Rangers will be better!

I’ve seen so many things being posted in other articles, small tidbits here and there, about the Rangers and small arguments and points made. I mean to respond to most of them… but I feel it’s better to collaberate my opinions into one post to cover many topics.
First on my list; the Rangers defence.

I hear alot of people bashing the Rangers defence, or saying it isn’t formidable and will be a problem for the offensively top-heavy team. This is where I, and as I’ve seen others will have to disagree.

Roszival is one helluva D-man, responsible defensively and puts up points here and there, and I believe is a decent, not great, but decent point man for the PP along with Mara. He is not afraid to take the body and is a good veteran on a team with a ton of defensive prospects.

Malik, in my opinion, is not as bad as most people say. Sure he makes a few mistakes here and there but who doesn’t. His +/- I believe was the best on the team, and one of the best in the league. Although he doesn’t hit like he should, he is a big strong player who can clear the front of the net of some of the bigger opposition. I remember in a game against Dallas last year, where it was noted how well Malik handled Lindros to get him away from the front of the net. He also makes some shifty moves to bring the puck into the offensive zone. I just wish the Garden Faithful would give this guy a break.

Tyutin is a great young defender who I feel will be a mainstay with the Rangers for years to come. He is fairly consistent and is still improving, he is solid defensively and is only getting better.

Girardi came into the second half of the season as a nobody, and made himself one of the best Ranger defensman through that second half. He plays a very solid defensive game, and makes very, very few mistakes. He can take the body, and makes some incredible defensive plays, even against some of the leagues best.

Mara is a good point man for the PP, and isn’t bad defensively either. His defensive mistakes can be made up for by whoever he will be paired up with, which is yet to be seen.

Bringing in Strudwick was a question mark for me, only because I feel Pock and Staal deserve one of those spots that may be taken up by Strudwick. Although I like Strudwick and feel he is a good defender, I’d much rather see the spot go to a youngster in order to gain experience for the future and later in the season.

While this defense isn’t made up of big names like Pronger, it is still a very solid lineup, that has both it’s defensive and offensive upsides. This lineup along with the goaltending of King Henrik should make them very sound defensively.

Now, onto the signings. Sure, Gomez may have gotten a bit more than most people think he is deserved, due to his point totals on the Devils. But keep in mind the Devils are a defensively minded team. I expect to see Gomez achieve career numbers on a much more offensively minded Ranger team, along with Jagr by his side. I expect him to be able to shine offensively now that he is free from the Devils defensive style. Along with this, he brings a defensive upside to the Rangers first line, due to experience in NJ.

Drury, what needs to be said. This is clearly one of the best free agent signings of the summer, and my favorite. Before the season ended, I hoped he would be signed, and my wish came true. Just watch the goal he scored in the playoffs against the Rangers in game 5 with 7.7 seconds to go in the third, and you will see why this guy is the real deal and brings a ton to the Rangers. He is a center that the Rangers desperatly needed for the second line to help Shanahan.

The Cullen trade, although I liked Cullen, made sense. I liked the trade for the fact that it cleared cap space for an overpaid 3rd line center. That role can hopefully be filled by either Blair Betts, or my personal choice of Dubinsky.

Dawes deserves a roster spot, possibly in the place of Hossa.

Avery is a must sign for the Rangers, although I’m not worried about a departure. I feel the Rangers will get him signed whether he goes to arbitration or not. He was the sparkplug for the team last year, the driving force behind the Rangers playoff dive, and an instant fan favorite for providing the grit and character the team needed.

The departure of Nylander didn’t bother me one bit. Sure he played well with Jagr… but who doesn’t. Even Hossa played well with Jagr. I expect Gomez to fill his role just as well if not better than he did. Nylander’s continuous cycling all around center ice, wasting time on powerplays in the neutral zone, was frustrating. He is also getting up there in age and his play could start to decline.

Straka is one of my favorite Rangers. He plays his heart out, and you would never know he is one of the smallest guys on the team.

Betts is the best face-off man on the team, and I feel he deserves a spot on the third line between Prucha and Callahan, and see how that works. He could be a good set-up man for those two. Let Dubinsky fill the fourth line center spot between Hollweg and Dawes.

And yes, although his point production is very low, I like Hollweg and the role he plays on the team. I don’t see anyone else on the team who will willingly throw down the gloves if need be, except for Shanahan, but he cannot be expected to do so, like last year with Brashear, which just says tons about Shanahan. No wonder he is so loved in NY.

The Rangers HAVE NOT gone back to their pre-lockout era ways of signing big names to huge contracts in order to buy the cup. This time around, the Rangers are doing business under the same salary restrictions as everybody else. This time, the Rangers have signed two big name players going into or in the middle of their prime, not just coming out of it. I am tired of hearing people saying the Rangers are going back to the way they used to be… IT’S NOT THE CASE!

Not much more substantial discussion I can come up with at the moment, but here is a small analysis and opinionated blurb of the current Rangers team. To finish off, here are the lines I would like to see in this coming season.

Straka – Gomez – Jagr
Avery – Drury – Shanahan
Callahan – Betts – Prucha
Hollweg – Dubinsky – Dawes

Malik – Roszival
Tyutin – Girardi
Mara – Pock/Staal Please, leave your comments or arguments.