Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Line Combinations; Forward at PP Point; Newbury Staying In, Weise Down?;

Stop me if you have heard this before, but the New York Rangers are changing their lines.  The Rangers are obviously in need of something to change when their offense has managed to score a mere 13 goals in nine games this month and so here comes the newest incarnation to try and reboot the offense.  According to Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants this is what it looked like:

Fedotenko - Anisimov - Gaborik
Dubinsky - Boyle - Prust
Wolski - Stepan - Zuccarello
Avery - Newbury - Drury/Weise

For me these lines are the one line that worked on Sunday Wolski, Stepan and Zuccarello and throw the rest in a blender type moves.  The chemistry with Stepan and Zuccarello frees them up to play with most other wingers and be effective, but putting a skill guy like Wolski gives them three skill players to create offense.  The only thing you worry about with this line is that they can be banged around by bigger lines and defensive groups.  Wolski is a big body but not known for a physical game and Stepan and Zuccarello while willing to hit and take hits are not exactly giants out there.

Fedotenko and Anisimov have both worked with Gaborik before this season to varying degrees of success.  The reason that Fedotenko was taken away from Gaborik back in December after a six game stretch together was to reunite him with Boyle and Prust on the Rangers most consistent line this year.  Personally I do not like splitting up the consistent line in hopes of finding a spark for Gaborik, but that is what the Rangers keep doing.

Dubinsky playing with Boyle and Prust is an interesting combination that should certainly play phenomenal defensive hockey against the top opposition lines, but will they work well together offensively?  The three play similar styles in that they can grind, and Dubinsky’s skill might create more chances for his linemates and if that happens it will be successful.  Playing with defensively responsible players might also free Dubinsky up to be more aggressive offensively.  It is either that or playing with “checking line” type players will drain even more offensive instincts out of Dubinsky and the leading scorer on the team will slump.  Also have to be concerned with the number of minutes these three are going to play though as all will kill penalties, likely match the top line at even strength and at least Dubinsky will get power play work as well.

As for the fourth line it is what it will be though Totorella’s open praise of Kris Newbury today means that Dale Weise is likely headed back to the Whale after tomorrow so that he can play on Friday for Connecticut.  There is no reason to keep Weise here if he is going to be a scratch.

There were also some alterations made to the defensive pairings today which is a change from the recent past.

Marc Staal – Dan Girardi
Matt Gilroy – Michael Sauer
Ryan McDonagh – Steve Eminger

I like reuniting Gilroy and Sauer as Eminger’s play has slipped and Gilroy has earned the promotion.

In an effort to fix the power play they will once again make changes this time adding a fourth forward on the point with Gaborik, Wolski and Zuccarello the likely candidates.  I think all three have potential there, but Wolski strikes me as the most natural fit there.  Gaborik really needs to play a harder game if he is going to be successful and dancing around the point does not help him do that.  Zuccarello has the vision and skill to man the point, but is very effective down low and behind the net so having him at the point takes that away.  Wolski on the other hand does not really like a physical game, has a good shot and can pass the puck which all fits the mode of a point man.

In terms of the lines overall I expect they will not last that long and have some of my own ideas on how I would run them, but that is not important at the moment.  The reality is that the offense and more importantly the line changes will not stop until Gaborik starts scoring.