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March 20, 2019
Break Up the Blueshirts
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
That Linda Cohn is a genius.
ESPNís resident puck bunny took plenty of ribbing for picking her beloved New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup, but whoís laughing now? The Blueshirts whipped the Devils last night 4-1, improving to 5-0-0 and matching their best start in franchise history. So much for that European hangover.
Iíve only been able to see the Rangers for a handful of shifts this season, so I really canít comment on their overall play. But Iím not buying it.
This is just one of those fluky hot streaks that no one would even notice if it happened in February. When I look at this roster, I still donít see a playoff team.
The line of Brandon Dubinsky, Aaron Voros, and Nikolai Zherdev has been carrying the offense, combining for eight goals and 19 points. Dubinsky and Voros lead the league in scoring with seven points each. Thatís swell, but it wonít last.
I mean, Iím going to go out on a limb and say Aaron Voros wonít keep up the pace and score 115 points. And you know why? Because heís Aaron freaking Voros.
New Yorkís new top line, at least in name only, is Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Markus Naslund. The trio has nine points thus far, with Drury contributing a lone assist; although, to be fair, Drury has struck out several Taiwanese children, so thatís pretty cool.
One could argue the Drury-Gomez-Naslund line will pick up the scoring when the Dubinsky-Voros-Zherdev unit eventually cools off, but I doubt it. You know why? Because heís Markus freaking Naslund.
A healthy Henrik Lundqvist will keep the Rangers in the playoff hunt all season, but this club isnít a Cup contender or even a division winner. It lacks the necessary depth up front, and any blue line with Wade Redden as its No. 1 has got worry. At some point, the Blueshirts will face adversity, and when they do, I say they buckle faster than Chris Berman at a leather shop.
The Vancouver Canucks mustered a whopping 10 shots in last nightís 5-1 loss in Washington. Ten shots? Thatís a light lunch. Seriously, it takes ten shots just to get me to the bar.
Vancouver mustered a mere two pucks on net in the opening stanza and a solitary shot in the second before erupting for seven in the final frame. Easy there, cowboy. Donít hurt yourself.
But whatís the bigger story, Vancouver taking only 10 shots or Alexander Ovechkin only having three? Ovechkin didnít connect on any of them, going pointless for the second time in three games. Alexander Semin was the offensive star, bagging his second and third goals of the season.
Brent Johnson was in net for the Caps, surrendering a power-play goal to Alexander Edler.
Now, I didnít see the game, but from all reports, Washington manhandled Vancouver in the offensive zone, pressuring the Canucks into submission. Sergei Fedorov actually logged 20:21 on defense, helping spark the Capsí transition game.
Scotty Bowman used Fedorov on defense occasionally, taking advantage of his phenomenal skating and natural defensive instincts whenever the Wings were short a blueliner. But to quote the great Nick Tortelli, that was then, this is now, and that was then.
Fedorov will be 39 in December. Expecting him to take a regular shift on defense at this stage of his career is preposterous. It may work against a road weary Canuck squad that had to fly cross-country following an emotional home-and-home with the Flames, but itís a cheap parlor trick at best.
Bruce Boudreau hasnít said whether or not heíll keep Fedorov on defense. The Caps are in Pittsburgh Thursday. Fedorovís wheels could actually come in handy trying to keep up with Kid Crosby and Geno Malkin.
But how sad is it when a 39-year-old Russian center can improve your blue line? That might be a red flag. Hey, maybe he can play goal, too.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."