"Hockey is an inherently dangerous sport"
That was printed on equipment I purchased back in the day and I'm sure it's still there on today's stuff. After watching Marc Staal squirm in pain after taking a puck in the eye, it was obvious to me that a debate would explode about wearing visors in the NHL. This is similar to the debate on firearms after the horror in Connecticut. I very much dislike people who use a tragedy to impose their point of view. What I mean by this is that one sounds like an idiot opposing any new gun legislation as little kids are being buried. Similarly, after watching the Stall injury it's kinda tough to have a position against visors in these discussions. Actual debate doe not take place right after an incident like this as emotions play too strong a part in my opinion.
No matter what equipment players wear (or not) there will be injuries in this game, it's unavoidable. No rule will change that. I just think it's disingenuous to use an incident like this to try and impose new rules. That being said, I am not against grandfathering in the visor like we did with helmets. Players in juniors and the NCAA are required to wear face protection in one form or another and may remove it by choice once in the NHL. Currently they do so at their own risk. If the GMs want that changed, so be it. Rules regarding visors and fighting must be looked at and adjusted accordingly.
It's quite obvious that the Rangers are not blessed with depth up front. If Nash or even Captain Cally is out, the Rangers lose. There doesn't seem to be any guys who can step up and over achieve during the absence of one of our key players. In a salary cap world this is not an easy roster achievement but other teams have injuries and some do have players that fill in until their key guy returns....and they still win. The Rangers do not, plain and simple. It's still unclear if Richards will be back for tonight's Islander game and Arron Asham has been MIA for a few weeks now. Whether it's a call up for the Whale or someone getting moved up, those minutes have to be filled.
Look, the Rangers have yet another frustrating season (it seems like 20 in a row) on the power play so far and have struggled to score goals at times during five on five play and that was with Richards on the ice. Perhaps Mr. Third Period Rick Nash will go on a tear. While all of his seven goals have been 3rd period tallies he has been the main force behind several Hagelin goals early in games. We are going to need more of that.
You don't hear much about the contribution of our penalty killers Powe and Halpern but you will when one of them breaks through and pops a shorty. It's going to happen sometime and heck, it would be nice for one of these guys (or anyone playing 4th line minutes) to contribute with a goal or two.
On Asham, while his signing to fill the "Prust void" seemed like a good idea it just hasn't worked out so far. Arron has not been on the ice and thus has had zero positive effect on this team. I am beginning to question the listed "back spasms" as the real reason for his being unable to practice or play. I have no info on this I guess I'm just wondering out loud. I was hoping for a guy who could bring some energy, play with an edge and yes, drop the mitts a few times. Right now we have nothing. His being on IR does allow for another to step into that role but it's yet to be filled.
The defense is a different topic. I do believe we have some depth there and the addition of Hamrlik increases that depth. Of course we'll see how long Staal is out and how the Rangers fair in the coming days/weeks. Last season Eminger stepped in to fill a void for a while and Stralman will get an opportunity. Matt Gilroy of Long Island fame may also have a chance to show his stuff. However, Marc Staal's skates will not be filled by one player. Those will be (and should be) filled by committee.
Of course we care about Marc as a person just like when he was out with the concussion, but his play this year was really outstanding and I'm sure I tweeted (@hockeyangrybird) that he's not just returned to form but improved. We need Marc Staal on the ice. In this shortened, compressed season our first line D men will now be asked to eat up even more minutes and contribute a bit more offensively. Del Zotto will have to do the same. Regardless of injuries this winning streak needs to continue beginning tonight at Nassau.
Fill the fridge with beer, hide the kiddies and fire up your twitter device. Join me @hockeyangrybird (or the Rodent @HockeyRodent) for real time tweets during most of the games this year, tonight's NY RANGERS vs NY ISLANDERS included!