Post Topic #21: The Rangers Look Great
Some interesting things i've noticed over the previous few games box scores.
Renney is consistently showing more and more confidence in Staal. He's gone from 12, to 15, to 18 to 23 minutes last nite. This is a great sign. Last year he was playing nearly 30 a game in juniors. While that's a lofty expectation for anyone, if he's up to a consistent 25 a night by the end of the season, then i think he's closer to reaching leetch like status then we could have hoped for.
Dubinsky isn't only playing 1st line, he's getting 1st line minutes - 16.5 last night.
Betts is being used efficiently, and i think that's the best word for it. He played 10 minutes last nite. Was there to start the game (a strategy i like, seeing as that line is quick and can and has twice caused the other team to fall into a daze from the get go). Any more time for him is unnecessary seeing as he doesn't score, but his play is stifling and a good way for the top lines to come on the ice guaranteed to be in control of the puck
Dawes is also gaining Renney's confidence. He's averaging nearly 13 minutes a night which is impressive for a guy his size (5 foot 8) who continuously skates as hard as he does.
Numerous other things to talk about but first and foremost, i think we learned something important against the Flyers about Prucha. If he gets less than 10 minutes he simply is not able to establish the pesky game that he needs to in order to be effective. Against the Flyers he gets 12 minutes and plays a pretty solid game; more importantly, the type of game that winning teams get from their 3rd line players, which is what he is and should continue to be. With that said it will be tough to find a spot for him once these other guys come back.
But the sentiment here is clear. People want hossa off the top line. Given that, I believe that Callahan is not the type of player who would be best handled getting 3rd line minutes. this kid (he is younger then me and i can therefore say kid) needs to be groomed as a top two line type of guy and it needs to start happening this season given the log jam of forward prospects slowly trickling through the system. To put him on the 4th would be an insane waste of potential.
But this only further increases the problem. Where do you put Marty (straka)? Do you disassemble the 3rd line and put straka with Drury and Prucha? I think this line could be effective but not at the cost of dropping Nigel down when he is poised to break out this year (If he were to have a breakout 25 goal campaign the Rangers would have a 3rd line that could anchor their scoring for the next five years in Prucha, Drury and Dawes, with potential reinforcements in Bourret, Pyatt and others in the system).
I don’t want to lose Nigel. Not when he has been playing so well. Not when the team has been playing so well. 8 out of 9 games is right across that line where you can no longer consider the success a fluke and have to start saying that something is working. What exactly is working is becoming clearer and clearer. For the first time this season, the Rangers are staying with line combos on a consistent basis. And they sure are working.
Gomez is flying and Shanahan is being given enough space in reaction to Gomez’s flying that gives him that extra split second he needs to shoot, courtesy of his age. But age or not, he’s starting to become effective which is a good sign for two reasons. 1: he’s scoring goals, something which Ranger fans are quickly forgetting that the team was struggling to do at the beginning of the season. 2: Last season he was on fire at the start. I for one think that the way he’s playing is better this year, especially with all of the young talent. We can only expect that as the season progresses, and the Dubinskys, the Staals, The Dawes’, the Callahans the Pruchas the Tyutins and the Girardis of this team will go through spells of tiredness, if not exhaustion. To have Shanahan reaching his peak right around mid-season would be ideal to take some of the load off of these younger guys who have almost clockworkishly taken turns carrying the load here.
And then there is Jag’s line. It’s working. Dubinsky does some disgusting things with the puck. Every game he makes one move from the circles cutting in to the crease area that literally stuns defensemen. If he starts getting that shot off then we will be seeing a lot more scoring from that line, especially given that the most potent player in Hockey is still feet behind him waiting either for a rebound or a deflection past the deep d-men trying to stop Dubinsky.
And who are these offensive d-men that are still maintaining their defensive prowess. I said two years ago when Tyutin first got full minutes that this guys got a rifle. His cannon is deadly, accurate and almost unblockable (usually shoots high). While Mara is a good gap-filler on the point for now, my sense is that he’s gone next year and I think that Tyutin is the perfect combination of solid defense and dangerous shot to be our team’s next PP QB (until either Staal takes it, Sanguinetti comes up or Renney unwisely gives the spot back to Drury or Straka).
Otherwise the PP is struggling, but like everything else that’s only a matter of time. The reason the Rangers’ power play was so deadly two years ago was because Jagr had that circle shot that goalies COULD NOT STOP. That shot looks to be coming back. The largest distinction between this years team and the team two years ago is that now when Jagr shoots, there are 4 other guys who haves noses for the net waiting for the rebound or a quick pass through the crease. If Renney becomes wise enough to put Drury down low where he can screen the goalie, get some scrappy goals and make some deflections, then Tyutin/Mara/Staal/Straka’s shots from the point are going to be finding a lot more nets, systematically.
Interesting decisions to be made in the next week or so regarding roster moves.
Admission: Two years ago, with Lundqvist playing well I told my friend, “This is Montoya’s team, Lundqvist is just holding his spot”. I was drastically wrong. See I didn’t really realize how stable of a goalie Lundqvist was. But he has no weak spots, or off nights (off minutes more like it but this is beyond acceptable). Apparently that SEL is a lot more indicative of talent than we thought. If only our other Scandanavian brethren (Lauri Korpikoski) could reach his enormous potential then I think the next few years we might be looking at the perennial cup favorite, and hopefully at least a couple Cup parades down broadway. Now I'm curious as to how good of a return we can get for Montoya.
I would say d-man, but we really don't need one. Consider that next year there are 5 spots guaranteed to be taken: Staal, Tyutin, Girardi, Sauer, Roszival (i predict he re-signs). It would be foolish to make a deal for a young d-man now when Sanguinetti could be good enough next year.
I would however not be opposed to picking up a veteran D-man in exchange for Malik and Montoya and maybe even another prospect. There are guys floating around Like Filip Kuba, and Bret Hedican, and Wade Redden that are available that could bring the Matteau/Larmer/McTavish type grit and experience to a young team in a good position to make a serious run at the cup. The lightning, being a goalie away from being really really dangerous might bite at that.
I’m going to start writing other notes in front of the actual blog entry and putting this crap up top, that way all you jackasses that don’t appreciate my writing and scroll straight to the bottom don’t have to exercise your thumbs.
No joke. I have a friend that is the laziest SOB alive. All through college I would be awoken by him gagging from brushing his teeth. This morning, while brushing his teeth, he gagged so hard that he threw out his back and now is out of work. The world’s first tooth-brushing injury. Talk about fragile.
When you work at a Mexican restaurant, AND YOU’RE WHITE AND IRISH, don’t tell the patrons that your food is authentic Mexican… it just makes you look stupid. And don’t tell the patrons that you don’t serve quesadillas (pronounced kwezadealas) because they’re fake Mexican, and then serve them anyway under the name Funditos. I mean come on. For serious.
Tin Foil is the new wrapping paper. If you’re really creative, you can do half shiny side, half dull side.