OK, you want the good news or the bad news first?
The bad news for those Rangers fans who feel the defense is far and away the team’s weakest link is that those defensive pairings don’t seem to be going away any time soon. But the other side to consider is that the more those players play together, the more palatable they are to each other, and to everyone else.
Look, I’m not trying to sugarcoat it here. I don’t think anyone’s going to look at the team’s backline personnel and expect highlight film material (well, actually, you do, but it’s still coming from the opposing forwards). But for all of Tom Renney’s stubbornness in fielding the same struggling players night-after-night, maybe we’re actually starting to see some dividends.
“It’s so many little things,” Renney said. “It’s about supporting each other with or without the puck. It’s positional play in general. It’s about the transition game knowing when to jump, where to jump, who’s jumping. It just seems like there’s more synchronicity between the two guys.”
Is this a coach making the most out of the hand he’s dealt? Maybe. I don’t have enough of an insight into what’s going on behind closed doors (i.e. who is being shopped around and who isn’t). But with neither Thomas Pock or Darius Kasparaitis nipping at their heels—Renney didn’t make it seem like either was likely for tomorrow against the Penguins—the starting six are at least entering the neighborhood of competence. And at this point right now, maybe that’s all you can ask.
A few other insights:
“It would be tough. It takes a couple of minutes to get the feel for the puck, so it would be tough to come in like that,” Lundqvist said.
“23-17 Ohio State,” Ward said when I asked him to predict the score.
Bear in mind this conversation took place before news spread of the passing of Bo Schembechler. I’m assuming Ward knew Schembechler, but by the time I had the chance to ask Ward about it, I couldn’t find him.