Post-game musings


I’m already back home, having taken advantage of the early start time to get out of the Garden at a decent hour. This just in: Giants lose, Michigan gets jobbed out of the BCS title game, and the Rangers are in something resembling disarray.

With that, a few discussion topics:

  • The most interesting revelation was that Henrik Lundqvist actually asked Tom Renney to be taken out of the game after the first period because he wasn’t feeling it (no kidding: he let in four goals on eight shots). There are two ways to look at this: Lundqvist was merely being unselfish and thinking of the team. Or Lundqvist was exposing himself as easily rattled. You decide.
  • Add this to the new list of Rangers defensive problems: whereas earlier in the year the mandate for the defense was to stop gambling and merely keep the opposing team in front of them, now the defense is taking it to an extreme by backing up all the way into their own net. Tom Renney acknowledged that confidence, or a lack thereof, could be part of the problem. And that sounds about right. Speaking of which…
  • It’s time for Darius Kasparaitis to get back in the lineup and specifically replace Sandis Ozolinsh. My feeling about Ozolinsh, who has been decent one minute and far from it the next, has always been that once you sit him down, you might lose him for good. The reason I say that is because the defenseman’s confidence coming into the year was so fragile that any step backward could be devastating. For awhile I thought maybe he could patch it together — especially given his offensive ability — but the veteran has clearly returned to scramble mode. And with the Rangers clearly lacking a physical presence tonight, it only makes sense to give Kasparaitis another chance.
  • The comeback attempt was fun tonight, but it underscored another significant problem: that the Rangers right now can only make that sort of run by playing the Jagr line every other shift. That might work once in a while. But if you do it all season, it’s going to cost you. “Michael Nylander has left the game because his left leg just fell off…”

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    1. I’m posting this here again because I posted it about 30 minugtes before this became the most recent blog. Sorry for the repetition to those of you who already saw it.

      So, where are our champions of mediocrity tonight? Was this a “valiant effort” to come back from 4 goals down and make a game of it? Just a lemon in the goaltending department, where 1 out of every three shots fired at our net went in? Where Victor Kozlov scored four goals? Come out, come out, wherever you are.

      I was there tonight. Not only are the Islanders not a good team, they didn’t even play very well tonight. The Rangers were all over them all night, even early in the game – but a defensive breakdown here, another “I drop to my knees so you can go top shelf” there, and bang! it’s 3-0. Cullen? Couldn’t put the puck in the ocean. Ward had two wide open nets but did DiPi the courtesy of taking his time so the goalie could be in position and then softly shooting it into his chest. Betts? Stood there and waved his stick at Kozlov in the crease as Kozlov made it 5-3(the nerve of Kozlov, expecting Blair to take the body). There is absolutely no other team in the NHL that would ever play Ozolinsh, Malik or Rachunek, ever. Any other team would just promote from within to fill those slots.

      It might as well be 2001, or 2002, or 1999, or 2003. Hmm, lets go out and sign the best checking line center available, a guy who’s got some offensive upside but is a great third line center, and put him on the second line, where he can center our 30-goal sniper from last year and one of the greatest goal scorers in history. Oh yeah, we already tried doing that with Bob Holik, he actually did much better than Matt Cullen (who hasn’t scored since October? September?) ever will. Lets sign a bunch of over-30, large, immobile and non-physical defensemen – oh wait, we did that too, Karpa, Ulanov, Quintal, etc. They continue the same pattern of stupidity and poor judgement. If Glen Sather were a real GM, he would have looked at last year and said “well, we did do much better than anyone thought, but that was largely based on the accomplishments of two individuals. We’re still a long way from competing on a regular basis.” Instead, he acts like they’re a player or two away from a Cup.

      The organization has huge problems from the top down. Even if we do have prospects that are worth anything, we’ll never see if they can actually play. And instead of actually drafting good prospects, we have Glen Sather, who picks up other teams’ garbage. I still maintain that Betts, Ward, Hossa – those are guys who would not be on any other roster in this league. None.

      And you want to know why those of us who “spew negativity” get so annoyed with those of you who are all “positive?” Because it is you – yes, you – who by your blind acceptance of everything this lousy organization does, enable it to continue to wallow in total mediocrity. Would you accept this kind of performance from your doctor? your attorney? Your mechanic? Why on earth is this good enough for you? In the last 66 years, the team has had approximately 4( yes, four) that would be considered notable – 1972, 1979, 1994 and 1997. That’s one out of sixteen for an original six franchise with all the resources in the world and the best fan support anyone could ask for. Last year was considered a good year. Thet team lost its last 9 games of the year to lose first place in the division, which they’d held for months, and then got swept by their most hated rivals. How is that good? Devils fans would consider a year like that an abject failure. And want to know why their organization is so good every year? Because the people in charge know that if they’re not, they’ll lose a ton of their fan base. But not us. Give us champions? Nah, give us mediocrity. It’s better than nothing.

    2. what would it hurt to give Immonen a shot at second line C ?

      what would it hurt to give Pock a shot at D ?

      what would it hurt to give Callahan a real shot at wing on a better line?

      we’ll never know if things could be better, because Renney & co. are afraid to “disrupt” this marvelous veteran juggernaut they think they have assembled.

    3. Sam, thanks again for your excellent work on this site.

      Maybe it’s time to ask Renney a few more hard questions. Like, for example, seeing as he may be halfway to those 8 consecutive losses, and clearly the last was much worse than any of the other three, would it make sense to maybe consider making a few changes in the lineup? I mean, what exactly are you waiting for to happen? Jagr, Nylander, Straka, and Shanahan are putting up points in buckets. Every single night after night after night, the defense blows coverage or gives the puck away or gets beaten to pucks that cost the team goals and momentum and games. I mean, if you’re going down anyway, might it not make sense to at least give the appearance that you actually attempted to fix the problem, as opposed to doing the same thing over and over again and somehow magically expecting different results?

      I’m sure he’s a great person and in fact, I suspect a better coach than we know, as I’m sure Genius and Genius, Jr (that would be Dolan and Sather) have tied his hands to a degree personnel-wise. But what happens next year when they dont make the playoffs and Straka retires and Shanahan sees what this organization is all about and bails and we have not played, developed or even evaluated any of the young players who are purportedly to be the ones taking the reins?

    4. Doodie Machetto on

      Look, what matters for this season is the 82 games that they play, not the last 60 years, during which the NHL has evolved and become a game so different that the only thing that has remained constant is that it was played on ice with a puck and skates.

      That said, it’s time for Ozo and Rachunek to go. And you all know me, I was about giving them a chance. No more chances, they need to be replaced. Especially Ozolinsh. I really wanted him to do well (14 pts in 19 games last season, which is more than double the per game point production of Rozsival, our leading socring among defensemen, had). I REALLY did. It’s just not happening. I think Pock knows that if he waits long enough for them to do badly enough, he’ll crack the lineup.

    5. Doodie Machetto on

      4rangers: Immonen and Callahan are not the issue. The team is scoring, and doing a good job of it, among the league leaders and tops in the division. The goals against though is one of the worst. They have scored 4 or more 13 times this season. That should be 13 wins. You shouldn’t give up more than 3 a game. Instead they are 9-3-1 in those games. That’s a purely defensive problems. If those games were all wins, they would have 37 points and be comfortably on top of the division.

    6. like the Ranger fan in mid-1940’s who said,”if I just wait long enough, I’ll see another Cup win.”

    7. some of those defensive problems are coming from the forwards too. the 2nd line is having a real problem getting scored on. Cullen is having trouble covering his man in the defensive zone, and this comes from someone who supports Cullen. But he may need to be moved to LW, like he sometimes was in Carolina, where his defensive responsibilities are lessened.

    8. Standing 0 for Peter.

      Renney was again asked about Kaspar’s status, and he reiterated what he’s said for a while now. “He could play,� the coach said. “Again as I’ve said it’s more a case of six guys who have something going, at least to the point where I don’t want to disrupt that just yet.�

      SAM: When is someone gonna start calling Renney on crap like this? Journalists are supposed to ask tough questions to follow-up ridiculous statements, not just act as notetakers.

    9. and yes, they are part of the issue because you can’t play 4 guys to death and expect all your offense to come from the same source. Straka started to pull something Fri. night, and it is only a matter of time before Jagr, Shanny, etc. are hurting from overuse.

    10. Plus/Minus- every Ranger is a minus except the first line and Malik and Rosival(who play with the first line). So are Malik/Rosival better than Ozo/Rachunek ? I would say Ozo/Rachunek would look much better playing with Jagr’s line than Rosval/Malik. Anyone that has ever played knows it’s much easier playing defense with a stong forward line. Maybe the Rangers defense is not the problem, I think lines 2 and 3 are the biggest problems right now.

    11. If Renney doesn’t make lineup changes for the next game he never will. accountability. Remember that? I do because it doesn’t exist on this Ranger team.

    12. Yeah, the notion that “it’s not Ward’s/Betts’/Hossa’s/Hollweg’s/Orr’s job to score” is ridiculous at best. With the exception of a very select few players who are used to shadow the league’s stars, it is every forward’s job to score goals. How is it not our third line’s job to score goals when they’re out there against the other team’s third line? And which line for the Isles does Kolzlov skate on? Thought so. First of all, if Renney actually matched lines like he did against TB and that 3rd line was doing a great job in that role night in and night out, then it isnt their job to score. But he doesn’t use them that way. Their job is to go out there and run around while Jagr catches his breath, which is why in 2 months half our team will be dead. Not to mention, people talk about Vetts and Ward like they’re John Madden or Pandolfo, or even Chris Drury (who centers the Sabres’ THIRD line!). please. If those guys could generate anything remotely better offensively we wouldn’t have to worry so much about playing Jagr half the game.

    13. Yea if ozo and Rachunek played with the Jagr line they would be great on D. Guess what they would still be awful and they both ned to go.

    14. I’m glad that you have finally agreed with me on Bozo, Sam. I said all along in this blog that Bozo was woefully weak in the D zone.

      they tried to turn him into a stay-at-home Dman, but that just resulted in fans wanting to stay at home.

    15. only the Rangers under Sather would try to redevelop a 34 year old offensive d man into a stay at home D man.

    16. pgrant of course it is easier to play D with the Jagr line because they have the puck most of the shift, and the opponents don’t, but if rosival and Malik played with the 2nd line all the time, and had to actually do something without the puck, their +,- would be much worse.

    17. Replacing Ozo with Kaspar or Pock will not help the third line score. The second and third lines are the problem.

    18. but by adding guys like Callahan they would have more scoring punch, and don’t forget that Pock already scored a nice goal on D in a 4-on4 situation, which is more than Bozo has done all season.

    19. Cullen and Hollweg should both be playing wing. Looks like we need a second and third line center. Betts would be an ok fourth line center.

    20. I agree with you there. only dolts like Renney would play a body-banger, corner man, winger type player like Ryan Hollweg at C. it is beyond ridiculous.

    21. Pgrant, Kaspar would be in to shore up the D, not to help the third line score. He will be in the lineup as an intimidating presence and a proven defenceman, which, god knows, we need.

    22. Sam, Larry Brooks mentions in his article today that Renney and Shanahan had a long post-game talk. Any more info on what went down behind those doors? Who is scolding whom?

      And has there been any more talk of trades to bolster the woefully pathetic defense?

    23. Chris —

      Basically what happened is that Shanahan had spoken to the media at length about some of the communication gaps in the defensive zone and I think he started to feel bad that he spoke to us before talking to Renney about it. So as soon as he was done giving interviews, he walked into Renney’s office to give the coach the heads-up. It was actually kind of funny only because Shanahan was still basically in his underwear. Anyway, the timing was important because usually Renney talks to the media after all the players do.
      So when Tom walked in, it was fresh from talking to Brendan, so he had a clue what was coming. Sure enough, my first question was about everything that Shanahan had complained about.

    24. This team had two major problems at the end of last season…

      1. No defensive stability. Goaltending was pretty good, but the defense was full of holes.

      2. Top-heavy offense. Jagr, Straka and Nylander accounted for 40% of total points.

      …1 year later, we still have the same problems. Nothing was fixed.

      So what now?

      Sure we can try our hand with some of the rookies, but its pretty clear to me that Dawes and Callahan are good but not NHL ready.

      Do we shop around for potential trades? I’ve said it before, who is going to want our dead weight? We’d probably need a blockbuster deal to really change anything anyway, this doesn’t look like a 1 to 2 player fix.

      Do we shake down the coaching staff? Is the problem really Renney’s, or are we over-analyzing some minor mistakes that aren’t our biggest problems right now?

      Obviously some of my comments are slightly biased, because I don’t think its time to fire Renney; I don’t think we should trade away our stars for a lot of prospects; I don’t think we should promote every promising rookie in hopes that they become the next Malkin; But I do think something has to give and I don’t know what that is.

    25. Personally, it seems pretty clear that personnel changes have to be made on defense, in one way or another. I’m even starting to feel like trading Prucha is a good idea — mostly because I don’t think he’s getting the chances he deserves on our team. Maybe trading him will bring a good young defenseman and, more importantly, some organizational good karma.

      Of course, that’s probably stupid. Certainly we should start by playing Kaspar and Pock, anyway, anyhow…

    26. Chris, I agree. Now, if we are going to play Pock and Kasper, do we put them in at the same time? Or do we try one and then the other? And who gets to go first? My bet is Kasper, although I’d rather see Pock.

    27. Do you really think Kaspar/Pock would do worse than Rachunek/Ozo?

      Personally, I’d rather see them bring up Girardi and play him with Pock rather than Kaspar but then again this is the NYR so we can forget about that. Girardi is second on the WP in scoring (all assists), is +2 and based on my own and other knowledgeable folks observations plays a steady game in his own end. I could point out that Buffalo brought up young d-men this year who are doing ok, but then all the apologists would tell me how they’re all top prospects (althought Paetsch and Card were 7th and 8th rd draft choices respectively).

      Ah, who cares anyway. Logic is wasted on this organIzation.

    28. Sam, you mention Kaspar, but what is Pock’s status now that he “refused” a conditioning assignment? Is he in the doghouse? Is there a chance he could get some playing time at long last?

      I find it baffling how Pock — who had played so well early on in this season — is left to sit in the skybox despite all of the Rangers defensive struggles.

    29. Jen —

      Just to clarify, Pock didn’t “refuse” the assignment. He was asked by Renney if he would want to go, and Pock said no. The difference is that Renney mostly just felt bad about Pock’s lack of playing time so he wanted to give him the option. But Pock’s feeling was he’d prefer to be around the NHL than be back in the minors.


    30. I agree with Twin; bring someone up to play with Pock. Just trade or get rid of Kaspar, Rachunek and Ozo, they’re infecting this team with dead-weight. As much as I like Kaspar, letting him play wouldn’t change a thing. His time is up and should go back to Russia and play there. Offense isn’t the problem. We’re more than a third through the season and Jagr, Straka and co. don’t seem to be slowing down. Of course, it’d be nice to have scoring from other lines, but the way we’re built right now, the bigger problem is defense. No pair can do worse than Rachunek/Ozo, it’s absolutely disgusting. Whenever they’re on the ice, my stomach feels like strangling itself.

    31. Sam,
      That’s the impression I had about Pock and him potentially going to Hartford. Hence why I put refused in quotes.
      It has been spun, however, that Pock “refused” the assignment elsewhere.

      Glad to see, however, there is no bad blood between the staff and Pock. Here’s hoping he gets into the line-up one of these days.

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