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Second Round Of The Playoffs Shows What The Rangers Are Missing

As good as they are in their own end, Rangers' defensemen could be more involved offensively

As good as they are in their own end, Rangers' defensemen could be more involved offensively

Watching the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs over the last two weeks hasn’t made the sting of the Rangers elimination go away, but it has made a couple things painfully obvious about the present roster.

We all know the Rangers lack the No. 1 center and offensive talent to compete with the big boys, but they also are missing:

Defense involved with the offense.  In literally every game of the second round, defensemen have been jumping into the rush and pinching in the offensive zone on a regular basis.  It’s too hard to generate scoring chances at this time of year with just three forwards - at least one and usually two other offensive options are needed.  To be fair, many of the remaining teams have elite offensive defensemen setting the tone for their units.  Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom, Shea Weber, and Chris Pronger all have been offensively skilled for years.  But the Rangers’ defensive unit is hardly adept at contributing offensively.  Matt Gilroy is the most offensive-minded guy on the Rangers’ blue line, but though he showed a willingness to take the puck deep on his own, his in-zone instincts are not impressive.  Mike Sauer was surprisingly willing to come down the boards as the season evolved, but his actual offensive talent may be the weakest of the group.  Ryan McDonagh has the skating ability to suggest that he’ll be able to come deep into the offensive zone and still recover, but he’s not close to that maturation point just yet.  At times, Marc Staal appeared set on attacking in the zone, and at others he seemed unwilling to do so.  Dan Girardi will shoot all day from the point, but he does not come down low often.  Steve Eminger was also a complete non-threat.  There’s potential for this group to become much more willing participants in the Rangers’ offense, but at this stage that’s not the case.  The Rangers’ inability to score was obvious all season, but with an inactive offensive defense, it would have been even worse in the second round.

An up-and-coming young scorer.  James van Riemsdyk’s performance in last night’s Flyers’ loss to the Boston Bruins was one for the ages.  While there are only a handful of players in the world capable of dominating at JVR’s level last from night, his play has been representative of many non-superstars around the league.  Logan Couture, Claude Giroux, and JVR have been among the second and third line players that have been huge for their teams as the playoffs have progressed.  They are the type of depth offensive players the Rangers lack.  Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan broke out in 2010-2011, but the reality is both have probably reached their offensive ceilings.  Though they’re both terrific players, neither is the bona fide first line player they had to be this season.  Brian Boyle might have been the closest thing the Rangers had to a strong depth scorer, and he was silent in the season’s second half.  That’s not to say the Rangers don’t get contributions from guys like Brandon Prust, rather that they’re asking too much of them.  That the Flyers and Sharks have guys like JVR, Couture, and Giroux is in stark contrast to the Rangers' complete lack of a top line.  Rangers forwards were playing above their heads all season, and it clearly cost the team.  There’s plenty of time to speculate on whether Brad Richards will come to New York in July or not, but the truth is that the Blueshirts lack more than just Richards up front.  Perhaps Christian Thomas or Chris Kreider will fill that scoring void in the next couple of years but at the present time, the Rangers’ offense is still under the playoff par.

- Marian Gaborik scored in Slovakia’s 4-3 loss to Russia today.  Here’s the video.  Looked a bit like the Gaborik of last season.

- Check out this offseason preview from Spector >


Posted by Kevin Baumer | May 3, 2011 at 05:59 pm

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New York Rangers VS Boston Bruins
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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