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We Have A Little Problem

The Rangers are in trouble. Not just little trouble, like we saw at spots during last season.

Through the first nine games of the season, your Broadway Blueshirts are lagging in fourth place out of five in the Atlantic Division, with the only team below them at 1-6 having dismissed head coach and GM. True to form, they are trailing the Islanders, Penguins, Devils, sitting at 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Remember, these are Larry Brooks' Stanley Cup favorite Rangers. These are the Rangers who were supposed to vie with the Hurricanes and Sabres for Eastern Conference supremacy. These were the Rangers who were supposed to face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the finals.

It's scary, man. Really scary. And there are lots of things to blame for it- the defense has not been playing up to its standards of yesteryear. King Henrik is nowadays looking more like unstable Lord Protector Henrik and the defense playing in front of him has looked incapable.

The problem is... the offense and special teams aren't so hot either. And with good reason, the focus comes back to the shoulder of our superstar: Jaromir F'in Jagr. Although Jaro has notched a nearly league-leading 12 assists, he has failed to register anything in the goals department, netting only two lamplighters that came nearly two weeks ago.

Shanahan has been nice and Nylander is playing up to his standards from last year. But the Rangers have lacked that pizzazz- the ability to score a little bit, but to score enough when it counts. And that responsibility falls on the shoulders (pardon the pun) of Jaro, who hasn't been making the team (and the power play) go like he was expected to.

And what hurts most is that Jagr's sustaining pain is compounded in Ranger failure by turnovers and inability to finish on offense. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the team's defense is bloated. Loaded with contracts of professional bums like Sandis and Darius Kasparaitis, the Rangers are stuck with high-priced players who aren't carrying the load.

I will give this team some time, but after having finished more than one-tenth of the season, color me unimpressed and wary of the false hope that inundated us last year.

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