Monday, November 24, 2008

Some More Thoughts Before the Rangers Play the Coyotes Tonight. . .

To those of you who are finally realizing the Rangers organization totally, utterly, and completely handicapped themselves for the better part of the next decade by signing 5 guys to contracts that when grouped together equal more than half of their total team allotment and that only one of them - ONE - is worth it. . . let me just say: Welcome to reality. Seriously. Put your feet up, grab a beer, and get comfy for the ride. Unless a lot of "what ifs" or "well maybes" or "lighting in beer bottles" happen...this team is going nowhere fast.

And no, this not a rant from a person that is sore their team has dropped two in a row. This is a person who is shocked they were able to win AT ALL so far this season with their messy mish-mosh of expensive parts that don't fill well together. Seriously. This is a team of players some of which I find it hard to even like at certain moments. Gone are the days of me looking at the team and saying, gee, they might have lost, but damn they put in a strong effort. Seriously. Has any one game been a true team, a true 60 minute effort? Anyone? The closest, perhaps, came against NJ, in one of the Rangers games against them. But that still probably wasn't a 60 minute complete effort. So I'm going to go with no. No.

And has any player for the entire season thus far played with heart and determination night in and night out? One. Lundqvist. You might be able to make a case for Callahan, and the truth is, that kid does show up every single night. The only thing he is not doing that Hank is, is living up to his full capacity. He's not. But on a team that can't score at all, I can't fault a guy for hustling, hitting, and getting a PP goal or two, when he's actually given the time to do so. Alright. So we have Hank. Callahan. And I'll add Marc Staal to that as well. Kid has had maybe one bad game. Kid came to play this year. Thank goodness for him. But if I were him, I'd want to be out of town really quick.

This team - and I did the math on this already so feel free to go back to July 31st "Does It Really All Add Up Rangers Fans" and play catchup - is fundamentally flawed. They have too many potential scorers and too few potential set up men. They have small guys that try to hit and big guys that won't hit. They have a serious lack of defensive defensemen. They have absolutely no physical precense. They can't skate, or if they can, they apparently won't. They take a lot of penalties. And they can't generate much, if any, offense on the powerplays they receive. Fundamentally screwed.

The only thing this team has truly seemed to master is the penalty kill. And yes, credit them all for that. But stopping goals against will only do so much if they are invisible 5-5 and ineffective 5-4. You have to score to win. I haven't seen a game yet where you can do it any other way.
Want to get a quick update on how those "big name/big numbers" players are doing for the Rangers thus far this season? Sure. Let's go.

Rozsival ($5 for 4 years)
23 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, -9 (PP: 2G, 4A)

Redden ($6.5 for 6 years)
23 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, 0 (PP: 1G 4A)

Drury ($7.05 for 5 years)
23 games, 8 goals, 5 assists, 13 points, -5 (PP: 4G, 3A)

Gomez ($7.357 for 7 years)
18 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 points, -4 (PP: 0G, 5A)

Lundqvist ($6.875 for __ years)
19 games, 12 wins, 5 losses, 2 OTL, .923 Sav%, 2.15GAA

How many of those guys do you think are earning their money? Again, one. Hank.

The Rangers two best defensemen this year have been Paul Mara ($1.95) and Marc Staal ($0.827) - also two of their least expensive. Their best offensive defenseman is Dan Girardi ($1.55). Those are the only defensemen that are in the plus in the plus/minus category. Dmitri Kalinin is -10, Rozsival is -9. Yikes!

The Rangers best offensvie players, period, are

Nik Zherdev ($2.5)
23 games, 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points, +7 (PP: 2G, 2A)

Markus Naslund ($4 for 2 years)
23 games, 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points, -2 (PP: 2G 3A)

Dan Girardi ($1.55)
23 games, 2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points, +1 (PP: 0G, 5A)

Brandon Dubinsky ($0.633)
23 games, 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points, 0 (PP: 2G, 3A)

What did they pay Gomez and Drury for? No, I know. Gomez was payed $7 for 7 because Sather likes the #7? And Drury was paid $7 for 5 because Sather knew he liked the team and would be...umm, loyal?

Different month, same argument. This team is not going to sustain itself on mediocrity. They proved that against Vancouver and in Ottawa this weekend. They were flat. And there is not one person on this team that can pull them out of it. Nor should there be one person. {which is why I don't buy the Gomez is playing tonight and he'll fix the team argument]. This should be a team effort. BUT....when the team is handicapped by what I would bet are pretty untradeable salaries for many years to come, how do they make a move to try to make it better? If you were a competing GM, would you want Redden, Roszival, Drury, or Gomez in return? I don't think I would!.

And Larry Brooks again reminds us of the salary just being wasted at this point. Poor Petr Prucha's $1.6 and Patrick Rissmiller's $1.0

It's disgusting that nothing is being done with Prucha and that a 26-year-old kid with potential is being allowed to rot in the locker room. It really is disgusting. And as for Rissmiller. That was Sather's mistake in the first place. But the guy was down in Hartford for six games on conditioning and scored 7 points. Think these are bad players? Or players that have not at all been given a TRUE and honest chance to succeed in this environment? Call me crazy, but I'm sure if Prucha went down on a conditioning assignment, he'd score some points too.

As per Sam Weinman ( "As for Prucha, Renney acknowledged that the player’s extended absence from the lineup has been a concern."

Well that's refreshing. I mean at least he knows he exists.

And yes, true, these are presumably all Glen Sather's mistakes, and the poeple calling for Tom Renney's head recently, are after the wrong guy. [History would prove there is little that any Rangers coach can do without being subject to Sather's wills and wims. Walkie talkies to the coach on the bench, anyone?] Maybe there is nothing Renney can do. But I am still not sure he is handling it the right way. Benching Dubinsky and Zherdev and Voros, but not benching the guys who actually are paid to be the teams best players? Unless he has no choice. And if that's the case, I have a plan. It'll never, ever happen, but oh how I'd love to see it.

Get Slats behind the bench again. Remove Renney, temporarily, permanently, whatever, and have Slats manage the mess he's created. Brilliant, no? It'll either come together perfectly in his the way the visionary designed it to, or it'll come crashing down to Earth. Either way, we'll know the answer. Whether this team, as is, can ever truly be a team. A hardworking, consistent, result-producing team. Or whether the Rangers are going to just be bad. Bad, ineffective, uninspiring, and boring. I mean at least we'd know.

Who's with me?

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