2006-03-10 / Sports

New York Hockey Report: A Point For Pock

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

NEW YORK - It was definitely a different Garden debut for defenseman Thomas Pock. The last time he set foot on the 33 rd Street ice, Pock heard a hostile crowd, who voiced their displeasure as the Rangers just traded away their expensive talent.

"Back then they were out of the playoffs," Pock thought after he tallied an assist on the Blueshirts only goal against the Carolina Hurricanes. "The team now is hard working play good hockey. This team can win the Stanley Cup this year and you can tell how good they are. It's definitely a different feel." It's also a different role for the defenseman. After playing six games in 2004 for the Rangers, Pock got back to work and started to harness his abilities in Hartford. Last season, the 24 year-old Austrian played in 50 games with the Wolf Pack, had one goal and five assists.

"I needed some more confidence, because I always had the offense," Pock explained. "I just needed to learn how to adjust to the pro game. I need more adjusting coming up here, because it's a different level. Guys who were superstars in the minors come up here and play the fourth line."

But his season is different. Pock matured into a strong prospect putting up 13 goals and 39 assists in 53 games for the Pack. Along with Mark Staal, Pock is now considered one of the top defensive prospects in the Blueshirts' system.

When asked, coach Tom Renney seemed offended when someone suggested Pock was being showcased as trade bait. It could be the coach trying to increase his player's value, but in reality, it seems the organization has a need for a player like him.

One of the major problems on the Blueshirts is the lack of an offensive defenseman. Because Tom Poti has been so disappointing, Renney is forced to play a forward on the point for the power play, which is something he doesn't want to do.

And in the game on Monday, Renney seemed impressed.

"He didn't do that bad," the coach complimented. "He moved the puck well and shot it well. He passed the puck with authority. He did look like rookie on occasion, but that's going to happen." Towards the end of the game, Renney did find space for Pock on the power play. "That's an area we can certainly use him," Renney said. "He has a shot and can move it well."

So maybe Pock can be the answer on the point for the Rangers if he can find that offensive touch. He is still young and can be molded to play in the NHL game and with Staal expected to join the Blueshirts next season as well, the team will have a young nucleus to build upon.

Right now though, Pock is just concerned with his own play.

"Whatever happens, happens," he said. "They can keep me up here or they can send me down; it's something I can't control. All I can control is my work effort and what I can do myself."

But if he sticks around, Pock can become an impact for the Rangers in the playoffs.

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