by Patrick Hoffman on 12/02/08 at 12:30 AM ET
With a record of 17-8-2 and sitting first in the Eastern Conference, one would have to think that the team and its fans would be happy.
In the case of the New York Rangers, not so much. Looks can be deceiving folks and yesterday afternoon’s 4-0 clunker at the hands of the Florida Panthers proves that point.
Over at Sam Weinman’s (The Journal News) Rangers Report Blog, MSG’s John Giannone points out that of the club’s 17 wins, six have come in the shootout. If there were no shootouts, the team would have a substantially lower record and would be 11-7-8.
Let’s also not forgot that this team has had a pretty manageable schedule thus far. For example, there last five games have been against teams with sub- .500 records: Ottawa Senators (8-10-4), Phoenix Coyotes (10-11-2), Tampa Bay Lightning (6-10-7) and the Florida Panthers (9-11-3). Sam Weinman points out that the Rangers’ next three opponents are a combined 41-21-8: Pittsburgh Penguins (14-6-3), Montreal Canadiens (13-6-4) and the Calgary Flames (14-9-1).
The truth will be brought out in these next three games because these are all teams that will more likely than not be in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. If the Rangers can pick up four out of six points, than Ranger fans should come away impressed and realized that this year’s Blueshirts may be the real deal.
However, in order for that to happen, the team must do two things: SCORE and do a better job of protecting their goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
I know I keep going back to this but when you have a roster that includes guys like Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Nikolai Zherdev, Markus Naslund, Wade Redden, and even Michal Rozsival, the puck should be going in the net more. However, through the team’s first 27 games, they have only scored 65 goals, good for 25th in the league.
Secondly, they can’t keep leaving Lundqvist alone in the defensive zone. The Rangers hung Lundqvist out to dry and the Panthers were able to take advantage of that. If the Blueshirts do that against their next three opponents, they will end up allowing a lot of goals.
I am not trying to be a pessimist or anything but despite the team’s solid record, the Rangers still have a lot of work to do to get to where they need to be in order to compete for the Cup.
Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
Tags: calgary+flames, chris+drury, florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, john+giannone, markus+naslund, michal+rozsival., montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, nikolai+zherdev, ottawa+senators, phoenix+coyotes, pittsburgh+penguins, sam+weinman, scott+gomez, tampa+bay+lightning, wade+redden
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.