As most, if not all, Ranger fans have noticed in the last few months, New York as a team just cannot score goals. It's frightening.
For the amount of payroll the team has, and the personnel that it has acquired, goals should not be this hard to come by. Watching this team, game by game, it's amazing to see how hard the Rangers have to try to score a goal.
They struggle and work so hard to score, while a majority of other teams truly can do it so much easier. At this point, I believe it's due to a lack of talented wingers.
I have major issues with the centers, as well. However, with about $14 million invested in the team's top two center positions, that's something that we're going to have to live with. No one is taking Chris Drury and/or Scott Gomez for their insane salaries, especially for the numbers they are putting up.
It is shameful and disgusting to see that much money going toward that little production. At this moment however, I have to believe that it's something we have to get used to, because that situation isn't going to change.
In this article, I'm going to try and put together three solid line combinations using players that match well with others. Coach Tom Renney has been trying all season long to get his line combos working, with minimal success. Here's my attempt:
The most important part of our center situation, is finding wingers who gel. Up to this point, we haven't. The best I saw Gomez look was last year with Brendan Shanahan and Nigel Dawes on his wings.
This year, Gomez has FLOUNDERED...unable to get any type of long-term chemistry working with anyone, from Nikolai Zherdev, to Ryan Callahan, to Markus Naslund. Gomez is a playmaker; if he scores 20 goals, it should be considered a bonus. He's a passer, and he needs to have wingers who shoot the puck.
Naslund would have been a good winger for him...six years ago. Today, he needs speedy players who can crash the net, and, unlike Ryan Callahan, can score.
Petr Prucha seems to me like a natural fit. He's fast, energetic, and is a proven scorer. Gomez in the middle, Prucha on one wing...and, surprisingly, I'd try Brandon Dubinsky next to him.
At times, Dubinsky's struggled to win faceoffs, and this year is also struggling to score. Maybe taking a little extra responsibility away from him is a solid idea?
First Line: Prucha-Gomez-Dubinsky
Chris Drury is our No. 2 center. He's also not a finesse, goal-scoring center like we'd all like him to be. He's a heart-and-soul guy who sometimes scores big goals. That's it.
Thinking he'd come to New York and light it up is ridiculous. He's never been a No. 1 center and never will be. He is a great center to line up against other teams' best lines however.
On his wing, I'd put another heart-and-soul player like Callahan. That's two players who are honest, will keep the opposition honest, and can certainly GET TO THE NET. Next to them goes the opposite: a guy who can create and get shots to the goal. That's Nik Zherdev. With Nicky shooting and Cally and Drury causing havoc, goals have to start mounting up.
Second Line: Callahan-Drury-Zherdev
Now, with Dubinsky at wing, this opens up a new center position. Lauri Korpikoski has shown promise, and, to me, played his best at wing during training camp. Korpikoski is very similar to Callahan in my opinion; a hard-nosed, north-south-type skater, but Korp is much better offensively.
Now, I see another player on the team who can play like that. That's the unheralded Freddy Sjostrom. The guy is a former first-round draft pick, and, to me, has shown the ability to score, but has never been given the minutes. You throw another hard worker who can score, in Dawes, on that line, and that's a good, hard-working third line that should be counted on for at least 30-40 goals between all three.
Third Line: Sjostrom-Korpikoski-Dawes
And sorry, Naslund would not be on my team.
I have to think that those three lines are better than anything Renney's put together this season. He's done nothing offensively for us. We'll never be an offensive juggernaut, but we need some cohesiveness, and hopefully these lines might help. By the way...if Johan Franzen is available, WE MUST PICK HIM UP!