If the knock against Tom Renney recently is that the coach hasn’t been willing to mix things up enough, then today might offer a response.
As with anything else that happens in practice, there’s no guarantee you’ll see it the next night in the game. But it sounds like the lines Renney toyed with today are likely to stick together tomorrow against the Lightning. And if I’m wrong, well, what else is new?
On then, with what are likely to be the team’s most radical line combinations of the year:
A few quick thoughts:
My undying devotion to a fellow UNH Wildcat aside, I’m aware that pairing the previously fourth-line-dwelling-Krog with Jagr is going to raise a few eyebrows. But that was the unit that Jagr played most of the second half of the Devils game with, and you’ll recall it was some of the Big Fella’s best hockey in weeks.
And as even Jagr himself said, just because he’s a future Hall of Famer doesn’t mean his linemates need to be.
“Both guys got skill and that’s important,” Jagr said. “We’ve got to give it time. I was playing with Kip Miller for four or five years in Pittsburgh and nobody thought that would work. But we scored a lot of goals, and before that both of my linemates were in the minors. So you never know.”
So in other words, I said, you’re open to this?
“It can’t get any worse right now,” Jagr said.
Renney keeps going back to the flexibility Sean Avery now allows him, so this is as much a byproduct of the combustible wing being in the lineup as anything else.
“I just think we have an opportunity to (mix things up) more so than before,” Renney said.
Another radical departure was Renney experimenting with Jagr and Shanahan on two different power play units, which you may remember from “their philosophical showdown a few weeks before”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/26/stuck-in-the-middle-between-two-hall-of-fame-wings/, both had said they were open to. In the new unit, Shanahan would be with Avery and Krog up front, while Karel Rachunek and…drumroll please….Matt Cullen would be at the point. As you know, Cullen had been a staple on the backline for Carolina last season, but has yet to be used there by Renney this year. Tomorrow, however, might be his time.
One last thing: Avery had mentioned that girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert is making her way East and will likely be at the Garden for his home debut. No offense to Matthew Modine and Tim Robbins, but as far as celebrities in the crowd go, I’d offer this as an upgrade.