If this is Life without Gaborik, the Rangers are in trouble.
As I wrote in my column in The Journal News and on LoHud.com today, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. But they’ve got to be better than that. And they should be better than that.
1) If you lose such a big chunk of your offense, well, your defense has to be much better. That includes the PK. So much stick checking, so much eyes-following-the-puck instead of recognition of enemy forwards going to the net. So many easy taps around the goalie, many of which he stopped.
2) I don’t have a problem with Marc Staal being given a letter. Sometimes a guy needs that to help him move to that level everyone sees for him. But in Game 1 with the “A” Staal wasn’t very good. In fact he was very bad on the first goal.
3) You know, the Rangers pretty much brought back the entire defense corps from last year, subtracting only Wade Redden, who is better than Steve Eminger. So what should we have expected?
4) Given that defensive makeup, and given the forwards the Rangers have—with a few exceptions—they really have trouble with opponents who can skate. Speed really looks speedy against the Rangers. Or at least so far it has.
5) I made this point last night: I asked John Tortorella if he would continue to go with the minimum 12 forwards, which includes Todd White. I interpreted Tortorella’s answer, that it’s not his call, to mean he’s not thrilled with his current roster. I would not have gone into that game with Todd White and Erik Christensen sliding onto the fourth line and everyone else moving up, to the point where a tryout (Fedotenko) was playing on the No. 1 line. Late in the game, what was left of the original lines (Avery-Stepan-Fedotenko; Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan) were mostly together again. That’s the way I would go. Get somebody—Zuccarello, heck even Grachev—to plug into Gaborik’s spot with Frolov and Christensen, and leave the other three lines the way they were.
6) Besides, it’s not as if Gaborik will be back in a few days. You might win a game here or there with last night’s lineup, but you can’t survive for long with it.
7) The power play doesn’t have nearly enough skill, especially at the points. So it’s time to get somebody into the old Adam Graves position. There are plenty of candidates: Dubinsky, Callahan, avery, even Boyle or Prust. Get some dirty PPGs, because the pretty ones aren’t coming very often.
8) Boy was I on a happy-happy train home last night. Angry Rangers fans and angry Yankees fans. Most of them considerably over-served.
9) I thought what Michael Del Zotto did after his partner, Dan Girardi, was illegally squished, was absolutely the right thing to do. The Rangers even scored on the 4-on-4 it created. You take care of those things when they happen. Just as Carcillo-Gaborik needed to be handled immediately (or else carried around for the rest of the season like an albatross), just as the Armstrong-Gaborik hit needed to be handled (and wasn’t) Friday. Might somebody visit Armstrong’s grill Thursday in T.O.? Other than Avery, I mean.
10) The Rangers have lost three of four; they’ve won 25 percent of their games, and are one game under .500. Only in the NHL.