Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So much for weathering the storm...

Well, Rangers family... Last night was a bust. So much for the full steam ahead approach toward the post season. Last night we were pretty much ... well, "caned" by Cole, E. Staal & Company..... (with a little help from the ref-- do these guys get paid by the whistle blow?)

Official recap here.

Seems like our team forgot that it takes more than just a coach, a big forward, a serviceable d-man, and the grate one to keep this team from reverting to the Tom Renney's Tourist group. Now don't get me wrong, it was the second of back games and I still love the way this team is going, despite last nights step backwards. But make no mistake; For a team floating on and off the edge of post season play, last nights game was a pretty big collective brain fart. Other teams have managed to win the second of back to back games by 10-2, so it can be done. Also lets keep in mind that this wasn't the lowly islanders we were playing; a team that couldn't get out of last place if they started every game up 2-0. The team we played last night leapfrogged us with that win and dropped us out of the playoffs (momentarily). These are must win games. While the canes really didn't look sharp themselves, they showed they definitely wanted it more than we did.

Even before our waved off goal, things just didn't seem to be clicking for us. In his statements to the press over the last few games (mostly in response to questions about Avery) , Torts has been preaching "the team concept". I think he's on the right path with this and it would have definitely helped last night. There were so many fundamental blunders last night, it seems like guys were making errant passes just to fit it with the rest of the team that was doing so. The biggest problem last night by far was the fact that every one seemed to be trying to do too much with the puck. Hanging on for that extra deke when they should be moving the puck, that extra pass when they should have been shooting, and making too many lateral east-west passes in traffic. The canes do a really could job and at jamming every player they have into the slot to take away looks and its unfortunate that their offensive style (getting Cole, Staal, and their other forwards to streak up ice for breakaway opportunities) exploits the biggest weakness of our new aggressive style (which Torts forewarned us about). However, our team did have options that weren't exercised and I would have like to have seen...

- It hard to catch a guy out in the open, while he's streaking up ice, especially when hes already got 2 or 3 strides on you. So when you have the chance, take the body hard when you're in the trenches and bang em up a little and take some wind out of their sails before you need to. We have 6'6 230lb forward now that squished many a blueshirt smurf against the boards when he was with the leafs. While Averys still finding his legs and Cally is a bit light to bully guys with hits, there are enough guys on this team that can and should have been doing so last night. Mara's could stand to nurse the injury a little but, what the hell happened to Girardi's edge?

- Lundqvist wasn't in goal last night and rightfully so after having to play an amazing game so we could hang on and outlast the B's. While the sound of the Versus broadcasting team is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, they did have a point about Valiquette playing to deep in net one of the goals. Our goalies are coached by Allaire to be play deep in net and don't come out to challenge or cut down the angle. Granted, the game has changed a little as squeaky little priss fowards lick their chops at the thought of going around a goalie thats out too far and our more risky style isn't optimum for aggressive goalies, but how many of those top shelfers could be eliminated by just tweaking this and cutting down the angles.

- Lastly, with the canes protecting thier net minder and clogging the slot the way they do, our D should've been moving their feet as they did in the 2nd and 3rd games under Torts. Morris has a got a lot of speed and power on his shot. He and the other big shooters could have been taking shots hard shots from the point and side boards, if they had got the defense moving. Unfortunately standing still, settling down a pass and a big wind up only helped the Canes convert defense into offense as they came out blocked shots and used the rebounds like outlet passes to start their rush.

Also is anyone else getting last season Jagr flashbacks while watching Zherdev wheel back, take control of the puck, weave around opposing forwards only to get swallowed up by the defense and have the puck poked off his stick or make a small pass that gets chipped away? A few people speculated that it would come down to him and Antropov playing for a contract, the remainder of the season. While they both seem a bit streaky, at this point (still too early to choose), if we can't have both... I'm leaning towards Antropov. Aside from his size (the guy is like "Mutant" big), his patience with the puck seems to be a virtue so far and seems to help create opportunities. The edge in skating at this point definitely goes to Zherdev. Zherdevs phsycial game (what there was of it seems to have dropped off as of late) and Antropov only seems to have been consistent with his hitting when playing against us. (or maybe it just seemed that way). Anyway definitely something i'll be keeping an eye on for the rest of the season and hopefully, post season. In the meantime, lets hope we learned something from last night.



  1. Canes goaltender Cam Ward hardly broke a sweat last night. Sure the Rangers managed 28 shots at the Carolina netminder, but seriously folks how many of the shots could be considered a serious scoring threat?

    The Ranger offense was missing in action last night, no consistent pressure at all. One attempt and done. Not exactly what you need going down the stretch run.

  2. Exactly Kotsy, thanks for chiming in with your insight from a pro. I hear you on the the shots taken last night. It was like we used to "outshoot" teams according to Renney, but all the shots were bad angle or shots Gomez took for the sake of shooting after he carried the puck in and the rest of the team was still puttering through the neutral zone. I understand sometimes guys don't have a shot, when we're all screaming "SHOOT!" but the unselfish play thing is getting ridiculous sometimes. Looking at the guys that are at the top of the scoring boards, it can be said that each one takes what many might call a selfish amount of shots. Looking at the Canes stacking players into the slot, you'd think we'd take advantage of the screened goaltender.
    Also, looking at all the east/west passes that were going on against a north/south team, was it any wonder why the entire 3rd period was one giant odd man rush practice drill for the Canes. I though my cable box was skipping for 20 minutes like an old record player.

  3. Your right Kotsy, the Rangers really didn't force Ward to come up with any spectacular saves. Most of their shots were from the outside and couldn't jump on too many rebounds. They have no sustained pressure all night.


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