Here are few players that have simply not played well enough to deserve my praise so far this season:
Brandon Dubinsky: I get it. I know his whole game revolves around hustle and grit, but where has Duby gone? He’s still skating hard, but he looks lost. He falls to the ice much too often, he mishandles the puck on crisp passes, and he’s out of place on the ice. One goal so far this season will not cut it, and he needs to get his act together. I recently proposed trading him now for a solid defenseman before other teams find out he’s not as good as we all thought.
Brian Boyle: This one is disappointing. This guy was so vital to the team last season, scoring goals at all the right times. He’s such a big body, he should be screening the goalie on power plays and putting home the rebounds. His skating hasn’t been as good this year as it was last season, either (call Barb Underhill now!)
Mike Rupp: I know he’s missed time because of his knee, but I really hate Rupp. He’s such a Torts guy because he’s a gritty veteran who’s physical and knows the game. But flat out, he cannot play up to this team’s speed. He looks sluggish and is lagging ass. The only thing he’s good for is saving Prust from fighting every game.
Now here’s a list of players who have exceeded my expectation this season:
Brad Richards: I think it’s safe to say that no one was completely ecstatic about this offseason signing. Not that I wasn’t happy; I loved that we were going to have someone to run the point on the power play and some veteran presence. But wow, this guy is shining. He’s such a threat on offense, and as expected, helps us on the power play by carrying the puck into the opposing zone as opposed to dumping it aimlessly like we did all last season. Most importantly, though, he’s mentoring the young guys, like Stepan and Del Zotto, guys who can easily get in a slump and lost confidence. Richie is officially a Ranger and I love it.
Derek Stepan: I would never have thought Step would look this good. I’ve always been critical because of his lack of speed and his slump after that hat trick debut last season. I think it’s safe to say now that he is easily one of the best passers in the NHL. Plus, he’s stepped up his intensity and has amazing vision of the rink. He is one of our most consistent players and he does great things when he gets the puck.
Artem Anisimov: Aside from having great aim with a hockey-stick-shotgun, Anisimov has elevated his game to a whole new level. He is now an every game scoring threat, and has great awareness; he always seems to be in the perfect place to drive home a juicy rebound. Five goals in eight games since December 3rd, Artie is really exciting right now.
Marion Gaborik: Oh boy, do I have a man crush on this guy right now. Gaborik is easily playing the best hockey of his career as a Ranger. He’s quick, crafty and has been a sniper with the wrister. Currently second in the league in goals, everytime Gabby gets the puck, I know something good is about to happen.
This is not to take away from anyone. Of course Cally, Hank, Del Zotto, Girardi, etc., are playing amazing. These guys all just stood out. Comments? Additions? Criticisms? Let’s Go Rangers.