Forgive me for napping during the second period. And pardon the interruption of the phone call I made during the third.
Those were as good of times as any, because during the 5-2 drubbing of the Blueshirts by old friend John Tortorella and his Columbus Blue Jackets, there wasn’t much to see from the home team.
“(The Blue Jackets) were the better team tonight,” said center Derek Stepan. “I think in the second period they had a lot of zone time, but we didn’t generate anything because they defended the right way. They were the better team. They deserve the two points tonight.
In all fairness, maybe it was better the Rangers lose one tonight to a team they are fighting for position with come April. If you are the coach Alain Vigneault, would you rather play Montreal over the Pittsburgh in the first round and that’s if the Habs have the No. 1 spot in the Atlantic? The Rangers could be playing Boston or even the Senator.
Any of those teams would be an easier path than the one through the defending Stanley Cup Camps. Let Tortorella fight with his old buddy Mike Sullivan and have the Blueshirts follow the easier road traveled.
Last year, the Rangers got the short end of the stick with the Penguins, while the Isles enjoyed a first round win over the Panthers. Do you honestly think they wouldn’t want a do over there?
Remember a game in February nothing compared to the ones at the end of April and beginning of May. Take the loss here, give Torts a wink, and move on to Tuesday.
And before you start saying I’m advocating the Rangers throw games, you can forgive the team for this half-hearted effort. They played in an emotional game across in Newark, coming out with a 4-3 win over the Devils, while Columbus dropped seven on the Islanders, who probably thought the game was at Belmont.
Emotion vs. laughter. And you can see why the Rangers had a tough time tonight.
“That’s not the reason why we lost the game,” said Rick Nash, who scored the Rangers first goal, but it is food for thought, though.
With three games in four nights, the Rangers were simply spent. After reaching back for a nice win last night, the Rangers had nothing left for Tortorella and company.
And frankly, based on the responses given by the players, they knew it was just much. They would never admit it, but you could see how they played, they were spent.
“Tonight, there was no doubt the whole group was off,” Vigneault said.
Before you call the Garden ticket office on this one and demand a refund for less than 110% effort, you must wonder why the schedule-making gods would put a game against Columbus after a trip to Toronto and a game at the Rock.
It’s the hand the Rangers have been dealt here.
It just doesn’t seem fair, but maybe, it’s for the best.
Let Torts have his win tonight and see how he likes playing in Pittsburgh in April.