As evidenced by their three to four minutes of ice time per game, it's no secret that John Tortorella has little to no confidence in Stu Bickel and Matt Gilroy as defensemen, while his feelings towards Steve Eminger can be described as lukewarm at best.
We all witnessed Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh begin to fade at the end of last season and literally collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals due to Torts' flat out refusal to spread around the ice time on defense.
And now with Marc Staal out indefinitely, I fully expect Torts to lean on them more than ever.
Which is why Roman Hamrlik's solid performance in his Rangers debut was so important. He played like a poised veteran throughout as he never panicked with the puck, showed good positioning and was assertive with his decision making.
But to me the most vital part of Hamrlik's stat line was the 15:48 of ice time he received. Torts proved right out of the gate he feels comfortable using the veteran defenseman in all situations (I think I even saw him on the power play), which allowed McDonagh and Girardi to remain focused on John Tavares all night as well as keep their minutes down to just over 20 minutes each instead of close to 30.
If Hamrlik can continue to be a steady presence on the blueline, it'll take a ton of pressure off the top two guys benefiting the Rangers greatly in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Here's Torts on Hamrlik's importance...
"You can always lean on some experience. You can see (Hamrlik) has some puck skills. He made a couple of nice little plays coming out of the end zone. Used the middle of the ice. He's not in shape. No question. But again, a guy like that, who's played so long, can get things done because of the savvy. Good for him. He joins us and he was a part of it tonight."
...love that Torts mentioned how out of shape he was. Hamrlik looked like he was skating in quicksand. Surprised the Islanders didn't try to expose that.
How does he compare (if at all) to the Rangers bringing in McCabe a few years ago? I forgot how that panned out (no sarcastic).
Shocked to see Hamrlik got that much ice time. In Torts' post game presser he outright said Hamrlik wasn't in shape.
No reason Torts shouldn't be confident using him, he's a proven veteran with decent skills. He'll get better with conditioning
Hamrlik was seadty, but he sure was'nt very mobile. Let's hope that's due to conditioning, and will not be the norm. I thought it was foolish to put him out on the powerplay. A chipped puck out of the zone, and the Isles had an easy breakaway. Another thought... not good to think the Rangers do not have a SINGLE defenseman in the system to bring up when needed. This is why the Rangers need to take advantage of Gaborik's status (one yr. left on his contract) and trade him for depth. It's not like they're going to resign him!
Really glad Torts knew how to use this guy -- and that Hamrlik knew how to use himself, so to speak, since he is rather out of shape. If he can keep playing smart and retain Torts's trust, he shores up our bottom pair. If we can get Marc Staal back before the end of the season, or in time for the post-season (assuming we get in), we'll have a pretty solid D core.
Man, Staal has had some bad luck. He finally got his game back, after a long, gradual, rehab on the ice, and now this.
Was at the game last night. Amazing how much Ranger Blue was evident in the crowd, and how loud we Ranger fans were. You're welcome Islanders and Islander fans, cause without us you would never sell out your building.
Great article Kevin! you nailed this one, even though it is just one game. Torts' press conference was interesting when he said Hamrlik is so out of shape but he played well.
@Rich... Not to take away from Hank, but Nabokov was on fire last night. He made some really really good saves. Unfortunate for us, but props to him. And I dislike him so much because of the way the Isle announcers say his name.
I think Hamrlik would have been a better fit with a healthy Staal. Hopefully, the cap hit that comes with Hamrlik, doesn't hurt our options that may be available, at the trading deadline.
Not claiming the isles are a great team, but they did beat the canadiens the game before. in essence there are really no bad teams left in the league, just glad the rangers pulled it off in the end.
outside of Tavares' line, I don't think they're good enough to expose that. BTW how good is Tavares?
Very impressive outing. I can't get excited about our Cup chances just yet, however. Team has to consistently win on the road and going to the Island really doesn't count as much of a road game. I'm hoping Hamrlik can contribute something to the PP. Otherwise, we still are in trouble there. Ultimately, the team also has to find ways to bury its chances. That was an awful lot of hard work last night for two goals against a mediocre team.
I think Eminger is finding his game and still isn't getting enough love from Torts, I don't think Torts will ever trust Bickel and Gilroy and I can't blame him. Hamrlik looked very comfortable but man he needs to hit the treadmill, surprised he wasn't smoked backed there.
@chelseaamber727 ROFLMAO. I should've been writer.
@TheNYRBlog as long as torts keeps him at 10~12 mins a game...he is very slow...but has Exp. ~Not a fan Tho~
@_Jack But he's "savvy"
@AnnoyingJoe Tavares is unbelievable! how nerve racking it is each time he is on the ice. The puck just finds him.
@i2rx hahah I'm scared of what yours might say
@kicker75 -- reading this article on yahoo and a former equipment manager said the visor may have made things worse: "A veteran NHL equipment manager, who requested anonymity, said that in his professional opinion the shot that hit Staal in the face would have broken a visor and the pieces might have impaled his eye."
Honestly, I don't understand why guys don't where full face masks. They say you can see better without the mask. I suppose that's true, but if you're used to playing with a mask, it's not like you ever notice it.
@chelseaamber727 I'd sum it up by saying 'Hamrlik lost defensive battles along the boards and got outskated all game'