Thursday, April 8, 2010

Teetering on the Edge of Horribility

Post #2 Volume #2

With two games left in the regular season, the Rangers actually control their own destiny - a term heard so often in sports but seldom accompanied with actual truth. The Rangers, who sit two points behind the 8th seeded Flyers play those same Flyers twice this weekend. Therefore, if the Rangers that beat the Maple Leafs 5-1 rather than those that lost to the Sabres 5-2 decide to show up for both contests, any other games will be completely and entirely irrelevant.
Despite the degree of my fandom, I do not hesitate to acknowledge that the Rangers as they are assembled now are simply not of the caliber necessary to win the Stanley Cup. Yes, there are a slew of prospects in the system capable of developing into the first line forwards the rangers need to adequately compliment Marian Gaborik (Chris Kreider, Ethen Werek, Evgeny Grachev, Derek Stepan to name a few), and yes the rangers show great promise on the blue line with a rapidly maturing Marc Staal, a future offensive weapon in Michael Del Zotto and several more impact players in the pipeline... but for now the rangers simply can't hack it amongst the best teams in the East, or for that matter the west.
Why? Well the answer is simple - the Rangers are too bottom heavy. Too many of the 12 forwards the Rangers ice each night belong on bottom two lines in checking-centric roles. Yet, despite these players' bottom six skills, the shortage of top six threats has caused Coach Tortorella to compensate by giving fringe NHL'ers like Erik Christensen, Brian Prust, Aaron Voros and other considerable top six time.

But DC... what about Gaborik? Didn't he break his single season point record despite missing half a dozen games? And didn't his 85 and counting points far outnumber the 50 something that last years' leading scorer, Nik Zherdev, amassed in a similar total of games played?

The short answer is yes. The long answer follows with a big, mcdonalds craving, no exercise getting but. The problem is that Marian is doing it all alone (duh!). But statistically, this claim garners much more credence. Fais-attention.

The top five teams in the league, based on points accumulated, as of April 8th are:
San Jose

Due to a brew of unrelated reasons, the two teams in the last two cups - Wings and Penguins, are not in this list. However, assuming they will experience considerable success in the upcoming lord stanley's march, we can throw them into the group as further proof of the formula.

What do all of these teams have: Each of these teams has 1 player in the top ten in scoring - we'll call them a top ten:

Alex Ovechkin
Henrik Sedin
Joe Thornton
Patrick Kane
Sidney Crosby

The coyotes are an exception, and have found a back-door to the playoffs. The Red Wings two stars who are typically amongst the top ten, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, are heating up just in time for the playoffs.

Marian Gaborik is also a top ten (9th overall in scoring). The next crucial element is where the Rangers fall off. 5 of the 7 aforementioned teams also have a player in the top 20 in league scoring - we'll call them a top 20:

Niclkas Backstrom
Patrick Marleau
Evegeny Malkin
Duncan Keith (we can assume Toews would have been up there if he played a full season. keith, a defenseman, is 24th in scoring)
Daniel Sedin

Hovering immediately below are the two wings mentioned above - further proving the point. Looking down the standings, the teams you'd instantly pick to potentially do some damage in the playoffs both the same 1-2 punch (a top ten and a top twenty).

The Devils have Kovalchuk at 11 and Parise at 18 for example.

So what's the lesson? Well, until the Rangers can clear the cap room necessary to pay another top 20 to supplement the production coming from Marian, one of the league's most dominant players, they simply aren't a member of that echelon of teams widely considered to be contending for the stanley cup. For that reason, should the Rangers sweep the Flyers in this weekend's home and home, DCMSG reccommends taking it as a small step in the direction of future results, rather than a sign that the Rangers have even the slightest chance to compete against alex and nick's caps, especially in light of the fact that Mike Green and Alex Semin of the caps are likewise top 20's. Even more so given our primary counterparts to the caps 2 least dangerous, dangerous weapons are the very guys being paid to be top 20's - Wade Redden and Chris Drury, who combined this season have less points than the Capitals FIFTH OPTION, Brooks Laich!

Other Notes

Shut up Oprah. Please... Shut up.

The 6 train is proof that racism is acceptable underground

If you kill an ant it will probably come back to life just to piss you off later.

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