For the New York Rangers fan that misses all the former Rangers playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Thursday night’s game was your worst nightmare. For 60 minutes, and especially for the first 11, the Jackets beat the Rangers at the kind of game that not only they are sorely missing, but may be incapable of retrieving. The Rangers lost the game 4-2, but the game was never close.
The teams that defined the John Tortorella and Tom Renney eras showed grit, determination and heart. Columbus came out for this game fired up, ready to pounce on every single Ranger mistake. At the same time, they became the latest team to expose the Rangers’ utter lack of confidence.
Former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky was especially fired up for this game, eager to prove that the Rangers made a mistake in including him in the Rick Nash deal. Although he did not get on the score-sheet, his desire to win this game rubbed off on his teammates. This mentality rubbed off on his Ranger teammates during his time on Broadway, too. Right now, the Rangers simply do not have that type of player. Yes, the Nash trade was still the right thing to do at the time, but did it come at the expense of the Rangers’ backbone?
The Blue Jackets are winning games the way the Rangers used to win, with goaltending, defense and a blue-collar work ethic. Today’s Rangers are a team unable to adapt to Alain Vigneault‘s offense-first system, not only because of their lack of confidence, but because their talents simply do not match the style of play expected of them.
Despite the talent deficiencies of past Ranger teams, at least they competed hard for 60 minutes, win or lose. Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov brought this ruggedness to Columbus, and it rubs off in their team’s play. The current Rangers appear to quit at the first sign of trouble, and it is questionable whether or not they will ever regain the confidence that used to define them.