Most of us figured the Rangers dedication to block shots under John Tortorella would go by the wayside once Alain Vigneault took over, but the 19 blocked shots (last year's team average was 16.1) in Phoenix on Thursday night proved it's very much still in the Rangers game plan...
“It’s not only part of my game but for all of our guys,” Ryan McDonagh, who had a team-high four blocks, said to Larry Brooks at the New York Post. “It’s kind of instinctive.
“That’s not going to change. Maybe it’s not going to be mentioned a lot by the staff, but it’s part of our game. It’s going to save us from giving up goals, for sure.”
Even Vigneault admitted blocking shots is an integral part of any successful defense...
“Not one of the 30 teams in the NHL can play a game without defending extremely well,” Vigneault said, “and part of defending extremely well is obviously your one-on-one battles, stick on stick, but part of that is also blocking shots. Players have to get in lanes and have to be in those lanes, and if the puck hits you, it hits you.
“It’s the same thing on our penalty killing. You have to get in those lanes so the puck can’t get through. Right now I don’t think we’re consistently doing that enough, and that’s why the other teams are getting a little bit of momentum on the penalty killings we’ve had so far.”
...i'm glad to see AV mention the Rangers aren't getting into the lanes enough on the pk. The lack of Rangers players diving in front of the puck on the penalty kill has been very noticeable under AV and is obviously effecting its success.
...also happy that the Rangers haven't completely abandoned blocking shots. I was worried that taking away that aspect would mess with the games of Girardi, McD and Callahan who make a living sacrificing their bodies. Although, cutting down on the blocks will obviously increase the probability of those guys staying in the line-up, especially Callahan.
Of course they will still block shots. In the NHL you have to. Don't think anyone who knows the game expected otherwise. It's simply a shift of focus from blocking everything to clearing the crease. You have to block shots up high to minimize screens, deflections and garbage goals, and as well down low to help out your goalie in those highest percentage areas (other than that let your Veneza winning goalie see the puck without deflection - he'll stop 98% of them) The less pucks that get through from the point, especially on PP the less GAs. Obviously! I think with AVs system they will practice more discernment when blocking shots realizing that otherwise most of your players are either skating injured or sitting out.
@TheNYRBlog good read. Think the high number of PK's led to a lot of blocked shots too. Still saw it 5v5 but not as much.
@TheNYRBlog I am more concerned about a lack of scoring.
@DavidSchantz That is definitely problem #1 with this team.
That'll change eventually. It's just a matter of time in this up tempo style of play. A couple quick strikes and/or a win goes a long way in building team confidence. They all need to see results and the character on this team will show. I think it begins with being able to keep the other team off the board when you can't score or keeping the game close until the opponant makes a mistake. The Man coverage they play now is much more difficult and the premise is much different than the "Low Zone Collapse" they played the last 3-4 seasons. It should take some games to pick it up but they can win some games along the way.
I agree but most teams use the "Low zone collapse". They use the strategy when the puck is below the hash marks at the Faceoff dots. Torts used the Low zone no matter where the puck was. The problem here is that the Rangers are doing the opposite. AV uses an overload which is a man to man coverage. The use of man coverage low in the d zone is tough to pull off successfully. Much harder to stick to players when you can't grab anymore. The players today are so fast they're gone in a flash and if you follow too far from the scoring area. A scoring chance is what ensues. AV needs to incorporate a zone coverage scheme for when the opposition moves the puck down low in the Rangers zone. The Rangers will get better but the coach needs to take onus.
@Centerman21 Once they get it down we'll see less deflections off our own defenders, screens etc. Liked Torts system as a whole but hated the collapse