Saturday, October 14, 2006

Rangers Need Some Sabre Rattling

The New York Rangers visit the Buffalo Sabres tonight in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. What I have seen in the first four games of the season is kind of what I expected. The Blueshirts can score, they can skate, they are a bit inconsistent on specialty teams, and they need more toughness.

Jaromir Jagr is still working himself into shape after off-season shoulder surgery. Jagr may not be up to par at this point but within a couple of weeks I predict he will be back at the top of his game. Brendan Shanahan has been awesome thus far, doing everything you would expect; taking the body, scoring, and being a real good leader. His passing is definitely underrated.

Henrik Lundqvist has been inconsistent and has been getting run more than I would like to see. This is the "franchise goalie" and the Flyers did a great job of getting traffic in front of him and bumping him every chance they got trying to get him off his game.

We have also seen some players taking too many shots against Jagr.

This is the problem right now with the Rangers. They have got to stand up for their top players. Colton Orr is a fighter. Ditto Ryan Hollweg. But if they are only getting two or three minutes of ice time per game then they are being wasted. Coach Tom Renney has got to get his team to stick up for one another and establish what each guy's role is.

Believe me I know how early it is in the year. To be honest I would rather things started off slow because we have all seen teams play outstanding in the regular season only to fall apart in the playoffs.

A shot in the arm is expected from Darius Kasparaitis, who is scheduled to return tonight. Renney was waiting for him to get back in shape after he also had off-season surgery. The Blueshirts miss his "personality" on the ice in which he talks a lot of trash and does a lot of hitting. I remember fondly when pugilist Donald Brasheer was chasing Kasper around the ice last year during a Flyers' game. That's what Kasper does best, he gets guys off their games. He's frustrating as hell and the Rangers miss him. I hope he plays tonight!

Rookie Nigel Dawes tore things up last season in the AHL with 35 goals in 77 games, but he is not getting enough ice time right now. If that continues he should be sent down to the minors.

At Center Ice: Great interview this week in the Wall Street Journal with NHL Commish Gary Bettman on the state of the game...I may have already mentioned this but Brian Leetch may become a studio analyst on Rangers' road broadcasts...Good to see Rob Ray yapping away again, but this time as an analyst for the Buffalo Sabres...So far things sound real good with Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti, but I do miss John Davidson...Thursday night's Devils' win over Toronto was Martin Brodeur's 448th, moving him ahead of Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of third place all time. Marty now trails ex-Leaf Ed Belfour at 457 and his boyhood idol St. Patrick Roy at 551.

Stay Onsides!

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