Black-and-Blueshirts”, no one personifies that term more than Prust.

No player gives more of themselves on the ice than Prust. While the coaching staff gives Lundqvist “maintenance” days off from practice because of his heavy workload, they have been giving Prust the same kind of maintenance days off just to make sure he is in the lineup.

There is no arguing the fact that Prust gives it his all each and every shift, and pretty much leaves everything he has on the ice. To paraphrase those wise hockey sages the Hanson Brothers, Prust is “a warrior, he is an animal, but he has to be a mess because of all of the injuries. “

One can envision Prust having to be lowered into a tube of ice in order to minister to his various aches and pains he has accumulated during the season. I know you can pretty much say that about any player at this point in the season, but it just seems that Prust has been a walking MASH unit.

A quick search of Prust via Rotoworld lists the following injuries he has battled through this season: he took a high stick to the face in October and has proceeded to suffer a charley horse, ankle injury, shoulder and thumb injuries – and those are just the ones that reporters have been able to confirm.

If Prust were an NFL player, he would be listed as “Questionable due to general body soreness.”

The injuries are a byproduct of way Prust plays the game. While the Rangers list him as 6-foot-2, he is closer to the 5-foot-11 that The Hockey News lists him. Despite giving away height and weight, Prust has not backed down from any challenge from any NHL heavyweight – an important asset that was made even more necessary with Derek Boogaard out of the lineup.

Despite the assortment of injuries and bumps and bruises, Prust is one of four Rangers to have played all 71 games up to this point (Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle and Derek Stepan are the others). The London, Ontario native has set career highs in goals (11), assists (14) and points (25). Five of his 11 goals have been shorthanded – which ties him for the NHL lead with Frans Nielsen of the Islanders – and his seven shorthanded points are also an NHL best.

Prust, along with Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko form the closest thing the Rangers have to an old-time checking line and have come together as the Bulldog Line 3.0 as their play matched the tenacious play of Dave Balon (and Later Steve Vickers), Walt Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn.

There was a time when fans considered Sean Avery to be the “heart and soul” of the Rangers – especially during his first stint on Broadway. However, some of those fans are left to shake their heads at some of Avery’s antics – with last night’s boneheaded penalty in the third period serving as Exhibit Number One. Most fans could empathize with Coach John Tortorella’s reaction on the bench.

The ironic thing is that Avery and Prust are the same type of “high-energy” player teams need. While Avery is a better skater and has more offensive ability, Prust is a better defensive player and might be closer to being an enforcer than Avery is.

The main difference is the actually the thing that makes Sean Avery the player that he is. For Avery to be successful as a nudge/antagonist is that he has to skate a very fine line without crossing it. The problem comes when Avery does cross the line. Rather than stepping a skate or two over that line, Avery takes a running broad jump over it and that leads to all of his problems.

For 55 minutes against the Islanders Avery managed to straddle that line. Unfortunately, NHL games are 60 minutes and Avery broad jumped over the line with his penalty late in the third period that lead to the Isles final goal.

With the Rangers beginning their voting push for selecting the recipient of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, it might be safe to say that Ryan Callahan’s biggest hurdle in “three-peating” will be Brandon Prust.

In bringing up Callahan, Ranger fans have speculated that Callahan is the Rangers “captain-in-waiting” and could receive the “C” as early as next season if Chris Drury retires or is bought out. I would have absolutely no problem is seeing Prust rewarded by joining Marc Staal as the Rangers alternate captain.

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In light of the New York Rangers losing all three games on their current homestand, and factoring in their 4-10-1 record in their last 15 games, do you think President/GM Glen Sather would like to take a mulligan on the 2011 NHL trade deadline?

Prior to the end of 2010, the Rangers were playing just well enough to win games, or at least earn points in their losses. The same cannot be said for the past couple of months.

Larry Brooks of the NY Post listed the ugly numbers for the Rangers of late:

• 14-16-3 at MSG
• 3-8-1 at home in their last 12 games
• 4 straight losses at the Garden
• 11-15-2 record in 2011

Despite the horror show that are those numbers, and despite the facts the Rangers have slipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference and no longer control their own playoff destiny, Sather was absolutely correct in standing pat at the trade deadline. While he did make a minor deal in acquiring forward John Mitchell from Toronto for a 2012 seventh round draft pick, Sather wisely resisted giving away the future.

While Ranger fans dreamed of acquiring Brad Richards, the bounty needed to acquire the UFA-to-be would have proved to be a nightmare and run counter to what the Blueshirts have been trying to do – build a young core from within.

Various reports stated that Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk was not going to move Richards unless the price was right – and if these reports are true – the price would not have been right for the Rangers.

According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the Stars GM was looking for a can’t-miss deal. Dreger wrote, “By can’t miss, sources say the Nieuwendyk asked the Rangers for multiple components. One scenario included 24-year-old forward Brandon Dubinsky – whose 19 goals is one shy of equalling a career high. Almost every member of New York’s young core was believed to have been requested in some way, shape, or form – along with a collection of other assets required to land Richards.”

This report followed along the lines an article Brooks wrote for the Post that said the Stars were asking for Derek Stepan, Dubinsky and Marc Staal in a deal.

If the Rangers were a true Stanley Cup contender then going all in would make some sense – much like it did in 1994 when Neil Smith gambled and won. However, given that the Rangers are in a dogfight just to make the playoffs, there is no justification for making such a deal – especially when Richards will be available as an UFA come July 1.

While the Rangers have been freefalling in the standings, the one positive point that can be made is that the team has been competitive. Since January 1, five of the Rangers 15 regulation losses can by more than one goal and two of those games featured an empty net goal. So in 11 of those losses, one or two goals would have made the difference in the Rangers getting one or two points instead of no points.

Instead of playing well enough to win (or earn points), the Rangers are now playing well enough to lose in regulation – and thus not earn any points.

Quite obviously, if the Rangers are going to reverse this trend they are going to have to address their biggest problem – scoring goals.

The “easiest” way to improve their scoring output is to revive their moribund power play. While acquiring Bryan McCabe was a good first step in this revival, nothing is going to happen until there is a change in Coach John Tortorella’s philosophy or unless the players change their ways.

The most striking problem with the Rangers power play is its inability/lack of willingness to station a player in front of the net. Far too often all five players are far too willing to play on the perimeter – thus making it easier for their opponent to kill the penalty. Even when they do venture near the crease, too many times players are stationed to the side of the goalie – as opposed to standing in front of him.

It is no coincidence that Ranger fans lament all of the goals against that have been deflected by Henrik Lundqvist or have bounced in off Blueshirt defenders – especially when you consider the Rangers inability to score these types of goals. As Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.” In other words, you ain’t going to score those types of goals if you ain’t willing to pay the price in front of the net.

In concert with getting traffic in front of the net is the team’s need to shoot the puck. Part of the Rangers play on the perimeter is their need to set up the perfect shot. While the crowd does get too restless too quickly, they do have a point – the Rangers need to shoot the puck (on goal, of course) more on the power play. Heck, it doesn’t even need to be on net sometimes. They could make good use of bounces off the end boards – like Derek Stepan did at Washington for his power play goal.

While, this strategy also carries over very well to even strength play as well, the most important thing is for the Rangers to just relax and get back to basics. Granted, this is easier said than done. You can see and feel the Rangers gripping their sticks tightly and over-thinking in offensive situations. Two prime examples came in the 3-1 loss to the Wild.

Ryan Callahan had Jose Theodore down and out as the Rangers were primed to take a two-goal lead. However, rather than elevate the puck and bury the biscuit in the basket, Callahan simply slid the puck along the ice allowing the Minnesota netminder to make the save.

The second situation came right before Kyle Brodziak tied the game with his power play goal. The Rangers broke out on a two-on-one with Brandon Dubinsky, on his off wing, driving into the Wild zone. Rather than go to the net and take the shot, Dubinsky was looking to pass to Callahan. As a result, Dubinsky ended up shanking his late shot wide of the net.

In either case, the Rangers would have had a two-goal lead and the shape of the game would have changed.

While the season is not lost (yet), they have lost any room for error. With Buffalo just two points behind and having three games in hand, the Rangers have lost control of their own playoff destiny.

Following the game Tortorella said, “We are going to keep our heads up, we are going to stay together and we are going to find our way.”

The only problem is that the better starts finding their way tonight in Ottawa or it might just be too late as far as the 2010-2011 season is concerned.

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