Rangers Recent Form Exposes Key Players

January 16, 2012, by

The Rangers still lead the NHL in points, had a hugely impressive win in Toronto on Saturday and yet, the past week has really began to emphasise the Rangers’ necessity for their key players to step up offensively. No team can win purely on their defense. Even Lundqvist needs help from time to time.

Marian Gaborik won’t get too much criticism around here just yet because he has still been the Rangers best offensive weapon and more often than not has been the catalyst – along with his line – for many victories this season. However Gaborik has been running on empty in the past few games much like how Brad Richards is in a hole, while Artem Anisimov has completely disappeared and even Ryan Callahan hasn’t been at his best.

This communal meander towards an offensive slump is terrible timing for the Rangers and only emphasises the absence of Brandon Dubinsky and places too much pressure on the young and overachieving defense. Coach Tortorella needs to find a solution to two offensive problems at the same time; the abysmal powerplay and the top six’s struggles. Given the talent at the coach’s disposal you would think one would answer the other.

One solution may be to remove Wolski from the line-up; he hasn’t added much and has detracted from the team first approach. However, whatever the coach tries in order to awaken his offensive weapons, it comes down to the players being responsible for their own play to change the worrying trend that’s beginning to emerge.

Brad Richards needs to be much better, both on the puck and going backwards. His line need to control the puck more efficiently and generate more scoring chances. However, whatever issue you think of it all comes back to the top six as two complete lines, as a unit, needing to be better. The Hagelin – Boyle led line cannot be the Rangers best line on a consistent basis.

The Rangers need more from the top six, plain and simple. They cannot expect to stay near the top of the conference without more from their offensive go-to-players. Looking at the teams atop the East, Boston is getting production from its key guys, Philadelphia is getting production from its key guys and with Alex Ovechkin finally waking up so too are the Capitals. If the Rangers want to keep pace someone needs to re-ignite this offense.


  1. Chris F says:

    I would like to see a trade assembled that packages Christensen and Wolski and brings in some offensive creativity and grit. The Rangers are at their best when their physical fore-checking style is optimized. Neither Christensen nor Wolski fit into this model. While the addition of a grinding, power forward with some skill is not the sole answer, it could add to the Rangers’ system, while providing the necessary spark to awaken the players to the fact that your role on this team depends upon you playing this aggressive, physical, fore-checking style. But, of course, the top six must begin to produce again as they did earlier in the year for this team to maintain its momentum.

    • Zen says:

      A package of Wolski and EC gets you squat. Maybe a mid to low draft pick.

      • Chris F says:


        From a Rangers perspective, yea, we know all about Christensen and Wolski’s lack of heart. But, they both unarguably have talent. Struggling teams are always on the hunt for some creative guys who can score goals. I think a team like the Wild might be interested in this tandem to generate some offense with Koivu and Bouchard out indefinitely. It’s hard to quantify attitude and heart, and alot of the time, these traits are overlooked in the search for raw talent. I think we could get some physicality for these guys.

        • Bobby G says:

          Maybe a physical fourth liner, but “a grinding power forward with some skill” is really pushing it. But then again, Sather can pull off some crazy shit.

        • Zen says:

          In reality, any player could have value someone, but it highly unlikely that either have value to anyone. Wolski’s contract is brutal for someone who plays with little heart and EC is a depth forward. They might be included in a bigger deal, but neither will get you anything of quality in return.

  2. Zen says:

    The key players at forward have definitely been off their game. Richard’s head doesn’t look in it and Gabby’s insane jump seems to have slowed cosiderably. Not surprised by AA. He always disappears at some point. Consistency has never been his thing.

    They need a wake up call.

    • Chris says:

      there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Gabby’s jump but when your linemates aren’t creating space for you (thinking AA here) he doesn’t have the platform he needs.

      Gabby is an elite forward but not in the mold of your Malkin’s, Kovalchuk’s and those type who create a lot on their own.

      Definitely need more from AA though. He definitely likes the occasional disappearing act.

      • Zen says:

        I found that Gabby had been doing more ‘creating on his own’ this season using his wheels. I just haven’t seen it in the last few games.

  3. Daler says:

    I think they still need to add a top forward by the deadline. Need another legit goal scorer

  4. Michael says:

    I think its time to part with an inconsistent roster player (Anisimov, Boyle, Dubinsky) and some of the prospects (not named Kreider or McIlrath)and see if Sather can shake Uncle Lou’s pocketbook for Parise. Devils are broke and Parise may resign to stay in the area. He is used to the defense first style in NJ and should be a good fit.

    • Zen says:

      Obviously everyone would love that Michael because Parise would be a perfect fit, but no way Lou trades him to NY. And let’s say he even for a second considered it, Lou would say “Kreider included or no deal”. That is the end of that story.

  5. Walt says:

    We all are nit picking here, yes AA got himself lost. Yes Artie has been ineffective, and the scoring is down, but bottom line this team has over achieved all season long.

    When Hank is on, we win, when Hank is cold, we lose. Hank hasn’t been himself the last couple of games, and the offense has cooled off, so what can you expect? Every team has these periods during an 82 game season, and right now we are going through a cool period.

    We do need a power forward that has soft hands, like a Neil on the Pens, but what are we going to give up? The GM’s in the NHL know what we have on hand, and what has value, rest assured they want no part of our trash, EC, WW, especially with the price tag that goes along with WW! Are we willing to give up on some of the kids, if so who? If we can give away the two mentioned, and possibly a low draft pick, for a rental, fine, but nothing that we want long term. Look Dubi is hurt, when he returns it will change the dynamics again, and the team will play the kind of game we are accustomed to!

  6. Leatherneckinlv says:

    It might be time to put Dubinsky with Stepan and Gaborik and see if that line works. Prust with Callahan and Anisimov and Richards with Boyle Hagelin. Fedetenko with Rupp and Mitchell

  7. Blueshirt in Paris says:

    I think we are two pieces away from a VERY solidified team. If we could land a LW and a RW who could play alongside Richards we could see a line up such as the following…which almost looks like three 1st lines.

    ?? – Step – Gabby
    Dubi – AA – Cally
    Haggs – BR – ??
    Feds/Rupp – Boyle – Prust

    Looking forward to next year Kreider might be that LW missing piece so barring any trade I would suggest playing Feds next to Step. That line needs someone to start the offense from our zone. Kinda like AA was doing and Feds might be that guy.

    I would like to see AA moved back to his natural position and now that Dubi’s form is back the old pack like just might work again.

    In this scenario the big hole is on RW next to BR. Cally has done a good job there but doesn’t seem like there was a tremendous amount of chemistry between the two.

    The 4th line speaks for itself. A big, tough, grinding line. With Rupp playing there instead of Feds you lose a little defensive power but the slack could be picked up by the AA line.

  8. kgb16 says:

    I’d just ride it out for now. What about bringing MZA up for a showcase cup of coffee? I’d get rid of Wolski and EC for a bag of practice pucks, because they both just flat-out don’t merit being on this team. Newbury has failed to impress at the NHL level at least 3 times so I’d bring up someone else while Dubi and Fedotenko are out.. I just don’t know the Whale well enough to suggest who.

  9. Tom says:

    Looking at the big picture, this team is what it is; too many grinding role-players, who lack or haven’t developed the skill to score consistently.
    It’s great to have hardworking, gritty, grinding players, but how many teams in recent memory have won the cup with more grit and hard work than skill?
    Good Ranger’s fans know they have a long way to go. Yes, they lead the league in points, but let’s not kid ourselves. Until they get consistent scoring from players other than Gaborik, I have a hard time seeing them win 50+ games this year. It’s too much to expect winning 2-1 every night.
    With that being said, I would not trade away the future. As much as I hate to bring up the Devils, I want to see the Rangers compete for a long time, not just one or two years. 1994 was one of the best sport’s years of my life, but it’s time to move on and develop a consistent cup contender every year. For the people who say the cant achieve this, because they never have top 5 picks, all you need to do is look at what the Devils and Red Wings have accomplished drafting low almost year. I know the Devils had some bad years lately, but that hasn’t been the norm.

    • The Suit says:

      Well the Bruins just won the Cup without top end skill and the Devils have had plenty of post-season success without an abundance of superstars, so it can be done. Lets not forget there are plenty of skill teams like the Caps, Sharks, etc. who consistently come up short.

      Look, I see where you are coming from, but there is no magic formula. Ultimately, I think the Rangers can win the Cup with this core within the next few years, save a few tweaks.

    • Tom says:

      I had some auto spell check errors there, my bad.
      Suit, I’m not talking abut superstars. I’m thinking about guys who score 20-25 goals a year. There are plenty of those guys in the league, and they are not big name players. Boyle had to show me he could do it at least one more year, and my doubts coming into this year about him have been confirmed so far. How much of a boost would 20 goals be from Boyle this year? He’s far, far, from a star, an average player at best to me, whose an awful skater.
      Look, I know I’m hard on them, but that’s how I am, because I want to see a consistent contender for many years.
      On the power play real quick, wasn’t the 60 mil man, Richards, supposed to be a big help on the point and PP in general? How about Sather getting a top PP coach.
      I know there’s more involved, but the anemic power play reflects the lack of skilled players, in my opinion.
      Ahhh…the days of Leetch and Zubov.

      • The Suit says:

        I don’t disagree, especially with Boyle, but I just think the answers to our problems can be solved by our own roster/farm system.

        Arty, Step, Dubi are all capable of scoring 20+ goals in a season. Add in Gabby’s 40+, Richards 25+, and Cally’s 25+. And that’s a pretty effing good offense.

        Plus who knows what Hagelin, Kreider and Thomas will bring down the road.

  10. jesposito says:

    The Rangers can’t continue to climg until their anemic power play starts scoring. No power play and lack of scoring from the big talent equals minimal success.

  11. Joseph O'Connell says:

    blaming this goal drought on EC or Wolski is nuts. Who would want them in a trade and what do you expect back. You need to put someone into a trade or something. We have gone into these low goal weeks before. but need to call up players from the whale when we have injurys. We are a few hits from falling from grace.