Monday, September 29, 2008
The Rangers have landed in Bern, Switzerland after compiling a 1-5 record in the pre-season thus far. With 2 more games to play, the real season then begins against Tampa Bay on Saturday, October 4th, 12:00 PM EST.
There's much to discuss about the present state of this year's New York Rangers. Pre-season, in general, doesn't hold a lot of stock as the season begins. Trust me, I'm not ignoring the concerns I have... no scoring, lack of team toughness, lack of physical play, etc. Let's break it down: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
First, the good. The Rangers have assembled a high-speed, high-tempo team. They also picked up some veterans to balance out the youth on the team. On paper, this team looks good enough to get past the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Now, the bad. So far, the new look Rangers have outshot their opponents by a whopping 207 to 129 in 6 pre-season games. That works out to 34.5 shots to 21.5, per game. You would think that it would overwelmingly give the Rangers the edge in goals scored... well, it hasn't (Shades of last year). The Rangers have been outscored 18-12 so far in the pre-season. It's gotta be a concern for coach Renney and his staff. I know it's just pre-season and it doesn't count; I also can honestly say that as a former player, things do change once the "real games" begin. However, it's a consistent pattern going back to last year. If this continues, King Henrik will have to play goal like the Great Wall of China. Let's hope not!
Now, the ugly. It's fair to say that this year's squad lacks the physical play. You know - hitting with purpose, getting the last shove in - all of the nasty parts of the game. This team, overall, is a little soft and timid. I'm hoping that will change once the season starts. But, you will be taken advantage of as a player or team if you allow it to happen. Some players have to step up that part of their game. I believe team toughness is a necessary aspect to winning hockey.
I was going to predict my starting lineup for the season opener, but I decided not to (It would just be pure speculation anyway). Sorry! I'll leave you with these thoughts: The season has not begun, it's really not time to panic. It will take time for this year's Rangers squad to learn to play as a team. However, I will be cheering them on, as many Rangers around the world will too. As the saying goes: "Let's-go-Rangers"! Over and out.
Pictures courtesy of Yahoo! Sports