Rangers Team Analysis for 2001-2002 NHL Season
It’s for the first time in four seasons that the Rangers now have a real team, a real team with depth on the scoring lines. Last season, the Rangers were ranked 4th in the Eastern Conference in GF (7th in the league), with players like Nedved, Fleury, and Dvorak scoring 30+ goals each, and with, Messier, Hlavac, and Leetch scoring 20+ goals each. This season though, the scoring could be higher.This season, the Rangers have a punch on the 1st line, a punch on the 2nd line, and another punch on the 3rd line. I don’t remember the Rangers having this in the past four seasons, and former General Manager Neil Smith really had trouble to accomplish this, yet, it only took Sather a year to do this. I understand that the Czech line was one of the best in the league, but it was a joke because it was the only scoring line. If that line did not produce, then the Rangers had a 60% chance of losing the game.
I don’t know how people expected GM Sather to get the Rangers into the playoffs with the team Neil smith left for him. I look at last summer, at how the Rangers looked, and now I look at this team…it’s totally changed. Rangers are very deep at center, with Lindros, Nedved, Messier, and York. You might think Messier is just an old bag, but he had a great start last season. Messier is on this team to be a leader, a player who stands up for his teammates, teaches the youngsters, and if he scores 20 goals, he will surprise me, because I expect him to score 16 this season. Now you might say, “Well, the Rangers have too many centers, how will their lines look like?” Will Messier the Captain be a 3rd line center?
People already think of Nedved being a LW on the first line, I thought that too. But, there is a problem with that, who will protect Lindros on that line? Fleury is a feisty forward, but he will not check someone hard, and Nedved can use his size a bit, but he is a classy skater. I kept thinking to myself, why did Sather get Zdeno Ciger and Andreas Johansson? Well, I got the answer to that for a bit later, but this is how hard Sather made me work to get the lines right:
1st Line = LW- Nedved, C- Lindros, RW- Fleury
2nd Line = LW- Malhotra, C- Messier, RW-Dvorak
3rd Line = LW- Ciger, C- York, RW- McCarthy/Lundmark/Grosek
4th Line = LW- Stock/McKenna, C- Johansson, RW- Lundmark/Grosek/Samuelsson
To me, those look like good lines. The 1st Line looks like a killer, the 2nd looks good because they have good chemistry as last season, the 3rd looks like the sneaky line, and the 4th is a tough line that can chip in the lucky goals. Why did I list Nedved as a LW? In his Penguins days, Nedved played as a LW with Jagr. But, after I searched for the training camp information I saw a different 1st line, which was a surprise to me. As I mentioned earlier, the 1st Line had a problem with physical help, meaning no muscle besides Lindros. This is the current line used in training camp:
LW- Johansson, C- Lindros, RW- Fleury
Why put Johansson on the first line? Simple answer: he is a strong fore-checker, plays physical, and can chip in 20 goals, as he scored 21 his last season in the NHL. Right away, that changes the whole line-ups. It makes perfect sense to add Johansson on the first line with Lindros and Fleury. He is capable of scoring 20 goals, and who knows with Lindros and Fleury, maybe even 25 or more? I doubt that Johansson fights, but he is a hard hitter. So what happens to the other lines? I know Nedved is unsigned, but Sather stated that he (Nedved) will accept a 2 or 3 year deal soon. What’s taking so long is the fact that because of the horrible tragedy, it is hard for Nedved to fly back in the U.S.A, since he is staying in the Czech Republic. But, most important thing is that he will play on the team. So, I have the 1st Line corrected, but what about the other lines? How about…
1st Line: LW- Johansson, C- Lindros, RW- Fleury
2nd Line: LW- Ciger, C- Nedved, RW- Dvorak
3rd Line: LW- Malhotra, C- Messier, RW- York
4th Line: LW- Stock/McKenna, C- Lundmark, RW- McCarthy/Grosek/Samuelsson
Johansson= 22 goals
Lindros= 34 goals
Fleury= 36 goals
Ciger= 26 goals
Nedved= 33 goals
Dvorak= 41 goals
Malhotra= 21 goals
Messier= 16 goals
York= 25 goals
4th Line total= 18 goals
To me, that just looks a whole lot better. The opponent will have to shut down three lines that are capable of scoring every night. This is what I call a “balance of depth”. If the Lindros line is shut down, then there is the Nedved line and the Messier line. Basically, if one or two lines are shut down, there is always one that can score. Obviously, all those lines might not score in a night, which is what happens, but like I said before, if the Nedved line did not score, the Rangers would have a 60% chance of losing. This time, the chances drop to I’d say…30% if the Lindros, Nedved, or Messier line does not score. The scoring looks good, but what’s in it for the defense? Will the defense be better with this offense? Well, last season, the defense was a joke, but so many times the forwards did not play a good defensive game. What I like about these lines? They all have a two-way defensive forward. Line 1 has Johansson, Line 2 has Ciger and Dvorak, Line 3 has Malhotra and York, and Line 4 is all muscle. I’m going to love watching Lundmark play and see how well he competes with York. York and Lundmark are two fantastic players, in my opinion. I love players who are able to play any forward position, and who can do whatever they are told. York and Lundmark can play as defensive specialists, as stronf offensive forwards, and they can play LW, C, and RW. That is the kind of player I’d look to have on my team, and all round player. So, the offense is better defensively, which gives a break for the defense. With the pathetic defensemen the Rangers had last season, this season they look better too. Also, the Rangers never had enough defensemen, Neil Smith also had a hard time with that, so he sat on his chair and was too lazy to look for the good play with heart defensemen. What does he do? He calls Pilon, K. Hatcher, Lefebvre, and Quintal. Well, wasn’t so hard for Sather. He got rid of Pilon, K. Hatcher, Quintal, and soon to go buh bye Lefebvre. What does Sather do next? He signed Malakhov, which played well in those 3 games and had a good pairing with Leetch. Sather wants the big boys, the boys who want to hurt the other players. That’s it…Ulanov and Karpa. Two players, not much, not too old, yet big improvement. All it took was two defensemen to make the defense better. The best thing about this, he gives the youngsters a chance to battle for a spot. This is the first time in years to see a Headline saying “Rangers’ blueline competition fierce”, from The Hockey News. Rangers have defensemen, wow…since when? Now that I think about it, the Rangers have Novak, Kloucek, Smrek, Mottau, Kinch, Gagnon, St. Croix, Gosselin, and the recently drafted Fedor Tyutin. I think Sather has done an A job for the future young defense. Don’t be surprise if Sather trades one or two of those guys, besides Kloucek. If you have a lot of defensemen who can replace each other, then you can have good trade baits. How do the defense pairings look like this season?
DP1: D1- Leetch, D2- Malakhov
DP2: D1- Ulanov, D2- (*Kloucek) Mottau/Smrek
DP3- D1- Karpa, D2- Van Impe/Mottau/Smrek/Novak
I am pleased with the team the Rangers have this season, it is much different than last season. Better offense, better two-way forwards, better defense, tougher defense, solid scoring depth, more team players, players that play with heart, team players, and a very bright future. Goaltending is the problem, but Richter has done a good job in both the USA training camp and the Rangers training camp. One thing I am really worried with this team is their start of the season. Somehow, because of the pathetic non human beings Arab terrorists, Messier and Leetch possibly have lost friends. I wish this team the best of luck this season, and that they will have a positive mind of playing in NYC. This is my Rangers Team Analysis for the 2001-2002 NHL season.
Rangers send Labarbera, Meyer, Wandler, Yeremeyev down to AHL.
Rangers send Dean Arsene, Sean Gagnon, Christian Gosselin, Todd Hall, Wes Jarvis, Matt Kinch, Anders Myrvold, Rory Rawlyk, Dean Serdachny, Chris St. Croix, Fedor Tyutin, Terry Virtue and Leonid Zhvachkin, down to AHL.
Rangers send Jason Dawe, Brandon Deitrich, Dave Duerden, Benoit Dusablon, Ken Gernander, Sean Haggerty, Jeff Hamilton, Ryan Hollweg, Boyd Kane, Marquis Mathieu, Brad Mehalko, Mirko Murovic, Garth Murray, Petr Preucil, Ryan Reinheller, Brad Smyth, Juris Stals, P.J. Stock, Troy Stonier and Layne Ulmer, down to AHL.
Goalies: Dan Blackburn, Johan Holmqvist, Mike Richter, Peter Skudra.
D-men: Dave Karpa, Tomas Kloucek*, Brian Leetch, Sylvain Lefebvre*, Vladimir Malakhov, Mike Mottau, Filip Novak, Dale Purinton, Martin Richter, Peter Smrek, Igor Ulanov and Darren Van Impe.
Fw- Zdeno Ciger, Radek Dvorak, Theoren Fleury, Kyle Freadrich*, Michal Grosek, Barrett Heisten, Andreas Johansson, Eric Lindros, Jamie Lundmark, Manny Malhotra, Sandy McCarthy, Steve McKenna, Mark Messier, Mikael Samuelsson, Richard Scott, Jeff Toms, Ed Ward and Mike York.
Information taken from www.newyorkrangers.com.