Eighteen games into the Rangers’ season and this is what we’ve seen so far: the effort comes and goes, the scoring comes and goes, the forecheck comes and goes, the backchecking comes and goes and the defense comes and goes. And they’re not very physical, as we saw when no one stood up for Chris Drury on Saturday night.
Their 7-1 start has been followed by a 3-6-1 stretch, so they’re also inconsistent. With a break in the Rangers’ schedule, now’s a good time to divide up the roster into four categories and see which players are overachieving, which are underachieving and which are, unfortunately, Michal Rozsival .
Godsends: Marian Gaborik , Vinny Prospal , Michael Del Zotto , Matt Gilroy
Gaborik has done everything and more that was expected of him when he signed. He’s seamlessly fit in with the Rangers and produced at a superstar level. Health remains the only question mark for him.
Prospal’s given the team more than was expected, and has certainly earned the A on his sweater. Maybe he even deserves the C. He and Gaborik have great chemistry going, and the scoring load has fallen on their shoulders.
Nobody knew how Del Zotto and Gilroy would fare when the season started, and both have thrived. Del Zotto is the best offensive defenseman on the team, with improving defense and is becoming more physical. And Gilroy has been very sturdy, with flashes of offense.
Surprises: Artem Anisimov , Ales Kotalik
Anisimov has stepped into the lineup and been solid all around. And with the team now shorthanded at the center position, he’s sure to get more playing time to prove himself. Kotalik has shored up the power play with his play at the point and has been one of the few players besides Gaborik and Prospal to provide offense.
As Expected: Henrik Lundqvist , Stephen Valiquette , Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden , Enver Lisin , Aaron Voros , Brian Boyle . These are “as expected (great or good),” “as expected (still developing),” “as expected (fourth liners at best)” and “as expected (God help us all).” You can guess which are which.
Disappointments: Chris Higgins , Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky , Ryan Callahan , Marc Staal , Dan Girardi , Sean Avery , Donald Brashear
It took Higgins until the 16th game to score his first goal (but then scored in the next game, too). No matter how many MSG-produced press releases Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti read to us during the games, Drury isn’t having a good season. The announcers make it seem like the team has ordered Drury not to score goals. It’s possible he may be back on the ice as early as Thursday’s game against Atlanta, though.
This was the year that Staal was going to become a star, wasn’t it? He’s obviously still good but isn’t having the kind of breakout season the team was hoping for. And Girardi has taken turns being awful and great. Dubinsky and Callahan just aren’t producing enough. But the team will sure miss Dubinsky the next month or two. Avery is not playing like the Avery we all love (or hate). Is he afraid to make mistakes and feel the wrath of John Tortorella ?
And finally, Brashear’s been injured, and when he plays he’s useless. He couldn’t even win a fight when he bothered fighting.
(Congratulations to Hall-of-Famers Brian Leetch and John Davidson .)