Sunday, February 6, 2011
29-22-4: No Le Buts About It
In the final minute of the Rangers' 2-0 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday Sam Rosen observed that the Rangers didn't have their top offensive players out on the ice. Having watched this team night in and night out, my query is who in the hell could he be talking about?
In Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust, Sean Avery and Ryan Callahan (in for a pulled Biron) Tortorella had assembled the few players willing to test Price in tight. A goaltender as big and as quick as Price, you have get dirty if you want to score and those were the guys to have on the ice. It just didn't work out.
But make no bones about it, this four game losing skid is entirely the head coach's fault. Torts refuses to let a full line develop any kind of chemistry, he can't get the power play to work and he hasn't a clue as to how he can spark the Slovakian Slacker Marian Gaborik. If the lack of scoring is a matter of confidence, then the coach is to blame. If the puck isn't bouncing their way, it is because he doesn't have them in the right spots, doing the right things. If the team only plays their best hockey when trailing in the third period, it is because he can't light the fire early enough. Blissfully that third period 'battle-level' is as high as it has been in 15 years but all of the final frame effort in the world won't win you games when the other team is trying just as hard and they are doing it all night long.
Something has to change, and soon. Now this is not a call for a firing but someone needs to set this guy straight before the season slips away.
*When the team was physical they were creating chances. So why doesn't Torts have them playing physical all game long? It is infuriating to watch them come alive in the third period only to fall short; just like the annual push for the playoffs that proves to be too little, too late.
*Of course physicality comes with a cost, and that cost should be three or four games for Brian Boyle. Boyle's elbow to the head of Spacek certainly won't go unpunished, especially when they bust Danny Paille for four games after a legal hit.
*Someone put a gag on Joe Micheletti. He spends 99% of his time being wrong or pointing out the painfully obvious while interrupting Rosen and driving viewers to distraction. When will MSG say enough is enough and pick up someone capable of doing colour?
*When will the Rangers say enough is enough and pick up someone capable of quarterbacking the power play? Del Zotto is averaging, AVERAGING 4:16 on the unit and the unit isn't scoring goals and costing the team games. It is great that Torts wants to stick with the rookies through their ups and downs but throughout it all, the rookies have been growing and showing improvement. Del Zotto is not and has not. He can work on his game and raise his confidence in Connecticut; there is no reason to piss away points up here to watch him stagnate night after night.
*Personally, I think Eminger should take the roster spot and Zook should take the power play spot. Torts has tried it before but not for any consistent amount of time. Tell him that is his job, explain what he has to do and let the little man do it. Since there is a real fear of turnovers, put him across from Mike Sauer. Sauer's shot is underrated and underutilized and he would be strong against shorthanded counterattacks. It is worth a shot because 1- nothing else has worked and 2- Sauer deserves it. He played one of his best games this afternoon and it was all for naught.
*The coach can't call on Biron as the scapegoat for this one as the backup was solid despite playing behind the inept MDZ, the still-learning Hobey Gilroy and the pairing of Staal and Girardi, who had a disappointing game (based on the high standard they have set this season). Biron favoured his glove throughout the afternoon so, of course, the lone goal went right past it. Other than that play, he was perfect so even I can't rage against the former Islander.
*That goal against came because Brian Boyle and Dan Girardi both went to cover the same guy, leaving Scott Gomez open. If there is one player on the entire obnoxious Canadien roster you should cover, it should be Gomez. Nothing is worse than seeing the Mexican't smirking visage. He smirked when he was a Devil and beat us, he smirked when he was a Ranger and he ruined us and he smirked today. One day someone should wipe that smirk off his face.
*It likely won't be Sean Avery, who keeps getting thrown around like a rag doll in his tussles and insists on firing punches when he and his opponent are down on the ice. That is the only thing not to like about Avery's game of late as he has put his game into another gear. It was good to see Torts realize it in the third period and let him go out there and make a difference.
*The skill guys need to step up and make a difference too. Gaborik aside, no shots on goal for Zook, Wolski, Stepan or Christy (the long-absent Mr. Softie the Backstabber). They each had one blocked but that is just not enough from three so-called skill players. Zook is at least finishing his checks but he can't find his linemates and his linemates can't find him, especially not when those linemates are rotating every other shift.
*Someone tell Prospal we've seen many a wrap-around this season and they don't work.
*Anyone miss Chris Drury? Anyone? Anyone?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Martin Biron - 27 saves.
2-Scott Gomez - one goal.
1-Carey Price - 35 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Alex Picard - Jean-Luc took the blast that went off the end boards right to Gomez for the easy goal. While we'll never know if it was an intentional miss or not, I'll give the kid credit for it. He also had a few blocked shots and the bout with Avery.
2-Biron - The backup goaltender gave the team a chance to win, all you can ask for.
1-Price - No wonder they traded Halak away (for Lars Eller, really?. Jesus Price didn't allow a single softie and withstood the Rangers' late press.