Monday, December 24, 2007

BONY Christmas Report Part II: Rangers

RANGERS (17-15-4, 38 pts)

Scott Gomez (36 GP, 9-22-31): After slow start, the former Devil has been the team's best offensive player. If not for his production, this offensively challenged team would be in huge trouble.

Grade: B+

Jaromir Jagr (36 GP, 7-20-27): The most talented player has been plain offensive at times. His penchant for taking shifts off and not battling through physicality in the defensive end is inexcusable. And the seven goals (2 PP) is awful for a guy who's scored 30-or-more in 15 straight seasons. Has shown signs of snapping out of funk with five helpers in last four games. Must start finishing or this team will continue to underperform and struggle just to make playoffs.

Grade: D

Brendan Shanahan (36 GP, 12-13-25): Got out to slow start which had many questioning if he was done but the likeable 38 year-old veteran has proven he still has it pacing the club in goals and power play goals (6). Aside from that, he works extremely hard and gets it.

Grade: B

Chris Drury (36 GP, 8-16-24): After a career season in his contract year where he put up 37 goals, the former Trumbull Connecticut Little League World Series star has struggled mightily. Sure. He wasn't going to match last year's output but can anyone explain the team his minus-nine rating or lack of chemistry? Mind boggling for a player with solid reputation.

Grade: D-

Michal Rozsival (35 GP, 9-13-22): The 29 year-old overlooked Czech continues to anchor the blueline logging big minutes and contribute mightily. His nine goals pace all NHL defensemen so far. In fact, it's one off last year's career high of 10. On pace for new career marks. His asking price continues to sky rocket.

Grade: A

Martin Straka (21 GP, 6-8-14): There's little doubt that Jagr missed the 35 year-old vet who is a perfect complement. At first struggled when he returned from injury but is heating up with eight points (4-4-8) in his last six.

Grade: B-

Daniel Girardi (36 GP, 5-5-10): The improved offense (4 PPG) has been a surprise. However, the 23 year-old Ontario native who was so steady last season is clearly struggling as his minus-nine would point out. Maybe it's from playing his first full season in the league. He can play better in his end.

Grade: C+

Sean Avery (15 GP, 2-7-9): Just returned from second injury and looked pretty good in last night's loss. As usual, the agitator mixed it up and got involved. It's clear that the team plays better when he's in the lineup. So what will he command next summer?

Grade: A

Brandon Dubinsky (36 GP, 3-6-9): The 21 year-old rookie from Alaska is a superb skater who's not afraid to mix it up (31 PIM). Very effective in corners. Lately, his offense has suffered (0-2-2 for month). If the team is to get balanced scoring, they need the former 2004 second round pick to contribute more.

Grade: B-

Petr Prucha (35 GP, 2-6-8): Two goals on only 46 shots speaks to why the Blueshirts aren't scoring enough. Considering that the 25 year-old got 52 in his first two seasons, it's flat out pathetic. Maybe the most disappointing player who was deservedly scratched last night.

Grade: F

Fedor Tyutin (36 GP, 4-4-8): The 24 year-old Russian is a solid asset on the blueline who works well with Girardi. He also is the team's most physical with the hip check a specialty. The offense is nice because he has a good shot. Still needs to be more consistent in end.

Grade: B

Marcel Hossa (27 GP, 1-5-6): I supported the 26 year-old Slovak last year due to his hard work ethic and he rewarded that faith with great first round against Thrashers. But he suffers from Prucha syndrome (39 SOG) in that he often passes up shots and skates around the net. It's not like he has a bad shot. He's a good forechecker who's being misused by the staff. Either stick him in a checking role or trade him.

Grade: D

Paul Mara (30 GP, 1-5-6): For some reason, he was sat out last night for Marek Malik, who took his place alongside Jason Strudwick. His defense seems to have gotten better which is a credit to the staff. But where's the offense? He certainly has a potent shot and needs to make better use. A solid team guy.

Grade: C+

Marc Staal (36 GP, 2-4-6): There are games where you see why the younger brother of Eric and Jordan was selected so high by the club in 2005. His hockey instincts are excellent and for a rookie on the blueline, he's adjusted quite well to his first pro season. But he's still going to struggle at times like last night. It's all about being patient which the staff has been. He's going to be really special.

Grade: B

Nigel Dawes (21 GP, 5-1-6): What does he have to do to get a real chance from this organization? He owns Brodeur and five goals are sadly tied for seventh best. If other guys aren't producing, they need to give him more ice-time because he's scored at every level. His speed is good and isn't afraid of anyone despite Gionta-like size.

Grade: C+

Marek Malik (16 GP, 0-3-3): The veteran favorite target of fans for everything wrong was clearly struggling and had to be affected by the boos. Last night, he was reinserted and played a very smart game. Still, he sure looks like the odd man out and probably needs a change.

Grade: D

Blair Betts (36 GP, 1-1-2): How could you not love this guy? He'll sacrifice his body any time and is the team's best penalty killer. His skating is decent and his line is showing more chemistry. It's ashame they don't get rewarded for their hard work cause that's how the other three lines should be playing.

Grade: B

Jason Strudwick (30 GP, 1-1-2): Strud is another fan fave who clearly has improved skating-wise and now can be relied upon to play every night. Who didn't love when he beat the Pens from Mara in OT? He's also a great team guy who will scrap (34 PIM). The epitome of hard work.

Grade: B

Colton Orr (36 GP, 1-0-1): The club enforcer (60 PIM) will take on anyone while sticking up for teammates. You don't see many opponents taking liberties with our stars these days. Aside from that, his skating is much better to the point where he can forecheck and play the body. If he wasn't on the minus-side (-11), grade would be higher.

Grade: C+

Ryan Hollweg (35 GP, 0-1-1): Like tough linemate, Hollywood plays extremely hard throwing hits and will occasionally drop 'em though it's not role. The best aspect is that he's not catching guys as much out of position for bad penalties. He seems to have adjusted. Ashame he didn't score off a nice setup last night. Of course, he and the line need to get some breaks. They deserve it.

Grade: C+

Ryan Callahan (19 GP, 1-0-1): While it's true the Rochester native has comeback from injury, he clearly needs to start contributing. It's not like he's incapable. The work ethic is there as is the physicality. I view him as a mini-Avery without the temperament.

Grade: C

Ivan Baranka (1 GP, 0-1-1): Was called up earlier this year and looked alright netting first career assist. Figure him to be with club next Fall.

Grade: Inc

Thomas Pock (1 GP, 0-0-0): The Austrian defenseman got into one game and was a minus-two before being sent back down. It looks like his future is elsewhere.

Grade: Inc

Greg Moore (2 GP, 0-0-0): The other part of the Chris Simon trade with Calgary is having a nice second pro season in Hartford. He looks to be a solid forechecker and has size. He'll battle for a spot next training camp.

Grade: Inc

Henrik Lundqvist (32 GP, 16-13, 2.21 GAA, .915 Save Pct, 6 SHO): King Henrik came out of the gate great unlike last year. But lately, he's struggled much like the team in front of him. Still, they'd be done if not for the 25 year-old Swede who's going to compete with Brodeur and Roberto Luongo for the Vezina.

Grade: B+

Stephen Valiquette (6 GP, 1-2, 3.04 GAA, .889 Save Pct): The 30 year-old backup has done admirable job when called upon. Though he had rough go of it in recent home loss to Phoenix. A good team guy who has improved under Benoit Allaire.

Grade: C+

Tom Renney: In his third full season as Ranger coach, the well liked coach tries to keep an even outlook on things. He never seems to panic and right now his team is going through a rough 2-6-2 stretch. A few of his decisions have been questionable lately. Maybe he needs also to be tougher when his best players aren't performing. This team should be faring better. So he has to take a hit. Even if I respect him.

Grade: C

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