Where to turn from here

19

Every team makes deals before the trade deadline, but in the previous two seasons, the Rangers went into training camp at least looking like they had the pieces to be an immediate contender.

Two years ago they added Brendan Shanahan to a core that already included Henrik Lundqvist and Jaromir Jagr. Last season it was Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.

This season, the Rangers landed a handful of name players in Wade Redden, Markus Naslund, and Nikolai Zherdev, but given the questions surrounding those three, and the marquee players the team lost, you were never convinced that this would be the same team come March.

Sure, this “could be just a funk”:http://www.lohud.com/article/20081208/SPORTS01/812080365/-1/SPORTS for what is a fundamentally solid but perhaps unspectacular group, but what’s coming to light of late is that some of the team’s offseason bets have yet to pay off.

Among those bets was the belief that their core of young forwards would be able to make the next step and help fill the void by the likes of Jagr, Shanahan, and Martin Straka. So far that hasn’t been the case. Brandon Dubinsky was impressive early, but has since plateaued. Ryan Callahan has provided energy but not much offense. Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha have both regressed.

Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for the fact that the players who were at least supposed to match last year’s production — i.e. Drury and Gomez — have been scarily quiet of late. In both cases, the sample size is big enough to at least expect them to pick up the slack before long. But as it is now, those players struggles are exacerbating everyone else’s.

Compare it to the current economy: one downturn quickly helps to feed another.

And this isn’t to excuse Tom Renney of blame, either. As much as the Rangers like to say they now have the sort of interchangeable parts that anyone can play with anyone else, the coach’s constant tinkering has stunted the development of any chemistry between players. Unless you count Colton Orr, Blair Betts, and Fred Sjostrom.

Of course, some perspective is still needed. It is only December, and the Rangers are still near the top of the standings as opposed to the bottom.

But the other side to consider is that it is only December, and if the team keeps playing the way it has the past few weeks, it won’t be in such a favorable position for long.

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19 Comments

  1. Weinman, you pulled a tricky one today. The young players aren’t filling in the void of Jagr and co. while there are questions about Naz and Zherdev? Hahaha. What a joke man. How about the fact that Drury and Gomez (given that they’re both centers) are struggling and THEY’RE CREATING THE STRUGGLES of their wingers and this team?! How about you put the blame where it goes.

    As to your calling out of Dubinsky and Callahan, were they supposed to have 70 point seasons? Callahan’s playing with a center on pace for 40 F’ing pointss!! And he was supposed to replace Jagr? Give me a break. Callahan had 8 goals and 13 points last year, he’s on pace for better than that this year. Dubinsky had 40 points last year and he’s about on pace for that.

    *THE BUSTS ARE GOMEZ AND DRURY!!* And yet, every time I come to read this blog it’s someone else who you’re blaming and throwing under the bus.

  2. Sam Weinman, ladies and gentlemen, once again providing levelheaded perspective. Thank you!

    The reality is, this funk is a result of the whole organization underperforming…from Sather, to Renney, to the players. But I still think it all starts with Sather.

  3. its only december, but at the same time, ITS ALREADY DECEMBER, the season has already been going on for a few months now, and while it seems as if teams do a better job of adressing problems right away than they used to, the team needs to do some serious “tinkering” as you put it…you kind of have to wonder why the team has not been sucsessful as of late, because they have all of the components to be good: excelent goaltending, superb veteran players, a crop of great young talent and a blueline with the potential to stop everything….yet here we are being shutout and scored on with no offense of their own…i never like to blame individuals but my tolerance for Renney’s pacifisim is really dwindling.

  4. Rob C

    You are absolutely right.

    Does it seem logical that so many talented players who have proven themselves in the past, can all be stinkeroo at the same time? Possible – but with this organization…not probable.

    What is the one continuous factor that has to be taken into consideration when you evaluate these performances? The coaching staff and the provider( Sather)

    Yet this is the one thing that never rises to the level of consideration when describing what this team lacks. IT LACKS A SYTEM THAT WORKS! And a head coach who knows what he is doing ( which he does not), and assistants who also know how to spot and correct flaws in individual performance. This entire season has been a mirage so far. Nothing changes with their tactics or behavior. Nothing.They still play that last year perimeter pattern, no one seems to know how to hit the net with a shot, they ought to forego accepting a penalty against other teams, for when they are a man up – that’s when they are in REAL trouble.

    It’s like watching a movie by viewing the negative of the film.

    And the Coach is highly esteemed by all hockeydom. That ought to let you all know how reliable the opinions of the glitteratti are.

  5. Sam

    Props to you for being the only reporter to ask Renney a REAL question post game last night. I’m sure you saw as I did how irritated and annoyed he got that you even asked him that question. Probably cause he has NO ANSWER!

    Not sure if you saw Stan Fischlers interview will Al trautface, but he had a good point. STOP MIxing the lines!!!
    If this really is the team we have, choose some lines to stay together, period!

    And dump the extras already. I mean what the hell are they waiting for? Too many men mean too many possibilites for Renney. At least the 4th line played well last night, although I agree with other posters, way too much ice time, AGAIN.

    And what the hell does renny have against Staal on the Powerplay? I’ve been asking for that since last season?
    And Prucha? Put him on the F ing PP!

    Korpikoski’s been invisible. any goals or points since we brought him back?
    Kalinen – Terrible!
    Rosi had a good beginning to the game.
    MAra & Staal – Solid
    Hank – Cant win every game for us, but played well

    Drury, Gomer, NAz, Z, Dubi, Voros, all had bad games
    Prucha was hitting and I’m hoping has an real itch to get more goals.

    Sather will do something, but Im wondering what now if Sundin doesnt think we are a contender?

    And by the way, horrible line changes, too little men on the ice, those ARE the coaches fault. Terrible second half of the game last night.

    Lets see who’s on what lines for the next game.

    If I were Renney any days off are cancelled, the whole team is doing Herbies for an entire practice, and I’m putting every person who doesnt play the Powerplay out there.

    To sum up the only good thing to take awy from thsi game are the PK, which is 1st in the league and a big reason why we’ve squeaked out past wins and … Oh yeah, thats it

  6. Salty

    I completely agree. So fun, skating fast with the puck, creating plays, PP was clicking, ***COUGH COUGH*** scoring…

  7. MikeNJ

    IMHO I really dont think Sundin is coming to the Rangers. They would have to move Redden with Kalinin or at least 6-7 million dollars worth of cap space to fit him. Which hell I’d move Redden & Kalinin for Sundin. But then we need 2 top 4 dmen and honestly what team would want those 2? Its too late to sit either one or “bench them” to get them frustrated so they leave the club. Rumor has it Sundin is supposed to sign with someone by December 15th.

  8. I dont think we need to trade any one. I think the problem is the coaching staff. As much as I like Renney and the rest of the suits I do not think that the rangers will be anything more than just a regular team with them at the helms.

  9. Repost with a few changes…
    Staal Wart December 8th, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I haven’t posted much lately, because frankly I just needed a break, but I just have to comment because I have been known to look at the big picture with Renney and overall I liked what I saw, not everything, but like I said, BIG picture. However that being said, I was at the game last night and and I just don’t see a motivated team at this time. I see a frustrated Lundquist who from what I saw didn’t even go to the bench during TV timeouts like every other player.
    I see a team who playes on the outskirts of the offensive zone and outside of Zherdev has almost NO scoring punch…I mean nothing…I remember 1 scoring chance last night and it happened in the first 30 seconds of the game. I hate to say it but last night the most action I saw in the offensive zone was from the 4th line…NOT GOOD! Orr, Betts and Sjo looking dangerous? come on!
    Gomez has no finisher, he does the same thing, skates the puck up the ice and its a thing of beauty, but there is no one in position to do anything so…he goes behind the net sends it to the point for a shot that takes a millenium to get off and ends up being blocked when in stead there should have been a winger skating behind him for a drop pass and one timer.
    I also saw a team that botched a line change so bad that for almost 30 seconds we had 4 skaters on the ice.
    Like usual I can’t put all the blame on Renney, some yes, line changes shouldn’t happen like that. He needs to go back to the drawing board on his so called system. There is always one too many passes, that lead to no shot or a blocked shot. Does this team know about 1 timers? or at least just a quick shot toward the net?
    But ultimately its Sathers job to get a finisher for Gomez. Its Sathers job to surround Drury, Gomez and Zherdev with players who complement them. Its Sathers job to know the scope of the league and find players who fit in here, and not just thorw money at free agents because they are “available”. Don’t get me wrong, I think we have a good team base here but we need a few more offensive parts that fit.
    On the other hand its also Sathers job to not just throw money at a washed up Redden, I can’t believe that he is here for the next 6 years. WTF!!! Potter looked shaky at first but I have to say, Potter in one game outplayed Redden and he throws the body. I know some will disagree here but…I’d rather have Rozi and his contract than Redden with his. Rozi at least shows signs of competence.
    Sather has been here longer than Renney and frankly outside of landing Zherdev, Gomez and Drury who I like he has sucked!
    So before calling for Renney head please aim for Sathers!
    BTW…I heard fire Renney chants last night from lets see…
    4 people…so I don’t think that movement is quite off the ground yet.

  10. mikey- they got rid of 1 extra forward. they have 2 which is fine since injuries will ALWAYS HAPPEN. the team has been very lucky so far in that regard. bette should have sat last night since he was compromised physically. would have given dawes or fritsche a chance,

  11. I dont think this is an excuse to blame renny either but i do think that his defensive style of play affects the way that the offense should play, which leads to goal scorers not scoring as much as they should. this has been the case for the last few seasons now.

  12. I agree with LI Joe’s last comment. Tho Joe and I politely disagree on Dawes’ upside, if after last night’s game Dawes doesn’t play LW in Atlanta in place of Korpikoski, I’m not watching. Dawes, an RFA at the end of next season, will wear a new uniform next season. I predict, unlike Hugh Jessiman, this draft pick will succeed when his new team gives him a meaningful opportunity. Oh, I forgot, wasn’t it Dawes who started the comeback against the Devils in mid-November, and didn’t score late in the Bruin’s game to lead us to the come-from-behind shootout victory during the next game. So in limited playing time, he’s “regressing”? Here we have a player who’s being abused by fans and coaches alike. I don’t get it. His ability to score goals at every level (including 14 last season in the NHL) counts for nothing with these experts. I suggest he hasn’t gotten too much playing time this season but too little. He certainly wouldn’t have hurt us last night against the Flames and he might have helped. Since the current coaching staff has no confidence in him, let him go to another organization where they will encourage him to succeed.

  13. the problem with this coaching staff is that they know how to keep a team on the winning road, when the team is winning, once the team hits a bump and gets off the road they do not know how to get it back on the road. All they do is constantly change the lines. there is no benching of players (outside of prucha, daws, fritche, korpi). this is a reason why the power play has sucked for the past 3 years. Its easy to coach when the team is doing good but not when the team sucks. When the team is good reney does nothing, when they suck all of a sudden its constant line changes and thats it. good coaches do other things. other problems with reney; he does not know when to call time outs, he doesnt know when to pull and change the goallie. I am very greatful to Tom for changing the face of the rangers franchise but unfortunately it is time to part, the rangers will never be a cup contender with him at the top.

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