Monday, October 22, 2007

With Injuries Mounting and Rangers Struggling, What Now?

The best thing going for the Rangers today is that they don't play tonight. Marred by questions of why three quarters of their payroll is under performing, when players are returning from injury and when Tom Renney is getting fired, they need to right a sinking ship. The season is still early, and it's not a time to panic, but it is a time to question, and there is a big difference between the two. Some hot topics on a slow Monday:

Martin Straka's finger was broken at the base, meaning he will need some time off. In his absence, who replaces him on the second line and penalty kill? With Marcel Hossa getting closer to being healthy, chances are we see him tomorrow night against the Penguins. You might see Hossa on the first line though, and not the second. Nigel Dawes has been extremely impressive, but someone needs to jumpstart Jaromir Jagr, and with chemistry being there with Hossa already, Renney might try that out. Dawes would work on the second line also, playing with Drury and Shanahan could be good for him. He can have a shooting mentality more, since the pressure to get the puck to Jagr won't be there. It would provide the same speed Straka had as well.

Fire Tom Renney? I understand he has an undying loyalty to several players that maybe he shouldn't, and that his playing of youngsters is limited, but this would be a panic move. Who takes over for him if he were to be fired? Perry Pearn? Glen Sather? Ken Gernander? It's not in the best interest right now for the Rangers to get rid of him. If we're still struggling 15-20 games in, then maybe the question should be asked. You can't blame him for Jagr, Drury and Shanahan all having only one goal.

Overhaul the defense. The defense looked good against the Bruins on Saturday. Unfortunately the offense didn't show up. It is just a matter of time before they do though. The best part of the defense right now is the Tyutin - Girardi pairing. Renney rightfully made them the top pair on Saturday, and they continued to impress. Both are physical, both take away passing lanes and know where each other is on the ice and both have shown an increased desire to shoot the puck. Roszival and Malik look good, but might be better suited with less time on the ice. Staal continues to flourish, but Mara looks out of position and flat footed sometimes. With Strudwick proving that he can step into the lineup in emergency situations, the Rangers should look to trade Pock. They could get a decent return on him, as he still has a bit of upside. Maybe a pick in the draft, or a midlevel, older defenseman they can stash in Hartford incase injuries hit.

Got something else? Let me know. There won't be much on the Ranger front today most likely so hopefully this can hold us over until the Penguins tomorrow.

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