Preseason is always a reason to be optimistic in Blueshirt land, but after a summer of positive action the Rangers faithful have kerbed their optimism in the light of some worrying trends.
Just how bad is the Rangers penalty kill? Over the final games of the preseason the Blueshirts gave up 13 power play goals on 42 attempts for a miserable 69.05%…a full 10% worse than last last season’s bottom of the league PK. And the news gets worse…
Darius Kasparaitis who played just five games was on the ice for a team leading 10 goals against. His partner on many of those occasions was Vladimir Malakhov who had 9 during his six appearances. Word to the coaching staff…maybe these guys shouldn’t be out on the penalty kill together.
The lone bright spot for the penalty kill, five short handed goals. Maybe there’s a correlation?
Meanwhile on the power play, the Rangers went 7 for 56 (12.50%), and looked to struggle when Lindros and Bure weren’t in the line-up. An ineffective second power play unit will hopefully improve as they get more time together…and they may have to given the health issues facing the Rangers.
The line-up looks like an HMO’s nightmare when you consider the number of serious injuries these players have suffered in recent years. Headlining this group of invalids are Eric Lindros (concussiona, elbow, foot…etc) and Mike Richter (knees, head) who both figure to feature prominently in the Rangers success (or lack of it) this season.
That of course doesn’t discount Bure (knee), Dvorak (knee), Malakhov (knees), Blackburn (groin), Kloucek (knee, shoulder), Messier (shoulder, hip), Lefebvre (shoulder, arm) and Karpa (elbow).
Well despite the health concerns and penalty killing worries, the Rangers can at least take solace in the fact that their team only gave up 12 even strength goals in the preseason…still they did give up an average of 31 shots a game and over 30 shots in 6 of their games while averaging only 23 shots themselves.
Well enough of the doom and gloom…Philadelphia gave up 28 goals and no one’s bagging them right?
Tomas Kloucek appears to be on the outer after Trottier came out and said that the coaching staff is looking for more from the young defenseman. Kloucek appears to have suffered greatly at the hands of the referees and Ron Low’s inept coaching last season and may never recover.
Another young player who looks like he may be not long for the Rangers is one Roman Lyashenko. While his competitors for the last couple of forward spots were getting better assignments, Lyashenko seems to have spent most of his time on the 4th line with little to show for his efforts. Lyashenko must pass through waivers if he is to be assigned to Hartford and it appears at this stage this is where he’ll be heading.
The continuing negotiations with Rucinsky and his agent seem to indicate a pending trade. Rumors out of Edmonton this week have yet more forwards potentially heading to New York…something will need to be done soon.
Tough guy and fan favorite Sandy McCarthy also appears to have gotten into the coach’s doghouse. Trottier came out publicly during camp with comments suggesting he wanted more from his big winger…his exposure during the waiver draft after Ronald Petrovicky was selected indicates that the future is uncertain for #10.
New York intended to give Petrovicky his first game as a Ranger against Boston, but put their plans on hold when the young Slovak was held up in Canadian customs. The Rangers did experiment on the blueline however with a late call-up to Vladimir Chebaturkin who was a +1 for the game.
The situation at forward remains unclear with injuries to Bure, Messier and Holik perhaps impacting the roster for opening night. As it stands today the Rangers have 17 forwards on the roster. Lundmark can be sent down without clearing waivers, while McCarthy, Ward and Donato went unclaimed during the Waiver Draft.
At most the Rangers are likely to keep 14 forwards which means 3 lucky contestants will need to be sent down or moved.