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

Breaking It Down (4/5)

Posted 8:44 PM ET | Comments 3

If you missed the previous sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
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.

Keep Shooting

With three goals in his last five games, John Mitchell has shown flashes of scoring talent not expected from a player the Leafs dealt for a mere 7th round pick. Part of the reason for his success is his wrist shot, which often finds the corners of the net when unleashed. His success shooting the puck is rivaled only by sniper Marian Gaborik, whose shooting percentage is just half a percent higher than Mitchell's.

There are no expectations for Mitchell to make a miraculous transformation into an elite scorer while playing 12 minutes a night. But perhaps he finally discovered the key for him to produce decent offensive numbers. He needs to continue to throw the puck at the net when he gets the chance, and not get bogged down in trying to be a finesse player. Secondary scoring is something the Rangers could really benefit from them, and Mitchell can produce that if he keeps shooting the puck.

Add A Dimension

Prust is another one of the Rangers role players who is so important to the club. He does all the little things right, especially the defensive side of the puck. However, there has been a regression in scoring, as he is no where close to matching last season's 13-16-29 stat line. Part of that can be attributed to playing less ice time and not having the 2010-11 Brian Boyle as his pivot.

But there is still room for personal improvement on Prust's part. He seemed to have a skill for creating turnovers on the forecheck and converting them into goals. This year he has been good along the boards, but not to the extent where he creates mini odd man rushes and partial breakaways like he did last season. He is still valuable to the Rangers as is, but if he can add some secondary scoring by recapturing that offensive dimension, it will take a lot of the pressure off his more offensive minded teammates.

Be A Scorer

It might be considered a disappointment if the big free agent signing of the summer sets a career low in assists this season. That is where Brad Richards is headed right now, on pace for 29 helpers when his previous lowest total when playing over 70 games is 41. But at the same time, he is on pace to tie his career high in goals. This change is game style is not only explainable, but necessary.

Richards is not playing with elite scoring talent on his line, so for the first time he is being looked at to put the puck in the net instead of just dishing to others. That worked at the start of the season, especially in crunch time, leading Richards to 12 goals, including 4 game winners, in his first 30 games. Since then he has only scored 4 times and his assist total only increased by 3. Richards has begun to look for the pass too often, when his linemates don't have the talent to finish. In fact, many promising plays become broken plays when he is carrying the puck because his linemates don't have that goal-scorer's sixth sense of where to go on the ice. Richards needs to realize that he is the scorer, and for once in his career, look to shoot instead of pass.

Be A Motivator

There is a reason that Glen Sather explores the free agent market for heavyweight fighters, year after year. The Rangers are a tough team, but they never had a true intimidator. For once, they got the right guy. Rupp is huge, he is tough, and he commands a combination of respect and fear that few players in the league can. The burden is no longer on undersized players like Callahan and Prust to protect their teammates.

But there are two kinds of Mike Rupp. There is the kind that drops the gloves with another thug at the opening faceoff. He serves no purpose, as his teammates do not draw motivation from this, nor does his opposition draw intimidation. Rupp is also skilled enough to be an asset on a checking line, and he serves no purpose sitting for 5+ minutes after these pointless altercations. He needs to focus on being the other Mike Rupp. The kind that pounds on Tomas Kopecky after a sucker punch on Del Zotto. The kind that motivates his teammates with a well timed fight during a bad stretch. The 6'5 243 lb presence that makes opponents think twice before throwing a check. That is why he was brought to New York and why he can be so important to this team down the stretch.

If you missed the previous sections of this 5 part series, follow the links below to catch up:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5
Filed Under:   richie   rupper   prust   mitchell   rags2riches   rags2riches  
January 30, 2012 8:59 PM ET | Delete
Even, though I am a Devils fan, I've been following along and I must say you're doing a great job. However, I don't really like the background......
January 30, 2012 9:05 PM ET | Delete
You don't like the background in general, or because its Rangers? lol
January 30, 2012 10:25 PM ET | Delete
Because its the Rangers lol
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