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Renney had to go, but so does the captain

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foxsports admin

 
   
 
That step the Rangers have been missing of late hasn't been missing from the bench. It's been missing from the ice.

Rangers react

Tom Renney Video: Tom Renney took the fall for the Rangers' recent slide. Hear what the Rangers players said about the firing.
Sure, it was time for coach Tom Renney to go. In the midst of the team's worst road losing streak in four decades, he's had zero ideas for jumpstarting the offense. It's an offense peppered with distinctive talent — Nikolai Zherdev's puck-handling, Markus Naslund's shot, Scott Gomez's speed — but Renney and his staff have found no system, no line combinations, and no set plays to take advantage of any of it. It's not just about the power play, either — woeful as that has been. It's about game after game, the team taking the ice and doing the fundamentals right by forechecking hard, finishing their checks, and screening the opposing goalie, only to see every offensive rush dissolve into a dizzying and demoralizing display of one-too-many-passes, nothing-but-dump-ins, and — in a new version in Sunday night's game against Toronto — simply leaving the puck tenderly at the foot of the opposing goalie's pads. It sucks the life out of the team, visibly and understandably.
And who was it who epitomized these uncoordinated, creativity-less offensive rushes by leaving that puck gingerly before the goalie's pads? Chris Drury. While Renney has been a step slow on the bench, the Rangers' captain has been a step slow on the ice — actually, two steps slow. One step has been on offense: passes to nowhere, shots that don't create rebounds, and work along the boards that simply kills time. The other slow step has been on defense. Renney's lasting contribution to today's Rangers team has been instilling a defense-first, hard-working mentality that was lost amidst the flurry of overpaid stars who floated fleetingly across the Garden ice for a decade: Lindros, Bure, Nedved, and so on. But Drury, the team's captain, has failed in his own end, time after time being responsible for goals that the Rangers can't afford to surrender, especially given their anemic offense. Sunday night Drury flopped again — twice. First, just 25 seconds after the Rangers had tied up the game, Drury's foolish and patently irresponsible lunging on defense led allowed the Leafs to immediately retake the lead. Then, in overtime, the Rangers faced a 4-on-3 power play. Drury's lackadaisical failure to challenge the Leafs' shooter — while also failing to clear the screen in front of his own goalie — was the difference. That's right: of the Leafs' three goals, two were Drury's fault. Of course, Drury has been a proven winner — elsewhere. But it's not working in New York, and frankly he's not working in New York. When the Rangers' forwards have restored the team's solid defensive play for stints this season, it has been behind the leadership of Naslund and others. Drury has proven nothing short of a liability — a very high-priced liability at that. The trade deadline approacheth. It's not too late to salvage this Rangers' season. The right coaching staff can squeeze a few more drops of scoring out of the team's dripping offense. The also-overpaid Wade Redden and his defensive corps can regain their confidence on both ends of the ice. The goaltending remains solid. But Drury's got to go. Some contender surely wants him — but a highly paid star who surrenders goals rather than scoring them just doesn't fit into the Blueshirts' system any more. Actually, there is someone out there who could help the team. He's a proven scorer when wearing a Rangers sweater. He also adds much needed physicality to a chronically small squad. He even assisted on a game-winning goal in overtime Sunday night. And he's already making his way back to New York ... Sean Avery: how would you like to wear No. 23 this go-around in New York?
Tagged: Wade Redden, Nikolay Zherdev, Scott Gomez, Markus Naslund, Rangers

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