Rangers Need to Get a Jump Start on Next Season...Now
Right now the Rangers are five points out of the last playoff spot with just 10 games left in their season.
They haven't been mathematically eliminated, but their dropping three in a row (having scored just five goals in those three games) gives every indication the team has given up.
There will be plenty of blame to be assigned in the offseason, but for now, if the Rangers wish to salvage anything from this lost season, they need to turn it over to their youth movement.
That means giving players like Artem Anisimov more ice time to prove their actual worth.
Because coach John Tortorella has had his favorites all season and has often assigned ice time based upon the name on the jersey, Anisimov has yet to distinguish himself all season, but given less than 13 minutes a night of ice time, has he really had the chance to show what he's capable of?
That also means calling up some promising AHLers. Corey Locke has put up 29 goals for the Hartford Wolf Pack. PA Parenteau is having a strong season, complete with a +15.
Why not give Locke a taste of the NHL? And why not see if Parenteau's game has evolved enough for the speed of the NHL?
And then there's Bobby Sanguinetti. Many believe the offensive defenseman is the future of the franchise. How could he not benefit from another taste of the NHL game?
And how could defensemen Corey Potter and Ilkka Heikkinen not benefit from more NHL exposure?
The presence of young players in the lineup would do more than give them NHL experience in a low-pressure (albeit relatively depressing and hopeless) situation.
More than giving young players experience, it would let the young players already in the lineup, the guys like Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto, serve a mentoring role. So rather than being the young guys on the team, they would get to be the veterans to this crop of AHLers.
Plus, with an even younger defense on the ice, Del Zotto and Gilroy might be forced to return to a more defensive, basic game that they both seem to have steadily lost as the season has progressed.
At some point, Tortorella lost control of this year's teams. There was no accountability and that led to sloppy playing that led to losses. This is something that cannot be fixed in the last 10 games of the season.
But what Tortorella can do is start over with new players. Players who are desperate to break into the NHL. Players who might be more inclined to listen if it will help them land an NHL slot next year.
And perhaps most importantly of all, Tortorella would be working with a group that will see first-hand the dangers of lackadaisical play, as well as the dangers of resting on one's laurels.
The Rangers season is over. There's nothing that can be done. They may as well get a head start on getting things together for next season.
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