It’s never a good sign when you’re equipment bag is lined up in the hallway outside the dressing room, but that was just the latest indication that Petr Prucha, Ryan Hollweg, Paul Mara and Jason Strudwick will again be on press box duty tonight, as they have been for what now feels like months.
The situation is reminiscent of earlier in the season, when “Henrik Lundqvist owned the goal for the entire month of October”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/11/06/take-a-wild-guess-whos-starting-in-goal/ , and Stephen Valiquette looked like the most irrelevant man this side of the Vice President.
The common thread is how the issue takes on a life of its own the longer it drags on. Tom Renney continued to say those players will be utilized before the season is out—with Mara, he said he anticipated him back in the lineup when he’s physically fit to return—and lucky for him, he hasn’t been forced to do so out of necessity. But at least with Prucha, who scored 52 goals in his first two seasons in the NHL, you wonder if the coach is maximizing all his assets.
“It’s what the circumstances are. I’m not going to BS you and say it’s an easy decision or it’s easy on the guys who are sitting out,” Renney said. “But I tell you what: the nature of the character of those people allows me to at least feel comfortable making that choice.”
And speaking of familiar storylines, there is the subject of the Rangers stronghold of the Devils this season. Renney likes to say the Devils bring out the best in his team, and it’s true it doesn’t take much for the Rangers to get motivated tonight as opposed to, oh, I don’t know, “a random Saturday night game in Tampa”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2008/03/15/conference-title-at-this-point-how-about-eighth-place/. But there has to be more to it than that. Is it the similarities in the two teams’ style of play? Is it the realization that the Rangers can’t even try to be cute against Martin Brodeur so they actually play a simpler game?
I’m open for theories.