Rangers need power on point
At some point, the Rangers are going to get healthy — well, healthier — but even when they do, even when Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Dubinsky return, the Blueshirts are still going to have a gaping hole.
General manager Glen Sather has one singular charge between now and the Feb. 28 trade deadline. That’s to get a defenseman who can unload bombs from the blue line. The lack of such a weapon, both on the power play and at even strength, is a deficiency that has a dramatic trickle down effect all over the offensive zone.
Without having to honor the shot, opposing checkers can drop off the points, clog the middle and eliminate passing lanes. Just the threat of the shot is enough to scramble coverage and open up the ice.
Imagine what the Rangers would look like with the equivalent of, say, Atlanta’s pair of Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien back at the points. Imagine the Rangers with the equal of Montreal’s P.K. Subban at the top, stick *****ed, ready to fire. Imagine what a benefit that would be to the still-struggling Marian Gaborik.
We’re not suggesting they grow on trees, or the GM overpay for one by sacrificing a core asset, but the Rangers are in the midst of a famine with their modest offensive weapons patrolling the blue line. They’ve scored two goals or fewer in 11 of their past 12 games heading into tonight’s match against the Capitals, and they’ve been dry nearly all season on the power play.
Michael Del Zotto, recalled after Dan Girardi suffered a rib-cage muscle injury and a broken nose in his fight with Andrew Ladd during the second period of Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory in Atlanta, is expected to play. This isn’t the way management wanted to bring back Del Zotto, who was sent to the AHL Whale on Jan. 3, and who has been more or less average in eight games there, during which he collected seven assists.
The front office and coaching staff wanted Del Zotto to earn his way back, to force his way back into the NHL by dominating in the AHL. Instead, Del Zotto is back, at least temporarily, because of necessity. It is, though, a huge opportunity for the 20-year-old defenseman to re-open some eyes and prove he belongs on Broadway rather than Trumbull Street.
The Rangers also promoted Evgeny Grachev from the Whale on Saturday, after Brandon Prust was unable to play the third period due to suffering a bruised left ankle blocking a Byfuglien drive in the first. Grachev, a 20-year-old winger, failed to record a point in a late October/early November six-game stint with the Blueshirts that produced diminishing returns.