Black Halloween

63

I give up.

OK, not really, but hear me out for a second.

I think one of the reasons you’ve all been responsive to this space is the fact that I’m fairly honest with my limitations. I know hockey. I played it all growing up, played competitively in high school and into college, and have even spent a couple seasons as a coach.

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But this is my first season covering the NHL full-time, and there have probably been times when I’ve deferred serious criticism because I’ve felt like I’m still getting my bearings. A couple of jokes here and there is fine, but there’s still a part of me that thinks the people who play for and run the Rangers know more about what they’re doing than I do. It’s a silly sentiment, I know, and something I can’t hide behind for too long.

So rather than dwell on the things I don’t know, let’s get to the things I do know after the Rangers’ atrocious 4-1 loss to the Kings.

  • I know the Rangers are too slow. It’s not something that’s too noticeable against opponents that give up the neutral zone — i.e. the Coyotes — but when they face any sort of resistance moving the puck up ice, it’s as if they’re helpless. The puck moves faster than anyone, I know. But on nights when nothing else is clicking, a team’s speed can still keep them in the game.
  • I know that the team won’t make it past April 7 (the last day of the regular season) if they continue to employ the same group of defensemen. It’s not working, and if anything, you would hope that a loss like last night would make that more apparent. Enough tryouts already. It’s time to cut your losses.
  • I know Nigel Dawes and Thomas Pock aren’t doing anyone any good sitting in the press box (unless they’re willing to cover the game for me). Here’s an example of where I’ve probably given Tom Renney the benefit of the doubt. I figured if those guys aren’t playing, the coach is seeing something I don’t. But I’ve seen the jolt both players have provided when they’re in the lineup. And when it comes to defensive lapses, I haven’t seen those two do anything nearly as bad as what we’ve seen from supposedly steadier veterans.
  • I know that the chemistry problem with Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan isn’t between those two, but with everyone else. In other words, by putting the two stars on the power play together, there seems to be a tendency by the likes of Michael Nylander and Michal Rozsival to always defer to the two heavyweights. The power play needs more motion, and more shots. If they’re coming off the stick of Shanahan, great. But at this point, any shot will do.
  • I know it’s still early. Surely there is reason to be concerned after such a woeful showing last night, and with three of the best teams in the league up next. But I’m still of the belief that the Rangers can find their footing, and they don’t need a major overhaul in order to do so. As Shanahan said the other day, there are a lot of teams in the midst of the same sort of soul-searching as the Rangers. Better to do it now than when it’s too late.

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    63 Comments

    1. Thanks, Sam, for providing me with that idea with sports yahoo concerning live streams of the Rangers games in Los Angeles and in San Jose, but very unfortunately you are right that is just for local residents only…

      I think I need to shoot them an e-mail to ask for the reason that they made it only available for local residents !!

      It seems to me that those all games which are covered by Versus so I probably need to ask them..

      It is even more and more frustrating especially when you think about the way the Rangers are playing right now :)

    2. Mayby you could elaborate more on this…

      I think Renney is comfortable with Dawes and Pock. He knows they need more minutes per game but that cannot happen just yet. In the case of Pock, he is letting the seven other defensemen earn their spot – we know one of the vets is a gonner. As for Dawes, I’m wondering if an adjustment will be made up front also??

    3. What really strikes me as funny is how Renney constantly stated throughout the offseason/preseason that although this team is looking to improve from last year, that they are IN NO DOUBT COMMITTED TO THE YOUTH MOVEMENT. BS!!!! Our so called youth movement that should be playing is either toying around in minor leagues or rotting in the pressbox. When is Renney gonna realize that some of the current staff won’t cut it.

      Sam,

      Would you agree with me that Immonen can be and should be second line center. Betts is absolutely terrible! He has absolutely no offensive upside and the things he is supposed to be good at he is not this season (48% on faceoffs, attrocious backchecking). Why is Renney so in love with this guy?? There are other guys on this team that can kill penalties just as well as he can.

      Also if the defense is not overhauled soon I will go crazy. Pock should start everygame. Meanwhile Staal is toying around in the OHL when he is better than most of the guys Renney is putting out there and could be gaining some good NHL experience, just like his younger brother who is quickly becoming a star in Pittsburgh. Do you have any ideas what Renney might do, because he must by now see that some changes need to be made.

      -Drew

    4. i really can’t wait for hopefully both malik and rosi to go. bring up richter as the 7th d man.

      trade away hossa and honestly, i wouldn’t even mind a shake up with either straka or some other forward vet.

      bring up immo, hope jed comes back soon, and get some people who are proud to wear the sweater

    5. Sam-

      Good points all around. About the power play, the deferral to Jagr and Shanahan is not as big a deal as you think. Last year, they deferred exclusively to Jagr constantly. And although many complained that it was so predictable, let’s face it, it basically worked most of the time. The real difference with the power play IMO, is this:

      (i) No Prucha. I know Shanahan belongs out there, but you cannot understate the presence of Prucha on the first PP unit. He moves around and puts in the garbage goals too.

      (ii) The point men. They don’t pass well, they don’t shoot well (or at all) and they don’t keep the puck in well either. Does Roszival really belong on the point on a PP? I have not really understood all the “virtual” heckling and abuse piled on Renney by some people, but at some point it is justified to argue that the coach needs to make personnel changes in the lines and lineup.

      (iii) Jagr. To repeat what many others have said, Jagr appear hurt. Last year he was a one timer machine. After a game of catch with Roszival he would unleash a blast. If you had that threat on one side and Shanahan’s on the other side, this could work. But this year, their just playing catch without the follow up one-timer. Now I’ve had shoulder surgery myself for a dislocated shoulder. Besides the physical recovery, there’s also the aspect of getting over the tentativeness you naturally feel after a surgery. Even if Jagr’s shoulder is fully healed, he may be “afraid” of taking the big windup and the shot. This takes time (and doesn’t excuse the giveaways), but the PP and the team are not the same with a Jagr that can’t shoot, even if its only in his head.

    6. I am listen to the NHL live and they are saying that the chemistry between the players is not longer as good as it was last season. The former HMO line as I have posted before are really missing right now, obviously a big reason for the Rangers success last season.

      But I don´t get the point that the defense should be very slow when they weren´t last season with almost the same corps of defenseman..But bear in mind always that I am not able to see any games..:)

      And I think Neil made a real good point last night that the Rangers are playing a very dangerous game with Jaromir Jagr. That shoulder injury is very dangerous can be a reason for ending a carreer. They should really look after it very precisely in not losing JJ for the whole season….

    7. or trading him for some sick prospect and a #1…hahaha….but just think, 10 more games like the last 10 and i bet people would be down for it.

    8. Staal can not be called up. I wish people would stop calling for him, because it ain’t gonna happen. It CAN’T happen, legally. I also wish people would stop saying he’s better than anything we have in the lineup now, because he certainly wasn’t in training camp or pre-season. I really wish people would stop treating this kid as a savior. Cause so far, from what I’ve seen in the Wolfpack playoffs last year and training camp/pre-season this year, he’s not. He’s a step slow, indecisive with the puck, and prone to positional mistakes. He will certainly get better, but he was not ready for the NHL this season. It would have been nice if he could have gotten some professional experience under his belt in Hartford this season, but unfortunately, rules are rules, and the Rangers had no choice but to send him back to juniors or risk stunting his growth by having his sit in the press box (which is exactly what he would have been doing had the Rangers D looked anything like it did for the first 3/4 of the season last year.) More importantly, based on training camp/preseason, there are at least three guys ahead of him on the depth chart right now: Pock, Baranka and Girardi. Those are the names people should be clamoring for. I know people go ga-ga over the name “Staal”, but Marc plays a much more difficult position than his brothers; one that takes more time to perfect. These unreasonable expectations are only going to hurt the kid in the long run.

    9. Sam, don’t ever assume that you don’t know as much as the people running the team. This organization has played in FOUR playoff games, and lost them all, since 1997. NINETEEN NINETY SEVEN. They have as little credibility as anyone in hockey.

      Anyway, Larry Brooks mentioned that a scout from Chicago was following the Rangers, possibly in search of a trade. One would think that it means a D-man going, HOWEVER, Spector mentions that the Hawks have been shopping Jassen Cullimore, a 33-year-old, big, soft, blueliner. It would be a typical Ranger move if they picked him up. But hey, at least he brings another Cup ring with him.

      *Rolling eyes*

    10. seriously, pock should be playing and richter should be our 7th d. let baranka play in the ahl one more year and come up only if he is going to play. he is still only 21.

      but that being said, we need to get rid of a few players.

      my top 4

      rosi
      malik
      betts
      hossa

      i would really love to see these lines

      prucha – mylander – jagr
      straka – jarko – shanny
      dawes – cullen – hall
      hollywood – betts – ward

      kaspar – tuts
      ozo – ward
      pock – rachunek

      and does anybody else find it alarming that weekes has only played 1 game???

    11. Laurie,

      Yeah, those Staal kids sure suck in the NHL. They have no pedigree, no size, no hockey talent . . . unless you are saying we got the ONE family member that stinks.

      He should have played the 9 games, just like Jordan, to see how he fared.

      That’s what you DO with first round picks. That’s what you DO with prospects. Just not here in NY. Ask Colby Genoway (search the net for his recent comments, for those of you who know not of what I speak).

    12. Laurie is right though. staal wasn’t a top 10 d man in camp, so why keep him?

      staal was a top 12 forward for pitt, hence why he stayed.

      and that’s not what you DO with first round picks. you develop them as much as you can so you don’t end up with a krisspy cream brendl…..

    13. I don’t think trading JJ or Straka is such a good idea, IMO Straka is a very good player and he does try- his problem is he is too small to make any serious forecheck. But D needs big changes our transition game is not there and Rangers are way too slow… Also Rangers need to work on their passes did you see how many passes misconnected last night and ended up back in our zone on a counter attack. The whole system is screwed up and please people stop picking on Hossa he is not the worst out there.

    14. Drew,
      I disagree w/ your assessment on staal. What i saw in the preseason was not that good, he needs more time in the AHL before he can play here. What his brothers do are irrelevant, we have what could be a #1 in this league for the next 15 years, you dont rush that. The problem is he is too young to play in the AHL, where he should be. Sadly you probably will not see him till the 08-09 season on the big club.

    15. HDH,

      I agree with you. And Laurie, I realize Staal cannot be called up and that’s why im angry that Renney didn’t keep him around for at least a couple of games. Staal has a lot of potential, and kids as good as him also ADAPT to the big game quickly. You have to remember that in the World Juniors he single handedly shut down guys like Kessel and MALKIN, who is making mincemeat of established NHL defenseman right now.

      Bottom line is Laurie, he’s not gonna get any better playing at Sudbury. He belongs in the NHL. He IS the youth movement Renney has been praising over the last two seasons.

    16. I did not understand why Jagr was on the ice with 2 minutes left. What did they expect 3 goals from him. He is bound to get hurt. His shot is not there and he does not play nearly as agressive as he should.

    17. 1) I agree this group of defenseman aren’t doing the trick, but they are essentially unchanged since last year (except substitute Rachunek for Strudwick)when they were at the top of the leaguie in GA. Was Strudwick that important? Of course not. So it must be TEAM defense that’s lacking now, not the defensemen. No Ortmyer, no Moore, for two. They’re more valuable then given credit for.

      2) Too much Hossa. He adds nothing. I wish he would, but he doesn’t. At least last year Renney sat him.

      3) Why are Rozy – Straka our #1 PP point team? Ozo belongs on the PP point. That may be all he’s good for. Pock is not afraid to shoot. Why isn’t he playing at all? I blame Renney for this. We also miss Sykora on the PP.

    18. can the fans finally start the FIRE RENNEY chants? What are they waiting for, it was obvious even last season that Renney sucks.

    19. Can people stop discussing family pedigree as if it matters? Sheesh, does the name Hossa not mean anything? And Gretzky had two brothers…

      If Jagr is hurt so badly he should not be playing. But if he’s going to play he should be responsible. As for trading him, not ever gonna happen. Half of last season hasn’t convinced anyone in authority that he isn’t the lazy, mopey brat he was before and since that small period of time when he was amused to be playing with other Czechs and before people started covering him again last year.

      Unfortunately it is becoming more and more obvious that the start of last season was the fluke. The constant mismanagement and underachieving of this organization is par for the course, dating back years. It’s going to be sad to see Shanahan grind himself to nothing in a one man show.

      Neil’s post on the last blog entry was great. Thanks. Kelly Kisio was my favorite player as a kid. Wish we had some more guys with that work ethic.

    20. Staal looked pretty bad in preseason, but what they should have done is send him to Hartford for “conditioning stint” then depending how he played there either keep him or send him back to OHL.

    21. HDH —

      There’s no question these people know more than I do (and if not, there’s a far deeper problem than we’ve even discussed). But what might be at issue is a lack of flexibility, lack of willingness to see certain players as they are, a realization that they’ve painted themselves into a corner with certain contracts, etc.

      The amount of information flowing to and from a team’s upper management is staggering. How they use it is another story.

      Sam

    22. Drew/HDH, I simply disagree. Staal doesn’t belong in the NHL just because of his name or because Renney and the rest of the organization have been touting him as “the future.” Neither are good reasons for anyone to be playing in the NHL. Not to mention what it says to other players in the organization that clearly played better than him in training camp/pre-season, and are languishing in the press box or in Hartford. Also, remember that the same Staal that made mincemeat of the likes of Kessel and Malkin two years ago is the same Staal that was made mincemeat of himself by AHLers last April. And HDH, I never said Staal stunk, or had no size, or talent or or pedigree, so you’ll have to try a different tact. And I don’t care what organization you’re talking about, throwing players in over their heads isn’t just what you DO, regardless of what number they were picked in the draft.

      As for Colby Genoway, all I say is: look where he’s playing now. That’s right. In the AHL.

    23. “I did not understand why Jagr was on the ice with 2 minutes left. What did they expect 3 goals from him. He is bound to get hurt. His shot is not there and he does not play nearly as agressive as he should.”

      because the “main attraction” on this team is to have a a league leader in scoring or rather to have Jagr win Art Ross, that is the only way he is “having fun”. Don’t you know by now that it is all about Jagr, not the team.

    24. “Vinny, a “conditioning stintâ€? was not an option for Staal”

      why? link please.

    25. Laurie,

      You are just not correct about how teams develop their first round picks. Historically, good players have several seasons of NHL experience by the time the Rangers’ rookies are first breaking in.

      This team needs to do what the Devils and Red Wings and Senators and many other successful teams do, and that is have faith and patience with their prospects, and allow them to play. If the NHL is “over their heads”, it is ALWAYS going to be over their heads.

      The problem on Broadway is that they wait too long to give these kids a good hard look at the NHL level, and are all to quick to dismiss a player’s potential.

      This is why most of Hugh Jessiman’s draft class has NHL experience, while he is possibly years from seeing any action (and even he was shafted by getting only a single game in exhibitions), Laurie Korpikoski plays in the AHL again while Wojtek Wolski is playing very well so far, and Staal will be a year or two more away, while Nik Bergfors will step right in on the Devils next fall, just as Zajac did this year for them.

      Even using your logic, shouldn’t Thomas Pöck and Ivan Baranka be playing on this team? They were much better than Malik, Rozsival, and Kasparaitis during the preseason.

      What you are saying would have merit if the team was good. They are not. We were duped into believing that the team would stick with “the plan” of rebuilding, or developing from within, and instead they brought in 30-year-olds or older guys in Cullen, Ward, Ozolinsh and Shanahan, and other mid level prospects in exchange for our youth (Moore for Hall), and the only new young players we see are Dawes and Pöck and they are sitting every game.

      We were duped, and fans should expect another long spell without the playoffs unless things change fast.

    26. First: I think Shanny and Jagr need to split up on the pp. Let’s have 2 pp units, and give them equal time. I agree with the above poster, but prucha with Jagr, and move Shanny to the other pp unit.

      Second: Cullen needs to be on the pp point. He looked great in Carolina there last year, and he looked good in preseason in NY.

      Third: Give Dawes and Pock some decent ice time. Trade or waive Rachunek. Send Kaspar down on conditioning stint, he needs to build up his speed/strength and timing.

    27. great post HDH, somehow Rangers management thinks that young players equals losing and that a young player needs to force himself into the lineup instead of creating roster space for them to grow and develop. They just sit like idiots on top of a huge pile of prospects and have no clue what to do with them.

    28. Anthony (Abev) on

      Sam, I agree and hope the same: That the Rangers know how to fix this problem. I think as fans we see it as a 10 in terms of how much trouble they are in, they may see it as a 5 or 6. This may be part of the plan to weed out certain aspects of the team?

      In sports today’s game means nothing, tomorrow’s is always more important.

      And matthias look at this link -> http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=306259 Have you tried this for watching games?

    29. Anthony (Abev) on

      Vinny this stuff on Staal is a done deal. He’s too young to play in Hartford. He on the Rangers or Juniors, theres no in between at age 19. And since he never made the Rangers roster, he stays in juniors for this season.

    30. Rangers faced this last night….

      Kings hadn’t won since October 19th (also the last time they scored more than 2 goals in a game) and hadn’t won at home since October 10th

    31. Also anybody else find it funny that if we win at the expense of young players like Dawes and Prucha then the coach gets “superstitious” and keeps exactly the same lineup so as if not to jinx the winning. But when young guys score, hyena always finds a way to demote them and to ruin their confidence. I blame hyena for deliberately ruining Prucha’s confidence after his great performance in pre-season.

    32. What all of you have to remember with Marc Staal is that he is a defenseman and his brothers are all forwards. Defenseman take a lot longer to develop than forwards. With the Staal brothers you are comparing apples to oranges. Every kid is different. We need to remember that Marc is 19 going on 20 (if not already). He clearly was not ready to play in the NHL this season. Remember when Chris Pronger was first drafted by Hartford? After two years in the NHL everyone thought he was a bust, and then he ultimately blossomed in St. Louis.

    33. Thanks Anthony I haven´tried it but I will do it tonight at 1 am if I can not sleep… It´s seems to be a similar system to that one I already use to see the big soccer games over here from all around the world as well produced by a chinese company… :)

      It is just unbelievable they almost offer every champions league tonight around Europe..Sometimes they have NFL and NBA as well but not the NHL…!!!!

    34. what coaches are available:

      1. Ken Hitchcock–proven winner

      2. Jim Schoenfeld–could kill 2 birds with one stone making both Rangers and Wolfpack better

      3. Bob Francis–won Jack Adams, plays young guys

      4. Pat Burns–if he is healthy

      5. Kevin Constantine–defensively crazy

      6. Mike Sullivan–I think he is a very good choice, plays young players, proven winner both in AHL and NHL, fairly young, not afraid to butt heads with superstars.

      7. damn forgot his name, the ex-Leafs coach–a bit too old, but a damn good coach

      who else is available?

    35. As of now, Staal looks like Shawn Bradley on skates. He’s not ready to play on the NHL level. I’d rather see Puriton called up.

    36. You guys really want to feel lousy?

      At this time last year, after 11 games, the Rangers were 5-3-3, with 13 points. Not too much ahead of this year’s mark of 10, right?

      Well last year, they went 13-5 over their next 18, and had 39 points after 29 games.

      THIS YEAR, over the next 18 games they play Anaheim, San Jose, 3 against Buffalo, 3 against the Penguins, 2 against Atlanta, 2 against Carolina, 1 against the Devils, and 1 against Ottawa. Not to mention games against the Panthers, to whom they have already lost, the Islander, which are always chippy, and Tampa Bay who do have some talent.

      This could be a disaster in the making.

    37. well on the bright side, after the next 18 games we could be in the stakes for that higher level talent that comes with the first 5 picks…..if so…..fire sale….

    38. Events are casting their shadow, and if the team tanks in the next three games or starts falling off the pace after that, you’ll hear the “Fire Renney” chants and once they start, I hope Sather acts as fast as Lamoriello did last year.

      Who’s out there? Don Maloney has never coached in the NHL but I always liked him as a player and he knows the team inside and out. I think he’d be the best bet.

      Shoenfeld would come in from within the organization and like Therrien in Pittsburgh, he’d be the most likely to give the kids a chance to play. That’s paying dividends for the Pens this year. Shoenfield’s playoff record is pretty poor, but if we’re talking about a rebuild year, he could be the man.

      Bob Francis as the son of the legendary Emile the Cat is family. For younger fans Emile took a sad sack team and as gm-coach built them into a powerhouse that went to the finals. Like Schonfeld his record in the playoffs is dismal, but he didn’t do badly at Phoenix. He’s got the experience, that’s for sure.

      Quinn and Hitchcock would squeeze 100 per cent out of what’s there and there’d be no nonsense such as letting a phoney like Hossa fake his way through game after game. There may be contract constaints on both.

    39. I would like to see Jason Allison signed. His play-making ability would be a perfect complement to Shanny & Cullen. Plus, Shanny & Cullen could compensate for Allison’s lack of foot speed, on the defensive end. Betts should be put back to the third line, where he belongs.

      Straka-Nylander-Jagr
      Shanny-Allison-Cullen
      Prucha-Betts-Ward
      Orr-Immonen-Hollweg

      Hall and Hossa should vanish. Send down Dawes. He’s a 2nd line forward.

    40. “Hall and Hossa should vanish. Send down Dawes. He’s a 2nd line forward.”

      first make Betts disappear.

      I would sign Allison if we package Nylander and Immonen to get Lecavalier.

    41. First of all, Allison is 32. He put good numbers last year, and most of his career. Dawes is wasting time on a 3rd or 4th line. He’s not an energy guy. He’s a scorer.

    42. HDH – Jessiman, from what I’ve seen so far of him, is a bust. I was hoping for the kid after reading he was being tutored by Shanny, but he seems to be lacking the skills necessary to play at the present NHL speed. He was picked prior to the rule change in the league and when teams were looking for burly guys that could muscle into the crease and score goals. Obviously, he hasn’t become that guy. And Korpikoski looked great at times last season, but continues to put up the dreary offensive numbers he was logging in Finland.

      Bottom line is, I would love to see a youth movement hit this team and I’m not to willing to say there isn’t one going on to some extent behind the scenes. But the fact remains that the youth themselves are fairing much worse than the “aging vets” on the Rangers. And if you look at the brutal statistics comming out of Hartford, bringing up the youngsters from the Pack would likely make this team nose dive worse than Phoenix.

      As far as last night’s game is concerned, Sam pretty much touched on my two big beefs. Number one: THE POWER PLAY MUST TAKE SHOTS. No shots means no goals. Nylander is a perfect example of one guy who needs to hammer the puck when he’s down low, rather than looking for Jagr. I know Jagr likes to set up the highlight reel plays, but when the defense is collapsing in on the net as the Kings were doing last night, this won’t happen. Go for the dirty goals, the rebounds off a slap shot, not the pretty four-pass-in-the-net shots. Number two: the defense either needs quicker legs or needs to stay back and PLAY THE BODY. When Sjostrom undressed Ozo and Roszival last weekend, this was a perfect example of these guys not playing the body and allowing him to get a leg up.

    43. Little early on bashing players on the Pack for lack of offense since the team as a whole isn’t scoring at all. No one on that club is scoring.

    44. Stall can be called up but only if injuries force it to take place. I have seen it before with jr players. Everyone would have to get hurt on D which would be a good thing.

    45. TDCHI:

      You know who has been one of the worst AHL teams over the last decade? The Albany River Rats. You know who their parent club is? The Devils.

      AHL success does not equal NHL success. AHL experience cannot replace NHL experience.

      You are worried about statistics in Hartford? Well last year guys like Wiseman, Giroux, Pöck, Dawes, Helminen, Genoway, and Immonen rocked the numbers, and they can barely get a sniff of NHL action with this organization.

      My philosophy would be to play your 1st round picks as soon as possible and see what you have right off the bat. There are plenty of guys showing us now that 19-20 year-olds are mature enough, both physically and mentally, to play in this “new” NHL. Play first, question later. What’s the worst that can happen? The team doesn’t get off to a hot start? Well we don’t have to worry about that now, do we?

      If the idea is that guys like Jessiman are projects, then I would seriously take issue with management, because he comes out of an awesome first round class (2003), AND he was the first skater drafted by the Rangers in the first round since 1999. But then again, Sather and Maloney haven’t cared about addressing immediate needs through the draft. They can always trade for a Sandis Ozolinsh.

    46. As for the Power Play… The problem is plain and simple. Jagr cannot shoot. problem is once we’re in the offensive zone, nothing happens until Jagr has the puck. Last season that was fine, because Jagr could shoot. Without his shot, he can’t keep the opposition honest. So, what do opponents do? They let Jagr have the puck and then do their best to cover other rangers, and the shooting lanes.

      In reaction, the rangers have occasionally tried to generate offense downlow. Cross ice passes across the crease. Or jam plays. Real low percentage concepts and little gets done.

      Here are two options:
      1) Try Jagr behind the net ala Gretz. This will get everyone else moving. Get people driving to the net.
      2) Give and go’s. Jagr may not be able to shoot from the top of the circle but he can pass the puck to Nylander at the halfboards or in the corner. At that point, Jagr can dart to the net. This will open the points and create traffic in front.

      Without Jagr’s shot, the Rangers need to adjust their PP style. That means driving to the net, creating traffic, using movement to open lanes. If Jagr can’t play behind the net, find someone who can, Nylander is probably that guy.

      Also, let’s face facts, the two best shots on the Rangers are Shanny and Prucha. So find ways to get these guys the puck in the slot and things will look up.

      Honestly though, we’re only talking about the power play because the Rangers had so many gift power plays at the end of the game last night. Forget about that for now. In the first period they were outshot 21-5. In the second period, they outshot the Kings 15-8… but 10 of those shots were on the power play. Which means at even strength the Kings still outshot them 8-5. In the third period, it was wall to wall Rangers PP’s so that’s why the shots evened out by game’s end.

      Point is this, when the Rangers start playing a more assertive game from moment one, they’ll start hitting, moving better, anticipating, forcing the action, making crisp passes, then the power play will, by default, became more lethal as a matter of course. Yes, the weapons are there, but if the team cannot win the even strength battles, IT WON’T MATTER WHAT THE PP looks like.

    47. One last point:

      If I were Renney, I’d put away the dry-erase x’s and o’s board and focus on assertiveness.

      In every area of the game this team is tentative and soft. that includes: Not taking the body, looking flat footed, soft passes, clearing attempts, floating shots (with no traffic), defensive coverage, forecheck, play inside the crease, along the boards, etc, etc, etc.

      The 4th line started the 3rd period last night, they went out and set the right tone. That’s the right way. Renney fell into a trap last year, in alotting too much ice to Jagr’s unit. These guys are great, but they set often set the wrong tone… and just when another line makes hay out there, Renney pulls them off and brings back Jagr because there’s an offensive draw. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!

      Renney needs to stop jamming positioning and the like down their throat during practivce and remind them of the very very basics. I was taught at a young age in hockey to do everything hard. This team, especially guys like Malik and Hossa, don’t.

      In fact, if you take a look at the whipping boys over the years, the number one reason the fans get on a player is exactly for this idea. This team has to find its assertiveness or there really is no reason to watch anymore.

      SAM – the most ironic thing about going to STAPLES last night was the Kings new slogan… “Play Hard!” When I saw that, I knew we were in trouble. Yes, it’s a slogan a team rolls out when they know they aren’t very good… ala a Knicks slogan from the mid eighties, “One Year Better.” That said, Playing Hard was the most notable difference between the 2 teams last night.

    48. lets not get ahead of our selves. I was at the King game last night also a game a week ago.. The Kings pressured the slow and careless Ranger team in there own zone.

      The season is not over. The Devils lost last week 8 to 1, 1 game…

      I would sit, trade, or release; Hossa, Rachunek, Kaspar(or send him down to get healthy), and possibly Malik, and Ozo(not playing as bad as his + minus).

      Use Dawes, Put Prucha on the 2nd line(give him minimum 15 min per game), play Pock, and see where things are. They have more young prospects in the minors that deserve a chance if the players on the big club do not pick it up…

      They need to send a message now…

    49. exactly right, HDH. when will these guys get it through their head. AHL win-loss records mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as far as whether some of the individual young players will succeed in the NHL. THe Sharks have been one of the best teams at producing young talent, and their AHL team at Cleveland, now Worcester, has always had a poor or mediocre record. AHL standings depend on how many vet AHL lifers you have to snipe goals.

      The longer you leave young players in the AHL, the more likely they are to become discouraged AHL lifers. Especially when the NHL club, like the Rangers, give the kids no more than a cursory look of 4 minutes a game for a couple games, and then put them in the stands, or send them down again. You have to develop young talent at the NHL level, as well, and the Sharks and Buffalo and Pitts., etc are good at it, and the Rangers are a disgrace at it.

    50. the Rangers (like most other teams) overhype their young players whether drafted or traded for. We can all think about players over the last 10 years that fit that category. The foundation of a good hockey team is scouting and ultimately a strong decisive GM who will commit to a course of action and then stay with it. That could well include bottoming out for 3-4 years and loading up on future studs like the Pens are doing now. I would stand for that in a heartbeat but ownership and the media and most fans (or so many think) will not. By bottoming out I mean top 3 in the draft. They have to think speed when they draft, the Jessimans of the world will not cut it (I know he was drafted before the rule changes -he is only an example).

    51. let’s see. the young players currently on the Rangers are Lundy, Prucha, Tyutin, Hollweg, Dawes, Pock, and Jed Ort.

      I don’t hear 1 person clamoring for them to be dumped or gotten rid of. So the problem is with the OTHER Ranger players, the VETERANS.

      So the obvious solution is to put more of the former on the ice, and fewer of the latter. That is what a lot of us have been clamoring for, a youth rebuild. And the fact that almost all of the fan dissatisfaction is centered on the vets, then for cripe sake, bring up and play more kids.

      Of course, that would take a Sather-Renney lobotomy to ever happen. So, let the griping and sniping continue over how the overpaid, overrated vets play inconsistent, mediocre, sparkless, soft, mistake-prone hockey. As long as the dumb and dumber duo of Sather-Renney are in charge, the emphasis on old, slow-footed dinosaurs getting most of the ice time will continue.

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