New York Rangers Find out What They Are Made of
The New York Rangers better buckle up, it is time to take on the big boys.
The Rangers are coming off of a terrible pair of performances. In their loss to Detroit, they looked flat for most of the contest. They followed that performance up with a well played, high energy, first period against the Penguins. Then the second period started and no one let the Rangers know.
With their loss to Detroit coming in OT, the Rangers were able to record an entire point over the weekend. Due to an absence of production, the Islanders have now caught the Rangers. The two teams now share second place.
Slow Legs, New Lines and a Hot Opponent
The New York Rangers have not played since Sunday and this worries me.
As the Rangers warm up in Anaheim tonight, I am sure the broadcasters will acknowledge the loss in Detroit. The Rangers played the Red Wings after coming off of three days rest, and were out played in the first period. Tonight, the Rangers will square up with the Ducks, as they come off of two days rest. Well, the Ducks are on fire and the Red Wings are not.
The Ducks hold a record of 20-4-2 over their last 26 games. As if this isn’t enough reason to worry, the Rangers are also breaking up the Eric Staal and Rick Nash line. This short lived strategy was, for the most part, unsuccessful. Instead, Nash will find himself next to Brassard and Zuccarello tonight.
This line has always produced for the Rangers and it can be considered a short term solution and intelligent move when facing three strong west coast teams over a short span of time.
New York Rangers Shift Breakdown
The issue with this short term solution is: Eric Staal. The elder Staal seems to spend a decent amount of time meandering from line to line with the Rangers and has yet to show any real production. Eric Staal will find himself back on the same line as J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes tonight.
This line definitely has potential to score and can be dangerous, but the pairing has lacked consistent play and this may negatively impact the trio. Miller is a rookie playing with a veteran, whom he just meet a couple of weeks ago. Even though Miller has played phenomenally, from time to time he still can slip up, as rookies do. On the other hand, Staal is still the new guy in the locker room. This unfortunately poses the issue of ice time.
Staal has not logged enough ice time with his team, ice time that is imperative to team growth, chemistry and communication. For these reasons, this line will produce amazing television. Miller, Staal and Hayes will either make AV look like a genius or a monkey in a suit.
The Fun Doesn’t End in Anaheim
Tonight, as the Rangers gear up for the Ducks, the Kings and Sharks are licking their chops. The Blueshirts will head to LA immediately following tonights match-up. They will prepare for a guaranteed war as the Pacific leading Kings await their arrival.
The Rangers will play the Kings less then 24 hours after they depart from Anaheim. Once they finish duking it out in LA, they will tap gloves with the Sharks on Saturday.
To believe that the Rangers can go 3-0 on this west cost trip is not quite idiotic, but close. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for the New York Rangers to head back east with six more points and sole posession of second place. However, it will be a tough road and the Rangers will have to take each game one shift at a time.
Each one of these teams are dangerous and if the Blueshirts come out like they did in Detroit, or “finish” a game like they did against the Penguins, they will need to be wheeled back to New York on stretchers.
This road trip is a big deal. The Rangers have 13 games left to play, and baring a collapse similar to that of Chernobyl, they will play in the post season. However, they need to find their stride and start proving to themselves that they can beat top Cup contending teams, like the Kings, Capitals, Ducks and Blackhawks.
This trip to Cali will either give the Rangers the confidence they need to play at a high level and the belief that they can win on any given day, or it could be the start to a slow and agonizing prelude to golf season. I am not saying they will lose every game up until the post season, but if they can only consistently perform at a level that competes with second tier teams like the Hurricanes, the first seven game series against a playoff ready team could be hard to watch. Especially if that first round ends up being Rangers vs. Islanders.
I am obviously pulling for the Blueshirts and hope that they can somehow win all three in California and carry that momentum and high level of play into the playoffs, but realistically they would do well to take two of three games on the west coast. Who knows though, Nash, Brass and Zucc have the ability to light up any team and if E. Staal, Miller and Hayes click, this team could take off.