A .500 Hockey Club

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Well folks, after a 7-1-0 start the New York Rangers are now a .500 hockey club. With a 5-2 loss at home to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, the Blueshirts record now stands are a very average 13-13-1. How could this happen?

When this year’s version of the New York Rangers broke camp there was much anticipation and excitement with new additions and youth being injected into the lineup. I, for one, have to admit that I was drinking the Kool-Aid- big time! Why wouldn’t I? It was obvious to me that the talent level had been increased over the past few years. For anyone to not see that, well… that would be moronic! However, what has unfolded since then has Rangers fans, Rangers brass, and me scratching all of our collective heads. I think we can all point fingers at certain weaknesses that the Rangers have (and there are many). However, I truly believe that 2 areas have hurt this team the most.

First, when you don’t score goals on a consistent basis, you have to be able to tighten things up play-wise to be successful. By that I mean you have to play tough, grind-it-out, physical hockey. Oh yeah, smart hockey would help too! Every shift in a hockey game there’s a right move and a wrong move to make. It’s that simple. You, as a player, have a choice to make and the move that you make can either help or hurt the team. Right now the wrong moves are being made more often than the right ones. That comes down to just being intelligent enough to understand the game. Right now, that’s not happening for the Rangers. No excuses.

Secondly, the players themselves have lots of blame to take. We can argue back and forth about who’s a first liner or who’s a fourth liner (which is a common gripe by Rangers fans), that’s all fine and dandy. However, the real problem is a pattern of under-performing that continues to haunt the Rangers. Too many players have simply not lived up to their expectations and billings. It’s one thing to talk about effort and intangibles, but the reality is that stuff is just a way of sugarcoating the under performance or underachieving of a player. Outside of Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal up front- can anyone really look in the mirror and say to themselves that they have played to their potential? The same goes for the backline. Taking the rookies out of the argument, of course. Can even the "King" himself say that he’s played up to his potential? I think not. It doesn’t matter what style of play you are asked to master (Tortorella’s or Renney’s). You, as a player, must execute and that my friends is what it all comes down to! The Rangers have simply not been able to execute, play smart, or play tough/physical defensive hockey when called upon. I could go on about other problems, but these to me are the biggest ones!

Now, in other NHL news… I see that Alex Ovechkin has done it again. More reckless play and dirty hockey. Last night he issued a knee-on-knee collision with Carolina Hurricanes player, Tim Gleason. I’ve said in the past that Ovechkin’s the best individual skilled player in the NHL- there’s no doubt! I’ve also said that he’s right at the top when it comes to cheap shots and dirty play. You think Colin Campbell will finally place Ovechkin here he belongs in the “repeat offender” category? Or will the NHL continue to cover their eyes and continue to allow his actions to be non-issues? Show some guts and do the right thing here NHL!

Lastly, the Quinnipiac Bobcats are now ranked number 4 in the nation after a great come from behind overtime victory against the U-Mass Minutemen. Next on the schedule for the Bobcats are battles with Yale and Brown this upcoming Friday and Saturday. Keep it rolling boys!

18 comments:

Jason said...

I am not sure you can say that the veterans are underachieving. I think that their best years are behind them and they may not be able to do any better at this point in their career. They cannot live up to their billing, because they were billed incorrectly by Sather. Redden was on the decline long before Sather signed him (this deal alone should have been the end of his tenure). Roszival had a few somewhat respectable years with the Rangers, but has also been on the decline. Drury was never really the player he was made out to be. He is a role player who performs by pure guts only at some specific times of the year. There is no history to suggest he has been anything else, and the years are catching up with him as well. Higgins (not a real vet or a mercenary) was not performing with the Habs before the trade. Brashear is way over the hill and there is a reason why he did not play all that much in Washington. Again, Sather goofed, making a mistake that was pretty clear before the puck was dropped. Same with Boyle. Callahan was never thought to be a great offensive threat. The guy sure hits and leaves it all on the ice, but I am not sure that he is capable of much more on a consistent basis, and is a prototypical third line player. Last year may have been a false blip. Dubinski is what he is, and may, in the future, be good enough to anchor a second line. Before the injury, he experienced a typical Ranger contract disease. Lisin, traded for Korpikoski, was nothing more than Pheonix's version of Prucha. The young D-men will mature, but, again, there are not enough pieces within the organization to construct a good, consistently competitive, and winning team. There is a need for an overhaul, which, unfortunately, means bottom feeding for a while. A tweak in the coaching approach (and I do not mean Torts needs to be fired) can right some of the wrongs, but a well-painted Yugo is still a Yugo.

Kotsy's Korner said...

Jason, I realize that that this team is what it is for more than one reason. I also agree with you on many if not all of your points.

I still have to go back to the fact that players come to New York and don't play well. From Willie Huber to Christopher Higgins and everyone else in between.

This is not something I just throw out at people just for fun. It is a topic that is well discussed among former players who have played for the Rangers. Trust me on that.

It's understandable to put some in the category of a declining career. It's also probable that we along with the Ranger brass has overrated some of the youth. I can live with that. However I also firmly believe not all should get off that easy.

As usual your comments are well taken and give me pause for thought.

Jason said...

Chris, I think, as a paying customer, I am just frustrated that year after year we are being treated to a brand of hockey that makes you want to pull out your hair. You are right in that the Rangers, more than any other team in the NHL, is the graveyard for players' careers. Maybe it IS the lifestyle and the perks. Maybe it takes an extra level of "professionality" to move to New York after having played elsewhere and perform at least at the same level. Look at Messier or Jagr, for that matter. Their performance deteriorated mostly because of age and, in Jagr's case, because of injury. Graves certainly made a name for himself after coming over to the Rangers. Gaborik, so far, is not playing any worse than he did with the Wild. Also, look at Prospal. He seems to be doing okay.

I am curious what the former (and current) players themselves think is the cause for the decline in performance. I'd imagine a typically big payoff is a huge factor. It is easy to get lazy once the money starts rolling in and you know that money is secure. I think whoever is the GM of the Rangers has to account for this before either trading for a player or looking to sign a player via free agency. Otherwise, for every Gaborik, we will have a dozen Reddens, Gomezs, and Drurys.

Kotsy's Korner said...

Jason, The money has something to do with it. Even in my day the Rangers were known to pay their players well.

I totally understand your outrage as a paying customer. Who wouldn't be?

I think you hit it on the nose "Professionalism" is what it takes to play in NY. The graveyard is full of talented pro's who couldn't handle the pressure NY can hand you in all sports.

greg m said...

chris it just seems like its the same old thing, the entire team riding on the back of 1 or 2 guys....you spoke of the king not preforming well,the other night as he left the ice,he had the look of my ex brother in law, a broken man, he just looked beaten up,and i truly felt bad for him.you know, i cant disagree.....unfortunitly,i think stall, gilroy,higgins,...are trade bait.....i think that parentau is being showcased as trade bait for that " way past his prime" marquee player(seat filler)laflaur and marcel dione come to mind, where most will be omg i cant believe we got him, but he doesnt do well.....and then plays out his second year of a 2 year deal you know.....i think dz is a franchise player and a keeper and that would be real bad if they give him up......but i hope im wrong.
i said before that the NHL is going to become the No Hit League before all this cheap shot crap is resolved,might as well be a no check house league with 250 dollar tickets....

Kotsy's Korner said...

greg m, Unfortunately this is the state of the team. Can it be fixed? I would like to think so.

It's all up to the players now. This is your team and barring a major trade what choice do they have?

As for the cheap shots,.It's laughable that Ovechkin only gets 2 games for a deliberate knee hit. If people still want to cover for this guy be my guest, but you prove to me that you know nothing about Hockey.

JohnM said...

It is a fact that teams in the NHL that consistently finish in the middle of the standings get weak draft picks. When that is multiplied over 12 years, it is a fact that the farm system produces nothing but middle line talent. Of course there is the odd one off success when drafting below. But that is rare. Therefor, a team like the Rangers must rely on trades to acquire goal scoring. Because you need to draft top 5 to get pure goal scoring. No one in the NHL can dispute this fact of life. You are penalized in the NHL when you finish in the lower end of the playoff tree year after year by not getting any blue chip prospects. The NHL again punishes the middle of the road teams by not allowing teams to make trades that would include eating a salary to get players moved to a new team. It has to change before a Large Market Location for the NHL such as the NY Rangers can generate some blue chip talent.

greg m said...

is considering this a rebuilding year be to much to ask, i know were all impatient for another parade,but you have to start somewhere,i think we have one of the better foundations we've had in years. the instant gratification thing isn't working so well.....and your right ovechkin is a piece of garbage i think i hear the KHL calling his name.....

Kotsy's Korner said...

JohnM, Wow! I used to talk about that before I started blogging. You are so right in the fact that if you are a middle of the road team you never get the studs.

With the advent of the Cap it makes it even more discouraging for teams with strong finances cannot make the moves they would like.

JohnM, I like your way of thinking on this...the only problem I'm not Gary Bettman and I don't own a team to vote on it LOL.

Kotsy's Korner said...

greg m, I think we will find out soon enough with the Rangers. Stay tuned.

As for Ovechkin, He's great talent no one can argue that. I just feel he gets away with anything and everything he wants and the NHL has been complicit in this.

The NHL has to come down hard on his dirty play before someone has an 70s 80s flashback and ends his career.

JohnM said...

http://fourhabsfans.blogspot.com/2009/12/fuck-this-team-leafs-3-gutless-useless.html

You think us Ranger fans are pissed about our Strangers?? Read the link above from Four Habs Fans pertaining to the 3-0 shutout at the hands of the dreaded Maple Leafs. And remember: it's always worse somewhere else in the NHL! Lol!!!

Kotsy's Korner said...

JohnM, Montreal is like no other place when it comes to it's Canadiens. It's borderline crazed! LOL.

There is a soccer mentality fan wise in that city on the day of a game.I remember the buzz as soon as you got up in the morning about the upcoming game that night.

If you win in Montreal you are gods bigger than Zeus, But if you lose well...You hide. Great article.

Leatherneck said...

Recall what I said in your last journal about a possible Rick Middleton scenario? I have a feeling this may occur soon...trading away good young talent for a band aid...So what do we know of Erik Christansen?...i know nothing of him but his stats dont show him to be a gritty player..I wonder how many are now singing ..oh last years 4th line where arte though...personally i miss both Orr and Betts and would have loved to see Byers as the other winger...oh well..Nigel Dawes is lighting the lamp in Calgary..why is that? Hope all is well Chris

Kotsy's Korner said...

Leatherneck, Let's hope not about the Rick Middleton scenario. I vaguely remember Christansen playing for pit a few years back. Your guess is a good as mine????

As much as we all appreciated Orr and Betts, Do really think it matters? I don't. As for Nigel Dawes I ask why couldn't he do it here when he had the chance? Stay tuned.

Leatherneck said...

Do you see a trade coming?...Privy to any rumors Chris or are you...mum's the word..lol...do you want to see changes?...and a question for you...we gave away players like Zubov...Nordstrom...Savard...that is just in recent history who flourished in other cities..is it the system...the lack of not giving younger players the time to develope...trading then for aged veterans who came here and became part of the glamour and limelight of NYC?...what is it with this team of ours we so love?

Kotsy's Korner said...

Leatherneck, I'm waiting just like you are to see what unfolds in the next few weeks. If it doesn't turn around by then you might see more action.

I honestly believe that would get mixed reactions from the fans if you came out and said it will be years until we are competitive because we are going with the youth. Some would accept that but I think most would scream. Just my opinion.

NY is not an easy place to run a pro team. You can't hide like some around the continent.

greg m said...

hey chris,we all knew something was going to happen,i think this is just the tip of the iceberg, but christansen no ken hodge, but every year we seem to run the risk of a middleton fiasco,i was crushed when he was traded, and for years after that as well.i like john m paragraph on finishing in the middle of the road....so true and so well put,but nothing will change it....and the fourhabs blog spot is hysterical, thats a hostile bunch...was great reading.this will be an interesting next few games for sure.i think rozy,higgins(who by the way is on a 7 goal year pace) and parenteau will all be in for a trade but to who,for who im clueless...

Kotsy's Korner said...

greg m, The fourhabs blog was hilarious. As for the Rangers did you mention the name Ken Hodge wow! Blast from the past LOL.

Ranger players at this moment are on notice. If things don't change in the next few weeks, then more moves will be made. The difficulty is finding a equal partner salary cap wise to deal with.

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