Every day is a new day in the life of a hockey team. It’s why yesterday, less than 24 hours after being humiliated in Ottawa, the Rangers were still in a playful mood—none louder than Scott Gomez, who sat at his stall in the locker room and ribbed everyone from Henrik Lundqvist about his romantic life to me about my big ears.
If you’re looking for signs of despondence from a team that has lost two straight and is beginning to come back to the pack, I’d say they’re not there yet. But give it some time. As much as Tom Renney made the case yesterday that the problems his team faces begins and ends with them, it would be that much more humbling to lay eggs against opponents that sit squarely in the league’s bottom tier (which is how you’d describe the Rangers next three opponents).
How much would a possible return of Scott Gomez help? Some, for sure. Like I said earlier, Gomez isn’t a savior. But for a team that got stood up time and again in the neutral zone on Saturday, Gomez is the player who can consistently deliver the puck deep. What the Rangers do with it from there is another story. But should the center return—we should know for sure in a couple of hours—it could be a spark a listless team needs.
But a spark only goes so far. What do the Rangers do about their two struggling defensemen saddled with exorbitant contracts? What do they do with an inactive and now irrelevant Petr Prucha? At what point does Aaron Voros complete the loop from fourth-liner to leading scorer back to fourth-liner (if Renney says he’s worried about Fred Sjostrom playing up a line and out of his depth, why doesn’t the same logic apply to a player who had seven career NHL goals prior to this season?)?
So many questions. To be sure, the season won’t turn on three games in late November. But it could offer an important window into what this team is all about.
More from the skate later…