Monday, March 23, 2009

Not There Yet

John Tortorella remarked a few days ago that the Rangers may not be in the shape they need to be to play the type of hockey he wants them to play. Last night may have well proved Tortorella's point. The Rangers were listless to a fault. Sean Avery said that the Rangers didn't bring their 'A' game. Hell, it looked like the 'B' game was missing too. Back to back, didn't seem to bother Ottawa, which was playing basically a defensive game. What are the Rangers going to do Tuesday against trap happy Minnesota?

Ottawa has now won nine of their last ten and snapped the Rangers winning streak at three games. Now I know you can't win them all down the stretch, but there are certain games that are there for the pickings and this was one of them. It was a game that could have, and should have been won. The Rangers reverted to old bad form going 0-6 on the power play and getting all of four shots on goal. It was back to the pass, pass and then pass again. The Rangers got 29 shots on goal. Some things never change though even with the new coaching regime. Wade Redden got over five and a half minutes of futile power play time while Girardi got about a minute and a half and Marc Staal got all of 25 seconds. So much for the mantra, if you play well you get the ice time. If you have a $6.5 mil contract you play until it hurts and trust me it is hurting for Redden to play so much.

With nine games to go the Rangers have to get back on track. Fourth place is still within sight and with two against Philly and one against Pittsburgh it is a possibility but you can't let the gimmees get away. Tuesday night against Minnesota should be a gimmee. Let's see if Avery and the gang can bring the 'A' game. It sure was missing last night.

ICINGS Update:

Hope Sauer sweetens defense.

Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
Mike Sauer summoned (Update) --

Mike Sauer, 21, a rugged defenseman whose early pro career has been detoured by injury, has been called up from the Wolf Pack and will make his debut against Minnesota tomorrow replacing Michal Rozsival, who injured his left knee last night against Ottawa...
Sauer played with Brandon Dubinsky with the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL for two seasons, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Sauer is also, along with Lauri Korpikoski, the only remaining pieces of the Brian Leetch trade...

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  • blow-me-down said...

    Timing was kind of off, some bad bounces, and Auld did play decently.

    The conditioning thing has had me concerned ever since the doubleheader with Boston. Yesterday didn't change my mind, but at least there are no more back to back games left.

    Too much Wade on the PP, I agree.
    I wonder if anything was really going to click yesterday the way they were a step behind for most of the game.

    The Wild will be another tough game. I watched them turn aside a lot of spirit and energy from the Oilers yesterday.
    It will be good to see Sauer playing, have not seen him play since his days with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

    Let's Go Rangers!!

  • jb said...

    Looking at their remaining games you notice the Rangers have one of the toughest finishes (7 of 9 games against playoff teams). So I hope the up-tempo game doesn't gas the team down the stretch.

    Torts has gone more to that three line rotation when he gets behind. Makes sense to not play Orr/Betts when you need goals. But, there is a downside to that.

    Yes, Wade has had his chance on the PP - time for some other D-men to give it a go.

  • blow-me-down said...

    Good point about the decreased 4th line ice time.
    I think it was fair for fans to resent the time the 4th line got from Renney, mainly because they were often utilized as a defensive measure, just at the time when an offensive thrust was what was required.

    I believe that Tortoralla said something akin to "there are no checking lines". Taking that at face value, obviously the 4th line is bottom of the totem pole.

    Watching the hard forecheck by them generating some really good chances in a few previous games, along with what looks like physical exhaustion by many yesterday (just one example), I wonder if the 4th line might get worked in for a bigger slice of the ice-time pie.

    After all, following the offense is defense mantra which I believe to be the way, even if the 4th line is not finishing, they have shown they can it make it downright difficult for opponents to treat them with anything but utmost respect.

  • jb said...

    Using the 4th line is a mixed bag for me. I like Orr/Betts, but am crazed at their lack of scoring. They grind and work, work and grind, and get bupkis.

    Love Orr's ability to keep the other team honest and play physical if they have a lead. But, if they need a score I don't want him on the ice.

    So in a game like last nite's I don't think Torts has any choice but to keep the 4th line on the bench.

  • blow-me-down said...

    Agreed. Previously, I had just never considered the point you brought up earlier. I often just accepted that the 'superb' conditioning of the team, as I know I read somewhere during the Renney era, was not true. But I also figured that that would change.

    Obviously,Torts is the guy to manage it. I found it hard yesterday to believe that they were tired, considering that their schedule was not onerous and basically favourable compared to that of Ottawa, who had to travel.
    Yet that is what my eyes told me.

    I may be beating on this too hard, but I tend to think not. If a team runs out of gas, they cannot implement any plan, especially a high-octane one.