Thursday, December 08, 2005

Power Outage-Anatomy of a Loss

The mass media is fixated on Martin Rucinsky's careless penalty as the cause of the Rangers 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks last night in Chicago. Nonsense! The loss was due to the Rangers inability to score on the power play. The Rangers were 0 for 9 on the power play including a four minute segment in the third period. More frustrating was the fact that most of the power plays were ineffective and didn't provide too many scoring chances. Sure there were some goalpost and crossbar hits that didn't go in, but guess what? That is hockey. A lot of players hit goalposts and crossbars, it's part of the goalie equipment.

The Rangers came out flat with just four shots in the first period. They turned it up in the second and third periods but Nikolai Khabibulin played perhaps his best game all year turning aside thirty Ranger shots. The best Ranger chances were on breakaways by Tom Poti and Ryan Hollweg but neither got off shots that had a chance to score. He was beaten once, by Petr Prucha who was moved up to the second line. Maybe we will get him to the top line before the season is over. It was Prucha's tenth goal of the year, second to Jagr on the team.

The other frustrating part of the power play is that Tom Renney insists on sending out 'the usual suspects' on every power play. What's more there is no originality. Renney recognized it. "As you get frustrated with the power play and things go on, you start to try to manufacture things that aren't there." The PP Five insist on playing tic-tac-toe with their passing. Rarely is there a good shot from the point. The point? Straka? Rozsival? Poti? Malik, maybe. Tom, why not get drastic and put Jagr at the point? He might make something happen from there. It's worth a try. The opposition doubles up on him even on the PP when he is down low. Let them try and double team him from the point. Let's see how that works.

The Rangers move on to Nashville tonight against one of the top teams in the NHL. The Predators have 39 points in 25 games. This compares to the Rangers 40 points in thirty games. While the Rangers are second in the Eastern Conference behind Ottawa's 42 points (Ottawa has 5 games in hand on the Rangers) they are eleven points ahead of the Islanders who sit in ninth place (no playoffs) with the Islanders having three games in hand.

ICINGS: Yesterday was the 64th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wasn't watching all the newscasts but I saw very little attention given to that infamous date. Mark my words it won't be too long before 9/11/2001 will be forgotten.

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