Sunday, December 16, 2007

Everyone needs a good ole fashioned butt kicking these days...

That's certainly what happened in tonight's Rangers vs Coyotes game today, and the Rangers were on the receiving end.

I won't go too into detail, because there isn't much to tell. Stephen Valiquette wasn't sharp, the offense never got started, the defense was out of sync and coaching decisions weren't the best. Overall, it couldn't get much worse tonight for the Rangers. The Coyotes completely out worked, out chanced and out played the Rangers on their way to a 5-1 win. Dan Girardi was the only bright spot on offense with his slap shot past Ilya Bryzgalov in the third period, but his defense was off, much like the others.

Now for the blunders, and there were many. The first came before the opening puck drop. Tom Renney scratching Ryan Hollweg on a day where Marcel Hossa and Ryan Callahan weren't in the lineup, was a mistake. The physical game was extremely lacking, which Hollweg would have helped out with. The fourth line has also been the Rangers more consistent line, which didn't make much sense from the start. Renney understandable needs more production, but from the fourth line, you can't expect too much.

Marek Malik's reassertion into the lineup was a mistake as well. Maybe it was rust, or maybe Malik just isn't the right fit in New York anymore. We've seen it with Tom Poti, Eric Lindros, Bobby Holik and Pavel Bure. Good names that just didn't pan out in New York.

The defense was terrible tonight. Even Fedor Tyutin and Girardi were off their game. Girardi seemed to not know where Tyutin was on the ice like he usually does. Malik and Michal Rozsival was a poor pairing and Marc Staal looks much better with Rozsival than with Paul Mara.

Renney juggles lines around whenever things look bleak in much closer games, but for some reason today he kept the same combinations for much of the night. Brandon Dubinsky needs a little more on his game, and while he looks good with Jaromir Jagr on several occasions, there are plenty where it just looks like he is getting in the way. It may be time to try Chris Drury on that line again and see where it gets the team.

Stephen Valiquette is the back up goaltender, and he was forced into action tonight. He was clearly not up to the challenge tonight. He made some good saves, but he played like a back up goaltender tonight. Let's hope that Henrik Lundqvist is ready to go on Tuesday against the Penguins.

So, how to fix this problem in the day off tomorrow. Sean Avery is almost ready to come back. His spark will undoubtedly help the team. If he is not ready for Tuesday, you need Ryan Hollweg in the lineup. Especially against a Penguins team who showed that they are willing to be feisty if they have to. Greg Moore and Nigel Dawes looked alright tonight, but if Avery is ready to play, Moore should sit. Marcel Hossa should sit in favor of Dawes for right now as well. Malik has got to go also. The fans are against him and it's obviously negatively affecting him. If Renney wants to send a message, benching someone like Drury or even Jagr would get the point across much better than Hollweg.

It's no time to panic still, as the Rangers are still a good team, with a mediocre record. Tonight was a low point in the season, and there isn't much to do but look back on things to improve upon. They need to go back to the winning formula that was working for them last month. They need to stick to the fundamentals and stay in the game for all 60 minutes. They'll be alright, just have a little work to do especially with Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Colorado and Ottawa coming up on the schedule.

If I could, I would like to throw my two cents in on the Chris Simon incident before I end this post. I want to see the league suspend him for 50 games this time. Not because he's an Islander, not because he attacked one of my favorite players with a stick last season and not because I am prejudice in any way. I want him suspended because a stick or a skate can be deadly. If he had hit Jarkko Ruuto three inches higher, it could have sliced his leg pretty badly. There was a legitimate intent to injure and there is no place in the game for that. The game is better without people like him running around. There are goons, there are enforcers and then there are idiots. This would qualify as an idiot move. Just my opinion. Take care all.

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