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.