Out of his comfort zone


Say what you want about Blair Betts, but the center is at least honest with his limitations.

I asked Betts, who was partially responsible for New Jersey’s deciding goal by failing to clear the defensive zone with a backhand, how much pressure he put on himself playing alongside Brendan Shanahan on the second line. His answer: plenty

“I definitely feel pressure to get those guys the puck and make plays, which is a little out of my role,” Betts said. “I don’t think I really did that today. I tried but I wasn’t making good plays and I wasn’t giving up the puck in the good areas. So we’ll see what happens.”

Of course, this was especially relevant tonight given the stranglehold the Devils had on the Jaromir Jagr line. It became increasingly apparent that someone else was going to have to score for the Rangers. As you know now, no one did.

“We needed offense from other lines,â€? Betts said. “We kept them to one goal but we needed somebody to step up and score a big goal and we just didn’t create enough offense and put pucks on the net.â€?

A few other quick hits:

  • Nylander was hit hard in the third period, which explains why you didn’t see him late. He is expected to be OK, but he didn’t want to talk to us after the game.
  • From my vantage point at least, Thomas Pock had his best game of the season — aggressive with the puck but never caught behind the play. If Tom Renney is looking for a reason to get Darius Kasparaitis back in the lineup, there are more worthy candidates to come out of the lineup.
  • I did in fact survive “the fish situation” — twice over, in fact. I like to live on the edge.

    More tomorrow…

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    1. Prucha gets less than 11 mins but Krog who played well get almost 17. Straka gets less than 15. I gave up trying to figure Renney out a long time ago. The Rangers aren’t catching the Devils 10 pts ahead.

    2. yeah, he passed behind everyone when he had a 4-on-2

      he was awful in that role. but it was the great Tom Renney who had the bright idea to saddle Shanny with 2 stonehands mediocre castoffs.

      Renney should be taking the heat for what everyone knew in advance was a losing move.

    3. Pock looked good tonight. Finally allowed to do what he can with the puck. He can skate it out or pass it something most other Ranger D can’t do. How many games did genius jr Renney let Pock sit and waste?

    4. It’s about time the press holds Ranger “brain truss’� feet to the fire. Beat reporters should eat at home before they arrive at games and practices so they’re not lulled into complacency by tasty buffets. And if Sather and Renney keep tapdancing around your hard questions, take them to task in print. Grow a few pair, fercrissakes.

    5. LUNDQVIST, HENRIK 59:12
      80 G WEEKES, KEVIN 0:00
      3 D ROZSIVAL, MICHAL E 19:29
      4 D WARD, AARON -1 20:36
      5 C CULLEN, MATT E 17:37
      8 D MALIK, MAREK E 20:24 2
      14 L SHANAHAN, BRENDAN -1 19:05
      19 C BETTS, BLAIR -1 16:56
      20 C KROG, JASON E 16:27
      22 D POCK, THOMAS E 16:54
      23 D RACHUNEK, KAREL E 19:41
      25 C PRUCHA, PETR E 10:58
      28 R ORR, COLTON E 7:18
      41 R ORTMEYER, JED E 13:56
      44 C HOLLWEG, RYAN E 9:09
      51 D TYUTIN, FEDOR -1 21:57
      68 R JAGR, JAROMIR E 20:16
      81 L HOSSA, MARCEL -1 13:46
      82 C STRAKA, MARTIN E 14:51
      92 C NYLANDER, MICHAEL E 12:08
      TEAM TOTALS -5

      this to me is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. take a look at straka,nylander and prucha’s ice compared to krog, betts, and cullen and even hossa and orty. what is this coach doing

    6. Nylander got hurt I think but he still would have played less than 16 mins. Ice time for renney is an afterthought or just no thought.

      Renney has his boys and if you aren’t one you get shafted.

      Like someone to ask Renney why did Pock sit 22 games or whatever it was. He is the Rangers best d,

    7. Don’t get too excited. Pock played very well in a game a couple weeks ago, then got a seat in the pressbox with notes from Renney and homework for 2 games. The Rangers had better figure out if he is staying and re-sign him, or trade him before he walks for nothing at the end of the season. Blair Bets as Shanny’s center. Brendan has got to be pining for Detroit by now.

    8. Betts comfort zone is the AHL.

      Can we please move on and try someone who has an upside and a future?

    9. It is sad to say but this team is not Going anywhere this year. Renney is not a good fit for this team, the team plays soft and uninspired, the Defense is putrid and the they need a legit second line center. It’s not going to happen.
      Not this year.
      What a shame.

    10. Hey Sam,…

      Would love to know if Straka and or Nylander got intentionally benched at any point tonight>?

      I was F’en sick watching this game. To the younger age group the Devils are more of a rivalry than the Isles. We got to see the team that ruined the NHL during the 90’s to current day take us again and again. With their over-rated sister in law humping goaltender to boot!

      Renney is unreal. Prucha with 10 minutes? Meanwhile you have the majority of the No-Thumb-Bums© playing more than him? Straka and Nylander getting shafted? The defense played absurd once again.

      Get outta town…I am sick of this clown…Fire Renney now!!! You don’t win or get to the next level with coaches like Renney…I hate to say it, but it is true. We have regressed. Managament has a lot to do…

    11. So now Betts feelings are the most important part of this team? A guy who should be 4th line center needs to be coddled to get stirred out of his season-long offensive stasis?

      Oh, and btw, Hossa was far more responsible for the goal because he failed twice to clear the puck from the zone seconds beforehand, and both times he was three feet away from the blueline. What a defenisve force he is. Definitely worth overlooking his offensive ineptitude to indulge play like that.

    12. they sign Betts to an extension, and then give him 2nd line C

      he must have some great photos of Renney and Sather.

    13. Pemoco- No offense, but did you propose in another thread that Immonen is that guy?

      If so, enough…Not even close.

    14. Every 97 of icetime Betts and Hossa score a point. Well after tonight that is well over 100 mins.

    15. Sam

      Do you think that there is any reason to look at the Rangers in a critical way, or do you think their place in the standings (10 points behind the Devils, who have a game in hand) is due to a random series of unfortunate events outside the control of those responsible for running the team?

    16. Bauer – why not? Because you say so?

      His offensive games is so far superior to Betts that it’s not worth discussing. Immonen is better on draws and is fine defenisively.

      What’s your reason for supporting Betts, is he your brother-in-law or something?

    17. At some point some criticism has to be leveled at the Rangers brass. They made this team and continue to play it, and it ain’t working.

    18. Rangers problems in no specific order:

      1) Soft unemotional coach- team follows hislead
      2) Coach plays favorites
      3) Everything about the defense aside from Tyuts
      4) No-Thumb-Bums© galore…7 on the roster folks! You don’t win like that
      5) Players playing out of position
      6) Lack of quality centers- Especially for Shanny
      7) Lack of faith in HF youth- I can name 3 players who can be up right now easily

    19. pemoco:

      Yeah, your right I said so.

      Where did I ever support Betts? All I said is that Immonen is not the guy. He has shown he is not. Too slow for this level. Footspeed sucks. Smart player and has many intangibles, but the speed and quickness disables him from being a top 6 center or a defensive minded center.

    20. Ah, footspeed…the strong point of so many Ranger forwards. You can be as fast as you want but if you don’t know where to be on the ice you’re useless.

      Please identify for me where in Immonen’s play has his skating speed been an issue.

      Immonen scores at 4 times the rate of Betts and Hossa. The team was 5-0 when he was the 2nd line center.

      But why risk playing the guy when it’s possible that the Bettman might replace the shootout with a speed-skating competition?

    21. I think of the steps that could have been made this season if some kids got a real shot to play and learn and get better or fail trying. But they haven’t and next year it has to start over again while we waste a year.

      Guys like Dawes and Immonen have already shown they can play at the AHL level and have nothing more to prove there. The next step is to see if they can or can’t play in the NHL in a real situation where they can show off there abilities, not saddled to some fourth line role. But no, can’t do that, because its all going so splendidly this season.

    22. Betts says that he felt like he’s was played out of his role tonight

      In the past i remember Cullen saying him playin on the wing isn’t something he’s as comfortable with…. he’d rather play center

      Hollweg has said that he CAN play center… has for alot of his time in the minors, but since he got to the NHL he’s liked playing on the wing…. been easier to play his game, and feels obligated to shoot more rather than try to pass… not one of his strong points… passing…

      You know what? This team has been looking like they’re just not comfortable…. like they’re not having all that much fun out there….

      Now I’m not saying that Renny is a BAD coach but…. how about we start looking in to this pattern and do something about it!

    23. Bauer

      I will agree that Tyutin had a strong game. Rangers blocked 9 shots, Tyutin had 5 of them. He was very composed with the puck as well – almost as much so as Pock, who was the best player for the Rangers tonight not named Lundqvist. No doubt it was an afterthought for Renney to let the guy move the puck, something that has always been the strongpoint of his game. Better to pair him with Rozsival and let the inconsistent overpaid veteran handle the puck.

    24. That would mean Sather and pals have a brain that solves problems. They haven’t shown me that in the 7 years they have been in charge.

    25. “Sam
      Do you think that there is any reason to look at the Rangers in a critical way, or do you think their place in the standings (10 points behind the Devils, who have a game in hand) is due to a random series of unfortunate events outside the control of those responsible for running the team?”

      Pemoco, I understand what you’re getting at, but let’s not get carried away here. My point in offering those Betts quotes was not for you to feel sorry for him, but to prove that EVEN HE was pointing out he wasn’t the right fit to play with Shanahan.

    26. Sam

      A general question. In a situation like tonight with Nylander, where the player doesn’t want to talk or isn’t available, do the Rangers provide anyone you can talk to about whether a player is injured or whatever? Do you have access to Ramsey or any of the training staff or do you only get a few minutes in the lockerroom and that’s that?

    27. Sam

      I wasn’t trying to trick you into anything regarding the use of Betts in particular. Rather, in a larger sense, do you feel it might be timely to explore what had gone wrong with the Rangers this year?

      Last year, when we were picked for last, the Rangers were the feelgood story of the New NHL. Now that the opposite has occurred, that being picked for the Stanley Cup (at least by SI) should we not be looking at why the Rangers are one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL?

      My opinion is that by only looking at individual players or line combinations that we are missing out on the bigger picture of where this organIzation is headed.

    28. “From my vantage point at least, Thomas Pock had his best game of the season—aggressive with the puck but never caught behind the play. ”

      and he had to sit out for 2 effing months while Renney pulled his the-kids-aren’t-ready crap.

      how many more kids could do the same if they got real ice time.
      It’s what we have been saying all along.

    29. There are several avenues there.

      For one, we saw Nylander but he just waved at us as if to say if he wasn’t up for talking. Given that his head was still ringing, it wasn’t worth pursuing (If I was doing “The Michael Nylander Story” for tomorrow’s paper, that’d be different). We can get updates from Tom. We can updates from John Rosasco, whose the team’s top PR guy and who knows everything that’s going on with the team. And there are always guys like Rammer around as well, although those guys are rarely actually quoted.

      But you’re right, given the constraints of deadline, it’s pretty much a scramble.

    30. Sam

      Thanks for the answer.

      Given the light schedule the rest of the month hopefully there will be a chance for you to pursue a bit more of the more macro view of where the team is.

    31. If you ask me, the entire forward lines are out of their comfort zones and it all falls on Renney…This is currently a team with no identity and a coach who’s personel decisons seem to be making the team lifeless…

      A coach needs to put his players in the best position to succeed…Renney seems to be doing the opposite…We all know Shanny will fare best with an offesnive center wo can pass and what does he get? A passing challenged Betts..LIkewise, Betts is best used as a defensive or two way center with limited offensive resposibilities….And he’s the crucial 2nd line C? The third square peg of that line ,Hossa ,is a grinder and shielder who should be asked to do nothing else…Yet, this is our 2nd line

      Then you have an offensive sparkplug like Prucha saddled and neutered with non-offensive players ..Likewise, you have high enrgy hitters like Hollweg and Orts deprived of high energy hitting line mates that would only increase both their ffectiveness (like last year). And then you have TWO wussy nothings in Cullen and Krog on the 3rd line (usually a checking line!) doing who the hell knows what…

      No identity, no direction, a complete mess upfront…

    32. There’s a ton of ways to look at the Rangers problems, but here’s the most glaring.

      1) No offensive d-men (when Ivan Baranka is the best in the professional system, that’s a big hole to fill) (after that there’s literally Bobby Sanguinetti and that’s it).
      2) A playmaking center (options are pitiful, Immo is best option but he’s not a high impact player which makes him deceptive. If anyone remembers Kevin McReynolds left fielder for the New York Mets in the late 80’s, that’s the best we could hope for out of Immo. Quiet, smooth, skilled, but blends in so much he goes invisible, but somehow ends up with decent stats.) Regardless, he has the best vision of any remaining center in the entire youth pipeline. Scary.

      If you cannot fill these holes in some capacity, everything else is moot. You fill those holes with good options and suddenly everything gets exposed much less.

      How to fill the Offensive D-man spot – wait for B. Sanguinetti or the off season. Or give Baranka a shot. The good ones are hard to come by in a trade, the only offensive defesemen in the league available at the deadline will be defensive liabilities. I say screw it for now.

      How to fill the second line center spot – the ideal is a north american type, north-south player in his mid-20’s with an edge. Examples in their prime: Messier, Arnott, K. Primeau, Brindamour, Jokinen, Patrice Bergeron, Marleau. Unlike Nylander, these are guys you can put out in every situation. The only players that could fill that in the organization may be Dubinsky, Pyatt or Cliche. My guess is maybe one turns out to be that guy. but that’s at least 2 years away. Short term, we can trade, wait for the waiver wire or bring up someone who isn’t ready.

      Any trade for a decent second line center means you have to give up youth. That’s most likely to be a short sighted trade. And we all know, the player we trade is the one player who actually matures into the player we needed all along. So, is there really isn’t non-painful trade out there worth making, is there? Maybe at the deadline you get a 2 month rental, just so we can lose in the first round. Sounds like a raw deal unless someone wants to take a flyer on A. Hall or needs a guy like Betts for the 4th line. So, chances are, a trade will be viewed by most fans as a very expensive bandaid.

      Waiver-wire… that’s how we got Krog and how we almost got Nedved. this is a fairly painless solution, but ultimately one that is far less than ideal. Krog won’t fit in the end, and neither would nedved. So, that’s not perfect, but it’s always worth keeping tabs on.

      Call-up: Immo is the only one who is ready. Dubinsky should stay in Hartford for the entire year.

      THE BIGGER ROOT PROBLEM however, is that the Rangers have done a very poor job at drafting and developing highly skilled players. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the majority of the rangers offense comes from four 34+ mercenaries. And it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that unless there are some fairly big surprises from our current crop , the rangers will be in the same predicament for years and years to come. That makes me incredibly sad.

    33. Neil Katcher : I partly agree with waht you say…but you missed some guys in the system. Daniel Girardi a defender for the Pack has 2G and 20A in 41 games, I would call him offensive. But agin, thats teh only guy you missed really…but he is about the only one in teh Pro ranks. As for centers, I know he is a few years away…likie 4 or 5 maybe, but dont forget about Anisimov, he has teh ability to be a 1st or 2nd line center…but being so far off who knows. I for one am willing to wait for the kids to develope ion the minors and such untill they can fill the roles the Rangers need. And if the Rangers have a bunch of 3rd/4th liners after this year, trade up in the draft or trade 2 or 3 for a 2nd line guy…it is posible, especially if the trade is with a team who isnt deep at all…at any position.

    34. Also, I tihnk that if a trade for a Datasuk could be made it may be worth a little more…but I dont think I would want to see who woudl ahve to go the toher way. Its better to wait for free agency and try to land a true number 1 center, than make sure Nylander stays and have him aply in teh number 2 spot…or visa versa, but a true top 2 center is needed….and the LEAST painful way will be via FA…

    35. WIldcard. I agree with everythig you wrote. But I would probably avoid Datsuk as that trade will hurt too much. the least painful way is FA. However, I will make one big adendum.

      The Rangers are staring at a huge transition period over the next two seasons. All 4 top flight forwards, including Jagr will be gone. If they don’t start bringing up some of these rookies soon, they will have no NHL experience when they will be most needed.

      Thus, the rangers will be forced to fill in the gaps again and again and again with mercenaries. If the Rangers are really thinking big picture, it’s a necessity to bring up those guys who are showing they might be ready sooner than later.

      I’m speaking mostly of the forwards Immonen, Dawes, Callahan… these are players that need to get there feet wet fairly soon. And not just for 8 minutes every 2 months. Otherwise, we’ll get caught in the trap of having to overpay for a guy like Lecavalier when he goes FA and we won’t be able to keep guys like Tyutin because of cap problems.

      So, bottom line is, whether this is the new nhl or the old one, there is only one way to ensure prolonged success… by creating NHL caliber talent at every position from within. So, these boys need to come up just to ensure the franchise’s viability. It almost doesn’t matter if they’re not the best option. Not from an organizational viewpoint. Let them grow into the position.

    36. Also, if i were at the drafting table this summer, I would target all high-skilled forwards in the first 2-3 rounds, trading up if we needed to. (God willing the draft has a decent pool of those players this year). And then, I would ask Rockstrom to find me the next Reijo Routsaleinen in the later rounds.

    37. I keep seeing peopel bring up parise and wonder why teh Ragners dont call up teh likes of Callahan, and Byers and Dubinsky ( or is it Dubinski??) Well, if peopel want to use teh Devils as an example than none of the shoudl see a shift in the NHL for this season. Parise had his first pro season in 2004-2005, he palyed 73 games in the AHL and a wopping ZERO in the NHL…but when the ragners have a kid in the minors its holding him back. Dawes is the one who should be up…but in place of who?? You dont put a kid like Dawes on teh 3rd/4th line..jsut liek Prucha shouldnt be there. He needs top line palyers and min. In fact Prucha should be on teh 1st line with Nylander and Jagr, pruch and JJ seem to click together, when they are on the ice togeth BOTH seem to paly better. Put Straka/Immo/Shany together, than Hossa/Cullen/Ward and Hollweg/Betts/Orts Have Krog and Hall as extras, Krog is a good depth guy if nothing else…and Hall can be traded…oh yeah, and Orr can be waived….or traded, or snet home…or whatever…

    38. Neil Katcher: I think they are handling callahan perfectly…he is an AHL rookie, they let him get a taste of the NHL and he may get another game or 2 in…but Dawes is tough, as well as Immo..I know its hard to find space for Dawes, he really isnt a 3rd/4th line player, and its hard to find room ont he top two lines…but I think he will be in teh mix next seaosn, OR he will be the main peice in waht brings a decent 2nd line center to the Rangers…but I think my Line setups address SOME of the problems with teh youth…after this season it all depends on who gets re-signed. I knwo I would lie to see Straka back, and Shanny, but one needs to go, or JJ, but Ither Straka or Shanny need to NOT be re-signed…and I woudl say Straka..in fact HE could bring back a halfway decent center for the 2nd line right now. than Prucha can paly onth e top line and Dawes can be called up to paly the 2nd line with the “new” center and Shanny, than let Cullen paly the 3rd line and Betts the 4th…not bad I wouldnt think.

    39. The Rangers scratched Darius Kasparaitis, Jason Ward and Adam Hall.

      Renney met with Ward yesterday and said, “There are some things he needs to work on in his game. So far as his development as a Ranger, it’s better to keep that between he and I.”


      what school did Renney graduate from?

    40. I’d bet that at least one from scratched players (Hall, Kaspar, Ward) is going to play against Atlanta. That’ll only prove Renney has absoultely no clue how to coach this team.

    41. stf : ow will that prove he dosnt know how to coach the team?? I am not arguing jsut wondering how you figure that??

    42. Cause on the same subject…after a game like alst night, Hossa should be out, so Ward or Hall could get back in, I say Ward..and the “other” Ward was horrid on D last night…so he should be out, and Kasper should get teh nod after a couple games in the seats…may as well use the depth, and not reward bad play…isnt that what everyone wants??

    43. The Rangers have been outcoached, simply put. Either that or Glen Sather is tying the hands of Renney to protect his reputation from some of the bad deals he has made and overpaid for some of his current players.
      Below is a link which illustrates why Kaspar may be the odd man out. He is older and slower than he used to be for sure but he isn’t the worst Dman we have and as long as Milman and Rachunek are playing, it’s a joke. The only thing wrong with this article is how true it is and Kaspar is honest. The Rangers were a bad team – largely because Messier overstayed his welcome. Sather owes Messier and Messier is the next GM in waiting. Honesty is not a virtue at the Garden and for whatever crazy reason the moron Dolans allow Sather free rein. check the article out.


    44. has anyone seen who is at the top of the Swedish league in scoring? Dont look twice but it’s good old Pavel Brendl (anyone remember how so many of our #1 picks are so bad). And someone please tell Don Maloney and Glen Sather to look in the mirror and get some grit and guts onto this club. We dont need more Jason Krogs or Halls…we need some young spark like the Devils have with young players who are brought up from the minors and eased into the lineup. Give Dubinski, Dawes, Immonen and others a real chance instead of giving the crappy Islander connections game time (anyone want to see Ibister some more). I feel like puking…

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