The NY Rangers do not have on the roster a center who wins face offs at a high enough percentage for my liking. In the offensive zone a win means possession and occasionally a goal as a result of the win. In the defensive zone, giving the opponents the chance to A) keep the puck or B) get a quick shot on goal is obviously deadly. Slats is smarter than I am so I expect him to acquire a faceoff guy at some point. This leads me to puck possession which has become a pet peeve since the preseason began. I'm not seeing it.
I explained on twitter the simple and obvious explanation. In a nutshell, if you have the puck you have a chance to score and while you have it the other team CAN'T score. Losing face offs, lack of a solid forecheck and lack of cohesion are all on display for the BlueShirts and it's why their puck possession is currently poor. Thankfully all three can be fixed. I'm hoping that Slats can sign Derrick Stephan which will help (a little) on face offs. Cohesion will come as the teams gels. The forecheck is on the coaching staff and I do expect that to come around when Captain Cally returns to set the example.
Again I understand that it's preseason but the goals against are high enough to get my attention. I don't have a good feel for why the Rangers seem to allow sub par teams to score a lot of goals against. I'll look into that and get back to you but if this is a trend I will NOT be happy.
I'm not taking sides here as I really don't know enough to speak intelligently on the negotiations. What I do know is this.....we need him and the CAP forces teams to make decisions that have NOTHING to do with winning or losing. Those of you who are long time readers know my feelings on this topic. Slats and Derek's agent need to come to some common ground and get this done because without him, we are very weak up the middle.
Editors note: 12 hours after this post the NY Rangers came to terms with Derek Stephan.
OK, how about some positives?
JT Miller looks to be the real deal. I am pleasantly surprised by his poise and solid play. It's as if he has confidence in himself, something we never got to see last year. I am unclear why Torts couldn't see past the few rookie mistakes the kid made. But hey, Torts ain't here and JT is now a 20 year old. Chris Kreider may benefit from AV behind the bench as well. The kid CAN shoot like nobody's business and he's fast. Let's hope CK20 can get it together this season.
Michael DelZotto will have a monster season despite the bleeding ear (not from the locker room music). He's one year older and smarter. I for one want to see him quarterbacking the power play. I know some (HockeyRodent) get upset at some of his gambling breakout passes but I'm convinced that MDZ has learned just enough to keep those mistakes down and the upside could be huge. Let us pray that my hunch is correct.
Marc Staal is back to 100% and not just because he's score more goals than any other Ranger (2). He's displayed all the skills we've come to know and love and perhaps even more. Like all of you. I was worried about Marc's health first and his hockey second. We have been blessed with both. If Marc becomes what he was last season, our best D man, imagine how good our defense could be with the four we can put out on the ice. Keep in mind, AV has already explained that our D will be more involved in the offence as compared to the Tortorella system. Just think about the possibilities.
Captain Cally and Carl Hagelin should be returning to the lineup soon and that will help this team but that is an obvious observation on my part but it merits mentioning.
Before I go I do wish to pimp a site that covers a new member to the Eastern Conference. http://DetroitHockey.net is produced by a good buddy and former Hockeybird.com messageboard member, Clark Rasmusson. Back in the day, the boards had fans of many different teams, not just our BlueShirts. I always took pride in that (Melvin was an Islander fan and was accepted by the group as he was cool) Clark was responsible for our TEN YEAR anniversary logo and some others. he's now created the new one you see. It's true, Hockeybird has been around this here intarweb for SIXTEEN years. My kids aren't that old. I think the new logo is sweet but what do you think? Lemme know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet @hockeyangrybird
Either way, please visit the site for Wings updates and news.
OK, another loss to a sub par team is not going to make anyone happy, even in the preseason. No worries though as we have yet to play for real with our starting roster. I'm just pointing out what see so far. After 16 years of doing this (thanks again to Clark for the great new logo) and many years before that just watching (and playing for 15 years) I am just like you....sceptical. Let's hope in Vancouver we begin to get things righted.