Sunday, December 16, 2007

16-13-3: Hey, Hey, What Can You Say?

I gotta admit, Wayne Gretzky is a classier individual than I am. With his team ahead 5-0 heading into the third period, he had them sit back and play a conservative game. If it were me, I would have tried to beat the Rangers 10-0, and probably could have, the way the Rangers were playing Sunday evening. Hmm, where to start, where to start ... :

*The most disheartening thing to me was not that the Rangers lost to one of the five worse teams in the NHL but that only one player on the team actually played like he was pissed off: Dan Girardi. Every single player should have been infuriated but they all played the same lackluster hockey in the second period that they did in the first.

*The Rangers scored their one goal on the power play in the third after Phoenix had already started sitting back on their heels. So do the Blueshirts then pounce and build off of the one goal? Nope, their "captain" takes a lazy holding penalty and kills what little momentum they had. Superstar!

*As I expect that little from Jagr, I expected a little more from Tom Renney. The Kind Commander lost the game for the Rangers before it started by not putting them in a position to win. He mishandled the injury/flu depleted roster and put a team out on the ice that couldn't do anything.

>First off, according to Sam, Renney benched Ryan Hollweg to send a message that "He needs to do more." That's fine, but don't do that when your team is decimated by injury. And don't replace him with super-slo-mo Jason Strudwick.

>That set up yet another mistake, reinserting Marek Malik back in the lineup. That changed two of the three defensive pairings and eliminated all of the chemistry ... and put Malik back in the lineup. He was his usual terrible self but certainly not the cause for the Rangers demise.

>Not helping the team either was the fact that Renney put his two call ups, Greg Moore and Nigel Dawes, on the same line. >Two kids, who are going to do their damndest to make a case to stay in the NHL and will take the risks associated with it, on the same line - and playing with the underachieving Chris Drury. Yeah, no.

>And if Hank has a bad wrist and a case of the flu, why was he even dressed for the game? Renney had no intention of letting him play, so why not let him rest at home and bring up Montoya. Give Monty a start and show Phoenix what they missed out on by not trading for him.

*The one roster move that Renney didn't make that I won't complain about is to take Dubi off of Jagr's line. Unless they move Straka to center and get another Czech to play wing, leave it alone. Drury is playing poorly, Gomez is playing poorly, don't add them to a line with a guy who clearly doesn't care about playing - poorly or otherwise. Dubi injects some energy to that line and is willing to check people, something the two Czechs are reluctant to do.

*Jagr apparently lost a tooth in the first period when he was elbowed in the mouth by Fredrik Sjostrom. Did he show outrage and stand up for himself? Nope, he skated to the bench. He deals with double teams, elbows, hooks, holds, slashes, etc. all game long and does nothing about it. This guy is the captain of the New York Rangers! If you have no respect for your teammates - which you clearly don't playing like you don't want to be there - at least have some respect for yourself!

*A quick word on the goaltenders: Valley really isn't to blame on the loss - at least three of the goals against weren't his fault. Ilya Bryzgalov, who regular readers know I am a fan of, was terrible at the start. Bryzgalov couldn't seem to get his angles right and was out of position several times but the Rangers didn't take advantage.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Bryzgalov - 34 saves
2-Radim Vrbata - goal and an assist
1-Joel Perrault - two goals

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Shane Doan - just because he is the last Winnipeg Jet on the team, and that means something, if only to me. He also had an assist and threw some pucks into the crowd to little kids before the game. A good guy, who is very underrated.
2-Bryzgalov - recovered from the aforementioned lousy start to give up just one goal, despite his team mailing it in for the third period.
1-Wayne Gretzky - he returned and conquered, showed class and skill by getting his young team to play composed in the World's Most Famous Arena.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that for everything you say about Jagr, he is the best European player of all time, hands down, as well as one of the top five players of all time. While you say he doesn't care about being a Ranger, he has said multiple times that he wants to finish his career here and doesn't want to play anywhere else. The same Jagr you hate on every day carried the team on his back to a playoff birth two years ago when they were projected to finish near the bottom of the league. Also, let's not forget he had a MVP caliber year. He also has 15 consecutive seasons of 30 goals or more, which anyone will tell you is nice production to be all but guaranteed. Lastly, while you say he's not a good captain, if you look over to the bench you can see that he demands a lot from all of his teammates and when they don't perform he let's them know it. You could see this happen during the Caps game when he let Rozsival have it during the third period. Jagr is a great face for any franchise, and he deserves to be the captain of the New York Rangers.

Pete said...

I won't deny Jagr's achievements nor will I debate his enormous potential. These things may indeed be beyond debate.

What is not beyond debate is the fact that Jagr is not playing up his potential. The whole team is not.

Maybe Jagr was giving Rozy crap in the Capitals game. Maybe they were talking in Czech about which model they were going to bang later that night. The biggest thing to take out of this rare occurrence is that, no matter what Jagr said, it didn't seem to make a difference. Perhaps that has a lot to do with the fact that Jagr isn't backing up whatever words he IS saying with actions on the ice?

Now, look, I'm more optimistic than Scotty, and I give Jagr credit where it is due: Jags is 3rd on the team in points. He's also tied for 6th in penalty minutes, and only 3rd in shots on goal with 85(Drury is 13 above him with 98 and Shanny is at the top with a whopping 137). Now, if you look outside of the Washington game, you will notice that Jagr is apt to take chances with the puck that do not result in a hot on goal, often resulting in a turn-over, and he is also often found in the penalty box serving time for a hook or a hold on guys who are out-working him. While I don't think anyone can accuse him of being selfish with the puck, I don't see him being noted as playing smartly with the puck either. And taking stupid penalties after being outworked might be something I expect of Dubie or some of the other young players (and make no doubt about it, this is a young team that has up to now been playing with a lot more sophistication than anyone could have expected), but not from a veteran, and not from the captain.

Finally, he doesn't play the captain role. He loathes taking shoot-out shots. What's up with that? How often does he argue a call, or show up in the huddle when the refs are dishing out penalties? Never. That, somehow, is Shanny's job.

Let's be honest. He is perfectly happy to let Shanny act as the captain, and Jagr would probably be better suited to playing a more selfish, focused, point-chasing game. The C is better on another chest.

And, if you really want to call attention to his play in Washington, let's also think about how hard the fans in Washington boo Jagr. You think that's just because he jumped ship on the caps, or maybe because, at the height of his first year with the Rangers, he openly admitted to not playing to his full potential and giving it his all in Washington? I think that is one organization that would disagree with your assertion that he would be a great face for any franchise.

Brother P said...

Jagr this Jagr that, bottom line the TEAM is playing like dogshit. Yes Jagr is part of that team but so is everyone else. Bottom line Rangers miss Avery. He makes the team a whole lot better. The record speaks for its self. Right now you don't have more then 5 guys having a good season on the Rangers. King Henrik, Staal, Girardi...who else? Players need to play better. Pretty simple

The Dark Ranger said...

This is not simple. This is not Sean Avery being missed and motivating an entire team. This is a complete breakdown of the coach and the system they are playing in.

Tom Renney is a player's coach, not a man-handler. The Blueshirts have too many coaches on this team already and that is the problem.

If we drop the next three games, mark my words....

Tom Renney is removed.


Woodside Acres said...

There is a fundamental issue with this team not an individual player. However, the captains need to step up and they haven't.