Seeing how I had never done this before, one of my greatest concerns heading into this venture was finding enough to write about over the long-grind of an 82 game-season. Here is at least one area where the Rangers haven’t disappointed.
This season has been a lot of things—- promising to start, painfully uneven the rest of the way. But it certainly has never been boring, and “yesterday’s finale before the All Star Break was yet another example”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070121/SPORTS01/701210370/1034/SPORTS.
Whether he was conscious of it or not at the time, “Brendan Shanahan’s words”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/20/shanahan-lets-tear-it-up-and-start-anew/ after a 3-1 loss to Atlanta hinted at a much larger issue than a team not getting enough shots on the power play. It was about the way the team plays the game a whole. It was about the disconnect between one part of the dressing room and another. And, of course, it at least suggested that one player in particular casts too large a shadow over everyone else.
You may recall “a few days ago”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/17/jagr-on-jagr/ I referred to the coexistence between Shanahan and “Jaromir Jagr”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/17/jagr-on-jagr/, saying that despite outward appearances, it’s a partnership that works. Now I’m not so sure. Shanahan clearly wants to play one way. Jagr wants to play another. I still think the two superstars each have the same result in mind. But that’s not to say this isn’t a problem, and potentially a big one.
And that brings me to my next point: on the power play and elsewhere, the Rangers obviously have to decide whether they want to continue to embrace the East-West style favored by their strong European contingent, or whether it needs more of the “gritty, dirty” (read: North American) influence Shanahan called for yesterday. This is hardly a small matter.
But a much bigger matter for the Rangers is exactly HOW they arrive at these decisions. If Tom Renney has any hope of salvaging this season, he needs these two players to get on the same page. It’s no longer just about developing a chemistry on the ice. It’s now about avoiding friction everywhere else.