Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rangers Mentality In Face Of Injuries Makes Them Team To Be Feared

To say that the 2010-11 New York Rangers have been decimated by injuries would be a significant understatement.  What cannot be overstated however is the depth to which this team has taken on the mentality of a fighter.  No matter who or how many players go down they find a way to keep winning games.  There is that mentality of the next man up and tonight it will be Chad Kolarik and Brodie Dupont who get their turn as new players to the roster.  With their additions to the roster the Rangers now have seven rookies on their active roster, but do not feel sorry for them because they do not feel sorry for themselves. 

The mentality starts at the top with coach John Tortorella.

"You can't worry about how difficult it is," Tortorella said. "You have to find a way to get it done. We have five games in seven nights here. There's no time to think, no time to whine. It's time to fight and you have to find a way to get points."

That is the mentality this team has taken on and each turn they have flipped the conventional wisdom that the injury they just suffered would cripple their surprising season.  The fact that it has yet to do so should no longer be a surprise, just a fact of how this team has taken on the identity of just that; a team.  There are no individuals that this team must have to succeed though certain guys may have larger roles.  The idea of this group is that each man will do whatever job is necessary to get the points.

Losing Dubinsky and Fedotenko are no doubt blows to the team as there are no replacements what those two bring.  You could tell that in the face of John Tortorella when he got the news on the bench during the game and then after as he addressed the loss of those two.

“Those are two of my main guys in so many areas,” he said.

No one guy will fill either the role(s) of either player, but they will do what they have done all season where different players step into different parts of the void and allow the team to maintain their overall level. 

There is still plenty of talent left on the Rangers roster.  Up front the team has the Gaborik and Wolski as the proven NHL scorers while Stepan and Zuccarello have shown tremendously in their rookie seasons.  Add that to the grit and skill of Boyle, Avery, Prust and Anisimov and that is a very solid top eight.  Chris Drury while offensively challenged can play his role in holding down the penalty killing and leadership spots while the Whale players can pitch in where needed.

Do not discount the back end either as the the young defense core rising to the occasion night in and night out.  Then there is the King.  As long as the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes they are never out of anything.

In the end what the Rangers have done in the short and long term in overcoming these massive injuries is prove they have a mentality that when they get healthy will make them a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.