Hello! Yes I’m alive and so are Marc and Rory. They say hi.
The Rangers are 17-8-2 right now which places them atop the Eastern conference. But are they really as good as their record would suggest?
Some days I watch them play and I would argue that they are just as good, if not better than their record suggests. On other days (Oct 15, Nov 8*, Nov 22, Nov 30) they play terrible, uninspired games. Why is it that there is such a large swing from game to game? How can the Rangers right the ship and keep it that way?
*What happened to “Every goal of every game,” NHL.com?
1. Fix the Power Play. Yes, I know. But seriously, something must be done about this. The Rangers have the most power play opportunities in the entire league, their offense is what some would call stacked, yet they are ranked 11th in the Eastern conference. Let me just throw out a few teams that have a better power play. The Islanders, the Thrashers, the Lightning. In the last five games, the Rangers are just 2 for 21 with the man advantage. At least Tom Renney is now admitting that there is something wrong and is even considering putting a forward at the point.
I think there’s forwards who can do that job. There’s defensemen, too. They just have to do it with a certain level of confidence and assertiveness. We can look at a number of different guys. What would Zherdev be like back there? Chris (Drury) we’ve tried. What would Scott (Gomez) be like back there? What would Nazzy be like? That’s a short list of guys.
The problem I have with putting a forward at the point is that the Rangers are already leading the league in short handed goals against and they’ve been playing with two defensemen on the power play the entire season. By putting 4 forwards on the ice, you’re conceding that your PP unit will not be as defensively sound. Look how easily Chris Drury pounces on the defensive mistake of Martin St. Louis, caught out of position along the boards during a Lightning power play.
So, what do you do if the defensemen on the PP have not been effective but adding a 4th forward would add to the risk of shorthanded goals for a team that already gives up too many shorthanded goals? Take the defensemen that aren’t working *cough*Rozsival*cough* on the PP off of the PP and put a different defenseman on the point. Marc Staal doesn’t need the perfect pass to rip a slap shot.
Scott Gomez, please stop hanging around at the half boards and pretending to be Jaromir Jagr. Cycle the puck and get some low, hard shots to the net with a man set up right in front. Rebounds and deflections galore!
2. Give Petr Prucha a chance. Dear Tom Renney, Why is it that Dan Fritsche is allowed to have so many games to be consistently invisible yet Petr Prucha gets very few games to play hard, throw the body around, and draw some penalties? You recently allowed Fritsche to play 10 games in a row. He scored 1 goal against the Panthers and got 3 assists against the Devils (2) and the Bruins (1). He scored his first goal of the season in his 9th game in a row. I wonder if his goal came as a mix of playing against an inferior team plus getting more comfortable playing as he was playing on a more consistent basis.
Please, please allow Prucha 10 games in a row to show you that he is the better player and that he deserves much more ice time than you give him. Why not try him on the Power Play? Nothing else seems to be working so far. Don’t forget, the teams you will be facing in the next couple weeks are much stronger opponents than the ones you faced in the last two weeks.
3. Stop stumbling out of the gate. The Rangers played 13 games in October. They scored first in eight of those games and had a record of 10-2-1. They played 14 games in November and scored first in only four of those games. Their record in November was 7-6-1. In fact, before the game in Tampa, the Rangers had gone eight games without scoring first.
It might be alright to play catch up with a team like the Lightning or the Brodeur-less Devils. Especially when you have a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist to keep you in it, but what happens when you stumble so hard that you can’t get up in time and give up 4 goals in the first 23 mintues of a game? You need to come out of the gate strong and finish strong as well.
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