In search of the perfect road game…at home (Update)


The ever-perceptive Lynn Zinser of the Times noted this ominous sign on one of the Garden scoreboards hours before the opening faceoff:

Capitals 5, Rangers 3

Do they know something we don’t? Probably not. But it does serve as a fitting segue into one of my new working theories, that the Rangers are better equipped to play sound, defensive hockey on the road than at home.

The numbers don’t necessarily back my theory up when you consider that two of the team’s worst defensive games were in New Jersey and in Montreal. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Rangers usually — and especially last week out West — are usually content to keep the game simple in opposing buildings. In hockey, they call this playing a “good road game,” which sources tell me, you can only play on the road.

But if the Rangers are going to be a dangerous team over the balance of the season, they need to eliminate some of the disjointed, disconnected play that has crept into their game in lots of buildings, but most noticeably at the Garden.

“It’s not about putting on a show or doing extraordinary things,” Tom Renney said “It is about detail and being sound with and without the puck and managing our game. Our tendency has been we’ve been able to do that better on road. But it doesn’t mean we can’t get it back and place the priorities where they belong.”

Now, a related aside here: a lot of fans and even members of the media will say that the Rangers emphasis on defensive hockey — in which they’re happy to win games 2-1 — makes them exceptionally boring. By contrast, those same people will say that 8-5 loss at the Prudential Center a few weeks back was one of the most entertaining games of the year.

I say pick your poison. As much as I’m a believer that the game is at its most exciting when two teams are trading chances at opposite ends of the rink — it actually doesn’t even matter if they score — I’m also of the belief that a team playing meaningful games in late wing and early spring is far more entertaining than one that already is out of the playoff picture.

And that’s the dilemna for the Rangers: if they every really try to open it up, they’re doomed. As this team is currently constructed, it doen’t have the personnel to regularly beat teams 6-5, and as Henrik Lundqvist has shown the past few weeks, even he is vulnerable if left to fend for himself.

There’s a middle ground in there somewhere, and it’s what the Rangers have been shooting for all season — games in which they shut down teams defensively and then create chances in transition. It sounds great in theory. The hard part has been actually making it happen.

Update, end of first period: So much for my theory, because the Rangers have been giving the puck away in every way imaginable and still have a 3-0 lead. It doesn’t hurt that Jose Theodore was apparently asleep for the first 10 minutes of the game, or that Washington is missing most of its other big guns. Either way, the score is at least a little deceptive.

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  1. alex b (the poster formely known as czechthemout!!!!) on

    “It’s not about putting on a show or doing extraordinary things,” Tom Renney said “It is about detail and being sound with and without the puck and managing our game. Our tendency has been we’ve been able to do that better on road. But it doesn’t mean we can’t get it back and place the priorities where they belong.”

    If anyone thought that what you’d see tonight is more of the same type of game we played in the third period against the Sharks this Quote above should put any of that hope to rest. Get ready for a snooze fest. We will win tonight only if Lundquist stands on his head and holds the Caps to one goal or less and we get to the shootout. That’s the plan for tonight folks. “coach” Renney at his best.

  2. now that’s out of the way …… The Caps are missing too many players for this game. The Rangers need to CAPITALize and Win!! Go Rangers

  3. I like how the rangers are 11 games over 500 and we’re all (Me included) doom and glooming them.

    As a holiday bit of cheer I will say that it is nice to believe we should be contenders a mere 3 years after being the joke of the league (or is it 4 now? time marches on!)

  4. um, who was entertained by the 8-5 loss at the Prudential center? That may have been the worst hockey game I’ve watched since the lockout.

  5. alex b (the poster formely known as czechthemout!!!!) on


    I was.Especially when they fought back to tie the game.I suppose you would rather have a 1-0 game with a total of 10 shots a game per team,a game played by 20 Blair Betts type players on each team with hands of stone and no physical play.A game coached by Tom Renney and his Renneyaide coaching “system”,a game played by two teams with fourth line players only who could put an insomniac to sleep.I suppose that type of game would be entertaining to you, EH?

  6. Do we have to watch the same thing over and over and over again? It seems like every Rangers pregame MSG is showing the Christmas Tree skate. Is anybody else annoyed as much or is it just me?

    Mark Teixeira is a Yankee… wow… and the party in Bronx continues!

  7. Teix is ridiculously overrated and overpaid Beltran’s contract looks more like a bargain every day. Brian Cashman makes Sather look good.

  8. they better make this a 2-0 game and pray that it doesnt become a track meet with this team becasue semin ovechkin backstrom and nylander will make us pay

  9. Thedore is awful. That Varliamov kid will be their starter by the end of the year. Cally is gonna score 20-25 goals this year. If Shanny would have come back Cally wouldn’t getting all this icetime.

  10. I have Renney secretly mic’ed up tonight, and this is what he just told the team: “The early three-goal-lead at home is the most dangerous lead in hockey.”

  11. im so happy that that Callahan is doing good again, remember two years ago when he came up and was awesome from march through the playoffs? he knows how to score he did it a bunch in Hartford

  12. Hey, Sam, have you ever gotten to the bottom of the biggest issue facing this team?

    Why the heck is Chris Drury’s nickname “Raymond”?

  13. The Hyena is ruining Staal’s confidence by not putting him on the power play. Typical hyena behavior. Watch them blow this 3 goal lead and lose 5-3, cause of the hyena’s confidence in the 4th line, and the rest of the defense.

  14. What is that scratch off Lotto commercial with “Manny” trying to win the “Most Aired Commercial Ever in the History of Commercials” Award?

  15. bob, u have me in stitches … Keep up the hyena commentary… I’m in section 341 boys….market closes 1pm tomorrow… Holla!

  16. Did Trautwig actually just say that the next goal will determine which way the game will go??

    For chrissakes the Rangers are up at home 3-0 after 20 minutes! The idea that “if Washington gets the next goal, suddenly it’s a dogfight” tells you a lot about the mindset of this team and its broadcasters.

  17. lol Nasty 1…

    it was supposed to be this way: Dolan comes up to Sather and gives him the checkbook and says “MERRY CHRISTMAS GLEN”

  18. Reporting live from Virginia Beach and watching the Caps feed. Bitchin’ about bad ice. Yeah that’s the reason it’s nw 4-0. I hate watching these 2 homers. LET’S GO RANGERS!!!! I will be at the Garden on the 27th for a little revenge against the Devs.

  19. The hyena benches Zherdev lmao what a scumbag fire him. Staal needs to get pp time watch Orr and Kalinin get pp time instead.

  20. Dubinsky actually had facial hair during the intermission interview; it looks like it took him two weeks to get that! Maybe it’s until he scores. Great game so far, nothing else to say.

  21. i mean really… what is it going to take for renney to give Staal at least a full PP shift once in a while? y is it such an issue?

  22. alamo;
    bob, u have me in stitches … Keep up the hyena commentary… I’m in section 341 boys….market closes 1pm tomorrow… Holla!

    I tend to disagree…Bob, give it a rest…we are winning 4-0, and you are not that funny, nor hockey smart!

  23. Rozsival is having a really solid game not even including the goal. He’s playing great defense and taking plenty of shots on the powerplay.

  24. ChrisS.

    Agree with you. Except for the soft clear before caps goal, real solid, seems to be in a better state of confidence. Oh, and he’s playing with Staal.

  25. Can I get a general consensus that Lundqvist has kept this from being at best a 4-3 game? The scoring chances by the Caps have been ridiculously juicy.

  26. Girardi imo having a very solid game tonight too. Question is what the hell has happened to his offense? It seems to have dried up(1 point in his last 13 games)

  27. Alex,
    I didn’t realize that was rozsival that had that weak clear..
    I don’t think that he was trying to clear it as much as just getting out of the slot- surely that was a fluke goal on a very low percentage shooting area.

  28. ford-

    I think your right to some extent, but rangers have had a pretty good game offensively too, the difference is obviously the goaltending. Key players are playing decent too i.e. Dru, Rosie, Korpi, Staal and that leads to snipers scoring.

  29. Chris-

    Your right, but he was pressured and should have cleared for a line change. Details that 9/10 doesnt result in a goal, but still. Even so, i think this is rosies best game at home this far.

  30. Maybe they should practice the PP more than 15 minutes. Not like it would have salted this one away or anything.


  31. Just not a well-schooled unit. Good teams that take a 4-0 lead at home after 25 minutes simply do not experience what the Rangers are experiencing tonight.

    Fear, fear, fear. I can feel it in my TV room. Nauseating.

  32. c’mon kids… what u panicking about? the game plan is to take every game into the shootout and then win it… so everything is going according to the game plan!

  33. Fire Tom Renney.

    Has ANY Rangers team ever been as terrible at winning with big leads as the one he’s coached?

    I could vomit right now.

    Fucking disgraceful.

  34. this is tom renney’s wet dream — “Each team played hard, has good character people, so let’s not beat them in reg, let’s send it to OT/SO”

    This bunch goes nowhere until this stiff is scouting in British Columbia 12 months a year

  35. this team is a joke. until they get some read defensemen and leaders they will remain an average team.

  36. I would love to hear Renney’s presser.
    Reporter: What went wrong?
    Renney: They got some lucky bounces.
    Reporter: The defense was porous according to the capitals’s annoucers.
    Renney: we have to do a better job than that in our end zone.
    And the beat goes on …

  37. watch the spineless reporters like Weinman now act as if nothing happened and not ask anything important.

  38. Bring Tortorella in! This is a team of bums! Captain crappy pants, and Gomez suck at hockey. Drury should have stayed at little league where he had a lot of success!

  39. Don’t worry its not like Renney is going to call out anyone because that is not his “style”. Dont worry d-men because there is only 6 of you here so you have nothing to worry about.

  40. Embarrassing! Puking up leads like this is now not an anomaly but the norm. Fire the weak and frightened man behind the bench.

  41. LMAO at fake bob. You are such an idiot, Rangers blew not just a 3 goal lead, but a 4 goal lead. I laugh at how dumb you are. I laugh last.

  42. How do you allow so many breakways with such a big lead? and Renney’s system is supposed to be defense first. Some kind of defense this is.
    He is riding Hank’s good play and he thinks it’s the system and Sather is buying it and the reporters are drinking the kool aid.
    spineless all the way around.

  43. This is vintage Rangers ,, just when you think they are on roll they kick you in the NUTS .
    Tonight was the renney reversal get the lead .. go to OT and lose.
    Can’t blame Tom , this team doesn’t hit and doesn’t have a leader.
    Sather must be proud!!

  44. one of the worst losses in a while.

    sjustrom with a A 1 giveaway led to 1 goal.

    Dawes with a brain cramp giveaway and that is 2 goals.

    Renny should just play staal whenever Ovechkin is on the ice.

    They are little and soft not a good combo..

    that was a free 2 points they gave away, they GAVE IT AWAY…..


  45. Blow a 4 5 goal lead once every six years ,20 years, OK ,
    but this is an annual event with this staff and team
    Mr. Dolan should clean the entire organization from Gm,scouts, coaches players and get real.
    The NHl must be laughing at NYR,

    but we’re still in first place

  46. I would love to read a story in the papers tomorrow, is it time for Rennet to go? this team is going to win maybe one series in the playoffs, MAYBE and they are done.
    they got Z and Hank and that’s it, without them they are in the cellar.

  47. Dawes makes that bonehead play coming out of his own zone all the time — he is horrible. Isn’t Drury supposed to be at least good defensively when he’s not scoring?

  48. Tom Renney plays frightened, pussy hockey.

    They got their goals, he told them to sit on the lead and play it safe.

    And look where it got them.

  49. Ovechkin looks like the ant “Z” from 1998 cartoon “ANTZ”


    Cindy Blowsme not even good enough to be Ovechkins butler…

  50. Stupid penalties, soft plays, brain dead plays lazy giveaways and they were lead by their captain. I can’t wait til Drury spews his cliches. Lol Sam and Joe looking for postives. Hey Tom stick with the same 6 dmen please they’re doing wonderfully.

  51. All Hail King Henrik on

    This game was lost at the 0 minute mark of the 3rd period, by Tom Renney. By Renney putting out the 2nd PP unit, he allowed Washington to take momentum of the game.

    Why would you not start the Gomez unit on the PP; ESPECIALLY when fresh after a 17 minute rest. That decision is simply indefensible and it is that decision that lost this game.

    As soon as Rozi took that penalty in the offensive zone, I knew they were going to score, and knew that the game was going to be lost. Anyone who follows this team could see this coming a mile away.

    Renney’s decision making lost the game, plain and simple. Had he started the 1st PP unit, they could’ve potentially ended the game at 5-1 or at the very least maintained momentum with some scoring chances. What does Renney do though? Starts the Drury unit who is unable to generate anything and hands the momentum right back to Washington.

    Nice job, Tom. Merry fucking Christmas.

  52. Typical Hyena system

    How many 3 goal, 4 goal, 5 goal leads is this team gonna blow before this brain trust finally gets fired ?

    Nittymaki let in 1 goal against this team. What did Lundqvist do ? He lets in 3 soft goals, and blows this game for the Rangers along with their trusty defense.

    This is everyone’s fault, fire the Hyena, he’s ruining Hank’s confidence, and Staal’s, and the little black guy who cant score a goal anymore, thanks to the Hyena.

  53. Nothing ever comes easy for the Rangers. This was f^%^cking ridiculous. This is the kind of game that gets people fired. All of the players should be out tomorrow skating suicides aka Herbies (for Herb Brooks) for two hours straight. I’d make them skate on Christmas too if I could.

  54. Larry Brooks is the only reporter with guts to ask tough questions. Watch Msgulag skip over his questions on the post game.

  55. This team has no balls. None. Gets a lead, and then becomes so scared of losing it that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where is the leadership?? Renney needs to go.

  56. All Hail King Henrik on

    By the way, Dawes sucks. I’ve said it since the beginning of the season, and even before the season started when people were saying he was going to score 30. L-O-L. He is too small, can’t skate and his offensive ability is greatly exaggerated and over-rated. Give me Prucha over Dawes any day of the week.

  57. All Hail King Henrik on

    Funny how Drury says “well-coached” Devils team. A little insidious comment directed at Tom, perhaps? Even Drury knows he shouldn’t have been out there to start the PP.

  58. i agree with Drury… u got to put this game in the garbage… and while u at it put yourself in the same garbage bin…

  59. Dubinsky’s confidence is shot, Sather must trade him now before its too late.

    Fire the Hyena. Fire half the fans on this blog also.

  60. All Hail King Henrik on

    2 great hits by Dawes? I must’ve blinked… All I see when he plays is that he’s too slow to get to loose pucks, and too small to battle for them when he does occasionally get to one. He gets knocked off the puck ALL THE TIME. Awesome decision to go cross-ice on the 4th goal, too. Nice hockey-smarts, Nigel.

  61. After Dawes makes a mistake, he tries to make a hit his next shift, but since he’s 5’5″, he bounces off the guy he hits and takes himself out of position. It doesn’t matter if he hits anyone.

  62. Pure Renney ! o.k. boys we’re up 4 – 0 == lets get back on our heels & wait for them to make plays

  63. onecupin67years on

    Hey if you think we feel bad ,
    poor Sam had to rewrite his entire story for Wednesday’s
    JNews OH the agony of Defeat

  64. Scott Gomez should be prohibited from speaking to the press, because you don’t learn anything you couldn’t learn from watching any of his other post-game interviews following a loss this season. Seriously, he just pumps out talking points and grins.

    Put his “A” on Paul Mara.

  65. Leetch is the man on

    ive always said AO is better than Crosby if you diasgree your a fukin moron. he takes over the game more than Crosby ever does. Crosby doesnt dominate us like AO does to everyone. What other time have you seen Lundy come out of his jock on a breakaway. Hes sik and i would give up anyone on the team from him except lundqvist.

  66. Tom Renney — noted ’round the world for his “Defense First” scheme — cannot find a way to tuck in a 4-0 lead against a very depleted Caps team.


  67. onecupin67years on

    with this team no lead is really safe… they lack the killer instinct, they hit only after AO is running everybody on the ice then it was too late

  68. I gotta say this; I consider myself a Rangers fan first and foremost before ANY other NY area team. I have the most passion for them, all my friends and coworkers know that they are MY team. However, THIS BLEEPING GAME TONIGHT HAS TAKEN SOME OF THE GIANTS/HOLIDAY SEASON VIBE OUT OF MY SOUL. Freaking garbage man. It’s days like this that I wish the Rangers had a ruthless un-PC owner who would bury their players and kick someones teeth in.

  69. Why is it that no Renny droolers are ever around post game to discuss? I know some of them will claim thet were at the game, but gimme a break.

    This was an effing disgrace. a four goal lead at home with less than half a game to play against an injury-riddled team with a pathetic goalie…..and this Ranger team finds a way to blow the two points.

    how can anyone say we have the right coach?? 4 goals at home, and it isn’t enough???


  71. onecupin67years on

    They were lucky to have a 3 goal lead in the first, Theodore sucked, then they were outplayed and out coached by a better team, so lets not fool ourselves , if Theodore played well in the 1st this is a 4-1 , 4-2 game caps.

  72. The wife is in the hospital, so I’ve been distracted over the last ten days but Jesus Christ what was that tonite???

    I want to respect Renney’s defenders, I swear I do. But what is their argument after this one? A four goal lead at home with half a game to play, and they can’t get it done???

  73. Nasty 1 December 23rd, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I want to drive a metal rod through Trautwigs heart! I hate him more than anyone else in the world!


    thats a holiday spirit! lol

  74. Weird fact:

    Rangers have started this season great statistically, by playing the worst hockey this franchise has seen. It’s really mind bottling, we should be dead last with ATL.


  76. wd40… for post game discussion from Renney supporters you’ll have to come back tomorrow during normal working hours lol
    They will tell you that this loss is not enough to fire the coach… and that we have no clue what is said behind closed locker room door… and the most important thing is to look at the BIG PICTURE!

    P.S. if u dont know what the big picture is with this team dont worry… because u r not alone.

  77. folks….this is horrible. the leaders of this team are letting the kids down and it is time to send a message. sit down redden sit down drury. sit down gomez. send a message. let everyone read the headlines. this is a team that needs some backbone. sutter wouldnt let his players get away with this country club atmosphere and renney does. he is a nice man. too nice. this team needs nastiness. the great one took over the game tonight and this was a depleted washington team . this is ugly and it chokes me

  78. i just read MikeAv’s comments and he is sooo right. we need a coach or assistant coach who can kick some ass. put the kids on the power play. start to embaraass redden and the others publicly sorry folks. it’s time to take off the gloves and stop dancing around. this is enough it has to stop. we play the devils on saturday and we always play well against them and we will win against the islanders monday since they are basically a junior hockey league team at this moment…i can’t stand the lack of leadership needed to grab a win and take us for a ride. will one of these guys step up…..

  79. I’m bound by my word to say nothing about the coach.

    I let these games speak for themselves…..

    Even though its not their fault its probably time to trade Gomer and Drury…two winners who are being paid way too much to be “the guys”….save $15M per year get youngins and pix…try and do something about Redden ( trade…buyout…AHL)…we might sneak into playoffs (again) but thats about it…Philly, Wash, Nj, Pitt, Bost, Mont all way better…

    Merry xmas all…if you get NHL network watch junior worlds this weekend

  80. All Hail King Henrik on


    The stats aren’t that great anymore, even the defensive ones.

    2.65 Goals Against Per Game–9th (we were 1st for a good portion of the season)

    2.49 Goals For Per Game–25th

    PP 14.5%–27th

    PK 88.4%–2nd

    Shots Per Game: 32.3–4th (this stat is a joke, 90% of their shots are easy saves for the goaltenders)

    Shots Against Per Game: 29.9–Tied 15-17th

    Face Off %: 49.2–21st

    Only true positive stat I see is the PK.

  81. Kasper,
    it’s disgusting we only are represented by TWO KIDS
    Not even our first rounder del zotto..
    To echo Kaspers message- Look out for Grachev on Russia and Kundratek on the Czech team.

  82. Dubi or not Dubi on

    I mean dude, the caps had like 7 healthy players. Pretty sad. Glad they didn’t leave Henrik out to dry again… Oh wait… If Renney doesn’t go, then Pelino, the coach of the DEFENSE and Pearn, the coach of the “Power” Play both need to be out of here. I realize that Sather constructed a pretty average team, but don’t defensemen learn positioning at some point in their careers? They say defensemen take a long time to develop, so how come Staal is unquestionably the best defenseman on the team? That also raises the question as to why they didn’t even give Del Zotto a shot out of camp considering how much more impressive he was than anyone could have imagined.

    Something’s got to change. There have been way too many embarrassing losses this season. Why is this team better at coming back and winning than holding a lead? A good team can hold a lead, heck, a BAD team can hold a 4-0 lead. I’m just so sick of watching this boring team with the four best leaders being Naslund, Staal, Mara, and Dubinsky (I know, biased, but I still blame Renney for shattering his confidence). Naslund right now should be the captain, not Drury. Drury is a pathetic leader, will he ever put a team on his shoulders? NO. Gomez is a joke, there is a reason they didn’t give him any letters in NJ. A team with good leadership doesn’t lose games like this. Ugh, I’ll stop.

  83. Ralph there’s really nothing there. Btw where is Beerme? He is Renney’s biggest backer say something man.

  84. graves

    Forget Beer Me, he is a pathetic, dead-ender lost cause. I want to know if LI Joe is finally going to commit to the path of enlightenment!

  85. All Hail King Henrik on

    It makes me feel a little better that Vancouver is losing 5-0 to San Jose with 19 minutes to go in the second period. I really hope they miss the playoffs and Mats’ return was for nothing…

  86. Fire Renney!!!! He has no clue whatsoever how to get the most out of his players. It all starts from the top & then starts to roll down the hill. Renney and staff need to be shown the exit. Someone with-in the organization needs to grow a pair. Renney clearly does not have the killer instinct. No accountability AT ALL.

    For heaven’s sake…even Lindy Ruff benched Vanek for almost the entire third period the other night.

  87. Drury and Gomez do you hear these guys speak after the game? what a bunch of mumbleing losers. How coul either one possibly be a leader. Gomez is a back stabbing douche just ask his teamates. Renney is the worst a yes man of the highest order.

  88. There was one great coach in this game tonight and he wasn’t behind our bench. Renney needs to get lost.

  89. I’m yelling, screaming & cursing at the TV like a madman, yet our alleged Captain is sure this is not going to ruin his or anyone else’s X-Mas.
    Perhaps it should!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How many more meltdowns & lack of 60 minute efforts must we witness?
    Why don’t they keep playing & forechecking in the manner that gives them their success?

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