Prepping for this road trip had to be encouraging for the Rangers. After beating Edmonton at MSG, in OT, on Mark's night the Ranger were 4-0-3 in their last seven ringing up 11 out of a possible 14 points. The Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Penguins and Bruins were coming up on the road and it would be realistic to think we could take three out of four with the only loss to the Red Wings. Right? Wrong.
After basically giving the game to Detroit on Saturday the Rangers looked even worse against the Blue Jackets last night in a game that quite honestly looked like they were not ready to play. This was especially true of Kevin Weekes who was completely baffled on the first goal by Jason Chimera. Chimera actually seemed to lose the puck as it went between Weekes legs who for some reason was protecting the net, with half his body outside of the goal, if you could imagine that. Of course, Tom Poti was no help as he lay face down on the ice sliding toward the goal mouth. The Blue Jackets would then score two more, a total of three goals, in less than five minutes as the Ranger defense watched and did very little. Malik and Rozsival were particularly ineffective in stopping the Columbus rushes.
The Rangers benched Ryan Hollweg for Marcel Hossa, who responded with two goals and Dominic Moore bounced back with three assists. However, the Rangers, without Hollweg and Kasparaitis, were outhit 17-9 and for the second night in a row had no flow at all to their game. It's good to see Hossa getting a shot to bring some punch to the lineup but benching Hollweg takes too much away from the checking game. Play Hossa but also play Hollweg. Since Nieminen is playing quite well right now, sit either Rucinsky or Rucchin for a while. Rucinsky seems to be having a problem skating back on defense and a rest might send him a message. Rucchin has slowed a bit, and could use a rest, having come off of a foot injury that may not have healed completely.
Renney has a dilemma at the goalie position right now. Without a doubt Lundqvist is the number one. The problem is that Weekes some how cannot adapt to the backup roll. He can't sit out too long, he seems to lose his concentration, and more important, his confidence seems to be waning. I don't know if he is eligible to be sent to Hartford for a week of games to get in shape but that might be an option. Lundqvist just can't play all the games and with the Olympics coming up The Prince will be one tired goalie come playoff time. What the Rangers need is another Glenn Healy who played for the Rangers, four seasons: 1994-1997, and played in 113 games and wound up with a 40-44-18 record, and always seemed to be ready whenever he was called on.
ICINGS: The Rangers have lost four straight in Columbus. What is it with these Western Conference teams? Larry Brooks, in the New York Post, reports that Glen Sather offered Tom Poti to Boston for Brian Leetch back in December. No comment back from Boston. Thomas Pock, despite getting burned on Rick Nash's game winning goal played a good game with over 13 minutes of ice time.
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