Ten Step Program for NYR
Ten Step Program for the New York Rangers
– 10 Steps Along The Road To The Playoffs –
1) Get a new coach. Sather needs to step down as the head coach. Mike Keenan still does not have a coaching job and is the obvious choice for this underachieving, yet extremely talented team. Sather continues to make excuses for his team. He’s done an absolutely fabulous job as a GM, but the coaching just isn’t translating into wins and he should do what’s right for his team and bring in Keenan.
2) Bring in Jaromir Jagr. Yes, there’s been so much debate about this, and lately a lot of people have been saying that goaltending is now the Rangers biggest concern… I was at the garden for the 5-0 loss to Calgary the other night. Goaltending was not the problem. Markkanen can’t be expected to stop Jarome Iginla from 6 feet in front of the net all by himself! Not a single defenseman within 20 feet of him. The other two goals that Jussi gave up were deflections or screens in front and there isn’t anything he could’ve done to prevent them. I feel that it was a very stupid move by Sather to switch goaltenders for the second period. Markkanen played fine, the rest of the team played terribly. Dunham came in and gave up a horrible goal and the game was virtually over at 4-0. The fifth goal was a dump-in around the glass that bounced off the partition in the glass and was re-directed right into the empty net as Dunham was waiting for the puck to continue around the board behind the net. The fourth and fifth goals were very fluky. The Rangers lost because the Rangers didn’t get a single shot from the middle. Everything was from the outside. Calgary played a great team game, but the bottom line is that their team should not be able to contain every one of the scorers that the Rangers have. Kovalev has 6 goals on the season… He should be leading this team and he’s not. He’s still playing well but has failed to finish most of the spectacular plays that he starts. Jagr is like Bure. He can break games wide open and he’s continued to show that recently in Washington, even though he’s often been inconsistent from night to night.
3) Get rid of the useless players. The Rangers finally have enough depth and have plenty of young players in Hartford that can fill in if injuries become a problem. Get rid of the one year wonder, Hlavac. Get rid of Purinton. They’re not helping as healthy scratches and fill-ins from Hartford would be eager to earn a spot and would play with grit and heart which is much more than anyone can say about Hlavac.
4) Light a fire under Nedved. Petr Nedved needs to play with his size or he needs to be traded. He has become the player he was two years ago when the entire garden booed him. He plays on a circular rink and will shy away from any physical play. He’s way too soft and has no reason to be. It’s not like he’s a small guy. He’s 6’3″ 200 lbs! He’s also got one of the most accurate and best wrist shots in the game, hands down. You cannot argue with that. In the December 22nd game against Boston, he scored two goals with nobody in front of the net. He just stepped in and wristed a shot to the top corner and it was in the back of the net before the goalie even reacted. Why can’t he do that every night? Inconsistency once again. The other team doesn’t put the kind of defensive pressure on Nedved that they do on Kovalev and Lindros, so Petr can easily be the key to turning this team around. He needs to hit the net more and get the puck deep instead of trying those backhand, no-look passes at the blue line. If he can’t do that, he should be packaged in a deal with Hlavac and Purinton for a big defenseman (ie: Brendan Witt, Dan McGillis) and possibly a center to fill Nedved’s spot even though the Rangers have enough depth with Rheaume now to fill their spots, especially if the Rangers acquired Jagr.
5) Keep Anson Carter. Contrary to what I’ve heard many of you say, Anson Carter is a great fit in New York. He hasn’t found the same game he had in Edmonton because New York plays a much different style than Edmonton did then. Garbage goals are still goals. I don’t hear anyone saying that Keith Tkachuk isn’t playing well because 85% of his goals are garbage goals. We need guys like that. Anson needs to be more consistent just as
Kovalev, Leetch, and Lindros do, but Keenan should definitely be able to help with that as well.
6) Put Bobby Holik back in front of the net on the powerplay. This was a great idea and improved the Rangers struggling power-play, but for some reason they have stopped doing that. Lindros or Holik should be in front of the net as much as possible on the powerplay to screen the opposing goaltenders, deflect shots and pick up the rebounds. Lindros and Holik are two of the best at those three things. Why the coaching staff has
not continued to use this strategy is beyond me.
7) Shoot on the powerplay! Does this team realize that nice passing and always being unselfish doesn’t win games? Why are they afraid to shoot? Kovalev, Leetch, and Poti have excellent shots from the point and continue to pass up every opportunity they get. Instead of the chants of “shoot” heard throughout the stands on a powerplay, Ranger fans have started to chant “Pass!” sarcastically because the Rangers powerplay has become a How-Not-To video for running a successful powerplay. Passing the puck back and forth around the perimeter won’t eventually open up a magical opportunity for an easy goal. You need to shoot the puck. Penalty kills these days have becoming increasingly
aggressive instead of the old style of sitting back and collapsing around the net. And teams have especially been aggressive against the Rangers because they know they don’t shoot the puck.
8) Hold an extra 30 minute practice every day for Malakhov and Mironov to practice hitting the net from the blue line. These two must combine for the most missed shots in the entire league. Night after night we are seeing the same thing. Kovalev carries the puck in, beats a defender, drops the puck back to Mironov or Malakhov at the point and they miss the night by 10-15 feet. This can’t continue to happen.
9) Slap some sense into Poti and Leetch. They are being outplayed by deVries and Kasparaitis every night. Kasparaitis is finally shooting and making excellent outlet passes to start the rush and deVries is picking his spots perfectly and jumping into the play and having great success. deVries and Kaspar look like Poti and Leetch should, while Poti and Leetch have played quiet games and their plus/minus stats are not nearly where they should be while Darius and deVries are among the lead leaders. Poti remains a defensive liability but Leetch hasn’t been playing that great either and isn’t giving Poti a lot of help. Poti may be moved in a deal to bring in that big defenseman I was talking about to pair with Leetch if he continues to go for the puck instead of the body in his own zone.
10) Do not make a goaltending move. Dunham is a perfectly capable goaltender to lead this team in the playoffs if they can make it there. For now, I would continue to play Markkanen, I think he played fine in Calgary. None of the goals were his fault and any goaltender would have let them in with the way the Rangers played defensively and took offensive zone penalties in that game. Start Markkanen until he shows signs of fatigue and until Dunham feels back to form. He’s admitted he’s still missing a step in his game and that’s understandable. No, it’s not an excuse, but it’s understandable, and bringing in a new goaltender and shopping Dunham would be a big mistake at this point. Once Dunham gets back his confidence he’ll be at the top of the league once again, and Markkanen will continue to be Sather’s best off-season move. He’s a wonderful young goalie with a world of potential and the thing that impresses me the most is the way he carries himself. He’s very confident and doesn’t get shaken up. He’s always so calm and laid-back. He’s not at all cocky, he just doesn’t get rattled and is hardly ever out of position. Much like Sean Burke and Brodeur, he’s always in position and makes a lot of the difficult saves look easy. This is the form that Dunham needs to get back to, so let Markkanen play until Dunham can be the clear cut starter.