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Monday, April 25, 2011

Enough's Enough

photo courtesy: NHL/Getty Images

Thank you, Alex Ovechkin and your Washington Capitals. The Rangers needed that.  They needed a five-game reminder of how far away they are from true contention in the Eastern Conference, let alone the NHL as a whole.

The Capitals outscored the Blueshirts by just five goals overall in winning their first round series, but the talent disparity might as well have been 50.  Ovechkin, Alex Semin, and Marcus Johansson were far more impressive than any Ranger.

They were fast.  They controlled the puck.  They created quality chance after quality chance.

There is no Great 8 in NYC.  There's no Crosby, Datsyuk, Kane, Stamkos or even one Sedin.

The Rangers need a top line, a trio that can dominate a game shift to shift or turn the tide of one before the opponent pulls away for good.  And hopefully Glen Sather isn't the man charged with finding those elite talents.

Sather has redeemed himself in NYC to a certain extent.  Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and turning Scott Gomez into Ryan McDonagh have partially wiped Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure and the ugly Brian Leetch divorce from memory  But what Lindros, Bure, Gomez and Chris Drury show is that Sather has swung-and-missed too much on top-tier talent.

The late Alexei Cherepanov might have changed that.  Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Michael Del Zotto still might, but the rest of the Rangers and their fans shouldn't have to wait.  Hank just completed another Vezina-Trophy-worthy season, but how many more does he have in him?  Enough of his prime has been wasted already.

The UFA forward class begins and ends with Brad Richards.  If he leaves Dallas, he will not come to Broadway cheap, with Los Angeles and Toronto very interested.  Maybe an RFA offer sheet is the best way to add talent.  Or maybe a trade that involves one of the young roster players.

Either way, this summer must be about skill.  It must be about the players who will score to make all that defense and goaltending stand-up.  And this summer must be run by someone other than Slats.

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