Webster's definition of illusion. An unreal or misleading image presented to the vision; a deceptive appearance.
This is what the Rangers are under, the "leadership" of coach clueless, aided and abetted by the main stream drive-by media. Even some of my readers have jumped aboard this bandwagon. Anonymous is waiting for my bovine statement when the Rangers go ten games over .500. Maybe I should sing the Whiffenpoof Song. The usually reliable and sanguine, The Dark Ranger, is ecstatic that the Rangers are tied with the Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division. This might be more a personal rather than a professional opinion.
Why this euphoria? As stated, the Rangers are tied with the Flyers in the Atlantic Division, are three points ahead of the Islanders, while the Islanders have three games in hand, and generally the Atlantic Division is one of the weaker divisions in the NHL. Look, I take a back seat to no one in my love and loyalty for this team but one fact stands out. This is the most underachieving Ranger team since 1987-88 and it is one of the most talented Ranger teams, on paper, since the Cup Champions of 1994. So what is wrong here?
If Lou Lamoriello were the GM of the Rangers, coach clueless would be fired. The Stealth GM of the Rangers has put together an offensive powerhouse. The addition of two proven clutch players in Chris Drury and Scotty Gomez added to rookies Brandon Dubinsky, Nigel Dawes and Marc Staal along with young carry overs like Petre Prucha, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi make this as formidable a team that the NHL has seen in a while. With future hall of famers like Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan and all world goalie Henrik Lundqvist, how could this team miss? The coach has no idea how to get these stars functioning as a well oiled machine. That's what this team should be, a machine.
Goal scoring or the lack of it is the problem. There is only one team that has less goals than the Rangers and that is the Islanders. The Rangers have outscored the Islanders 53-51 but the Islanders have three games in hand. Looks like we are in for a dozy Thursday night when these two juggernauts clash. Bring your no doze pills, you may need them. The big culprit for the season and against the Islanders has been the Rangers powerless play.
The Rangers rank, and I really mean rank, 25th in the NHL on the PP with a 13.9%. Let's not complain about the refs hosing the Rangers either. The Rangers have the third most PP opportunities in the NHL with 122. Only Carolina with 127 and Columbus with 125 have had more chances. The powerless play really shows up big against the Islanders. The Rangers have lost three one goal games to the Islanders scoring all of 4 goals in those three games and the Ranger powerless play is 1-14 against the Islanders.
And what does coach clueless say to all this? After going 0-6 against the Stars, I mistakenly called it 0-9 in my last post, the clueless one came up with this remark which should cement his cluelessness for all time: "Believe it or not, it's better than it's been." I don't believe it. It's 0-6 and it's better than it's been. The clueless one constantly laments that the unit passes too much, doesn't put traffic in front of the net and doesn't shoot enough but he rounds up the usual suspects who pass too much, don't go in front of the net and don't shoot. The next time you are at a game count the number of times on the PP that Jagr and Rozsival pass the puck back and forth to each other.
And therein lies another problem. The team seems to be divided on how they want to play this game. How they want to function on the power play. Jagr, if he had his way, would spend the entire shift trying to find the most perfect pass to feed to some player who is hopefully in position to score. Shanahan is from the old school, shoot first and ask questions later. Jagr is the official captain, Shanahan is the de facto captain. Jagr skates to the bench after a disputed play, Shanahan skates to the ref, demanding an explanation. Who does coach clueless talk to on the bench when there is a disputed play? Brendan Shanahan.
Coach clueless insists that the team think defense first. Not playing defense is not an option he has decreed. Reads like a double negative, which is our offense. Great. Some of the best offensive players in the game, Jagr, Shanahan, Drury, Gomez, Straka you name them must forego their offensive skills to play and think defense first. Is it any wonder our power play is a mess? Is it any wonder we can't score goals? Is it any wonder we are struggling in a weak Atlantic Division that we should be running away from? Coach clueless has no idea on how an offense should function. It is truly a wonder that coach clueless continues to coach the Rangers. Why not. Look at the GM and the owner.
An illusion. A deceptive appearance.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Posted by mike at 6:42 PM