Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's All About Chemisty

As already pointed out, the Rangers are off to a slow start. With the 0-6 Thrashers as the next opponent, the Rangers have been mixing and matching lines at practice all week. Here's what tomorrow's lines very well may look like:

Jagr - Gomez - Dawes
Prucha - Drury - Callahan
Shanahan - Betts - Straka
Orr - Dubinsky - Hollweg

Roszival - Malik
Tyutin - Girardi
Staal - Mara

Some glaring differences right off the bat. Marcel Hossa is nursing a groin injury, which forced the Rangers to recall Dawes. Since Dawes serves no purpose on the 4th line, Renney inserted him right on the top line with Jagr and Gomez, who he played very well with in preseason.

There are essentially 3 top lines. Shanahan and Straka are not 3rd line players, and Drury is not a third line center. Betts is not a second line center and neither is Dubinsky yet. So what this amounts to is a viable scoring threat up and down the line up, with a tough checking line as well.

The only real problem I see with this lineup is Marek Malik. Sure he will probably break out of whatever funk he is in right now and yes, he will end up as one of the top +/- players in the league at the end of the year, but he needs a day off to mentally compose himself. Thomas Pock skated with Roszival at practice today, but Renney said it was just to gauge his conditioning. With Staal looking better and better every game, Pock is the odd man out. Mara makes a lot of money, but he has a valuable offensive ability. We should either give Pock a legitimate shot, or send him somewhere else. With defensemen such as Liffiton, Baranka and Sauer in the minors, he is easily replaceable.

Hopefully this lineup shows some offensive outburst tomorrow. The 0-6 Thrashers will undoubtedly be playing like a desperate team. They'll have a new coach at the helm as well, as Bob Hartley was fired last night. We shall see.

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