Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Return To Atlanta

The Rangers return to Atlanta, the site of one of their triumphs last year to face a team that is winless in six games, scoring only nine goals and giving up twenty seven. In addition, the Atlanta coach, Bob Hartley, has been canned and the GM, Don Waddell, has taken over. Sounds like a skate on the pond for the Rangers. Not quite. These are the games that losing teams wake up for, a new coach after a dreadful start. For Waddell this is his second time he has taken over the coaching reins as Thrashers GM. He was 3-5-1 in his last stint before hiring Hartley, who had won the Stanley Cup with Colorado.

The Rangers may have some changes in their lineup tomorrow night. Marcel Hossa is hurt and will probably be replaced by Nigel Dawes. I'm sorry Hossa is hurt but the move is one that should have been made sooner. Dawes may skate on the first line with Jagr and Gomez, so he may get a solid chance to show his skills. Hopefully he will get more than a cup of coffee and we will see him in a few games. Hopefully.

In practice Pock, you remember him, paired with Rozsival and Malik was with Strudwick as the fourth pairing. This is truly earth shaking but it remains to be seen if Renney has the fortitude to bench Malik. Supposedly, Renney believes that Malik is the kind of a player that must play to get out of his slump, funk, poor play to improve. So that explains why Malik plays in 82 games, he never quite makes it. So tomorrow night we will have a test of Renney's ability to assess talent other than Jagr, Shanahan, Lundqvist and well, you get the picture.

Dave Scatchard has been sent to Hartford for about five games to see if he has anything that warrants giving up a slot to Dubinsky or Dawes. Blair Betts, who did not perform well as a third line center will be moved up to the second line center between Shanahan and Straka. So Shanahan continues to be the test case for centers. Maybe Matt Cullen doesn't look so bad now. Chris Drury now becomes the third line center for Prucha and Callahan. Hey, that could turn out to be the most productive of lines. The two kids could use an experienced go to guy between them. To allay all feelings, Renney has referred to his three lines as 1, 1A and 1B. Sounds like a Chinese menu.The fourth line will be Dubinsky, Hollweg and Orr the designated hitters and fighters, all two minutes of them.

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