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New York Rangers Off to Mediocre Start of Season


Alex Silverberg
2/20/2013

The New York Rangers are 8-6-1 in their first 15 games for 17 points, third in the Atlantic Conference and tied for eighth in the Eastern Conference with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Rangers are notorious for slow starts, this is unacceptable play for a team that many predicted to win the Stanley Cup.

Power(less) Play

For years, the Rangers have established an identity that bespeaks a tenacious forecheck, careful defensive play and outstanding goaltending. Unfortunately, that identity also includes a horrendous power play. This year, the Rangers continue the tradition with a pathetic 10.9 percent conversation rate that ranks dead last in the league.

To have a successful power play, there must be constant movement, a big body screening the goaltender and someone with a hard slap shot hovering around the point. Watching the Rangers, the forwards are stagnant, only moving when they have the puck and there is a defensive player in the way, the big body in front of the net is 5’11’’ Ryan Callahan and defensemen with weak shots like Anton Stralman  are at the point. Simply put, there must be a new plan of action. Players must shoot and crash the net. The biggest bodies on the roster, goons or not, must be planted in front of the goal and a player with a good slap shot has to be acquired to improve the special teams.

Many fans were hopeful that the addition of Rick Nash would jumpstart the power play and while Nash has been great with 12 points in 14 games played, he only has one power play point in an assist.

Where In the World Is Brad Richards?

Although Brad Richards is tied for second on the team in points and made some nice passes for Rick Nash to finish, he has been largely absent this season.

Just last night against the Canadiens, for example, he played over 19 minutes, took a bad penalty and was a negative two for the game. I didn’t notice him on the ice more than recent call-up Brandon Mashinter. That is a problem when one of those players is making millions and the other barely has any NHL experience under his belt.

Richards is not an Assistant Captain for nothing. As he goes, the Rangers go. They need him to play better.

Chemistry?

There is no question that the losses of Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, John Mitchell, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov represented a big blow to the penalty-killing and grinding skills of the team. Their departures also took a chunk of the team’s heart. Replacements Arron Asham and Jeff Halpern have been unremarkable and rookies Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller have shown typical rookie inconsistency. Darrel Powe was a nice retrieval for the expendable Mike Rupp but has since been put on IR with a concussion.

With all the new parts, the team has yet to put on back-to-back solid 60-minute performances. Even in the blowout wins there were times where the opposition would be allowed multiple breakaways that were denied by Henrik Lundqvist. A successful Rangers team is one that limits scoring chances while grinding out opportunities for themselves. There have been few games this season where they has happened.

This team has yet to gel and play the same hockey that got them to a couple of wins away from the Stanley Cup Final last year. The question is, with the addition of Nash, is this the same team? Could a defensively sound club all of a sudden turn to that of a run-and-gun squad with just one more offensive star?

With almost a third of the 48-game season out of the way, the Rangers don’t have much more time to find out.

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