There was a TV show by that name in the 60's, a father/son team who took on hopeless and helpless cases. The Ranger defense is not hopeless or helpless but it is not a Stanley Cup type defense. I know that, most Ranger fans know that, most hockey writers know that. There are possibly only two people who believe in this defense and we all know who they are.
The roster includes eight defensemen but it is more noteworthy of who it does not include. It does not include Darius Kasparaitis, the only legitimate hard checker on the team. Right now, Kaspy's salary, around $3 mil, practically eliminates him from the mix. What also seems to eliminate him is the hard hits that he dishes out. This flies in the face of the Ranger coaching staff who have decided that puck control, puck movement and poke checks are more effective. We all see how good that is when we have opposing skaters cluttered around Lundqvist with no fear of being hit or even touched. Kaspy is working himself into shape and will be ready this training camp. It will be interesting to hear the reason he doesn't make the team. If our drain trust don't want him, they should trade him, and get a big moose who can dish out some punishment.
The list also does not include twenty year old Marc Staal, the sober member of the Staal family. There is nothing left for Staal to accomplish in the Juniors or in Hartford either. Isn't it about time that we give the hockey world another young Staal? In four seasons and 236 games with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL Staal has racked up 123 points netting 23 goals. More important, in the 2006/07 playoffs in 21 games Staal was 5-15-20 which shows that he steps it up in important games. While not the hitter of a Kaspy type, Marc plays a tough defense and is very strong on the puck. It is time for the Rangers to promote another young defenseman.
One more gem who should be eyed closely in camp is 22 year old Ivan Baranka. Baranka is over 6' tall and weighs 205 pounds and is an aggressive defender and loves to take the body. While Paul Mara was a big improvement over Aaron Ward he is quite slow and vulnerable against speedy forwards. We know very little about Hutchinson and we know quite a bit about Marek Malik, king of the plus/minus stat. I know what you all are thinking. Aren't these positions won by the training camp performance? Do you seriously think that Sather/Renney are going to make Malik fight to win a job?How about a defense core of Rozsival-Tyutin; Kaspy-Staal; Gerardi-Pock-Baranka (you pick two). I love the speed and youth this group brings. Do you? This setup frees Malik and Mara for trades. I rather we trade either one or both than windup trading a Baranka or Pock, two young players with bright futures. For once the Rangers have a surplus on defense, lets make it payoff with a trade for a big moose, either up front or on the blue line. Renney may have to make a tough decision this training camp.
ICINGS: Bonus points if you can identify the actor pictured above and name one movie he was in, without help. Answer here.
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