“And tonight’s first star, from the Devils, Kevin Weekes…”

74

I know, I know, pipe down.

But if you’ve been paying enough attention to the Rangers you know they have an uncanny knack for making ordinary goaltenders look superhuman — from Wade Dubliewicz to Joey MacDonald to most recently, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.

This could be a reflection of opponents simply elevating their games when their No. 1 goalie isn’t there to bail them out (which the Rangers have done as well with Stephen Valiquette), or it could be symptomatic of the Rangers’ larger problem of overcomplicating a  simple game.

Regardless, if you’re expecting two easy points at the Rock tonight in Martin Brodeur’s absence, I’d urge you to reconsider.

Meanwhile, some notes:

<li>Optional skate in Newark today, which means we might not have a full sense of tonight’s lineup until shortly before game time. It’s unlikely Tom Renney will make any lineup changes, although one possibility is Nigel Dawes since the left wing has enjoyed some success against the Devils in his long, storied career (meaning last season, when he had four goals and an assist, and a shootout goal). So stay tuned on that…

<li>Speaking of the Rangers’ frequent lineup and line changes this season, I did “follow up on that issue in today’s paper”:http://www.lohud.com/article/20081112/SPORTS01/811120386/-1/SPORTS. On that front, reader Ethan raised an excellent point in an e-mail to me.

“Question: Why does Renney show so much restraint and patience with players who are struggling – but is so quick to jumble lines that are struggling?”

It’s true, the Rangers coach is selectively patient in some areas, and less so with others. But I certainly wouldn’t say he’s been patient with every player who has been struggling. Has the coach been patient with Petr Prucha, who hasn’t been in the lineup for more than three games in a row? And what about Patrick Rissmiller, who played in only two games and since been exiled into limbo?

Granted, neither of those players made much of a case for themselves when they did play. But the reality is Renney is far more likely to be patient with an established player (i.e. Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival) than he is with someone who can’t afford to squawk at the occasional scratch.

Is that a double standard? Probably. But it’s also part of the reason Renney in his tenure as coach has never “lost” his veterans.

When it becomes a problem is if the coach isn’t necessarily putting his best lineup on the ice. As I said the other night, I was originally a proponent of the Rangers only carrying six defensemen because it was an easy way to save money toward the salary cap while also making sure you’re not wasting players on the bench.

The problem I’m now seeing with this scenario is if you’re not carrying any extras, there is no threat of a player having to sit out, which can potentially contribute to a player’s complacency.

It might not be at that point now, but it’s something to be leery of nonetheless.

More later…

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74 Comments

  1. he can shuffle them around all he wants but when the majority of the talent isn’t top 6 nhl forward caliber, then the team is just not going to score in bunches

  2. They have to get on the Devils quick tonight. If they have learned anything in the last 5 games, it should be that playing from behind is no way to win consistently.

  3. Dury, Gomez, Naslund, Dubinsky and Zherdev would pretty much be in anybody’s top six. Callahan is emerging and making a case for himself (I’m starting to sound like Renney).

    Yes, the Rangers do not have enough talent to win on talent alone. But that’s not the real issue, nor are the line combos. When this team outworks the opposition, uses their speed and forechecks, plays the dump and chase and goes to the net and gets pucks to the net, they can beat anybody. When they don’t, yeah, they have trouble winning. But it all comes down to them working hard. If Renney can’t motivate them to do that then nothing else matters.

  4. Hockeymanrangers on

    I brought this up last year, when we were in a scoring slump. (not saying we are in a slump at this point yet!!!) About the Rangers seem to either miss the net completly or they put it right in the chest of the goalie. (simple saves) Fellow fans just disregarded my comment and said (basically) these guys are professionals and they know were to put the puck when they shoot it. But I wonder??? I thought it might have something to do with our slower paced team, that we didn’t get the shots off quick enough and the goaltender aticipated the puck coming in. Maybe they should work on placement shooting the puck. And also find the weak spot for a particular goaltender. Get it!!! The Weeks spot. If we get to score more goals we could take some pressure off the D and our ALL STAR LUNDY.

  5. The leadership committee needs to motivate their peers as well. That’s done moreso by on-ice example in the case of the players.

    Example – Ken Hitchcock is a good coach and a good motivator as well. They dumped Zherdev because no one could get through to him. Not that he’s shown his lack of interest in NY to the extent that he did in CLB, but there are some guys that no matter what tactic you use, its tough to get through to them.

    I don’t care who your coach is. There’s not a chance that motivation falls on a coaches shoulders alone. That’s why you have captains/leaders.

  6. The problem is that this team is predictable. They are powerless against a decent forecheck. They are useless on the PP because it’s predictable as well.

    Redden was given 6.5 MILLION dollars to improve our PP and has 6p in 18g.. geez.. I should’ve been a puck-moving defenseman.

  7. I agree with Sam in that maybe they should call up an extra d-man and send down Dawes or Prucha in order to light a fire up the asses of Redden and Rozi. I will give Redden a little benefit of the doubt since he is on a new team, new system, just as Drury and Gomer were slow to start last yr, but Rozi has no exuse, and frankly he has big THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT SO FAR….

  8. All good points guys…I just wanted to add to Peters comments on Callahan.
    It dawned on me the other night that thru the first 19 games of the season some players have stepped up on some nights and then faded…look at Dubinski, Gomez, Naslund, even Mara, Staal and Girardi have played well some nights and not others, and don’t get me wrong its normal, but…
    Callahan has been noticeable every night that I can remember. I can’t remember a game where he didn’t throw a big hit or make a nice play both in the defensive zone or the offensive zone. Game in and game out he and Hank have been our most consistent players.

  9. Hey beer me!,

    Of course the leaders have responsibility

    but who exactly has the track record for being motivated? Gomez, Drury, Redden, Hank, Naslund ( and last year Jags, Shanny and Straka?)

    or the coach?

    Some are allstars, stanely cup winners or finalists, etc etc

    I’m not panicing yet ( 11-5-2)thers no reason but if the same 20 minutes of team playing continues, as it has now for two plus seasons, then it falls on the coach who has yet to prove that he has championship caliber motivational skills….

  10. They need a big win tonight to get back some of the momentum that we saw earlier in the season. Winning by a deficit of more than one goal would be a good step in that direction. I wonder who’s going to be on the business end of Colton Orr’s savage fists of destruction tonight.

  11. being ‘motivated’? or ‘motivators’? I dont’ know if I follow the question. I also don’t know if your as dissinterested in the topic as I am, but it seems like a pointless conv. no?

    Anyway…on Cally. Zipay has some great quotes from Gomer yesterday talking about cally. you guys know where to find it.

  12. also kaspar…I could have ‘championship caliber motivational skills’. But if I don’t have a championship caliber TEAM….then it really doesn’t matter how much you get out of the players you have.

  13. Here’s what I was talking about from Zip:
    ………………
    In another Devils reference, Gomez said the play of right wing Ryan Callahan brought back memories of former linemate Brian Gionta.

    “In Rochester, he reminded me a lot of Gio, he goes to the corner and gets the puck, he’s younger so I can yell at him and have him listen to all the BS I say…He brings it every night and I think that’s the ultimate compliment. He’s the sparkplug of our line…he’s starting to get confidence, I think that’s the only thing he needs. When Cally’s going. we’re definitely a different line.”
    …………………..

  14. Good for Callahan, to be compared to Gionta isn’t a bad thing…I actually think Callahan is a grittier player than Gionta

  15. Our Payroll is surely too high for such a low scoring team.

    Dump Renney and get a coach that can get the team earning its payroll.

  16. having a 7th defenseman is not gonna change anything, roszi or redden will not be benched. nor will drury,etc

    real issue like someone said above, when u have a bunch of spare parts hard to get much out of them. and id disagree, i dont think people are dying to take our top 6 forwards, espec with what they are getting paid. dubinsky would be the exception, but more b/c of potential than current ability.

    hate to say it, but really none of our forwards are 1st liners in their own right, make a case for gomez but he needs good winger and zherdev is just very inconsistent, he does not look like a top 3 pick so far

  17. Scott…are you taking over for Bob?

    Dawes should play in place of Fritsche only because Dawes has a great shootout percentage. Since we are a low scoring team the odds on a shootout happening are pretty high.

  18. Rozival isn’t a disappointment at all. He’s doing exactly what we all knew he would do. What was disappointing was the decision to sign him to those terms.

  19. Rangers own Brodeur (at least Lundqvist does). IDK why they never started Weekes more. He’s got a chip on his shoulder after losing the starting job to Lundqvist.

  20. Read that article from the Post linked by Billynj1. That’s all you need to know about this year’s Rangers.

    All the other stuff is just BS.

  21. Shocking. The Rangers got rid of their top scorers from the past 3 seasons, and now there is no offense. Who could have imagined?

  22. Sorry to burst your bubble there KC, and completely destroy your theory. But…

    Thru 18 games last year the Rangers scored 36 goals.

    Thru 18 games THIS year the Rangers have scored….. drumroll please…..


    ..

    47 GOALS!

  23. The player the Rangers miss the most is Nylander. I understand they play a dramatically different style now, but go back and watch some tapes from the first season out of the lockout. You wanna see puck possession?? The Nylander-Jagr-Straka line could keep teams in pinned in their own end for a minute and a half to two minutes PER SHIFT. Teams literally couldn’t take the puck away from that line. The Rangers have nothing like that now, even though they have faster and harder-working players.

    Like I’ve been saying all year though. You can work as hard as you want…if the scoring isn’t there, you just won’t be much better than an average team.

  24. Beer, good point. And this year’s team also has a better record through 18 games.

    But let’s not be fooled…this team doesn’t have enough scoring. Anyone watch the Penguins/Red Wings game last night? 7-6 final? Can you imagine the Rangers doing something like that this season. I just can’t. Maybe the floodgates open once and they get lucky that the opposing goaltender is having an off-night…but they are not a dangerous offensive team, and I think that puts them a notch below the NHL’s elite teams.

  25. Word on Cally. Brings it every night in one form or another.

    Would like to see more consistency with Dubi actually, but can part of his variance be attributed to the changing of linemates after the Zher Voros Dubi line worked so well early?

    Giving up on Prucha early (as discussed in Sam’s post above)? If you are saying that between last season and this season and the all the games played by Prucha (70+) that Renney has not given Prucha enough of a chance then I agree with you. If you think Renney needs to let Prucha skate for 150 games or so to prove that he has not lost his “touch” (due to the NTHL of 05-06 “No Touch Hockey League) then I disagree with you. (How does sarcasm come through on the blog?)

    We need to stomp the Devs. We also have to be wary that the Pens might be starting to play some hockey, albeit without defense.

  26. RobC – agreed on Nylander. A guy like that needs to be in just the right situation I think though. THAT was just the right one for him a few years back, and he (rightfully) cashed in on it.

    Off to the hockey hotbed of Atlanta, GA.

    Catch you guys on Friday. Enjoy the game.

  27. I really don’t think we are going to stomp the Devils tonight. I think we are going to win, but I have a feeling that we are just barely going to win.

  28. renney is the issue, style of play is an issue. the game is changing back to forchecking,(remember forchecking) renney still wants to trap and still play 4 lines. i believe i read hank say that the team doesnt get going till the 3rd because they play with 3 lines after they fall behind. enough of the4th line.

  29. This team has a bunch of third liners that do not produce what is necessary (Prucha, Dawes, Sjostrom, Rissmiller, Fristche, etc)… why not dump some salary and just pick up Sundin. He wants to win a cup and we need a guy like him.

    Gomez isn’t 100%, and by continuing to play (and not resting), Gomez will remain under 100%.

    Drury has been very inconsistent offensively as well (doesn’t help to have third liners as wingers).

    Dubi has been very inconsistent as well (doesn’t stop me from wearing his jersey with pride though).

    We need a threat. Our cap situation is going to be horrible come July 1st, 2010, so this season should be the ‘go-for-it’ one.

    Sundin will not want two years. Seeing as we’re 1/4 into the season, a $4m contract (for the sake of easy math I know he’d get more), is a $3m hit.

  30. I think Nylander was missed only by Jagr. Gomez is a speedy Nylander with the same set of skills basically. This team (and just about every other team) needs a legitimate 1st line sniper. That type of player probably isn’t available for what Sather would be willing to give up.

    My advice to Renney would be to see Zherdev and Gomez together. He’s tried every combination expect putting his best playmaker with his most skilled winger.

  31. Beer Me — here are the stats from NHL.com…
    Rangers stats —
    2005-06 Goals For — 3.05%
    2006-07 Goals For — 2.84%
    2007-08 Goals For — 2.50%
    To date 2008-07 Goals For — 2.50%
    Offense has been going downhill last 4 seasons. On the bright side, GAA is better, despite the constant criticism of Rangers defense — and Lundqvist is just better. But, hard to argue that loss of Nylander, Sykora, Jagr, Straka, Shanahan, etc., didn’t affect scoring and offense.

  32. I would have no problem with lower scoring if we were winning all the games. But when we are playing low scoring games and losing 1-0 and 2-1 it is a real concern.

  33. This team backs off when it gets a lead. It’s like the 5-0 in MTL last year and the 2-0 in Toronto this year.

    Detroit proved that puck possession = cup. Last night, they deviated from this and the flightless birds won the game.

    With the talent on this team, they should be putting up 50+ shots every game.. but they have no heart. They mope around after a Kalinin or Redden turnover leads to a goal and then all of a sudden, it’s late third period and we’re down by 2… ugh.

    ATTACK!

  34. KC. Thank you for putting some numbers out there for everyone to see (I’d have done it, but I’m too lazy!).

    Even though teams have adjusted to the “New NHL” and scoring is going back down a little bit, I still think the BEST teams can score a lot of goals. The trapping, defensive 1-0/2-1 style of the late 90’s and early 00’s Devils is DEAD. You can’t win Cups like that anymore.

    The lack of scoring is a major concern for that reason, in my opinion.

  35. You can only see so much talent be so unproductive for so much time before you have to question the coaching.

    I have always been an advocate for “punishing” players who are not living up to their potential after being given real chances…and I fully support bringing up a 7th D and shafting Rozi for a game.

    It worked for Mara last year and look at him now. These players need to know that “complacency” will not be tolerated in any form. (oh, how I wish that were actually true in NY)

  36. Like it or not this team wins when they play their game and they lose when they don’t show up.

    Cut and dry…

    Black and white.

    Over and out.

    They’re not going to blow teams out of the water but by the same token they shouldn’t get blown out either. They’re built to have a chance every night and that’s what’s goin on. For the first 10 games the close ones went their way. Now the close ones are going to other teams. Simple.

  37. Agree with you, Salty.

    I don’t know how many baseball fans are on here, and in particular Yankee fans, but the PRIME example of this last season was Robinson Cano. He’s a talented player, was given a large contract and never looked motivated. Girardi made the crucial mistake of not benching him until late September, when the season was already lost. While I don’t have exact statistics, I do know that Cano played fantastic after the benching and closed out the season strong. He looked motivated.

    I think Roszival is the perfect candidate for a benching. AT LEAST take him off the damn power play!

  38. Gomez is a speedy Nylander with the same set of skills basically.

    I’m sorry man, I’m the biggest Gomez supporter you’ll find around here, but Gomez could only drool over Nylander’s puck control. You have a valid point about wanting Z and Gomez together but to say Gomez has the same skill set as Mikey is not very accurate. Gomez struggles to hold the puck once he stops skating, Nylander could hold it for about 3-7 seconds while setting up the play, which is an eternity.

  39. Again Salty, spot on. Nylander handles the puck 100x better than Gomez (which says a lot about Nylander, because Gomez is certainly a good puck-handler). He had the ability to really slow the game down, draw defenders and open up space for teammates. He’s a big part of the reason Jagr netted 54 goals the year after the lockout.

  40. Yeah, I liked Nyls while he was here. Guy was great for us. Maybe one of the best signings Sather made. I never understood why so many people bashed the guy. He wanted to say and kind of got the screw job. I don’t mind it because I would rather have Drury and Gomez now, maybe not at the prices we have them for, but I would rather have them. Nylander is one of the best puck possession players in the league. And the funny thing is, it always looks like it is in slow motion when he has the puck. Really a beautiful thing to watch.

  41. He wanted to stay, but Sather didn’t want to give $20 million over four years to a player his age. He wanted to reserve that money for a defenseman that sucks.

  42. I’m not a coach… by far… but it seems like these guys just can’t come ready to play. They need 20 minutes to get fired up.

    If I’m Renney I want someone (Callahan would be a good candidate) to go out and smash the poop out of someone on the first shift. Get the team into it.

    WAKE UP RANGERS!!!

    Time to play your game again!!!!!!!!!!!

    Helloooooooooooooooooooooo

  43. The Rangers are .5 GPG higher this year through 18 games than they were last year.

    45 goals so far this year compared to 36 last year.

  44. is anybody else really disturbed by the larrys weight loss ad picture on the top right of the blog? someone tell that guy to put a speedo on, please….

  45. Yeah, I showed my wife that ad too. She was so skeeved out by it. It really is bad. Sam, please do something about it.

  46. I think that is what Kevin Weeks is looking at in that picture. He looks just as disturbed as I am looking at it.

  47. Who Needs Lohan on

    Guys, use larry’s weightloss like i do, as motivation not look like the guy on the left side of the screen! I actually lie awake at night wondering whether whatever crazy method of dieting that Larry used to lose that much weight in 3 months made his d!ck shrink?

  48. Sam, you must have been reading our game thread over at New York Rangers Cafe. Because most of us fully expect Kevin Weekes to play like a Hall of Famer tonight as the Rangers squander away another two points. Let’s hope we are all wrong!

  49. The Anaheim Ducks have called a news conference for this afternoon to announce that Bob Murray is taking over as general manager for Brian Burke.

  50. Nasty – I think Weekes looks like that in the pic because he actually won a game. Hopefully we don’t see that again tonight.

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