The Ranger defense needs to step up on this two day Florida trip otherwise there will be questions about even making the playoffs never mind finishing in third place. The addition of Sandis Ozolinsh and the injury to Darius Kasparaitis have Tom Renney in a quandary as to the pairings for each game. Hopefully, Kasparaitis will return and pair with Fedor Tyutin in a Russian revival.
Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik have been partners all year and the Czech connection along with the Jagr line paid dividends early on. I do wish that Malik will go back to playing stay-at-home defense and let Rozsival make the rushes and pinches. Malik seems to be suffering the most from the Olympics and his shoulder injury from Devil Cam Jannsen's hit seems to be hindering him. This leaves Ozolinsh to pair with Poti. How is that for a challenge? Frightening! Possible solution. Dress Jason Strudwick for tonight and have him play wing, in place of Hollweg, on the HMO line. He then can be used as a seventh defenseman.
On penalty kills, sit Ozolinsh, and pair Strudwick with Poti. At least there will be some physical presence. Maybe he can keep the crease manageable. Notice, I said manageable not impenetrable.
Refs to Star
The referees have been the subject of a few responses from our readers. Don Van Massenhoven, Craig Spada and Mr. Magoo, McGeough were a few mentioned. But why stop at these three. There is a whole slew pot of incompetent referees parading around blowing whistles and calling stupid penalties and ignoring the more flagrant ones. The cause of this is the addition of an extra ref to call a game. The departure of fabled ref, Red Storey, got me to thinking about this ref situation again. How come the Olympics went off smooth as glass with one referee in a bigger rink? How come? Because now there is competition between refs not to be outshone.
Have you seen the new Kerry Fraser in action? He now wears a helmet. No playing without a helmet jokes, please. He skates on the ice like a peacock and now takes it upon himself to explain all the controversial calls even those called by the other refs. So who told us we need two referees on the ice? Outside of the ref's union, is there another group? The GM's you say. How fitting, there was Lou Lamirello, GM, now coach, screaming his head off as Scotty Gomez lay on the ice from a stick in the face, while Petr Bondra was scoring the game winning goal and no call. Maybe, Lou the coach should scream to Lou the GM.
Ryan Hollweg gets a three game suspension for running R.J. Umberger into the boards. Justified? Maybe. No problem with the five minutes or the game ejection, but three games? Umberger returned to the game and participated in the fifth goal. Rucinsky gets slammed into the boards by Rivet of Montreal, is out for six weeks, and Rivet doesn't even get a two minute penalty. Darius Kasparaitis gets sucker punched by Grant Marshall, of the Devils, from behind, and Marshall gets two minutes. The play was reminiscent of Todd Bertuzzi's attack on Steve Moore, to a lesser degree, and only two minutes, no game ejection, no nothing (bad grammar). But lay a tap on a stick, brush a player in the crease, put your stick on someone's body, shoot the puck into the stands and bingo, two minutes. Crash the net and injure the goalie, nada. The playoffs will star the referees and that is unfortunate.
Thirteen games to go and we need a strong finish from the Rangers. Let's get all our positive vibes directed to the Sunshine State and hope that in the words of our readers, Tonto and the rest of the posse show up to help Jaromir Jagr so that he doesn't remain the Lone Ranger. Lets Go Rangers. Get 'em up Scout!
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