Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rangers Fight Nights

For the past few weeks, potential Rangers players have been fighting for a spot on the roster. As training camp ended and the preseason began, more cuts were made and the team found that they had quite a few position battles on their hands. So after three preseason games and 10 fighting majors, the situation seems to have cleared up a bit.

Goalie Fight (no, not that one)
It seems like Stephen Valiquette has locked up the back-up goalie spot as Montoya needs playing time, not to mention cannot show his face in Nassau after getting pasted by Dipietro last night. Steve is a good back-up, can win some games and is consistant despite erratic playing time. Montoya continues to remain in the minors thanks to his high salary and stage of development and will likely remain there until he is traded to a team in immediate need of a starting goalie. Valiquette will not play this weekend because of a cut on his hand but will be ready to return by the time the season rolls around. Lundqvist hopes to play 70+ games this season but if he gets injured, Stephen is not good enough to step in as a starter and Montoya will get his shot.

Dubie Dubie Doo (no, not that one either)
After a few months of deliberation that included names such as Peca, Cullen and, for some hopeful Islander fans, Yashin, the Rangers seem to be as close as ever to solving their third-line center quandry. The name is Brandon Dubinsky, a young center who has played a few games with the big club and has impressed the management and the fans in camp and the preseason. The Ranger's Dubi brings speed, effort, skill and size to the ice. He is 6'1 210 pounds and plays a similar grind it out style to Rangers success stories Prucha and Callahan. He will likely play with Avery and Callahan and that gritty line could be one of the best energy lines in hockey. Circumatantially, his competition seems to have fallen away as Anisimov has proven to be too weak on the puck and Straka will likely be needed on the first line. This starts a cycle which ends with the team lacking a third line center and Dubinsky being the man to fill that need. Hopefully, he will play well in his first full-time gig with the Rangers.

High School Science
Chemistry is quite the issue as Jagr has had trouble clicking with Gomez wheter Straka, Hossa or Dawes plays the other wing. It obviously takes time for new line-mates to find chemistry but the real question is how long. It is imperative for the top line to click or the Rangers best player and the Ranger's highest paid player will be ineffective. And Sather will have to hide in the wilderness (Edmonton). What is really needed is a lot of practice and ice-time together to make it work. They need to know each other like Nylander knew Jagr. It is best , for the time being, to keep Jagr's line-mates as familiar as possible so Straka looks like the best choice to play the wing. Although the rest of the lineup could benefit from having Hossa or Dawes play up top, it is not practical at this point. Of course this can all change throughout the course of the season but for now, Straka-Gomez-Jagr looks like the way to go.

On The Marc
Rangers top defensive prospect Marc Staal has not locked up a roster spot yet but the young Thunder Bay native is getting closer to his goal. He has not been outstandin during camp or preseason but he has quietly played solid defense and has not made many mistakes. He looked sharp against the Islanders and will likely take the 6th defensive spot. He is competing with Jason Strudwick and Andrew Hutchinson who have been nothing if not detrimental thus far and Thomas Pock who brings more offensive upside and NHL experience but no competition against Staal's shutdown defense. Staal is slated to be the future top defenseman for the Rangers but as with all defenseman, it will be an uphill battle. But this year seems to be the year for the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman as he begins his journey to the top.


Eggshmeg said...

What a punny blog! lol