Please note the deep sarcasm above when describing the Rangers group of defensemen. The team is carrying eight right now, and outside of one or two, I’m not sure any of them have distinguished themselves as anything more than occasionally—emphasis on occassionally—competent.
With the team set to play one more game Wednesday before heading out West for a four-game trip, it’s apparent Tom Renney isn’t sure what to do with his defense. After shuffling his combinations for the win against Toronto on Sunday, the coach had new pairings again today in practice.
Whether those stay together for the Florida game remains to be seen. The coach said he still hasn’t reviewed enough tape to make an informed decision about what he’s going to do, and when I asked him if he had a time table, he said no.
What are his options? He could continue to carry eight and shuffle players in and out of the lineup. He could send a relatively young player like Thomas Pock back to Hartford. Or the team could do something drastic with one of its floundering veterans, and perhaps open up some cap space.
For those of you keeping score at home, here are plus/minus numbers for the Rangers’ eight defense:
Aaron Ward +3
Fedor Tyutin +2
Michal Rozsival +2
Marek Malik +2
Darius Kasparaitis -1
Sandis Ozolinsh -1
Thomas Pock -2
Karel Rachunek -7
Granted, it’s a subjective stat, succeptible to a number of variables, but I think most observers would agree it’s fairly accurate when it comes to the last player on that list.
Bear in mind I was a forward growing up and am still one today, so I don’t understand defensemen as well as I should. But I think I know enough to say something’s not right.