With losses like these, who needs wins?


Consider me confused, which is perfectly understandable for someone who isn’t that bright to begin with.

But the Rangers improve to .500 with a win in Toronto, and they spend the next three days talking as if the sky is going to fall on them. Then comes an ugly loss at home to Florida and suddenly the mood is…..encouraged? Upbeat?

I suppose you don’t want to make a six hour plane ride seem any longer than it really is.

With that in mind, a couple of thoughts from the Rangers’ last practice before they board the team charter to Phoenix:

  • In the what-else-can-go-wrong department, Brendan Shanahan missed practice today with tendinitis in his left elbow. That’s OK. He hasn’t been that productive thus far. Actually, the wing just needed a cortisone shot, and he’ll be back on the ice tomorrow. But the guy is 37. It’s funny, Shanahan was wearing a big bandage on his left elbow, and he purposely crossed his arms so we could all see it. But then he said with a smile, “I’d rather not say where it is. I’ll just say it’s an upper body injury.”
  • So maybe Karel Rachunek won’t be headed to the thriving metropolis that is Hartford, or anywhere else for that matter. Tom Renney said last night that the team is going to stick by the struggling defenseman, which is hardly encouraging news for a fan base that has taken to sticking needles in tiny Karel Rachunek dolls (on sale at Target for $9.95….OK, not really). But then again, here’s the other scenario: If the Rangers are actively trying to move Rachunek and his hefty salary, maybe calling him utterly useless in print isn’t a great selling point. I hope for the Rangers sake that we’re all being toyed with….
  • No exact word on when Kevin Weekes will see his next start, although the coach today did say the goaltender could conceivably play a couple of times on the West Coast. Renney also conceded another scenario for down the road is Weekes being reassigned to Hartford just to get some work in. It wouldn’t require him to go through waivers because it would just be for conditioning.
  • It’s already become a tired topic around the team, but it still merits mentioning: Maybe a road trip is just what the Rangers need — if not only to get away from the bright lights of the Garden, but perhaps just to learn a little bit more about each other. Shanahan said they were all sitting around the locker room last night after a baffling loss, and that players were suddenly quoting “Animal House.” “These guys were just thrown out of their fraternity house, and what’s the solution?” Shanahan asked. “‘Road trip.'”

    If only it was that simple…

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    1. It’s getting to be a head game now.
      It seems they are not going on instincts. I think they may be thinking this too much. They need to just go out there and play hockey. They’re playing too tight worrying about mistakes. No natural flow to their games.

    2. Agreed, and also please get rid of guys who are not willing to work on the ice a.k.a. MALIK. He is never going to be good enough case closed.

    3. Sam, wouldn´t you agree that the whole problem is more a mental thing..???

      Players know what they did last year and you guys from the media and the fans saying that the team is even better than last year, after obtaining guys like Shanahan, Ward and Cullen…

      They are not relaxed enoough to play, they are afraid making mistakes and even thinking even too much about defense and then if you are not free in your mind, you are more and more out of order….!!!

      I think the Rangers need a psychologist right now even more than a good coach !!! When I read all those post, no one really mentioned this very important point to the success of a team….

      It is a probably a good opportunity to go out west and have a kind of new start !!!

    4. Go out west, trade Rachunek and Ozolinish along the way. Bring back #2 for the Nov. 5th game against Buffalo and move from there.

    5. Laurie,
      That’s the first smart thing I’ve heard today. We already have enough old, slow players on defense. Unfourtunately I don’t see this getting fixed any time soon.

    6. Koala good and valid point it is going to take a while for the team to become a team but what bothers me the most – by the time the team will glue together it will be too late in the season. And our young guys (our future) do not get a chance.

    7. And even when you saying the Rangers have improved after Sykora, Rucchin, Rucinsky and Moore left the team, and they got Shanahan, Jason and Aaron Ward, and Cullen, the new guys need to adjust to the new environment.

      You can´t make such a big change and believe, it will work out right from Game 1. That will definetly not gonna happen…

      It takes 20, 25 or 30 games to gel…it takes a little bit more patience than just 8 or 9 games, but that is very difficult in a market like NY….!!!!

    8. It’s amazing how people can still have an issue with ozolinsh. He was awful last year, that goes without saying. You can’t deny that the man had a fantastic game against Toronto. What’s puzzling, and depressing, is that Ranger fans are screwing themselves. Why didn’t anyone boo the hell out of Rosi when he practically handed the game over with a weak backhand pass to nobody? Yet, if Ozo were to touch the garden ice, fans would set the building on fire just to let them know how much they hate him. I have some troubling news for anyone who hates Ozo…he was our best d-man in Toronto and has the potential to be the best d-man on the roster. Suck it up and move on. More importantly, give Ozo credit where it’s due. And yes…bringing back Leetch is a fantastic idea!! While we’re at it, I hear MacTavish would rather be playing…

    9. Team is built around Jagr and his cronies. There are too many one dimentional players. This is not a real team, it is a patchwork on a sinking ship.

      Jagr–never helps out defensively, plays soft, slow, lazy
      Nylander–slow, soft, bad defensively, never shoots, bad on faceoffs, never makes passes that are longer than a few feet.
      Straka–small, soft, weak, terrible finisher
      Betts–zero offense, and even less passing ability, bad on faceoffs, not physical enough
      Dawes–small, needs to be a 2nd liner
      Cullen–bad on faceoffs, lacks strength
      Shanahan–old, is being run to the ground by Renney
      Hall–hard to say
      J. Ward–kind of like Hall but a bit better and faster.
      Hollweg–not a center, pretty much non-existant offensive ability
      Prucha–not getting much ice, need playmaker that can set him up.
      Hossa–lacks fire and confidense and has very slow hands.
      Kasparaitis–looks like he is over the hill, small and weak, and zero offense
      A. Ward–by default the best defenseman
      Tyutin–not nearly as physical as what he should be, needs to play the PP
      Rozsival–playing much worse than last season, REnney moron keeps playing him on PP
      Malik–sloooow, soft, useless, zero offense
      Rachunek–needs to be more physical
      Pock–a bit small, not very physical

    10. Chap wrote: “It’s amazing how people can still have an issue with ozolinsh. He was awful last year, that goes without saying. You can’t deny that the man had a fantastic game against Toronto.”

      Fantastic game? I don’t know if I would call -1, on the ice for 3 of the Leafs’ 4 goals, zero points, and zero shots a “fantastic” game. He wasn’t dreadful. Let’s leave it at that.

    11. need to trade for a real top center, that can score, skate and play physical. Go after Lecavalier, but fire Renney first.

    12. also if you notice the difference between Renney’s style and mostly everybody else is that on this team almost nobody drives to the net, nobody crashes the net, nobody is even trying to screen a goalie. All shots are soft, perimeter, and bad angle. Nobody is willing to pay the price and go to the net, Renney has no clue how to take advantage of the new NHL rules.

    13. Koala, kudos on an excellent point. One, you’re right in that this team has probably been adversely affected by high expectations. And two, I agree that the Rangers are now playing not to make mistakes, and that is actually leading to more mistakes. Maybe a psychologist is what this team needs.

      I do think some of the defense is damaged goods right now and needs to be moved out. But I still think the core of this team still has a chance to turn this thing around.

    14. doodiemachetto on

      Vinnypooh – your analysis of rangers defensemen is somewhat accurate. your analysis of the forwards is rotten. jason ward is better than hall? hes useless offensively; at least hall goes to the net. You’re missing the big problem for Cullen- too many stick penalties! straka can’t finish? i suppose thats why hes second on the team in goals behind shanny with 4. betts is actually a good faceoff man, despite the fact that he does suck in every other way. You also left off Colton Orr, who I’d like to point out is totally useless, because not only is he a terrible player, but whenever he tries to fight someone, he loses. How is having him around going to intimidate anyone when Cam Jansens kills him every time they fight?

      You want fire for the team? The problem is that the players are comfortable with their spots on the roster. What was Renney thinking saying Marcel Hossa definitely had a spot on the team before the season started? how will that motivate him to raise his game? There needs to be a threat on the team of NOT being on the team. I’m talking about bringing up younger, hungrier players. More ice time for Dawes(maybe have him play a game or two on the 2nd line – especially the game against lowly Phoenix) and Pock. Bringing up players like Immonen and Baranka. This would also require removing a big name from the team. I say Prucha. Send him down for conditioning so that he doesn’t have to clear waivers. It worked for him last year and just might be what he needs this year. Also, Malik, Kaspar, and to a slightly lesser exten Roszival, can use it for legitimate fitness purposes. Rachunek could use it just so he can learn the new rules and train himself not to use his stick (this is his 1st season under the new rules).

      Am I also the only one who would like to point out how subpar Lundqvist has been? Not only is he letting in a lot of bad goals, but he’s not doing all of the little thigns that made him so great last year. Two examples:

      1) On the Kolnik goal as a result of the Roszival turnover, Lundqvist was just totally lost in trying to stop that shot when his strength is breakaways. But the thing that bothers me is when he dove to his side with his glove on the ice, he didnt bring his right arm across with the stick and blocker. Had he done that, he stood a REALLY legitimate chance of saving that goal because Kolnik didn’t get it that high above his glove.

      2) Something that made him so good last year was his rebound control and pushing rebounds where he wanted to. He doesn’t do that anymore. Ed Belfour did an amazing job of that last night. Why didn’t Lundqvist?

      I think he’s comfortable too and I think giving Montoya a start could really send him a message that they have a young prospect that can eventually replace him if he’s not good enough.

      This was my first post and I promise from now on they’ll be shorter.

      PS – HDH – if you are HDH from Hockeybird, I just wanted to say that I’m a big fan.

    15. It’s funny that everyone keeps talking about how great the team played last year, when they pretty much sucked after the Olympics. At the start of last year, when no other team believed Jagr would play, had never heard of Prucha or scouted Lundqvist, and were completely confident that the Rangers sucked, then the Rangers managed to surprise everyone. Post-Olympics that all changed. Teams gave the Rangers some respect, then beat them.

      And this isn’t all psychological. Some of these guys are just bad; and most of them are too soft. Just because every newspaper played up Gary Bettman’s “The game is so fast and clean and hitless” doesn’t mean that that is actually true or how people win games.

      Grit wins games. That’s all.

      Renney doesn’t need to be fired, he just needs [to be allowed] to discipline and to promote or demote as he sees fit.

      But, let’s face it, for a small portion of New York — maybe only the “real” fans — seeing young, future talents lose is worth it. But in a city where most of the arena is paid for by companies, you need stars to sell tickets and to keep a high profile. What New York team has ever really pulled off an 80s Oiler or 00s Penguins move? The Yankees, when Jeter and Riiver and Posada rolled in, still spent money on veterans. The only difference was that those veterans managed to perform.

      Just an opinion.

    16. look at all Straka’s goals, the only way he can score is when at least half the net is wide open and his 4 goals are a result of getting a ton of icetime.

      Cullen has been taking some bad penalties, but he also hasn’t produced much offensively, even though he is not playing too bad.

      Betts WAS a good faceoff man, now he sucks.

      Orr is definitely useless, that is why I forgot him

      Jason Ward is better than Hall, but they are both pretty good 3rd liners, I want to see them both on the 3rd line. How is Ward useless offensively when he had 28 points last season, those are nice numbers for a 3rd liner.

      I also thought that Lundqvist really screwed up on that 3rd goal. I never had a problem with Rozsival defensively before, but after that pass I think it is time to trade him.

    17. Ranger fans have officially gone mad. If suggesting the return of Leetch wasn’t crazy enough, now comes a call to send Prucha to Hartford? People talk about accountability? Way to reward a kid for coming into camp in the best physical shape of any player on the team and working his ass off every night! Seriously, the suggestions just keep getting more and more ridiculous.

      Punish last year’s kid for the shorcomings of the entire team. That sends a great message to the kids in Hartford!

      For the record, Prucha’s 6 points in 9 games put him on track for 55 by the end of the season, which would be an improvement over last season. Not bad for a kid who scored the majority of his points on the power play last year, and no longer gets time on the first powerplay unit.

    18. Oh man, right now I have watched the in-house-feed of the ATP in Basel on http://www.eurosport.com for almost 7 hours now with almost of television quality over the nets….

      EVERYBODY all around the world can do this with acess to the Internet….

      Such a great service without any commercial breaks and without a useless commentator.

      Come on guys, please, please wake up over there, the 21st century has begun and the dark ages are gone ……!!!!!!

    19. Yes, we have all gone mad. If the team continues to focus on playing a simple, straight ahead game, getting pucks at the net, crashing the net, the forecheck and backcheck then Renney should be able to weed out players that aren’t getting the job done. As of this moment, it feels like almost every player out there isn’t. So, if Renney can simplify the game, reward hardwork and simplicity first, then things will make more sense.

      We lost to the pens, not for lack of hustle but for lack of intelligence. Renney focused on d coverage and now the team is tentative as Sam and Koala has pointed out. Does this team have the right mix (probably not)… ironically, we won’t totally know until we settle down and solidify. Until then, chances are, we will only weaken this team through waiver moves and stupid trades. (Conditioning stints is the most intelligent possibility) As for bringing up youguns at the moment, well, just ask the devils, unless you’re a blue chipper, the chances that you will prosper on a team with a broken system is unlikely. So, let them get more ice in Hartford while they figure out pro hockey down there.

    20. doodiemachetto on

      VP – I agree with you much more this time. I think Ward and Hall together would be a good fit, they both like to hustle and while neither of them have been too gifted in the hands department, together they could provide some energy and grit.

      Laurie – that “on pace” analysis is crap. if you want to talk “on pace”, Jagr and Nylander are on pace for ~100+ assists and Shannahan is on pace for 71 goals. Right. Also, on a team full of passers, Prucha’s use is as a goal scorer. He had 30 last year. He’s barely on pace for 10.

      Last year’s “kid” started the season pretty poorly last year and his production didn’t pick up until after a brief stint in Hartford. It also disappeared after the Olympics and still hasn’t been found. He knows not finding the goal the way he used to and the big hitters on other teams are targeting him on purpose because he’s so small, so not only is he losing confidence from poor production, but he’s getting beat down at the same time. He scored last night, so sending him down now would be bad – he should be given a chance to build on that. But if he doesn’t, a short stint so that he can remember how to find himself in the right place at the right time (which is how he scored most of his non PP goals last season) without being killed by the heavy hitters in the process.

      The return of Leetch is a horrible idea except in one possible way. If Malik, Kaspar, Roszi & Co. find themselves injured or even slower than they are now, and Leetch starts training from now and they have him “go for a tryout” in Hartford (like the Devils have Scott LaChance doing so he doesn’t count against the cap) to get rid of the rust and then bring him up late in the season for a cheap (money only, no players) veteran addition for the playoffs. But this is NOT going to happen, and as such, Leetch should just retire and have his number put in the rafters.

    21. I would like to see this:

      Hossa-Ward-Hall (would be a good line to wear down other team’s scoring lines)

      roll all 4 lines, Nylander needs to be away from Jagr, Betts is useless, trade Straka sooner or later.


    22. BTW, what was the point last season making the playoffs instead of rebuilding with youth? We could have had a good young team by now while in worst case being able to draft someone like Backstrom or Jordan Staal. But instead we got totally embarrassed in the playoffs and wasted a season playing garbage players like Rucchin and Betts while watching some of the most boring and predictable brand of hockey. Why is it that our managment can’t be patient with a rebuild like Penguins or Chicago.

    23. let’s get real. The Rangers are 13-24 since Feb.11

      That’s right. the Rangers have lost 24 of the 37 games played since the Olympics.

      So, this is NOT a short-term thing. They have, for the most part, played poorly for 8 months.

      Renney’s comments and actions last night show just how clueless he is. He was actually claiming that they played pretty good last night. (Earth to Renney–you got embarrassed by a team that was 0-4-1 on the road). he does not believe in playing tough, or preventing his players from being pushed around. He intimated as much after the game. (when Tucker goes after Jagr, no one does anything)

      And Renney has no faith in the young players in the franchise. Lundquist and Prucha only got their chance because of injuries last season, not because Renney at first thought they were the better options than Weekes and Rucinsky.

      And look at this year. Renney goes with 1 (count ’em,1) new young player. Dawes. and he plays very little unless the team goes in the dumper. I am not calling Pock a new young player, because he played some for the Rangers about 3 years ago, but he too gets benched in favor of slow-footed, slow-witted old farts on defense.

      Meanwhile, other teams with great records have no problem playing their kids in all key situations, PP,PK, 5-on-3, last minute, etc. for 18-20 minutes per game.

      the youngest team in the league is the Sharks, and they are 7-3, with shutout wins over Dallas and Detroit. One of the youngest teams is the Buffalo Sabres, and they are 9-0. So I guess Renney has no good reason not to trust young players, except for his own ignorance.

      But, I add this caveat. The young players will not thrive if they have to play in a “Czech system”, which is what the Renney Rangers now employ. Instead of using a North American grinding, aggressive system of north-south, bang-and-crash, quick transition hockey, Renney employs the “Jagr system”, which is the Euro-soft, east-west, no-hit, fancy puck-possession, dmen-are-puckhandlers, don’t-suit-up-your-tough guy, disorganized shinny. It will be hard for any players to win in that system, unless Dolan wants play his home games in Prague.

    24. doodiemachetto on

      VP, a novel idea to have lots of youth, but here’s why that many of our youngsters won’t work: they’re not top flight prospects like the kids in Pittsburgh. They’re all average, at best. At the heights of their careers they could all be solid second string guys. The two high level prospects that they team has are Staal and Montoya, and I’m hesitant to include Montoya on this list. Losing 50 games won’t help them develop.

    25. malarkey. the Pens lost 50 games last year, and it did not hurt their development. And yes, the Rangers don’t have the elite top prospects like Crosby and Malkin, but they have just as many just-below-elite prospects as the Pens.

      The ONLY WAY they will develop is at the NHL level. But, Renney has to go because he does not trust young players. Jim Schonfeld should replace Renney because Schonfeld has been coaching the Ranger kids and knows them and trusts them.

      the Pens brought in Therrien to coach BECAUSE he worked with the Pens youngsters at their AHL team. And the same thing in Chicago, where they brought up their AHL coach, Yawney.

    26. VinnyPooh: Those are by far the worst lines I’ve ever seen. I think I just went blind from reading those. Trade Straka sooner than later? Besides Shanny and maybe Hollweg, Straka is our best defensive forward.

    27. Straka loses the puck in the offensive zone all the time, he is small, soft perimeter player who cannot finish.

      you think my lines are the worst? I guess you are a big fan of Blair “offensive retard” Betts centering the 2nd line.

      4Rangers, exactly Renney seems to be really scared playing rookies, even the proven ones like Prucha, Pock, Immonen. The guy is just a two faced double talking sleezebag.

      doodiemachetto, maybe they are not on the same level, maybe they are, without playing them you never truly know and besides it is not just about pure scoring talent, it is about energy, speed, physical play, willingness to do whatever necessary to win and so on. And don’t forget that young players are cheap which makes them good assets if you are trying to trade for some top players. But what I want is a TEAM concept sort of like Sabres without any big stars with special treatment. I want a player to be on the PP because he deserved it with his work, not because he is getting a big paycheck.

    28. As for Schoenfeld, he is better than Renney, but not sure he is a great coach or loves playing young guys, could be worth a try this season, if he fails we sign a new coach in offseason.

    29. The ONLY guy who will play Ranger prospects is the guy who has spent 2 years playing them and working with them. And Schonfeld likes tough, North American hockey, not the sissified, Renney Euro-shinny.

    30. Doodie Machetto on

      Malarkey, I’ve always liked that word. But I must counter with another… Bollocks!

      Among the youth (under 25 in age) that the Pens have 6 first round picks (7 if you count Armstrong who turned 26 last month), including 5 in the top 5 picks overall (two first, one second, two fifth). The rangers haven’t had a top 5 pick since 1999 (Brendl). The talent just isn’t there!

    31. ARmstrong is only 24. You don’t need only top 5 picks to be able to build a good team, just look at Buffalo, only VAnek was drafted 5th.

    32. Doodie Machetto on

      Corrected on Armstrong. Which actually helps my point.

      Forget top 5, the Rangers haven’t picked a decent, non-goalie first rounder (not including Staal who I wish could be in the AHL right now) since Alexei Kovalev! Lundmark? Brendl? Jessiman (selected over Richards, Eaves, Getzlaf, Parise, and others)? In 2000 and 2002 they didn’t even have a first rounder.

      Buffalo has about 5 first rounders and about 4 second rounders.

    33. Hey, Vinny, there’s a poster on Blueshirt Bulletin you’d get along great with! I think he might even beat you out for the “Straka and Betts Fan Club”! LOL By the way, I like Immo also, but he is struggling in Hartford. I don’t think we are at the point where we take a struggling AHL’er and immediately jump him to first line in the NHL.
      I also disagree with your assessment of Nylander. Yes, the guy is soft, but you can’t have a team filled with all the same type of players. I think that was one of the reasons Rucinsky and Sykora were let go. We had two offensive lines that played the same way. I have confidence that a Shanahan based second line will eventually give us a balanced attack. Nylander does things that no other players on our team can do. Yes, he can be frustrating at times, but he can find players (especially Jags) where no one else can. He also can sneak up on players and pick their pockets. I counted at least 4 takeaways by him alone. I love physical players as much as anyone, but I personally think he has been one of our better players overall.

      On Lundquist’s Struggles: As a goaltender/goaltender coach the big difference I’ve noticed with Hank this year is the fact that he is going down too soon. Yes, he’s a butterfly goalie, but last year he anticipated a lot better and stood his ground. He looked like that in pre-season, so I would think it is a confidence issue and that it will sort itself out as he gets more defensive support. Going down early is a bad habit, but even our goaltending coach can’t boost his confidence. Watch him next game and look to see if he is going down on shots early. The only technical problem I see with him is that when he doesn’t use the butterfly he is dipping one knee when a shot comes, which is opening the five hole where several goals have dribbled in. Again, this wasn’t a problem last year. This can be worked on in practice, but the confidence issue might be in effect here as well. If he isn’t sure when to go down, he might hesitate and this is kind of an in between move.

      All in all, I think there have been some valid points made. The number one issue that everyone is dead on about is that Jags and Lundquist (and Prucha) were the reason we dominated early last year. If you believe that these three will not resume playing to their abilities, then I can see why your outlook is so bleak. I, for one, am under no such illusion.

      It’s not even Halloween yet. Successful teams face adversity and overcome it. We faced it at the end of the year and never were able to recover. I’d much rather have us struggle early and finish strong.

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