Friday, January 19, 2007

Shanahan Named Captain of East

Rangers forward Brendan Shanahan was named Captain of the East for next week's All Star Game in Dallas. It's quite an honor for the popular 37 year-old right wing who's put together a nice debut season so far on Broadway. The eight-time All Star is currently tied for the club lead in goals (24) with Martin Straka and ranks first in power play goals (12). His 46 points (24-22-46) are fourth on the team behind Jaromir Jagr, Straka and Michael Nylander.

Though he's struggled to finish lately, Shanny has been a solid soldier for the team and become their emotional leader. He doesn't take shifts off and has even contributed some solid penalty killing, notching one of the club's six shorthanded goals in a win over the Devils. It would be ashame if the team failed to make the postseason because the 600 goal member certainly has done his part.

Now, let's address what Coach Tom Renney's proposed lines are for tomorrow's home matinee against Atlanta before they get a week off:


Straka-Nylander-Jagr
Cullen-Krog-Shanahan
Hossa-Betts-Ortmeyer
Prucha-Hollweg-Ward

It's hard to fathom that 31 year-old waiver pickup Jason Krog is being deployed as the team's second line center. He's not that good. In 191 career games, the British Columbia native has 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points. On what basis is he anchoring the second line? His best season came with Anaheim four years ago when he tallied 25 points (10-15-25) in 67 contests in 2002-03. The only full season he's played came the following year when he took part in 80 games for the Ducks registering six goals and 12 helpers for 18 points. This season in 16 games with the Thrashers and Rangers, he has four points. All four came with his former club who he'll face Saturday in the third match-up between the teams.

Truthfully, I have nothing against Krog. He's a nice player but should never be depicted in a scoring role which speaks to how misguided the Rangers are. So how would I do things? Isn't it about time the coach grew a pair and broke up his only reliable scoring line at even strength and spread the wealth? Before anyone goes nuts, I'm going to give a primary example of a rival club doing the exact same thing last year which wound up saving their season. Yes, the Devils under the guidance of their genius Team President and GM Lou Lamoriello broke up the EGG line and placed struggling rookie Zach Parise on it in place of Patrik Elias, who dropped to the second line to play with Sergei Brylin and Jamie Langenbrunner. The gutsy move by Lamoriello paid off as Parise regained his confidence by finding instant chemistry with American linemates Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta while Elias and Langenbrunner worked with Brylin to give the team two scoring lines.

So why then can't Renney try a similar formula? Here are two different ideas I'd look into:

Straka-Nylander-Hossa
Shanahan-Cullen-Jagr
Ortmeyer-Betts-Prucha
Hollweg-Krog-Ward

Prucha-Straka-Jagr
Cullen-Nylander-Shanahan
Hossa-Betts-Ortmeyer
Hollweg-Krog-Ward


If this organization had any guts, they'd recall Nigel Dawes and team him with Shanahan and Cullen. Dawes never really got a fair look. It's worth noting that in the couple of games he got to play with Nylander and Ward, he didn't look out of place. I also believe Jarkko Immonen should be here. It's a joke that he's wasting away in Hartford. But what would you expect?

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