Update, 2:15 p.m.: As expected, the lineup stays the same against the Caps, with Marek Malik a healthy scratch for the third straight game. All this “courtesy of my co-owner Zipay”:http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/blog/, who made it to the morning skate.
You may recall that “delightfully ironic moment last month”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/11/07/oh-the-irony/ when an injured Marty Straka was seated behind a bunch of us writers in the press box at Nassau Coliseum, and he, too, joined the chorus of Rangers fans imploring the players on the ice to shoot.
If anything, it underscores the issue is complicated, as “I wrote in my story in today’s paper”:http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071212/SPORTS01/712120391/1046/RSS0905.
Because as much as we’d like to ridicule the Rangers for being a bunch of trigger-shy, finesse players always looking for the perfect play, the reality is a clean look at the net these days is about as common as a one-sentence Tom Renney answer. Straka couldn’t see as much when he was temporarily confined to the press box. But put him back on the ice and the lack of shooting lanes is obvious.
“It’s hard,” he told me. “Sometimes there is half a second where you can shoot the puck and if you miss that, you can’t. The fans don’t see the guys in the lane or the stick in the lane. So it’s hard to shoot. And obviously it’s hard for them because they want to see more shots and it is more exciting. But sometimes they think it’s there but it’s not. You know you’re going to hit the guy.”
Of course, this isn’t to exonerate the Rangers completely since other teams are scoring more goals than they are, and even one of their own, Brendan Shanahan has managed to get off 135 shots on goal in the first 30 games. The lack of shooting lanes is not an excuse when Michal Rozsival has the puck at the point and he, almost instinctively, stuffs it back to Jaromir Jagr when Jagr is covered by three players.But I’ve seen the problem only grow this year, and it’s the main reason in my eyes that scoring is down. As I mentioned the other day, the main reason the Rangers aren’t shooting is the fear that shots will get blocked and it will send opponents back the other way.
And it explains why a lot of defensemen are actually missing the net on purpose because they’re trying to either hit a forward who can tip a shot in, or have the puck carom off the end boards and from there, they can get a good bounce.
In other words, pond hockey it isn’t.
For more on this topic, I talked to Brendan Shanahan about it, and here’s what he had to say (Note the playing of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” in the background):