Friday, April 22, 2011

Tending Your (Madison Square) Garden

We chuckle from time to time at Larry Brooks of the New York Post and the way he wears his fan's heart on his sleeve when he writes about the Rangers. But we read this morning's column by Brooks and thought it an accurate and thoughtful summary of what went on at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, and more to the point, why it could happen.

We were especially taken with this commentary by Brooks:

"There was [Alex] Ovechkin (and there, and there!) and there were Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. For the Rangers, well, they couldn't find a game-breaker, they couldn't find a difference maker."

It bears noting that all four Capitals mentioned by Brooks are home grown, all drafted by the Caps.  The Rangers' Marian Gaborik, to whom these players are compared (and Gaborik found wanting in the comparison), is the latest "talent" the Rangers chose to sign to a big free-agent deal, a contract they signed just as they got out from under the last one of that sort, a mega-deal with Scott Gomez that did not have the desired results.

The Rangers are doing better in terms of trying to forego the splashy signing in favor of drafting and growing their own talent.  Witness players like Derek Stepan (2008), Artem Anisimov (2006), Marc Staal and Michael Sauer (both in 2005), and Brandon Dubinsky (2004).  And that does not include the injured Ryan Callahan (2004).  But the Rangers have a large hole to climb out of when it comes to drafting high-end talent, having eschewed the home-grown route for so many years in favor of the newest "hot" thing in free agency.

One team tended their garden well, one did not.  It's not over, but which one is on the brink this morning?

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