Here we go again. Following two wins, including a pretty energetic one against the Devils, there was hope that the Rangers could finally tally a string of victories together. Instead, we again witness an underwhelming loss against an underwhelming opponent. So ends the streak, so start the questions again about the morale of the team, where the offense is, and what it's going to take to get this team going. Credit to Markstrom, one of the top young goaltenders in the world, for a well-played game. And the refs didn't help their case with a couple of phantom calls. But the Rangers didn't get the job done against an injured, mediocre Panthers team. Let's look at some post-game thoughts:
The Powerplay: The past few years the struggles of the powerplay could largely been blamed on personnel. Last year, for instance, we saw John Mitchell centering the second unit. Clearly, not a good starting point. But this year it's hard to argue that the Rangers don't have the players necessary to have, at the absolute least, a middle of the pack powerplay.
So where do we go from here? Mike Sullivan's duties go well beyond the powerplay. He is in charge of the defensive units, and defensively the team has been largely successful. And a good chemistry between coaches is important. Tortorella and he have a good rapport and that's a good thing. But at some point pride has to be swallowed. It's just not working. Even if we count out Richards and Gaborik, who have been battling their own demons it seems, Nash, Del Zotto, Stepan, Callahan, Hagelin. That's too much talent to have the second worst powerplay in the NHL. Most NHL teams have two assistant coaches. The Rangers have one. Why not add someone else with some new ideas? You can still keep Sullivan and let him stick to the other areas. But right now status quo isn't working.
Richards, Gaborik, and Boyle: There's been a lot of talk about "team depth" and how Tortorella "refuses to adapt" to the makeup of this team. Now, there is probably some truth to that. But if we're trying to diagnose the shortcomings of this team, that's not at the top of the list by any means. Instead, let's look at what I see as the clear root of the problem.
Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Brian Boyle are three veterans, three guys who have played plenty under John Tortorella, and three guys who have proven that they can score under John Tortorella. Gaborik had 41 goals last season. Brad Richards had 25. Brian Boyle had 11. I don't think those numbers are at all atypical of what would be reasonable to expect from them. Except this season they are struggling offensively, and so are the Rangers.
These three have combined for 14 goals this season. That's it. And the Rangers are ranked 28th in the NHL in goals per game with an average of 2.27. If Richards, Gaborik, and Boyle were scoring at the same rate this season as they did last, they'd have a combined 28 goals. Or 14 more. Which would jump the team's goals per game up to 2.73, good for 13th in the NHL.
Does this mean that all of the problems boil down to those three? Of course not. Thirteenth in the NHL is still not fantastic. But it IS a hell of a lot better than where the Rangers are, and it would be a big enough difference to put the Rangers well cemented in a playoff spot and perhaps even challenging Pittsburgh for the division. Yes, some depth has been lost, but this is the real issue. Prust or Fedotenko were not making the difference offensively. Richards and Gaborik were, and to an extent Boyle. Again, these are three veterans who have played for Tortorella and succeeded under his system. Thus, it would be pretty silly to conclude that they can't play in his system or that Tortorella is holding them back. They know what their jobs are. They know how Tortorella wants them to play, and they are capable of it. These are not young, inexperienced guys like JT MIller and Chris Kreider whom Tortorella can really make a big impression on and change. He shouldn't need to babysit two of the highest paid players on the team. Ultimately, we can go down the list of every little thing wrong with depth and Tortorella's use of them and whatever. I'm not saying they're inexistant. What I'm saying is that it's missing the forest for the trees. Gaborik scored tonight, and good for him to break that slump, but it came on his eigth shot and at a time that was very late in the game. All three of these guys, but Richards and Gabby especially, have no tactics or coach or scheme or anything to blame for their lack of tangible offense except themselves. And there's no coaching of Miller or Asham or Pyatt or Halpern or anyone else that is going to make up for that.
Kreider and Miller: Well, let's move on to the silver lining. Which is that Kreider and Miller played well together tonight. Miller has been doing his thing for a while, but Kreider, in his first game since being recalled, has to feel pretty good about how he performed. Even while the Rangers largely looked comatose, the third line was getting pucks deep, battling for them, and putting pressure on the Panthers. Kreider was skating well and with intent, whereas he was coasting a bit unsure of where to be in his previous stint. And credit does have to be given to Boyle tonight despite me ripping on him previously because he played his role in that and allowed the this line to build pressure with 10 faceoff wins on 10 attempts.Hopefully, it can be used as a building block, because if Richards and Gabby get it together the play of these two together could give the Rangers three legitimate lines. As Tortorella said, we all know that Kreider has all of the talent in the world. It's about him bringing it consistently. Good first step for him.
I don't really know what else to say. Lundqvist did his part, but that's status quo and irrelevant to painting the picture of what happened tonight. There are some other guys who played well but nobody who really stood out and made that difference. Esepcially if our top guys aren't going to do it, somebody is going to have to even if it's unfair to expect as much. Because otherwise, it's going to be a long, tortorous remainder of the season.
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Everybody's frustrated. No doubt. At this point I guess we should only look forward to playing teams with better records because apparently it's a sure loss when we play bottom feeding teams. Hearing the King publicly criticize - politely - his teams lack of toughness and offense is a little scary. Not sure how a team reacts to that. Fragile locker room right now. Good for him though. I think Cally should be the one to say something too. Don't like him offering the "hot goalie" excuse.
Do not fully understand the hating on Boyle here. I'm not his biggest fan but why does everyone over analyze a third/fourth liner? He is not and never will be a big goal scorer. His one season of 20+ goals was a fluke. He needs to go to the net more for sure - so do the rest of the guys - but he should never be relied on for consistent offense. He is however the ONLY RANGER to consistently WIN FACEOFFS. You don't throw that away on this faceoff challenged team. Duh.
If you get a bit of scoring from the bottom two lines - great. Their main goal is to grind it out and wear down the other team. We don't have the best players for that right now. Halpern? Asham? Powe? Pyatt? Eh. Our top two lines need to be shaken up and shown hours upon hours of video of other teams going to the net. Or just video of where the net is since they miss it so much and never skate near it. The boards - we know where those are - the front of the net.... that's a mystery to us.
The Richards situation is kind of baffling. The number of turnovers is incredible. That contract is looking so long right now.
Gaborik is trying. he's been okay, even if he can't find the back of the net right now. I think he's going to work his way out of it.
That "top line" really needs to be broken up. When will we see the return of the Hagelin - Stepan - Nash line? That's a top line.
Boyle needs to work with Barbara Underhill again this summer. That said, I don't think he's been nearly as bad a s some people make him out to be.
Kreider was okay. He is visibly a kid that still has very much to learn about playing in this league, and, to a certain extent, playing his position. He has to improve on a daily basis in order to stick around. He made a good effort anyway.
Also, absolutely no reason for him to fight back at that gathering by the net, but somebody's gotta shove a florida player before Kreider takes the 5th little shot to the back of the head.
Stralman has really been stepping it up this year. When somebody goes down (Staal), somebody has to step up, and this time around Stralman is that guy.
Stepan, Hagelin, and Callahan were all solid.
Definitely getting too far into the season to keep saying "we saw a lot of good things."
I hope Asham is rarin to go and that he can skate with Halpern and Powe.
Couldnt agree more with bringing in another coach, especially a power play specialist. And this power play was looking good for a while until richie came back, he just doesnt work well on it for some reason. I hated games like this. clearly dominated them, beat by a giant rookie goalie and then ran the 4-1 trap the whole game. Rangers have always had problems with traps. So frustrating that a team of our caliber cant beat the worst team in the east and the worst pp in the league.
@Herman_NYRBlog I completely agree that these 3 guys underperforming is the main issue and that Torts is not to blame. The question is why? What's changed?
For Gaborik, maybe it's the shoulder (btw, first aggressive game I've seen him play in a month - went to the net through traffic and took hits)
For Boyle: Last year's concussion?
For Richard's: Bewildering. Has he gotten old overnight?
%s This inconsistency is just getting too old already this season. i blame the coaching staff for this %s
@TheNYRBlog stoppit just stop - the blogging about a heartless , tin man group is borderline insane go for a run, read a book, sew a blanket
I don't want to go on and on about this team and how they played last night. I will make my 3 points quickly and open myself up to criticism.1. There was not one person in that lineup last night who could change the momentum of that game with a big hit or fight. Scratch that .. Only Cally and we don't want him fighting. If this was last year's team, Prust, Rupp, Bickel or Dubi would have started a fight to get the crowd and players into the game. Say what you want but this year's team does not hit like last year's. They are too easy to play against. If Torts is only going to play Pyatt 5 or so minutes, send him to the pressbox and recall Haley. When Asham comes back, bench Boyle. I don't know what my third or 4th lines would look like but they sure as hell wouldn't include Boyle or Pyatt. 2. Leads me into my next point ... Where is all this hitting that Torts preaches? Where is all this toughness Torts preaches? Guess what .. for the most part, it is gone thus leading me to this question. Is it the players or the system??? The system worked for last year's team but is not working for this year's team. Torts needs to adapt to this year's team. 3. Do we ever have more than 1 person, if that, in front of the net battling??? I recall seeing way too many times last night players gliding around the perimeter instead of crashing the net. No grit on this team. NONE!Now back to my coffee! Still frustrated from this game last night!
@TruBluEsp I agree 100% with this evaluation ( though I fail to see your disagreement in Krieder with me). This team is win a couple, lose a couple, and obviously will not change until change is made for them. That being management, coaching, or personel, or any combination of the three.
@MikeBlue My disagreement with Kreider is based largely on the fact the kid still hasn't played HALF a season worth of NHL games. It doesn't always click for kids right away. If he's not NHL ready then they should have left him with the Whale for the rest of the season. I'm not ready to give up on his skill set or potential until given a full chance to prove himself and this also falls on Torts not just Kreider.
@MikeBlue Point exactly. So what makes you think Kreider won't "finally" fight back? You don't just trade him after a few games in the NHL. Character isn't just standing up for one's self. The kid showed character by going down to the AHL and working his ass off to work on the areas he needed to improve. A lot of young kids take demotions and sulk. Kreider went down there with a good attitude and worked. That shows character.
@TruBluEsp I am not questioning his talent. I am questioning his character, which is just as important. As long as you mentioned the Girardi incident, do you remember the humiliation he had to live with until he finally HAD to fight back?
Nash, Gaborik, Richards, Stepan, Callahan, Hagelin, Miller, Kreider etc combined for as many goals as Brodeur scored last night. Not good.
How did torts go from Mr. Whimsical wheel o' line combinations to what amounts to a petulant child who insists on not changing anything no matter how dismal the results? I thought he was a bit much with the constant mixing of lines but this is the other extreme. he's forcing it.
anyonen see hanks interview?
where he mentioned that the PK has to be better to win games because the system they play does bring on goals?
i think the players COULD feel stifled by the system.
I am so disappointed in Krieder. Last year I was excited because I thought the Rangers had a terrific power forward for the future. This year, I am not liking what is beginning to emerge. This guy has no grit, no guts, no jam. After bumping Fla.'s goalie, he got a beat-down behind the net and did not even attempt to fight back. Between Haglin, Miller, and Krieder, I now know who the Rangers should trade to address other needs.
@MikeBlue It's this type of reasoning that has led the Rangers to no Stanley Cups in 1994. Clueless
@TruBluEsp I have been watching Krieder very closely, and he has yet to retaliate when knocked around. He's another Valerie Kaminski.
@MikeBlue Oh I agree 100%. I don't disagree with your point on that, I disagree about trading him b/c he hasn't shown that willingness yet.
@TruBluEsp I expect Krieder to stand up for himself, or he's going to have a very rough career, no matter what team he's on.
@MikeBlue Don't get me wrong though. I understand your point but my view is that's why this team needs a Haley, Asham, Rupp, Prust, Bickel, Dubi type player. Those are the guys you put on the ice to retaliated or police.
@MikeBlue So you judge Kreider and are ready to ship him to another team b/c he didn't retaliate? I guess you would have called for Girardi to be traded when he didn't jump on Carcillo a few years ago when he fought Gabby? I guess we should trade Hagelin too b/c I recall at least twice this year players taking swipes and shots at him and he didn't retaliate.
Thank God you aren't runnng the team.I don't think you have any idea what your talking about Krieder did the right thing maybe and he should have drawn a penalty there so why retaliate and get one as well.
@TheNYRBlog id honestly like to see us hire Lindy Ruff as coach and keep Glen Sather as our GM.
@TheNYRBlog I think Torts delivered big results last year and did what he could with what he had for players but his methods are failing
I saw the last half of the game and the Rangers were all over them; Fla didn't seem to be playing much D and they walked right in. The goalie was hot, yes but how in God's name do you not score. No screens. No deflections. No one in front of the net. No passion. Listless. 5 games in 8 nights (or 6 in 9) and they looked tired. Mentally tired especially. Gabby finally breaks through on an impossible backhand roofer, after he missed several easier chances, then telegraphs a point shot that gets' blocked and put into the empty net. Not out of his slump yet, Not even close. As good as MDZ looked in Jersey he looked ugly bad tonight. Nashty gets nasty with the elbow, I know it's frustrating but come on! (but I don't think it was enough for a suspension. I hope not). BTW I DO believe Torts' failure to adapt has contributed to his tip guns' slumps (it's too lengthy to try to explain that opinion) but of course you can't blame him for their not playing with the passion required to succeed at this level. Unfortunately Richey's been bringing down this whole team IMHO. I hope it changes soon because he's a good guy and a good player and we need him. This is still a good team. One or 2 smart moves at the deadline and we're better. LGR
Is there something I'm missing here? Kreider played like crap, MIller and Boyle were doing most of the work on that line. He never takes the body. Miller is much smaller than him but has the proper body control and grit to win battles on the boards. At this point, I'm starting to think Kreider is just a pair of fast legs. Definitely a premature call up, he needs to learn a bit more before he's considered an actual scoring threat. Also, I don't believe any of this bullshit that Torts or the line he's on is holding him back. He has to earn ice time like every other call-up. Hagelin did it. Miller did it. Kreider is not stepping up.
It's hard to fathom the lack of goals with the amount of possession the Rangers had this game. They simply could not bury it. Also, the Panthers' D was collapsing so close to the net, it was like they had 5 extra goalies. There were very few shooting lanes or good angles. As others mentioned, the prime scoring opportunities were limited. But, we did have them and they were squandered (mostly by the GNR line... surprise surprise).
Del Zotto... well... dude played well a couple games before this, but tonight he was back to the same old song and dance of missing nets wide, overskating pucks, and making risky stretch passes. Well done.
Although there was decent offensive zone time / possession this game, I think we can all agree that the Rangers looked flat and sloppy tonight. If I didn't know the date, I could have mistaken this game for their first of the season. Still so much work to do with so little time left.
I am so sick of this team trying to make things work with what they have at some point when you are losing games like this something has to happen. For weeks people have been crying for Boyle and Richards and Gaborik and Del Zotto to improve. DZ had 1 bad game and hes young so im not as mad about him. Gaborik Richards I don't know what to say...they are stars they have talent maybe they are hurt but its not working. I can keep ranting BUT THE TALENT IS THE THE PIECES ARE THERE. Mike Sullivan I think at this point needs to go.... I am sorry maybe its not his fault but something needs to unify this team and shake these guys up. The power play is an enormous issue its his responsibility more players and trades will not turn it around. It is going to have to be something emotional because when I watch my team go out an play like that against the worst team in hockey there just isnt an answer.... Please tell me im wrong.
I was at this game tonight. The crowd was listless. The team played like complete crap and overall it was a terrible game. A few thoughts:
1. The GnR line sucks. It's not working
2. Boyle with the kids is a waste of a line.
3. What are all of you MDZ lovers saying now? He played absolutely terrible to the point I was yelling at him from my seat and I made a girl wearing a MDZ jersey cry.
4. Callahan's heart isn't big enough to go around.
5. Of the 43 shots on goal I would say 5 were decent scoring chances. The pucks must have looked like frisbees to Markstrom as the Rangers made no attempt to screen him.
6. They lost to the worst team in the league who is without their best players.
That is all. Happy birfday to me.
I love the Iron Sheik.
They underestimated the panthers. At this point and with their record thus far, they shouldn't be underestimating any team or players
@TheNYRBlog u thought what a lot of good things what a joke awful from start to finish
@Zyke13 Lots of offensive pressure, 2nd and third lines were real good. Pretty much dominated play after first Panthers goal.
@TheNYRBlog ok it's time to make major changes u agree kevin
The top heavy 1st line needs to be split up, plain and simple. Hagelin-Stepan-Nash need to be put back together, and honestly Richards needs to be demoted to either the 3rd line or press box. Since he came back into the lineup the Rangers have struggled immensely. Yes he's the $12M man and wears the A, but he doesnt deserve any type of special treatment, especially with his play as of late.
@ATCRyan it will be, we wont have Nash for minimum 2 games... dont worry.
I'd like to think Nash wont get suspended since he doesnt have a history and hes a super star in the league. I'm thinking he'll get a fine, although that NYR sweater might not help his cause.
Completely different hits. Yes both impacted the head but Kopecky was bent over when Nash hit him, if he was upright the hit would have been straight into his shoulder. I'm trying to be optimistic with the whole thing cause frankly losing Nash would be devastating.
@ATCRyan Look at joffrey Lupul the other day, he had no priors.... it doesnt have to with his sweater. That was a vicious cheap shot that if done to one of our players would warrant the same response.
@ATCRyan he took a selfish cheap shot and it is going to cost the rangers big time