Sharing the wealth

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Maybe I am still finding my way through this first go-round on the hockey beat, but I still feel like I know a few things. And one is this: I’d hold on to this Shanahan guy.

When the team signed the future Hall of Famer during the off-season, they did so knowing they needed to take the scoring load off Jaromir Jagr’s shoulders. With 14 goals in the Rangers first 19 games, that’s exactly what they’re getting.

But still, it merits asking: what about everyone else? Go past the first line of Jagr, Michael Nylander, and Martin Straka, and then Shanahan — who, given his time on the power play, is essentially a first line player anyway — and the production tallies drop off sharply. Petr Prucha has 11 points, Matt Cullen has 10. From the third line on down, the most productive player is Adam Hall with a mere two goals and three assists.

Or look at it another way: the Rangers have scored 10 goals over their last four games, and none have been from their third or fourth-lines.

Is it a problem? It depends on who you ask, or more specifically, what you’re looking for out of your third- and fourth-line players. If the likes of Hall, Blair Betts or even Marcel Hossa are charged instead with just neutralizing the opposition, wearing them down, while giving Jagr and Shanahan time to rest, maybe it doesn’t matter if they score a goal all year.

“I think first off, if that’s what your job on the ice is, if that’s what the coach’s mandate is, that’s where your focus should be,” Hall told me today. “On the other side, it’s going to be hard for the other team to score if you’re in their end the whole time. If you’re able to cycle the puck in the offensive zone and create some chances, it’s only going to wear them down.”

OK, fine, except what happens if Jagr and Shanny fall flat? Or worse, what happens if they get hurt?

Maybe in November it doesn’t seem like a pressing issue. But it’s something to think about nonetheless.

A few other thoughts:

  • The recent news on Jed Ortmeyer is not what the team was looking for. The right wing was scheduled to go off blood thinners earlier this week, but doctors were not satisfied with results from recent tests. It’s unclear how long he’ll stay on the medication, but until he is off them completely, he can’t practice.
  • The Rangers’ recent success on the power play aside, even Tom Renney admits the unit is still disjointed, perhaps from trying too hard. The coach pointed out that when Mike Keenan was coaching the Rangers, the team never practiced the power play. “Our problem is we practice it,” he said. “That’s bad coaching.”
  • I finally got aroung to asking Shanahan about his remarkable athletic feat from Tuesday — no, not the game-winning goal against the Devils, but his one-handed catch of the glass award he received from Mark Messier before the game. “You saw that, huh?” Shanahan said. “I wonder if they got that on video.” Shanahan also remarked on Messier incorrectly identifying him as 38. “I should have said, ‘Let’s see a 38-year-old do that!”

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    22 Comments

    1. Hey Matthias, good article. I always tell people that if they have never been to a ranger game they need to go and experience it.
      I love going to ranger games more than any other venue. I live on long island so to me it is taking the train in to penn station with all the other ranger fans and one big party. I miss the Blarney rocks corn beef and cabbage sandwiches which they used to serve from a counter near the front door to the right. Unfortunately they disposed of that area where they would serve food.

    2. I’ve had long-time hockey fans come to the games with me and they always say that during playoffs their respective stadiums get loud, but never quite like Ranger games, and thats before the puck even drops. I love Shanny’s quote from Wednesday night…

      “All you’ve got to do is give our fans an excuse to get behind us and they give us a huge boost,” said Brendan Shanahan, whose 14th goal of the season was the game winner. “We got that first goal and the arena was rocking.”

    3. Lack of scoring from checking lines is a problem. Over the last few games there at least has been forechecking pressure from Hollweg-Betts-Hall.

      Which brings these questions to mind:

      Are the Rangers constructed to succeed?

      Is Betts a third or a fourth line center on Cup contender?

      Does the Coach leave his first PP unit out there too long?

    4. Doodie Machetto on

      Sucks about Orts- but forget about us needing him. The guy must be absolutely miserable. He’s not just a player who is out. He was a guy with all heart and little talent. Imagine how much it must hurt a guy with that much heart.

    5. No big surprise about Jed. I’ve been saying all along that from what I understand of his case, he likely needs to be on blood thinners for 6 months, not 3. As such its not worth risking his life. Besides, I never thought Id say this, but the dude is irreplaceable – he’ll always have a spot on our team.

    6. doodiemachetto on

      Tom, are you suggesting Dan Blackburn syndrome?

      PS – If someone knows a better name to use than DB’s, let me know

    7. Sam, just want to thank you for this blog. I’m away at school in Maryland and the only Ranger games on tv are when they play the caps, or the few on versus. It’s kind of sad, I sit and listen to a bunch of games on NHL radio on my computer…looking forward to some games over winter break…thanks for keeping me updated

    8. on ortmeyer’s situation, trying to put a little perspective on things. he was diagnosed on 8/14, at that time I heard several people with backgrounds in the medical profession say that the ‘normal’ treatment (as long as surgery wasn’t needed) was a MINIMUM of 6 months on blood thinners. these people would throw in the disclaimer that all patients are different and they didn’t know the specifics of jed’s situation (and lots of times pro athletes heal faster than normal people cause they are in such great shape) but still said that was the ‘norm’ and therefore a decent expectation imo.

      now those quick with the calender and calculator will know that on 11/16 we are just past 3 months since the diagnosis (i’m not sure the exact date he started treatment)…they will also tell you that 6 months from 8/14/06 is 2/14/07. that is the date he’d come off the blood thinners if he stayed on for the 6 months. he can’t practice till he’s off the blood thinners, so tack on 2 more weeks to get ready to go and you are looking at a target date of march 1st according to what these ‘doctors’ were saying back in August.

      so i went into the season not expecting to see him till feb. then people started talking about him returning in december, which would be awesome but it would also be 2 months early based on those initial expectations making that time a bonus. and really i gotta wonder how much that talk of an early return was coming from his doctors and how much was wishful thinking on jed’s part as a way to keep himself sane and motivated.

      that all said though, i think everyone needs to remember the seriousness of his situation. we aren’t talking about a broken ankle here. this is a potentially fatal situation. after it happened jed was quoted in the papers saying that one of the nurses told him ‘we usually find this in the autopsy’ meaning normally people with pulmonary embolism don’t even know anything is wrong until one day they just drop dead and then it later gets named as the cause of death in the autopsy. jed was EXTREMELY lucky that they caught this. and i don’t know if they determined the cause but one of the potential causes is genetics. and i don’t know his family history but since its doubtful that some of the other potential risk apply to him (such as obesity, prolonged bed rest, childbirth, etc) i’d say there is a pretty good chance that genetics played a role here. which means you have to worry about him being at risk of it happening again and there is no guarantee that he’ll be as lucky next time.

      given the seriousness of the condition, when he can return to playing hockey is the least important thing in the world. who really cares about whether or not he can kill penalties or bump hossa from the lineup. that means nothing. the important thing is that jed is able to live a long and healthy life. even if he never gets to play hockey again, that really isn’t important. he can worry about playing hockey later after worrying about the more important things in life…

    9. Doodie Machetto on

      “jed’s part as a way to keep himself sane and motivated.”

      If that were true, he’d be incredibly depressed right now, because the thing keeping him holding on didn’t pan out.

      He can’t even drink his troubles away if he’s on blood thinners.. poor guy.

      Ortmeyer was my favorite player too. And Blackburn before him. I guess I’m bad luck. Good thing I don’t like Jagr beyond his playing ability or we’d be doomed.

    10. Sam, making the (what may unfortunately be unlikely) assumption that Ortmeyer is able to return in the near future, what do you think the roster move would be?

      I could see a scenario in which the team attempted to carry only six defensemen for a while, but I’d be curious to see what you’d think…

    11. Madison Square Garden’s OTHER team, Matthias? Give me a break. 1926! 19 bloody 26. The Knicks are Madison Square Garden’s other team. I think of that every time I have to search up and down the dial for MSG2.

    12. You need a 3rd line that can score, the Rangers don’t have that right now.

      You are not going very deep into the season with two 4th lines which is essentially what they are running right now. They need to get some offensive punch into that 3rd line.

      If Dawes cannot cut it call up Callahan or Korpikoski. It is not just a matter of shutting down the other teams top line, our 3rd line does not get enough ice time to be doing that anyway. In the modern NHL just about every team has offense coming from the top 3 lines and a rugged cycling crash line for a 4th unit.

      Of course until Renney takes a class called “Ice Time 101″ he is not going to ever get it.

    13. Talking about ice time- I was watching Carolina game with my friend and I told him when Rangers iced the puck that they have been on the ice too long and Renney HAS to take a time out otherwise Carolina will score… And that is exactly what happened a few seconds later. It was a close game and Cullen’s line looked half dead when they iced the puck they have been on the ice too long you don’t have to be a genius to know Carolina will make the best of this chance so really don’t think we should blame Tyutin, A.Ward or Cullen for that… Renney is the coach he should make the right descisions. I know MacT would have done it.

    14. Krill, check the shift chart. Tyutin and Shanny had been out on the ice for about 55 seconds at the time of the icing, the rest about 45 seconds. Those aren’t unusually long shifts, and not worth using the time out for. The goal came off a turnover by Ward, followed by poor coverage by Cullen, not because the guys on the ice were tired.

    15. Doodie Machetto–if i was in jed’s shoes and was facing the possiblity of being out the whole year, i’d find it alot easier to keep myself motivated to stay in shape if i broke that time up into smaller time frames so instead of worrying about from august till the end of the season you say “i’m only gonna worry about between now and thanksgiving” and then when it gets to thanksgiving you re-evalutate where you are based on where you were to see the progress made so even if you aren’t completely back yet you can atleast have a sign of progress thru that period.

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