Second Dose of Rangers Better Than First

The live game was redeemed a bit by the latest "24/7" episode

The existence of "24/7" this season has changed the way you take in a Rangers game.

It is impossible not to think about how John Tortorella would respond to a mistake on the ice and imagine just where he'd slip curses into his evisceration of the guilty player.

That question came up a lot during Wednesday night's 4-1 loss to the Capitals because the Rangers kept making terrible mistakes.

Brian Boyle, John Mitchell and Brad Richards would certainly be on the receiving end of Tortorella's heat after a second period that saw them all make terrible giveaways that led to two Caps goals. But the entire team probably deserves to be thrashed after a night that saw them eschew hitting and aggressive hockey for a sleepy approach that makes it seem like they were already looking ahead to next Monday and the Winter Classic.

Tortorella gave a little preview of what the cameras might have caught inside the locker room. No expletives, but you could do a little adult Mad Libs and wedge them in where you see fit.

"They don't want to defend, they want nothing to do with it," Tortorella said of the Capitals. "So what do we do. We don’t allow them to defend on those plays and they go score goals and they get rolling."

It was an ugly night, but, thankfully, the Rangers got a chance to redeem themselves in the third episode of "24/7," which started just after their meek loss in D.C.

It was a look back to happier times for the Rangers, namely their pre-Christmas winning streak that culminated with last Friday's win over the Flyers.

The juxtaposition between those games and the one that had just concluded couldn't have been starker. Against the Devils, Islanders and Flyers, the Rangers kept moving forward and attacking instead of doing the meek thing they did against the Capitals.

While it was a bit frustrating to get that kind of reminder of the team the Rangers can be when they put their mind to it, the rest of the episode made you feel good about the team.

It's impossible to remain mad at Michael Del Zotto for a turnover that led to the first Capitals goal when you see him wearing a sweater (thanks to Puck Daddy for capturing the majesty) depicting reindeer having an awfully good time with one another to the team's "ugly sweater" Christmas party.

And it was hard to dwell too long on the loss after watching the HBO treatment of last week's 4-2 win over the Flyers. The intensity of the action on the ice, the trash talk going on between the two teams -- highlighted by Richards' put-down of yappy Flyers rookie Tom Sestito, "One day in the NHL for you. Fantasy camp for you" -- and the fact that the Flyers will be looking for a little revenge mean that January 2nd can't come soon enough.

The Rangers have one more game before that one, but whatever happens in Florida won't do a thing to lessen the Winter Classic excitement that's growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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