by James DeBerardine
Five games into the season, the Rangers are 2-3-0. While this might not be the start most had hoped for, I certainly anticipated it. The combination of two new centers and defensive lapses by one person in particular has lead to a lackluster showing.
However, I feel that the end is near to the chemistry woes and the Rangers will soon be back on track, they have a relatively easy schedule coming up including a long home stand, this is the time were they will as well as need to turn it up a gear.
Let’s look at the season so far using a ‘Report Card’ model’
Comments: The Rangers have yet to show the offensive abilities we all know they can produce, although they have not been totally horrendous, there is definitely room for improvement. While scoring 5 goals in the season opener including a 4 goal third and scoring 3 early power play goals against Washington, meek performances against the Islanders and twice against the Senators; a total of 3 games, yielded only 2 goals. Jagr has been doing his share of the work so far, 6 points through 5 games is not disappointing, however no one else has gotten off to a remotely hot start to the season, the reason? Simple; the power play must improve, 3 goals against 1 team is not enough, and I look for them to ramp up their PP efforts in the coming games.
Comments: The defense as a whole has played decently, 10 goals through 5 games, a 2.00 GAA, is very respectable. However they have had several moments were they have totally shutdown and are running all over the place to try and keep up with play, allowing goals by the bushel while their at it. Some of the strong performers of the new season include Tyutin and Girardi, who have furthered their claim on the most trusted and reliable pairing, Marc Staal, who is showing no signs of youth game after game, showing steady improvement while he’s at it, and Paul Mara, who was benched to start the season but has showed fire in his play since then, I believe he is a quality player who should be kept in the line-up at all costs. However there is one weak link in the chain, one defenseman who has cost us 4 of the 10 goals this season, and of course we all know who I’m talking about, Marek Malik. The Bryan McCabe of the Rangers is having another season that is filled with Boo’s and demands for his benching already, look for him to change his game quickly and attempt to use his physical advantage more often lest he get benched in Favour of Thomas Pock or Strudwick.
Comments: When you have a save percentage in the .920’s and a GAA of 2.00, you expect to have a winning record. Yet Lundqvist has allowed several key goals despite playing very strongly so far this year, I expect him to strengthen as the season progresses and less of these to occur. One other interesting thing to note is the question of when Vali will receive his first start of the season.
Comments: Renney continues to astound me in putting together useless line combinations and above all playing Malik day in and day out for 20:00 of ice time a night. The addition of Nigel Dawes to the line-up makes me even more concerned over our lines at the moment. Prucha should be playing with Jagr, not Dawes, Dawes has 1 NHL goal, Prucha has 50+, Prucha is definitely the smarter option here. Once Avery returns it will make things a lot easier for the lines to naturally gel together.
Tonight’s Game: Playing against an Atlanta team that is in shambles is good for our boys who are coming off hard games play Ottawa, Washington, and the scrappy Isles. I’d go so far to say that Vali gets the start in net tonight, who knows I think it to be a high possibility though. Hopefully Malik see’s his time on the ice diminish and his time on the pine increase, and also I’d like to see Mara play a full 18:00 or so tonight.
That’s all ‘From the Pulpit’, hope you enjoyed. I’ll be back late next week to analyze what happened here and over the next couple of games, Lets Go Rangers!