After taking the day off yesterday, the Rangers reconvened for practice today with Arron Asham (back spasms) as the only player who did not participate.
According to Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record, the lines remained the same...
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Taylor Pyatt-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
J.T. Miller-Brian Boyle-Marian Gaborik
Darroll Powe-Jeff Halpern-Stu Bickel
...while you never like to see your 40-goal scorer on the third line, I love the balance throughout the line-up. There's really not a line that I hate. Torts has done a good job here.
...man that Asham signing is looking worse and worse by the day. If Bickel has another solid game tomorrow, Asham might not have a spot waiting for him when he's healthy.
After practice Tortorella discussed the importance of Nash's return with Gross...
“I think Nash helped us all. He made an effect on the game right away and right on through it. I think a little bit is with Brad (Richards), he’s just trying to get out of his own way and just allow himself to play. It was one of the better games I’ve seen him play this year, you could see his skating, he made a lot of plays with the puck. He had confidence to turn up in the end zone and look for late people. I know him pretty well, he’s going to be a really good player for us and that was probably his best game of the year."
...it's amazing how much more prolific the Rangers offense looks with Nash in the line-up. He requires so much attention from opponents that it takes a ton of pressure off his linemates. The Rangers went from looking like the worst offensive team in NHL history in Montreal and Ottawa to an offensive juggernaut against Tampa.
...we can only hope Thursday's game will be a catalyst to turn around Richards' season. If this team has any Stanley Cup aspirations he has to be better.
J.T. Miller, who Tortorella again praised today, talked about his first couple weeks in the NHL...
"I don't want to be satisfied with myself ever in the league. In my time here, I'm just trying to get better every shift. I don't want to be comfortable and just say I'm here and settle in. If I'm going to be on the ice I want to be the best I can be and try to make a difference. My mindset is to never be satified. A couple of games I was sitting back a bit and I wasn't creating much up front. The last few games I wanted to make sure I was shooting the puck more, making hits and playing on the forecheck with my linemates."
Miller also admitted that he is shooting the puck more on advice from linemate Brian Boyle.
...i know most of what he's saying are clichés, but I still love that he's so driven to succeed. The kid brings his lunch pail to work every day and just gets after it. If he can continue to do that he is going to have a very long and successful Rangers career.
...i'm also a fan of his line. He's playing with a big center in Boyle who's been a wrecking ball out there lately as well as a sniper in Gaborik, which should open up a lot of ice for the youngster to make plays.
Here's his entire interview...
How would you like a player who put up goal numbers like this in consecutive years....21, 18,19, 19, 22, 8, 35, 17, 8, 15. Those numbers dwarf Thornton's numbers. I'm sure you would no doubt want this player in your line-up every night.
Those stats belong to Dave "Tiger" Williams..all-time penalty minutes leader.
There has always been a search for tough guys who can skate. Intimidation will always be a part of this game. Using enforcers to protect your skilled players...will never change. It is a necessity.
I'm a fan of Asham's. Asham is a good middleweight. But i never considered him a deterrent.
What will deter a team like Boston from running your best player into the boards and cause him to miss time. We don't have a player...a true enforcer....that makes teams think twice about doing that.
I don't get all this calling for a "true enforcer." Not every team in the NHL has to play like the Boston Bruins. Asham is skilled enough on the fourth line to ACTUALLY ROLL 4 LINES! What a concept! Hockey has definitely evolved over the years, to the point where guys like Stu Bickel shouldn't be playing at the NHL level. Guys like Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell on the Bruins, or Chris Neil on the Sens are the new embodiment of the NHL enforcer - they can actually skate and play the game. Asham is also one of those guys - he can fight, but he can also contribute offensively. Remember that top-shelf snipe he belted against the Lightning (Leafs?). Yeah, Bickel ain't doing that.
Also, if you look at other successful teams in the league, fighting majors aren't always necessary. The Red Wings have been one of the best teams in the league for years, and always rank in the bottom 5 for fighting majors. Same with the Canucks.
Lets win tomorrow and then get ready for the first real rivalry game against Philly. It seems both of us are starting to come into our own. Should be a physical great hockey game, really looking forward to it. Hate the Flyers.... LGR
@TheNYRBlog r u kidding yourself they won 1. Game against a bad team stop drinking the kool aid they have no. Power play no system
I like those lines.
I like Halpern, so sometimes I want to see him on the third line, and he's done well there, but he and Powe together do a lot to make a 4th line viable. They get minutes 'cause they can play - even when Bickel is their other winger. I like Asham better in that position, but maybe we need somebody new.
I would be glad if we still had Andre Deveaux to play right wing on the 4th line. Randy McNaught is a big guy in the system, if he could skate he might be a deterrent. Mashinter oughta get another shot at some point, and I don't mind him playing 4th line minutes with Halpern and Powe at all. I think Mashinter and Kreider have only to benefit from their time here - especially if they spend some time in Connecticut now honing their game.
Not trying to look past tomorrows game, but tuesday could be a big one. Philly is starting to play well, and we could use a little streak...
I would love to see halpern on that line with gaborik and Miller, Boyle can't keep up with those two.
Asham doesn't scare anybody as enforcer. Asham is not a deterrent. Bickel helps does both. He's not Colton Orr, but he will help for now.
I kind of think about the last Tough Guy we signed Boogard. He was out for long period of times and the small guy who stands next to every NY Ranger (John Rossaco) mispelled? anyway you know who I mean. The New York Rangers Media Relations is a tough group of Attorney's who have big huevos big enough to sue NHL seems to be covering up this Aarorn Asham issue. Remember when they said Boogard was hurt and then we found out it was a Prescription Drug problem. Ever question why Aaron Asham has been on so many teams? Yes he is a great teammate, however I think there is more to the story. I believe that they are trying to ween him from meds. I myself know that because I have had may injuries playing junior hockey and also playing the game all my life and when I moved to California I started the Tri-City In-line Hockey League. I also have had to be ween off of pain meds. From playing hockey all my life I have suffered from the after effects of rehab. I now where 2 patches of Butrex 15mcg daily. So that's my take about this. Yes go ahead fellow NY Rangers fans blast me from saying such thing about a New York Ranger player. Don't believe for a second that the New York Rangers Media Relations Dept are saints. Remember NHL players are like stock they are assets. MSG is publicly traded.
are you serious about Bickel taking Asham's spot? not a chance. The only reason Bickel has a job is because he is willing to fight. Asham is just as willing and has the added bonus of actually knowing how to play hockey.
@TheNYRBlog Completely disagree on Asham. He's shown speed when he's been out there. Much better option than Bickel on fwd in my opinion.
@slapshot13j Miller said in an interview that he felt he was really developing some chemsitry with Boyle... although I think Halpern has been playing better than Boyle
@slapshot13j -- it's still the third line though... gotta get Marion back on the 2nd line
Hate to tell you but Bickel's not a deterrent either. I don't think one heavyweight has an ounce of fear of Bickel.
I agree with JS.....Asham is a good middleweight....but he's not a deterrent. Nash brings a whole different dynamic to this team. The Rangers better protect him....because teams will be gunning for him. Don't have to be dirty hits.....just hard hit, after hard hit. You better have a deterrent that has players thinking twice about running him. And Torts has to deploy that deterrent correctly.....occasionally putting that deterrent on a line with him if he's get him too often.
@edge2794 How was he great? Solid during three game win streak. Did nothing when Nash was face planted. Doesn't instigate or spark team.
@cb1 Looked real willing after Nash was face planter into the boards by Lucic.
@AG_Blue Pyatt deserves to be there, he has been one of our best players.
@TheNYRBlog good point but I think he brings more to the game then Bickel imo...hopefully it doesn't matter though, need gabby to wake up
@TheNYRBlog Kevin, can't stay on his feet. His physical play is really not effective. Slowing down and holding back JTT and his other wing
I reread your article and I think you said 'if Bickel has another solid game'? When was the solid game he had - I must have missed it. He's just as bad in the defensive zone as a forward as he is at defense. The puck comes to his wing and he just banks it out of the zone and back to the opposition. Hard to get line changes when he's on the ice. I'll take Mashinter back - just let him know why he's up here - not to score goals.
@TheNYRBlog How so. He's taken on all comers and has the speed to get in on the forecheck. Speed creates physicality. Not chasing like Rupp.
Agreed. Torts never gave him a real shot. He could play RW as well
Torts needs to do a better job of deploying his tougher players.
I was watching an Islander game the other night. Tavares was on the ice....and he took two pretty good hits. Both hard...both clean. On Tavares' next shift, Capuano put Martin on his line. Martin had a chat with one of the players who had hit Tavares earlier. This is how its done.
Hockey is part finesse, part violence and part intimidation. It's a balancing act. But all three parts must be utilized correctly.
Enforcers are necessary. And when you find one who's willing and good at it....you keep him around. How's Orr looking now in Toronto? Guy gets a regular shift. Why? Because he has coach who believes in the importance of fighting and knows how to utilize his tough guys.
It drives me crazy when i see people post their dream line-up for a particular game, and the toughest guy in the line-up is Boyle. It's laughable. Yes, hockey has changed...but fighting will always be a integral part of the sport. I've seen first hand what fighting and playing a physical brand of hockey can do for a team.
I like Asham and Bickel. Asham is a good middle weight. Bickel is a tough kid....don't know if I would consider him a deterrent tho.
For now, Bickel is the closest thing we have to a heavyweight....have to play him. Ideally, we should have a true heavyweight, one that can play on the 4th line WITH Asham. That way you have your heavyweight and middle weight. And Torts cant be afraid to have either one of those guys play on a line with Nash from time to time.....it sends a message.
@KevinDeLury i think you can make the case for an enforcer on the 4th line instead of Asham, but Bickel isn't scaring anyone out there.
@Chris_Roche Bickel isnt perfect but Ive just been down on Asham. He's been injured & hasnt filled that Prust/Avery role he was brought in 4
@Chris_Roche U absolutely under no circumstances allow ur best player 2 get run without retribution. Sending message more impt in long run.
@TheNYRBlog The NYR were up against a top team in the 3rd you want him to jump Lucic and get 7 min? He fought on opening FO before hurt.
@Chris_Roche Where was he when Lucic face planted Nash into the boards? Has also done nothing to spark team during lulls ala Prust or Avery.