Thursday, January 28, 2010

24-23-7: Beer Me

In the seminal movie Animal House, John Belushi turns to Flounder after Flounder's uncle's car has been wrecked beyong belief and utters perhaps the soundest words that every Ranger fan should abide by: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily."

Because alcohol is about all that can make watching hockey at MSG tolerable right about now. The team is a rudderless ship stuck in the doldrums of mid-winter hockey. How a squad that can put up 14 goals in two games a week ago can lose all that momentum and collapse so completely is the fault of the so-called leadership. From the Stealth GM (thanks Ranger Pundit) to the Screamer coach to the Little Leaguer captain, this team doesn't have anyone who can pick the team up, say 'let's go' and carry them to victory.

Sather is an unfriendly ghost who appears in public about as often as Haley's Comet. Tortorella would rather tangle with beat writers than tangle with the issues plaguing his team. Marian Gaborik has the skills but not the means to carry the team on the ice. Ryan Callahan has the means but not the reputation. Chris Drury has the reputation but not the skills nor the means. This team, as it's built, is better off being razed than being patched before the deadline. There are no players available that can completely change the losing identity of the team. The change needs to start at the top and it needs to happen soon.

Without the leadership pointing the team in the right direction, they have become awash in lackluster play. Their leaders aren't leading, their stars aren't starring, and their role players are being stuck in roles beyond their means. That Enver Lisin and Arty Anisimov are playing on a plane high above that of Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik is just horrifying.

I don't want to belittle the Canes because they did what they had to to win; all credit given to them for the victory for the simple reason that they didn't shoot themselves in the foot. They gave the Rangers some chances but they allowed their goaltender to see the puck and the goaltender stopped the puck. 37 times. Admittedly Cam Ward made maybe a half dozen saves that were really quite impressive - side to side slides, quick gloves or that stick sweep that had half the arena crying for replays. Six, out of 38 shots against. His counterpart wasn't as lucky. Henrik hardly saw the shots that went past him and when he did, it appeared that he couldn't be bothered to stop them - that second goal? Ugh! Even a hungry donkey will stop going after the carrot if the load he is pulling is too great.

Very quick notes:

*Tom Renney and John Tortorella couldn't be more different in terms of temperament and primary coaching philosophy. So why do both juggle as much as clowns in the circus? Torts follows Renney in arbitrarily changing the lines multiple times over the course of a game? If he can't figure out what works through the first, sayyyyy 50 games of the season, what makes him think that putting different people over the boards now is going to strike gold?

*The old hockey adage is that your team is most vulnerable in the five minutes after they score a goal. When it comes to the Rangers, it has been the next minute (singular) in the last two games. Again, it comes back to leadership as these guys are complacent even for a second and the opponent jumps all over it.

*Ales Kotalik, welcome back to the lineup. Games may change but the story remains the same - loved the turnover that led to a shorthanded Carolina breakaway. Clown.

*Why did Hank start? If the franchise really thought he deserved to get some rest this season, starting Chad Johnson would have been a much wiser move for a home game against the Canes. And, frankly, NueveSies would have been much better. There are no excuses for three of the five goals Hank allowed.

*How does Wade Redden spend time stuck on the bench while Drury keeps getting regular shifts? MDZ was atrocious but at least he has the excuse of youth and overuse - the veterans have been horrid all their Ranger careers.

*Anyone else get some perverse satisfaction in seeing reverse carpetbagger Aaron Ward writhing on the ice in pain?

*Far less than a full Garden tonight but luckily not many Carolina fans. A smattering of Hartford jerseys and you can't begrudge them their fandom. Hartford? The Whale? That is hardcore.

*How do the refs call playing with a broken stick on a Cane when a Ranger blatantly did it a period earlier and skated off scot free?

*How pathetic is it that people still clap when the Rangers get power plays? When I see an opposing player skate into the penalty box, all I can think is 'no shorties, no shorties, please no shorties...'

*I said it in Peepin' Foes and stick to it - Eric Staal is playing up to the responsibility that the captaincy brings him. Making the switch from Rod Brind'Amour to Staal was a great move by Carolina management; too bad it happened two months too late to make a difference.

*I sit next to a season ticket holder of 20 years who happens to hate the Rangers; he is a Flyer fan who just happens to live in NY. But even he said that he was sick of seeing the Rangers skate into the zone with one hand on their stick, only to lose the puck.

*The Garden ice has a terrible reputation, one that is quite deserved, but it must be pointed out that both teams have to skate on it. So how is it that the Rangers are the ones that seem incapable of connecting on the majority of their passes?

*Free tee shirts for those who attended the game! Nice to see a real giveaway at the Garden. Sad to see a less than real NHL hockey team.

*PHW Three Stars
3-Sergei Samsonov - two goals.
2-Eric Staal - two goals.
1-Cam Ward - 37 saves.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Tom Kostopolis - The Carolina tough guy collected two assists and killed penalties. Not that that is a big achievement against the Ranger power play, but to see a fighter capable and trusted to do that is impressive.
2-Ward - That reach-back sweep was pretty awesome.
1-Eric Staal - If giving him the captaincy is all it took to get him to step up his game, perhaps the Ranger C should go to his little brother? Actually, I want it to go to Cally but Marc wouldn't be a bad alternative. Any of the real Rangers would be better than Drury or the other old, overpaid mercenaries.


NYR34 said...

*How pathetic is it that people still clap when the Rangers get power plays? When I see an opposing player skate into the penalty box, all I can think is 'no shorties, no shorties, please no shorties...'

My take on it is to have the ref skate to center ice with the mike like after a review:

"Minor penalty Carolina, 2 minutes for holding, that penalty is declined, first down."

icycup said...

thanks for a great recap. well written.

im glad i missed the game.

really glad.

"From the Stealth GM (thanks Ranger Pundit) to the Screamer coach to the Little Leaguer captain, this team doesn't have anyone who can pick the team up, say 'let's go' and carry them to victory."

that, sadly, kinda sums it up.

Cbenny81ct said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Dark Ranger said...

Nothing better in hockey than EMBLEM HEALTH on the back of that free t-shirt giveaway!!!!! Even the first free thing for attendees this entire season someone else paid for and you wouldn't be caught wearing it in public. Christ!

Dennis said...

The only way to watch the Rangers anymore is to TIVO the games. If they go down by two goals you can instantly fast forward to the end and not waste your time. They never come back after being down. NEVER!!! I have tickets to the Caps game next week and wonder which team will show up. If it's the one that played last night.......BEER ME!!!!!!!

Faraway Fan said...

Where I live the Sabres/Devils were on MSG(thankfully) instead of the Rangers, so I didn't have to watch that mess. But the night before did anyone catch the Red Wings and Coyotes game on Versus? Commenting on Petr Prucha's good work the announcer said the Coyotes "rescued" him from the Rangers. I had to chuckle. Go Pru!!

Anonymous said...

Well,speaking of "tee-shirt "give son and I noticed they were made in HAITI and others in HONDURAS(WE CHECKED THE LABELS)...I heard a fan suggest that we, the fans, should have offered to return them on the way out and donate them to the people suffering in HAITI!!! I said to myself,"yeah,and MSG would charge us,the fans, for SHIPPING!! I am ABSOLUTELY outraged with this so called "premiere" organization aka. NEW YORK RANGERS!!I did not renew my 4 season tickets this year...and am PROUD to say was a SMART financial move by not only me, but several thousand others,too.Yet,like Scotty always notes...THERE ARE ALWAYS TICKETS AT THE BOX OFFICE ON GAMEDAY!!However,look at every boxscore, and it reads:ATTENDANCE=18,200!!I wish that for ONE GAME the "fans" would ban together and STAY HOME...Hey, you already PAID for the tickets..they will feel the 'LOSS'at the concession stands,etc.,etc!!IT HAS TO START SOMEWHERE,WHY NOT NOW!!You know the old saying,"YOUR SILENCE IS YOUR CONSENT THAT THINGS ARE ALL RIGHT".....I guess the question we all have to ask is: WHEN IS ENOUGH ,ENOUGH???

Unknown said...

re: Your question about A. Ward--Yes.

Pete said...

I've also been following Pru and I caught a little of that game. They have him on an all Czech line. The line seems to benefit from having similar playing experiences growing up. Pru has 11 goals this season so far. Granted, he won't make it up to 30 like he did in his rookie season with the Rangers. He may not make it to 22, like his second season. But, that's higher than all but 2 Rangers (Gabby and Cally) and it's tied with Dubi. So, at least in the garden, Pru can hold his head high. Though, that isn't saying much. I caught a glimpse of the little Rangers playing during the intermission last night and they looked like a more solid team than the real thing.

Any chance Redden will get Kasparitis'd after being benched last night? Brooks is calling for Brashear to be waived. Doubt that will happen.

At this point, I say keep Staal, Dubi, Avery, Hank, Hobie and MDZ and just start over from scratch. Fire sale.

Anonymous said...

Fire Sather Rally.

Kingrich45 said...

Scotty touched on it but what really because apparent to me is the problem with the line juggling thing.

I randomly watched the Isles get the crap beat out of them by the Caps Tuesday and one thing that was mentioned is one of the Caps (maybe Ovie I forget) asked the coach not to change the line. I guess Boudreaus's tendency is to juggle but on this request he didn't and the caps lines have gotten some real chemisty and they are on fire.

Second I was forced to watch the Carolina broadcast last night and one thing that was mentioned is how the Rangers spent a whole practice focusing on the power play and then the first power play of the game used completely different line then they practiced with!?!

WTF, scotty said it right Juggling hasn't worked for the better part of two seasons, based on the all the experimentation pick the lines that have produced the best and leave them to develop some chemistry. The drop passes to no one, the missed passes, being out of position, not saying this wouldn't happen but I can certainly say playing with a different group of guys every shift doesn't help....


Pete said...

Also, look at what the line changes were: They moved Gabby to LEFT WING, where he has almost never played and they put Avery down on the 4th line! Avery is one of the few people who have had fairly good efforts over this horrible stretch. I guess he's being punished for "pointing fingers."

What a mess.

Anonymous said...

@Kingrich - i think it was Knuble who told Boudreau that

and you know it's bad at the Garden when R&R screw up time and time again but nobody cares enough too boo them anymore

Cbenny81ct said...

That was fucking pathetic, Sather and Torts needs to go, how is it Carolina and Ottawa are playing better? this team needs a new Identity