Thursday, October 11, 2007

Feels like 1998...

In response to Christina's last post... I'm long winded, I'm sorry!

Last Saturday Ottawa shut out the Rangers. Last night, the Rangers lost to their Long Island rivals. There is panic in Ranger-topia. After July 1st, we were sure thing to go all the way... weren’t we?

Well, here's the deal. We opted out of the Straka-Nylander-Jagr line when we let Nylander walk. Fussy Mr. Jagr found great chemistry with Nylander. Unfortunately, Nylander was looking for a long-term contract- or as long-term as someone his age could get. The Rangers have a youth movement going on (yet we're still harassed for buying our team... but that's a whole other subject.) Think about our homegrown- Lundqvist, Prucha, Callahan, Dubinsky, Hollweg, Girardi, Tyutin, Hossa, and Staal. In defense of GM Glenn Slather, signing Nylander long term would have been an anti-youth movement. Instead, he goes out and finds two of the top UFA available, who happen to be middle aged players, not old ones. Yay!

This looks fine and dandy until we analyze the way the Rangers played the past two years. A European-infested team plays like they did in Europe. We can consider this the reason for the Devils sweep of the Rangers in the first season after the lockout. The year after, we realized we needed some North American blood and some North to South style hockey. Enter Brendan Shanahan and line number 2 (including Matt Cullen, Petr Prucha, and Sean Avery). But remember Jagr is still playing with Nylander and Straka(East/West hockey), racking up points despite shoulder and hip issues. They frustrated the hell out of us (remember the "SHOOT THE PUCK" chants?) but line 1 continued to produce. Cycle, cycle, cycle. Occasionally a shot. Cycle more.

The signing of Drury and Gomez look great on paper. Two American boys, top centers, each a hero from where they come from. Look closer, and we can see an obvious problem. Drury and Gomez play North/South hockey. Jagr? Not so much. We don't have a center who can immediately compliment Jags. Shanahan looks like he should be playing checkers, not hockey. This man is not moving. Old age might be kicking in. He might just need to shake off (a ton) of rust. In any case, he's not the same man he was last year at this time. So despite playing North to South, Shanahan is not being complimented, and nor is he complimenting.

Here is where I cut Drury some slack. Chris Drury has a couple assists, is noticeable on the ice, and is playing with Jagr (this being negative because of their different styles of play). Gomez is not producing, not helping Shanny produce, and is an all-around waste of ice time. Couple that with the loss of Sean Avery for 4 weeks and you have one pretty crappy team of all stars.

What's that? We're back in '98?

Note to Coach Renney:
Prooks and Callahan were your best forwards last night. Let Straka center Jagr and Hossa, let Gomez and Shanahan bomb together and eventually figure themselves out, have Drury center Prucha and Callahan but give them a ton of ice time, and let line 4 do it's thing.

This is a chemistry problem. It’s not all that serious, even. They'll all grow into each other. But if they are not made to fit, if the chemistry continues to be bad, we will not be making a run at the cup this year. This team SHOULD be making a run at the cup this year. And I believe we will.

After a rough start.


Lucky13 said...

Well said! Even though Drury has some points, there's room for improvement with him. Still not too sure about this chemistry thing. Just play good hockey!!

Kirsten said...

I've always felt sorry for any team that had to put up with Jagr. He must be a coaches nightmare to find a line for.

Heather B. said...

I think part of the problem is that, to me, neither Drury or Gomez are really true number one centers. They're both talented and Drury is an incredibly hard worker on the ice, but neither of them have mind-boggling skill sets. And while I understand going younger, I think we've seen that when you finally find someone who plays well with Jagr, you keep that guy around if you plan on getting the most out of Jagr. If anything bites the Rangers in the ass this season I think it's going to be no one matching well with Jagr.