Are the Leafs an example for the Rangers?

February 27, 2013, by
Ooh, look... Ranger playing tough!

Ooh, look… Ranger playing tough! More please

Every hockey fan can see that the Rangers aren’t playing hard enough. It’s perhaps not surprising then that the Rangers are struggling around the eighth spot in the East after around one third of the season. On the other side, injuries have begun to decimate a squad most considered top heavy and the result is a lack of true identity, a lack of production, and subsequent panic among the masses.

The problem is the Rangers are not tough enough to play against no matter what the line up looks like, regardless of prolonged health. Changes, whether minor or significant, probably need to be made. Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether it’s a hot streak or the start of something promising; the Leafs are sporting a 12-8 record, scoring more goals, being difficult to play against, and in the midst of a 7-3 streak. They have gained an identity as being a tough club. All this ironically enough after the truculent preaching Brian Burke left town.

This summer the Leafs made the following additions: They added James van Riemsdyk, Mark Fraser, Jay McClement and brought back Colton Orr (gasp Rangers fans!). Only Van Riemsdyk can be considered a truly talented player but the cost to acquire him was to give up an equally talented one in Luke Schenn. What the Leafs did was add size, toughness, and ‘sandpaper’ to their line-up. They added players that fitted their system even though the presence of finesse players such as Kessel and Lupul meant they too found room for skill.

In no way whatsoever, at this stage, are the Leafs more talented than the Rangers, yet they are more successful. Despite bright spots in Ben Scrivens and James Reimer, the Leafs stand no chance going toe to toe with the Rangers in net, don’t have the same defensive skill level through one to four on the blueline, and don’t possess the same star quality up front. However, which team do you fancy coming out of the corners with the puck more often, right now?

Playing to their strengths, to their roster, has allowed players such as van Riemsdyk to blossom and has given a platform for Nazem Kadri to finally showcase his talent. The Rangers can be excused for missing a step because of injuries, it happens. However there is no legitimate excuse for the way they are laying down against opponents or being second best so often in puck battles. The Rangers need to address the situation and quickly. The return of Nash may add some goals, but this team still needs to return to an identity whatever that may be. Darroll Powe addresses this a bit, as does Arron Asham when he returns.

The Leafs didn’t make a lot of noise in the summer but are starting to make noise now. They made changes that fitted their intended style and are playing to their strengths. Either the Rangers need to play to their strengths (and they have plenty of them) or they need to change things up. However that may be.


  1. Dave says:

    I think there’s a difference between being a “fighting” team and being tough to play against. Dubi wasn’t a known fighter, but he made it tough to play against the Rangers, same with Fedotenko.

    Powe’s return will help in this regard, as will Asham’s. These are guys that won’t allow their goalie to get run like that.

  2. TxRanger says:

    I miss Rusty. He isn’t much of a stats guy, but idk why we let him walk, especially to the Flyers.

    • Chris says:

      I’m not sure what money he got from Philly, and he certainly declined toward the end of his time with the Rangers but for cheap, and in a limited role I’d have kept him also. Experience, work ethic, tenacity.. the guy was a pest. He was a real nice pick up from Sather. Think he was a try out too.

  3. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Prusty and Dubi sitting on a tree, H, I TT, I, N, G. first comes a bodycheck then comes a GOAL, and finally we have lost our heart and SOUL

    We miss these guys on our team

  4. Chris says:

    I for one would love Dubinsky back. But his contract is ridiculous for the inconsistent offense he brings and the fact we had to give him up as part of the Nash deal is a no brainer. Maybe one day…

  5. Walt says:

    I’ve been complaining all season that the team lacked gonads, now this article. I agree that we are too soft, especially with the Flyers, Sens, Pens, even the Devils in our division. It seems that the guys who will hit, other than Callie, use their collective purses!!!!!

  6. Jerryin MA says:

    For years the team with the fewest fighting penalties and one not known for sending opponents through the boards was the Detroit Red Wings, and it was probably the best, most skillful and talented team in the league, and a perennial Stanley Cup contender. So all this blather about the need for the Rangers to get “tougher,” to run over and cream their opponents is just that — blather. What the Rangers need to do is to bring a little more imagination to their offense, score more goals, and tighten their defense. Does anybody remember the old Montreal Canadians? Even after they lost John Ferguson they won cup after cup because of their skating and passing skill. Punch-outs by Colton Orr and his ilk might win cheers from the blue seats but little more. In short, calling for the Rangers to follow the lead of present day Toronto and stock up with some goons is nonsensical. When the Blueshirts get healthier and score more goals and when Lundquist rounds into his best form — which he will do — they will win more games. It’s as simple as that.

    • Jackson says:

      There’s a difference between the toughness it takes to out-muscle opponents in puck battles and races and the toughness contributed by goons. I believe the article is addressing the former.

      For example, players like Dubi and Feds weren’t fighters (although Dubi dabbled in it). What made them ‘tough’ to play against was their tenacity and ability to get into dirty areas and win battles. This has nothing to do with the goon role.

    • Walt says:

      To your point Jerry, the Rangers don’t have anywhere the skilled players of the two teams mentioned. Detroit had how many hall of famers, Steve Y, Nick Linstrum, to name two, and the Canadians had Laflure, Gainy, Carbeniou(? spelling), Lamaire, see where I’m going. Your compareing apples to oranges!!!!!

  7. Jerryin MA says:

    Fedotenko is and was well past his prime and was hardly a major force on the Rangers the last several years. As for Dubi, he had one good year — the year before last — and seriously underachieved before and after that. Does anyone really believe that if they were on the Rangers now the team would have a better record? Get real. Failure to grind along the boards is not what is costing the Rangers presently. Until the recent spate of injuries the team was coming into its own and when the injured players come back and settle into form — which might take a while — all this gnashing of teeth and sky is falling moaning will, I predict, come to an end and the manic depressive fans, of whom, if appears, there are many, will once again revert from the latter to the former stage.