Wednesday, February 2, 2011

29-20-4: Disappointing But Acceptable

The Rangers returned from the All Star break last night and blew a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins, falling 1-0 in the skills competition and 4-3 overall. As the title says, it was disappointing but acceptable.

Sure the Penguins were without Crosby, Malkin and Letestu. They did what the Rangers did all season: overachieved without their best players. The Rangers were incorporating several guys back into their lineup and, as per always, their coach wouldn't allow any chemistry to form. It will happen again and again over the next two weeks, give or take, so don't be surprised. This team is right on track to battle for the eighth spot, just as most Ranger-related folks expected before the season.


*It is odd to say this but Steve Eminger has been a staple of the defense all season long so he was unceremoniously dumped for Michael Del Zotto. It makes no sense whatsoever as MDZ showed no signs of any improvement down on the farm or in his return before the break. Yes, it was his shot that Cally deflected in for the game-tying goal but that doesn't excuse the other six-and-a-half minutes of wasted power play time. Is MDZ the lone reason for the atrocious man advantage? Certainly not, but last night he was a big part of it's ineptitude. MDZ can't play defense and isn't capable of playing quarterback on the power play - he has made that clear. Now he may be able to do it somewhere down the line but for the moment he - and the Rangers - are best served with him off-Broadway.

*Cally's power play goal was the lone tally or even scoring chance on the five minute power play resulting from Jordan Staal's cheap shot. I'm hearing Penguin fans are calling dive but that is a load of garbage. For one, Brandon Prust is not Sidney Crosby. Two, you get popped in the chin unawares from someone bigger than you and see how you take it. Three, just because he was hit in the chin and not full in the face doesn't mean it wasn't attempt to injure. The only difference between that shot and Domi-Samuelsson was Staal kept his glove on. An it isn't like the Penguins don't have a history full of cheap shots, full of slew foots, headhunting and punches to the nuts. Fair call.

*Why did Prust fight Deryk Engelland? Just because he had a few days to rest doesn't mean that he should take on the other team's heavyweight when it wasn't necessary. Prust has grown beyond your average goon and he needs to stop thinking like one. The Pens weren't taking many liberties, the Rangers had the 2-0 lead ... why let their idiot goad you into a fight to swing the momentum towards his team?

*Cally missing that open net earlier in the game was par for the course guys, not rust from the injury. Our love for the future captain aside, Cally has always earned chance after chance with his hard work - it is why we love him - but he doesn't always capitalize on them.

*Once you accept that Chris Drury is no more than a middling fourth liner, you can find that it is easy to accept his performance. He is not going to score, he is not going to contribute anything other than a breather for the top lines. It is not his fault he has a contract and a captaincy that he doesn't deserve, he didn't ask for either.

*How can Sean Avery be expected to score or make a difference when he is skating alongside Drury and Kris Newbury? Of course he is going to end up offsides as he takes two strides and he is a mile ahead of his linemates. When he did get shifts with players with NHL futures, he was able to make things happen. He just needs to make those things happen for himself.

*Marian Gaborik had five shot attempts in the game - one went on net, three were blocked and one was his botched shootout 'effort.' It is maddening to watch an AHLer like Dustin Jeffrey (even one with a solid NHL future ahead of him) score when one of the most talented players in the world can't even make the goaltender strain himself. As some big trade for a superstar center who will magically give Gaborik confidence and a scoring touch isn't about to happen, we can only hope that the comfort of old friend Vinny Prospal will do the trick. But I wouldn't bet on it.

*Mike f-ing Rupp. C'mon. Dammit Rangers, that the hell? Again and again and again. Mike f-ing Rupp.

*Poor Hank, three goals against in regulation and not one was his fault. Even when the guy doesn't give up a soft goal the team can't put together a win for him, ugh. Despite barely breaking sweat making four stops over the final 25 minutes Hank stopped six of the seven shooters in the skill competition. He has to be sitting back there wondering why his teammates can't keep the same mental focus.

*Now I've seen a good number of Penguin games over the last few seasons and I am completely baffled why the Rangers kept trying to go five hole on Fleury. Fleury is prone to over-committing and yet the Blueshirts went for the wickets again and again and again. I was waiting for Fleury to start doing jumping jacks or pushups just to taunt the incompetent Ranger shooters.

*Matt Cooke is such a scumbag.

*Highlight of the night? Mats Zuccarello giving Brooks Orpik free candy. The little man crushed the Penguins' hit machine in the first period along the endboards. Now that is entertainment folks.

*Mike Sauer quietly had himself a great game. Sauer has been an unheralded hero of this season and he deserves some accolades.

*Dubi won 15 of 19 faceoffs, what a nice change. Arty won six of eight but one of his two losses went right into the back of the Ranger net. It was a draw he shouldn't have even taken but was forced to as it came off of a sloppy icing the play before.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Kunitz - one goal and one assist.
2-Ryan Callahan - one goal.
1-Dustin Jeffrey - one power play goal and one shootout goal.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - Welcome back Cap.
2-Engelland - One fight changed the game - that is what fighting is for. It is no wonder the Penguin bench all got up to bang on the boards when he got out of the penalty box.
1-Jeffrey - A young, hungry up-and-coming scorer contributed exactly what an older, complacent star scorer on the Rangers couldn't.


Brother P said...

Del Zotto on the power play is a disgrace. Avery playing with Drury and Newbury is a disgrace. The coach makes those choices so therefore he is a disgrace as well.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, OK Brother P. Torts is being seriously considered the leading candidate for coach of the year but he is a disgrace. The only disgrace is fans like yourself who know next to nothing blasting the guy because he makes decisions that YOU don't agree with. They are trying to mold MDZ to be the PP QB and the only way he is going to achieve that is by... PLAYING THE PP POINT. You live with the mistakes now so that he develops into what the team desperately needs. So sick of all this poor Avery BS too. The guy had like 2 good games on the first line, both against bottom feeding teams, and suddenly he doesnt deserve to play anywhere else to some people. He is not first line material. Get over it already. Torts will continue to switch up lines because the guy is dealing with a flawed roster. He continues to try to catch lightning in a bottle. We fans should be happy as anything that this team is where it is. If it wasn't for his coaching and multiple players over-achieving, they would be on par with the Isles and Oilers. Some of you people really need to get over yourselves already. You don't know as much as you THINK you do...

Brother P said...

Ok guy, have you watched any games? I have serious doubts that you have when you just compared the Rangers to the Islanders and Oilers if it wasn't for the great Torts. What has Del Zotto done to deserve as much PP time as he gets? The answer is nothing and he doesn't deserve it. You can't mold someone to be something they aren't. MDZ is young, he could become a good PP QB but right now he is FAR from it and is only hurting a PP that doesn't need any help being hurt. And I didn't mention or say anything about Avery being on the first line just that he shouldn't be on the 4th.

Brother P said...

and please tell me what players you are referring to that over achieving? Boyle? ok, Prust, ok...anyone else? I certainly don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I don't miss any games bud. Perhaps I was being too exagerated when I mentioned the Isles and Oilers. However you cant deny they would be on the outside looking in if not for what I mentioned. What did MDZ do? He showed promise at the beginning of last season. Sure he burnt out and isn't doing much better this season but to say he is hurting the PP is way out of line. Have you watched any games? The PP is a giant disaster and is not on the shoulders of any ONE player. MDZ is doing no better or worse than anyone else manning the points these days. Gilroy maybe worse actually. The guy can't keep the puck in the zone to save his life. MDZ is the player that fits the mold better than any of the other current crop of D-men they have. MDZ isn't a PP point man according to you, yet he has played and succeeded there during his junior career. He is struggling at this level. How is he going to become a good one as you suggest without playing the point? He isn't going to wake up one day and have it bestowed upon him by the hockey gods. This is called growing pains with younger players, I am sure you have heard of that before. I know it is new to us Ranger fans to behold. I am aware that you did not say Avery should be on the first line. I kinda grouped you into a catagory of others who continually chirp about such non-sense. So tell me, what has Avery done with extended minutes to deserve not being on the 4th line? Not much. He has 2 goals, one of which was really Gabby's, and 18 assists which like 8 of those were playing along side Gabby as well. So lets remove those production numbers and you are left with 1 goal and 10 assists. Sorry, but those are 4th line numbers. He is playing right where he should be. Boyle and Prust for sure are over-achieving. Dubinsky is having a career year and will most likely be a rarity and not the norm for him. Stepan has been a surprise as well as MZA. Sauer and McDonagh too. Perhaps they are not over achieving but they have been saving grace surprises. This team is where it is despite Gabby suckin, all the injuries, and a pathetic powerplay. They play within a system that they believe in. They actually play as a T-E-A-M and not a group of individuals. Yet however acoording to you and others like you, and despite what people inside the game say and think, Torts is a disgrace. Guess people that sit and comment on blogs know a whole hell of a lot more than those in and around the game...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Brother P, the Avery thing is a disgrace

EVERY other player on the team gets a free pass, but Avery has to earn everything.

He gets shuttled around within each game, never given a chance to succeed and he gives his all every shift, every game, and has more talent than he is ever given credit for.

Despite this mistreatment, he has never complained once all season.

Totalretard is a disgrace and people touting him as coach of the year simply don't watch or know this team, and are mentioning him ONLY because the Rangers are doing better than people expected them too.

He has dont nothing a good coach would do, like improve the powerplay, help improve the faceoff ability, etc.

What exactly has he done to be considered coach of the year? an intangible?

Scotty Hockey said...

Yes, there will be "growing pains with younger players" but we survived a full season of that last year with MDZ and we missed the playoffs. He showed that he is incapable of learning on the job as his play has actually gotten worse as time goes on. Let him grow, let him make mistakes ... in the AHL.

And Torts is being considered a candidate for the Jack Adams trophy by all of those idiots who picked the Rangers to finish in 12th or lower and are shocked to see the team in sixth. People who know this team - who watch this team regularly - see that he has not been doing anything special. To butcher that football phrase, we are what and who we thought we were - a borderline lower playoff seed.

Blue Seat Bastard said...

Yes, anonymous. Too bad a T-E-A-M needs to develop C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y to start scoring goals and winning games.

Avery is producing like a 4th liner because he's being played like one. If you think 12:01 in ice time per game this season is 'extended minutes', you're nuts. He actually gets less time on the ice per game than Prust, receives the fewest number of shifts of anyone who has played in at least 1/2 of the games this year, and still has the same number of points (20) as Prust.

So while I don't think I know more than Torts, color me baffled as to his use of the guy. Look at his TOI in his game log this year:

So what is it? Even when Stepan was going bad, his ice time never dipped below 10 minutes for consecutive games. Avery's had 19 games in single-digit ice time this year and the Rangers are 10-8-1 in them (including the Edmonton win) and Avery has only 3 assists in those games.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of this guy, Guy Boucher? that's the coach of the year in my opinion. Not isn't even close really.

Duniyadnd said...

@Anonymous #2 - check out Hockey Rodent's take on this -

And he's usually very positive and gives quite a good analysis about why MDZ is not quite ready for the NHL.