So the Sharks gave themselves a nice cushion in the Pacific, acquired a decent role player in prep for the playoffs at the deadline, and then started walking into bear traps and grabbing mousetraps. They’ve lost 6 in a row, and look like absolute shit.
And they’re full of disease, the result of having to play the Wild and Ducks in close succession.
But the real problem is the haplessness of the Vancouver Canucks rubbed off on them when Jannik Hansen came over. You gotta really power wash the suck away from these players when you take them on, and they clearly got distracted, and Hansen jumped out of the tub and took off.
So now here we sit, facing the worst good team of the last 5 years: The New York Rangers. It used to be that you could sort of tell what kind of Rangers team you were facing, post-Messier. They tried to adapt the Yankees model of “big city moneybags franchise” by consistently overpaying for veteran talent to replace the declining, overpaid veteran talent they had previously acquired, who themselves replaced the overpaid veteran talent that they had previously acquired, etc. That’s how they ended up with Marian Gaborik and Wade Redden and Brad Richards and Jaromir Jagr and Theo Fleury, &tc &tc.
They still have that impulse, like a guy with his 5 week chip in anger management, turning red and breathing real hard but not actually exploding in rage at his TGI Fridays waiter. The NHL’s salary cap is the Very Serious Human Resources Representative in this metaphor, just itching to fire this asshole the next time he throws his laptop across the room at another summer intern. They’ve got the paperwork filled out. Everything’s been documented and checked by Legal.
So the Rangers have a weird roster that reflects these leashed impulses, with Rick Nash representing their past and a ton of “oh right, that guy, and he has how many goals?!” players. Despite the decline in Henrik Lundqvist’s play, they still are riding a sort-of high PDO thanks to double digit team shooting percentage, and all this without a clear elite scorer. Mats Zuccarello leads the team with 55 points. Michael Grabner has 27 goals, Chris Kreider has 26, and Rick Nash has 22. There are a ton of other interchangeable forwards with somewhere between 14-20 goals.
I guess Alain Vigneault is a pretty good coach, huh?
Still, there’s something just sort of off about this whole collection of players. They’re better than you expect, but are they actually good? They’re not dynamic, they’re not particularly fast (you could say that about the Sharks forwards too). Their worst impluses being checked by that trigger-happy HR rep means they’ve actually had to hold onto and develop younger players. But are they actually good?
I just can’t convince myself that they are.
Rangers @ Sharks
7:30 PM Pacific
Prediction: Just win a goddamn game, you unbelievable dickheads. This is a schedule loss for the Rangers, the last game on a west coast road trip. If you don’t, we burn Hansen in a pyre on Santa Clara St.