Thursday, September 26, 2013

Checking in with Johnny Drama

Johnny Drama AKA John Tortorella

A very interesting preseason game coming up tonight as the Rangers play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena at 10pm ET.

So how is our old friend Johnny Drama doing in his new theater of operations? Reports are that the old thesbian still lives by the adage that all the world is his stage.

NHL.com / Sept 26th, 2013:
Canucks still learning Tortorella's style -- 
That voice has come as advertised, with [John] Tortorella making threats if cell phones ring in press sessions, bluntly calling out the fitness levels of Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito, and saying "he couldn't find" top defenseman Alexander Edler in the tape he watched from last season. As promised, he also has delivered those messages bluntly and directly in a locker room Vigneault had left to the players.

"We haven't got one of his classic rants the media talks about, but he is definitely a presence in the room," veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "And you definitely know if you do something stupid you will get called out on it."

But the bigger adjustment to Tortorella has been on the ice. Training camp started as more of a conditioning camp, with players skated so hard that fatigue was cited as a problem after losing the first three preseason games. So, too, was a lack of understanding of system changes initiated under Tortorella, who didn't switch the focus to tactics until Friday.

The differences include forwards collapsing deeper into the defensive zone and the defensemen playing more of a zone down low instead of picking a man. The breakouts and forecheck also have been altered, and there is more of an emphasis on blocking shots. But the biggest challenge for Tortorella is trying to get his new team to be more aggressive and assertive all over the ice...
A smile crossed my face while reading this, especially the part that said, "forwards collapsing" and "there is more of an emphasis on blocking shots." Will your rope-a-dope strategy find a happy home out west? We shall see Johnny Drama, we shall see...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hockey's Back!

I have been debating with myself, no comments, please, about whether I should hang it up as a blogger. Basically, mothball The Ranger Pundit. And the peasants cheered! Really, the last five or six years have been exhausting and frustrating. Then the other day I heard the new coach, AV, for simplicity, news conference and I was impressed.

He told a reporter, that his question, was a good question. Imagine that? A Ranger coach actually acknowledging a question from a reporter and saying, "that's a good question". Wow! No growls, frowns or nasty retorts. No, "that's a stupid question", no, "what kind of a question is that" and no, "I'm not going to answer that question." What a novel thought. "That's a good question".

So speaking of questions, what kind of team are the Rangers going to be this year? Don't know and neither does the coach. However, what seems to be the M.O. is that it is going to be an open training camp where some young guys might actually have a shot at making the team. There are three key missing ingredients so far. Derek Stepan is holding out and what I have been able to gather its for about 1 mil a year difference. I know there is a cap problem, but we should get around it. Dumping Boyle and Del Zotto should more than close the cap issue.

The other missing pieces are Callahan and Hagelin. Both are key players, but hey, who knows, some young ones may come along and fill in nicely. So well see. However, early signs are encouraging. AV, has assigned his assistants to cover the power play and the penalty kill. But he was emphatic that the power play was on him to fix. Wow!

A coach who answers questions and takes responsibility. I gotta hang around to see this. Is Emile Francis back, reincarnated? So we are off to a good start. Don't know about you but I am going to keep my eye on the young guys, the coach looks like he can handle things. Isn't it a shame that youth has to be wasted on the young. Go get 'em AV.

ICINGS: High fashion ad agency Lipman, whose roots go back to 1927, has folded and closed its doors. So why is this news on a hockey blog? It's news because one of Lipman's partners is a person named Sean Avery. Do you think those skates can be fished out of the Hudson River and are usable? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Clean Slate

Everybody's got a clean slate. Everybody's gonna' get a chance, an opportunity, and it's up to them to grab it.  Alain Vigneault, Sept. 11, 2013 


What a strange pleasure to hear a coach giving thoughtful, honest, and straightforward answers to questions about the NY Rangers without any drama.

So, here we go.

This will be the Ranger Pundit's 77th season as a NY Rangers fan. Hope it's a winner.
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Jim Cerny / BlueshirtsUnited.com:
Clean Slate...Grab It! Rangers Open Camp Under Vigneault

Katie Strang / ESPN:
Rangers prepare for 'clean slate'