If there’s been one possible silver lining to the Rangers’ play of late, it is the fact that Tom Renney has managed to keep the same general lines together for several weeks.
Or maybe it’s “had.” Because after yesterday’s listless showing in Pittsburgh, it’s easy to envision Renney jumbling his combinations again in hopes of finding a spark—something the coach even got a headstart on yesterday when he flip-flopped Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan.
So here’s the question: if it was frustrating earlier this season to see Renney switch lines just for the sake of change, would it now be equally misguided to keep those lines intact just for the sake of consistency?
Granted, this is only a small part of the equation. If the Rangers were ineffective yesterday, it was not because of who was who, but because of a whole host of other potential factors: that the Penguins were smarting after three-straight losses to the Rangers; that the Rangers were tired and perhaps a shade self-satisfied with their first four games of their road trip; that the team has consistently been uninspired in afternoon games this year (late night with the Dads on Saturday, eh?)
Either way, we should know more today.
Some great lines by my counterparts in the papers today.
First there is this dead-on call by Larry Brooks:
Somehow, the Rangers almost always look far worse in losing than they appear impressive in winning.
And then there’s Mike Obernauer in the News referencing the AFC Championship game also in Pittsburgh yesterday:
The Igloo Sunday afternoon was just a building full of people whose heads were elsewhere. So in that sense, the Rangers were just joining the crowd.
Along the same lines, Andrew Gross portrays a team that was already out the door.
The sellout crowd waited until under five minutes remained to chant “Go home, Rangers.” But the visitors had started the game as if that was all they wanted to do.
Update, 12:21 p.m.: Sure enough, Tom Renney is shaking things up, although the coach was quick to caution nothing was in stone for tomorrow against the Ducks. Among the highlights: the return of Dan Fritsche to the lineup after 20 games, as well as Aaron Voros.
In this scenario, though, Lauri Korpikoski and Petr Prucha would be scratches. If that is the case, can’t say I see it. Neither player was stellar in Pittsburgh, but no one was.
The “full lines”:http://njmg.typepad.com/rangersblog/2009/01/new-lines.html:
Markus Naslund-Scott Gomez-Ryan Callahan
Nigel Dawes-Chris Drury-Dan Fritsche
Aaron Voros-Brandon Dubinsky-Nikolai Zherdev
Fredrik Sjostrom-Blair Betts-Colton Orr
Update, 12:48 p.m.: According to Renney, the new lines were in part a function of needing to get Voros and Fritsche some practice time at forward since they had spent the past few weeks practicing as spare defensemen.
Check out back here after tomorrow’s morning to see if the two are in or not.