by Patrick Hoffman on 10/19/08 at 10:00 PM ET
Picking up three out of four points in back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings certainly isn’t terrible. In fact, it’s actually pretty darn good if you ask me.
However, what is concerning is the lack of consistency that the Rangers displayed this week. There were times when they weren’t afraid to put pucks on the net, the power play was clicking, the team had good coverage in their defensive zone and more importantly, they put in a 60-minute effort. On the other hand, there were times when they couldn’t muster up anything, left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry or took untimely penalties.
Despite being 6-1-1, good for first place in the National Hockey League, the team has not played its best hockey. This could especially be said of Chris Drury, Markus Naslund, Michal Rozsival, and Petr Prucha.
Drury has just one point in his team’s eight games. He’s had a bunch of scoring opportunities but has either missed the net, missed passes in front or has been late getting to the puck. And since picking up points in his first four games as Blueshirt, Naslund has gone quiet. He’s passing up good shot opportunities, getting knocked off the puck easily and more importantly, looks to be a step behind everyone else.
Rozsival is struggling on the Rangers’ backline. On the power play, he looks like he is still looking to pass to Jaromir Jagr and defensively, he seems to be turing the puck more often. His Czech-mate Petr Prucha is also pressing. Prucha plays hard when he is in the lineup but does not have the finish required to be successful in this league.
How can head coach Tom Renney change this? Well, to begin, how about not changing the lines every single game. While Renney is a masterful teacher of the game and someone who put the Rangers back on the map, he certainly doesn’t give his lines enough time to succeed. This is hurting top guys like Drury and Naslund as they weren’t playing on the same line in preseason (at least not a lot) and yet when the first game came around, they were together.
Secondly, Renney must preach consistency. You can’t control a game like you did against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and then two nights later, put up a dud. It’s understandable when this happens in back-to-back games but if you have a night off between games, it should be expected that you come out with the same effort every game whether it’s against the New Jersey Devils or Florida Panthers (Not meant as an insult).
Tomorrow night would be a good night to start showing consistency when they take on Sean Avery on the Dallas Stars. It’s up to the Rangers to show what Avery is missing by not playing with them and that they are one of the elite teams in the league.
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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.