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The Rangers will only go as far as their top players take them

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how the Rangers, as currently constructed, are not a team that is rich with depth. It’s something that we’ve discussed on about a weekly basis at this point, but depth is only a part of the problem. The issue of depth is easy to address, but that won’t matter if the star players on the Rangers roster do not contribute in the way they are supposed to.

Last season the Rangers relied heavily on Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, and they delivered. They were the top two scoring leaders (76 points for Gaborik, 66 for Richards) on the team at even strength and on the powerplay, Gaborik led the team in goals (41), and Richards led the team in assists (41). Coming into this shortened season, these two were expected to at least contribute at that same level. Rick Nash was to come in and give them some breathing room and spread out the scoring a bit. Nash has lived up to his end of the bargain. Gaborik and Richards have not.

Despite the fact that they are in the top-five in scoring this year, the duo has fallen off a cliff. Gaborik has a line of 9-10-19 in 34 games, while Richards has a line of 5-13-18 in 32 games. Gaborik has just one goal on the powerplay, Richards has just four points in those scenarios. Therein lies the problem: If the Rangers’ stars aren’t producing to expectations, it doesn’t matter what kind of depth help they bring in. They will only go as far as these two will allow them.

Gaborik is currently on pace for a full-season pace of 45 points (21-24-45). That’s a full 30 points off his pace from last season. Richards is on pace for about 46 points in a full season (12-34-46). That’s a full 20 points off his pace. In 2011-2012 the two combined for 142 points, a full season at this pace would be a whopping 51 points less, a 36% decrease in production.

No team, no matter how deep they are, can succeed when their top two scorers from the previous season decline at such a rapid pace. No addition (Nash) can account for this decline. The addition of Nash was supposed to compliment the production of Nash and Gaborik, not replace both of them combined. In a perfect world, Nash’s current production (point-per-game) is added to the Gaborik and Richards production. In a perfect world, Gaborik and Richards produce to their expectations and career averages and we aren’t looking at a Rangers club that is fighting for their playoff lives.

Yes, depth is an issue that needs to be addressed. But in the end, it won’t matter who the Rangers add unless both of their stars from last year are able to score. This team will only go as far as these two take them. That may be what is so infuriating about this club. They should be better, so there is always that hope that they snap out of it and go on a run. But 34 games into a 48 game season they have not. They need to, or this club is dead in the water.

15 Responses to “The Rangers will only go as far as their top players take them”

  1. The Suit says:

    Good post. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Pete says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Crazy part is that the Rangers are paying 14 mill for that production.

  3. Mikeyyy says:

    Nice post. How do you get them going?

    Play them on the 4th line with Asham.

    Tell them they are in the doghouse together and better learn to play with each other. Asham is there to pummel anyone that runs them.

  4. Ben says:

    Agree, but it’s worse than that. Lack of scoring from the top line means rushing JT and CK, bringing in Zuc, benching Asham (I’m not a huge fan, but he scored a goal more recently than Gabby)in order to get scoring from the bottom 6. This means less grit, toughness, fight, etc. You get the picture. A soft team that can’t score.

  5. Walt says:

    In 1963 the Giants went to the champianship game with a QB named YA Title. He was long a tooth, but had a great season. Fast forward to 1964, that same QB was over the hill, and we lost so badly that the team had to rebuild, starting at the QB position.

    Brad Richards lost a step, lost desire, and his skills are starting to leave him as well. Say what you want, he is probably the biggest disappointment on the team this year. Reminds me of YA, in his last season here!

    With Gabby I believe it’s between his ears, and should he score just once, that will take the monkey off of his back. These guys are pros, they should know what it takes to win, and they are just not doing all they can to do so!

    PS
    Slats, please buy out Richards this off season, save him the embarresment of another season under the big lights!

  6. Bloomer says:

    I been following the Rangers since 1972 and it’s the same old trend with the Rangers. Older superstar players go to New York to coast though their final years and get paid big bucks to do it. For a while they were building through the draft and developing their own talent (hence last year), but that seems to going to the wayside. Torts tries to make his stars accountable and he gets ragged on for being to tough on his players. Since they are such a soft team, may as well fire him and bring in a softie coach too.

    • Dave says:

      These guys weren’t exactly old when they got here. Richards was 31 and Gaborik 29.

      • Walt says:

        Dave

        That was the reason for my post above. Lets face it, Richards has gone down hill in top gear, like over night!

  7. HARLEMBLUES says:

    This organization is always trying to make the play offs.Sell ad space,higher priced playoff tickets etc.. Patch a team together just get in seems to be the goal.Trade for or sign overpaid,over the hill fading stars, over and over again. Year after year the same thing. It leads to always being some were in the middle.When was the last time this team finished last and got the 1st overall pick.One cup in 70+ years,one. No GREAT ONE,NO MARIO,NO SID,NO MALKIN,NO STAMKOS ETC..

    • Dave says:

      I don’t get it. You want them to finish dead last, even though they have some great pieces in place?

      • HARLEMBLUES says:

        I want them to stop patching together teams that really have very little chance of winning a championship.It’s OK to be a seller and hold on to your young talented players.

  8. BobM says:

    I bet if there were an All Star game this year and Gaborik was the Ranger’s pick to be on the team (’cause he sure is not playing like an All Star) and he was playing against Lundqvist, he would show some fire.

    Stats for Slats Per NHL:

    League Standings-16th
    Overtime Losses-20th
    Goals per game-30th
    Goals against per game-5th
    5 on 5 Goals For/Against Ratio-11th
    Power Play-25th
    Penalty Kill-21th
    Shots Per Game-10th
    Shots Against Per Game-15th
    Winning % – Scoring First-9th
    Winning % – Trailing First-17th
    Winning % – Leading After Period 1-4th
    Winning % – Leading After Period 2-3rd
    Winning % – Outshooting-15th
    Winning % – Outshot-19th
    Faceoff Win Percentage-11th

    It looks to me like Lundqvist is earning his pay.

    The PP and PK look like crap, and that is insulting to crap. At least we used to pride ourselves on the PK.

    I cannot remember a potent powerplay, ever.

    There should be another statistic of shots that whisttled wide; were shot over the net into the glass and others that went right into the goalies chest for an easy save. Bet we would be #1 there.

    I remember once when Emile Francis got so fed up with his team (he was coach and GM I believe), that he placed the entire team on waivers.

  9. Ren says:

    Does anyone know if Richards and Gabby played during the lockout? I know Nash did. Maybe it is affecting them this season. I remember Torts saying Richards was out of shape at the start of the season. I really hate that we have to rush Miller and Krieder. They are our best prospect, I hope it doesn’t ruin them. If that happens then all this “building the team the right way” has gone to waste.

    • george says:

      Both Gabby and Richards did not play during the lockout. Gabby had a shoulder injury which required surgery. Richards did not play in Europe. He did play in a charity game after hurricane sandy. Richards also got the flu during the training camp and missed about 3 days of it.