Going back to the well?

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That at least was the impression I got from my conversation with Tom Renney Sunday afternoon. Fresh off a win in Phoenix, having shifted to L.A., the Rangers coach said he wasn’t sure of his lineup for Monday night against the struggling Kings, but it was his “inclination” to use the same personnel as he did against the Coyotes.

On the surface, one could understand. In what the coach said was his team’s most complete effort of the young season, there wasn’t anyone who necessarily played themselves OUT of the lineup against the ‘Yotes Saturday night. Yes, the cynic might argue, some may have managed that long before. But for now, the Rangers might not want to tinker with a recipe that is working.

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Of course, this would mean that both Nigel Dawes and Thomas Pock could sit again, and Renney acknowledged he’s concerned about getting both ice time.

When I asked the coach what, if anything, is holding Pock back these days, Renney said he loved the player’s skating and his shot, and he loved the fact that the 24-year-old defenseman has a “cantankerous” side when it comes to using the body. But he also said the defenseman needs to make quicker decisions with the puck, and that Pock also needs to consider more options than the one straight in front of him.

When I asked the coach if there’s something to be said for two young players injecting some energy into the lineup, he said that was definitely a consideration. But maybe — and this is only me guessing — the need isn’t quite as pressing as it was prior to the Phoenix game.

You’re only as good as your last game, after all. And for one day at least, the Rangers aren’t that bad.

Meanwhile, there are other factors to consider here, and one is whatever the Rangers might be cooking up behind closed doors. At first, it seemed unlikely the team would play the entire road trip with all eight defenseman. Now, it seems like they will.

“Whoever is in the lineup will be evaluated against that eight-man dynamic,” Renney said.

In other words, auditions are ongoing.

Don’t call us. We’ll call you.

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25 Comments

  1. Sam, how do you refrain from punching that jackal in his hyena-like mug? :)

    It is true our coach is a cowardly hyena (even looks and smiles like one) and our rookies and young players are wounded/dying animals. Just like a hyena this team can only beat weak teams like Coyotes, Flyers, and Capitals. But when it comes to tough opponents theyrun with their tails between their legs.

  2. “When I asked the coach what, if anything, is holding Pock back these days, Renney said he loved the player’s skating and his shot, and he loved the fact that the 24-year-old defenseman has a “cantankerousâ€? side when it comes to using the body. But he also said the defenseman needs to make quicker decisions with the puck, and that Pock also needs to consider more options than the one straight in front of him.”
    Oh PLEASE!! Whatever shortcomings Renney sees in Pock, he’s light years ahead of a couple of Ranger D men (I won’t name names) that haven’t been benched this year. Root canal was the reason one of them missed a game. This is frustrating. Pock is NOT a liability here!!

  3. Sam,

    Any sense of the dynamic between Renney and Sather; is the coach making these personnel decisions or being handcuffed by someone else’s agenda? And have you spoken to either Pock or Dawes? Are these guys man enough to handle not playing, or are they becoming embittered (which would be understandable, but unfortunate…)?

    Going to the game tonight — so psyched.

  4. Dawes just got his chance at the big time. He’s a young kid, he better not be becoming embittered, and no it’s not understandable. It’s not as if he’s earned his keep or is some veteran watching from the booth.

  5. If Rozsival plays it shows a complete lack of accountability by Renney. He was pretty bad in the last game, particularly on the PP where he had 2 giveaways from the exact same spot, and they were simply due to limp noodle passes.

  6. Couple of answers:

    First of all, Vinny, let’s steer clear of the personal attacks. You don’t like Renney, we get it. Your opinion is your opinion. But let’s talk about him as a coach.

    Mike, I doubt we’ll see Pock at forward. The Rangers want him to adapt an even more defensive mindset, and they don’t want him to revert to his habits as a forward.
    Meanwhile, is he a liability right now? I personally don’t see it. And I agree he has the potential to be more effective than some of the other players the Rangers are skating now.

    Chris, I have spoken to Dawes and he’s taking it in stride, as a rookie should. If he plays this sparingly all season, that might change. But I’m assuming that won’t be the case.

    As for the Sather-Renney dynamic, good question. I’ve talked to Glen for about 30 seconds all year — actually just to introduce myself — but have spoken far more to Maloney. I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand how that works. I know the Rangers trust Renney. But there may well be a push to play certain players if the team is trying to move them. And that would make a lot more sense.

  7. “there may well be a push to play certain players if the team is trying to move them. And that would make a lot more sense.”

    Sam, do you mean they could be showcasing certain D men?

  8. The sense I’ve been getting from comments in the press is that Pock is sitting while they allow some of the higher priced vets to play themselves out of a job. I.e., they are evaluating the vets to decide which ones they want to unload and once that process is complete, Pock may start seeing some more ice time.

    Is this your take on it Sam or do you think Pock will continue to be the odd man out simply because it’s easier to bench an inexpensive rookie?

  9. Hey Sam,

    Ask Renney how Hossa keeps playing in spite of his ZERO points and MINUS-7? If Dawes had put up those numbers he’d be back in Hartford to “get his game on track”. This insane loyalty to Hossa is beyond moronic at this point. It is not as if he’s providing something intangible like Orr or Hollweg. He does nothing but control the puck for a few seconds until he eventually gives it away.

  10. Mike, sure, Dawes is a rookie, but any competitive professioanl athlete is going to grow anxious if he has to watch others play poorly while he sits. Maybe ‘understandable’ is too strong, but he wouldn’t be the first Rangers prospect to be ignored into resentment.

  11. “But there may well be a push to play certain players if the team is trying to move them. And that would make a lot more sense”

    Sam, I doubt you are serious about that :)

    Sam, wouldn´t you agree that it doesn´t make sense. I mean if you want to move them as a coach you are not convinced in the players and then you don´t let them play. You have to make sure that the teams has the most success as possible and then you don´t showcase them like that.

    Would you bring on Rachunek or Ozo in a very important game just to show the NHL that they are ready and than they loose ?????

  12. Goofy —
    I disagree. What sort of message are you sending to another team if the guy you’re trying to trade is watching games from the press box? Suddenly, the team you’re dealing with starts thinking, ‘If they don’t want them, why should we?’

    I agree you wouldn’t do that in the thick of a playoff race. But a month into the season, it’s still possible.

  13. Well, I don´t know but a hockey team is such a complex unit and in the case of the Rangers right now it´s seems to be much more favourable option to built on a team as a coach that you have the most faith in to win games regularly.

    And if you are not convinced in certain ones, you better not using them. You may think about those possiblties when you are in a winning mode and you are 10-12 games about 0.500 but right now, I don´t know if that is a good option…..!:)

  14. Sam,

    Yea it has worked so well in the past when the Rangers have tried to blow up the worth of a player they are shopping. Fact is the players they are supposedly shopping have so little worth that they are worth more GONE than they are here. Addition by subtraction in its simplest form.

    Dawes, Immonen and Pock should all be regulars at this point. Nursing them along is doing nothing for this supposed REBUILD…. oh yea I know I should not utter the word since it is certainly a farce. A true rebuild would have included those players easily at the very least.

  15. Sam-

    Realistically, what is the chance that these players are moved for anything of value at this juncture in the season? Very unlikely. The only kind of trades that get accomplished early in the season like this are the hossa for murray deals. At best, we can trade one of these D men for another underachieving player from another team. Which means, we end up clearing up our glut on defense by creating one at forward. On top of that, we’d end up bringing in another role player who probably had trouble filling his role on another squad. We have plenty of that already.

    At some point, these vets are best sent to the minors or getting a conditioning stint in the hopes that they get their act together. Then, at the deadline, you can unload one of them for a mid-round draft pick. That’s the best hope for value. The only other choice is getting some veteran AHLer who can act as a mentor to the pack kids. Not optimal, and not enhancing the value of the organization. At some point they have to balance this approach against the possibility of creating yet a third glut which is even more crucial than the rest and that is a youth glut – where the development of several kids become stunted because they are unchallenged, uninspired or forced to play out of position in an inferior league.

  16. “First of all, Vinny, let’s steer clear of the personal attacks. You don’t like Renney, we get it. Your opinion is your opinion. But let’s talk about him as a coach.”

    I WAS talking about him as a coach, he is the type of a coach that can sweet talk his way out of any situation, he is dishonest, unfair, biased, hypocritical, and so on. And on top of that he is easily outcoached by any good coach.

    No coach in NHL would play Straka and Rozsival on the PP point. No coach in NHL would give Prucha less than 15 minutes of icetime. No coach in NHL would play Orr over Dawes. No coach in NHL would play Hollweg at center. And no coach in NHL would play Betts anywhere above 4th line. No coach in NHL has nobody crashing the net, screening goalies, etc. Except for our jackal.

  17. the Rangers should only ask for a draft pick for any of their vet Dmen on the bubble. No more Hossa trades. No more trading for someone else’s headache. Get a draft pick, and put Pock in the lineup.

  18. “the Rangers should only ask for a draft pick for any of their vet Dmen on the bubble. No more Hossa trades. No more trading for someone else’s headache. Get a draft pick, and put Pock in the lineup.”

    that is what a logical team would do, but this team will just get another mediocre veteran center to bury young guys even deeper.

  19. 1) Betts is not a second line NHL center. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Shanny’s been finding it harder to score at even strength with Betts as his center. Immonen fits this role perfectly in my opinion. He has a great offensive upside and it would be a perfect learning experience for him. Would you or anyone else who follows this team have any problem with him taking that role????? This way Cullen can still center the checking line.

    2) Pock needs to play. Out of all of the defenseman so far to play this year, he has stood out the most in his limited playing time. Some of our defenseman are attrocious! Does Renney feel obligated to play them because of last year?? This is the NHL, and it seems that Renney is scared to bench some of these guys. Baranka could contribute so much more than Roszival and Malik right now. I don’t think Rachunek has made one nice play so far this whole season.

    3) Dawes needs to play instead of Hossa.

  20. But he also said the defenseman needs to make quicker decisions with the puck, and that Pock also needs to consider more options than the one straight in front of him.

    This statement is a contradiction by the coach. This type of play on words is unfortunate. Renney is chastizing his other defensmen for overthinking and trying to make the hard play instead of the simple play. Pock is going to make these miscues as a rookie. What excuse do the vets have??? Especially the vets who are repeat offenders!!!!
    no hitting,no scoring,and no speed.. Thats what the Rangers have on defense as of now. Renney knows it. So somethings wrong . There is a piece missing to this Renney story it seems.

  21. 4Rangers…

    Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    Problem is, at this juncture in the season, it’s hard to get draft picks from teams with the salary cap considerations. Maybe in the old nhl you could trade a vet at game 10 and get a pick, but not anymore. Check out the logic:

    1) A team with a legit shot at the cup won’t make this kind of a deal until late in the season because they will lose salary cap room to fill needs at the deadline. So, that’s a no go for them.

    2) A team that sucks wouldn’t bring in a vet for a draft pick because sucky teams need their picks.

    3) That leaves middle of the road teams… the .500 teams. Would they pull a deal like this? Maybe. But conisder the fact that the rangers ARE one of these teams and the thought of bringing in some vet for a draft pick at this point sounds like a horrible idea. So, you could see that a deal is not necessarily a phone call away. And ironically, many of the teams in dire need to shake things up are in our own division. Cept the Yotes, of course.

    Also keep in mind that you have to eat these contracts. Teams are still on the hook for their NHL contracts no matter where the players go in their system (unless the players have 2 way deals – which Kaspar, Malik & Rachunek most assuredly don’t have – either does Hossa). So, does it make sense from a team building standpoint to bury these players? We’re talking roughly 5% of team cap room with each move. For two players like kaspar and malik that’s 10% of the team cap space. If you banish them to the minors, you’d almost definitely be on the hook for most of the season and even if you did move them, you’d have to agree to pick up the hit. What does that mean in practical terms… 4 million you can’t use to land a Lecavalier if the opportunity arises. Do you banish one or two vets now to potentially hurt a larger upgrade down the road, not sure that makes sense.

    These are important factors… which says to me, this problem has no easy answers and patience will have to be a virtue.

    Perhaps the big lesson learned here, is teams have to build with more flexibility and interchangeability in mind. AND THEY HAVE TO LEAVE ROOM FOR PROMOTIONS!!!! The rangers are still a fairly rigid team in terms of how they’re built – big difference between line 1 and line 4. That’s not the new NHL.

    On the positive side, the fact that their farm is filled with so many 2nd-4th liners and 3-6 dmen is probably a good thing.

  22. Neil, they have to pay them their money, yes, but if a player, even a vet on a 1-way, is sent to the minors, his salary does NOT count against the cap. Just like Lou did with McGillis last year.

  23. 4Rangers – true but if they are in the minors and the Rangers try to bring them back up their salary is pd 1/2 by the Rangers if another team graps them via waivers and that counts vs the cap for the Rangers. So in other words once down in the minors it would be best to keep the player there.

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