Saturday, January 10, 2009

A 2-1 Hockey Team

A week or so ago, Joe Michelletti was commenting on the fact that coach clueless had remarked to him that he wanted the Rangers to be a 2-1 hockey team. Mission accomplished. Problem with being a 2-1 hockey team is that it doesn't always go your way. As Lou Costello remarked to Bud Abott, after Bud described the finer art of rolling dice, "Oh I get it. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose." Lately the Rangers have been losing far more than they are winning. No surprise there. When you play not to lose, you usually lose.

What made last night's loss all the more galling is that the Rangers lost in a shootout. That is not supposed to happen. Winning shootouts is the Rangers game. Coach clueless plays for the shootout. But you know the old expression: "Sh*t happens." The Rangers outshot the Sabres, but no matter. This is probably one of the more insignificant statistics in hockey.

But losing 2-1 hockey games opens up so many avenues for excuses. "We deserved better." "We outplayed them, but couldn't catch a break." "We keep playing like this and we are going to win a lot of hockey games." "There is too much talent in this room, for us to lose these types of games." And ad nauseam........

But the Rangers will continue to lose 2-1 hockey games and other games because despite all the shots on goal. They are a tentative hockey team. That is their coach's attitude. That is the team mentality. Nikolai Zherdev hasn't scored a goal in weeks. Is there any coincidence that his game went south after coach clueless had a 'conversation' with him. "Not playing defense is not an option." As Lou Costello so aptly put it. "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose." Lately the wins are getting harder to come by.

ICINGS:

The Rangers are slowly sliding down the standings. Why does Renny say: "we're headed in the right direction"? The direction they are going is south; 1-2 games equal many easy excuses.

Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Defense pays off with a point for Rangers --

After committing numerous damaging penalties in a 6-3 loss to Montreal at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Rangers didn't commit a single penalty.

Rangers coach Tom Renney appreciated the discipline; the Rangers had not had a penalty-free game since 1999. "We stifled them," Renney said. "We carried the play for the most part. In the shootout, Nazzy had [Miller] and just missed. We just didn't get the outcome we wanted. But we're headed in the right direction." ...
New York fans have heard the old, "we're headed in the right direction" before at MSG.

Alan Hahn - Knicks Fix / Newsday:
Isiah Thomas: 'We're headed in the right direction'
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The last rumor in late December on Brendan Shanahan was that the Devils might be interested. However, there has been no news or even rumors so far this year about Shanny. Does that mean his career is over? He will celebrate his 40th birthday on Jan. 23rd. If he was signed now how many games could he skate? Sundin is still working to get in game shape.
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Shanny agrees to join DevilsUpdate: Shanny's not done yet.

Talk about good timing. The speculation this morning about Shanny's career possibly being over was a bit premature. Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday afternoon that free agent forward Brendan Shanahan has agreed in principle to join the Devils.

So it's just under the wire for Shanny to get on the ice this season.

Devils.NHL.com:
Brendan Shanahan agrees to join Devils --
Three-time Stanley Cup champion returns to the club that drafted him second overall in 1987.

Brendan Shanahan is a New Jersey Devil once again.

Devils President, General Manager and CEO Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday that the former Devil and three-time Stanley Cup champion has agreed in principle to return to the club that drafted him second overall in 1987.

Shanahan has not yet signed a contract, which Lamoriello said will be worked out, "in the next couple of days."

There is no timetable set for when Shanahan will see his first game action this season, but he is expected to be more than just a power-play specialist. Lamoriello confirmed that Shanahan will be skating on his own in the meantime...
related:
Fire & Ice:
Shanahan back with the Devils (updated with quotes)
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2 comments:

  • jb said...
     

    Nikolai Zherdev might have played his best defensive game of the season. But so what?

    Having him play good offensive hockey is going to help them win more games. But, Renney has been very effective in shutting down the offense.

    From the pre/post game comments it seems the players are all buying into the 'Renney' system.

    Another problem this creates is when this Renney system falls 2 or more goals behind, can they always turn on instant offense? Not likely.

  • blow-me-down said...
     

    Zherdev really does stand out as an example. Earlier in the season when scoring was objective, he was also working pretty hard defensively. He did not stand out as a floater or a cherry picker at all, to the contrary, most folks were thrilled by his work ethic along with his offense. It looked to me like an example of a balanced attack, with defense and offense in some type of equilibrium.
    Now we see mostly the defensive side of Zherdev, which he did extremely well last night. I recall saying that to myself while watching him last night. But yeah, at what cost? I think the word emasculation fits. Do you know what happens to a player like Zherdev when you take away the biggest part of his natural game? He fades away like he has over the last couple of weeks. I'm sure he is brimming with satisfaction today about the role he played in the 2-1 loss, and how his back-checking helped to almost not lose the game.
    Shots from way out, basically nobody even trying to cause havoc in front of Buffalo's net (good screen by Orr though on Mara's goal), a throttled offense.
    What really should a team playing this kind of game expect their chances of outright winning to be? But, I forgot about that good old dependable mulligan the coach loves to take, the shootout.

    I'm certainly not adding anything new here, but it's hard to find new when seeing the same-old so often. Last night was a prime example.

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