Rangers Need to Make Armstrong and Leafs Pay in Next Game

Just a short post hell-bent on some revenge for tomorrow night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

All preseason long we heard the New York Rangers tell us how this season was not going to be like last. Aside from the obvious changes needed, such as an increase in scoring and more sound defense, the Rangers were going to work on team toughness and sticking up for one another. The main need for this toughness was on the blue line, and as the off-season ended, the Rangers made zero moves to improve their back line, with the exception of bringing in the well-traveled and oft-penalized for bad positioning defensmen, Steve Eminger.

But even so, the Rangers said they were going to get tougher. For forwards, they signed Derek Boogaard to an unheard of four-year deal which paid him more than the team’s second highest leading scorer from last season, Vinny Prospal. The reason for this was desperation—desperation for a player that can knock an opponent’s lights out at any given time, via a hit or punch.

Through six preseason games and four regular season games, this player, Derek Boogaard is yet to get into a single fight. I do not have a problem with this, because there is no player who would want to risk fighting the player some label as the best in the game in that department. Boogaard has played decent hockey, or at least better than Brashear, last year’s enforcer. He has laid some nice checks, but other than that, nothing else. This is not his fault, after all, he got two minutes of ice time in the last game against the hard-hitting Avalanche, even after Lundqvist was run repeatedly.

Tomorrow night, the Rangers will visit Toronto for a rematch with the Maple Leafs. It was on Friday night, during the Rangers’ home opener, that the Leafs handed the Rangers a 4-3 overtime loss, but even greater than that was the loss of Marian Gaborik for the next three weeks. Gaborik, the team’s offensive leader in every category last season, was checked from behind by Colby Armstrong in the second period, and he suffered a shoulder injury. Though Armstrong was penalized for the hit, that is not enough. The Rangers need to make Armstrong pay tomorrow night, that is, if they want people to think opponents will be dealing with a different team this season.

The Rangers have been Kleenex soft for more than two seasons now, and they need to act on this. I am not advocating a Bertuzzi-like response, but a simple bone crushing check and maybe a behind-the-ref dirty slash or two may do the trick. Armstrong is no angel himself, and I’m sure he can handle what the Rangers throw at him.

This would not even be a topic for discussion if it was not such a problem, but only four games into the season it already is. If the Rangers don’t show toughness now, they never will. It is time that the Blueshirts stop getting tossed around like a girl’s rag doll.

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