With the trade deadline approaching on Wednesday, teams are scrambling to try and load up with the right players who can help them make a deep playoff run. Many teams are looking for offense, including the Rangers who are dead last in the league in goals scored with 78.
Many Ranger fans have quickly lost confidence in this group, and righfully so. Fans want results, and the Rangers are not producing right now. Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik have been major disappointments, and the role players on the third and fourth lines have contributed almost nothing on the offensive side. Derek Stepan has stepped up at times this season, and Carl Hagelin has shown he can find the back of the net, but the Ranger offense has been nothing short of embarrassing lately. Rick Nash has come as advertised this season, but one man cannot carry an entire team to the playoffs.
Unfortunately it doesn't seem like there are many players, if any, on the trading block who will help this Ranger team make a deep playoff run. No, the answer to the Rangers problems lies within the team itself. When Rick Nash, Carl, Hagelin, and Derek Stepan play together they find success. This line needs to stay intact, because after all, splitting these three up has not helped the Rangers offense. The more these three play together, the more comfortable they will be with each other. Who can the Rangers trade for who will really help this teams offense, Ryane Clowe? Clowe has no goals and 11 assists so far this season. Even Brian Boyle has a goal for the Blueshirts this season, so would it make sense to add a player who is yet to score this year to the team with the least amount of goals?
Brad Richards and Mrian Gaborik must have break out games this week. As all Ranger fans know, Gaborik is a streaky scorer who scores in bunches, and right now he might be in the worst slump of his career. But Gaborik's scoring struggles should lead Ranger gans to believe that it is only a matter of time before Gaborik starts hitting the back of the net instead of the goalies pads after he shuts the five-hole. So what are the Rangers going to do, trade Gaborik for a player who is yet to score so far this season? Let's not give up on Gaborik yet.
Brad Richards is a prime time player, he loves the big stage, and he performs under pressure...wait, which Brad Richards are we talking about here? Richards has been invisible at some points during this season, and I am not being dramatic. Richards and Gborik need to find a way to get back their scoring touch, and help get this abysmal Ranger offense back on track.
So what does all this add up to? Effort and will. Nothing gets the New York fans going like a hard working, grinding effort, and that is not what the Rangers have been giving their fans, especially on the road. Last season the Rangers were known as the hardest working team in the league. You may have beaten them that night on the scoreboard, but you were not going to hustle, work, and play harder than them. This season has been just the opposite. When the Rangers go down on the scoreboard, it has been hard to believe that they will find a way back into the game, and the past two games have been perfect examples. The Rangers got down by a goal both times to the Senators and Canadiens, and the Rangers could not respond with a goal of their own (the Canadiens scored just 47 seconds into the game).
The Rangers currently hold onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference which would set them up with a first round clash with the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins. In order for the Rangers to avoid playing Pittsburgh in the first round they need to win games, and start winning now. Time has run out on the Rangers to just sit back and play defensive hockey and look for counter opportunities, and it's time to attack. How does that famous saying go again? Oh yea..."The best defense is a good offense." The Rangers need to take this term literally and start winning the battles in the corners and along the boards.
A trade is not the answer for the Rangers. The answer lies within the players and coaches to find the motivation and will to find the success they had last year. If they cannot dig deep and play like the team everyone knows they can be now, then sorry Rangers fans your playoffs will consist of youtube highlights from the 2011-12 season.
The Rangers will be at Madison Square Garden Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets, one of the three Canadien teams they have not beaten this season.