Monday, November 26, 2007

Power Outage on Broadway

Alright. Maybe Fedor Tyutin (closing eyes in this picture) isn't really to blame for the pathetic power outage that continues to plague the Rangers.
The defenseman has scored three goals this season which is only a couple fewer than struggling captain Jaromir Jagr. Even though No.68 actually broke his slump in yesterday's disappointing 3-2 defeat to the Stars, the 36 year-old Czech is clearly not himself. Or maybe he picked up Patrik Elias disease! They do hail from the same country.
I am starting to wonder if maybe this team is better off without Jagr much the way the Devils are without their most overrated and overpaid star.
Call me crazy but I am beginning to doubt that the Blueshirts will ever win anything with Jagr leading it. Just look at the lack of chemistry he has displayed with the two new pivots Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Was Michael Nylander really that vital?
So the question is who's the more valuable player? You decide:
Jagr- 24 GP, 5 goals, 13 assists, 18 points, 1 PP, 2 GW
Nylander- 23 GP, 6 goals, 16 assists, 22 points, 4 PP, 1 GW
Maybe we're being a bit unfair because Jagr has played with rookie pivot Brandon Dubinsky and just got back complementary overlooked wing Martin Straka. Sure. Nylander plays with an elite talent who can finish his passes (Ovechkin). But the Caps are a much worse team which might help explain the minus-11 rating.
Since when did styles make the player or in Jagr's case the superstar? If he truly is a great player, it shouldn't matter who he plays with because No.68 should be able to make any linemate better. He also should be able to elevate his game when the team needs it most. Were the old Reebok sticks that important? Does that help explain why everytime he has the puck on a rush, he morphs into the biggest waste of space Marcel Hossa and carries it around the net and doesn't dare shoot?
Jagr is 36 and it's true he's not what he once was. A dominant star player. But part of that seems to be mental. The skating is still there. So is the size and strength.
Here's a quote from a frustrated captain summing up how his team failed to win despite outshooting Dallas by a ridiculous 41-18 margin:
"I thought we played pretty good. We had a lot of chances, we just didn't score
goals
."
The final sentence could well sum up the entire Ranger season. Through the quarter mark, no team is worse at putting the biscuit in the basket than these Rangers! The 53 goals in their first 24 average out to a league low 2.21-per-game. Just brutal!
Just how anemic are they? The first place Flyers have played two less games and scored 17 more times. If you calculated their average, it's almost an entire goal more than the Blueshirts who continue to leave their fans blue in the face wondering how this could actually be possible.
Sure. It's not all bad. They're still 13-9-3 with 28 points and have arguably the best goaltender in the game in Henrik Lundqvist. But if you play every contest close to the vest, this sort of Devilish grinding style could be fatal to any postseason aspirations they have next Spring.
The defensemen have certainly chipped in. Led by Michal Rozsival's seven, the underrated no-name group have put home 15 which ranks second most in the league by a team's blueline.
It's the forwards who aren't holding up their end of the bargain. Drury has been a disappointment and hasn't found chemistry with anyone. Gomez already centers the team's best line but would someone please tell the likeable Alaskan that it's okay to shoot the puck every once in a while! Maybe if he did yesterday during a four-on-four instead of toying around with it, he wouldn't have fallen down and lost control leading to Jussi Jokinen's sick tying goal in the last minute of the opening stanza.
He's certainly the best skater this team has had in a long time and has the skills to go with it. But until he utilizes his underrated shot, Gomer is becoming too one dimensional.
The stars aren't the only problems. Petr Prucha is one of the hardest workers but the lack of production (2-5-7) is alarming. He's got the speed, grit and desire. He also has a deadly shot. But 36 shots in 24 games just isn't cutting it! He should be shooting it much more. If he did, he could be another Gionta.
I was a firm backer of Hossa last season in this space. And his outstanding play down the stretch last year and virtuoso first round performance where he outplayed big bro Marian proved he had some capability. But this experiment needs to commence already. Three assists and no goals despite the ice-time! And I don't care if he can be a shootout threat or is somewhat decent on the PK.
How can this Slovak be stealing a paycheck while the much more gifted Nigel Dawes is back in Hartford? Come on! Isn't it about time this organization woke up?!?!?!?!?!
If Hollweg, Betts and Orr can have spots for being effective fourth liners despite no finish, then the team can afford to play the much more offensive minded Dawes (1 less goal than Jagr in 8 less games including 3 on Brodeur).
Can this club afford not to get this kid back up here? He has excellent skating ability, instincts and great hands. So maybe he isn't as solid overall yet as Dubinsky. Newsflash. Not every player is going to be great defensively.
Maybe that's the problem which is why scoring continues to plummet despite the league's improvements for skaters. Let's be perfectly honest here. Almost every organization with only a couple of exceptions (Toronto, Tampa, Pittsburgh) is obsessed with defense. Here's a new word from the Felix vocabulary: They're D-sessed!
That's right. It says here that any player can backcheck. That it doesn't always have to be so D oriented. Who pays the ridiculous prices these days for tickets, food and parking to see players block shots but have absolutely no finishing ability? Stone hands. If the league is becoming a bunch of Mike Rupps and Marcel Hossas, please count me out!
The offensive ineptitude of these one dimensional players can drive fans nuts. It's nice to have some checkers. But isn't it also nice for them to have some offensive capability?!?!?!?!?!
Vets who can't do anything but check are hogging up roster spots which could be filled by kids. How are they going to learn if they're stuck in the 'A?' No player likes to stay in the minors forever. And despite whatever good can come out of it, it's not the NHL! Not even close.
The only way for prospects to fully develop and fulfill potential is to get ice-time and responsibility up with their big club.
It's time for the Rangers to get into the 21st century. Unfortunately, they're not the only team.
Which reminds me. Give us one good reason Bobby Ryan isn't on the Ducks.
Random thought:
Jamie Langenbrunner making less than half the salary is a much more valuable player than Elias. Who knew?
I'm Derek Felix and that's my take!

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