It’s not necessarily my job to point out deficiencies in a team that is technically perfect so far. Actually, strike that. That is my job.
So here goes:
The Rangers are winningÂ thanks to a number of factors—a power play that has already scored five goals in five games, a penalty killing unit that is a perfect 21-for-21; a goaltender who had all of us fooled during a shaky preseason; a line of Brandon Dubinsky-Nikolai Zhderdev-Aaron Voros that has scored seven goals in three games and has been a factor on practically every shift; and a fourth line that is a far more relevant offensive threat than at any point in the last two seasons.
And yet most remarkable about the Rangers is that they’ve won five games with only sparse input from their supposed top line. The unit of Markus Naslund, Scott Gomez, and Chris Drury has combined for two goals so far ths season, and hasn’t scored any since the team returned from Europe. If it was a combination that seemed destined for big things during the exhibition schedule, particularly with Drury freed to assume more of a sniper’s role, it has since been a line close to invisible the past few games.
“I think we’re pressing a little too much, but we’re winning,” Scott Gomez said. “I’d rather have that than us putting up whatever….It’s going to happen. You go by the points and we’ve got them.
And then Gomez took a dig at his line.
“I think everyone’s doing what they have to do—besides us—to make this work,” he said.
Well, almost everyone. Because let’s also remember that as good as both the Dubinsnky and Blair Betts lines have been so far, the other unit that is struggling is the one centered by Lauri Korpikoski. I’m not an advocate of giving a rookie just five games to prove himself and then either scratching him or returning him to the minors. But’s let’s also be realistic.
Of the Rangers forwards, the only candidate to be returned to Hartford without exposure to waivers is Korpikoski. And if he struggles just as the top line does, it’s worth asking at what point Tom Renney separates Drury and Gomez so that Drury could go back to playing center. I don’t know what the combinations would look like at that point, but I do know it would also be an opportunity to perhaps get more out of Ryan Callahan, who has been the only consistent performer on that third unit.
Again, let’s be clear that I’m not necessarily saying these are the moves the team should make, especially when it’s still early and the team is 5-0. In fact, at this point, I would discourage it. But it is something to keep in mind if the trend continues.
The team is off today, but I’ll have more later…