Odd man out


A couple of quick hits from the morning skate:

— With Darius Kasparaitis back tonight against the Devils, it means Thomas Pock is a scratch. I know what you’re going to say: why would you sit a guy who has been one of the Rangers’ few encouraging defenseman thus far? In short, blame Pock’s parents for making him a left-handed shooter, which puts him on the same side as Kasparaitis. The other left-handed options to sit out were Marek Malik and Fedor Tyutin, neither of whom have been confused with Bobby Orr of late. But since both have at least a little more experience than Pock, they’ll play. Kasparaitis, meanwhile, will skate in Pock’s place alongside Karel Rachunek.
Let’s revisit this topic after tonight…

— Nigel Dawes returns to the lineup tonight on the fourth line alongside Jason Ward and Marcel Hossa. Even when he’s in the lineup, ice time remains a struggle for Dawes, but the hope is he’ll see some time cleaning up after penalty kills, or even on a second or third power play unit. Tom Renney talked about making the rookie do a “task” while he sat out the the last two games. For the record, the coach said it did not involve picking up his dry cleaning.

— Don’t look now, but the start of Sandis Ozolinsh’s season might be sooner than you think. Renney said the maligned defenseman, who is recovering from knee surgery, has been working hard and is within games of returning. I know some of you have concerns about Ozolinsh, but let me ask you this: can the defense be much worse right now?

–Yes, Henrik Lundqvist is back in net, and I thought the goaltender has looked pretty sharp in practice the last two days. Of course, the the Rangers as a whole have looked good in practice all season, so maybe we shouldn’t be placing too much stock in that department.

— The question about protecting Jagr is a good one. Here’s the problem: the Rangers are not in a position to take anymore penalties than they already have been, especially late in games. But that’s where a player like Kasparaitis, who is proficient at clean, hard hits, might come into play.

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  1. Please see my comments in the previous blog post.

    Dawes-Hossa-Ward??!?!?!? Which one of them is a center? I am sure Dubinsky and Immonen would do MUCH worse. (Please not the sarcasm).

    And I sure hope that Sather was at practice to trade Pöck. Let this kid have a career somewhere, because there is really nothing else he can do here to convince the staff he can play regularly.

    Nice job by Renney motivating the D. Take the best one thus far and bench him. How about sending a message to Rozy or Malik by having them on their butts in favor of Tommy Boy. He did it to Poti last year. OR would sitting Czech players annoy Captain Jagr too much??

  2. DepressedRangerfan on

    As bad as our defense has been, the forwards aren’t helping the situation anyway with repeatedly getting trapped in the offensive zone too deep and coughing up the puck. They’re making the D’s job tougher than it should be.

  3. DepressedRangerfan on

    HDH, I agree, Malik and Rozy deserved to be benched. Have they ever heard body contact is acceptable in the nhl?

  4. On a team haaving no problem moving the puck and many problems stopping it, why put a defensemen out there with the exact same issues?

    And why take out one of the few defensemen that seems able to do both?

    The fourth line isn’t an issue, though. How long does Renney tend to keep lines together? And how much ice time does the fourth line get? Given the way Renney coaches, it doesn’t make a difference. It’s shocking to even be reminded that Dawes was technically on the third line, considering he tends to consistently have half the ice time of the next guy (Hossa or Hollweg.)

  5. a knee jerk reaction, benching arguably our best defenseman to get kaspar in. a guy whose skating times were worst than colton orr?


    if i had to chose with the other left handed options, id sit malik.

  6. Renney is a jackass, if he sits Orr tonight, in place of Dawes… I like Dawes, but he sure as heck isn’t going to stop Cam Jansenn from running around, and bullying the Rangers… Orr can nullify an opponents enforcer like that, and although Renney is a good coach, who usually knows how to get the most out of his players, Renney STILL lacks the understanding of the physical aspect of the game… Hossa should sit and Rachunek should sit as well, that guy does absoltuely NOTHING!

    I know the NHL has been quite a bit sissyfied, but that’s still not an excuse for the Rangers to be as soft as they are…

  7. The problem of course with inserting Kasparaitis in the line-up is that it’ll be his first regular season game, and even when healthy he was generally used only around 15 minutes a game…and that was before he was a year older, and a couple of additional off-season surgeries.

    So if you can only give him 15 or so minutes, who can you bench? Rachunek or Pock realistically, unless you think that either one of those two can take up more minutes…which also seems unlikely given their performances against Buffalo (generally though I’ve been pretty happy with their play in the first four games).

    In terms of you comment about Ozolinsh being potentially no worse than what they have now…while I know it was one of those throw away marks, but I sincerely believe it would make it harder for the Rangers to turn it around.

    The goaltending has clearly been below last season’s levels form Lundqvist, whereas Weekes is probably always going to need help more help from his defense. The defense, particularly from the top pair of Rozsival and Malik has also been less reliable than last year, but the thing that has struck me the most is the lack of support from the forwards.

    Jagr’s passing looks to be less than half as strong as before and he’s good for at least one or two bad passes leading to scoring chances a game it seems. Straka and Nylander have been caught floating a lot more than last year too, which hasn’t helped.

    The 2nd line is actually the one line that seems to be able to play both ends of the ice…and probably have been the best in their own end.

    But perhaps more than anyone else, the third and fourth lines have not been able to stop the opposition the way they did last year. Hall-Betts and whomever has seemed to be less effective than Nieminen-Betts-Ward were last year.

    The fourth line has not even come close to being as useful as Hollweg-Moore-Ortmeyer was last year, and get less time because of it.

    Last year around this time we were hearing the kudos for the Moore and Betts line…this time around they’re struggling.

    And while I’m expressing my concerns…

    One of the biggest things bothering me at the moment is that the Rangers again seem to be falling into the trap of over reliance on average to below average veterans. Obviously Prucha, Tyutin, Lundqvist and Hollweg have been in the line-up for much of the season so far, but they continually appear to be overly cautious with the lesser experienced guys.

    One of the things that I’ve missed this year is that enthusiasm and energy that the Moore line in particular accomplished for the Rangers this year. They didn’t score a lot, but they did forecheck hard, and backchecked hard…something that none of the lines are doing effectively now.

    Okay…I’m off my soapbox for now.

  8. ChillOutFellowFans on

    you guys all need to take a deep breathe. we are 5 games into the season and all of you want to crucify renney already. many of you forget how renney led our team that was picked to finish 15th in the conference last year to within a point of the Atlantic Division title.

    that being said, we have a decent amount of new guys, 2 regulars on D, and they should be given an opportunity to adjust. 5 games is not enough time. 4 defensemen are playing with completely new partners this season. if after 10-12 games we are still having this exact same problem, then there is no excuse. however, 5 games into the season, i am, as all fans should be, willing to give the team an opportunity to come together.

  9. I think there’s still room to be concerned ChillOut…

    The Rangers are tied for the worst goals against average in the league, and they’re fourth worst on the PK. In five games they’ve already manage to top last year’s worst performance of 6 goals against, and have given up 4 goals or more in four consecutive games since 2003-04 when they gave 5,4,4 and 9 (Jagr’s Ranger debut).

    The good news, was that the Rangers beat the Panthers 5-2 in the following game…but that was about the limit of the good news back then :)

    In terms of unfamiliarity…last year the Rangers started the season with just 8 of their opening 20 man roster having played a game for the Rangers before. They had four NHL rookies, and guys like Betts, Ortmeyer, Lundmark, Hossa and Ward who were relatively inexperienced in NHL terms.

    Add in Rozsival, Betts and Straka coming back from serious injuries and last year’s roster had a lot less reason to be successful than this year’s.

    My personal opinion is that you need to look at why the Rangers are giving up so many goals now, and address it quickly, not wait for another five or so games to go by.

  10. Any ranger defenceman that goes below the circles should be fined and benched NO PINCHING

    on the powerplay put someone in front of the net… MALIK OR HALL

  11. I have been very impressed, yet again, with the contributions of Ryan Hollweg. The kid is like the energizer bunny, he never stops going. And he’s versitile, can play the wing or center. They may want to look at putting Prucha-Betts-Hollweg together as a checking line. Betts wins the big faceoffs and all three are good defensive players.

    With all of the other Czech players, why not bring back Jan Hlavac? He was pretty good in his first stint with the Rangers, there is a new staff in NY, and paired with younger guys where he can shine, not offensive minded Nedved and Kovalev, could be a good match. Hey Glenn, call up Sparta and bring Jan back to the US.

    Pock needs to get his chance. He is good defensivly and brings the added bonus of his great shot. Let the kid play and let him fire it on net. He and Tyutin are the future, and should be the present.

  12. The Ranger foot soldiers are simply not getting the job done. They MUST prevent goals against 5-on-5 as their primary job, and they are not doing it. Also, their work on the PK has fallen off badly as well recently.

    Case in point—

    Jagr+1, Nylander+3, Straka+2, Prucha+3, Shanahan+2, Cullen+1

    Hall-2, Betts-3, J Ward-2, HOSSA-4, Hollweg-2, Dawes-2,

    Rosival+1, Malik+2, A Ward+3, Tyutin+2

    Rachunek-4, Pock-2

    Obviously, plus minus figures are helped by one’s ability to score. In other words, the Jagr line can cover up their defensive deficiencies, and those of the Ros-Malik tandem, by simply outscoring the opponents line they play against.

    But that is the point. The 3rd and 4th lines don’t score much, so they MUST at least keep their opponents to an even standoff. But they are not doing that. And while it is tough if you are going against the Forsberg line, you simply cannot have lapses like Betts committed in the game at MSG when he took the faceoff vs. Forsberg, and then Betts just stood there at the faceoff dot while Forsberg picked up the puck in the corner, walked out to the side of the net uncovered, and lifted a shot into the roof of the net over Henrik. Betts is supposed to be a defensive specialist, but he looked like a clueless beginner on that play, and he failed at the job he is sent out there to do, which is to COVER Forsberg, and stay with him down low in the Ranger zone.

    And the same thing goes for the Ranger D men. They don’t score much, so their primary task MUST be to stop the opponents in the defensive zone, and they are doing a very shaky job of covering anyone around their net.

    Thus, the Rangers are giving up goals in bunches, and I would not be surprised to see Renney start trapping a lot more, and dumping it in a lot more than they have so far, as a desperate measure to cut down the goals against.

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