The season is over.
That's not an angry statement, or a bias one. It's not a judgment call or even a guess. Even if the Rangers manage to scrape their way into the playoffs, the year is done. When you look at the big picture-which would be winning the Stanley Cup-you realize that there is no chance for success. Not with this team, they don't have the life.
There is a famous quote in the movie The Replacements. During the final game of the regular season where the Washington Senitals were playing Dallas to make the playoffs, Washington is down 17-0 going into the half. Walking off the field the coach, played by Gean Hackman, is asked what he thinks his team needs to get back into the game. His response is simply "heart." When asked to elaborate he says: "heart, miles and miles of heart."
The Rangers don't have that heart, and no changes they make this year are going to fix that problem. I don't care what lines John Tortorella feeds you, I don't care what the players say. "Talk is cheap," "actions speak louder than words," take your pick of the corny cliché phrase you want to use; but regardless of which one you choose they are all true. The Rangers have been talking all year ... with their mouths. When they bring their talk to the ice we get results like the one against St. Louis, listless efforts that result in a loss.
This isn't a post asking for John Tortorella's head. This isn't a post asking for Glen Sather's head. We have outlined those issues, you know the problems, and you don't need me to remind you. (How many times have I said that this year?)
Here is what I will outline for you, and what it is, is a basic idea of how to make this season worth something.
Join me after the jump for more.
1) Sit either Wade Redden or Michal Rozsival for Bobby Sanguinetti. Use these next 10 games as a way to gauge weather or not Sanguinetti should be trade bait during the off-season, or if he has a realistic chance at making the team. Then swap Redden and Rozsival at the number 5 spot, playing each after every other game. Use these games to gauge which one to keep and which one to let go, since I don't think they will realistically drop both.
2) Call up Evgeny Grachev and give him a spot on the roster. Potential moves here would be sitting Olli Jokinen, he isn't coming back next year so who cares how upset he is. The Rangers can use these 10 games to see how big of a contender he is going to be next year. (By the way stop getting down on him, this kid is going to be a superstar, just give him time.)
3) Give Artem Anisimov 17-20 minutes a game. Drop Chris Drury and Erik Christensen's ice time. Anisimov's development is way more important than Drury's and, call it a hunch, but I don't think Christensen is coming back next year.
4) Let Henrik Lundqvist get his 30 wins and then start seriously considering giving him serious rest, if the team keeps losing. He deserved better, but not allowing him to get 30 wins on the season would be a disgrace.
5) Give Brandon Prust serious minutes. This kid seems to show flashes of brilliance, let's see what he is made out of.
6) Start putting games in the hands of Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. Give them serious minutes and put them on the ice in pressure cooker situations. The only way they will learn is if they play there.
7) Dump whatever space they can in order to prepare for the off-season. Go hard after enforcing defenseman, and some secondary scoring. Use guys like Dan Girardi (who I happen to love) as trade bait for team like Chicago who need to unload some space.
Can the Rangers still make the playoffs? Of course they can. Is it likely? No, at least not the way they have been playing.