Pre-Game Rant: Rangers vs Lightning 2/10/13
I’m not a religious guy. Not at all. But I’m superstitious as shit when it comes to sports. I think it all started when my mom insisted that we replicate our drive from the house to the deli to the rink before every game of our mite state championship tournament (which we won, by the way), but at this point it doesn’t matter. At age 26, I’m still taking extra precautions to “sit where I always sit when the Rangers score” or “wear the same sweatpants as I wore during their seven game winning streak last season”. It’s an irrational knee jerk reaction to my ultimate lack of control over the whole situation, and honestly, isn’t that the exact same thing as religion? Grasping for some semblance of personal power in a universal game of roulette. So I’ve been doing pre-game predictions this season, and as I’m sure you know, they haven’t been going too well. Now getting a whole ton of shit wrong is part of the nature of predicting random things before NHL games, but it was getting to the point where I felt I was doing damage to the Rangers’ chances every game did it for. As any superstitious sports fan can tell you, the main goal is to be part of the solution, not part of the problem…
So instead of predicting things that may or may not happen depending on a fate that is completely outside of my control, I’m simply going to jabber on for a couple paragraphs about how the Rangers need to play in order to take two points out of tonight. Hey, it worked last game against the Islanders, right? Well I have mixed feelings about how this game is going to go. The Lightning were supposed to be coming to town tired thanks to a game in Boston last night, but thanks to Nemo they had a night off to rest. Hopefully the afternoon bus ride from Beantown to Midtown gets their legs a little lactic. They’re currently sitting on a three-game losing streak, so you know this Tampa Bay team is going to be hungry for a win against the team that started said streak off. The Rangers, on the other hand, need this game just as much if not more.
We’ve only won two games in a row once this season, and stopping this .500 hockey, back and forth crap is an absolute necessity. If the Rangers manage to string together a series of wins here against the Lightning, Bruins, Isles and Caps, we’ll be seeing the standings in a massively more optimistic way. They can’t just sit back and trade off wins and losses while the Penguins and Devils run away with the division. This game isn’t must-win, per se, but it’s need-win. We need to win this game before we have to stop, look around, and realize that one quarter of the season’s gone by and we’re still looking to solidify our “team identity”.
Callahan sparked the group in his return to the lineup, and now Girardi’s back on the ice tonight looking to do the same. JT Miller is back on a line with the Captain and Kreider looking to prove he belongs here for the long run. Nash, Hagelin, Stepan, and Gaborik are back at it looking to add to their point totals and spark the lifeless power play. Hank’s back in net as he gets the nod to go for his fifth win on the season. Unfortunately for Boyle, he’s back in the press box, but the lineup is there, folks. The pieces are in place. There’s a good energy surrounding this squad right now and I think it all stems of sitting the big man down against the Isles. These guys have to be held accountable for their nightly effort and that’s hard to do when the depth isn’t there. Yeah, sweet contract, slow poke, but the rookie’s on fire right now so we’re going to give him the game day go ahead. You gotta work for your minutes, boys, just like the team’s gotta work for their points.
It’s a big one tonight, Rangers fans. I’m not exactly ready for it, emotionally speaking. I’m worried and stressed and anxious. But it’s not in my hands. It’s in the Rangers players’ hands. So it doesn’t matter if I’m ready for it. Just as long as they are.
Pre-Game Jam: The Boxer Rebellion – Evacuate
“I don’t want to say, ‘The Rangers lost today’”.