Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Captain And The Prince

The new Ranger Captain broke out of his mini slump last night against the Islanders with two goals. Chris Drury rose to the occasion last night at the Coliseum to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 win. Of course the star of the game was The Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, who was unbelievable when he had to. I really have to stop saying that, he's always unbelievable. In ten games he has a 1.99 GAA and .927 save %. The two goals last night were not his fault.

The Islanders played without DiPietro, Witt and Andy Sutton all injured, so a big part of their team was out. While the Rangers did not play one of their better games they did get two points and that is what the NHL is all about. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 39-30 while the Islanders outhit the Rangers by a whopping 32-17. The Islanders did seem to be more determined than the Rangers but that usually happens in this rivalry where the supposed underdog seems to outplay the favorite. I know it is a cliche but the standings really don't matter when these two teams get together.

There seems to be some criticism of the team's performance in some circles this morning and while some of it may be justified there could be a very good reason for it. The Rangers have played the most games of any team in the league and have one more in October which will bring the grand total to 13. The closest team is Anaheim which has played 10 games and has 10 points. They are still trying to find the right combinations on both offense and defense.

Their power play continues to be moribund at 14.5%. There are only six teams with a worse PP percentage. Their penalty kill is a robust 91.7%, second in the NHL. I think the team lacks a basic toughness, especially on the defense.

I am not pleased with the lack of ice team given to Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski seems to have disappeared. However they are 9-2-1 and that is the overriding issue. So far they have seemed to find a way to win. Also, so far they have swept their Eastern rivals, The Devils, Islanders, Flyers and Pittsburgh. However, it is a long season and their are still 70 games to go.


Yes, the team is leading the league, but there are some big uglies in that sweet cup of Joe. Zherdev, for one, has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. A smattering of Rangerland worries:

The Dark Ranger:

Our boys do not seem to be playing great hockey -- it feels unreal that we are leading anything at this point, let alone the LEAGUE!!? With an actual working system in place and our coach Tom Renney every evening working on his chemistry set, we are seeing improvements as the season progresses (with the exception of our defense.....side note - "thank you Henrik again and again!") one would think we have more to look forward to....
Hockey Rodent sees "Bad Times Looming"
I'm telling you here and now that the past three games (despite generating six points) are screaming a message of imminent humility.

Last season, nobody believed what I was preaching until six or seven games into the crash and burn. There's winning. And then there's winning for the wrong reasons. Lately, it's the latter.

I say, the fix begins with relegating Naslund to the nether lines...
Amanda Panda:
Who Did Not Look So Good ... 1. Dubinsky...

2. Zherdev - In my opinion, Zherdev is one of the most frustrating players to watch. While he is tremendously skilled and has the capacity to do jaw dropping things with the puck, he is also prone to overhandling the puck and to making blatant errors....
Rangers Review:
Zherdev better learn that you need to come to play every night, and that crap like what we saw last night will never be tolerated in Rangerland...
Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report:
Let’s face it, of the Rangers nine wins so far, six have come against teams with sub-.500 records. That includes two wins over Tampa (1-3-3), and recent wins over Columbus (3-6) and the Islanders (2-6). Not that beating those teams is a given...

Markus Naslund didn’t seem to find his game until last week, and Wade Redden still seems to be fighting it...
Aaron Voros - Nate Thompson Fight

Puck Daddy:
The first beautiful thing about this fight is that it takes place at the Nassau Coliseum during a New York Rangers/New York Islanders game, which means the crowd makes it sound like Round 8 of an Oscar de la Hoya/Manny Pacquiao fight. It's bedlam.

The other beautiful thing is that Aaron Voros and Nate Thompson were tossing bombs; even the ones that missed were rather awesome...
p.s. If anyone knows where the Rangers are hiding Patrick Rissmiller please let us know. He's still not in Hartford as of early this afternoon?

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  • blow-me-down said...

    Zherdev going to the doghouse already? That's a bit fast, but perhaps a few others can join him. I didn't see a minute of the game, but heard it wasn't a stellar display of skills or discipline. Oh well, that shot from Drury in the high slot that I caught on the tube looked like it really had something on it, even if it did deflect in. Geez, I want to see more of those purposeful kind of plays being completed by him.

    Lots of criticism of the team's play lately, makes me wonder how bad last night was (though I do agree they have kind of just been getting by lately, no argument there).

    Improve the powerplay and help give the team a new complexion, see what benefits shake out of improving on a glaring deficiency. It's up to Renney, much as I hear Pearn being named as the culprit. It's still Renney's responsibility to see it gets better.

  • mike said...

    blow-me-down-Its getting like politics, everything gets over analyzed. Improve the power play? Coach clueless has had this problem for over two years and if you will pardon the pun, he's clueless on how to fix it.

    Pray for Lundqvist to have good health.

  • Section 335 said...

    First of all, Z is plus 9 - no one else is even close. In fact, he leads the NHL. He has 4 goals at even strength, most on the team. He has the moves of Alex Kovalev with a better shot and defensive abilities. He does not lose the puck in his own end. So, if he is in the dog house, I hope a few others join him. I do not believe that he is.

    Second, the team is not playing badly. We won 42 games last year. We already have won 9. If we split all the rest of our games we make the playoffs. So, stop seeing the Cup as half empty.

    The real issues are these.

    - without a killer power play we will die an early death in the playoffs

    - without another scorer or two, or having players step up, we will be shut down for the rest of the year - Detroit had 6 20+ goal scorers, Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 5, Dallas 4. Teams will key in on Z and Naslund

    - we need a physical defenseman

    If Drury steps up, we get a defenseman and we find another goal scorer, this team can have dreams of the Finals and riding a hot Prince to the Cup.

  • Section 335 said...

    Correction: Hossa on Pittsburgh last year, so the figures are that they had 4 and Detroit 5 20 goal scorers.

    Who are our 4 or 5????

  • jb said...

    Some Rangers fans might have the mild cognitive disorder known as fear of success or the imposter phenomenon. A couple of symptoms in the case of Rangers fans:

    1. Fear that the Rangers accomplishments can self-destruct at anytime.

    2. Lack of belief in Tom Renney's ability to sustain the team's progress.

    3. Belief that no matter how much Z man, for example, may achieve or accomplish, he will not be able to sustain that level through the season/playoffs.

    Are these concerns valid? I think it boils down to if you are glass half-full, versus a half-empty person. Or how strong is your faith in Tom Renney's coaching and Lundqvist's health?

    The Rangers have come up empty since 1994 so it's understandably hard for many to climb on the bandwagon.

    Or put another way...
    Mark Twain said, “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.”

    Rangers fans have sat on the hot stove lid a few times, thinking a Jagr led team maybe a shot at the cup. So now when invited back on the stove many are reluctant.
    Agree about the "physical defenseman" and the must fix for the old bugaboo PP.

  • blow-me-down said...

    Hey, I agree with the half-glass perspective. By nature I am an optimist, sometimes at the risk of seeing things through the proverbial 'rose-coloured glasses'. That's why I was surprised how much bad press a lot of the team got from the online community (not referring to here) for last game against the Isles.

    On the other hand, to ignore the following is folly:
    1. Get a power forward who goes to the net and scores
    2. Fix the powerplay. I'm a broken record for a reason. A more successful powerplay will do the team a world of good when it comes to confidence and outlook, not mentioning the difference between winning and losing.

    I think Renney's defense first system is good, it can be very good. I do not want to criticize unjustly. I see great effort from the team plenty of nights.

    I would like to have Tom Renney hypnotised or injected with truth serum, then record his thoughts about the powerplay, because to date I cannot remember him giving any kind of insight into how he sees this important facet of the team's performance.

  • blow-me-down said...

    I'm still unclear on Rismiller's contract and potential Cap hit. Is it 3 years at $1 mil or 1 year at same?

  • mike said...

    Everyone agrees that we need the following:

    1. Improved power play. Three year problem.
    2. Another scorer. Is Sundin in the wings?
    3. The coach to coach and not watch. Not be clueless.

    I believe that Rismiller's cap space is $1 Mil.

  • jb said...

    The Rissmiller deal was a three-year deal worth $1 million per, not just a one-year deal as reported in several places. See Andrew Gross (here at Ranger Rants) and the HockeyBuzz salary table for more.

    FYI: Gross said this in his update on Rissmiller about a week ago, and it still looks like he's still in limbo:

    "Patrick Rissmiller still has not been assigned to Hartford and the Rangers have not made any other roster moves (i.e. bring up a seventh defenseman). There's no deadline on how long Rissmiller can remain in this limbo and the Rangers, to keep their cap down, could also go with 22 players on the roster."