Sunday, July 22, 2012

Who will be the 2012-2013 Ranger whipping boy?

(courtesy New York Rangers)
It has almost become an annual New York Ranger tradition; each year for good (and many times not so good) reasons becomes the target of the Ranger fan's ire. Get rid of him the fans will demand for he is hurting the team and once he is gone all will be well.

There are many reasons for why fans get angry at a particular player from his contract to the hype surrounding his potential. Sometimes the fans are right and sometimes I hate to say this but they leave me wondering what the heck they are thinking.

So with no further ado here are the early favorites for the 2012-2013 Ranger fan whipping boy. (The choices are alphabetical so the order does not matter)

Artem Anisimov- Anisimov makes the list because there is no questioning that he has talent but the problem is consistency. Just when you think AA is going to break through and go on a run; he disappears for a stretch.

One game Anisimov deserves to be the first line center and in the next he is pulling 4th line duty. This will be his 4th season as a Ranger and it is time for Anisimov to become a regular contributor or Do svidanya comrade.

Arron Asham- Asham has a lot going against him right from the get go; replacing a very popular fan favorite in Brandon Prust (even though nobody in their right mind gives him the contract the Canadians did) means Asham has almost zero margin of error.

Toss in being 34 and slower than a snail on the ice and you have a whipping boy just waiting to be born on Broadway. Want to know the worst thing about Asham?

It is going to the number of times that NBC announcers are going to tell us that Asham has played for all of the teams in the Atlantic Division. Prepare to bring your barfy bags folks; they will be needed.

Michael Del Zotto- really doesn't belong here but winds up here anyway because there remain enough Ranger fans who will trade him in a heartbeat. So what if he is just 22 as to many a Ranger fan, they can only see his mistakes.

The mistake those fans make is Del Zotto is the best hope for offense from the blueline. Del Zotto by all rights was rushed to the NHL by the Rangers and he has worked hard to overcome his worst enemy, himself.

I will place some of the blame for Del Zotto's problems on John Tortorella. You blame the coach for failing to use Del Zotto's strengths (on the attack) while hiding hiding his weaknesses (stop waiting for McIlrath and use Girardi with him).

Brandon Dubinsky- The 3 time winner of "Ranger whipping boy" may or may not be back to defend his title. Of the 3 times that Dubi has "won" this honor; last year was the only real time he deserved it because of the non-production.

Can't argue with that but Dubinsky rubs many a Ranger fan wrong because of what is perceived as an attitude bordering on arrogance. I admit my bias in defending Dubi because of my friendship with his father but I also think Ranger fans don't realize what they call arrogance; I call him a real New Yorker.

Dubinsky is really what a real New Yorker would be if he was a Ranger. There is no grey area with Dubi either you love the kid who bleeds Ranger Blue or you can't stand him.

I know Dubi well enough to know that nobody was more disappointed in his production last season than he was. He will do whatever he has to in order to not have a repeat season.

Marc Staal- he doesn't belong here at all but after reading some of the comments over at The New York Ranger's Blog think people are being harsh on Staal.

For starters other than John Tortorella, Staal was never hyped as having any real offensive game. At best 30-35 points out of him is a realistic expectation but I never ever heard anyone hyping at having a Brian Leetch-like game not even Tortorella.

I also think people don't realize just how important being able to get in the off-season work and training camp really is. Staal missed out on both last year and it showed.

I won't deny that if not this upcoming season then the next that Ryan McDonagh will become the number one defenseman on the Rangers but until then Marc Staal remains top dog. His numbers will never show his value to the Rangers but you will notice what he meant once he is gone.

Dylan McIlrath- winds up here because there remain Ranger fans who are still fixated on Cam Fowler. McIlrath will never be an offensive threat but if he fully recovers from his dislocated patella then he will change the Ranger blueline with his presence.

First off he was drafted to give Del Zotto the defensive partner who will cover up for Del Zotto's weak defensive play. Second his size and mean streak is going to have people comparing him to Scott Stevens when it comes to physical play.

The best reason for liking McIlrath is that his play will allow Tortorella to use 3 defensive pairs almost equally meaning no more 27-30 minute games for others. If you don't think having fresh players is important then not sure what to tell you.

My own Ranger whipping boy team starts with Taylor Pyatt as I am still wondering why he was signed. His presence is going to give the Rangers the highest paid 4th line in the NHL.

Jeff Halpern is going to have me praying that Oscar Lindberg is a very fast learner. Other than faceoffs, Halpern really doesn't fit the Tortorella mode and 36, what does he have left in the tank?

Brian Boyle makes my list because if you want to trash Dubi for his non-production then how come Boyle gets a pass? Boyle tripled his salary on the strengths of a 21 goal season then went out and scored all of 11.

The Ranger's checking center didn't get the job done on faceoffs either which is why Jeff Halpern got a Ranger contract. And while I am a Dubi supporter how does a guy who is 6'7 only have 3 fighting majors?

If I am missing something then please someone tell me what Boyle does to earn his keep?

If they resign Steve Eminger I will understand why but still won't like it. Eminger is the wrong guy to ask to be your 7th defender as if he doesn't play then he gets rusty in a heartbeat.

And I would like to add Mike Sullivan even though he is the assistant coach but someone needs to be held accountable for the continued impotence AKA the Ranger power play. If special teams is his job then forgive me but how many years do we have to wait before someone figures out how to fix the power play?

Rick Nash- Sure he is not a Ranger yet but why wait until he is a Ranger? Everyone blames the team but I have to ask at what point do you look at the player and ask why he doesn't make his teammates better?

That is what a star player is supposed to do and I have to wonder how Nash is going to handle the heat of the Ranger fans when he is not putting up 30-40 goals? I don't think he will handle the microscope known as the Ranger universe well at all.

Did I miss anyone? We have plenty of room to add more whipping boys you know.

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