Rangers’ second half begins on Tuesday

Sitting here watching the Eastern All-Stars enjoy a big first period lead got me thinking about the New York Rangers and what they need to finally live up to their potential for the second half of the season. Feel free to add in your own thoughts and ideas or agree or disagree as well.

1- Shoot the puck. Then shoot it some more.
– Biggest culprits here are Chris Drury and Martin Straka. There’s a reason that Drury is making $7 million a year for the Rangers and it’s not to just win faceoffs. He has a knack for finding the back of the net, and he needs to start shooting more to show us that. Straka is a great playmaker and seems to be making everyone that he plays with better, but when he shoots, he scores. It would add another weapon to the Rangers repetoir if he shot just a little more. Michal Rozsival needs to not be afraid of a booming point shot as well.

2 – More bodies in front of the net.
– When Petr Prucha is on the ice, he can be found around the net. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great, but Prucha is 175 pounds and gets knocked around. Rotate in and out of the crease. Sean Avery is there on the powerplay, but lets get Brendan Shanahan, Drury, Orr and even some defensemen skating through causing havok on the netminder. Paul Mara or Fedor Tyutin pinching in and screening a goalie might work if it’s not done often.

3 – Accept that Jaromir Jagr is no longer the force he used to be
– Sure he’s still good and will undoubtedly score more goals this season, but he’s not going to have 40 goals a season anymore. The offense is not going to flow through him like it used to. Make it go through Prucha, Nigel Dawes and Brandon Dubinsky.

4 – Stop with the stupid, lazy penalties.
– Jagr is most guilty of it, as are Marek Malik and Marcel Hossa. You just don’t see Prucha, Dawes, Shanahan and Gomez in the penalty box.

5 – Play much more physical.
– Take the body, especially at the blueline. The defense is physical with Dan Girardi and Tyutin, and Marc Staal is looking better and better, but Mara and Rozsival need to step in and crunch someone. Bring back the hip check. Make the other team pay for camping out in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Not everyone has to be Avery or Ryan Hollweg, but it would be nice to see Jagr, Straka, Shanahan and Drury start taking the body more as well.

6 – Play for 60 minutes.
– If you don’t want to commit to a 60 minute game every other day, clean out your locker. Show up for every period and give it your best. The second period no longer should be referred as “the bad period” and the team shouldn’t come alive with just 15 minutes left to play.

Anything to add? Anything you just don’t agree with? Let me know. Enjoy the rest of this all star game. I’ll be on frequently from now until Tuesday so I will talk to everyone again soon.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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