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"Talking New York Rangers Hockey, since 2007"
New York, NY • United States • 23 Years Old • Male

Mountain or Molehill?

Posted 11:09 PM ET | Comments 3
The winning streak was going to end. They all do, just don't tell that to the red hot Bruins. But for the Rangers, this loss was a long time coming. In fact, it is shocking that the club was able to go on such a run despite sitting dead last in the league in shots on goal. "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," said Wayne Gretzky, in one of his glorious mathematical theories. Now, the Rangers' success will be called into question. Was it earned, or a combination of luck and an easy schedule? Are they a legitimate contender or a very convincing pretender? Was the terrible loss to Montreal a big deal, or are we making mountains out of molehills?

The struggles continue for Brandon Dubinsky, who seems to have missed the memo that the 2010-11 season has begun. This, despite having some of the most talented linemates in the NHL, who combined have 14 goals. Dubinsky seems to have trouble with his creativity. In open ice, he looks like he is skating in quicksand. Meanwhile, he fails to generate anything off of the Rangers' trademark cycle, usually opting to slide a weak shot towards the net. This usually leads to all three cycling forwards to get caught down low, and a scoring chance for the opposition. Either someone on the coaching staff is to blame for not showing him tape, or he just doesn't get it.

Much was made of the Rangers scoring depth, coming into the season. While the club does seem to have two solid scoring lines, that seems to be about it. The 3rd and 4th line have scored just 6 goals on the season, which is especially disappointing given the high expectations. Brian Boyle has played a solid checking role, but the scoring touch he displayed last season seems to be gone, possibly for good. This makes the decision to bring back Ruslan Fedotenko over Vaclav Prospal (18 points in 20 games with Columbus) even worse.

Officiating a game in Montreal has to be among the worst jobs in the world. The Habs fans in the Bell Centre seem to berate the referees every time an opponent so much as breathes on a hometown player. This practice is extremely irritating to opposing fans watching on TV, it must be excruciating for the zebras. Studies have shown that home-field-advantage is only a quantifiable advantage in terms of how the game is called. The refs made some borderline calls on Saturday night, no doubt due to the extremely pressurized atmosphere in the building. That is by no means why the Rangers lost the game, but it was certainly a frustrating aspect of it. And I am sure Montreal fans will that that as a compliment.

The consensus is that newly signed defenseman Anton Stralman will eventually replace Jeff Woywitka as the Rangers 6th defenseman. This, despite the fact that Woywitka has four points to Steve Emingers one. Despite the fact that Eminger is on the ice for a goal against every 21 minutes, to Woywitka's 44. Despite the fact that after a rocky start, Woywitka has been a minus player just once since his season debut. Since then, Eminger has managed to accomplish that feat four times, including a -3 debacle in the home opener. Keep in mind, these two play most of their minutes together. Seems like Eminger only gives up a goal when Woywitka is not there to clean up after him.

The Rangers have had the easiest schedule of any NHL team, which may have something to do with their having the best record in the Eastern Conference. You can't fault a team for playing the opponents on the schedule. You can fault them for not being able to beat elite clubs when given the chance. This week's opponents have a combined 33-19-7 record on the season, and all sit in the current playoff picture. So was the loss to Montreal a big deal? This week is a surefire way to find out.

Results and Schedule
Tue Nov 15, 2011 FINAL NYR (4) - NYI (2)
Sat Nov 19, 2011 FINAL NYR (0) - MTL (4)

Wed Nov 23, 2011 Rangers Panthers 7:30 PM
Fri Nov 25, 2011 Rangers Capitals 4:00 PM
Sat Nov 26, 2011 Flyers Rangers 2:00 PM

And seriously Habs fans: Its only a quarter of the way into the season. Save the "hey, hey, goodbye" chants for the playoffs.

If you make it that far.

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November 22, 2011 12:58 AM ET | Delete
Awesome blog. You translate my thoughts exactly time and time again.
November 22, 2011 1:07 PM ET | Delete
Your assessment of Dubinsky is right on point.
November 22, 2011 1:33 PM ET | Delete
I enjoy the bell centre crowds, but the "hey hey" chants were ridiculous. Shocking that dubinsky only has 1 goal thus far. great writeup
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