The Rangers are not healthy right now but have been playing very well (for the most part) in spite of that. Looking back at last night’s game where Ryan McDonagh struggled mightily, it would have really helped if Marc Staal or Michael Sauer were in the lineup to take away some of McDonagh’s minutes. Mcdonagh has played great for the Rangers this year but being a player in his second year he is still learning the NHL and is still developing into a solid defenseman.
Also, let’s not forget Dan Girardi. You can’t praise this guy enough for what he’s doing for this club. He stepped up in a big way when Staal went down, and without him we might be a 500. hockey team. Yes, he’s been playing that good.
But we really need our blue line to get healthy for us to truly be a dominant team.
With Staal and Sauer out the Rangers are vulnerable. They are being forced to ice three defenseman who are bottom pair at best defenseman. That is recipe for disaster right there. What Tortorella has done to counter this is play Girardi and McDonagh a lot. Almost giving them 30 minutes a night which is almost not fair to them. They won’t complain about the extra ice time, but i’m sure they aren’t happy playing that much. This trend can only continue for so much longer before they both just run out of gas.
Speaking of running out of gas, it sure looked like McDonagh ran out last night after a couple of his blunders led to goals. One of the blunders was completely uncharacteristic of himself where he threw a lazy backhand to center ice where Ryan Malone was patiently waiting. Malone cashed in on the McDonagh error and tied the game at 1-1. The other error that led to a goal was McDonagh’s failure to play the body on Dominic Moore, and then Moore took a backhander that deflected off McDonagh’s stick and went top shelf. I don’t expect these errors from McDonagh to continue but if he keeps playing this much he will have bad games like last night.
If you asked any hockey analyst before the season started how the Rangers would fare without Marc Staal and Michael Sauer for a certain period of time, none would say they would have the record they have right now. That being said, the last team I can remember winning the Stanley Cup without their top player was the Avalanche in 2001 without Peter Forsberg. Although I do have to say Boston last year gets an honorable mention for going through most of the season and the entire playoffs without Marc Savard. I said before the Rangers are an elite team and I still believe that. But they need Marc Staal and Michael Sauer healthy to be a Stanley Cup contender.