Rangers Rumors & News
This entry was posted on Monday, November 19th, 2007 at 11:50 am and is filed under Hockey, Rangers Rumors & News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The Rangers have won five games in a row and face the New York Islanders tonight, the only team to beat them in three weeks.

Marc StaalAs a team they have scored the third fewest goals in the NHL, but have been able to win due to a commitment to defense which has seen contributions by everyone from Henrik Lundqvist to a pair of back checking 600-goal scorers.

Lately it has become more obvious that the once perceived weakness of the Rangers, their blue-line, is becoming an area of strength.

Coming into this season most of the talk surrounding the Rangers was focused on the idea that new centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez would lead an offensive juggernaut to the Stanley Cup. As they sputtered early focus changed to fixing the defense with bigger more offensive players like Sheldon Souray and Ed Jovanovski who might be able to jump start the offense. Instead what has taken over the Rangers is their group of young mobile defensemen who play strong fundamental hockey.

“I think we’ve got guys that are certainly unheralded and maybe have yet to make their mark in a significant way in the league,” Head Coach Tom Renney said to the NY Daily News. “That doesn’t mean they’re not good defensemen.”

Fedor TyutinThe rise of 20-year old rookie Marc Staal, who replaced Marek Malik as a first pair defenseman, has coincided with a less vocalized call for a trade. Also, each time Fedor Tyutin hip-checks an opponent or Dan Girardi makes a breakout pass it’s becoming more obvious that this is going to be the road to the Stanley Cup.

“Manhandling guys is history. The skills you have to have now to play defense in this league are skating ability, being positionally sound, poise with the puck and hockey sense,” Phoenix director of player personnel and former NHL defenseman Tom Kurvers told the Daily News. “Their guys have that.”

Lundqvist is as stellar as ever in net, but the team’s goals against average has dropped from 2.57 last season to just 1.79 this year even as they have failed to add that big name, pre-lockout style defenseman so many have called for. In fact is has been the removal of guys who were once all-stars like Sandis Ozolinsh and Darius Kasparaitis that has lead to players like Michal Rosival to flourish and come into their own as top defensemen capable to leading the team.

Only just now are the Rangers finding their grove offensively, scoring four goals in four of their last five games, but it is their crop of young defensemen, Staal, Girardi, and Tyutin, along with capable veterans like Rosival and Paul Mara who are helping them win now. This group has the ability to do the little things like staying mobile and focusing on making good first passes, not just moving guys out of the front of the net and holding the puck along the boards.

Rob Abruzzese’s articles can also be read In The Dirt.

Comments are closed.

  • Press Harbor