Rangers Still Have Fundamental Flaws

John Tortorella can throw all the temper tantrums he
wants, but it won’t solve the problems currently facing the New York
Rangers.   

Yes, the Rangers ended their five-game losing streak
with a good but not great performance on Long Island Thursday night.  But Tortorella can’t lose his temper after
every loss (well, maybe he can) and the Rangers remain a team with fundamental
flaws that go beyond benching Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik.

The Rangers scored five goals at the Nassau Coliseum
Thursday after scoring two goals or fewer in seven straight contests.  Scoring has been a real problem for Rangers
all season.  Looking at their lineup, the
Rangers have 92 goals scored on the season in 34 games.  But there is no balance to speak of.  Marian Gaborik has scored 24 times (more than
26 percent of the team’s total) while no other Ranger has more than nine
tallies.  The Rangers lack scoring depth
and it makes them rely too heavily on the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist to
keep them in games.

The Rangers are up near the limit set by the salary
cap but they are receiving very poor value from most of their players with big
contracts.  Chris Drury, who signed a big
free agent contract a few years ago, has just 3 goals and 10 points in 29 games
and has a plus/minus of -9.  Tortorella played
Drury on the fourth line last night, but the Rangers are paying him like he’s
one of the top five centers in the game. 

Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival are being paid like
top 10 defensemen, but their play has been inconsistent both offensively and
defensively.  Both of these players were
supposed to be part of the Blueshirts power play but both have only one power
play assist on the season. There is too much money tied up in these players who
are paid like they are among the game’s elite but play like they are average at
best.

Other veterans haven’t produced much either. 
Christopher Higgins has just 4 goals and 10 points in 33 games and is a
minus-nine.  He hasn’t been effective in
the corners and playing a physical game either, which was his biggest strength
while playing in Montreal.    

Brandon Dubinsky held out over the summer for more
money and missed most of training camp before signing a two-year deal for $3.7
million.  Although he has missed time due
to injury, Dubinsky has only 3 goals and 11 points in 21 games and hasn’t
demonstrated he’s worth the money he signed for, let alone what he is asking
for.

The Rangers fired Coach Tom Renney late last season
even though Renney was hardly at fault for the team’s mid-season swoon.   Give John Tortorella credit for rallying the
team late to qualify for the playoffs, but the underlying problems facing the
team were created by GM Glen Sather and all of the off-season moves haven’t
changed these issues.  (See Brad’s Barbs,
http://www.insidehockey.com/columns/3116).

It seems like Sather is forever plugging holes but
lacks a long term vision that he sticks to in order to build the Rangers into a
contender again.  Scott Gomez and Drury
were two of the best available free agents a few summers ago, so Sather signed
them both without seemingly thinking of how they would fit into the team and
the role they would play. The effect is that the Rangers aim to excite fans and
sell tickets short term, but can’t seem to be patient and rebuild the team for
the long haul.

Sather is in the Hall of Fame for the impressive
work he did with the Edmonton Oilers in the 80s.  But with the Rangers, Sather has struggled to
put together a consistent winner.  It’s
time for the Rangers to part ways with Sather and give someone else a chance to
view the franchise with a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective.

Until then, the Rangers will continue to struggle to
score, Tortorella will continue to seethe and at best, the Rangers will squeak
into the playoffs.   Right now, even that looks like a long shot
unless fundamental changes are made to this team.

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2 Responses to “Rangers Still Have Fundamental Flaws”

  1. fjmarkowitz
    December 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    It is Sather’s team and the blame lies there; just some short thinking on his part. Yet there are signs of life – Del Zotto has great potential, Staal continues to mature, Callahan has started scoring. But the constant reliance on Lunquist just can’t continue – too many games for one player to carry a team.