Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blueshirts Fall Flat as 3rd Period Effort Unable to Thwart Thrashing.

If one period of play was enough to win a hockey game, all hockey games would be 20 minutes long. My first time at The Garden this season and traffic had me in my seat about 12 minutes late. I still managed to get there a period and half before the Rangers did.

Read the official Recap here.

Don’t let the first goal we scored fool you. This was not another hard charging 'full on assault' that lasted 60 minutes like the previous games. In fact, that goal mentally provided us with enough cushion to shoot ourselves in the foot when we didn’t follow through and coasted for two periods while trying to cycle the puck around the boards.

The pot luck Atlanta team across from us was made from enough talented youngsters, extra parts and cap victims and 1-hit wonders that had seen enough ice time with other teams that they found hardly any trouble capitalizing on mistakes as our d-men were caught deep in their own zone, had pucks chip past them or jump over their sticks and stumbled back into our zone scrambling for a clue that would help them pick up their defensive assignments. Our new backup could have been, perhaps, a little crisper in his efforts in goal. However... to lay the blame at his feet would be unfair.

With a back-up in goal, its mandatory that your defense step up their game a little bit and lend some support to their goaltender, even more than they would to their first. The “system” we seem to be playing is a full attack system. Its not 'all men up' and 'no men back', but it may as well be with the defensive conscience diluted with thoughts of offensive grandeur. With so much emphasis placed on goals and attacking… The absence of Gaborik, Prospal and Drury seemed that much greater. We found a niche in the physical, high energy game and just like that, it goes out the window as the team gets taken back to the system where Tortorella plays the hot line, hoping that eventually they will replace Gaborik, Prospal or other top line players, talent for talent. It was never more apparent than after the first goal last night as the farm triplets (Dubinsky, Anisimov, Callahan) hit the ice every other shift. Normally the strategy might pay off against an older team that is simply worn down by the amount of work put in by this line, but instead the triplets were hammered and their energy suppressed by a mixture of vets and high energy youth players like Kane on the Atlanta side. While the line being the most effective was a mixture of Avery, Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust, White, etc. a guy like Boogaard sees ice so infrequently in this system, that he doesn’t recognize it without a cocktail poured over it. While he’s not the best player on the team, he hits hard enough that it should be incorporated some how because…. A.) It worked in the games where we were taking the lead physically and banging up opponents… and B.) he’s not going to get any better or more consistent sitting on the bench.

A system can’t work on a foundation of inconsistency. It’s even less effective when channeled through intangibles like “untapped potential” as a replacement for documented skill. We saw that all these guys can hit and pressure other teams, so why not keep that rolling and build off of something simple and consistent. 

As for the worry about losing any more players to injury, there was an over abundance of guys that were making it difficult to cut them in camp. Make some call ups, let them pound and grind it out smartly and hand the survivors jerseys. At least we’ll have something to fall back on when “pretty” is injured and “high energy” is worn out. Hell, you might even win a few games on intimidation. The best part of it is players like Gaborik and Frolov (even though Frolov hasn’t impressed me so far) have no trouble finding their stones when the time comes and things get a little gritty.

Till Next Time Ranger Fans,

- J_Undisputed

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