by Charles Solomon
Bure and Lindros cannot score, Kasparaitis has been a bust, Holik has missed more games this season than he missed in the previous five seasons combined, and Trottier seems like the wrong man for the job . Sure, there have been plusses like Messier’s scoring touch, Barnaby’s solid play, the Leetch and Poti pair, but the New York Rangers are apparently not a playoff team .
When this team is examined from a general manager’s perspective, it is clear that it’s a random collection of talented players, not a group of individuals with distinct roles . For example, the last four Ranger defensemen are playing like a bunch of mediocre players . Nobody in that group is a solid, puck-handling defenseman, and nobody seems to be a hard-hitting defender either (Kasparaitis, Malakhov, and Purinton should be hard-hitters, but alas) . Flexibility on defense is important, but parity is clearly a weakness .
At center, the Ranger s have four significantly talented players . Each of these players demands a chunk of ice time . Lindros needs twenty-two to twenty-five minutes of ice time, Holik needs to be on the ice every time the other team’s top line is on the ice, Nedved needs to be on the ice eighteen to twenty minutes a game so he can retain his scoring touch, and Messier has been earning upwards of seventeen minutes a game . If a hockey game was ninety minutes, the Ranger s would be set, but a game is sixty minutes and there simply is not enough time for these men to get their necessary share of ice time . This conundrum does not only hurt the aforementioned centers, but it hurts their wingers as well . Bure cannot get that much ice time because Lindros is not on the ice that often . Furthermore, Rem Murray is getting Lindros type minutes, and he should be getting less playing time despite his great start . Heck, this dynamic has forced Lundmark to lose his deserved spot on this hockey club .
Lastly, this whole problem hurts the team in that Trottier struggles to find a few seconds for the fourth line . When the Ranger s played the Devils to a four-four tie, no player on Jersey ’s roster got less than thirteen shifts . This allowed the Devils to stay fresh and focused, while the Ranger s withered away in the third period, as they have done all season . The beauty of this problem is that it has not fully manifested itself, yet . Holik’s injury has given the Ranger s a reprieve, but this issue still plagues the team .
Some say that Trottier should fix this mess by giving Lindros the twenty-three minutes a game that he gives Nedved . Although I do believe this would make the Ranger s better, it perturbs me that Nedved would be shortchanged of hard-earned ice time, while the Big E gets free ice time because his talent demands it . Bure also needs the ice time to be successful, so I begrudgingly suggest that Trottier indulge these superstars . However, how Trottier handles this situation when Holik comes back will be anybody’s guess . The decision concerning Lindros’ and Holik’s ice time will represent that style of play the Ranger s choose to play . Holik represents a checking, defensive style, while Lindros represents an offensive style . Certainly, this decision should vary from game to game, but that is not Trottier’s style because all of this would require line matching, something Trottier is not inclined to do . Therefore, this appropriate distribution of such an amazing surplus of talent is wishful thinking . It seems as though the idea of the Ranger s making the playoffs is wishful thinking too .
Trade Notes: The Ranger s have shown interest in Mclaren, but Boston says they will only make a deal if Lundmark is involved. If the Ranger s acquire Mclaren, then what will they do with Purinton, Lefebvre, Kasparaitis or Malakhov? I say this because one of those men will be bumped off of their spot on the roster . The latter three are getting paid big bucks while Purinton’s game (despite the occasional, terrible penalty) is evidently improving. The Ranger s have also shown interest in Radek Bonk and Ryan Smyth. The Ranger s are shopping Dvorak and Kloucek, the latter is currently out with a concussion.