Post-game musings


I never really understoood what was so hard about playing back-to-back games until I started covering hockey. Now I get it.

The Rangers got done with their win against the Devils about 9:30 last night. By 10:30 or so, they were on their way to the airport. Now throw in the flight, the travel to the hotel, trying to fall asleep in a strange bed, waking up in a strange city, and……it still beats working for a living. But you can also understand why it might be tough to wake up and get ready for a hockey game that night.

OK, this ends the apologist portion of the program. Had the Rangers not played in a week, maybe they would have suffered the same fate tonight. But given the circumstances, I’m not sure the end result was all that unexpected.

A few thoughts:

  • It’s the third one-goal loss of the season by the Rangers, but as many of you pointed out, the Hurricanes aloo hit four posts. I’m not saying it could have been worse, but….OK, I guess I am saying it could have been worse.
  • What a strange dynamic for Aaron Ward and Matt Cullen returning to the very ice where they won the Stanley Cup five months earlier. I know how they feel. Every time I walk into the pizza joint where I used to deliver pies, I get a little misty-eyed…
  • Tom Renney had Marek Malik and Marcel Hossa on the ice at different times with Kevin Weekes pulled and the Rangers scrambling to tie the game. The coach is either a) an outside-the-box thinker, or b) taking this vote-of-confidence thing a little too far. Look, I’m all for utilizing different personnel in different roles. I’m just not sure about using them in the last 90 seconds of the game.

    As I said earlier, a long day for the kid. Let’s talk more tomorrow. In the meantime, discuss amongst yourselves…

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    1. I have seen many mention Pock since the beginning of the season. Couldn’t agree more that he should be in the regular lineup every game. Saw him plenty in Hartford in previous seasons, and thought the Rangers had a great prospect who was one or two years away. Well, now we are passing two years. Since they can’t send him to Hartford because other teams would claim him off waivers, that should tell you or help you decide to give him a long look here and let him determine his future. He couldn’t be any worse than some of the defensive holes we have. I think h will be better than any one thinks once he shakes off the bench splinters. What a novel thought for this season — a young player actually given an opportunity on the Rangers.

    2. A couple of observations from the game tonight:

      1) Jagr is looking better and better.
      2) Weekes played well.
      3) Cam Ward is very good.
      4) The Rangers came out hitting, but by the end of the game as the canes started clogging the center of the ice, the Rangers breakout seemed in shambles. The canes are not an easy team to fall behind against.
      5) Eric Staal has a lot of fire in him. he’s got a little messier, sutter brother thing going on there. Very impressive. I hope Marc has that…
      6) Hossa actually had a fairly good game, he’s hitting more. Ditto, Hall. Hall reminds me of a Hudson/Noonan kind of a player.
      7) When the Rangers get tired, they stop dumping the puck because they don’t have the energy to get it back. When this happens, the game becomes ten times harder.
      8) canes played a very smart, disciplined game.
      9) Despite the loss, not a disappointing effort.

    3. For anyone who didn’t notice, but the Rangers play 5 back-to-back games this month (3 have already been played, of which they have lost the second game of 2 of the back to backs), there are two more to play over the next two weekends. Next month has 3. For me, this team is not equiped to play back to back games. Firstly, Renney has yet to effectively run 4 lines every game (creating fatigue the second game), secondly the elderly folk on this team (sans Shanahan) are unable to play aggressive hockey with no rest. This team really needs a shot of youth, hunger and rest for other players who they hope to make it through a difficult 82 game season. The Rangers lucked out tonight only losing 2-1…On a positive note, i’m glad to see the 3rd line work their butt’s off tonight.

    4. Doodie Machetto on

      The best thing to be taken from the game tonight is that they go out there and make a competetive game out of it almost every night. I can only think or 3 or 4 games this season when it just looked like they didn’t show up. Coincidentally, these game usually come right after games where they get a good win. Making the playoffs without getting injured is all that matters. The playoffs are the real season, its just a matter of who can perform best there.

    5. Hey Sam,

      What do you think is the answer to the Rangers finding consistency this season? Also, any ideas on what they are going to do with the mess of defensemen they have, particularly Kaspar? Finally, do you think that the overreliance on SHanahan will backfire later in the season when he may be worn out or start breaking down with injuries?

      Any ideas would be great. The Rangers at least seemed to have tighten up their defense a bit in tonights game, not counting Ward’s giveaway on the gamewinner.

    6. All I have to say is I can’t wait for Jed Ortmeyer to return!!! Is there anyway we can trade Hall back and get Moore from Pittsburgh. Moore and Ortmeyer are the grinders we need, get rid of Hossa and Hall. My 2 cents, that is all.

    7. Hey Nick, I totally agree about moore. I have stated on this blog before that when i heard about the trade of moore for hall i really didn’t like it because last year moore centering ortmyer and hollweg was our 4th line energy guys and they were good. I didn’t know anything about hall and now i know why. I really like to know what the hell the ranger brass was thinking here, hall in my opinion has offered nothing.

    8. By the time the season is over…the Rangers are going to turn me into an alchohlic.

      Like you said could have been MUCH worse. 4 posts…luck was on our side the whole game with those but we still couldn’t find a way to put more then 1 puck in the net….when we are getting the rare bounces like tonight, we have to win those games..

    9. Doodie Machetto on

      “I really like to know what the hell the ranger brass was thinking here, hall in my opinion has offered nothing”

      I think that they were concerned about being flooded in the middle. They had Nylander, Cullen, Betts, and Moore. They were expecting Immonen to make the team, probably as a second line center, allowing Cullen and Betts to play 3rd an 4th. Tell me that Cullen wouldn’t be a HUGE improvement over Moore on an energy line? So they swapped Moore for a winger who had potential to drive to be big and drive to the net, something none of the other Ranger wingers do. Only problem is, Immonen didn’t show up for camp and hasn’t shown up for the Pack yet either, so the move blew up in their face.

    10. As the Ranger play has improved over the last few weeks I have noticed a common trait from last year–they play up and down to the level of the team they play against. Washington and other weak teams bring out their worst. In contrast when matched with Buffalo, Atlanta or Carolina they raise their game and play much better. Is this a trait others have noticed?

    11. Doodie Machetto on

      now that you mention it, I do notice that, with a couple of exceptions (the Phoenix game and the first Buffalo game).

    12. Unfortunately didnt get to watch the whole game, just the third perod. Weekes did look pretty solid. One thing though, perhaps its my goalie bias shining through, but “hitting the post” means “missed the net” I hate it when people misinterpret that as the goalie being beat etc. and beat the “they rang up four posts” dead horse. It means as much as missing a open net three feet wide, and is almost on par with nerfing a wide open one timer on a beautiful cross crease pass that the goalie cant get over in time for. Hey that last bit sounds familiar.

    13. Well, taking your goalie bias into consideration. Yes they missed the net, but most posts I see (or hit) are usually the goalie being badly beat, but the shooter missing the wide open net (ok adult leagues aren’t of the same skill level (most of the time)). It isn’t like the post was the only part of the net the goalie left open. Comments from any other ringers out there?

    14. Good point on D.Moore. Though Hall is bigger and I think the Ranger brass was concerned with how banged up they were at the end of last year with a ‘small’ team. I thought it was a good move at the time they made the trade. But clearly it’s changed the dynamic and effectiveness of the 4th line. Last year they wore teams down with hustle and dumping into to the corners so that Hollweg (& Ortmeyer) could throw those bone crushers. But that’s not happening this year. Hollweg has not been as noticeable or effective this year, though he certainly plays hard every night.
      Perhaps the energy and heart that Ortmeyer brings will rev up that line when he returns..

    15. Hey Doodie Machetto, you make a solid point, yes I do like cullen but the ranger brass couldn’t have done better than Hall. I don’t know, maybe I’m being to picky here. I guess I should let the guy play a full season before I judge his play.

    16. Nick —
      Your second question seems to answer the first. I think the Rangers’ consistency this season largely rests on spreading out some of their productivity. That means scoring, of course, but it also means the team needs to even the minutes out so that Shanahan and Jagr don’t keel over by February.

      As for the defense, I would have to imagine that if Kasparaitis doesn’t play soon, the Rangers will waive him, and that would open up some cap space. It might not mean picking up someone right away, but it gives them the option for down the road.

    17. Okay, the team looked tired to me. I thought we were outworked to every puck all night. The positive about it for me was the fact that we were still in the game until the very end. That’s the sign of a good team.

      On HALL and MOORE: I agree that Hall has not been as good as I expected, but I can’t fault the Rangers for getting him. Moore was less effective as the year went on and I think they thought Immo would replace him. Had Ortmeyer not been healthy earlier in the summer, I think that Moore would have been spared, though. Losing Moore was going to be okay, but both Moore and Orts was a devastating blow. I think if Orts can make it back, the fortunes of the team will improve drastically. Hall has shown a few flashes, and his size is appealing.

      People keep talking about how awful Kaspar has looked. I dunno, but I didn’t get a good enough look at him in the 6 games he played (except his first which I think he played VERY well). I think he had his ups and downs during hte other five games, but so did every other D-man. I think people who comment about his terrible play this year are basing it more on the comments of others. Was he really the 7th or 8th best guy on the team? I have a hard time believing that over the 6 games he played. I don’t understand why so many are so willing to give up on him so easily, as he has an element to his game that we have NO WHERE ELSE in the organization. I just don’t get it.

      Malik one of the final 6? Jeesh! (Hossa at least has size and I could see him putting one in, but Malik?) Rozy (Roze-E-Val according to the announcers last night) had a pretty impressive spin-o-rama last night!

      I still think you dress Pock as a 7th D-man and double shift Jagr on that fourth line when they play. Ward and Hossa both Penalty Kill, so they will still get ice-time and the other team definitely has to make defensive decisions if Jagr is playing on two lines. If another team is putting it’s shadows on Jagr with the 1st line, and then again when Jagr is out there with the 4th, you’ve got Shanny’s line also out there, the other team will be playing it’s top guys a lot less. Seems like a sound strategy and it allows Pock to get some playing time (or Kaspar).

    18. re: hitting the post

      It is harder to see this distinction in hockey because the net is not so much larger than the goalie, but picture soccer, where the goaltender is very tiny in comparison to the net. The measurement there when shots hit the post or narrowly misses the net is when the ball passes the keeper, was he in a position to save it had the shot been slightly more on target.

      Two illustrations:

      1) The shot comes in and hits the post before the goalie even reacts, which he does after it passes him. He was beaten, but the shot was not accurate. He WOULDN’T have had it, had it been more accurate.

      2) The shot comes in and passes the goalies fingertips and hits the post. At the moment the shot passed his hands, the goaltender had the net covered. He WOULD have had it, had it been more accurate.

      I think that Would-have-had-it distinction is a fair way to do it, which means post hits and near misses need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

    19. “I still think you dress Pock as a 7th D-man and double shift Jagr on that fourth line when they play. Ward and Hossa both Penalty Kill, so they will still get ice-time and the other team definitely has to make defensive decisions if Jagr is playing on two lines. If another team is putting it’s shadows on Jagr with the 1st line, and then again when Jagr is out there with the 4th, you’ve got Shanny’s line also out there, the other team will be playing it’s top guys a lot less. Seems like a sound strategy and it allows Pock to get some playing time (or Kaspar).”

      That’s a pretty good idea, although, I think with the way Jagr has been working both on the ice and in the gym, he wouldn’t be able to handle that additional workload. He would be consistently getting 25+ minutes of ice a game. If Jagr didn’t have to hit the gym as hard as he has been, I think that would be a very plausible idea, but I think Pock would be the better idea to dress because he can play forward in the event Jag’s goes down in the middle of the game or just needs a shift off of the 4th line.

    20. Hey Colorado Mark, I do not base my opinion’s on what other people say on this blog. I, myself, base my opinions on watching ranger games and since I have been watching kasper playing for the Islanders, penguins and the rangers and seeing how last year after the olympics his play went downhill. Last night on the pre game show he was interviewed by Sam Rosen and I thought “jeez”
      he looks anorexic. When i seen him play this year he looked slow and when he occasionally tried to attempt a body check he would flop to the ice like a fish out of water.

    21. Speaking of Kaspar, I found this on Spector’s Trade Rumours:

      Hat tip to “Suzanne” for the following on the Flyers: “I hope to God this doesn’t happen at all, thought I would pass it along though. It was listed at the bottom of this article by Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post:

      Gauthier will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his
      left shoulder that will sideline him 10-12 weeks. Rookie Alexandre
      Picard is expected to eat up most of the ice time, but the Flyers might
      also have interest in hard-hitting defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, who is
      playing for the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford.”

      Granted, he has listed this a little late because Kaspar isn’t in Hartford anymore, but local papers are typically the best places to find out rumors. I said over a week ago that Philly would be happy to pick up Kasparaitis. Waive him now and recover half of his salary.

      Also, the Devils just waived Jim Fahey, who, if the Rangers were loaded with defenseman, I would think would be an EXCELLENT pick up. I don’t expect him to clear it.

    22. I almost forgot, no one mentioned Aaron Ward clocking his old buddy in the face! The Canes announcers were not impressed. It was a cheap shot, but at least he showed that as far as hockey goes, his heart is in NY!

    23. re: ringing in my ears.

      You guys have never seen a situation where the the shooter has been forced high because of excellent low coverage and has hit the post as a result? This doesnt mean the goalie was beat by any stretch – it means he did his job. Me, Im a 6’4″ goalie with a wide butterfly. I challenge shooters from the dots hard and sometimes they hit the far post trying to beat me wide, but thats because, if Im playing my angles properly, thats quite literally all Im giving up (or sometimes in the first period oversliding can be a concern, but I digress) I know for sure there was one post hit last night where Weekes could have been easily been beat short side, he gave up way too much (I think in an effort to cheat over on a pass, otherwise it was a bad mental lapse on a shot from that area) but not every shot that hits the post has “the goalie beat” of course, if you were watching the FS SouthEast feed with Tripp Tracy doing color you might think something different.

    24. “but thats because, if Im playing my angles properly, thats quite literally all Im giving up ”

      So you ‘would-have-had-it’ had it been more accurate. See, the distinction isn’t that hard to see.

    25. If it hit the post, that means the goalie didn’t make the save. Yeah, in some cases the goalie ‘forces’ the shooter to hit the post, but it still beat the goalie.

    26. Doodie- on Fahey, did you mean if we WEREN’T loaded with d-men?

      And I understand what you mean about Jagr’s minutes, but I counted the shifts that the fourth line had without Jags on the line(Shifts for Orr). They were 5 for a total of just over 4 minutes. I think if you give Pock a few of those, and Jagr a few of those until the third period when Jags could take the two shifts he had last night, it wouldn’t be as wearing. I think he will still average about 24 minutes a game, but I’m from the camp that thinks that Jags can handle it.

      Tom G.- I wasn’t referring to you, and I agree with some of what you are saying, I just don’t think he was as bad as people made him out to be (and many comments from others seemed to feed off the Ranger brass comments). I think a lot of his problems were magnified by the fact that the entire team wasn’t playing well. My point is that he has intangibles and a type of game that warrants the same patience bestowed on others(Rachunek, Ozo and Malik).

    27. If it hits the post, it didn’t go in. It’s not a goal. That’s all that matters.

      It’s possible to miss the net by three feet and “have the goalie beat”. That means nothing. It’s worse than +/-…

      Heck, there’s a reason Patrick Roy used to talk to his posts.

      Besides, those goal posts are more effective on defense than some of our guys…

    28. Colorado Mark, “My point is that he has intangibles and a type of game that warrants the same patience bestowed on others(Rachunek, Ozo and Malik).” I can’t agrue that point because I agree with you with that statement. It’s like survival of the bad to worst.

    29. Doodie Machetto on

      Colorado Mark (I’m going to call you CM from now on):

      Yes, I meant if they WEREN’T.

      Jagr is averaging 22:45/game. Add about 5 mins from playing on the 4th line (because you KNOW Renney wouldn’t cut down 1st line time) and he’s at about 28 mins a game. That would put him at 4th in the league in average time on ice a game, by far the highest among forwards. Even if they kept him at 25 mins a game, that would make him the most in forwards by a minute. Couple that with his own comments about how tired he is because of the extra workout sessions and you have a recipe for disaster.

    30. Yeah, I guess your right, if he’s averaging that many minutes, adding 4 or 5 more would be counterproductive. I’d still like to not dress ORR and have an extra D-Man, and maybe do the 4th line right winger by committee, throwing Jags out there only in the third period for a shift or two (not adding any more than a minute and a half.)

      Another thing to consider as far as minutes played. If you look at most Power Plays, a lot of it, especially with our PowerPlay, is Jags standing around waiting for the pass. I don’t think PowerPlay minutes are as physically demanding as even strength or Penalty killing. Dunno how much of a difference, but something I thought of last night while watching our Power Play.

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