Friday, September 15, 2006

The Road To The Cup-The Offense

The Rangers opened training camp today coming off their first playoff season in eight years. While on paper the Rangers seemed to have improved themselves, they have serious physical questions, to their top players, that will have to be addressed as the season progresses.

Improvement? Matt Cullen and Aaron Ward are improvements over Steve Rucchin and Tom Poti. Heck, just getting rid of Rucchin and Poti is an improvement. Two no hitters gone, goodbye and don't write. Both Cullen and Ward are coming off their best offensive seasons in Carolina's Stanley Cup Championship run. Cullen was 25-24-49 and Ward was 6-19-25. The supposedly offensive defenseman Tom Poti was 3-20-23 and he is going to be the Islander quarterback on the power play. Good luck!

Of course the big upgrade is the 37 year old Brendan Shanahan. He was 40-41-81 for Detroit last year and is the perfect compliment to Jaromir Jagr. Shanahan is the bruiser and Jagr is the cruiser. They will make wonderful bookends on the power play. Shanahan will probably be on the second line with Cullen and Prucha and give the Rangers two top elite lines. Basically, line 1 and line 1A. How close are these two great stars? Shanahan has 598 career goals and Jagr has 592 goals. Lets keep our fingers crossed that Jagr's shoulder holds up during the season.

While there is just one youngster, Petr Prucha, on the first two lines the third and fourth lines seem to give opportunities to some young players to crack the lineup. Blair Betts and Jarkko Immonen seem to have the center spots for the third and fourth line locked up. Betts, 26 years old, is coming off of his first full season and Immonen, 24 years old, made some cameo appearances last year. Young, 20 years old, Brandon Dubinsky who has racked up a point a game in the WHL, 82-148-230 in 234 games, would seem to be a real longshotto make the team but looked what happened with Prucha last year.

The team is loaded with young skater for the wings on the third and fourth lines. Holdovers Jason Ward, 27 years old, Ryan Hollweg, 23 years old and Marcel Hossa, 25 years old, seem to be a lock for the team. Hossa played only 59 games prior to last year with the Rangers. Hossa was 10-6-16 in 64 games and seems to have the tools to have a big year. Sitting on the outside looking in for a break are Adam Hall, Colton Orr and young sniper Nigel Dawes, 35-32-67 for Hartford last year. Dawes is all of 21 years old. Jed Ortmeyer is working his way back from the pulmonary embolism that hit him and we pray for a quick recovery for this young dynamo.

So where is the problem? Toughness! The lack of it. We need a few more grinders to go into the corners. The first line don't have any and the second line has two and they are both fragile, young Prucha and old Shanahan. Erik Rasmussen, a free agent would be a good addition to this team. What do you think?

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  • Anonymous said...

    Man, all I read thoughout NY Ranger blogs is toughness, toughness and toughness... Look at Islanders they are all toughness and nothing else no scoring, no speed, no goaltending ... I think we are tough enough to make to playoffs with Holloweg, Orr, Ward, Shanaghan and Betts... If there will be a need for toughness we can pick it up during the season. Look at Sabres this team was all speed if it was not for injuries Carolina would have had a cup now...

  • mike said...

    anonymous- You are right, but how much ice time do the Hollwegs, Orrs, and Betts get and outside of Kaspy and possibly Tyutin who is tough on defense.