Shanahan Says No More Mr. Nice Rangers
By Joe McDonald
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Brendan Shanahan has seen enough.
After seeing his teammates get pushed around all year with elbows, dirty hits and non-calls, the future Hall of Famer decided to do something about it.
Last Saturday, during the Rangers 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals that ended their seven game losing streak, Shanahan stood up to enforcer Donald Brashear in the middle of the third period. As the crowd cheered "Shan-ny!, Shan-ny!" the alternate captain took a stand, which he hopes would set an example for the rest of his teammates.
"I thought that this was just a game where our team needed a little extra in different areas," said Shanahan, whose last fight was on March 30 last season when Detroit took on Nashville. "The opportunity presented itself with some of the things he did to Jaromir throughout the game. I have no problem with him playing physically. I went to the faceoff and I asked him to fight and he did. That's as simple as it was."
With his team up 3-0 in the middle of the third, it's easy for Shanahan to take a five minute major for fighting, but there will be times where a stunt like that would hurt the team. So other Rangers need to show some toughness.
Besides Colton Orr - who is out on suspension until January 13 - and Ryan Hollweg, third and fourth liners like Blair Betts, Adam Hall, Marcel Hossa and Jason Ward will need to display a more physical game, even if it means getting into the occasional scrum.
"There's always those moments in a season where you look for such a catalyst to propel your season forward," said Aaron Ward, who took a punch from Brashear on his way to the penalty box that earned him a one game suspension. "You have to answer the bell, whether it's guys fighting or guys sticking up for each other. We had to find something to rally around.
"I'm not saying it wasn't there before, but games like this are sometimes the spurring factor that ignites us. Hopefully this is something you can build on."
It seems like it did do some good work. Against the Devils on Tuesday, the Blueshirts took the Jersey trap to the Devils and played with a new type of spirit that was absent during their skid. Michal Rozsival good into it with Mike Rupp during the first period and played a very physical game. The Devils had to fight for every inch of ice in a game eventually won by the Rangers.
It's something that Blueshirt Nation waited for all season and now maybe they are seeing it.
"When your leaders do things like that, it clearly demonstrates that they're willing to pay any kind of price to win," said coach Tom Renney. "It suggests how badly he wanted to get us out of what we've just been through seven times. And it lends itself nicely to make sure that we don't get ourselves into that kind of streak again. But it's incumbent upon his teammates and all of us to make sure it doesn't happen [again]."
If those two games are any indication, then maybe the Rangers and their fans won't.