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Rangers vs. Oshawa, Looming deadlines

As we move closer to January 10th, it almost seems like everything that happened prior to the deadline doesn't matter. With teams like Sarnia and London getting significantly better (at least on paper) and Saginaw and Erie getting significantly worse (again, at least on paper), where will things go from here?

Saginaw and Erie weren't really making a lot of noise this season. The teams sit 9th and 10th respectively in the Western conference, so it really wasn't a surprise to see them sell the farm and land numerous key draft picks and young players. The otters have only won 5 games this season, and the Spirit aren't much better at only 16. Both teams will certainly be looking to make some noise over the next couple seasons.

The most surprising move for me, is the Sarnia Sting. Here's a team that has gone 3-7 in there last 10 without Nail Yakupov in the lineup. To me, that screams that the team lacks depth. During the gold medal game on Thursday, Yakupov left with a knee injury on crutches, and is likely to miss a significant amount of time. So they bet the future of the franchise, by sending picks as far away as 2017, to try and make a championship run when they sit in 4th at the half way point. It really doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but i've been wrong before.

So what do the Rangers have to do? Well in order to go anywhere this season they need more than Radek Faksa to score goals. Last night against the Generals, they were badly outplayed and outshot the entire game. Could it be that the team chose to take an off night? Could be, or maybe it's just good luck ending at the same time as December did.

One thing is for sure; this team needs to get its special teams going. The power play is a joke most of the time, and the penalty kill also needs a significant amount of work. The Rangers went 1/4 tonight, while Oshawa when 2/5. Kitchener had plenty of opportunity on the power play when they were down by only a goal, and they failed to capitalize. Down by 2 heading in to the third, they failed to generate any good scoring chances and allowed a goal against. Suddenly this high flying Ranger squad looked a lot like the team everyone expected them to be pre-season, ie lackluster efforts, and essentially getting run over by the competition.

Of course this was only one game, so it's not time to panic. But this needs to be the stinker of a game that is also a wake up call to the boys in blue: you can't take a single night off in this league.

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