Chris Drury

Previewing The Rangers: 2007-08

by James DeBerardine

Hey all, if you are a visitor or member of the OTG forums you’re bound to know of me and my ideas, I thought I’d give an overview of what I feel the Rangers should do to be successful this season.

More about me? I have been a member of OTG for a short time, just last May I joined, and I look forward to my first season on board here.

Forwards
The Rangers have one of the most solid groups of forwards in the NHL, which figures that the competition for the few remaining slots in camp will be fierce, however the lines have started to emerge and I like what Renney has done for the most part. The 1st line of Hossa/Gomez/Jagr figures to be a dynamic scoring line that emphasizes puck possession in the offensive zone, I expect most of the scoring to be generated down low by Gomez and Hossa working the boards then passing up to the circle where Jagr will be circling, waiting for his chances, if Hossa flops, Straka should be brought up onto this line and the 3rd line would need to be adjusted, more on that later.

The 2nd line of Avery/Drury/Shanahan is a high energy line that will focus on shooting as much as possible, pucks to the net and rebounds is the name of the game for this line, no pretty tic-tac-toes, but plenty of rebound goals which are just as effective. The 3rd line, currently Straka/Callahan/Prucha, is where the Rangers show their true offensive depth, compare this to other teams 3rd lines, usually 3rd liners are checkers and shutdown players, but this line can do that as well as provide offence that is on par with all other teams 2nd lines, this means more goals for us

If Straka needs to be moved to the first line, I consider that the end of Hossa and he should be sent down in favor of Alex Bourret, very high energy player with great speed and hands, would work well with Prucha’s finishing and Callahan’s work ethic. 4th line remains the same, Hollweg/Betts/Orr did a fine job last season, they should remain the same, a grinding line focusing on playing the physical game and keeping the puck in the opponents zone.

Lines to start the season:

Hossa – Gomez – Jagr
Avery – Drury – Shanahan
Straka – Callahan – Prucha
Hollweg – Betts – Orr

Defense
The Rangers defense is pretty much the same core as last year, the first pairing of Malik-Rozsival will remain despite cries for Maliks departure all of last season. The second pairing is where it gets interesting, to start the season I believe Tyutin-Mara should start in this spot because of their experience compared to Girardi-Staal, however as the year progresses I think the Girardi-Staal pairing will become the number two pairing, they combine Girardi’s solid defensive awareness and heads up plays with Staal’s shutdown and offensive abilities.

They should use Thomas Pock as a fill in this season; he did a great job at this role last season into the playoffs. As a whole the defensive core should not concern themselves with the offence too much, we have tons of world class forwards for this, but the same concept of team defense that did us well at the end of last season.

Pairings:

Malik – Rosival
Tyutin – Mara
Staal – Girardi

Special Teams

Power Play
The Rangers have great depth on the power play and will be able to send two solid units out on the ice for the full two minutes. First unit will be, like last year, the Jagr unit, where crisp passing and setups are the key, completing this group along with Jagr will be Rozsival, Prucha, Gomez, and Straka. Expect Jagr’s big one timer to be back this year as he is healthy again. The second unit will be mainly lots of shots to the net and chasing down rebounds, applying as much pressure as possible, good way to finish a PP to tire out the other team’s skaters. This unit will consist of Avery, Drury, Shanahan, Mara, and Callahan.

Unit 1:
Prucha – Gomez – Jagr
Rozsival – Straka

Unit 2:
Avery – Drury – Callahan
Shanahan – Mara

Penalty Kill
The Rangers PK last year was decent, again this year it should be the similar although the loss of Ortmeyer may affect us, Shanahan should see less PK time and Malik none at all unless his clinging habits have vanished, first unit will be the Betts unit, second will be anchored by Drury, utilizing the diamond and having forwards blocking lots of shots is key for success.

Unit 1:
Betts – Avery
Tyutin – Girardi

Unit 2:
Drury – Straka
Malik – Rozsival

Goaltending
Last year the Rangers learned Lundqvist can be a workhorse as well as a world class goalie, again he will start around 70 games, I expect him to be in the running for the Vezina again. His back-up will be Valiquette once again, Montoya looks ready but his cap implications are too high, perhaps if we have room after the deadline and depending on our position at the time. This section of the team looks solid.

Goaltenders:
Lundqvist
Valiquette

Projected finish: 50 – 24 – 8, 108 points, 1st in the Atlantic Division, 2nd in the Eastern Conference

Well that’s it from me, I hope you enjoyed what I have said and maybe agree maybe not, but one thing is for sure, we will have an exciting team to watch this year and I hope they do really well. Let’s Go Rangers!

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