It's not very often that I find myself on common ground with Mike Milbury. The fiery, often controversial announcer and former Islanders GM has a tendency to be outspoken -- and other times simply misquoted. Today, he wrote a blog for CBC praising Glen Sather and the Rangers for turning things around since the deadline. And I can do nothing else but wholeheartedly agree.
The Rangers were a soap opera without any identifiable characters for past few months. Their hot start in October was nothing but a faint memory as they slipped down the standings and were frustratingly futile on offense. No one in the locker room really seemed concerned to do anything about it. Not that they didn't care -- I'm sure they did -- it's just that they needed someone to light a fire under them.
Props to GM Glen Sather for realizing what this team needed and delivering it at the trade deadline in moves that will likely see the Garden host playoff games for the fourth straight season. The Rangers are 4-2 since the deadline and have outscored their opponents 16-8 in those four wins. They've scored four goals in each of those wins, finding an offense that was almost non-existent in 2009. For comparison, the Rangers scored four or more goals in a game only four times during the 25 games they played in January and February.
Around the trade deadline, Sather made four key additions (and one subtraction) that we've all heard about. In no particular order, Sean Avery, John Tortorella, Nik Antropov and Derek Morris completely gave this team a new look and a new personality.
Avery, for what it's worth, is just what the doctor ordered. He has stayed true to this whole 'New Sean' persona, refusing to run his mouth around the media, but he's been the sparkplug the team needed on the ice. He's also helping on the scoresheet with five points (4G, 1A) in six games.
To add an extra dose of personality, Sather brought in a coach in Tortorella. It was a move that woke up everyone in the room not named Avery. That worked and now the Rangers are scoring in bunches with some extra help from the often criticized Antropov (3-2-5 in 6 games).
Today, the Rangers are still only one point up on the eighth spot, so they're not out of the woods yet. However, they're in a great position to make a move this week with games coming up against Montreal and Buffalo, two teams they're battling tooth and nail for playoff position.
Just when it looked like Sather had assembled a team void of personality that was a cap mess and falling out of the playoff picture, they're a playoff contender with some bite. And bite is just what they needed all along.