Madison Square Garden – The New York Hockey Rangers are in the middle of a long and nightmarish home stand. Usually, home-cooking would mean the Blueshirts would have a good chance of winning a lot of games before Christmas. But the Broadway Blues can’t score and they’ve been shipping upwards of four goals per game of late. That means more losses than Michael Jordan would have at a casino.
The problems start at the back. Henrik Lundqvist has not been the king of late. He’s been leaking like a sieve in net. So much so that he was yanked after shipping three goals to the Columbus Ex-Rangers in the first period last night. People thought that after Henrik and the Rangers settled the contract extension, Lundqvist would be back to his netminding best. But we haven’t seen that king of late. I’m starting to think that the mystery injury that made him miss time at the start of the season isn’t fully healed and Lundqvist is still suffering. At least I hope thats the case. Henrik’s deputy, Cam Talbot has been a very good fill-in. But he needs help in front of him.
The Ranger defensemen have been guilty of too many sloppy plays and mental lapses. They’re giving up too many odd-man rushes and hanging Hank out to dry. Ryan McDonagh has been solid as usual. He is the clear number one defenseman on the team and he logs the most ice time of anyone on the team. His defensive partner, Dan Girardi is good but I’m not convinced he’s a top two defenseman. He will look great for some shifts but other times he looks like he should be packing his bags for Hartford. Girardi scored a nice goal last night so hopefully this is the start of a good run of form. I think he’s helped by playing with McDonagh and I don’t see another top-two defenseman on the roster with Marc Staal hurt. Staal hasn’t been the same since almost losing his eye last season. And now he’s set to miss more time with a concussion. But I’m hopeful that Marc will be back to his old productive ways soon.
Up front the Rangers can’t buy a goal. Alain Vigneault has been juggling the lines a bit lately in the hopes of finding a scoring combination. But it hasn’t worked. Nobody can put the biscuit in the basket. Dominic Moore scored last night. And you know things are bad when your fourth line center is the only forward that can score. AV has recalled Taylor Pyatt and Arron Asham to the big club. I like Asham. I’m a big fan of the Metis Madman, but his recall to the Rangers seems like a desperation move from Vigneault. It hasn’t worked yet and it probably won’t work.
The Blueshirts need to get the offense going. Nash, Richards, Stepan, Zuccarello, Hagelin and Kreider need to start bulging the onion bag on a regular basis. Derick Brassard, who missed last night’s game with an inflamed ass, needs to get back to what made him effective towards the end of last season. The goals will come. You can’t keep all of these players down for that long. Can you?