Monday, November 26, 2007

Rangers finally getting healthy

Kovy (Derek) beat me to the recap of Sunday's loss to Dallas, and hit the nail on the head several times throughout his post. I'll add a couple of things and then get to new stuff.

The Rangers looked unbeatable for a couple of weeks, but it looks like they have a weakness that was exploited in both the Florida and Dallas games. They are vulnerable to the fast skating teams. All three Dallas goals were the result of some kind of speed burst or breakaway. Florida exploited it too. Jusse Jokinen, one of the league's fastest skaters only had a half stride on our defense, yet looked like he was on a penalty shot on his breakaway goal on Sunday. The partial breakaway goal was also a killer, and it was the speed of the Stars that led to that. Maybe we were flatfooted, not expecting those kinds of bursts, but our defense needs to work on making sure we can keep up with the Sidney Crosbies and Jussi Jokinens of the league.

Henrik Lundqvist cannot carry the team every game. He only stopped 15 out of 18 shots on Sunday, which would be considered an off day for him. Granted, breakaways are hard to stop as a goaltender, but if the Rangers could just find that scoring touch, we wouldn't have to worry about Lundqvist giving up three a game. Four goals a game from the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Brendan Shanahan, Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan, etc should not be unattainable.

Now on to today's news:

Callahan will return for Thursday's game against the Islanders, barring some unforeseen setback. His return, coupled with Sean Avery and Straka being in the lineup despite some bumps and bruises, raises the questions the Rangers' brass has been dreading for a while: Who gets a seat on the bench?

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

That's my suggestion. Marcel Hossa has been solid along the boards, but he has hands of stone, and has shown no finishing ability except for in the shootout. With the star power that we have, he should be a replacement winger. With this lineup, you have three solid scoring lines and a checking line. The fourth line hasn't chipped in any offense, but they are not expected to. They go out there and shut down the opposing teams, and it's great.

Greg Moore was returned to Hartford of the AHL, the same place Nigel Dawes is tearing up since his demotion. Dawes had a 2 goal, 2 assist night the other night, and is now up to 10 points in only six games played in Hartford. First sign of injury, he has to be back with the Rangers, maybe even playing with Jagr and Dubinsky if Marty isn't quite clicking. Ivan Baranka was sent down the other day too. He was good in his one game with the club, but he is still a year or so away from being an NHL defenseman.

We're off until Thursday's matchup against the Islanders, who we have yet to beat. We need to come out flying, play a physical game and bury some past Rick DiPietro to win. More on that later in the week.

Congratulations on the year anniversary as well. As a new blogger, it's great being a part of this website. Thanks for the mention in the top 10 as well. It's my first crack at this and I love every minute of it. I hope to get you guys some more of those caliber posts throughout the season.

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