Tuesday musings

28

Some random thoughts before Tuesday’s practice:

<li>A number of readers have pointed out how Scott Gomez seems to be shooting much more this season. It’s true, Gomez was among the league leaders in shots taken before missing five games with an ankle injury. And he’s still ranked 24th with 82 shots in 22 games (Chris Drury ranks first on the Rangers and 12th in the league with 87).

Of course, Gomez sports only a paltry 4.9 shooting percentage, which suggests that while he’s improved in his willingness to shoot, he hasn’t necessarily improved his shot. I know that Tom Renney last season wanted to get Gomez to fire more pucks on net, so Gomez shooting more may be a case of the coaching staff encouraging him to do so. Or it could be a reflecion of the fact that after playing most of last season with Brendan Shanahan, one of the great snipers in league history, he doesn’t yet have the linemate that he’s consistently looking for in the slot. Hence he’s the one taking more shots.

That’s my theory at least. I’ll investigate later.

<li>Meanwhile, shots-on-goal in general is a pretty misleading statistic. If a team is badly outshooting another, it may be indicative of a team being able to move the puck up ice efficiently. But those shots could still be from the perimeter, which most opponents don’t mind facing since more often than not it’s simply a chance to get the puck back.

The Rangers, like most teams, prefer to measure “chances,” which is not an official statistic, but something they monitor on their own. It’s basically any shot from relatively close range in the middle of the ice. You would think that the league with all its resources could figure out a way to measure that, since it would be a much better gauge.

<li>As for Renney’s comment about the press writing about the power play, I realize it sounds like he was blaming the media, but he wasn’t. What the coach was saying is that a team’s shortcomings on the power play takes on a life of its own when it’s not only reflected in the league statistics, but something that is almost a daily topic of discussion. He didn’t say we were wrong in writing about it. He was just saying shrewd opposing coaches are likely paying attention.

It’s hardly my job to defend the Rangers coach. He’s a smart enough guy on his own and the Rangers have a full PR staff to help try to spin things in their favor.

If you don’t like decisions the coach has made, that’s more than fair. I have my own quibbles as well — from why the team doesn’t call up a seventh defenseman to spell one of their struggling regulars; to the complete alienation of Petr Prucha; to the coach’s heavy reliance on his fourth line. But I’m not sure it’s fair to completely misinterpret something the coach has said and then use it as ammunition against him.

OK, that’s enough from this soapbox.

More from practice in a bit…

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28 Comments

  1. Repost from last thread –

    Salty – glad to see you agree with me on the Staal/Redden thing.

    Question on one of your other comments though. You mention that the next two months will be embarrassing but I’m not sure what you mean. I’m of the opinion that this is a 4/5/6 positioned team in the conference. Not to say I wouldn’t be thrilled if they won the division but realistically I think Pittsburgh has more weapons.

    If the team is in the 4 through 6 spots at the end of January, is it really “embarrassing” or just the team equaling out to where they belong?

  2. The thing I dont understand about this whole PRucha situation is this:

    LAst season wasn’t Shanahan the one who was blocking PRucha from getting more ice/PP time? Per Renney and SAther? ISnt that one of the reaSONS HE WASN’T RESIGNED?

    Shanny is gone, yet there was never really ANY consistent chance for Peter to get back to his prior form from the two previous season?

    I mean is it that hard to understand after having the kid on your team for a few years that most of his points will come from the PP or the garbage pickups in front of the net?

    And that you have to give him at least 10 games in a row to produce?

    Imagine if Renney was using this same tactic on Drury, Or Dubi? They’d still be sitting in the press box.

    I’m just so irritated with Pruchas whole situation. 1.6 million to sit in a suit and watch the game.

    Play him or trade him, period.

    And what the hell is Sather waiting for with Rissmiller, Dawes, Fritsche, etc.?

    Admit you were wrong, and get rid of whoever your goign to get rid of.

  3. Sam

    If you quoted Renney yesterday accurately — “Smart coaches read clips. They read what other teams have to read about themselves and they try to find a psychological advantage there” — then people can make their minds up for themselves what he meant without your spinning it for them.

    Leave aside the question of blaming the media; in other words, let’s give Tom a pass there. That still leaves his bizarre assertion somehow opposing coaches will take their cues from the mood in the newspapers rather than their scouting and their video, where the horror of the Ranger PP is fully evident to anyone with a pulse.

    Smart coaches study what is on the ice. Unconfident coaches worry about “psychological advantages” over nuts and bolts issues —- like fixing the power play —- that are well within their power to control.

  4. So the problem with the powerplay isn’t the media, it’s the fans interpretation of the media. Or it’s the players. Anyone but the coach, right?

  5. MikeyNJ is right. Sather just has to admit signing all of those players was a mistake and move them along somewhere else. This team has so many mediocre players, it’s really frustrating to watch. It’s too bad Redden can’t be one of those players.

  6. There is a new car commercial with one of the Penguins this season, but it’s definitely not as good.

    Joe in DE – I really hope you’re not serious with that shorthanded goals comment; I’m thinking it’s just a well-disguised joke.

  7. Unfortunately, Prucha hasn’t even deposited the easy opportunites into the goal this season. He has been in front of the net with a chance to score, but the puck has not gone in for him. Maybe if he had scored, Prucha would still be in the lineup. I don’t understand wanting to play him anymore because he can’t score and can’t play defense. He does throw some big checks, but falls down when he gets hit.

  8. Maybe Gomez could be more effective if he was in better shape. That interview with him after Kids Day on the Rangers website…he looked chubby. Bulbous cheeks and something squishy dangling below the chin doesn’t usually indicate top physical fitness.

  9. Ford — Good post.

    Sam — I love ya. But just because you say you’re not spinning doesn’t mean you’re not spinning.

    FREE PETR PRUCHA

  10. Spiderpig, yes, it was just well-disguised joke. Though the fact that we have allowed 7 shorties in a quarter of the season (and 2 to the Islanders, ugh) turns my stomach.

  11. Pavel – to be honest considering teams looking at Shanny are looking at 1 yr at 1m… hell why not dump Prucha at $1.6m and grab Shanny at $1m… Better player for less money. No brainer.

    Not that I think Shanny is our saviour but he is a positive for many reasons. Leadership in the lockerroom. Promoting the team… he was the face of the rangers the past few years. Always saying exactly the right things. Plus he has scored over 600 NHL goals… and Lord knows we could use a few more right now.

  12. Ford… Excellent post.

    “Salty
    Question on one of your other comments though. You mention that the next two months will be embarrassing but I’m not sure what you mean. I’m of the opinion that this is a 4/5/6 positioned team in the conference. Not to say I wouldn’t be thrilled if they won the division but realistically I think Pittsburgh has more weapons.

    If the team is in the 4 through 6 spots at the end of January, is it really “embarrassing” or just the team equaling out to where they belong?”

    Pretty good question. You’ve got a point… it’s a matter or personal perception and expectations of the team.

    Personally, I expect more out of the team, a lot more… simply because I know it’s there and for some unknown reason they are unable to get back to that level of play that they showed in the first 5 games of the season. Since then, they have managed to create an illusion to many fans that they are a dominant team.

    So I guess to answer your question as far as an embarrassment… I won’t be embarrassed myself, but I think that the situation would be embarrassing for the organization… and not very different from the OTT team last year.

    It’s one thing if the team is playing hard, but clearly they are not. I think they *could be* on top of the division if they were playing up to their potential. We have a pretty good team. A very good team. I refuse to believe that a Wade Redden is *actually* washed up at 31.

    With a little elbow grease, this team could hold onto its position. That’s no accident, although I think it is a matter or circumstance right now.

    The embarrassment will come to those who were happy to just count points and claim “we must be great since the standings say so” rather than see the holes where they were when we “had it easy”.

  13. I was against signing Shanny in September, but for-signing him 1/3 into the season. He’s well rested and we all know he wants to play… so put him with Gomez ffs!

  14. You know I Was jsut going to write that

    Imagine Sather does this?

    What a waste of time and energy it will be.

    IF Sather signs shanny now and dumps PRucha it will be one of the dumbest things he’s ever done.

  15. Signing Shanny now could be a valid move. I would love to get Prucha a couple goals before we ship him off though. I doubt we’d get better than a 3rd rounder for him. Couldn’t we move Rissmiller or Fritsche instead?

  16. It is absolutely true that comments to the media when taken out of context can be misinterpreted. However, when management rarely speaks, their quotes will take on a life of their own. When the Rangers were constantly losing under Don Maloney, he still was always available to the press and constantly did interviews. Who has taken his place? The invisible man.

  17. Not to compare stats, but I was jsut looking at them over at yahoo sports

    for every reporter praising Pitsburghs record right now
    we are only three goals behind them for GF (72 for NY and 75 doe Shittsburgh and two more for GA 75 NYR vs. 73 Shittsburgh)

    And Anaheim has only played one less game than us, yet we have 36 points and they have 31.

    So as much as we all complain,a nd I do too, were still in pretty good shape.

    I guess its jsut being a fan of the Rangers that we all expect so much more out of our team, even when we are winning.

    And as long as SAther does SOEMTHING I’ll be happy. Sign Shanny, sign Sundin, try to get Bouwmeester, dump Rissmiller, Fristche, Dawes, play Prucha, dump Prucha, just DO SOMETHING!!! Finish the dam roster and let’s go!

  18. 17-8-2 with a relatively easy schedule
    17-8-2 with an ailing power play

    There have been some games where there was not a full 60 minute showing.

    There have been some games where a third period comeback was needed to get a either a point or both.

    Stength in goaltending has been a significant factor in ~70% of the wins or more and only one loss.

    This is a team that can rise to the challenge that an opponent presents. They can beat any team in the league when they rise to that challenge in terms of effort and play to their strengths within their system.

    Going forward from here the schedule gets relatively more difficult so we’ll see how the dicipline and work ethic translate to wins and losses.

    It would sure help if the defense were tighter in this upcoming stretch of games – memo to Wade Redden.

    The power play cost this team 10 points last season. It is mandatory that the power play starts to put some points on the board.

  19. Joe in DE – The fact that we have already allowed 7 SHG is also a big joke, not so well-disguised, though.

    I didn’t expect the Rangers to be leading the division at this point, albeit with many more games played and just sneaking by in shootouts. 4th-6th would not be in my expectations, as I thought the team could do really well or really badly based on the players added and potential vs. effort. So far, Renney has milked just enough effort, but it’s definitely not enough to get through the whole season near the top of the standings. By virtue of being first in penalty kill percentage, at least out special teams percentages add to more than 100, which is the sign of a good team; in this case, a team carried by its goaltender.

  20. Free Petr Prucha — mostly because he’s just not that great. I think he’s been mishandled, but I also think playing with Jags and being an unknown commodity gave him an advantage in his first (and somewhat in his second) year. There may be a reason he was drafted 8 millionth. Or that he didn’t capitalize on the time he was given. Let’s be honest, in the NHL, how a guy plays when he plays is a way better gauge of his talent than simply believing that if he played he’d play well. Talent does rise to opportunity.

    Prucha should be given a shot somewhere (and, remember, it could be Hartford — if he lit it up down there the management would be even more hard-pressed not to give him a shot in the bigs where the Blueshirts need goals badly). But I think a lot of us need to accept that he was probably a flash in the pan. And an easily knocked off the puck one at that.

  21. repost from prior thread…

    22figure8:

    “Rocket-Do you really think that if Potter and Sanguinetti were ready for the NHL, the Rangers would purposely keep them down?”

    Do you think that either of those guys could be any worse than Rozsival or Redden? I don’t.

    As for being ready, weren’t Callahan, Staal, Girardi and Dubinsky supposed to be “not ready” also? We were calling for them to be called up and inserted into the lineup for months, but we kept getting that answer. Then surprise, when they got their chances, they did fine. They played better than the washed-up veterans they replaced.

    My opinion is that SatheRenney don’t want to embarrass Rozsival and Redden – or the Rangers organization which gave them disgraceful contracts – by replacing them and having the kids play better.

    Same with Prucha – if they ever gave him a real shot on the PP and he started scoring, they’d have a lot of answering to do for their horrible treatment of him. They’d rather have the worst power play in the league than to take a gamble that Prucha will revive the PP and show that they don’t know their asses from their elbows. So Prucha sits.

    It’s full-blown cover your ass mode at MSG.

    I heard that at the last game, the fans were chanting “We want Melrose” – LOL!. I wouldn’t go that far, but we certainly need a better coach than we have to get the team rolling on all cylinders. Tortorella, Laviolette, Nolan are all better coaches than Renney, and all are available. I’d be fine with any one of the above.

  22. I agree with most on here that Sather needs to finish this roster NOW, then see what happens, if they still flounder then, something more drastic should be in the works with Renney or Pearn or both….

  23. From what I am gathering here and some of my own belief is that as fans we get frustrated with underperformance and a feeling that we are still a “work in progress” after 1/3rd of the season.

    Clearly (nothing new) we have a glut of 3rd liners on this team. Expecting them to be 2nd liners (Cally…forced in there) or high scoring, big contributing 3rd liners (Korpi, Voros, Dawes, Fritsche, Riss, Pru) is misplaced energy because (a) none of them are THAT good and (b) they’d be 2nd liners if they were.

    None of the management would ever admit this. Sather would be admitting his incompetence and Renney would be showing disrespect to Sather. So they sugarcoat crap and give 100s of reasons for “still tinkering” and make up whatever excuses they want.

    Someone proposed it above….what if this team is really a 4th or 5th place team in the conference? Would we be all fired up at a 17 and 8 record? Probably not, I am guessing. But they get off to a rip roaring start and all of a sudden we have Stanley Cup visions.

    Then when the team floats back to reality and the coach and GM start to make BS excuses, we fans are all fired up.

    At the end of the day how would we feel if Renney stood up and said, “We have a strong top 4-5 players, then we have a dropoff to where we probably have 7-8 players who are 3rd and 4th liners. On D, we have two guys getting paid huge who are not pulling their weight.”

    I think we’d be relieved to hear it, pissed off at Sather for being so stupid for all those moves (we already are pissed off though), and saying, “Sounds like Renney has given up.”

    Something to think about.

    BTW, tomorrow night vs Cindy it should be interest to see if this team gets up for playing against one of the top teams.

  24. Salty – I too would like to believe that Redden isn’t washed up.

    Mikey – Pittsburgh has played a few less games. Expect their goals/game to go up by year end when they get Gonchar back.

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