Many New York Ranger fans have complained that the team has not been getting enough offense from their fourth line.
During the 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on October 11th, the Rangers got exactly that.
Fredrik Sjostrom scored a wrap-around goal assisted by Colton Orr and Blair Betts. Betts also scored a goal with a smart play in the offensive zone.
Is this a sign of things to come, or an unexplainable fluke?
The fourth line has always contributed to the team. Playing on the penalty kill, mixed strong defensive zone play has always been an important part of the teams' defensive style.
Sometimes, stats alone cannot give someone a full read on a player’s ability. The same applies to those three players.
Sjostrom and Betts have been very defensively responsible. Orr has improved so much in that area that Tom Renney trusted him enough to put him in with a one-goal lead late in the game. But in a span of just a little more than three minutes, they might have shown the offensive side we've been waiting for.
Sjostrom showed great speed with his wrap-around goal. Betts not only made a nice play to finish, but also had the vision to see that Sjostrom had a jump on Flyers defenseman Luca Sbisa, so he dumped it to Sjostrom's side and just sat back while Freddy finished it off. Colton Orr's strong game was also rewarded with an assist on that play.
While Betts and Sjostrom have shown offense, Orr has not. In his first two full seasons, Betts scored eight and nine goals respectively. Sjostrom also scored 10 goals in Phoenix in 2007-2008 before being traded to New York, where he added two more.
Orr, on the other hand, has just three career goals. But in just four games this year, he's already added a point, and is a plus one, as opposed to last year when he wound up a minus 13. But it is hard to say that he hasn't drastically improved his game this year. He has improved his skating and puck handling skills. That alone should wind up creating a few more points. His improved two-way play can also transition the team in to the offensive zone as well.
While nobody expects these guys to become elite NHL snipers, the offense is there on all lines to provide a good secondary scoring when others are having trouble.
The 4-3 win against the Flyers is a good reminder that the Rangers offense isn't as doomed as many thought it would be.
Jason Klau writes for NHL2Day at www.freewebs.com/nhl2day