Tuesday, October 20, 2009

7-2-0: Pride Before The Fall

John Tortorella outright said that the New York Rangers didn't have the conditioning to win the Stanley Cup last season so he tried to send a message, rather than coach to win. Sure, he wanted to win - that goes without saying - but the message was more important.

Tortorella knew that the Ranger win streak would have to come to an end sometime, so puts his star goaltender in to get the easy points against the worst team in the conference, and his backup in against one of the top three teams in the NHL. A loss to the Sharks wouldn't be as bad as a loss against Jersey (Thursday), a loss against Montreal (Saturday) or a loss against Phoenix (Monday).

The idea makes sense. It sucks, but it makes sense. Of course, Torts' pride is bigger than the success of the team, so he suddenly wanted to pull a win out of the jaws of defeat. It was far, far too late. Pulling Valley for the third period was a horrendous move and likely hurt the team far more than the seven goals San Jose scored in their 7-3 demolition of the Rangers tonight.

Did he really think that his team could score three or more goals against Evgeni Nabokov in the third period? Especially with his team playing as poorly as they were? The only thing that happened was that he pissed off his star goaltender and likely injured the confidence that carried the team to seven straight wins. Good job coach.

Now Torts has two days to attempt to patch the damage he caused before the Rangers face the Devils. Good luck with that; Jersey always steps up their game against the Blueshirts and will be ready to pounce.

Before we start dreading Thursday, more on tonight's debacle as I saw it from section 329. There is no re-air on that network, MSG didn't pick it up and the NHL Network will re-air the Vancouver game. It's better that way I guess.

A quick look at the goals against:
1-Brad Staubitz's goal was intensely savable, a shot low glove side past Valley. Awful.
2-Dany Heatley just walked through the defense. Yeah, why cover one of the best scorers in the NHL?
3-Our (former) boy Jed Ortmeyer scored by lurking around the crease and cashing in on some garbage.
4-Devin Setoguchi's was another one where he didn't have to pay a price for hanging out aroung the crease.
5-His second was another savable shot that Valley waved at as it went by.
6-Ryan Vesce scored because no one bothered to cover the midget as he followed up a Heatley shot. And someone in his family loudly celebrated too - you could hear it clearly in the quiet Garden.
7-And Patrick Marleau closed it out with a one-timer.

I guess now the Rangers know the difference between an exhausted Ducks team and a flying Sharks team, huh?? Not the team to put your crappy backup in against if you want to win. But I guess that is a big IF if you are John Tortorella.

Some more notes:

*All Enver Lisin's goal did in the third period was ensure that Jed's goal wasn't the game-winner.

*It was really interesting inside the Garden when Jed scored. Some fans booed, some fans cheered and everyone started talking. I just think there was a bit of shock that Jed scored and that the Rangers blew a 2-0 lead. Blowing 2-0 leads is sooooo 2007.

*The officiating was soooo 2008-09. After the media made such a big deal over how Sean Avery had no PIM, the referees made up a call to put him in the box. And, seeing as they didn't call any of the seven or so clear infractions against him, he finally got frustrated and took a second penalty, a bad penalty. Hopefully it will not be a sign of things to come because it is pathetic and annoying to watch zebras ref with chips on their shoulders.

*Loved the goal that they waved off because of an early whistle. Where was the review? The Rangers had one stupid whistle waived off on video review last game, why not tonight?

*So, Donald Brashear was added to protect his teammates and yet he did nothing to protect Avery. The team was flat and blews a 2-0 lead, where was he to have that big fight to get the pendulum to swing back to his team? Nowhere. As ludicrous as it is to say, it is time to dress Aaron Voros. At least he checks people.

*Wade Redden ... words fail me. Liek Mr. X from the Blue Seats said

*It says something when the best scoring chance over the last 30 minutes was by Brian Boyle, and he missed the net.

*Did the Rangers win any faceoffs? The box score says that Scott Nichol was 8-2 but I didn't catch him losing a single one.

*Anyone else have a heart attack when Jody Shelley raced into the Ranger zone in the third period and Hank rushed out towards him?

*Since I don't want to go to the stars on a bad note, MDZ's goal was nice. Just like one of his other goals, he was pinching on the power play and was in the right place at the right time to bang in the puck in a empty net. Nice work kiddo.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Patrick Marleau - one goal and two assists.
2-Dany Heatley - one goal, one assist and no car accidents (didn't think I would get through an entire post about a game with him without mentioning it, did you?).
1-Devin Setoguchi - two goals and one assist.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Setoguchi - Jonathan Cheech-who?
2-Jed - He helped keep Gabby off his game, scored a goal and made a few big hits. I miss him as a Ranger.
1-Torts - His poor decisions put his team in a position to lose and he did nothing to help them turn the tables. First star for the Sharks.


Duniyadnd said...

I was actually a little excited about this game and sure, the first 10 minutes got me excited as well. After two periods, I just changed the channel, came back to see if the Rangers could even come back, and saw that Lundqvist was on goal and a goal just went by him. That was fun.

Since there was no replay on MSG, you probably missed Lundqvist slamming his stick on his way to the dressing room after the game.

Ham Bone said...

Yes, yes, yes, and yes... Yes, it was clear that Torts fully expected to lose this game. He just didn't expect it to get so out of hand that pulling Valley seemed the only humane course of action. Yes, I went hoarse screaming at our D, yes I kept wondering if we'd EVER win a frickin faceoff, and yes, I had a small heart attack when Hank decided he had to be the missing Defenseman. Thank you for another great post-game wrap-up!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call Vally a "crappy backup" yea he played crappy tonight but the other game he played got a shutout. I would say he is a great role player, works hard in practice so he's always ready to go for those 5 games a year and has a good attitude about it. He realizes his role it to support one of the top 10 goalies in the world and doesn't take a big cap hit to do that, something the Rangers need.

Pete said...

Duni, I had the SAME experience. I walked away from the TV after the 2nd, came back 3 seconds before the goal against Hank. I also noticed the infraction against that poor garbage can. That is likely the first time it's been hit all season.

I was wary in the beginning of the season when Torts wouldn't stop harping on the fact that Hank would have to get less ice time this season, because of the Olympics, yadda yadda. Quite frankly, I don't think it requires as much concern and emphasis as Torts is making it seem, especially when you look at what happened last night. Starting Valley against the Sharks was a mistake. Nothing against Valley, as he's usually better than he was last night and he was coming off a shut out. But, last night put an exclamation point on the statement that, if Torts "system" is going to work, and if the D is going to pitch in on all shifts, a star goalie has to be in net every night, especially against top teams. That or we really DO need that 7th defenseman.

It was funny, Brashear was jawing at Jody Shelley after they went ahead 3-2, but, Jody wisely walked away. No reason to fight when your team has scored 3 unanswered goals. To top it off, Brash was responsible for one of those goals, because he is lumbering, with hands like stone, and loses the puck in his feet EVERY time. I haven't seen one thing out of him that justifies his being here. He hasn’t even won a fight that he has been in.

I thought Redden actually had a few good shifts. If only he'd stop having the bad ones. As an aside, if I hear one more idiot announcer say that Redden is having a better year because the “weight of being the point-man on D is off his shoulders” AND talk about it as if it’s a good thing, I am going to scream. The guy wasn’t hired at the tune of 18 Million dollars to just be an effective defenseman. He was hired to BE the point man, and bring some scoring to the team. Really, he was hired to do what MDZ is doing. So, basically, they are praising Redden for not being able to play the role he was asked to, and then ineffectively playing a role that someone like Fedor Tyutin could have played for much, much cheaper. Now, that isn’t to say that I’m not happy about Redden’s coming around. I want to see him succeed, if only because I’m sick of being sickened by his play. So, sure, give him credit for trying to pull out of his slump. But, to actually praise him for being bad at his job? Come on now. Food for thought: If Wade Redden would just play solid, two way DEFENSE, not only would he be worth his paycheck, but he’d be filling the role of this 7th defenseman that the Rangers may now be shopping for. Maybe that should be a project for the coaching staff. The 6 million dollar defenseman. We CAN rebuild him. We have the technology.

A note about the whistle waved goal. On TV, it was obvious that the whistle blew way before the goal went in. So, I think it makes sense that they didn't review it. Sucky officials with chips on their shoulders however, do not make sense. The Sean Avery rulebook is now back in effect. Watch for flying water bottles.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he played vally today and Lundqvist last time because he was after the "easy win" against Toronto. I dont agree with the decision, but I'm getting the impression that Torts wants to start Vally against out of conference opponents because if they lose to them, it's not as bad as losing 2 points AND giving 2 points away to a conference rival.

That said, he should have known that this team was too good to expect to squeak out a win with the backup in goal.


Graying Mantis said...

Pete -- your comments about Redden are directly "on point".

We knew the Rangers were due for a stinker. Perhaps they are lucky that they stunk on nearly all levels. It's too bad they blew a 2-0 lead in the process. An ass-kicking like this is as important a measuring rod for flaws as the prior 7 wins to measure what was working.

The team has 2 days off to shake this off and move on to 2 important conference games with the Devils and Habs this week.

Sully said...

Valley is either like a rock or completely lacking confidence in his play. Last night even before that first goal that he should have had he didn't look great. The big question is why didn't Torts see that and put Hank in to start the second period? We would have had a 2-2 game and Hank in net which is much better odds of a win.

The other thing that concerns me is all Torts talk about resting Hank. We're 9 freaking games into the season and he's so concerned about resting Hank. Forget resting. Forget the stupid Olympics and start your #1 defenseman as often as possible. Because no matter how much better the Albatross twins are than last year they still the softest in the league and their softness is spreading like cancer. How did Heatly just skate in between 3 Rangers and no one puts him on his ass???????

Nik said...

I just don't see why Torts would sit Hank this game. I understand sitting him in a back to back or during a 3 games in 4 nights swing, but why after he had a day off and will have another 2 nights off? I brought two buddys who have never seen a ranger game in person and both were excited to see henrik play...
Also, i think that Vesce's friends/family sat near me cuz they went nuts when he scored and had a sign that said" A Little Bit Louder Now GO VESCE."

mike said...

Scotty Babe--you've got to chill out on Mr. Tortorella. Valiquette should've expected a raised level of games played this year with the Olympics looming for Lundqvist. While a risky choice to play against the Sharks, Valiquette's play in the past has warranted the odd chance to play against high-scoring teams. Renney played him quite a bit against the Flyers, if you'll recall...and the result often was a more solid defensive effort in front of the backup netminder. I thought Vali let in 3 goals that he should've had last night, and that will sink any team--not the coach's fault, in my opinion.

Brashear has been bad this year so far. Fair's fair, you called this transaction a disaster from day one. But Torts has the Rangers playing an enjoyable style of hockey that is maximizing the abilities of most of the players on the roster. The feeling around this team is much more positive than it was with last year's good start under Renney.

Oh, and Scotty--he is a Stanley Cup-winning coach. Give him a little break, huh? He's at least playing a better roster than Renney, and his style is vastly superior on an aesthetic level.

David said...

I am not a fan of a lot Torts has done, but I agree with his decision last night. Why have the Rangers been winning? Has it been solid D? No, it's been Hank. So this game showed what a game without a phenomenal goaltender does. You have to show a lesson, give them videotape of a poor performance to learn from, this is it. Let's face it, this is a throw-away game, if not, Valley would have been yanked much earlier. So they threw away a game against a team they may not have beaten if they were at the top of their game, who is in another conference.

Also, this can be a good referedum on Valley. He needs to play more to see his skill level. Johnson was impressive in camp/preseason, so maybe you want to give him some NHL experience.

My fear is that those who should be learning from this experience (Redden, Rosival, and most of all Torts) don't learn a thing and this is a precurser of another late season letdown.

daniel said...

i think david got it right. I understand why torts did this, but i also think that he should have known what he had gotten himself into. This was a wakeup call to the team. That the rangers wont always be getting 7 game win streaks. They needed to be brought back down to earth. I think he might have got to them. Lets just hope the rangers can rise to the occasion tomorrow

Pete said...

I really don't buy into the theory that a)Torts wanted/knew this was going to be a loss or b)that this was any type of lesson from the coach to the team. As good of a coach as Torts is, you're giving him waaaaaaaay too much credit and/or accusing him of all but throwing a game, which, in sports, is akin to genocide. In a foot race as close as the Atlantic division is going to be (Devils are picking up speed, Penguins are on their own streak, Flyers have the depth to wake up anytime now), no coach is going to just throw away points, early season, late season, ever. Sure, 16 teams make it to the post season, but 14 don't, and, let's face it, this team is an injury or two from being 1 of 14.

No, it's far more likely that this was exactly what it appears to be; a miscalculation on the part of JT. Maybe even a bit of hubris. As a few of us have touched upon, Torts has mentioned often how Hank will not be playing as much as he has in past years. Well, he played 6 of 7 games prior to last night. I think it was a numbers game. Torts was going to sit Hank this game regardless of the opponent, and Torts would coach a win out of them, because, that's the way it's going to have to work in Torts system. The team will have to play up to the goalie, or they are going to lose.

So, maybe in the end, the outcome is the same. There is a lesson to be learned from the debacle. But, as for the intent being to instill that lessen, I am extremely doubtful.

Looking forward, I'm calling it right now. Higgens gets his first goal on Fatso!

Scotty Hockey said...

Dun/Pete - thanks for the heads up on the garbage pail. At least one Ranger showed some hurt pride out there ... we didn't even get a Torts timeout tirade ...

Pete - I get it, you miss Toots. I do too, we all do ... =op

Sully - Very good point on Valley. Either he is stellar (vs Philly) or a wreck (Toronto, Dallas, now San Jose).

Mike - When Torts got his ring, he had a helluva team with him. I would love a 1-2 center punch like Vinny04 and Brad Richards... when he didn't have that arsenal, he failed mightily. We'll see what he does with a middling squad like ours in the long run.

Pete said...

lol...I guess my Toots man-love has been slipping out a little lately.

But hey, I've only mentioned Prucha once. I'm doing better than I thought. :)