I was going to write this last night but fell asleep. I don't know what was worse, the game or the calling of it by VS. I guess the Islander fans would call it a good game, they won. I have watched the Rangers play three boring hockey games, save seven minutes in game one. Between the Rangers lack of execution and the trapping of the other teams, the games have been stinkos. And we have been paying top dollar for these contests. I saw the first one live and the other two on TV and it doesn't matter, it's the same odor. The first game was tempered by all the hoopla preceding the game and the play of Henrik Lundqvist. Ah, The Ultimate Prince. I keep having this nightmare that he leaves us after the season and signs with the Devils to take over from Brodeur. How does that nightmare grab you? As I write this I am listening to a CD, "Souvenir di Sorrento' by various Italian artists. It helps keep my sanity.
I know it's early and we have only played three games but last nights game was lost when Tom Renney, philosopher extraordinaire, wrote the starting lineup. For the second straight game Paul Mara was benched. For the second straight game Blair Betts was moved up to the third line and Brandon Dubinsky was moved to the fourth line. For the third straight game Michal Rozsival and Martin Staka played the point on the power play for most of the PP time. Two guys who refuse to shoot the puck but insist on passing. They are the tic-tac in the tic-tac-toe PP offense this team has. The Rangers were 0-6 last night and 0-15 for the season. But that is okay. When its PP time Tom Renney rounds up the usual suspects and sends them out and they bore us to death. And Paul Mara sits. Why?
Paul Mara was a big part of last years turn around. While Paul is a tad slow, not slower than Malik, he is not afraid to mix it up, Malik wont. Mara has a damn good shot from the point, Malik doesn't. Renney says he is playing Strudwick because he has a sandpaper mentality. That's good. Have him replace Malik, who has a creampuff mentality. Outside of his willingness to drop the gloves Strudwick has no advantage over Mara as a defenseman and offensive player. Renney plays players on what he thinks the other team is going to do not what the Rangers want to do. He is a reactive coach not a proactive coach.
I love Blair Betts. He is gritty, a great penalty killer, blocks shots, wins faceoffs but is not an offensive center. His presence on the third line is retarding the growth of Prucha and Callahan. With Dubinsky at center this line could well become the sleeper offensive line for the Rangers. We are supposed to be developing young players like Dubinsky. How can you do that when you give him all of 2:58 of ice time. Put Dubinsky back on the third line and give that line at least 12 minutes a night. Right now the Rangers are turning into a two line team and that is not good.
The Islanders scored the first goal with 4 seconds left in the first period on a three on three. Malik was behind the center instead of being up on the line. He was totally out of the play. If he is that stupid why wasn't the coaching staff yelling at him to get up on the line? Nobody speaks Czech on the bench? Malik and coaching staff were both asleep. Malik then combined with Blair Betts to put the Rangers down five to three and Bryan Barard put in the game winner. The Rangers also had a five on three but they spent the time passing while the Islanders shot.
So another 2-1 loss to the Islanders. Jaromir Jagr has not scored a goal against the Islanders in the last five games. He did pick it up in the third period but the Rangers have to learn to pick it up early. DiPietro made 36 saves, same as Gerber did for the Senators against the Rangers. To be honest, the number of shots are more imposing than the shots themselves.
Now I know that the Rangers are better than this and that they will soon start scoring goals, lots of them but if Tom Renney's early season decisions are a glimpse of what is in store for us, we are in trouble. We can not win with just two lines. We can not win with the same perimeter game we had last year. We can not win if we do not give the young players meaningful ice time. Last year we waited to put the young players in toward the end. We can't do that this time, we have to play them early and often. Finally, we can't win with Tom Renney as coach.
ICINGS: Thomas Pock was benched for the third straight game. Thomas Pock,who played so well down the stretch, especially in the Atlanta series. He played so well against Atlanta that he was benched against Buffalo. He was benched for Karel Rachunek who along with Malik lost two games for us against Buffalo. I championed Pock all year last year and felt he was getting screwed. However, he re-upped with the Rangers last year and that was the wrong move. He knew he wasn't going to get a fair shake from Renney and should have never re-signed. Thomas, you made the wrong choice and now you must live with it.
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