In recent days other bloggers have reached out to me for my take on the current, sad state of the Rangers. Patrick Hoffman at Goal Line Report just sent me a quick questionnaire today that you should check out here.
And the folks over at Second City Hockey produce a game-night program called the Committed Indian that they sell outside of the United Center - which is a brilliant idea considering that the programs issued by teams are such trash nowadays. They sent me a few questions for their Know Thy Enemy section for Wednesday's issue and I decided to re-publish it here for your weekend perusal. Keep in mind, I did it before Gilroy became Torts' latest scapegoat and Avery barely showed up ...
The Tortorella New York Media Meltdown has to be coming soon, right?
You would think so but outside of the occasional sharp words to his buddy Brooksie (NY Post writer Larry Brooks) Torts has been quiet, contemplative and defeated in front of the camera. I think that once the coach actually feels pressure of some kind - like when the team is in 11th or 12th going into the Olympic break - and the questioning stops being 'what happened?' and becomes 'why aren't you fixing things?' he will finally lose it.
King Henrik has not gotten off to the best of starts, and there's still the Olympics to go. Are Rangers fans worried about a total el-foldo from him?
It is quite remarkable to read the boards and blog comments with people coming out of the woodwork to throw Hank under the bus. We know his glove hand sucks, we know he can't wander from his crease and we know he gives up a Charmin soft goal every game or two - those should all be accepted facts by now. He is still among the best in the business but the tarnish comes off the crown when the team needs him to make the big save and he doesn't. With the paper thin offense struggling so badly to score, every save is a big one and Hank's mistakes are magnified that much more. Everyone will see yet again how great he truly is in Vancouver when he plays behind a Swedish team that has good team defense and stellar defensemen - two things he doesn't have in NY.
Brian Campbell and his big contract get a lot of stick here in Chicago, but at least we know what he does well. What is it exactly that Wade Redden does for a living?
You are putting me on, right? You really want an answer here? I can attempt to be serious - Redden tries to play a positional defensive style where he picks up loose pucks and makes the smart first pass to set the tempo of play. Or I can be honest and say that I feel he spent a lot of his salary on a expensive purse that he refuses to swing at opposing forwards as they skate past him. He doesn't shoot the puck, he is incompetent on the point on the power play and is almost universally loathed in NY while collecting more money than most of us will make in a lifetime. You know, if he was a one- or two-million-dollar-a-year fifth defenseman he probably wouldn't be as hated as he is now for being an eight million dollar waste of a perfectly good Blueshirt. He has been out of the lineup lately (something about a sore vagina I believe) and rookies Bobby Sanguinetti and Ilkka Heikkinen have both accounted themselves quite well in his spot - proving that Redden's contract may be the worst one ever given by Glen Sather (or any other GM). Ever. And that is really saying something.
On the bright side, Matthew Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto appear to have very bright futures. Talk about these young d-mens' games a little.
It is their bright futures that are a beacon to a better day. A day without Redden and Rozsival. A day without Sather. A day where the Rangers are actually worth the price of admission. Hobey (Gilroy) is 25 years old and plays a more mature style while MDZ is every bit the teenage phenom he has been made out to be. Hobey has been playing a sound defensive game that relies more on positioning than physicality and if he can pick off that pass or make that good stop, he has shown that he can go end to end and finish. When he can't, he almost disappears on the ice. MDZ is more of a quarterback on the play, making the good pass and occasionally cutting in for a give-and-go. Without a tough, physical defenseman on the Ranger roster, he has been ratcheting up his checking of late but hasn't learned when to properly pick his spots. I don't think that the Brian Leetch comparisons for either of these kids are fair as Leetchie had the best qualities of both of them in one package.
Sean Avery hasn't been annoying anybody this year, it seems. What's up?
Tortorella took Avery's manhood during last season's series against the Capitals and hasn't given it back. Tortorella's idiotic benching certainly castrated the one catalyst on the Ranger roster but, thankfully, Avery has shown signs of growing a new pair and returning to form in the last two weeks or so. The timing is great as the Rangers face the Islanders three times and the Flyers twice this month. And I'd imagine that he will have a field day with your young Mr. Kane, given the kid's ... talented ... siblings.
Are the Rangers going to be a playoff team?
I said before the season that they wouldn't and sadly haven't seen anything to change my mind. The Rangers are a deeply flawed team playing a poor system that simply can't stand up to the competition in the East. Most of the other teams work harder, most of the other teams have more talent up and down the lineup and most of the teams have an organization that puts winning - rather than making money - first.