The Dawes dilemma (part two)


Some early morning thoughts amidst the banging of hammers at Blog Headquarters (not by me, mind you: both my doctor and my editor have advised against Blogging while Hammering):

The first question posed to Tom Renney last night was about the potential dilemma Nigel Dawes presents once all the Rangers’ injured forwards return. The coach said he welcomed the problem, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a sticky situation.


Granted, a lot has to happen before then, starting with the fact that all those forwards do have to get healthy. And given the Rangers run of bad luck this year, someone else will probably go down before then.

Still, look ahead to a month from now, when Sean Avery, Martin Straka, and Ryan Callahan could all be back in the lineup. Where does Dawes fit in? And if you’re of the belief that Dawes has to stay in the NHL, then at whose expense?

The answer largely depends on what Tom Renney wants out of his fourth line. If it’s merely a question of putting together your most firepower, then this is a no-brainer — Dawes can play pretty much anywhere in the lineup, and so can other skilled wings Petr Prucha and Marcel Hossa. Where it gets complicated is if Renney continues to insist that bangers like Coltor Orr and Ryan Hollweg need to be part of the lineup as well. Because then, obviously, the window is smaller for everyone involved.

I understand the coach’s reasoning. Whether it’s real or perceived, Orr and Hollweg provide the Rangers a level of grit that every NHL team needs. And believe it or not, I actually think both players, and especially Orr of late, have developed into capable NHL forwards.

The question, though, is if you need them every night, or if you need both. I’m not sure.

All I know is it’s becoming harder and harder to justify sending Dawes back to Hartford, and I base this not only on his two goals last night, but how he’s played overall since he’s been here.

Again, this certainly qualifies as a good problem to have. But not if you end up mishandling a player in the process.


In other news, it may be time to panic, and no, I’m not talking about the Rangers. After an encouraging start to the season, the joint fantasy effort between myself and Zipay is floundering. We’ve dropped into sixth place, and even worse, have been passed by both Giannone and Dellapina in the standings.

Who’s to blame? Well, it doesn’t help that Roberto Luongo has morphed into Mike Dunham over the last few weeks, or that all of our top forwards have stopped scoring. But mostly I blame Zipay. I haven’t really decided why just yet. But I’m sure I’ll think of something.

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  1. Dawes dilemma? What dilemma, othe than the fact that he is 22 years old and can put the puck into the net? I know this is hard to reconcile for many people.

  2. Nigel Dawes has been one of the top players on the ice for the Rangers in the last 2 games. He appears to be the real deal. I was at the game last night and he was flying.

    Other than the phantom elbowing penalty he has been a spark. Maybe he will ignite some of the others.

  3. Has anyone seen a reason why Marcel Hossa belongs on the first line still? Put Dawes on line one (which needs some fresh energy) for now, and make Hossa show he belongs on any line whatsoever…

  4. If a month from now the likes of Hollweg, Orr, and Strudwick are in the lineup over Dawes, I’d be mystified.

    When healthy, these lines would make the most sense:


  5. If Dawes continues to play at the level he’s been playing at (and I agree that it was before the 2-goal game), then I think someone moves to line 4 and bumps either Hollweg or Betts out of the lineup. If you need the “grit” for a game you could play Hollweg at center and Orr at RW along with whoever the “bumped” LW might be. With Drury and Gomez, there’s less need for a true “checking” center and they’re both better than Betts in the faceoff circle.

    If you don’t need so much grit, Betts plays center and either Hollweg or Orr sits.

    People forget that Joey Kocur sat out a bunch of games back in ’94 during the cup run. Keenan only dressed him for the games where he felt his toughness was needed.

    I also think at some point Hossa will wear out his welcome on the first line. He’s never been able to consistently produce in his career and I doubt he’s going to start now. I’m happy if I’m proven wrong however.

  6. Steve – if a month from now Betts is in the lineup over Dubinsky I’d be mystified. Dubinsky shows so much more potential than Betts.

    Straka to line 1, Dubi at line 3 center and Hossa to line 4 LW is more like it.

    BTW, if JJ, Gomez, Shanahan and Drury don’t get their acts together none of this will matter.

  7. Hossa-Gomez-Jagr

    These were the lines suggested from someone above. Where do you put Dubinsky? I think once he simplifies his game a little bit he will be even better than he has been playing.

  8. 1. Jagr
    2. Straka
    3. Gomez
    4. Shanahan
    5. Drury
    6. Prucha
    7. Dawes
    8. Callahan
    9. Dubinsky
    10. Avery
    11. Hossa

    That’s 11 players for the top 3 lines, we can of course put Hossa on the 4th line if needed, but if Dawes stays either Prucha or Callahan are dropping down too unless Betts goes and Dubinsky goes to line 4. If Prucha & Callahan become 4th liners on this team then that’s just ridiculous.

  9. I think lines should look like this.

    Straka/Hossa Gomez Jagr (depending on who we are playing)
    Dawes Drury Shanahan
    Avery Dubinsky Prucha
    Callahan Betts Hossa/Orr/Hollweg

    Jesus, too many players. Can we trade some people here?

  10. I hate to say it because I really like the guy, but does Straka have any trade value at this point? I feel like Dawes is kind of like a younger marty straka with a little more physicality to his game. He can’t play center, but he is younger and on a mission right now. Maybe we could package Straka and someone?

  11. And I know there are a lot of Hossa haters here, I for one am not, and sitting right on the glass last night at the game I was able to see up close what he does well. He is one of the best on this team at playing on the boards. He has a big body and even if he is not getting a chance, he can keep the puck in the opposing teams zone, thus keeping the puck out of our own. And even if this team looks the same at seasons end, one has to believe that Shanahan and Straka are done after this year. I would think that if Marian Hossa doesn’t sign an extension or get traded, that wouldn’t it be nice to come to a team that can compete for the cup that your brother plays for?

  12. Figuring out the healthy lines is tough.

    I will say this though. If this kid (Dawes) hasn’t earned a spot now… I don’t know what it takes. He should have been on this team out of training camp, now… when called up… he scores the Rangers ONLY goals in the last 3 GAMES!!!

    It wasn’t Jagr, or Shanny, or Drury, or Gomer who broke us out of the goose-egg week… it was Dawes.

    What more can anybody want? This kid should have a permanent spot.

  13. hoss played great last night. i’d like to see him remain on the top line alongside jj and gomer.

  14. Based on the apparent readiness of Dawes, the inability of Straka to play C, and the total worthlessness of Orr in most matches, I think a healthy Ranger forward roster would look like this…


    Holly and Orr become valuable teamates and black aces who get subbed in now an then based on injury, slumps or opponents…And we also know there will be at least one more significant injury….

    Despite the team slump right now, this could be a very good and deep group of forwards all the way down to the 14th one…But, as always, success will depend on Jagr and the 1st line

  15. Dawes has to stay with the Rangers, period end of story! He also should have a regular spot on the top three lines.

  16. Dawes will stay with the team. The fact that Pock was sent down hammered this point home. His play (even before the two goal game last night) earned him a spot on the team while the combined play of Staal, Pock struggling in his one game and Strudwick showing his versatility sealed Pocks fate. Hossa earned his spot as well, and I think Dawes play woke him up a bit. The roster move and not calling anyone up means that no one has to get sent down when everyone gets healthy.

    Now line combos and ice distribution is another story altogether.

    Hossa was excellent last night and Jagr’s line looked good. Why mess that up now?

    My nickname for the Dawes-Drury-Shanahan line hasn’t caught on: The Cavity line (DDS)
    No? Aw, c’mon. It’s catchy!

  17. I just new they would beat the Dev’s, Broduer has been pretty weak this season so far.
    What’s this about the Rangers defense not being good. The Rangers defense has been nothing short of spectacular. Don’t know for sure but they might have the best goals against in the league. I think Hossa played great last night he had some great chances, and he just dominates along the boards.
    I don’t want to go all the way yet… but Dawes and Dubinski remind me of Lecavalier and St. Loius.
    I know they aren’t even close yet but Dubi was very strong on the puck and Dawes has proved he can finish.
    Malek was very good again last night, he had one “semi-cough-up” but otherwise was great.
    anyway lets see if they can build on a good night against the Leafs
    Go Rangers!

  18. The good thing is right now is that the rangers don’t have to worry where to play Dawes because Straka and Callahan will be out for possibly a month. I don’t think Avery is that close to coming back either. Avery still has pain or soreness (mentioned on msg last night) in his shoulder so there is no way the rangers are going to rush him back.

  19. SLOOT I hate to admit it but Broad-dear is a great goalie and he made some great saves last night.

  20. Marty robbed Drury twice last night. I thought last night was Drury’s break out game for the rangers. Drury was flying and played a great two way game.

  21. Drury should be the biggest worry the NYR have, and they’ll have no problems. He’s a great 2 way clutch player.

  22. Richtersgirl35 on

    Ok, I really dont understand the hate for Hossa. He is such a skilled smart great player. He should stay on the line with Jagr. Didnt anyone realize how much better Jagr played when he was with Hossa. Its no coincidence. He likes Hossa and should play with him, PLUS Dawes played fantastic with Shanahan together. They were working off each other great and they should stay together. No reason to move Hossa or put Dawes on the first line. I think those lines last night were fantastic. Hopefully its no fluke and he should keep them together!

  23. Hossa helps Jags keep the puck in the offensive zone, and he does it really well. I would say he’s the most energetic first liner and he deserves to stay. How people don’t see that he’s busting his butt is beyond me. I would, of course, like goals from that line — c’mon Jagr! — but Hossa isn’t the problem.

    Hollweg should sit. He didn’t look awful last night, but still has the least upside.

    Look at Sam, teasing us with trades…

  24. I agree with leaving Hossa on the 1st line, hes the perfect compliment to Jagr with his board work. I was impressed to with his pk ability. One thing I don’t get is why Shanahan was on the PK with Callahan over Drury. Does not make sense. Also, Dubinsky has to play more, this kid has got some skills. The play he made last nite which led to Dawes pp goal was great. Id like to see Avery playing with Dubinsky when he comes back, along with Callahan. The real problem becomes what to do with Straka when he comes back.

    Also, I love how steady and reliable our defense actually has become. Girari and Tyutin are easily our best pair. The thought of how much better Staal be by the end of the year is great too. The more ice time and confidence the kid gets, the better he will be. Much more sure of himself with the puck than Mara ever looks.

  25. imagination October 26th, 2007 at 11:19 am

    SLOOT I hate to admit it but Broad-dear is a great goalie and he made some great saves last night.

    I agree with you 100% imagination but… other than previous years, Brodeur has gotten of to a slow start this year. He did play great last night, heck he got the third star, but… overall he has not looked as good as in the past.

  26. A Healthy Line-up:


    If Jagr insists on playing his style, he needs to play with euro-style players!
    Avery and Shanny have chemistry, Drury will add to it.
    Gomez needs wingers who fly up the ice and drive to the net.
    The 4th line is irrelevant, but Dawes should be in it.

  27. A few weeks ago, I was getting killed by people on here after I posted that Dawes should be playing on a top line. People were treating me like I was nuts or something. Well, folks, last night was Dawes’s coming out party and it was damn good to see. This kid can play and has a hell of a shot.

    It’s alarming that Tom Renney can’t spot talent on his own. Some of our best players are kids who Renney has been forced to play due to injuries. Last year, Girardi and Cally, for example. It might be Dawes this year.

  28. Here it is…
    Rangers win 4 out of their next five while scoring no less than 3 goals a game.
    It has been predicted!

  29. Finding a place for Dawes to play, when and if everyone is healthy is not a problem, it’s a luxury called depth.

    Hopefully, the Coach will continue to adjust his Special Team ice time rationing based on merit, not reputation. THe fact that the second PP unit started the PP late in the game, and scored, is very significant.

    They are hungry for loose pucks, throw the puck at the net and crash. That’s the way to score goals…Period..

  30. Imagination
    I know, I am a die hard Ranger fan, but I am a fan of the game so I try to watch the Devs and Fishsticks when I can, and so far this year you can tell the Devils defense looks nothing like past years. They actually look porous…
    and its nice to see!!!

  31. And Rick,
    I agree with your assessment of the PP. The second unit with Dubi and Co. look better than the number one unit. I don’t mind the #1 group but I hate it when they stay out there for 1:30 of the 2:00 min PP and then Dubi and Co. get a whopping 30 seconds. I’m happy Renney finally saw the light and put them out first.
    Dubi is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Over the past 3-4 games he looks much more comfortable and his confidence seems to be on the rise.

  32. Hossa can’t put a puck in the ocean. The guy belongs on the 4th line or the press box when everyone is healthy. Dubinsky gets better and better as the games go by. Dawes has tremendous hands. The guy is a good skater is willing to throw the body and backchecks hard. All the young wingers they have does give Senile Sather flexability. Sather could deal Prucha and Montaya in a package for a top dman that can run the pp. Btb even though almost everyone hear hates Hollweg he played a good game. I thought he had his best game of the year. Hollweg threw the body all night long and agitated nicely. Dawes has great chemistry with Shanny heck even Drury sprung to life. Lundqvist is imo the best goalie in the Nhl, If the Rangers signed him to a lifetime contract tomorrow I wouldn’t complain. Nice solid game as usual from Girardi. I thought Jagr played his best and most forceful game last night.

  33. I was happy with the overall performance last night. If Brodeur hadn’t played his best game of the year it could have easily been 5-0. Dawes looked fantastic. He is fast, tenacious, and has a great wrist shot. If he doesn’t stay on one of the top lines Renney is wasting a talent. Anyone who doubts his scoring ability should check out his stats from the minors. This guy is a big-time goal scorer when given a chance. Also, I’m still mistified that there are so many negative comments on here about Hossa. OK, so he’s not his brother, but give the guy a break. He is one of the hardest workers in the corners, and gives his line a chance by keeping pressure in the offensive zone. I realize the team hasn’t been scoring much, but if you look at shots on goal you can see that the Rangers have outplayed most of their opponents. They are getting chances…the goals will come. I would be more concerned if they were giving up a ton of goals.

  34. imagination October 26th, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    SLOOT did you like Rachunek’s imitation of Malik?

    LOVED IT!!
    We ain’t missin him.
    I was watching the game with my brother in law who is a Dev’s fan. He saw it and said “how dare he take Rafalski’s number he sucks”.

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