I was actually thinking abut this during the third period Thursday night, and now even more so as the Rangers prep to face Evgeni Malkin (notice I list him first) and Sid the Kid (a.k.a. Cindy, in the Festivus blog).
OK, he’s not the goal-scorer Ovechkin is, and Ovechkin is the best player in the league, IMO. He maybe isn’t the overall offensive player Malkin is, and perhaps not even as good as Crosby. Then again, you have to wonder how good Kovalchuk would be if he had Malkin or Crosby playing with him, as Malkin and Crosby do. Plus he’s got a little bit of nastiness in his game.
Kovalchuk is sixth in the league in points on that lousy team in Atlanta, and we all saw how he can take over a game by himself — especially if you let him, as the Rangers did. Yet the Rangers don’t have any two players who combined can give you the offensive punch this guy does by himself.
The Rangers, by the way, are still terribly flawed under Tortorella, who refuses to explain how he can sit out his best goal scorer during a shootout his team needed to win. They don’t have the offensive players to play his system, they aren’t good enough on defense to survive his system, and even though they are way, way better than they were a month ago — partly because they have added Avery, Antropov and Morris (two of whom may be departing July 1), partly because of the coach — I could see them making the playoffs and getting swept in ugly fashion, or going out in five in the first round, because they can’t stop anybody consistently and they can’t score consistently and their power play isn’t good enough to be called dreadful.
This is becoming a rant I had no intention of posting at this time. Wasn’t I talking about Kovalchuk?
Well, the next couple of games ought to be an interesting little test, if not a season-making/breaking portion of the schedule, if not a complete exposure of this team’s legitimacy of lack thereof.
Enjoy the game.