Thursday, February 26, 2009

"SAFE is DEATH..."

It's reportedly the motto of our new head coach. After a 2-1 shootout loss, the proof was on the ice. Mike Pelino, roll the video tape...

This was actually the first game I and I'm guessing many of you were excited to watch in a long time. The eyes of the hockey world was upon our team, kiddies... and if you look at the score. It would appear nothings changed. It would appear... Anyone watching the last 12 games, knew the difference right away. All of us closet skeptics told ourselves secretly, to keep our expectations low. It kind of goes hand in hand with being a Ranger fan for more than a season or two.

Ranger fans, your first period is sponsored by Red Bull.
-Our Beloved Blueshirts came out flying in the first. Energy, Purpose and Conviction. From hits to 2 man fore checks, this was a team that believed it could win the game and would win the game for its new coach...for themselves... and what the hay, maybe for all of us, too. How high was the fire stoked under the collective ass of this team? Naslund dropped his gloves for the first time since 93 and hugged the daylights out of a leaf.(I was hoping it was some kind of UFC choke, but it turned out Naslund isn't skilled in the fisticuffs dept. and isn't as dumb as Aaron "Punch me again, I think I saw Jesus last time..." Voros. What matters is Nazzy, showed some attitude... and it drew a smirk from his new coach. Our early aggression looked like it might wind up costing us early though as 2 successive penalties gave the leafs a 5 on 3. Even though they didn't convert, I imagine there was a some calming words that preached a slightly more careful, measured yet energetic approach in between periods.

Ranger fans, your second period is sponsored by Starbucks
- After an energetic first period, the Rangers stayed the course for much of the second. They channeled most of their aggression at the net this time and had Toskala scrambling to keep the game scoreless. Then it happened. On a man advantage, our team actually set up and took shots from the point? WTF?!?!? just when you think you've seen everything, the players spread out...cycled, rotated and start moving their feet. A pass from Rozi and one Wade Redden Slapshot later, we were up 1-0 and our 7 Million Dollar dud got his first goal in 57 games. Just then, every one of us closet skeptics jumped out of our seat, screamed "TORTARELLA IS A F*CKIN GENIUS; MAY AS WELL GIVE US THE CUP RIGHT NOW!!!" Ok, maybe that was just me... The leafs started to pick up their game a little and gave us a few scares as the period ended.

Ranger Fans, your third period is about to be haunted by Tom Renney's ghost of Ranger past.

The third period saw us begin to rest on the laurels of two good periods and declare it officially nap time. One Quick Turn around shot later and the game was tied. Hank was overall pretty solid and saved our bacon a few more times and the leafs tried to build on their momentum. We continued to hang back and consolidate the remains of the tight game we played in the first. The majority of overtime was spent killing off a penalty. Torts looked less satisfied as we went into overtime and then headed into the shootout. The only goal scored in the shootout wasn't ours and with a consoling shoulder squeeze for his Goaltender, Torts led his team back to the dressing room.

My thoughts on this game are that while its not reflected in the score, there already is an obvious difference in this team under Tortarella. They crashed the net, they played with energy, they looked like they actually practiced the power play. The biggest difference for me was the quality of shots. So much was made by Renney of the shots on goal when he was coach. He was quite proud of that and didnt really take note that our stat for shots on goal was grossly inflated by Gomers weaving through an entire team only to put a fizzing wrister into the logo of goalies jersey as he was steered toward the boards. Between those, all the bad angle shots, and the shots for the sake of shooting... the vision of offense on this team was skewed. The shots taken tonight were actually high percentage shots and the results of communication between linemates. Unfortunately, that and a dollar will buy you 75 cents in today's economy. But rest easy ranger fans, for tomorrow is another game and the more good energy, good shots, effective aggression become part of the team's fundamentals, the easier it will be to tweak and bury those pucks. The aggressive defense will become an important part of our offense as we force turnovers and created rushes. (Hanging back and shuffling the puck around your own zone means giving the opposing team time to get fresh men on the ice and having to go through all of em just to get your shot on goal. Creating turnovers in the neutral zone by being aggressive cuts the distance you have to travel by half and can shorten the number of opposing players you have to go through as they get caught in transition.) For me this game was about blood (mostly freddy sjostroms. he got nicked up twice), sweat (the team actually sweated) and tears (of joy...i can finally watch this team again without getting violently ill.)

I'd also try to deal Dawes before the deadline; call it a gut feeling.

Some "Torta-risms" from the post game.(paraphrased)

On the team slacking off in the third: "They're adjusting to a new system. There's a few guys I plan to talk to though..."

One the first 2 periods wearing the team out: "its no excuse.."

On the team perhaps being tired this late in the season: "all the teams are tired...its not an excuse."

Notice a trend here? NO EXCUSES... wheres Renney now that he could finally be putting that notepad to use?


  1. The Dark Ranger was at the game last night, adorning the entire lower bowl of the ACC with a Lundqvist jersey amidst a sea of suits. First let me say outright for all to hear....I LOVE the GARDEN!!!! The Air Canada Centre is new and state of the art, but the venue works really really hard to attempt to wake up the supposed greatest hockey fans alive through a wave of "Everybody Clap your hands....(Clap, clap) and GO LEafs! Electronic chants. MSG hockey fans create the buzz without the venue's help. Attending another game might give me a new appreciation for "Potvin Sucks" So I digress

    J...I agree with most of your game recap. It was very exciting seeing our boys audition in what felt like their first game in the big leagues. Wow. It reminded me of when they opened the and attacking. At the end of the 2nd, the shot totals were NYR 24, Tor 12 and they were quality shots. And then there was the 3rd period.

    Torts sat back and watched. He didn't scream. He wasn't passionate. He was Tom Cruise in Minority Report adjusting the lines, strategies in the air....soaking it all in. Fascinating. The Dark Ranger was 6 rows behind the bench and Torts held some Zen-like trance. You wouldn't think so given how hard they skated.

    Hey, and there weren't any too men on the ice calls!!?


  2. Speaking to a couple of buddies after watching the telecast last night, I actually said "that's SO Renney" and wazoo I realized our former coach is now the perfect adjective. The Leafs game was not Renney at all. Fast attack hockey to come - accountable hockey, that is.

  3. After we squashed the Rags two Sundays ago, I thought it was an unrecoverable moment for this team.

    Torts was a good move by management, but I watched last night against the Leafs as I wanted to see further disaster for NY.

    I will say it once. This attack style is going to work for the Rangers.

    See for that crucial point on your last home game.

    Flyers gonna getch you!

  4. Nice post and comments. Torts was quite composed in the post-game press conference. No threats, and his encouragement (his sympathetic approach to the scorers) was deftly done.

    Here are the numbers in b&w regarding the Leafs -- they went 3-1 against the Rangers. In the four games, they only scored goals in the 3rd period, shootout and overtime. If the Rangers could have scored a second goal yesterday, they might have stolen a win.

    Toskala stopped 70 out of 73 shots this week against the Blueshirts. The Rangers dominated large portions of both games. Henrik was great last night.

    My takeaway -- there are some bottom-dwelling teams that you just don't beat some years. Toronto is the Ranger's bugaboo. If the Rangers play tonight like they did last night, the goals will come and success feeds on success.

    My only concern is that they have the legs to compete tonight against Florida. This game is a big one.

  5. The Rangers will no doubt put more pressure on the puck and get more scoring chances because of it. The thing that concerns me is that there's nobody on the team that will convert those scoring chances into goals. If the Rangers couldn't put the puck in with 15 scoring chances a night under Renney why will they be able to score with 30 scoring chances under Torts. The players have to relax and stop gripping their sticks so tight.

    This team still needs outside to help them score. Remember Nikolai Zherdev is the only Ranger that scored more than 25 goals last year with 26. The scoring threat just isn't on this team.

    Things will no doubt improve offensively for the Blueshirts but bringing in Tortorella does not mean they are going to start scoring 4 or 5 goals a night. The talent just isn't there.

  6. Bk Hockey Guy,

    I see your point about getting this team some outside help. However,its my belief that if you curb 12 forwards into a defensive mindset, put your 4th line on the ice for overtime and bench the only guy who pretty much netted a goal whenever he was granted a break from having to watch from the press box...You condition your offense away from scoring. This bunch unfortunately isn't the only group thats suffered offensively under Renney. We had 2 600-goal scorers that often suffered the same fate last season.
    Unfortunately, it will take more than a game to exorcise the ghost of Renneys teachings and we're running out of time. The forwards to be had seem marginal at best as the deadline approaches and GM's start to foam at the mouth while thinking about signing Jay-bo.
    If we had to go as is, I am convinced we could be good for a few a night with the right mindset and steady linemates.


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