For those who thought that the addition of Brad Richards to the New York Rangers was going to magically fix the team’s offensive inconsistency and dreadful power play, the first two games of the season showed that at the very least it will take time. The Rangers lack of practice ad familiarity with those they have been playing with was painfully evident the past two days. The chemistry and timing issues are not something to be overly concerned with as that will come with more repetitions together, but what is more interesting to watch is whether the Rangers are now caught between systems.
Since taking over as head coach John Tortorella has been trying to install a more blue-collar identity on the team because it best fit his personnel. Last season the Rangers had success in forming that identity and using a forechecking style to generate their offense, but these first two games they appear to be a team that is caught in-between playing a more skilled game to the talents of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik and the grinding style that best suits Ryan Callahan. A middle ground will need to be struck.
While the skill is learning what each other want, the grinding style must return or this team is going to continue to have serious issues generating anything offensively and will be back to relying on Henrik Lundqvist to hold the opponent’s to a lone goal or less to win. A good first step in establishing that identity again would be putting last season’s two most effective lines back together with Dubinsky going back to play with Anisimov and Callahan while Fedotenko gets reunited with Boyle and Prust. Tortorella can mix and match all he wants outside of those six forwards, but putting those two lines together would bring stability back to the lineup and provide a foundation to build from as the chemistry within those lines is special.
Adding Brad Richards has paid dividends in the first two games with the two goals he was involved in, but as a whole the effectiveness has been limited. He is a great player and he will find his own way and timing with his teammates, but until then the Rangers must return to basics and that means reforming their identity.