So everyone wants to know whether this is the beginning of the end for Eric Lindros…those in the affirmative were quick to jump on the fact that he now has his seventh concussion of his career…a concussion he gave himself on what appeared to be a routine albeit solid hit. Those whom hated the trade from the beginning have returned in force and are filling the airwaves and message boards with their complaints and criticisms….hold on guys he’s not dead yet!
It is however particularly worrying to think that Lindros could be as fragile as many had believed. After looking good in the first 37 games of his Ranger career it appeared as if things might just turn out in the Blueshirts favor, and although there’s still more to be written, many fans will now return to sitting on the edge of their seat every time someone so much as touches #88…that is of course is contingent on his return.
And what about the Olympics…should the Rangers really let Lindros risk their substantial investment for some games that mean nothing to their fans? Well in short they probably won’t have a choice…not if they want to keep the harmony that exists between themselves and the Lindros camp.
Now that that’s out of the way…how about Bryan Berard’s play in recent games? Looks like the addition of Sylvain Lefebvre to the line-up has proven to be a boon to the young defenseman who has five assists and is +3 in the eight games since Lefebvre call-up. Now if only Berard could get a goal…and to think his partner could very well have not been with the Rangers if it hadn’t been for an ill-timed (?) shoulder operation.
As good as Berard’s play has been in recent games, Ulanov’s has been bad…after being given every chance to improve his game it looks like the Russian may finally have worn out his welcome (about time!). Most OTG readers agreed in a recent poll that Ulanov has been the least effective of all Rangers d-men this year and why he was playing in place of young defenseman Tomas Kloucek is anyone’s guess. It does look however as if Ulanov will be hard to move…his salary and his play haven’t attracted much in the way of admirers, so look for a return to the line-up before the Rangers part ways with him.
Kloucek did make his long awaited return to the line-up against Edmonton but looked uncomfortable and was guilty of icing the puck a few times, including one that resulted in a goal off of a set-play from the face-off.
For much of the season the pairing of Malakhov and Leetch have been the Rangers most effective, so what’s happened in recent games???
It was nice to get rid of Zdeno Ciger ( 8GP 0G 1A -7 in Tampa), but it looks like the Barnaby honeymoon is over. After playing poorly in LA, Barnaby found himself taken off the Nedved line in the third period…it didn’t take that long in Phoenix and in Edmonton he was relegated to 4th line duty. Looks like this one may turn out to be another nothing for nothing trade…though it’d be a whole lot less painful to watch if he decided to pick smaller opponents in his regular tilts.
Dan Blackburn remains a great find, but still needs to work on his puck handling and his tendency to drop down to the ice too early. Still at eighteen he has shown a lot more than most and the future finally looks bright in the Rangers goal past Mike Richter.
Could Manny Malhotra be staging a mini-comeback? A couple of goals on this road-trip including a short-hander have Malhotra fans again coming out of the woodwork. Manny’s recent good play have resulted in more ice-time with the Nedved line, but he’ll probably need to start producing soon because it doesn’t look like the coaching staff have much patience with the former #1 pick.
How about those Swedes? Johansson and Samuelsson have both proven to be valuable pick-ups this past off-season and perhaps are among the most consistent Ranger forwards. Their center and Captain is playing through some painful injuries and his usual presence is being missed particularly in and around the face-off circle.
Speaking of face-offs…could the Rangers get any worse? Nedved, York, Toms, Johansson and Fleury combined for a pitiful 22 of 63 against Edmonton and weren’t much better in Phoenix.
The Edmonton game marked the return of Rico Fata to the Rangers line-up after a short five game stint at the beginning of the season. Fata has been on fire down in Hartford but looked pretty ineffective despite starting with Fleury and York initially.
Penalty Killing has improved immensely killing off 22 of 24 on this road trip or 91.67% after the Rangers had fallen below 77% on the year. With the extra man they’ve been somewhat less effective with only 1 goal in 14 attempts…hurry back Eric! The fact the Rangers have given up 10 more power plays than they have received continues the trend of undisciplined play this season…
Finally…Theo Fleury…chill dude! The Rangers winger is averaging over 9 minutes a game in penalty minutes through the last 9 games…
Catch you next week…