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How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17


Neil Colville - 1914


  Born: Mar 26 - 1919  
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Grading The Rangers
Posted by Daniel Akeson ≡ - January 4, 2008

The Rangers have been a team of streaks and inconsistencies this season. Until recently, the Rangers have bounced around line combinations, players, rookies, and veterans without much continued success. However, the past few games have been encouraging, despite two disappointments in Canada, and will most likely be the line combinations for the remainder of the season.

Line 1

*Martin Straka* - Grade B: Straka is the most consistent Ranger. He is a constant force that makes few mistakes aside from being too unselfish and not shooting at points. Straka is , and Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr agree, the most defensively responsible player on the line and allows Gomez and Jagr to be creative and cheat at points, knowing Straka is back checking. He continues to battle injury and that has really hurt (no pun intended) over the past couple of seasons. In what will likely be his final NHL season he is giving it his all, but will need to stay healthy to be effective.

*Scott Gomez* - Grade B+: In what has been a difficult transition for the young center, Gomez has taken over the Rangers scoring lead and been on a career hot streak leading into the New Year. Despite bouncing around lines, Gomez's speed through the neutral zone has become a deadly asset for the offense and now working power play. It has taken some time for Gomez to adjust to Jagr, but it now seems to be working. At times, he out thinks himself, could shoot more, and has a tendency to throw a blind pass, but he has embraced New York , the media, and his teammates and will continue to grow as a Ranger for the rest of the season.

*Jaromir Jagr* - Grade C+: The Captain has had a tough run offensively this season, setting career lows. However, his commitment to defense and back checking has been greater than any point in his career. At points during the season he has looked disinterested, dissatisfied, and frustrated but has continued to work and share his wisdom to the rookies of the team. While trade rumors swirled about him and many doubted him, Jagr has begun to pick his game up and mesh well with Gomez. With only 86 points and a playoff round victory assuring him as a Ranger next season, the "Big Guy" is going to have to go on quite a tear.

Line 2

*Sean Avery* - Grade B+: Avery is the biggest difference maker for the Rangers aside from Lundqvist. The Rangers are a mere .500 team without him and his presence changes the complexity of every game. Despite his penalties, Avery is a gritty forward that has a knack for the net despite his aggressive style on the ice. The fans adore him, his teammates appreciate his efforts, and the opposition hates him. However, his health is a concern. He has missed multiple games this season due to injury and if his inconsistent health persists, he isn't going to be able to help the club much. Can he maintain his style without continuously getting injured? That will remain the question.

*Chris Drury* - Grade: B: Drury is the most overlooked Ranger. He is a strong willed character guy on the ice and has proven his leadership this season through a Brian Leetch-esque quiet persona. While his offense has struggled, he has been mired in third line minutes for the majority of the season and inconsistent power play linemates. Through all of this he has taken personal responsibility and not complained about any of it. His team mentality is encouraging and refreshing for this group. In this second line role, he has begun to flourish into the offensive force that fans hoped they were getting, but at the same time keeping an even keel. Drury's strong suit is the playoffs and playoff run and the Rangers will need that in the second half.

*Brendan Shanahan* - Grade: B+: The pseudo-captain is on pace for similar numbers to last year. His strong offense has been encouraging despite a slow start and he has taken the media off the shoulders of his teammates. He is leader on the team in shots attempted and has brought along the games of Gomez and Avery ten-fold. His North-South style is exactly what Tom Renney is asking and he takes full responsibility for anything that this team does. His speed remains the only issue. Never quite flight of foot, the winger has shown considerable decline in speed as compared to many of the others on the ice. While, in his professionalism, he has been able to adapt, will the full season take a toll on him? If so, it is going to be very difficult to put up second line minutes.

Line 3

*Ryan Callahan* - Grade: C: It is difficult to assess Callahan because of his injuries this season. He hasn't played much and the bit he has played has been in limited third line minutes. He has yet to grab the spark that made him so successful last season and his offensive production is not yet there. You can see he has a tireless work ethic and has brought grit along the boards, but until he catches some confidence he is going to be dead panned where he is.

*Brandon Dubinsky* - Grade: A: Did anyone expect this? Well, Dubinsky did I suppose. The young Alaska native has had a breakout rookie season, spending a lot of time on the first line and fitting right in with the big guns. Now that he has been brought back to Earth a bit, he is a spark on the third line. His speed brings a Gomez-like presence through the neutral zone and he is hard to the net as anyone in the league. He still needs to physically grow into his game and continue to work his offensive skills down low, but should he continue like this, the Rangers have a very strong power forward that they have lacked since...well you know who.

*Petr Prucha *- Grade: C+: Similar to Callahan, Prucha hasn't been able to quite find his groove this season, despite his continued hard work and efforts. He has played stronger over the past couple games leading to the new year, but the feisty winger has yet to capture the scoring touch of his rookie season. He is now receiving much earned power play time and that should also contribute to his offense. Despite being mentioned in trade rumors all season, Prucha should be a top-six forward for years to come.

Line 4

*Ryan Hollweg* - Grade: B: Sean Avery without a scoring touch is a good way to explain Hollweg's game. He is a gritty physical presence and much underrated skater. While his strong offensive skills have yet to show themselves in the NHL, he has been able to curb his penalties and still be an effective shutdown winger. Hollweg has a nice chemistry with this line and will continue to improve into a shutdown winger. He still has some maturing to do and clearing his name of the stigma of a goon, but he is a player you love to have, but hate to play against.

*Blair Betts*- Grade: B+: Betts is perhaps the most dutiful player at his role in all of the NHL. He is defensively responsible, can put the occasional puck in the net, is a strong face-off man, and kills penalties. All of this in very limited minutes. While he hasn't been able to utilize some of the speed and scoring ability he has shown in flashes over the past couple of seasons, Betts continues to play well and keep the other team's best lines at bay.

*Colton Orr* - Grade: B: For a guy that was acquired on waivers, was in and out of the lineup in past seasons, and really doesn't fit the new NHL scheme, Orr has established himself an asset on this team. He has improved his skating without sacrificing his nasty in your face attitude that takes others off their games. He can still on occasion take a bad penalty or make a defensive error, but he serves well for what the coaching staff is asking of him.

The Defense

*Michal Rozsival* - Grade: C+: Many people overrate Rozsival's performance this season. While he has been an offensive spark at points, he has struggled in many of the fundamental parts of the game. In his own zone, he often goes up the middle or loses the puck at the blueline. His outlet passes have been subpar and he is very tentative at the point on the power play. That being said, he has meshed fairly well with rookie Marc Staal. He needs to get back to basics and realize his shot is the reason he is on the point at the power play.

*Marek Malik* - Grade: B: On the converse of Rozsival, too many people underrate Malik's contributions to this team. He is the only defenseman, aside from perhaps Dan Girardi, that makes an effective outlet pass and finds the forwards with relative ease. He is difficult to get around and doesn't get beat often. He plays the bluelines solidly and while he is adept for the occasional defensive gaff, he continues to be stalwart. He has missed some games with injury that has hurt his consistency and at points didn't allow him to get into the lineup. However, he should continue to settle down now that he is again a regular.

*Dan Girardi* - Grade: B+: Perhaps the strongest Ranger defenseman. Girardi makes very few questionable plays and is all about a solid overall game. He has added some offense to his game this season that makes him even more dynamic than he already was. He and partner Fedor Tyutin have found a nice chemistry and play well off each others strengths. While a few speedy forwards have beat him on the outside this season, he is strong along the boards and continues to work at his skating. If he can add a little speed he will be a superior shutdown defenseman.

*Fedor Tyutin* - Grade: B+: Similar to Girardi, Tyutin continues to impress. While the offensive ability that had him so highly touted has come in spurts he has worked his way to a very effective defenseman. With few defensive errors, he is tough along the boards and one of the few NHLers who can throw a hard hip check. His shot continues to improve as well as his passing. If he can find a more consistent scoring niche, he will continue to get power play time.

*Marc Staal* - Grade: B+: Another great Ranger rookie in the making. Staal was nowhere near a lock to make this team, but his strong play forced him into the lineup. He has made the occasional rookie error, but plays an overall solid game. His positioning is strong and he has found some chemistry with Rozsival. At times you can see his speed and offensive skills, but they are not there just yet. He may be the quickest Ranger defenseman and his transition is very strong. He still needs some size, but he plays as if he is 20 pounds heavier. He has grown into his name and is comfortable at the NHL level.

*Paul Mara* - Grade: C: Really the only struggling Ranger defenseman. Touted for his booming shot and offensive ability, Mara has yet been able to capture that offensive skill this season. He has been a bit of a defensive liability while he continues to search for offense, but has settled a bit with Malik. As the highest paid Ranger defenseman, he is not playing to his paycheck, but does add a dimension that Jason Strudwick lacks. He often takes a poor penalty and his knack for going into the corners with one hand on his stick leaves a lot to be desired. If he remains a Ranger, he needs to solidify some consistency in his game.

*Jason Strudwick* - Grade: A: The Ken Gernander of the Rangers. He is a heart and soul guy, a vocal leader, and a mentor to the youths of the squad. They trust him as does the coaching staff, so much so that they brought him back from Europe last year and gave him a valuable spot on this year's squad. He was a regular on the team until recently and not because of his play, but merely needing a spot for both Mara and Malik. He didn't make many mistakes, didn't hurt the Rangers and even scored an OT winner. He will be a coach in the NHL in coming years, something that this administration has admitted.


*Henrik Lundqvist* - Grade: A: Vezina anyone? Nearly leading the league in all goalie categories, "The King" has been outstanding and continues to improve each season. He has embraced the city as they have embraced him and continues to thrive in the spotlight. He is unbeatable down low and makes himself look very big to the opposition. He continues to work on his stickhandling, the only weak part of his game, but he isn't afraid to work on it or admit needing work on it. He is the cornerstone of the franchise, but humble enough of his own and team assessments. Without him, the early woes of the Rangers would have found them in the cellar of the NHL.

*Stephen Valiquette* - Grade: A: He is a great practice goalie and when he has been called on this season, he has shined. Valiquette has a nice relationship with Lundqvist and easily understands his role. The coaching staff and team has had nothing but positive to say about him and he has given the Rangers a chance to win anytime he has been called on. At his contract and in the limited amount of times he plays, he is easily a steal.

*Coach Tom Renney* - Grade: B+: People have doubted Renney since the beginning. However, he has shown everyone in the league his abilities to transform a hodge podge of players into a successful club. While many fans called for his head after the slow start and lack of offense, the coach stood steadfast to his ways and is honest about his team and where they stand, as well as their potential. A straight shooter, Renney instilled a defensive system that has garnered the Rangers success and even Jagr buys into it! He has mismanaged the lines a bit, perhaps not giving certain combinations enough time, but he seems to have found a winning chemistry and will ride it out for a while.

*G.M Glen Sather* - Grade: B+: You can't fault a staff when a team is near the division lead. Sather does have an abundance of talent in the minor leagues that he will need to address or risk losing to free agency, but his off-season moves have played well and he acknowledges a need to tweak the defense. He has surrounded himself with good hockey people and trusts in his staff and players. Sather stays clear of the media, but is concise and poignant when he does speak. This trade deadline will be very telling of Sather's abilities, particularly in former Assistant Don Maloney's absence.

That's it for now. Continue to check in for more articles coming up!

Profile of the Author:
An avid New York Rangers fan, season ticket holder, and New York critic! Feel free to contact me or visit my blog at!

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