Posts tagged: Brandon Dubinsky

Amnesty buy-out options

There have been persistent rumors about the possibility that the next CBA could allow each team a one-time “amnesty buyout”, which would allow the team to buyout one player without that cost being reflected in the salary cap.  For some teams, who would end up on the wrong end of this type of buyout is obvious (*cough* Rick DiPietro *cough*), but for others teams, the question is a little more difficult.

I am going to discuss the merits of using this hypothetical buyout on any Ranger who makes over 3.5 million per year for at least two more seasons.  Just because a player is listed does not mean I think the Rangers should consider buying them out, only that they meet the threshold.  All cap info is via Cap Geek.

Brad Richards (6.6m cap hit through 2020) – Would the Rangers consider using this buyout so soon into Richard’s shiny new contract?  Probably not, but there is some merit to it.  The length is one factor, obviously the free agent market drove the years up on Richard’s deal, probably to a term the Rangers are not crazy about.  Richards has shown to be valuable in many aspects of the game, including leadership roles, mentoring young players and being a positive influence in the room but his production on the ice does not justify his salary.  Since that is clear within the first year of the deal, would the Rangers consider getting out from under a potential albatross?  Again, I don’t think so, and I think there are better options for the amnesty buyout.  But it does give you pause.

Brandon Dubinsky (4.2m cap hit through 2015)-  Dubinsky is one of the few current Rangers whose production is not anywhere near where it needs to be to justify his contract.  However, Dubi is young, and still has some upside.  His value on the trade market is much higher than the benefit of using the buyout on him.  Next…

Ryan Callahan (4.275m cap hit through 2014) – If anything, The Captain’s 4.2 million dollar cap hit is becoming a bargain.  He’s not going anywhere. Next…

Marc Staal (3.975m cap hit through 2015)- Now this might sound like a complete no brainer at first glance, and I agree.  But, what if the Rangers’ brass are not sold that the concussion that sidelined Staal for the better part of a year isn’t completely behind him?  Staal is being paid like a top pair defenseman, and if the medical staff think it’s possible that he could miss significant time going forward, would you think about it?  Me either.  Next…

Henrik Lundqvist (6.875m cap hit through 2014) – Ha! Yeah right.  If anything The King is due for a raise. Next…

Marian Gaborik (7.5m cap hit through 2014) – There are some factions of Ranger fandom who believe that Gaborik is a bad fit under Tort’s system and is paid too much for his “me first” production.  There is no in house replacement for Gaborik’s production and while he hasn’t been a bargain necessarily, he’s not wildly overpaid.  I would be blown away to see him even discussed as a viable option.  Next…

Wade Redden (6.5m cap hit through 2014)- Ding! We have a winner.  Redden has been great down on the farm for the progression of the young d-men with the Whale, but his cap hit comes back in the summer and begins to squeeze pursuit of free agents.  I’m sure he would love another crack at the NHL with another organization at a lesser salary.  As good of a mentor as he has been, it doesn’t justify clogging up the summer cap for him.

The Rangers have the benefit of not being weighed down by too many unproductive contracts.  If the amnesty buyout does come to fruition, there aren’t many people who would be sad to see Wade Redden’s contract go.

Do you guys agree with my assessments?  Can you make a case for one of the other candidates?  It might not ever become an issue, but it is a fun exercise to look at until the final call is made on this provision.

Musings: The Deadline Day Edition

Reasons to Trust Mr Sather: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Del Zotto, Mike Sauer. Thanks to Glen Sather and the Rangers scouting department this club has a wealth of depth on the blue line, with a fair bit in reserve. Note that top 5; all young and all have ability either side of the puck.

You may have noted the direction that first point was going in. Rick Nash. If the rumoured package for Nash does indeed include Dylan McIlrath you don’t let it break down because of his inclusion. I’m sure he’ll be a fine player but thanks to the depth discussed above, he’s a luxury the team can afford to move.

Christian Thomas in a Nash package as well? Also Fine. If Nash became a Ranger – and with Kreider deemed untouchable – not to mention Gaborik, Anisimov, Stepan and Callahan firmly entrenched in the top six (at present), Thomas becomes buried on the depth chart and like McIlrath is a luxury the team can afford to move. All thanks to quality drafting and patience in the organisation folks.

Assuming the Rangers current roster wants to show Sather, his staff and the coaching team no major changes are needed they’re sure going about it the wrong way aren’t they? Three poor games in a row, team wide poor decision making and once again an over reliance on shot blocking and a certain goaltender in net.

Dear Brandon Dubinsky, you must really like the thought of playing out your contract in Ohio. Hey, at least the rock and roll Hall of Fame is a short drive away. When the Rangers are trying to make the playoffs, at this rate you’ll be getting tickets to see Guns N Roses inducted. Buck your ideas up.

The Rangers made Marc-Andre Fleury look good the other night; far too much perimeter play. It’s one thing to get pucks on net but there really is no point if you’re not creating traffic, looking for rebounds and generally making a goalie’s night harder than Fleury’s.

Back to Deadline day thoughts: The Rangers do not need to address the defense. Even if Mike Sauer’s not particularly close to returning, the Rangers block shots, do a good job of allowing Lundqvist to see most shots and are better at moving bodies than most give them credit for. I’d rather use assets to upgrade the offense instead of trying to make a great unit even better.

I really want to know who has the final say on the powerplay. Tortorella? Obviously Allaire is in charge of the league’s best goaltending unit. Does Mike Sullivan assume responsibility? Is it shared amongst the coaching duo or do the ‘special assistants’ (guys like Messier) have a major influence? I know it’s hard to grumble too much given the team’s record but there is plenty of talent on the roster to at least have a top 15 powerplay unit. Maybe changes need to be made elsewhere. Maybe…

Gaborik has 4 goals in his last 20 games. He’s not finishing but he’s still playing well. He’s making plays, creating goals and getting assists. The lack of goal scoring may be because teams are zoning in on him now that goal scoring has begun to dry up elsewhere. Could a Nash-like addition free Gaborik up some more? Absolutely

Question Time

  • Are you vehemently behind keeping Brandon Dubinsky and his 6 goals for 4.2m?
  • Do you start Martin Biron against the Islanders or, given the team’s recent play, do you go ‘all-in’ to make sure you get a win (and go with the King)?
  • Do you think the Rangers make a major addition before the deadline?
  • Which of the top four defensemen on the current roster, not inc. Sauer due to injury, is the most expendable all things considered? (i.e. skill set, age, reliance, upside)
  • Can the Rangers win multiple playoff rounds without adding more scoring?

Food for thought: Despite the roster purge of 2003-04 and given the way the Rangers entire organisation has developed in the past five years, is this potentially the most fundamentally-changing deadline day in the Sather era?

Without question, the Islanders game is huge Friday night for so many reasons. Above all (regardless of deadline day potential) the team needs to avoid any losing streaks getting out of hand. Especially given how the Devils and Pens have been playing.

Final Thought: Antoine Vermette. Steve Downie. Their trades have nothing to do with the Rangers? Wrong. Brandon Dubinsky is better than both players. He also has more upside. Yet Vermette essentially got shipped out for a 2nd plus change while Downie got moved for a package that included a first round pick. When discussions about Nash come to a head Sather can point to these two players’ value in regard to Dubinsky and that could help establish a package for Nash – or any other significant trade. The Vermette and Downie deals have a massive knock on effect to the likes of Dubinsky. Any good GM will have taken note.

Three “trades” the Rangers will make by the playoffs

As the trade deadline grows nearer, there is discussion amongst fans about whether now is the time to buy for a Cup run. The Rangers are the best team in the Eastern Conference, and are just points behind the Detroit Red Wings for best in the NHL, with games in hand. That said, many feel the Rangers are overachieving, and might be best served letting things go as they are, and not mess with chemistry. Others feel that now is the time to make a deal. Well, luckily for the Rangers, there are two “trades” the Rangers will hopefully make between now and the playoffs to make their team stronger.

  1. The Rangers will trade Steve Eminger or Anton Stralman for a top-four defenseman: If and when Michael Sauer is healthy, he will return to the lineup and make that strong blue line even stronger. Right now, the Rangers are getting by with Anton Stralman playing top four minutes. If Sauer can return healthy, then he adds an extra element to the Rangers that they haven’t had since December, and it costs them Stralman’s or Steve Eminger’s presence in the lineup. That’s a solid trade there.
  2. The Rangers will trade absolutely nothing for a streaky 20-goal scorer: Brandon Dubinsky won’t stay in single digit goals for long. He is one of the streakiest players on the Rangers, and they have been winning despite his lack of offense. The defense and goaltending have really saved Dubinsky, who has seen a lot of time on the bottom six. Dubi is still a key cog for the Rangers with his defensive and physical play, but they are paying him to score 20+ goals. He won’t get there this year, but he could be a wild card if he gets going.
  3. The Rangers will trade nothing for one of the best centers and powerplay point men in the game: Brad Richards is starting to come alive. He struggled mightily, ironically around the time that Olivia Munn broke up with him. But now, his game is getting back on track, and the powerplay is starting to look better and better. They are doing the right things, and they are finally starting to see results. A hot Brad Richards is a dangerous Brad Richards. Imagine where this team can go if their powerplay starts clicking at a 20% clip.

As you can see, the word “trade” is used rather liberally here. These aren’t really trades, but they are players that the Rangers hope to get back from injury or purgatory. Nevertheless, these are significant improvements that the Rangers can see from their players without even giving up a draft pick.

Rangers/Bruins recap

Another day, another Rangers win.  The team didn’t put forth their best effort for the last 40 minutes, but they found a way to win.  The story of the game however, was the absolute brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist and his league-leading 7th shutout.  To the bullets…

  • This game belonged to Lundqvist.  I will elaborate more later in the recap, but not bulleting him first would have been a travesty.
  • Ryan Callahan is just scorching hot right now.  6 goals in his last 4 games and another power play goal.  For those keeping score at home that’s 38.5% over the past 4 games, with greatly improved puck movement.
  • This game was remarkably clean considering the physicality and the personalities at play.  A couple of off-setting minors and a few scuffles, but mostly just hard nosed hockey.
  • The Blueshirts started off a little slow but really came on in the second half of the first period.  The forecheck was relentless and forced turnovers using the newly implemented system that The Suit so conveniently broke down just this afternoon.
  • The Rangers were the beneficiaries of a fortunate bounce off Chara (own-goal anyone?) at the end of the second period.  From then on out, the Rangers played well defensively, but rested a little too much on Hank’s brilliance and seemed to do a little too much clock watching.  20 shots on goal isn’t going to cut it in the playoffs.
  • I thought Brandon Dubinsky played very well tonight.  1 assist and a +1, plus ten stitches and some chipped teeth highlighted a very blue collar effort.  He really needs to start being more decisive when handling the puck though.  He had several opportunities to pull the trigger and preferred the pass.  We all know what Dubi is capable of when he shoots with confidence.
  • On defense, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal had particularly strong games.  Del Zotto had yet another assist (4 in the past 4 games), and Girardi continued his steady play.
  • Carl Hagelin’s speed continues to be an asset.  He was strong on the forecheck and negated a couple icing calls.  He threw the body around and was a general nuisance to the Bruins all game long.
  • Artem Anisimov is quietly playing some of his best hockey this season after being reunited with Gaborik (another assist, who knew he had the playmaker gene?) and Stepan.  Arty has 6 points in his last 6 games, and has made his presence known.
  • Now with all that out of the way, we can move on to the goaltending.  Now, I don’t make it a secret that I am not much of a Tim Thomas fan, but he played fairly well tonight.  Obviously, Cally’s PP goal was one that you can’t really hold the goalie responsible for, but it was a mini-illustration of the problem I have with Thomas’ style.  He works incredibly well within Boston’s defensive system, but his aggressive style takes him out of plays after the first shot, and forces his defense to compensate for him.  If you watch the replay, although the goal was in no way his fault, all his effort went directly to Del Zotto and gave himself absolutely no chance to stop the shot on the lateral pass.
  • Thomas griping aside, the real story in this game was The King.  He was absolutely out of this world tonight.  He was in solid position on the first shot and was balanced and poised for the rebounds.  He bailed out tired defenders countless times when Boston was mounting extended shifts of pressure.  If he continues to play at even 85% of the level he is at right now, he is a lock for the Hart Trophy.  Hank deserved his league-leading shutout, with 42 saves and continues to sport the best save percentage in the league and is second in GAA only to Brian Elliot, who has played in 15 less games.

With this win, the Rangers are now 9 points up on the 2nd place Bruins.  Mike Keenan made the bold prediction that no one is going to catch this team now.  You guys agree? Off tomorrow and then the Blackhawks come to town on Thursday at 7pm.

Rangers/Flyers Recap

After a couple of days off, the Rangers took to the ice at the Garden for a pre-Superbowl matinee and threw the Flyers a well deserved 5-2 beating.  This was a tremendous game with a ton of talking points for analysis, but I’ll try to be brief.  Onto the bullets…

  • Overall, the Rangers played an incredibly solid game today.  They minimized mistakes, took advantage of some soft goals by Ilya Bryzgalov and played a hard-nosed, physical game.
  • The offense was once again lead by Marian Gaborik.  He finished with a goal and an assist, a +3 and 8 shots on goal.  He was flying from the opening face-off and being reunited with Derek Stepan (2a, +3) and Artem Anisimov (1g, 2a, +3) yielded significant results.
  • Speaking of Anisimov, that tip was an absolute beauty off Girardi’s point shot.
  • Michael Del Zotto (Zaster?) continues to get stronger as the season progresses.  He is seeing open ice and making strong decisions when to join the rush.  His hockey sense has gone through the roof this season and it’s showing on both sides of the puck.
  • The Rangers got some timely secondary scoring with Fedotenko, Dubinsky and Del Zotto chipping in goals.  Hopefully Dubinsky’s game will continue to improve and take some of the pressure off Glen Sather to make a move for a top-6 forward at the deadline.
  • The PP continued to be ineffective, but there were plenty of signs of improvement in this game.  They began to force the puck toward the net from the points, which took some of the pressure off the wingers down low.  There were several lateral chances between the forwards as it forced the Flyer’s PK unit to operate a little higher in the D-zone.  10 PP shots on goal is a step in the right direction.
  • On the other side of the coin, six penalties is way too many to take even in a physical game like this one.  While Stu Bickel had a solid overall game, the interference and boarding penalties are going to keep Tort’s from trusting him with more ice time.  It was great to see him standing up and taking some of the fighting responsibilities off Prust and Rupp.
  • I continue to be impressed every game by Ryan McDonagh.  He is such a heady player and makes defending the top lines from every team look routine.  Once Staal rounds back into form (he looked much better again today) the Rangers will have an embarrassment of riches in the top-4.  Although they still lack the big bomb from the point, you have a puck mover (DZ) and three shut-down defenders who can chip in on offense more than occasionally.
  • I don’t know who has less business being on an NHL roster, Sestito or Rinaldo…
  • Another pedestrian performance by Brad Richards today.  He needs to step it up, and quickly.
  • The Rangers blocked an absurd amount of shots again today.  They had 25 blocks to the Flyer’s 10.
  • What else is left to say about Henrik Lundqvist’s play?  He only had 21 saves (mostly because of the 25 blocks), but man does that guy come up big when the team needs it the most.  Looks like he learned his lesson on Giroux (same move as the Winter Classic goal) with only a few minutes left.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov did not fair so well this afternoon.  His game was pretty much a microcosm of his entire season.  He had some tremendous saves, but was done in by three soft goals.  His save % in this game was .892, for the season, .899.
  • This team continues to find a way to win all types of games.  These intense, physical tilts are the best way to prepare for playoff hockey, and this team is making it clear they are going to be extremely difficult matchup to draw come April.

Off tomorrow and another big division game against the Devils on Tuesday at the Garden.

Everyone be safe tonight and enjoy the other big game!

Zuccarello Healthy; Can He Help Rangers Offense?

Amid the Rangers stumbling offense and the awful nine game losing streak the Whale find themselves in down in the AHL, perhaps unnoticed to many, is the pending return of Mats Zuccarello. Many have given up on the small Norwegian and depth has certainly helped pushed him back in to the AHL, but his talent and skill have never been doubted.

It just so happens that the Hobbit’s game doesn’t fit a checking style and he needs to be in a scoring role, but if the Rangers continue to be (at best) inconsistent offensively an opening could appear. So, should the undersized winger make a strong impression in the next week or so, could he become a candidate to help kick start the Rangers offense?

The skilled winger could have some success if paired with a passer like Richards and a hard hustling winger like Callahan, however, Zuccarello may not be able to influence his own future regardless of how impressive his AHL return is. There are players already in New York (Dubinsky, Anisimov, Richards among others) who, if they raise their game, would render the Zuccarello scenario moot. However, so long as the Rangers offense – and power play- remain underwhelming Zuccarello may be able to force himself back in to the equation.

Zuccarello shouldn’t be lacking for motivation. With his all star appearance in the AHL this weekend to look forward to ‘Zuke’ also knows that from the minute he gets back on to the ice, he’s playing for his Rangers and perhaps NHL future. He needs to show progress, desire and above all, production.

Can Zuccarello force himself back in to the equation? If he can show that he can play without the puck yes. If he can control and be effective on the powerplay for the Whale, yes. If Boyle, Dubinsky, Anisimov and (insert underwhelming forward’s name here) continue to shoot blanks, yes. There’s certainly an opportunity there for Zuccarello if he can make a quick impact in the AHL, but it goes without saying he’s running out of time.

Do The Rangers Rely Too Much On Callahan?

He sets the tone with his hustle and effort and leads with his desire and (growing) offensive ability, but do the Rangers rely too much on Ryan Callahan? It’s a worthwhile question, because during a period in which Callahan had been at his most ordinary (in a stretch prior to the Boston game) the Rangers went through their roughest patch since the start of the season. Coincidence?

Callahan has developed offensively to a point where he now literally does everything for the Rangers. He’s the team’s second most prolific goal scorer, he’s annually a league leader in hits, blocks countless of shots and plays in every single situation. We saw last year, when Callahan went down for an extended period of time, just how much the Rangers missed him. What is the remedy to the over reliance? Other players need to step up.

After a promising start to the campaign, more often than not Brad Richards has been a passenger. That is unacceptable for a man brought in to help lead the team to bigger things. Derek Stepan has cooled off considerably but, in all fairness, it’s too early to place too much pressure on the young sophomore. Brandon Dubinsky has been better but is clearly not the player this team needs him to be and then there are players such as Fedotenko and Brian Boyle who leave it all on the ice but at some point that is not enough. Anisimov? MIA.

It’s hard to be overly critical of a team that has the record the Rangers boast, however such is that record that the focus naturally switches to post-April potential. This Rangers team, without a better spread of production, cannot beat Boston over an extended series. If the Pens get healthy there’s a likelihood the Rangers struggle with their rivals in Pittsburgh as well.

With all due respect, when a solid journeyman like John Mitchell is one of your better players of late (3 points in 5) and you’re expecting too much from a talented but still rookie Carl Hagelin there’s an issue. If teams are able to shut down Marian Gaborik and then Ryan Callahan as well, Henrik Lundqvist has to be brilliant. It’s a good job he is just that.

Captain Cally is playing close to 21 minutes per game and given his style and reckless endeavour that’s possibly too much. Whether it’s through a transaction or changes in the line up several Rangers need to be better offensively. Not previously known for his offense (in the first instance) it may be a bad sign that the team is needing to rely on its heart and soul leader to score the big goals.

Rangers/Bruins Recap

Took all the way to game 46 for the Rangers and Bruins to finally collide, but what a game it was.  The Rangers bested the defending champs 3-2 in overtime on a goal by Marian Gaborik with 3.6 seconds remaining.  To the bullets…

  • This one now makes 15 of the past 18 games these teams have played each other that has been decided by one goal.
  • This game was an incredibly physical one, as expected.  It seemed like Boyle was a Lucic-seeking missile every time he was on the ice, and pretty much everyone had that extra edge this afternoon.
  • Once the second period started, the offense began to come through.  4 of the 5 goals came in the second, and had McQuaid’s shot not deflected off of Brian Boyle’s stick, it could have easily been all the scoring.
  • Brandon Dubinsky was the one Ranger I felt really struggled in this one.  It seemed like he tried to do too much physically and got thrown off his game.  He missed his coverage on the Ference (more on him later) goal and seemed more or less lost in both ends of the ice.
  • I’m going to get all the critiques of the Rangers overall play out in this one bullet.  The power play looked god-awful again today.  If the last one was not a 4-on-3 for 5 minutes, it would have been another wasted opportunity.  I thought the Rangers turned the puck over far too many times at the top of the their defensive zone.  The Bruins point men did a nice job keeping clearing plays in, but too much through the middle and miscommunications on the breakout could have cost the Blueshirts a lot more than it did.  Lastly, they seemed a little soft in the slot area.  Boston does a great job of creating time and space in the offensive zone, but you have to clamp down.  But overall, they played a very solid game in both ends.
  • The heart and will that this team has blocking shots is really something isn’t it?
  • I fully believe that this game can be played perfectly.  It rarely happens, but you have to strive for it every single time you step on the ice.  I love that Torts has engrained that message in this team.
  • I thought Brad Richards played a much better game today.  He had an assist and 6 SOG.  Much more effective than he has been recently.
  • Marian Gaborik was obviously the star of the show today.  He had a tough assignment in Chara and managed to put 2 in the back of the net.  He stuck with the goal in overtime, putting the third rebound past Tuuka Rask for the game winner.
  • Good call on the musical chair line combos Suit…
  • Hank played his usual Vezina caliber game for the Rangers with 32 saves.  He is making all of the saves he needs to and a ton he has no business making.  He very much embodies the success of this team.  I thought Tuuka Rask played an exceptional game as well.  I believe that he is the better goalie in the Boston tandem and kept the Rangers from putting some distance between the teams in the middle of the second.
  • There was so much in this game that was worth discussing, but for the sake of keeping the length of the recap reasonable, I’ll close with this.  Ference’s hit on McDonagh was absolutely gutless.  I hope Shanny takes a good long look at this play.  Exactly the type of hit that needs to be removed from the game.

The Rangers need to keep up the intensity from this tilt and prevent a let down game when they return home to host Winnipeg on Tuesday at 7pm.

Dubinsky To The Rescue?

The Rangers paltry offense has been bailed out over the past 9 games (in which they scored a meagre 19 goals) by the stellar goaltending and the overachieving defense. With Marc Staal getting back to his usual game shape the recent dip in play by Stu Bickel (rookie, to be expected) can be compensated for. However, it goes without saying that this offense needs to do more.

With the offense needing a shakeup it has perhaps shown just how important Brandon Dubinsky is to this team, a point which only emphasises the need for Dubinsky to play like he can. Prior to his shoulder injury Dubinsky was finding his feet. He had 8 points in his last 8 games, but more importantly he was playing physically, showing more confidence on the puck and above all making smarter decisions. If he can also improve his finishing when he returns (tonight?) the Rangers offense will get a huge lift.

All this brings us to Dubinsky’s opportunity. The Alaskan’s contract, ability and even future with the franchise has been questioned during a subpar season (and to an extent rightly so) but when he returns he has the chance to show that he can be the difference. Every team can have their star players but it is often those around them that make the difference; Dubinsky can be the Rangers difference maker.

The Rangers don’t possess anyone else like Dubinsky. His all-round skill set is unique. He can play physical, he is willing to fight all the while he can lead the rush and stick handle to a high standard. Dubinsky can play in every scenario and adjust to it. What he has never been able to show is an ability to do it for long stretches. Dubinsky now has the opportunity to help carry this team to an Atlantic division title.

Dubinsky can be the X factor on a team that has plenty of depth but not necessarily depth in the pure skill department. His presence can help create space for the likes of Gaborik and Richards and create matchup problems for the opposition. Dubinsky has a chance to make people forget about his subpar start and start to justify Glen Sather’s faith and his generous contract. Here’s hoping we’re all calling Dubinsky’s contract value for money come April.

Rangers Recent Form Exposes Key Players

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.