Well that lasted long. Merely a day in between a nice win and a disappointing loss, the Rangers again find themselves in a hole. After a 2 - 0 win against the Devils, the Rangers stunk it up at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although goaltender Vesa Toskala played well, the Rangers have again failed to establish any sort of offensive pressure. This has put additional pressure on both the defense and Henrik Lundqvist.
In fact, their play was so bad it warranted Head Coach Tom Renney to cancel Sunday's day off and work intensively with his players, particularly the big guns on the power play.
I can't say that I am yet surprised or disappointed. There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out and while I may contest a lot of what Eklund at HockeyBuzz, he reaffirmed a point that I have claimed all season. Without a transition game and puck moving defenseman, this Rangers team is not going to be able to reach its full potential.
If I haven't said it enough, defense breeds offense.
Still there are positive signs. There has been some settling of the defense, though Michal Rozsival and Paul Mara continue to confuse me. There is a lot of decent puck movement and created opportunities.
However, there is only so far you can rest on opportunities without producing and the Rangers are nearing that point.
One consideration that hasn't been mentioned is that on most teams in the NHL, the top line is an "uber-line," something Stan Fischler and Al Trautwig alluded to on-air last week. The Rangers, using Marcel Hossa right now, do not have that. Their top line winger is not a first line player, he is barely a third line winger.
Should the Rangers use a stacked line of Shanahan, Gomez, and Jagr until Avery and Straka return?
You tell me...
(AP Photo, on GameOn! Blog)