Relax

10

Part of the reason my employers pay me the exorbitant salary that they do is because of my knack for uncanny insights.

For instance: Peter Forsberg is really good.

And also: if the Rangers want to win, they need to play better than they did last night.

I know, why I’m not an NHL general manager is a mystery.

Seriously, I’m aware that there is some concern about “the Rangers’ uninspired effort last night at the Garden”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061011/SPORTS01/610110377/1046/SPORTS, in particular a power play unit that is now 1-for-17 on the year. If you spent much time on this blog, you’d see I was taking plenty of digs in that direction as well.

And yet when I was in the locker room post-game and was asking various players about what was going wrong, I couldn’t help but think some of the questions sounded fairly absurd after only the third game of the season.

Is the power play out of sync right now? Yes. It is part of the reason the Rangers lost last night? Most likely.

But the larger question to ask is what significance will this dry spell have on the season as a whole. My guess? Very little. The Rangers need to figure out their power play, there’s no question about that. And they certainly need to play with more urgency than last night’s 60-minute sleepwalk fest.

But unless the season has mysteriously been shortened to a single month, I’m not sure it’s worth too much worrying just yet.

That said, let’s see how they recover tomorrow night against the Penguins. I’m off to practice right now. Something tells me it won’t be a quiet one.

About Author

10 Comments

  1. Well I’ve been reading plenty of doom and gloom around the boards…including a large amount of re-assessment (and dismissal) of the first two wins.

    Welcome to the Rangers emotional rollercoaster where the highs are very high…but the lows are depressing.

    You certainly can’t dismiss the way the team played last night, but to be honest I want to see how they respond on Thursday against a team that is could well give them problems with their quick skating and aggressive forecheck.

  2. the pp is a concern cause with the players we have the pp should be great and ‘only 3 games’ can quickly turn into 10, 15, 20 games in a hurry if you just sit back hoping that things will fix themselves.

    but to me the far bigger concern is the lack of effort for a full 60 minutes. the rangers were good last year cause they worked hard, the last 2 games they haven’t done that. eventually the pp will get hot, but if they don’t wake up and play a full 60 minutes it won’t matter.

  3. Sam,

    Thank you for being the most in touch of the rangers beat writers in your very first season on the job! The blog is great. Now, is it time to panic? Well, I believe that’s an oversimplication of what’s going on. After watching games 1 and 2 on tv I had many concerns despite the victories. Seeing Game 3 in person, I believe hustle and inspiration is only a small part of what’s going wrong. Here are some specifics Renney and Co need to address.

    1) Little to no puck support – see power play futility, lack of down-low cycling, etc. They were getting outmanned in the corners on their own power play! Either that or they are being routinely outmuscled.

    2) An Unsure Backcheck and D-zone coverage. The forwards seem lost out there on the backcheck. They come back but don’t take specific assignments, making almost every rush an odd-man even when it isn’t. In addition, the centers are almost never in the right place deep in the D-zone. Ironically Blair Betts is included in this, which says to me, this is a systemic problem.

    3) Dawes and Hossa have been almost completely ineffective at even strength. It kills us. Kills the cycling for the 3rd and 4th lines. Hossa is inconsistent and a step behind and Dawes appears afraid to get his nose dirty or is perhaps just too weak on the puck. In addition, the cycling is happening above the circles, near the blue line and is leading to a lethal transition game against and tilts the ice in the wrong direction. If we do happen to cycle downlow, the one cycling forward ends up dumping the puck blindly in front of the net because he is getting no puck support. Leading to another instant rush.

    4) The D is looking for offense too much right now. The communication between the forwards and D is incredibly lax and non-specific. Secondly, the d is either in the offensive zone too deep or is leaving too large a gap between themselves and the forwards. This was a mantra of Renney last season, that the team plays as a unit of 5, eliminating this seperation. This is not happening this season.

    5) Jagr… he is playing incredibly timid – re: ineffective. Perhaps he is still rusty or afraid of wrecking his shoulder. But he is the team captain who supposedly will only lead by what he shows on the ice. If he’s playing timid, the team loses its leader. The team will become toothless. I know the press will give jagr time and he needs it. But this is a concern to keep an eye on.

    6) Also, too much east/west play especially in the neutral zone. Again, the forwards and D are too spread out and it’s making life difficult for the D. Also, last season, J Ward, Straka, Ortmeyer were exceptional at using their speed and intelligence to force opposing D to back out of the Offensive zone. Pucks were easier to clear as a result. This year, this is not happening. Too many pucks are not getting cleared.

    7) It is evident at this moment that Shanny and Prucha are not a fit. Renney seems aware, but where does that leave Prucha?

    To sum up the constructive criticisms… the rangers system and communication is incredibly suspect at this point in the season. One could say there shouldn’t be any need for concern… at least they won’t peak too early. But, the PR going into the season was that the team is tight, chemistry strong… but if a strong system isn’t adhered to soon, one that allows for stronger communication out there, this team will be a .500 club at best and the chemistry held-over from last year will slowly dissolve. FYI, see the Pens come in on Thursday as a huge test. They went to West Point this season, like the 05-06 Rangers and they are working their tails off. Will be a good test of Rangers work ethic. Before I finish here are some positiives…

    The play of… Shanny. Henrik. Pock. Hollweg. People shouldn’t underestimate Holly’s hands nor his shot. Gravey should work with this kid as he has the wheels, the heart, and is a physical force out there. His hands are better than Hall, Betts, J Ward, he has more upside than Ortmeyer. On the right line, Holly could collect a lot of garbage – consider a Shanny, Cullen and Hollweg combo. Heck if you send down Dawes, you could bring up Dubinsky or a raw Korpi who could really help the cycle.

    thanks! and Keep up the good work.

  4. Neil, many thanks for your post ! I can´t see the game so it is very important to have those kind of analysis and insight !

  5. Neil,
    I have to disagree with you assessment of Shanny and Prucha not being a fit. In fact, Shanny-Cullen-Prucha seems to be the only line on the team right now that’s actually clicked! Shanny’s even been quoted as having said he and Prucha had almost instant chemistry.

    I also disagree with Henrik’s play being a positive. Throughout pre-season and now into the regular season his play has seemed good, but certainly not the standard to which we became accustomed last year. He makes a few really tough saves a night, and has shown moments of brilliance, no doubt, but with nowhere near the consistency he did last year. I’m guessing it’s probably just a matter of getting back into the groove at the start of the season, and that it’s nothing to worry about, but I certainly wouldn’t point his play out as one of the few positives.

    Otherwise, I can’t argue much. I’d also be interested in seeing someone like Dubinsky get a shot (unless Dawes picks up his play over the next game or two) because like you say, he’s the kinda guy who’d play hard and play with heart and really help the cycle.

  6. Neil —

    I thank you for the kind words and the insight. I think you’re dead-on most of the way, although I’m with Laurie on Shanahan and Prucha. There is chemistry there. In fact, while Prucha is a Czech like Jagr and Straka, he actually plays more of a north-south game like Shanahan and Hall.

    And let’s not forget Prucha’s play that set up the Pock goal, which, of course, Shanahan assisted on as well. I’m not sure you can find a much better example of chemistry.

    But like I said, other than that, I think you’re spot on.

  7. Sam, Laurie-

    On second thought, you guys are probably right on Shanny and Prucha. Through the first 3, they have been the most productive combo on the ice.

    Laurie, I actually thought Henrik played fairly well last night. I suppose the point is that he is facing too many high quality chances. People seem to think he gave up 3 weak goals. Not sure that’s the case. The true tragedy in yesterday’s game is that Nittymaki in comparison looked downright shaky for the first 30 minutes and for much of it, the rangers couldn’t even get into the zone.

  8. Renney says that the point men on the PP are not getting enough shots to the net. No kidding! I said that last night. But he kept sending the same perpetrators out there, namely Rosival and Straka. He has 2 guys who WILL shoot the puck from the point, Cullen and Pock, but Renney won’t give them the chance. Therefore, Renney is equally culpable when he says that the Rangers PP point men are not shooting enough, because he keeps rewarding the guys who are responsible for the lack of shots with MORE PP ice time after they screw up.

Leave A Reply

Protected with IP Blacklist CloudIP Blacklist Cloud