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What We Learned from the West Coast


1-2-0 is not a good span for any three games. And it certainly wasn’t a successful road trip for the Rangers as they collapsed Vancouver, powered (pun intended) their way through Edmonton, and then played what Tortorella called one of their most complete games of the season in a loss to Calgary.

I think we learned a lot about this year’s Rangers over the three games, three big things in three games.

One, and if we didn’t already know we do now, is that the Blueshirts absolutely must stay out of the penalty box. This team can control the play 5-on-5 but even with Gaborik in the lineup does not have the fire power to overcome deficits acquired trying to kill penalties. They have only been able to score more than one goal once in the last four, and only four of their seven goals came at even strength. This is an offense that is struggling both to create chances (though they had a bunch against Calgary) and to finish when they get those chances.

Two, this Rangers team just doesn’t have much of an edge. Apart from Callahan, Dubinsky, and a couple of others, there is little aggression and/or toughness on this team. Redden and Roszival constantly get pushed out of the way in their own zone, and this team has no bruiser. Brashear is either not playing because he’s hurt or because he’s been ineffective or both and Aaron Voros, despite his best efforts and size, just doesn’t hit hard. This team needs a thumper that other teams can be at least a little nervous about.

Three, if the netminder isn’t on, they won’t win. Henrik is one of, if not the best, goalies in the world without a doubt. But if he doesn’t bring his A-game, or Valiquette isn’t sharp, as was the case against Calgary, this team gives up too many bad chances to win. Against the Flames, they gave up very few chances, but Calgary was able to score on three of them simply because Valiquette couldn’t come up with the big saves.

It will be interesting to see how this team responds coming home against Atlanta on Thursday. I think they need a win to get some confidence, especially after they played well and lost to Calgary. Henrik should be back in net which should provide the Rangers with a lift, but if they don’t come out flying, a hard-working Thrashers team could give them problems.

-Mike Valvano


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