Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh Starry Night

The New York Rangers are once again the hardest team to figure out in this world of NHL hockey. You look up and down this roster and it's like looking through a telescope on a clear summer night. All you can see are stars and more stars. And yet they struggle to stay in the playoff picture.

Currently on the outside looking in for a post season spot, the Rangers record shows they are only slightly better playing at home, where they have enjoyed 98 consecutive regular season sold out games, as they are on the road. This team hasn't had a lot to smile about after the games at center ice, having to face their paying fans with the old Czech Salute. With the loaded talents such as Scott Gomez, Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Drury, Martin Straka, and Henrik Lundqvist, on the team, they should be fighting for the Presidents Cup.

The numbers are almost as confusing as to where they are in the standings. The Rangers shoot 31.2 shots per game (4th), but only score 2.36 goals per game (29th). They allow only 26 (3rd) shots a game but also let 2.54 (8th) goals in the net per game. Their special teams play isn't special, but it's pretty good. With a 17.4% (15th) power play and a 83.3% penalty kill (12th), they hang in the middle of the pack. Where they are having the most trouble is playing five-on-five, where they rank 26th with a goals for/goals against ratio of 0.87.

This leads to a look at the goaltending, where there really is only one man between the pipes. Lundqvist has played 38 games and Stephen Valiquette has played in only eight. Henrik the Great's numbers are not so great, but mediocre. He has a goals against average of 2.41 and a save percentage of .906, putting him in middle-of-the-road territory. Lundqvist is not carrying the team like he can.

And certainly, it is not all his fault. When you have gifted scorers who shoot as much as they do, and still can't find the back of the net, something is wrong. A short stretch late in the first period against the Flyers recently, is a brief synopsis of their season:

Brandon Dubinsky was penalized for holding at 18:20; Blair Betts was whistled for delay of the game when he shot the puck over the glass during the penalty kill at 19:36; and then Drury was called for a holding-the-stick penalty during the 3-on-5 disadvantage at 19:45.

"We just sort of came unraveled there, and it probably didn't help with my play in the first to put us down even more," said Drury. "It was really not a good night."

Unraveled indeed. And the New Year isn't proving to be any better as the Blue Shirts are off to a 0-4-1 start. But, looking at that roster, you know this state of mediocrity cannot last forever. Veterans such as Jagr, Shanahan and Straka will find a way to right this ship. New stars to the team like Gomez and Drury, may need the time to get used to their new mates, and build some chemistry. And Lundqvist is not an average goalie.

No, the clouds will part and the stars will soon shine again in the New York City area, and they may be bright enough to lead the Rangers into the playoffs and beyond.

Break out the telescopes, look to the stars, as they lead the New York Rangers in the War Room Roll Call!!

~ ogre1kanobe


Wonder what's behind the veil?

Find out at The Arena Beauty Pageant!

(P.S. ~ We're still taking in new entries throughout the remainder of January)