People who come to this blog expecting to read about grand scale changes the morning after a big loss are often disappointed. Tom Renney isn’t one for grand scale changes, and when he is, the circumstances have to be a lot more dire than they are now.
And so when the Rangers return the ice tomorrow night against Tampa Bay, you can probably expect the same personnel, the same lines, and even the same power play that was an inexplicable minus-2 against the Islanders Should the Rangers lose another game in a similar fashion as last night, Renney will be chided for his stubbornness. Should they win, the coach’s faith in his group might not seem so unreasonable.
In the spirit of political fence-sitting, I make no predictions.
“I’m comfortable with what we have as personnel,” Renney said. “I believe very strongly in these guys. Whatever the combinations are, I believe they will work.”
As for what truly ails the power play at this point, the coach said it’s simple.
“There’s been so much said and written about it, it’s all in their heads,” he said.
With that in mind, it’s worth asking: Does Dr. Phil know his way around an ice rink?
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<li>If the coach was of a sunnier disposition today, compare that to last night, when he told the media he was “pissed right off,” and kept the door closed for 10 minutes after the game.Â “With him it’s not always easy because he’s not going to start yelling and getting in people’s faces,” Nigel Dawes said.Â “But you could definitely tell he was mad, as we all were.”
<li>One thing Renney did seek to address today was Nikolai Zherdev’s occasional penchant for freelancing with the puck in precarious areas. As the coach said, the problem isn’t Zherdev’s desire to try to make a play since that’s part of the reason he’s tied for the team lead in scoring. But last night saw a couple of instances when Zherdev’s overhandling led to a turnover. If it’s possible to have too much game, Zherdev might be guilty.
“They have creative license to do what they’re capable of doing in certain locations of the rink and under certain circumstances,” Renney said. “What we all have to do is help our players learn where those opportunities lie.”
<li>Bad news for Paul Mara’s bid to become a member of ZZ Top. The Rangers defenseman shaved off his beard this morning. I thought it was related to the two shorthanded goals, but he said it was more for the team’s yearbook photos takenÂ this morning. Plus, in a reference to Gross’s heavy beard, he said, “I was looking too much like Andrew.”
Of course, don’t despair. Mara said he’s starting the beard right back up.
<li>It’s fair to say the Lightning will be a different team than the one the Rangers faced in Prague. Perhaps because “Barry Melrose’s mullet is growing on players”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/sports/hockey/05melrose.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss, Tampa Bay has points in seven of eight games since then.
Update, 3:55 p.m.: For more analysis on all things Rangers, the esteemed Kenny Albert was a guest of the boys on the NYRangerscast. Have a listen below “a listen here”:http://nyrangerscast.com/podcasts/nyrangerscast072.mp3.
Updated,Â 4 p.m.: Forbes.com has determined that Colton Orr is the best bargain among fighters in the NHL. There’s actually a fully story on “this here”:http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/news;_ylt=Ap81maAXhzx79GtHT.v6POB7vLYF?slug=ys-forbesnhlfighters103008&prov=yhoo&type=lgns. It goes without saying that I never thought I’d use the words “Forbes” and “Colton Orr” in the same sentence.