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The Rangers Arnott In Trouble

JASON ARNOTT UPDATE: At 7:27PM Eastern time, news came down that the 1 year contract will not happen. He was not cleared by team doctors over the weekend, so the deal is off. The question is if/how GM Glen Sather fills the void of the void he was trying to fill.

A common theme for the New York Rangers this season is getting off to a slow start. That applies to how they started the season (losing their first two games), and to how they’ve come out of the gate in most of their games this season (the home victory vs. Boston being the lone exception). Tonight was no different, but the Rangers rallied in the 3rd period, and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.

There has been some panic amongst Rangers fans this week with their rough start to the season. The fans main concerns have been the power play and the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. After the 1st period, it seemed that the concerns held water. Toronto held a 2-0 lead heading in to the 1 st intermission on 3 shots. The first goal was a result of a rare, bad defensive play by Dan Girardi. Toronto center Mikhail Grabhovski was left alone on the doorstep and had no trouble beating Lundqvist to open
the scoring. The second goal came courtesy of James vanRiemsdyk on the power play near the end of the 1st period. The Rangers started to wake up a bit in the 2nd period. 5:43 in to the 2nd frame, the Blueshirts top line of Nash-Richards-Gaborik were at it again. Brad Richards backhanded a rebound past James Reimer to cut the Leafs lead to 1. Despite the lead, Toronto only had 9 shots on goal through 2 periods (to the Rangers 25 SOG).

Marian Gaborik celebrates
Marian Gaborik celebrates the eventual game winning goal for the Rangers. Gaborik had four points in the win.
(Scott Levy – NHLI/Getty Images)

Any concerns that Rangers fans had coming in to the game may have been quelled a bit after the way the Rangers performed in the 3rd period tonight. Defenseman Marc Staal started the avalanche 7:36 in to the 3rd (the first goal scored by a Rangers defenseman this season) to even the game at 2. A little over five minutes later, New York’s top line was at it again – this time it was Marian Gaborik lighting the lamp for his 4th goal of the season. The Rangers would never look back, with goals coming from Brian Boyle and an empty-netter from Gaborik.

You don’t want to label games one week in to the season with hyperbole like this was a “Must Win” game for the Blueshirts. But they had a tough schedule to start the year (Boston twice, Pittsburgh, @Philadelphia), and championship contenders beat non-playoff teams like Toronto at home. A loss to the  Maple Leafs at MSG would have been cause for alarm. It can’t be said enough in a shortened/condensed season that a small losing streak is magnified, and there’s less wiggle room to get out of a self-created hole. The next step for them is building off this win. The Blueshirts have the Philadelphia Flyers & Pittsburgh Penguins again this week. With both games being at The Garden, coming out of those games with three points is crucial.

Jason Arnott has found a new home on Broadway
Jason Arnott has found a new home on Broadway
(Christian Pedersen – Getty Images)

Earlier today, the Rangers signed veteran forward Jason Arnott. He provides the Rangers with size (6’5” – 220lbs), playoff experience (13 playoff appearances), and a
Stanley Cup (2000 with New Jersey). The days of being a 40-50 point performer are behind him (he had 34 points last season in St. Louis, 31 in New Jersey/Washington the previous season), but he is a John Tortorella type of player. The Rangers are still looking for consistency among their 2 nd and 3rd lines, and Arnott should bring stability there. He still maintains a home in the Dallas area (credit HOHM’s Stars Reporter Michelle Kelly), so this could be a last effort at a Stanley Cup in his 20 th season. Arnott will be
playing for his 7th NHL franchise.

PLUS: Benn Ferreiro – Ferreiro was acquired earlier in the week from Pittsburgh in a swap of fringe NHL/AHL players (the Rangers sent winger Chad Kolarik back to the Penguins AHL affiliate, the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins). After chipping in with an assist for the Connecticut Whale (the Rangers AHL affiliate) earlier this week, Ferreiro made his Blueshirt debut on Saturday night. This was his 3 rd game in 4 days on 3 different teams. He started tonight’s game on the wing, but finished playing center.

MINUS: Rangers Power Play – The Blueshirts went 0 for 4 with the man-advantage tonight. That puts them at __ for the season. I think the problem is that they don’t win the face-off to start the power play often enough. While Brad Richards has been playing well with Nash & Gaborik at even strength, he can’t seem to consistently win draws on the PP. I’d have Boyle or Jeff Halpern (two fantastic trigger-men) take the face-off and then cycle them off when the opportunity presents itself.

The Rangers Arnott In Trouble
The Rangers celebrate the first of their five goals on the evening – this one courtesy of Brad Richards.
(Associated Press)

BROADWAY HAT RECIPIENT (The players choice MVP for each game): D Marc Staal (1 Goal, 1 Assist, +4, 3 hits)

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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