RANGERS HAVE LAST LAUGH AFTER BIG THIRD PERIOD IN VANCOUVER
Like the first 3 games of the season, the first 2 periods of last night's kick off of a NorthWest Road Trip seemed like deja vu. Haunted by foul filled memories, youthful exuberance ruled over discipline and we had to thank the hockey gods for our guy in goal.
Read the official report here.
Henrik's sharp reflexes were enough to keep us in the game until we were able to generate some offense. It was a good win after a so so game against one of the leagues better goaltenders. However it would be a disservice to let this one slide in favor of just celebrating the win. The first two periods of this game were played like the last 258+... under the Torts plan... and at this rate, its hard to understand how this is supposed to work for us or get us to a cup.
The major difference between the goals scored in the 3rd last night and that of the previous two was that according the blue print, everything in the third was done wrong.... and Thank god for that. The 3rd and fourth liners were producing goals run and gun style. D-men played as extra forwards and dished passes to shooters around the net. For once... the offense wasn't concerning itself playing the shell game around the boards, which has seeming been the bane of a ranger fans existence over the past couple of seasons. The horribly contrived game plan, where forwards go deep behind the net and and dmen pin themselves to the boards at the blue line in order to keep pucks in, leaves the middle of the ice wide open for opposing forward trolling the passing lanes for cross ice passes to pick off and start oddman rushes with. With the entire team racing back behind the play on turnovers, its almost inevitable that a penalty will be committed just to break even at the other end.
The energy level we display in trying to outwork our opponents is nice and reflects the young legs on the team. Its really a shame that for many of the forwards, being out of position is part of the plan. At any given time there is a clump of blue shirts concentrated on the ambush effort and when we manage to strip an opponent of the ice, it's a success. When the opponent manages to get a pass out to someone on the open side, we're slowly relying more and more on our superstar goalie to bail us out. In the mad scramble to to dig a puck out and work it around the boards to an open man, the art of the pass, big shot from the blueline, the one timer and the dangle is lost and the training wheels are back on.
Perhaps Torts feels like he is using a game plan that suits the skill level of this team. These young players won't get any better dishing rubber around the boards and perfecting dumps into the corners to be chased. While we are not a team with size, our players have shown to be skillful enough to play a more open game. Mike Rupp was acquired to put hands on people when stuff got rough. He still managed to score a goal last night doing the most basic of practices. Follow the play, advanced the puck, and wait for a shot at a rebound. Brandon Prust the same. It seems on the 3rd and 4th line.. despite only getting 5 minutes a night, these guys are not high enough on the totem pole to have the preaching from Torts, erode their most basic of hockey instincts and overwrite them like it seeming does on the the top two lines. As Torts tries to recreate the Tampa bay cup team and justify his ego, most of our players are being neutered by the inhibiting bland offense. In case, you haven't notice yet, this is really sticking in my craw.
I feel like this is a pivotal point to a player like Derek Stepan, who has seemed to really picked up a chip on his shoulder over the summer and is playing with more confidence. There are many a player on this team that may finally be coming into their own and I can't help but feel we're missing out on it thanks to the mundane offensive plan. I also resent the notion that injuries (like that of Staal) already have this team on unstable legs. This team cannot revolve around 1 player or 1 line or even just 3 lines. Playing favorites and on a whim switcharoos on the lines are things you do when tweaking something that already works. Till then, a solid offensive game plan and mastering of the fundamentals will provide more versatility in the line up. Stop dumbing down your offense to the most common denominator and elevate the skills of the players where they will have another gear when you need it. We've seen what your non marquee players can do in a period like the 3rd. There is no reason they and the rest of the team cannot practice and use these skills all the time.
Till Next time Ranger Fans; Frustrated Early,
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