NEW YORK RANGERS: The Blueshirts Powered-Up Against Tampa Bay and the Flyers. Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are Next. Come Get Some!
And My Thoughts on the Trade Dead-Line
Hey folks, the Rangers are taking requests. While they seem to be in a giving mood, think quickly about what we want from them next. Lately, the Coach, the Media, and the Fans have all been clamouring for more overall scoring and for some improvement on the Power Play. The Blueshirts heard our pleas and delivered on both counts. But some still feel it wasn't enough. There's some truth in that. But as far as this year's expectations, you might be talking to the wrong guy.
Over the last two games against Tampa and then in Philadelphia on Saturday, the Rangers have produced four goals on the power play. Don't quote me, but I believe that doubles their efforts over their last fifty opportunities. That's not poking fun. Unfortunately that's stating fact. The goals came though. And they came against the Flyers. For that I am grateful. Few things make me happier.
There's no doubt the Rangers need more goals. Today, they are only ninth in the Conference in scoring. And we're at the point in the season now when names start to get named. Brad Richards was probably the biggest Blueshirt name of mention. So he responded with the game winning overtime goal against Tampa. The Captain's name has been mentioned; by me included; and responded with a hat-trick in Philadelphia. Artem Anisimov's name has been called to task big time. And he too responded in Philly. If you're feeling generous, Artem was also involved in what could have been the last second, game tying goal against the Devils when they last met. Then there's Brian Boyle. No one is expecting last season's output. But his goals along the way can, and do help a great deal.
Over their last six games since returning from the break, the Rangers have scored four or more goals three times, and have scored a total of eighteen over that time for a three goal-a-game average. They beat Philly twice with identical 5-2 scores and out-gunned Tampa with four goals. Behind the blue line, they gave up twelve goals over that stretch. Four of those came against New Jersey in that 4-3 shoot-out loss to the Devils back on January 31st. But since then, the Blueshirts have held their opponents to 0; 2; 1; 3; and 2 goals.
That said, the Rangers continue to be the stingiest team in the League having surrendered only 108 goals this season. In the Eastern Conference, Boston is second with 120, while overall, St. Louis comes in second to the Rangers with 111 goals against.
The Rangers have responded with very positive responses to recent criticisms levied against them indeed. All except for the conundrum the Devils have created for them. Earlier this season, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs whom the Rangers didn't have an answer for. They wound up clarifying that matter for me with a sweet 3-0 pounding of the Leafs on January 14th. Now, for the moment at least, the Devils have stopped the Blueshirts cold on two occasions since coming back from the All-Star break. So if the Blueshirts are taking requests, I'd like to see that rectified because we'll be facing New Jersey several more times down the stretch. And I'd also like to see the Rangers play better overall hockey against the Northeast Division; namely Montreal; Toronto; and Ottawa. Outside of that and the Power Play, that's all I have.
Don't forget, if you're not enjoying the ride, you're doing yourself a disservice as a fan. These Rangers have brought me great joy this season by the way they've stepped up to every challenge so far, and competed. When you keep things in context and think about how they've built this team, and then watching them grow together over the last two years, it makes their present situation wildly satisfying. And they've done it by being very consistent and very resilient. By watching them play, you couldn't tell whether they were at home or away; nor trailing or leading in a game. That's a great workman-like trait. It's their identity.
The trade deadline is coming. I tell you now; don't misunderstand me, but...; a Stanley Cup interests me not right now. I am not interested in making any kind of team changing trade. I'd rather fall short this season than alter the plan which has been put in place. Stick with the plan! At face value, yes, so far the Rangers have proven they can hang with any team. But then again, the Blackhawks and the Red Wings still loom ahead. But very simply, I am in no mood to give up multiple players for a power scorer/forward right now.
I certainly have my idea about the deadline. A friend of mine wants Rick Nash. One, I say he would be too costly. And two, I think he'd be too disruptive because now you'd have a guy who may not fit into our team concept after being the dominant player elsewhere. Ditto for Jeff Carter. I'm not interested. It could create a scenario where the conversation turns to - Who's team is this? Nor do I care to resurrect the Anaheim Bobby Ryan deal. The truth is, I'm against most trades right now.
Here's my opinion. I think Calgary's Jarome Igilna would be a perfect player for this team in terms of both where he is at this point in career, and for the Rangers present situation. Jarome Igilna won't come here looking to be a hero. He will gladly come here to just fit in. And I think he can be had for the perfect price that won't involve a costly package of players. And of course, his ability to score does not need any input from me.
I won't argue the Rangers have an interesting situation on their hands as the deadline approaches. But I'm a firm believer that haste makes waist. I'm leery of partially dismantling something the Rangers and Coach Torts have worked so hard to build to this point. We've been very patient so far and it's paid off handsomely. A little more patience is all I ask now. Sometimes the best trade you make is the one you don't make. Just saying.
That's for tomorrow though. Today there is the matter of the Washington Capitals in Madison Square Garden. As of today, they are not among the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference. And all along, I thought former Coach Boudreau was trying to teach them the right way, for Washington is still trying to grasp the concept of defense long after they fired him. It's a classic Super Star syndrome. Here's a question - Do you think the Caps would be better off trading Ovechkin for a package of young skilled players?
.....Yeah, like the Rangers have? Think the trade deadline through before doing anything.
Lets Go Rangers!
NEW YORK RANGERS
Madison Square Garden
33rd Street at 7th Avenue