Your questions, my answers (Part 1)


OK, since there are already a bunch of questions and I have a tendency to be a bit — ahem — long-winded, we’ll break this into multiple parts.

Try to keep up, because we’re going to move fast….

Sam, why won’t Renney take Dubinsky off Jagr’s line? WHEN? If he can’t see it’s need, I’m questioning his judgement, personality, insight, fears, ability to change, etc. It’s beyond comprehension to leave Jagr in a slump, and Dubinsky in over his head. It’s the definition of insanity. — bklynblue

First my own question: Am I only the one who sees the irony in the fact that the same people who have been clamoring for Tom Renney to PLAY THE KIDS have now been blasting the coach for putting a kid in such a prominent role?


Look, I’m not sure if Brandon Dubinsky is the right center for Jaromir Jagr for the long term. I know I love the way he skates. I love his work down low in the areas where Jagr likes to set up, and love the fact that he is generally unfazed as a rookie playing alongside a future Hall of Famer (We asked Dubinsky last week if and when it ever hits him that Jagr is his linemate. He said only when he gets phone calls from his buddies back home who say things like, “Dude, that’s so sweet…”).

All that being said, Dubinsky has a tendency to hang on the puck too long, doesn’t always see the right play quick enough, and in recent games had been burned in the defensive zone. Add that to the fact that Chris Drury is the more poised player and is deserving of more prominent ice time, and my guess is Renney will likely make that switch at some point in the near future.

But if Renney doesn’t — or if he doesn’t do it soon — I still see the benefit in keeping Dubinsky with Jagr because the duo is only getting to get better. And even if it’s taking more time than anyone would like, it’s still worthwhile in the interest of developing Dubinsky for the future. And like I said before, I was always under the impression that’s something fans wanted.

But, while we’re on the topic of the Captain…

Why doesn’t Jagr shoot more? He’s on his way to a career worst in shot totals. — PruBlue25

Actually, this was a question from a bunch of you, but Pru asked it most concisely.

Ah, the tortured psyche of the Captain. That’s not a blog post. It’s a dissertation.

There is no question Jagr is frustrated with his lack of scoring so far, and one needs to only look at his slow parade back to the bench after shifts as proof. But let’s be clear his lack of shots is not because he isn’t trying.

Those of us who cover the Rangers are fortunate in that our press box seats above the Zamboni door at the Garden gives a unique view of the ice — especially in the first and third period when the Rangers are shooting on our side. And what you see is there are rarely any worthwhile shooting lanes. That’s true for defensemen like Michal Rozsival, but especially for Jagr, who often curls out from behind the net and is quickly smothered by the opponent. Everyone is clogging the area in front of goalies (as one player said recenly, one of the reasons players are throwing themselves in front of shots with abandon is because blocked shots are now a valued statistic), so even when Jagr attempts a shot, it seems more like half of them never get to the goalie.

But the other part is that whole Jagr philosophy that a half-hearted shot attempt is just a turnover to the other team. And he’s not off base. Think about it: If players are clogging the areas in front of goalies, shooters are forced to pick at corners, limiting their room for error. If they miss, the puck caroms off the boards and usually sends opponents the other way.

So what’s the solution in Jagr’s eyes? Hold on to the puck, work it around, and look for a better shot. And from there, the vicious cycle continues…

I’m updating as I go. More in a bit….

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  1. you want concise?

    1. Will the Rangers trade/waive Malik?

    2. Will the Rangers trade/waive/demote Hossa?

    3. Is the team really as divided (Shanny team v Jagr team) as it appears?

    4. Is a blockbuster trade involving Jagr truly a daydream?


  2. Sam,

    Are there any possible deals in the works? Is the Malik benching an effort to protect him from injury while a deal is completed?

  3. Do you see a team in the locker room, or a collection of individuals who happen to work together? I can’t shake the feeling that many of the guys on the current roster have no interest in each other outside practice/games. It doesn’t seem like a very tight-knit group this season.

  4. Sam, Assuming they get a top six forward or a top 4 defenseman in a trade for Jagr do you think the Rangers would become more of a team with Jagr gone?

  5. Sam – until last night i was under the impression that the Rangers would try to shop Al Montoya after they lock up Hank for a long-term deal after January 1st. Last night, the hockey “god” Stan Fischler was answering an email about it on gamenight and sounded so shocked as if we nominated Hollweg for the Hart Trophy. He made it seem like the Rangers weren’t even considering it. Any updates on the Montoya situation?

    I would think a team like LA (Cloutier in AHL, Labarbara injured, Bernier horrible)… or a team like Boston (Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez hurt) would be very interested…

  6. Sam, why does the NHL not use a goals per two minutes of PP time statistic? Also, we haven’t heard much this year about Schoenfeld. What has his role been, and what kind of impact have you seen him make? I feel like Don M. was much more visible and I’m curious why. Afraid he’s going to appear as a threat to Renney?

  7. OK, I think you’re missing the point on why people don’t like Dubinsky centering Jagr. It’s because he’s not very good offensively at the moment, and he’s not likely to be a whole lot better than average, so you handcuffing the best offensive player on the team needlessly. I’m one that gets annoyed when the do stupid stuff like sign Cullen, and Drury and Gomez, but also when they pair Jagr with one of the worse offensive players they have (at the moment0. Unfortunately they don’t have any centers who complement Jagr offensively, so something has to be forced in. Here’s a question. “Why does the first power play unit dump & chase so often?” That first group should never dump and chase, they are essentially playing for one shot, which usually happens quickly in that sequence and the other team just clears it.

  8. Sam,

    I’ve watched 99% of the games this year and I can’t remember a clear cut 2 on 1 for the Rangers involving their forwards. I thought of this while watching that horrible 2 on 1 with Staal and Betts yesterday, by the way. Has anyone, coaching staff, writers, etc., noticed this too? What can it be attributed to (your best guess)?

    Luckily I have the NHL network so I get to see highlights EVERYNIGHT of games from around the NHL and I noticed 2 trends when it comes to goal scoring. The succesful teams, like Detroit, score goals off the rush and by creating traffic in front. We do neither, hence the lack of goals.

  9. Nick B.
    The chances of seeing the Rangers on a 2-on-1 are slim to none because they play a defensive style. By definition, a 2-on-1 is created by have 2 offensive players matched against 1 defender. Conversely, that leads to a 4-on-3 situation for those not involved in the 2-on-1. The Rangers would never be outnumbered like that. You also don’t see the Rangers on breakaways very often for the same reason. That would require someone cheating out of the zone.

    However, you will also notice that we don’t give up as many odd man rushes as other teams do, for the same reasons.

  10. Nick B.: Dawes’s 5-hole goal on Brodeur was a 2 on 1 with him and Prucha. I can’t think of another though.

  11. SAM – Re: set plays

    You mentioned that the give-away by Girardi a few nights back was part of a set play(gone wrong). WAS THE OT GOAL A RESULT OF A SET PLAY?

    Are there others that have been successful that we just aren’t aware of? Who designs them?

  12. Derf – the “Maven” stated that Montoya is unproven and therefore has little trade value. teams are not looking at wehere he was picked in the draft so his value as of now is much less than the spot he was picked in.

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