So on an underachieving team which has exactly the same secondary scoring epidemic which plagued them last year, how is it actually humanly possible that Nigel Dawes continues to get the shaft from the Ranger organization?
At the halfway mark fresh off the latest disappointing loss (shutout 3-0 at Vancouver despite outplaying them for large portions) against a Western Conference foe, these "new and improved" Rangers have scored exactly 100 goals (2.44 average) and given up 101 (2.38 GAA). Pretty mediocre for all the great expectations they had.
In fact, not one Blueshirt shows up in the NHL's top 30 in scoring as of today Jan.4, 2007.
Who's fault is it? Is it coach Tom Renney who's attention to every detail continues to dress Marcel "1 goal" Hossa while Nigel Dawes (5 goals in 21 GP) is sent back to Hartford where he continues to tear up the AHL and doesn't belong? How else to explain the former 2003 fifth round pick's continued torrid scoring pace with the Wolf Pack where he's scored 11 goals and 30 points in just 18 contests?
What does the 21 year-old from Manitoba have to do to earn a spot on Renney's roster? Somehow, in 20 fewer games, his five goals place him sixth among Ranger forwards ahead of Hossa, Petr Prucha (4 goals) and struggling right wing Ryan Callahan (no pts in last 23 since goal on Opening Night).
Would anybody care to take a guess at who the forwards are ahead of him?!?!?!?!?!
We're going to exclude the hardworking fourth line of Ryan Hollweg, Blair Betts and club enforcer Colton Orr because they show up every night and continue to have solid chemistry providing energy.
How is budding rookie pivot Brandon Dubinsky supposed to put up points when his linemates can't finish around the net? The 2004 second round pick certainly is progressing. Shouldn't he have another scoring wing who can hit the net with regularity by now?
Not in the Ranger organization apparently where absurd logic seems to prevail when they're supposed to be challenging for the East's best record and a championship. Instead, they've been up and down with something definitely lacking which explains why through 41 games, we don't even know if this team will survive in this ultracompetitive conference.
Should they make the playoffs? Absolutely. But unless Renney's club starts kicking it into another gear, there will continue to be lingering doubts about how far a team with Jaromir Jagr can go in the Spring.
There's over a month left before the NHL trade deadline. That should be enough time for the organization to gauge if they're good enough or need a necessary change to improve.
Now all they have to do is come away with an actual win against a Western opponent tomorrow in Edmonton. Will it happen?