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

Breaking It Down (2/5)

Posted 9:57 PM ET | Comments 1
If you missed the other sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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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.


MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO
Jump In

December of 2011 was a month to remember for the young defenseman, as he recorded 15 points in 16 games, along with a +18 rating. But since the calendar turned to the new year, Del Zotto has put up rather pedestrian numbers. 2 points and a -3 rating in January is certainly disappointing for a player who is no stranger to diversity.

The change in his game play has been subtle, but enough to affect his offensive numbers this dramatically. Defenseman do not contribute to a team's offense unless they make a great effort to be involved. As the games have worn on, DZ has become less prone to jump in on the rush and get involved in the offensive zone. He is still solid on defense, but a big reason the Rangers have not had a 4 goal game in 2012 is his lack of production from the back end.

BRANDON DUBINSKY
Stay On Your Feet

He has struggled mightily this year, posting only 5 goals thus far. Yes, Dubinsky contributes in many ways on the ice, but with his contract and expectations as a top-6 forward, his lack of offense is unacceptable. The Rangers are not the most explosive team, so they need all of their scoring forwards to produce, and an improvement on Dubinsky's part will be a big help as his club tries to go deep into the playoffs.

Where it all starts for Dubinsky is his feet. At times, he looks uncomfortable on his feet, seeming to be on the brink of losing an edge. Other times he lunges for a loose puck, only to end up flat on the ice. But as his skating and balance has improved, so has his game. He is better on the rush and along the boards, and if he continues to improve in this area, the goals will come.

STEVE EMINGER
Get Healthy

The Rangers have survived numerous injuries on the blueline this season thanks to some very unexpected depth players. Anton Stralman, Stu Bickel, and Jeff Woywitka have been excellent in relief, but the injuries have still come with a price. Staal and McDonagh have been forced to play over 25 minutes a game, with Del Zotto not far behind with over 22 minutes per contest.

While Eminger is not the most skilled player, he provides solid bottom pairing defense and Tortorella will be more confident playing him in key situations. The result will be less ice time for the elite defenseman, including more rest during the more stressful, late moments of close hockey games. Its a long season, and hopefully a long playoffs. The Rangers will benefit from having Eminger back in the lineup, eating up ice time.

RUSLAN FEDOTENKO
Cycle The Puck

It was probably a mistake to bring back Ruslan Fedotenko this season, when Vinny Prospal was available for the same price. Feds has lost what little scoring touch he did have. His defensive play has not been great either, leading him to a team worst -4 rating. At this point, there is little to ask of the 33 year old other than damage control.

They can't score when the puck in their zone. That is the approach that needs to be taken by Fedotenko. He may not score, but at least keep the puck deep to avoid chances against. He is still fairly good on the cycle, and spending extended shifts in the offensive zone creates momentum and tires out the opposition. Unfortunately, asking anything more than that is probably too much.

MARIAN GABORIK
Fly The Zone

What more to ask from the team's leading scorer who is on pace for a 40 goal season? How about a little more consistency. Yes, his brief struggles coincided with the GAS line going dry; that has been corrected with the addition of rookie Carl Hagelin to the top forward line. But despite the success his line has had in creating offense, Gaborik has not been finishing as well as we have seen in the past.

The difference has been the quality and quantity of opportunities. Gaborik has scored many of his goals on the rush, be it off a 2 on 1 feed from Stepan, or a breakaway off of a set play. Those chances have been more scarce of late, mostly for lack of trying. Playing with the speedy Hagelin is just another reason for Gaborik to head up ice at the first sign of Rangers possession. If he does that more often, 50 goals may be within reach.

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If you missed the other sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Filed Under:   gabby   feds   rags2riches   rags2riches   dz   dubi   eminger  
January 27, 2012 8:11 AM ET | Delete
Good read Ragsy....love the Fedotenko pic.
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