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

Breaking It Down (1/5)

Posted 9:50 PM ET | Comments 3

If you missed the other sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


So, you want to be a contender? Well, New York, you have not made it there yet. 47 games only puts you in a position to contend, but there is still work to do.

With a week off, here is a player-by-player breakdown of what needs to be accomplished in the next 35 regular season games and the postseason.

Stop Feeling Free

The doghouse sucks, but you can't expect to get out of it with no points in your last 15 games. You are lucky because the third and fourth lines on this team are more offensively gifted than most others. There is opportunity to find success even with less talented linemates. But that said, you are no longer playing with Marian Gaborik and Derek Stepan. Nothing is going to come easy anymore.

You like to make moves, score goals, feel free. But you are no Malkin. To be successful in this league, you have to play like a power forward. That is not an indictment of any sort; a 6'4, 200 lb frame is an asset that not many players can claim. It is time to use that asset to its fullest. You are playing on a grinding line, but that doesn't mean you can't score - just look at John Mitchell's success. From now on, you have to create. Shoot the puck more, play hard on the boards, go to the net. Who knows, you may find yourself back in a top six role sooner rather than later.

Be A Spark

As injured players start to return, ice time has become scarce for you. It is truly hard to contribute while playing around five minutes a game. It is even harder waiting for the next defenseman to get healthy, when the plane to Hartford surely awaits. But players get hurt, and you are needed now and may be needed again. So how to contribute? How to secure a job with no job security?

You have an innate abilty to spark a team, be it with a timely fight or a big hit. You know when the team needs a spark, so you wait for your time instead of dropping the gloves off the opening faceoff. That is big. You are a tough guy playing for a team that needs toughness to win. So you may play 5 minutes a night, but you can affect all 60. Set the tone when you have the chance, and the team will respond. With a perceptive coach like John Tortorella, that contribution won't go unnoticed.

Stay Sharp

It is not easy being a backup. Not enough credit is given for playing one of the most mentally challenging positions in all of sports. You have great winning percentage, a GAA that is .01 above the starter's, and a Save% just .10 points lower, yet nobody lauds you as a Vezina candidate. You have to be ready to play 20 games over six months, only to sit and watch while the star goalie takes the spotlight and the glory in the postseason.

But why can Henrik Lundqvist shine like he does? Because he is fresh throughout the long grueling season. Because he can take a much needed rest every few games. If the coach can't trust his backup, the starter will get overworked and fade as the year goes on. So keep playing well when Tortorella calls your number, and know that when Lundqvist succeeds, it is your success as well.

Embrace The Role

We know, we know. You topped 20 goals last season for the first time, in fact you never even had a 5 goal season either. But let's not get delusional. Since being drafted 26th overall in 2003 following an excellent high school career, you have been labeled a bust. You were nothing special in college, and no more than a role player in the NHL.
Look, its easy to think that last season was a coming out party for a late blooming first round talent, but that happily ever after ending rarely occurs in real life.

We are not trying to be unkind, but for the Rangers to have success, you need to embrace your role on this team. You will score, occasionally, but your biggest asset is your two-way play. Blocking shots, checking, winning loose pucks. There is a reason your line is matched against the opponent's best scoring line each night. Keep playing hard and don't despair if the goals don't come. Every team needs players like you. Keep up the good work.

Get Down And Dirty

There are many reasons you wear the "C" on your jersey, and the one often ignored is your offensive talent. You were on pace for 30 goals last season before injuries derailed that hope. With 17 goals (2nd on the team) you have established yourself as a solid 25-30 goal scorer, which is just a bonus on top of everything else you do well on the ice. But the truth is, one thing leads to the other.

You don't have the best hands, or the best shot, or the fastest feet, or the biggest body. But you do have the biggest heart. That is what leads to goals, more than anything else. The goals you score are usually not pretty, and come from the tough areas of the ice. These goals don't always come consistently, but when you score, it is in bunches. Keep going to the net, keep throwing the puck on goal from all angles, keep forcing turnovers on the forecheck. Because while you may not be a natural scorer, this team certainly needs to you score like one.

If you missed the other sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Filed Under:   cally   boyle   rags2riches   rags2riches   arty   bickel   biron  
January 26, 2012 1:44 AM ET | Delete
When Anisimov played with Dubi and Cally, they formed the best line. When Anisimov played with Prust and Shelley, the formed the best line too.The guy will be fine, he just needs to get his shit together.
January 26, 2012 1:25 PM ET | Delete
This blog has Chris Farley "you'll be living in a van down by the river" motivational speaker tone to it. LOL
January 26, 2012 4:15 PM ET | Delete
Amen on Biron. imo, he's the most underrated player on this year's Rangers team
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