I give up.
OK, not really, but hear me out for a second.
I think one of the reasons you’ve all been responsive to this space is the fact that I’m fairly honest with my limitations. I know hockey. I played it all growing up, played competitively in high school and into college, and have even spent a couple seasons as a coach.
But this is my first season covering the NHL full-time, and there have probably been times when I’ve deferred serious criticism because I’ve felt like I’m still getting my bearings. A couple of jokes here and there is fine, but there’s still a part of me that thinks the people who play for and run the Rangers know more about what they’re doing than I do. It’s a silly sentiment, I know, and something I can’t hide behind for too long.
So rather than dwell on the things I don’t know, let’s get to the things I do know after the Rangers’ atrocious 4-1 loss to the Kings.
I know the Rangers are too slow. It’s not something that’s too noticeable against opponents that give up the neutral zone — i.e. the Coyotes — but when they face any sort of resistance moving the puck up ice, it’s as if they’re helpless. The puck moves faster than anyone, I know. But on nights when nothing else is clicking, a team’s speed can still keep them in the game.
I know that the team won’t make it past April 7 (the last day of the regular season) if they continue to employ the same group of defensemen. It’s not working, and if anything, you would hope that a loss like last night would make that more apparent. Enough tryouts already. It’s time to cut your losses.
I know Nigel Dawes and Thomas Pock aren’t doing anyone any good sitting in the press box (unless they’re willing to cover the game for me). Here’s an example of where I’ve probably given Tom Renney the benefit of the doubt. I figured if those guys aren’t playing, the coach is seeing something I don’t. But I’ve seen the jolt both players have provided when they’re in the lineup. And when it comes to defensive lapses, I haven’t seen those two do anything nearly as bad as what we’ve seen from supposedly steadier veterans.
I know that the chemistry problem with Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan isn’t between those two, but with everyone else. In other words, by putting the two stars on the power play together, there seems to be a tendency by the likes of Michael Nylander and Michal Rozsival to always defer to the two heavyweights. The power play needs more motion, and more shots. If they’re coming off the stick of Shanahan, great. But at this point, any shot will do.
I know it’s still early. Surely there is reason to be concerned after such a woeful showing last night, and with three of the best teams in the league up next. But I’m still of the belief that the Rangers can find their footing, and they don’t need a major overhaul in order to do so. As Shanahan said the other day, there are a lot of teams in the midst of the same sort of soul-searching as the Rangers. Better to do it now than when it’s too late.