This is an important part of the season for the Rangers. An inconsistent couple of months were manageable with the new coaching staff, injuries, and awful road trips. To hover around .500 at the end of that was pretty okay. Not great, but okay.
But it's now approaching the middle of December. The team started an eight-game homestand with an understanding of what the coaching staff wants and a relatively healthy team. Two games against the Devils and Capitals, who are hardly tearing up the NHL right now. This homestand badly needs to be a successful one for the Rangers. It's a chance for them to finally break away from .500 and begin a run. Instead, it's two awful losses on back-to-back nights.
I'm not even going to waste time picking apart tonight's game. Lundqvist let in a soft Oleksy goal but also made some really fantastic stops. McDonagh and Kreider were excellent. Del Zotto looked more comfortable on the left side of the ice, which the Staal absence allowed. Pouliot scored, which is something. Aside from that it was an incredibly underwhelming performance from the Rangers, with the key word being performance; not effort. I don't doubt that the team is trying. This isn't a battle of laziness or apathy. The job just isn't getting done. So let's look at what the options are going forward and how the ship can be righted. I'll warn you ahead of time that it's going to be ugly, and it's going to come off as a manifesto. Take some adderall before tackling this.
John Tortorella/Alain Vigneault
As the Rangers struggled with consistency and were anemic offensively last season the burden of failure was largely placed on Tortorella; both by fans and management. There was not much roster turnover in the offseason. Instead, Glen Sather banked on a change in coaching staff being the big difference. Here is what he had to say about firing Tortorella and finding a new coach from a tactical, philosophical standpoint when he spoke to The Daily News' Pat Leonard in June:
"He also knew that the Rangers’ style of play needed to evolve to contend with other top NHL teams, or in his words, “the game has changed.' 'If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,' Sather said. 'I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.'"
There's no doubt that the Rangers are playing a different style right now. There's more of an emphasis on possession as opposed to dumping the puck in and playing a north-south game. But as much as the style of play is different under Vigneault, the end product is pretty similar. As of right now the Rangers are tied for 25th in the NHL in goals-per-game. In fact, we could perhaps argue that the team regressed from last season, when the Rangers finished 15th in the NHL in goals-per-game.
Now, this is not to place the blame on Vigneault or sit here and lament about Tortorella leaving. That's not the point. This summer Glen Sather made peripheral changes to the lineup, and more or less placed the blame of underachieving on coaching. As Alain Vigneault, who helped cultivate a dynamic, prosperous offense in Vancouver, struggles just as much to milk much production out of this group one has to wonder if Sather dropped the ball in putting all his eggs in the Vigneault basket. Maybe Tortorella was not the problem, and maybe Vigneault, while certainly a brilliant hockey mind, is not himself an all-encompassing solution. Maybe this is just a flawed roster.
So where do we go from here? Well, as Kevin Power of Blueshirt Banter has pointed out, the Rangers' shooting percentage is abnormally low right now. To some degree the Rangers have just had poor luck and the law of averages will soon start to work in their favor. Still, this does not address the lack of scoring completely.
Discussing call-ups is, to be frank, a waste of time. Sather and Vigneault have pretty much played every card in the deck as far as Hartford is concerned. Kreider's addition has been much needed. Beyond that there isn't much in the way of NHL-ready talent. We're already stretching the deck with J.T. Miller, who at 20 years old is still very raw and could use some more time in the AHL. Jesper Fast already proved early in the season that he is not ready and an ankle injury has kept him off the ice for the last month. Oscar Lindberg and Danny Kristo are developing just fine but are in no way ready for the NHL. The same can be said for Dylan McIlrath and Connor Allen, who are showing glimpses of NHL quality but lack the consistency and experience. The sad reality is that, beyond Kreider and a desperate call-up of Miller, Hartford is in a transition phase in terms of prospects. The only viable call-up options are the likes of Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, Danny Syvret, and Aaron Johnson; guys who are experienced and could step into a minor role but won't make a tangible difference. Unless a McIlrath, Lindberg, or Kristo really turns on the jets in the next week or two no help is coming from Hartford.
If any help is coming, then it's going to be from outside the organization. However, working against the Rangers is limited cap space and the fact that there aren't many teams looking to make big moves this early in the season. Glen Sather has (hopefully) learned from blunders from The Dark Ages when he would ship out prospects for guys like Martin Rucinsky in desperate attempts to stay relevant. Michael Del Zotto has been in all sorts of rumors, and we've seen how Glen Sather can sometimes pull a rabbit out of his hat in the trade market. Still, I don't think we can bank on any big moves coming right now.
I think, barring something truly great from Sather, we're stuck with what we've got; for better or worse. Hope lies in the fact that it's early December, and, unlike last year's lockout-induced 40-yard dash, it's a long season with 51 games left to play. The best asset Sather and Vigneault have right now is time. There is still plenty of season left to figure things out and get into a groove. Guys like Callahan and Hagelin are going to pick up the goal production at some point. The 2010-2011 Bruins as well as the 2011-2012 Kings both experienced their own existential crisis of sorts during the regular season before going on to win the Stanley Cup. Without even thinking about Stanley Cups, Glen Sather better hope that this is a similar crisis of identity for the Rangers and not simply the true nature of the roster he built. Otherwise, pointing to Tortorella and Sullivan as culpable for offensive woes - and not Sather himself - is going to be very hard to defend.
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I'd like to get a real sense of the health situation of both Cally and Hank. Cally doesn't seem himself, and for good reason; he's been banged up from the start and I don't think he's close to 100%. And I seriously think that Hank's glove side (a weakness in the past) is looking odd above his waist. Top shelf is open all day. Obviously, top shelf is a good place to go, but I mean that he's getting beaten high when he shouldn't, as if he's slow to get the glove up. Am I imagining this, or are these two key guys hurting more than the organization is letting on (as of course is typical)?
I keep hearing everyone say that this team being SOFT is the reason we can't play consistent hockey. While I agree we lack a serious Brandon Prust type player, pulling up Bickel and Ashum is not the answer. Bottom line is this team has some head case issues. We can't even play 2 periods of consistent hockey. Cally and Hags are non-existent lately, Richards was mistake for not being bought out, and Sather is just ddangling Del Zotto to drag this out for some reason. As side from Mac truck we have no serious offensive threat from the point, and no physical play at all. This team can play amazing one period then go to sleep the next. Headcase issues....possible injuries not being disclosed (Cally??? Haggs???) And Hank showing he is human. things are not looking well right now
Team does suck we need to trade for two or three guys need a girt player who drop gloves and stick up for teammates and more then anything else we a heavyweight goon so teams dont run thru us and fear what would could happen to them , ill take back john scott he isnt any worse then anyone on third or fourth line .. Neil fir del zaster would help to and got to bring up Dylan cant be worse then stall moore falk del zaster .. Come trade deadline trade a prospect miller kristo whoever and get a proven scorer these guys had their chance and cant score waive pyatt pouillte and then we can turn it around
This team is almost good, yet they're bad. Upon reading some of the comments we're all saying similar things. My 2 cents would be that we've got enough here, especially in lieu of the emergence of Kreider to make a go at it if we could round out the roster with some dirt and grit. Trades of course mean we got to thin out the already thin talent unless you're expecting other teams to take our dead wood. I don't. The sad part is that all Sather had to do was surrender only one player of talent to have achieved the means to acquire the sandpaper needed to round out our roster and give the skilled forwards the space they needed and that of course would have been to buy out Richey. F*cking Idiot!
Here's an example of team depth. The Chicago Blackhawks are the no. 1 team in the league right now (record-wise) They have an estimated 14-15 players on their team invited/to be invited to Olympic training camps. The NYR have 8. My numbers might be a touch off here, but just trying to prove a point on how deep a team like CHI is while working under the same salary cap as the NYR.
Then again, the NYR organization still makes way more money, so maybe that's all Dolan and Slats care about.
I agree 100% with shoot_the_goalie. This is a team who has become very easy to play against. They get zero production from their 3rd and 4th lines.Between Boyle, Pyat, Dorset, D Moore, Asham & Powe they have less than 5 goals. They are cream puffs very easy to push around and physically dominate. and as always the defense couldn't clear a wet paper bag from in front of their own net.
New line.....cally step hags......Jkkk it would be nice if either of them would like to bring there game back
There are like 15 RFA/UFA's next season and right now here is my must sign list; Callahan, Kreider, Zuccarello and maybe Girardi. Pyatt and Pouliot have gotta go, and if they're just gonna play in Hartford, Asham and Powe too.
Not sure the team is lazy, but the team looks lost and looks like it's not having any fun out there. It is on AV to change that. We'll see. But all in all, let's be realistic. As Adam mentioned, this is all on Sather and those who keep him employed. Slats, since he's take over the NYR, has built either horrible teams or teams of mediocrity. Even in 2012, the NYR overachieved. In reality, they weren't a great hockey club as proved by the playoff run struggles.
The NYR need a more balanced lineup. It is so EASY for the opposition to exploit the NYR weaknesses. Focus on Nash. Hit and push around everyone. Crash the net on Hank.
The NYR are an easy team to play against.
.I think we need to bring back the "Black and Blue" Rangers.....I think the reality is AV has to adapt. Example....Rob Ryan comes to the Saints and wants to employ 3-4 defense but based on who is in the locker room and injuries knows they have to play 4-3 D and make it work. It has. AV might want to play up-tempo and a skilled game but it does not fit the profile of players we have. Bring up Kantor, Asham and Bickel...release Pouliot, Pyatt. I think all teams know the Rangers are soft. That hit on Kreider should never have happened. I think Torts deserves some blame for not opening things up when we had Gaborik and Nash....but AV does not have those cards to choose from. He has to see that and maybe in the offseason we can bring in guys who more comfortable fit in his system.
So many people are concerned about the number of UFAs going into next season. I'm not and I think Sather needs to be very selective in who he resigns and for the appropriate amount of money. The people on this team aren't worth the $$ they are making now and Lundqvist, while he made some incredible saves last evening, still gave up two softies. This team is in a world of hurt and most everyone is expendable at the trading deadline from my perspective.
This team is soft and we really do not have a superstar forward. We do not have consistent goal scorers! Anyone who says Nash is the best in the league, quit what you are smoking and read this (yes I know it has been posted on here before, but it deserves a read) http://nhlnumbers.com/2012/6/27/rick-nash-facts . We need to get more reliable offense and quit over-paying for average. Nash IS NOT worth the money we pay him (and his contract gets much worse later in his career), much like Hank IS NOT worth his new salary based on his play this season. Problem is though is that Hank has had moments of greatness, Nash however does not score in big games and was completely absent in the playoffs last year.
This is a typical middle of the pack team right now. We have no aggression and scoring is beyond tough for these guys. I still think that Scott Arniel is quite possibly the worst coach in the NHL, so hopefully we can get rid of him soon.
It's funny how Rangers fans were so adamant about trading "that bum" Dubinsky but he is exactly what we need. He never backed down from anyone and had attitude, a real passionate player. I'm not saying we shouldn't of traded him for Nash but I sure wish we could get him back. And Prust, big mistake not signing him, HUGE.
AVERY AVERY AVERY AVERY.....time for Sean to dive in the hudson pull out his skates... bring a spark to this team and get that cricket filled garden bumping again! then maybbe Nash can focus on hockey instead of standing up for himself as teams take runs at him...
What would it take to get someone like Prust or dubi back? I mean this team lacks that physical and I'll do whatever for my team style of play. How about Colton Orr who could actually win a fight? Remember watching games when these guys were on the team? Seems like the only checking this team does is with their sticks which is boring and costly. Fuck it bring back Sean Avery I'm sure he needs a job and taking pouliot or Pyatt out of the line up isn't going to make a difference.
They're back to being co-workers again. They suck. And it's all between their ears which makes it worse in a way. I'm getting close to packing it in for the season.
a loss to a terrible Predators team on Tuesday at home, would seal this teams fate in my eyes for the near future
they never shoulda fired torts... the players are babies since they wanted him to leave because with him they actually had to work hard... now with av there is no accountability. He babies them. This team does suck right now.
I know this team was supposed to carry the puck in more. But it feels as though the puck is still dumped in too much. Which is to say, barring some of the better games in November, I don't feel the style has changed all that much. To me NYR is still a club that dumps the puck a lot, albeit with a more passive forecheck and a roster less capable of forcing turnovers on the forecheck.
Dont b a f'N SELLOUT! BELIEVE Brighter days are ahead.. its starts with Tuesday and hopefully management calls up the "Undertaker"
Nothing is going to change with this current roster as it is. I keep saying it...this is a .500 team. What the hell does Sather do each day to justify his salary? I could put together some reasonable trade scenarios to improve this team ( and as much as I would like to trade Nash, that ain't happening with his albatross salary and everyone up against the cap). If Ottawa wants DelZotto and the Rangers feel Gryba isn't enough, than expand the trade to include Zack Smith and Pouliot. that evens the trade in player value and salary. How about Hagelin who isn't producing to Nashville ( who is deep in def. prospects) for Ekholm? Nash. needs offense. Make one more trade for an enforcer ( not to hard to find) and this team now has some grit and plays bigger.
Two of the main problems I see are lack of goals and lack of grit. On the scoring front, its not like we don't have the players, they're just not chipping in. Cally, Hags, Brass, Step etc. On the physical front, it's even worse. It's not like we have physical players who are playing soft, this team IS soft. The thing that worries me about this team is when players start stepping up, getting out of slumps - they'll score, can't say the same with physical play. We just don't have the personnel. Why not call up Haley in Dorsett's absence ? The fact that AV keeps giving Pouliot chance after chance is mind boggling and really makes me question him as a coach. PS - Falk is not the answer to our physical woes either, the guy can't win a fight !
No legs, No battles won, No Nash .No Callahan, No Staal, No Messier, No 4th line, No net presence, No physical presence, No cap space, No noise area,No one to trade for, No one to call up, No GM, No hope?
For me, this team is epitomized by the incident with Sestito the other night against the Canucks when he called out the ENTIRE Ranger bench, saying "what are you going to do about it?" The answer was nothing. Sure the Rangers won that game (and the metaphorical battle), but as constructed, this is a one and done team IF it can even make the playoffs. Scoring and a mean streak are needed in the worst kind of way and not necessarily in that order.
Pound for pound, we have a very odd physical team. Our scrappiest guys are also some of our smallest. The Hobbit will take on anyone at 5'7" on a tall day and Dorsett isn't exactly tall, but poor Boyle at 6'7" is like Glass Joe out there and Big Nashty can't take a hit to that delicate noggin. Nice to see Kreider learning to throw his body around, but you can see he's a marked man these days without anyone to have his back (just as Nash is).
In other words, our smaller guys are (relatively) tough and our big guys are (very) fragile. Not good. Just watch the play in front of Hank in the crease. It's like afternoon tea. Is it too much to ask to crosscheck someone every now and then?
The hard thing here is that to make this a deep playoff contender, this team will need to make hard moves--moves that require trading good players. My question is, who are the best players we can live with losing (though painful) that other teams will want?
Trade nash?!? Crazy. Nash is a game changer. What we need are a few guys who make a statement that nash is untouchable. Nash should not have to make that statement himself, as he did against ovie tonight. Hes never been a fighter and shouldnt have to be. Yeah, all penguin fans would have loved a big guy like lemieux or jagr to crush people but their games were better suited for skill. Just like nash. We just need a few guys with heart like kasparitis to fill that roll. Unfortunately, our team is filled with guys who think their skill is as valuable as nashers (poulmycock and delzitdick)
Cally has tallied 4 points in 6 games, so he has been showing signs of improvement. Hags has totally disappeared.
@JustinRP37 I agree that Nash has not performed to expectations but I'm not sure if he's overrated. The problem he's running into here is similar to the problem he has in CBJ, he plays on teams where he's the main and only focus to contend with defensively. If you're an opposing team, really, all you need to do is stop Nash, and the NYR (and formerly the CBJ) are much less likely to score. Gabby had the same problem here too. Opposition could concentrate quite a bit defensively against them cause who else is a true scoring threat on the NYR? Look at when Nash plays with Thornton in international play (i.e. Olympics). He dominates, cause Thornton opens up the ice for him and the opposition can't just immediately jump into Nash's face or double team him, cause there are other threats.
@Paulie_NYR94 I think Dubinsky was a bit of a whipping boy---but more for the fact he was a 4 million dollar player, and we all expected him to score more....which really is not his game. He is a 20 goal a year max guy. In today's NHL though, hard to have 4 million dollar heart and soul guys.....
@Paulie_NYR94 Well put I totally agree.
@Jadub It would take lots of dollars to get those guys back.
And maybe adding any one of those guys would create enough excitement for these suit and tie fans, who are the only ones who can afford to go to games, to get out of their seats and get some noise for this team
Precisely. And I think that's the main problem, as alluded to in the article and as you're pointing out. Torts basically did what he could with what he had (with some exceptions of course, like barring). This team doesn't seem capable of carrying the puck more. And now they've lost the little grit they had on the forecheck so it's the worst of both worlds.
He does look smaller, He used to look bigger or is it play bigger. At this rate he could disappear altogether.
@Rangeranger He could bring back a few solid pieces which would add more depth to our lineup. His cap hit is ridiculous for what he is bringing to the table, and again what big goals has he scored thus far to really help this team?
true and I hope it is a step in the right direction for Cally. I'm worried though because both of them had shoulder injuries similar to Gaborik and look where he is now.
@shoot_the_goalie @JustinRP37 But if you look at the statistics regardless of the team, he tends to score the majority of this goals in games that are not 'big'. While he has always been surrounded by these defense teams, true superstars help create their own momentum. When Sid the Ass was first drafted, the Pens were terrible, yet he did create his own chances. I do agree though that our offense is terrible and with other teams focusing on Nash, we are even worse. I still feel his contract is not warranted based on his output in big games throughout his career. It is a huge contract with a cap hit not too far below Sidney's.
3.75 million might be a tad much, i agree but is Prust worth 2.5M? I say YES. How about Boyle? 1.7M. Is he worth it? He does a lot of other stuff but doesn't really score (besides being a punching bag) wins faceoffs, kills penalties but that's a lot of money for Boyle. I'm not sure he is worth it. 3 Million for Brassard? That's a lot too for him.
Dubi for 3.75M isn't too bad for me. At least he showed up every night like Prust did. They both stuck up for their team mates constantly. A lot of fans said 2.5 Million was too much for Prust. Good riddins, blah blah blah.I hear a lot of fans changing their minds about that one too.
This team is lacking those things. Those little things that win you games. Those things that Prust and Dubi USED to do that other players aren't doing right now. Ill take those things even if those players are getting overpaid.
Agree that his cap hit is crazy. However we need goals--period--if we even want to get to the big games where "big goals" are scored.
@shoot_the_goalie @JustinRP37 He is elite, I'm not saying he is not. I'm just really upset with his cap hit for what we got. Crosby is probably the best forward in the world and at just $.9million more than Nash for a cap hit, that is a steal. The problem with the Rangers is that they have overpaid for the talent we have. We cannot bring in many elite players because we will go over the cap. That is what I am upset about, not that Nash is under achieving at the moment. I am upset that we cannot go out and bring in the talent we so desperately need.
@JustinRP37 @shoot_the_goalie I agree. He's not in Crosby's class. Crosby is probably the best forward in the world, and one of those special players that come around only every once in a while. Crosby could play by himself and still create scoring chances - he's that good. Nash needs more support to be successful, but he's still really good. Sure, his contract may not be that justifiable, but he is an elite talent.
@StandnHere He's not exactly contributing every night. If Columbus would be dumb enough to take him back I'd give him up in a second for Dubi and Foligno.