Thursday, March 28, 2013
How long does this last?
Your 2013 New York Rangers.
Where do we even begin with this team? Coming into the season I believe they had the bulls-eye on their chests being "The Team To Beat" coming out of the East. Off-Season acquisitions of Rick Nash and a few other "grinder"/depth players made this team heavy favorites to bring Lord Stanley back to New York City. But this team has been FAR from stellar.
Lets start with the basics, after a loss in Ottawa they are now 16-14-3 equating to 35 points & barely clinging to the 8th seed in the Easter Conference. The East is also tight although they are having a terrible season, the Florida Panthers are only 9 points behind. When you look at this team on paper, no stats just names you'd say to yourself "Wow this team is stacked!" right? Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, just to name a few. They almost have players to do everything but WHY is nothing clicking for them?
At the beginning of the season, many fans of the game had figured most teams would be a little sloppy coming out of the gate without any real training camp or time to gel together (The Blackhawks made everyone feel stupid, eh?). I personally gave this team a 10 game maximum to find their stride but it just never happened. Many said "They didn't get Tortorella's brutal mini camp, that's why they're not playing well!", amongst other reasons. I just didn't buy into it. No team had a training camp why should this team get a free pass?
Now lets move on to production. Besides Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist, and Derek Stepan there hasn't been many bright spots for many of this teams bigger names. Marian Gaborik: 9 goals, 10 assists for 19 points & a -7 in 33 games. Brad Richards: 5 goals, 13 assists +/- 0 in 33 games. Ryan Callahan: 9-6-15 -2 in 30 games. Lastly one of my favorites (sarcasm included) Brian Boyle: 1 goal, 1 assists, 2 points and a -8. Gaboriks numbers aren't terrible on paper but watching him in games hurts. He has 2 goals in his last 20 games, UNACCEPTABLE. With the injury bug going around the team is he afraid to get hurt? Or is he just being lazy? Brad Richards, "Big Money Brad" has been a ghost almost all season, I honestly am not sure how he gets points on the board. Ryan Callahan, "Captain Cally" I love this man with every ounce I can but I feel like he hasn't been the Captain we all fell in love with when he originally donned the 'A' under Chris Drury. I know he isnt going to go out and score you 40 goals a season and add 40 helpers but he was the player the team relied on for the little things, the grind it out shift after another team gained some momentum or going out and hitting anything that moved with the puck. I just haven't seen enough of that all season. I see it in spurts here and there but in times when your team is struggling you have to step up for them in some form. Lastly, Brian Boyle. The big guy, the guy who when Marian Gaborik got hurt a few seasons back helped carry this team with 20+ goals and a great year offensively & defensively. Hello, Brian where did you go? There's also a ton of young talent on this team who will prosper in given years if they are played correctly. IE: JT Miller, Chris Kreider, Jasper Fasth(hopefully), ect. What do I think has become the problem in the Big Apple? Coaching.
Yes, John Tortorella & Mike Sullivan. I understand Torts has a cup under his belt & his "grind it out and wait for our chances" system won it for him in 2004 with Tampa but I think we can all agree that this isn't 2004 and the game has changed, DRASTICALLY. I'm not the biggest John Tortorella fan but I can admit the guy is a phenomenal coach, 400 wins and counting? Not bad. I think the problem has become that this team has tuned him out and doesn't want to buy into his antics and his system. Which happens constantly in Professional Sports. Its only so long you can go with a bad PP and blame it on players, eventually it has to be put on coaching. With that being said I'm sorry but the Torts era in New York needs to come to an end. Hopefully sooner rather than later so this team can still have a shot if they make the playoffs. A coaching change can definitely give this team a spark and putting in the back of their minds a "oh crap I may be next to go also". For those who don't know, I believe Lindy Ruff is still available? That'd be a helluva snatch and a pretty darn good replacement if you ask me.
What Lies Ahead:
With 15 games remaining, the trade deadline April 3rd, and 9 points away from the cellar in the East what does this team do? Pittsburgh has made bold moves snatching Douglas Murray (San Jose), Brendan Morrow (Dallas), & Jarome Iginla (Calgary), so who's left? A few names still linger that may or may not be available come a week from now, a few of which will sound very familiar. First, Dan Boyle of San Jose. Although he is old, he can quarterback a Powerplay with the best of em and provides some veteran leadership for a very young core of defenseman. Second, Blueshirts fans Remember Jaromir Jagr? Rumor has it he may be available, but also may be willing to sign an extension in Dallas. He'd be a nice fit to add scoring on the second line and second PP unit take pressure off Gaborik, Richards and even Rick Nash. Lastly, Ryan Clowe of San Jose. Maybe you try to acquire him in a package with Boyle. He adds grit & toughness and can fill the shoes of the departed Brandon Prust pretty well. The only problem, he doesn't have a goal yet this season but has put up some decent numbers in the past few seasons that make him valuable. Only problem is him and Boyle both have contracts ending this season making it tough to give up something valuable for someone who may retire or walk at the end of the season. NYR GM Glen Sather has done much better in recent years not making completely absurd signings and trading away good youth for past-prime players. So do you make a move Slats? If you do at what cost? I guess we will find out soon enough if any moves are made at all, while many of us sit here and pray that the Hockey Gods send this team some luck.