It may be a bit premature, especially considering the fact we’re ten games into the season, but with the best New York team being the Isles, there could be trouble brewing for the other area clubs. However, much has changed in the landscape of both the Rangers and the Devils that the causes for concern could be just a chemistry issue.
First, you look at the Rangers. This is a team who went out and decided they had enough money to basically do what they did before the lockout, which was get the best players’ money could by. In this case, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, both are coming from the free agent frenzy. Yet, at the beginning of this season—only Drury seems to be comfortable enough with the system Tom Renney is running to get some consistency on the score sheet. Gomez has been shuffled around the line-up, which could cause for a lack of production as the comfortability factor is not there.
What should sting even worse is that the Rangers have a league-worst 16 goals-for this young season. With the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Drury, and Gomez; this team should have more than 16 goals in 10 games. It begs the question of how much did Michael Nylander mean to this squad?? Oddly enough, the Rangers have only given up 21 goals, thanks to the work horsemanship of Henrik Lundqvist.
With the struggles early, you have to wonder when or if Jaromir Jagr will become a disturbance to this club, as well as how long before Tom Renney gets shown the door, should the struggles continue.
Moving through the tunnel over to New Jersey and the stink of the sulfur isn’t the only thing that is foul in Jersey. The Devils have gotten off to an awful start, no thanks to nine straight on the road as their new building, the Prudential Center, was finished and Bon Jovi finally stopped squatting on the land.
With new coach Brent Sutter behind the bench, we have been able to see John Madden and Jay Pandolfo flourish in the hard-nose system; yet with the departure of Gomez and Brian Rafalski—the Devils have lost some of their kick.
The kick was seemingly to the groin, as the normally defensive sound Devils haven’t been showing their true defensive form, giving up 34 goals in 10 games. Martin Brodeur appears almost human in net, as he is sporting a 3.30 GAA and .876 SV%.
The offense for the Devils is just as atrocious, with the team being shutout on two occasions already this season. Throughout the 82-game schedule in ’05-’06, the Devils were shutout the same amount. The absence of both Gomez and Rafalski are being shown on each end of the ice, with Gomez’s set-up prowess being missed most; especially by Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta.
Like I said—it’s still early and I don’t want to get all Eric Francis on the Rangers and Devils saying they won’t make the playoffs after 10 games; I’m not a presumptuous ass. However, for these teams to be struggling as badly as they have been, it could make people put their finger on the button—albeit very early.