It's time to draw the curtain and turn out the lights. The stage needs to be rearranged. Big time! Let's cut to the chase: the Rangers' system doesn't work. There's a reason that the Leafs are the leagues highest scoring team while the Rangers are at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Leafs shoot the puck and drive to the net with speed. The Rangers over pass and NEVER create chances down low.
The Rangers style is a bigger problem than the apparent roster issues. Sure Gomez and Jagr can't manufacture chemistry. Ditto for Drury who doesn't seem to fit with anyone on the active roster. Despite today's apology from Larry Brooks, it seems as though his assessment of Shanny's rapidly declining skills is right on the money.
Brooks hit the nail on the head when he said that often the first thing to go with aging skilled players is their hands. Just asking, but can't we say the same thing about Jagr? It seems to take him just a second longer to release his shot this season. Just a second is all it takes for a defenseman to get into Jagr's shooting lane or for a goalie to get a good look at his shot.
But I digress. The real issue here is the Ranger's ineffective style of play. Team's are too good to get beaten by fancy plays more than once or twice a game. The Rangers can't expect to win anything by scoring only one or two goals per game.
Seems simple enough. Just start shooting more and driving to the net, right? Wrong! Everyone recognizes the obvious. Yet the Blueshirts refuse to adjust their game. Why? I don't know for sure because I don't have access to the players or coaches, however, would anyone be shocked to learn that the captain (lower case "c" on purpose!) refuses to consent to a style change? Jagr is the team's main ingredient up front. Gomez and Drury (and Shanny before them) have made valiant efforts to fit onto "Jagr's team". No one can question Jagr's determination to win. Anyone watching him throughout his tenure in New York can't help but be impressed with Jagr's focus and determination. However, perhaps Jagr is too determined to prove that a team can win playing a European style. Had the Rangers been able to resign Nylander at a reasonable price, Jagr may have had the opportunity to prove his case. But that didn't happen. If Jagr wants to lead this team, he MUST lead by example. He must be the guy to stand up in the locker room and demand that the team simplify its game. Gomez will not do it. Neither will Drury. They're too new to the team. Shanny might do it, but it wouldn't have the same effect. The fact is that the captain must be the catalyst.
Antropov's goal last night startled me. Not because Tyutin simply disappeared on the play! What startled me was the fact that I simply could not remember the last time a Ranger forward drove to the net, parked himself in front of the opposition's goaltender and put his stick on the ice waiting to pound at the puck. The Prague Rangers simply don't do that!
The bottom line is that the Rangers have the players to play an effective style: Gomez, Drury, Avery, Shanny, Prucha, Dawes, and even Jagr, Hossa and Straka if they would simply consent.
Renney needs to have a talk with his captain. Perhaps Renney doesn't have the pedigree to demand that Jagr endorse a new style of play. Jagr is a superstar and Stanley cup champion. Renney is not. Perhaps it's time for Slats to have a heart to heart with Jagr. Slats revitalized Jagr's career. Slats is a champion. Slats also coached and managed a couple of guys named Gretzky and Messier. I don't think he'd have a hard time pulling rank on Jagr!
The league wrote Jagr off a few years back as a problem child. Jagr obviously wants the last laugh. Jagr may have been hoping to prove himself by winning it all his way. Sometimes men make plans and G-d laughs. Jagr won't be able to win it all "his way". However, he could still have the last laugh. Can you imagine how history would remember Jagr if he sacrificed his style for the good of the team? Not only would he be remembered as probably the greatest European player to date, he'd also be considered a Captain.