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Slip Slidin' Away: Trouble In Rangers Country

Russell McKenzieCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 15: Wade Redden #6 of the New York Rangers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 15, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

"We're workin' our jobs, collect our pay

Believe we're gliding down the highway,

when in fact we're slip sliding away"  - Simon & Garfunkel

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Let me know if you've heard this one before.  The Rangers, after an amazing start to their season, have cooled off.

After having no real issues on offense, they now find themselves struggling to find the back of the net.  However, there are two players that remain consistently breathtaking night after night.  One is Henrik Lundquist, the other is Marion Gaborik.

This writer used this space last year about this time to review the problems the Rangers had on defense.  Guess what? Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has changed.  Their two biggest albatrosses right now are on defense.  

Both their major contract defense men, Michael "Revolving Door" Roszival and Wade "Waiting for Godot" Redden, are questionable in their performance.  Neither player has been contributing significantly to coach John Tortorella's all important transition game. However, Redden is even in the plus/minus column, which is an improvement from last year.

Another issue is the stagnant offense. It seems that, as of late, the only player that can score with any regularity is Marian Gaborik.  He's scary.  He's currently leading the NHL in goals scored with 21.  He's averaging over a point per game. He comes to play every night and earns his paycheck.

King Henrik, after a wobbly few games, righted himself and has been allowing about two goals per game since a distressing loss to Pittsburgh.  However, his goals against of late have more to do with defensemen not clearing the crease.  I offer the example of Dan Girardi standing and watching as 'Hawks superstar Jonathan Toews hacked at the puck during a Chicago power play on Monday night.  

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Then there is the curious case of Matt Gilroy.  Usually, NHL rookies, especially a defenseman, are given the benefit of the doubt when a high caliber player makes you look like a pee wee player.  However, Torts decided to make Gilroy an example, whisking him away to Hartford to figure it out there.  

This writer, and several of my colleagues, are baffled by this move.  Rozsival is about as airtight defensively as a sponge.  So, the question remains, why did Torts hold Gilroy accountable and not Rosie?  Why not Redden? Or Drury? Or any of the veterans that have been underachieving since last season?  After the loss in Chicago, Torts said some harsh words, calling out his team and promising accountability.

This writer, for one, expected a more drastic and sensible move rather than the Gilroy demotion.

Finally, I offer an excerpt from my article published at this time last year:

"With, midseason coming upon us quick, Sather must make a decision now. To be a true Stanley Cup contender in today's NHL, you need scoring, speed, size, and solid D. The only way the Rangers are going to achieve this is by creating cap space. And the only viable way I see that happening is by dumping useless waste into the local recycling plant."

This still holds true.  Sather needs to come up with a miracle solution and fast.  Trade rumors are swirling.  Midseason approaches.  And let's not forget about the Olympic Break.  

The time is now.  Or else the Rangers' season will continue it's downward spiral.

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