Thursday, October 28, 2010

New York Rangers Practice Notes 10/28

With the uncertainty about Artem Anisimov after last night’s injury and today’s MRI the Rangers took to the practice ice with the fans having little idea of how they would adjust in case their best center this season was actually out for tomorrow’s game or heaven forbid longer.  There were also questions as to how serious the injury to Michal Rozsival was and while it was said to be minor, he did not practice either today.  In practice the forward lines looked like this:
Boogaard-EC as extras

While many Ranger fans will not be thrilled, excited or probably much more than queasy about Todd White lining up as the first line center for a game that counts in fairness he played very well in the 3rd period in that exact spot against Atlanta.  Also showing good chemistry and results in that 3rd period was the Avery-Boyle-Fedetenko line and Tortorella has put them back together. 
For those who are outraged to see even with Anisimov potentially out and Drury already out that Stepan is still the 3rd center there must be a reality check.  Ranger fans must admit that the last couple of games Derek Stepan has struggled to the point he was on the bench the last 13:27 last night and only played just over 10 minutes for the whole game.  Growing pains were inevitable and anyone who thought because of his first few games he was above them was kidding themselves.  He will work through them, but that they are happening right now is not good for the team as having White and Boyle as your top 2 centers doesn’t sound too enticing. 
Christensen and Frolov showed some flashes together with Prust but in the end they produced nothing on the scoreboard so no surprised to see EC get dumped down as he has been how he is, flashes of excellent play and then invisible.  That said putting EC with Boogaard certainly wont get him going.  Really starting to think when this team gets all the guys back EC is in the press box watching. 
Frolov really needs to turn the switch or whatever he has to do to start going more consistently.  He is getting some chances but is slow pulling the trigger on the shot and the slowness in the rest of his game isn’t helping him either.  He was brought in to be the second option in the scoring column and so far he is a lot further down the list even with Gaborik on the shelf.  The Rangers should not use these new injuries as a reason to let Gaborik rush back either.
On Defense the situation is just as cloudy if Michal Rozsival cannot go tomorrow against Carolina.  He has been one of the best defenseman all year, easily logging 25 minutes a night, being solid in his own zone and chipping in on the offensive end while playing in all situations.  The natural solution if Rozi cannot go would be to put Girardi back with Staal, but then you would have all sorts of trouble with a back four in whatever combination of MDZ, Sauer, Gilroy, Eminger.  Think about that everyone the next time you talk about dealing or waiving Rozi this year.
What I would do instead is take Sauer out the press box, put him with Staal, leave MDZ-Girardi together and leave Gilroy-Eminger together.  I don’t know how likely that is considering Sauer got scratched the last two, one with the claim of soreness and last night apparently healthy.  Also before anyone suggests it, unless the Rozi injury ends up being serious and he is out long term there will not be a callup from Hartford on D.
Overall Thoughts
With the injuries this team already had losing these two amounts to losing 2 of the top 6 or so guys in their play so far this season and with none of the others ready to come back it will be tough if Rozi or Anisimov have to miss game action.  Saying that it just means what happened after Gabby and Drury got hurt vs Toronto is true again in that other guys have to step up and fill roles.  It also means they have to get back to what they did for 3 games and forgot last night which is play solid defensively, outwork people for 60 minutes and win games that way.  They are not skilled enough throughout the lineup right now to play lazy hockey and get away with it; especially against good competition.  No need to panic, just work harder.
Will keep an ear out for any news on Anisimov MRI, Rozi status for tomorrow and if callup from Hartford happens.  If they do make a callup Williams coming back for RW on 4th line probably most likely move.