Ushering in the New Year on Broadway

Thankfully, the Rangers salvaged my off-time with a victory against the Icelanders so this post won't be totally negative.

Yet, we obviously have enough to be discouraged about and questioning where this team is heading.

Can the coaching staff be trusted with this group going forward? Will the players finally play to the standard of the contracts they signed? How will the Rangers defense tighten up in the second half? If they tighten up.

But let's not allow these predicaments and quandries to ruin the remainder of the holidays, it certainly isn't affecting the players (just ask Captain Drury).

Instead, let's make some predictions of what the remainder of the season will hold:

* Petr Prucha will be a mainstay in the NHL: but it may not be for the Rangers. The fiery winger has done all he can to earn the limelight from Head Coach Renney, now it will be up to the Rangers whether they want to move forward with him.

*The Power Play will improve: because it has to. At near-worst in the NHL, the worst they could feasibly do is stay the same. So brighter skies are on the horizon.

*A big move will come: Just finished editing the next Blueshirt Bulletin which has a lot of very intriguing and pointed articles regarding the blueshirts. Suffice to say, there is more inner turmoil than many suspect in this lockerroom of "outstanding chemistry." A huge move might be enough to motivate this group.

*Vezina in Sweden: Four times a charm for Lundqvist who is the most deserving candidate to this point, except for perhaps Evgeni Nabokov and Tim Thomas. Yet, expect both the Boston and San Jose trains to slow down as is the ebbs and flows of the NHL.

*Cap crunch: The salary cap will most likely be forced to a lesser number as the economy has begun hitting the NHL. Teams have begun cost cutting and efficiency measures such as aid from the league and inexpensive ticket packages.

So drink some champagne, ponder these thoughts, and enjoy the New Year. We will be back in frequency in 2009.

Until then, thanks as always for a successful year and have a safe and happy New Year.

Errant Pucks: (A new feature with musings, rumblings and tidbits)

Happy Holidays!

Twas the night before Christmas...

and all through Manhattan, Rangers fans were stirring, in disbelief what had happened. After a tumultuous loss at the hands of the Caps, I checked in at Pucks to discuss the latest mental lapse...

It has been a while over here, but we all need to do what we get paid for, and unfortunately it is not blogging. Nonetheless, my observations of the Rangers never ceased and last night at MSG was an interesting debacle.

While the Rangers escaped with a point and noticeably tired after the first half of the game, the result has been much of a broken record over the past three seasons. The Rangers defense collapses at the hands of the same culprits (Rozsival, Mara, and Kalinin) and their power play doesn't finish off the opponent.

Where is the common denominator here? What would continue and cause the identical collapse during all Rangers losses? The only answer: Assistant Coach Perry Pearn.

I have made it a point to support this coaching staff because they have made such great strides with the Rangers, but perhaps it is time for a tweak. Currently, Pearn handles the power play and defensive zone while Mike Pelino handles the penalty kill and offense.

Could another bench coach and a changed system work for the better? Perhaps. The Rangers team defense is strong, but when there is a collapse it is the individual defensive unit that collapses.

The defense looks like a group that is confused, makes ill-timed and poor decisions, and has no confidence. They pinch when they shouldn't, miss the net when they need to hit it, and make blind passes that result in turnovers.

How many odd-man rushes did we see last night? Breakaways? Missed nets that resulted in the puck caroming around the boards and into an odd-man situation?

It was the difference in the game.

We can all get on the Rozsivals of the world, and rightfully so, but perhaps the system is just not working and all the players that have failed in it (Kaminsky, Malik, etc.) were just results of a poor system.

Over the rest of the holidays, I would be very surprised if the Rangers don't do something to shake the group up such as a trade or coaching change. It may be the spark they need.

Errant Pucks: (A new feature with musings, rumblings and tidbits)

All about $undin: Did we ever really believe it wouldn't be about the money. Well, Mats, good luck winning a Stanley Cup in Vancouver. They have an impeccable track record.
Darling Nikki: Zherdev is one of the great talents in the league and when his maturity catches up, will be an outstanding scorer. Now the question becomes, is he best served with Gomez and Naslund or Dubinsky and Co.? Right now, let em' ride.
Wade and See: Redden hasn't been bad. He hasn't been great. He has played a decent defensive role, but not yet latched on offensively. Do I dare repeat: is it the system?