The New York Rangers have never been known for instilling fear in the competition, but there was a time when they actually stuck up for one another.
One of the biggest problems with the current 2009-10 Rangers is their lack of physical toughness.
That was all supposed to change with the signing of ex-Washington Capitals' enforcer Donald Brashear this past offseason.
"They know that he's going to be the man," General Manager Glen Sather said on the day of the Brashear signing. "That's a tough job to do, and he's a tough guy and he's very capable of doing it."
However, Brashear has been a non-factor in the first 18 games of the season. The Rangers' enforcer has had trouble staying healthy, including a lingering bruised right wrist, which has kept him out of seven of the last nine games. When he is on the ice, Brashear has barely been noticeably and has yet to convincingly win a fight for New York.
With players like Brashear, Brian Boyle, Dane Byers, Aaron Voros, and even the agitator Sean Avery on the roster, why does this team lack toughness? Where is the protection for the stars on the team?
When Calgary Flames' Curtis Glencross delivered a high blind-side hit to the head of Chris Drury this past Saturday night, where was the retribution? It wasn't like the Rangers were down by three goals already and afraid to take a penalty; the hit was put on Drury just 48 seconds into the game.
That's the captain of the Rangers going down to the ice with a concussion and not one Rangers player did anything about it. Wade Redden actually side stepped the fallen Drury, before gingerly skating over to Glencross after the whistle had already blown.
How about all of the times when Henrik Lundqvist and even Steve Valiquette have been run over while in net, an issue that at least dates back to last year (in terms of it consistently occurring). The Rangers don’t protect their goaltenders, the most important position player on the team, and prove once again they are one of the softer teams in the league.
Time after time, opponents have taken a run at Lundqvist and Valiquette, yet there has never been anything done about it.
Then there is the incident that happened during the 2009 NHL playoffs. No Rangers fan will ever forget the very late elbow that Brashear put on Blair Betts in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Unfortunately, Colton Orr, who is now with the Toronto Maple Leafs, was a healthy scratch that game, but the only other Ranger who reacted was Paul Mara, who is now skating with the Montreal Canadiens. Mara still didn't do much; he only pushed Brashear into the boards and chirped at him, collecting an unearned 2:00 roughing penalty in the process.
The Rangers need to play more physical and need to start protecting their players.
It was really disturbing to see Drury go down and not one player on the Rangers do anything about it. A statement must be made to the rest of the league.
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