Chris had a fantastic post yesterday urging Rangers fans to not be fearful of their 0-2 performance. He made great points and provided some interesting stats that should talk even the most critical fans off the ledge. To be honest, I’m not sure why anyone’s on the ledge to begin with.
Anyway, I have been working in sports for most of my career and I don’t know a single suit around the industry that worries about a team’s performance after 2 games, not even football. With that said, there is a time when everybody takes stock and makes actionable recommendations to those in a position of power. So when do those talks take place?
A wise man once told me the time to have those conversations is generally around the 25 game mark of an 82 season. Applying the same logic to a 48 game season means you can all hit your panic buttons around games 12-14, if the Rangers don’t turn it around. Of course by then every other blog on the planet will have covered what the Rangers should do next, so here’s several hot topics that may or may not invoke change between now and Valentine’s Day.
Acquiring a depth defensemen
No one wants to see Bickel play under 10 minutes a night. The problem is who on this roster is capable of logging those crucial defensive zone minutes after a penalty kill or late in the period? Who can Torts trust for mop up duty?
Eminger isn’t that guy, at least not against the conference’s elite. Gilroy’s minutes took a hit in last year’s playoffs and his performance in the AHL this winter didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Should the Rangers struggles continue, I think they’ll have to acquire someone who is both a strong skater and responsible in his end zone. But what do you give up? Chris will explore this in depth later.
Switching Gabby back to right wing
As we said earlier this week, switching Gabby to left wing actually creates more benefits for the team than leaving him at right wing. A) It will help Marian with his board play, which is an area where he often gets injured. B) It creates a natural passing lane between Gabby and Stepan, who’s a right-handed shot. C) Gabby scores more from the left side anyway. It will take time, but consider Gabby’s move with the long-term in mind.
I know everyone and their mother wants to see the Rangers collapse less in their own zone and be more aggressive with sending forwards to the points. I detailed that exact strategy with visuals over the summer and it’s still worth a read if you’re like me and dig the x’s and o’s of hockey.
However, I created the analysis thinking the Rangers would have more than 5 days to prepare for a season. There simply isn’t enough time to overhaul the system and make these guys go against their natural instinct. To boot, other than Nash, Glen brought in more shot blockers. Save this one for the offseason.
Other than these topics, I am not sure what else is worth tabling at this point. I don’t want to over analyze 2 games. Hopefully the Rangers can skate off some of their rink rust before they go at it against the Bruins again on Wednesday. Hold fast.