The Rangers revamped, punchless lineup could get no more than nine shots on goal in any period tonight and lost a key game that put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Any hopes that the Rangers could climb up the ladder in the Eastern Conference were dashed by the Devils defense and Brodeur. Brodeur stopped 26 shots, mostly ordinary and Lundqvist stopped 31, letting what looked like a harmless wrist shot from defenseman Brad Lukowich go in for the only goal.
The Rangers new lineup was more of a reflection of the team's weaknesses than it was some bold strategy by Tom Renney. How else to explain true fourth line center Blair Betts, maybe a third liner, centering the second line of Shanahan and Hossa. Poor Shanahan. Not only did he not have a gifted center to feed him he had an obstacle on his opposite wing. Think of this for a moment. Brendan Shanahan, the free agent, who called the Rangers, has scored twenty four goals without having a true second line center on his line.
Where was Prucha, the rookie sensation who scored 30 goals last year? Why he was on the fourth line with Hollweg and Orr. The third line was new guy Jason Krog at center with Cullen and Ortmeyer on the wings. Wow! Prucha's name keeps coming up in a potential trade with the St. Louis Blue's for the recycled Martin Rucinsky. Martin Rucinsky. In his fifteen years in the NHL Rucinsky has never scored thirty goals in a season. He has never had more than sixty points in a season. The kicker is that John Davidson, President of the Blues wants Brandon Dubinsky, the twenty year old in Hartford for retread Rucinsky. Would you trade Prucha or Dubinsky for Rucinsky? I would trade Malik and Rachunek for Rucinsky, wouldn't you?
And what of our top line? Nylander, Straka and Jagr got all of four shots the entire game. Four shots! And there was Renney after the game beating his chest on what a game his team played. Four shots! Unbelievable? No! The line insists on playing an east, west, tic-tac-toe, perimeter hockey game exerting no pressure on the goalie and magnifying the defensive attributes of the Devils. This team needs help now, not at the trading deadline. Is it any wonder there wasn't a sell out crowd at the game? Is it any wonder that the Devils haven't sold out one game this year?
Another oddity in this game was the fact that the Rangers did not get one power play opportunity. Amazing. The Devils were 0-4 on the PP and seemed to be their old whining selves every time one of them was smashed into the boards. But the Rangers couldn't beg, borrow or steal a PP. Maybe the refs figured that if the team doesn't have the heart to crash the net and play north, south rather than east, west than they don't deserve a power play.
January 17, 2007
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