The New York Rangers are in serious trouble. This squad has lost five out of the last six, being outscored 16 to 11. Two of those losses came at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, one of which was a lack luster 17 save shut out.
The easy excuse is that within the last week this squad has lost some major players to the injury bug. Rick Nash, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonough, Aaron Asham, and Darroll Powe are all in the sick bay. Just the loss of those two defensemen would seriously impact any squad, however Del Zotto and McDonough play major roles in generating offense within coach John Tortorella’s system.
However, this squad weathered injuries last season, missing both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi at one point. So, where’s the heart?
On Tuesday night, this Rangers squad played a roller coaster game against the Winnipeg Jets, never leading, and falling short of a rally against a Jets squad that seems to take a special pleasure in tearing through the New York metro area.
Another easy answer is the lack of depth at forward, some of which was lost in the Rick Nash trade, some to free agency. Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, and John Mitchell are all on different teams now. Those are major role players that had chemistry and bought into what John Tortorella was selling – a game of sacrifice, determination, and intensity.
But, anyone looking at this roster figured the Rangers not only into a post season berth, but into a lot of people’s Stanley Cup projections. However, the Rangers look lost. Gone is the grit of last year, and the only forward that seems to be still listening to coach Tortorella is captain Ryan Callahan. That’s unsurprising, considering Callahan plays the same kind of hockey Tortorella preaches. There’s no coach in the league that would be able to change that.
Then there’s the terrible power play. This power play should work. It should be better than it’s 29th in the league ranking. It should be productive. However, it’s not. And unless something drastic happens, as in power play czar Mike Sullivan coming up with something ground breaking, it doesn’t look to improve.
There’s also the completely forgettable play of star center Brad Richards. His nearly invisible 2 goals and 9 assists is hardly the play of a center that is worth his massive contract he signed a little over 18 months ago. Richards’ play seems more that of what would happen if a lost kitten suddenly put on hockey skates. His touch isn’t there, his hockey sense seems to be off, and his leadership seems to be absent. He seems to have amnesty buy out written all over his Untuck’d clothing line.
Why hasn’t the coach taken matter into his own hands and scratched Richards, or any of the other players that don’t seem to be living up to the bill of goods Rangers fans have been sold along with their rising ticket prices and Stanley Cup dreams? Go down the roster, and for the most part there is not a player that is living up to their potential, either individually or as a group.
Other than Tuesday night’s tilt, when in the last week has the outcome not matched the effort? The Rangers as a group has mostly seemed like they have been going through the motions, from their once deadly goaltending tandem, to their star scoring winger, Marian Gaborik.
This indicates one thing. It’s time to do something drastic. Not because it’s time to panic, but because the players are telling you something, Mr. Sather. They’re telling you that Torts company’s message is mostly falling on deaf ears. It’s time to make a change, before you burn another chance to turn things around. Break out the torches and the pitchforks, it’s time to storm the castle.
And that, Rangers fans, is the last word.
Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @BigMick99. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @lastwordBKerr, @IswearGaa and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.
photo credit: MattBritt00 via photopin cc