The New York Rangers started their season early, and thanks to some solid play in the first 5 games, gave themselves a cushion atop the Eastern Conference. However, other teams are slowly catching up in games played, and are making a push to dethrone the Blueshirts. One of those teams is making a visit to the Garden tonight, and it should be quite the matchup.
First of all, I expect the scoring to be rather low.Â With the Rangers likely to start Henrik Lundqvist, Boston should consider themselves fortunate to pop in 3 goals or more.Â Conversely, Boston has the option of going with red-hot Tim Thomas or Manny Fernandez, who was outstanding in a 6-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.Â That means the Rangers, who aren't exactly an offensive powerhouse these days, are going to be lucky to put in 3 goals or their own.
Without getting too much into detail about rosters, I feel the Rangers need to make some changes in the interest of chemistry.
1 – I am not sold on Nigel Dawes.Â Sure, he brings energy and gusto to the team, but since his few clutch scoring plays against the New Jersey Devils in the playoffs last season, I haven't seen a lot to be excited about.Â Instead, I'd give his spot to Lauri Korpikoski, who I believe is a player with higher offensive upside, and would help jump-start the Rangers' quasi-anemic offence.Â (I say “quasi”, because they occasionally explode for 5 goal games.Â It just doesn't happen often enough…)
2 – Give Petr Prucha some time on one of the top two lines, and one of the PP units.Â The reasoning here is that Prucha is a player who needs confidence in order to produce, and that comes in the form of playing time.Â Sadly, after a huge rookie season, he has seen his production drop off, and his ice time stripped from him to the point where he's become the 13th forward.Â He can't possibly score from the pressbox…Â Not only do the Rangers need him to get on his game for their own offensive needs, but also to boost his value on the trade market, as clearly there is a glut of talented but underused forwards on this team (see also – Dan Fritsche).
3 – Keep everything the same defensively.Â The Rangers seem to have hit the nail on the head with their defensive pairings, and I see no reason to tinker with them at this stage.Â Even though Dmitri Kalinin hasn't panned out to be the supporting offensive defenceman many experts predicted, I like him right where he is in the lineup.Â Besides, none of the franchise's potential inserts did much to impress me at training camp or pre-season, so let's just leave well enough alone!
4 – Brandon Dubinsky needs to play a more offensive role.Â While he won't have Jagr to play with, I still believe this kid is capable of a lot more than he's showing, and it stems from his present situation.Â He's playing on the checking line primarily, and even with occasional talented wingers (Zherdev, Drury – at times, Naslund), he hasn't really gotten into a groove this season yet.Â I'd like to see him given a chance to play the wing on the top line, although somehow I believe only an injury could set that plan in motion.
Anyway, before this becomes very long and speculative, I'd like to wish anyone watching this game a great evening!Â I'm going to say Rangers win 3-2 in the end, but in all honesty, it could go either way.
For more on this game, check out Jim Mulligan's blog.
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!