I’m fortunate today to be able to introduce a rare guest post by my friend and colleague Sam Borden, who despite being a former goalie, is actually a pretty sharp guy. Sam laments something many of you have noted as well this year — the conspicuous absence of a go-to-guy on the Rangers’ roster.
Check it out. Then check out the debate he and Rick Carpiniello are having on the Rangers at “their Faceoff blog”:http://faceoff.lohudblogs.com/.
Sitting and watching the Rangers the other night, something felt weird to me (and it wasn’t just that they were wearing white on the road – which still seems odd, even though they’ve been doing it for five years now).
As I was sitting there, I realized that there wasn’t any one skater I was constantly snapping to attention to watch. There was no one who demanded attention all the time, simply because of the potential he had for doing something special. And that’s a big change for the Rangers – it hasn’t been that way for about 20 years.
Think about it: Over the past two decades, there has always been either Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier or Brian Leetch on the Rangers. If you want to count Mike Gartner as a star – and he scored 11 goals in 12 games after being traded to New York, then had 49 the next year – in 1989-90, you certainly can. In some ways, it’s been even longer – Marcel Dionne was a big-time player and the Rangers got him after 85-86.
My point is this: The Rangers don’t have a player like that right now. Henrik Lundqvist is absolutely a star, but he’s not someone who makes you feel comfortable that, on a power-play late in the game, he’s going to find a way to get you a winner. He’s not the kind of player who can take over a game by himself and turn a deficit into a lead. Only a skater can do that.
Is the lack of a go-to scorer the only reason the Rangers have been so inconsistent this year? Hardly. Stars don’t guarantee Cups, and the fact that the Rangers have only won one during these 20 years is proof enough of that. But I do think it’s a factor. And it’s something that puts even more pressure on Lundqvist and the defense to stand up every night.
Some might say that Nikolai Zherdev could someday become one of those types of players, and that’s fair. Maybe he will. He just isn’t right now. No one is. And for the Rangers, that’s pretty unusual.
1. Do you think the lack of a star is a factor in the Rangers’ inconsistency this season?
2. Do you think the Rangers currently have a star-in-the-making on their roster?
3. What do you think the Rangers are right now? Legit contender? Letdown-in-the-making? Come check out the debate that former hockey writer Rick Carpiniello (an absolute superstar) and I are having at our FACEOFF blog and join in with your opinion.
Thanks to Sam for chiming in. I’ll have more from practice in a bit…