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Center Ice roundup: Alex Frolov, Scott Gordon and a new All-Star format

 -- Wrote this column off the Rangers’ latest home breakdown last night, which praised Brian Boyle as much as it criticized a few other Rangers forwards.

This was a very winnable game against a talented opponent; the Rangers controlled play for much of the final two periods, only to have a weak clearing attempt by Alex Frolov turn into the winner for the Caps in the third.

Frolov came here as a last-ditch effort to save his NHL career. His only other offer was a multi-year deal in the KHL, but he rejected that, telling me back in August that he wanted to play in the best league in the world.

He hasn’t dispelled any of the complaints that dogged him over his final two seasons with the Kings: Slow, unable to create his own offense and a bit of a liability defensively.

 

He got plenty of chances last night to break out on the score sheet, and he didn’t take advantage. The lack of offense outside of the Ryan Callahan-Artem Anisimov-Brandon Dubinsky line and Boyle is not solely on Frolov -- as I pointed out, Ruslan Fedotenko is drifting and Erik Christensen may have seen his last meaningful minutes for a while -- but Frolov is the one Ranger forward with a history of producing.

 

-- The Islanders embark on a three-game swing through California, starting tonight in Anaheim. The seven-game losing streak has the whole hockey world whispering that Scott Gordon’s job is in jeopardy, despite the denials.

 

I can’t see Gordon getting canned for a few reasons, but the main one is economics. Gordon has just this year left on his contract, so it wouldn’t cost too much extra to pay him for the remainder of the year and find a new coach. But who do the Islanders have around to take over midseason?

 

Dean Chynoweth would be the obvious candidate, having been a head coach at the junior level; Butch Goring, the Isles’ color commentator, was the Isles coach a decade ago, so he has experience too and he’s been around the team.

 

If the Islanders need a jolt, then Garth Snow could pull the trigger; the East is as mediocre as ever, so the Isles are far from out of it.

 

After a solid little start, it’s easy to see why the Islanders are floundering, and why Gordon doesn’t bear the brunt of the blame. Without Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald, the team is short on puck-movers on the blue line; Rick DiPietro is still working out the kinks; and the forwards, never a powerhouse group, are really missing Kyle Okposo.

 

So Gordon could certainly go, though it would be a mistake. It’s hard to see where this team will become more cohesive with a new coach, particularly since Snow wouldn’t go far outside the organization to find someone for the interim.

 

-- The NHL’s general managers met on Tuesday and the only concrete change they came away with was a new format for the All-Star Game. Fans pick the starters and the captains basically choose sides from a pool of players selected by the league.

 

Nice to change things up, I suppose, but how this will translate to more interest from fans, I don’t really know. All-Star games seem to be more and more obsolete in all leagues; the NHL could certainly benefit from a World Cup in February more than a game of choose-up shinny every year.


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