The Defense Rests

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

While I was away last weekend working the Bobcats games, the Rangers dropped 2 games in a row. One to Washington by a score of 2-0 and the other a 2-1 OT loss at home against the Buffalo Sabres. So, heading into “The Rock” for the cross-river battle with the Devils, I was thinking… “Okay, if the Rangers could create some scoring, they have a good chance at winning” (Wins would be good at this point of the year, wouldn’t they?). So what happens? The Rangers come up with a dud of a game defensively. It was quite simply: horrible.

No backchecking, giveaways, too many odd man rushes, and absolutely no support for Henrik Lundqvist. Oh, did I mention the score? 6-3 final in favor of the Devils. You know, that offensive juggernaut of an NHL team. I’m not going to go over every goal and really, why should I? It’s simple. When you play sloppy on the defensive side of your game, you deserve to get pummeled on the scoreboard. The games are dwindling down for the Rangers and wins are what they need. The next 4 games will tell the story of this years squad. It’s sink or swim time!

Now, I really want to discuss the “hot topic” of the NHL at this moment: head hunting and blindside hits. The GMs and NHL brass are in conference as we speak and they have come up with a half-assed rule that will be in the NHL’s upcoming 2010-11 season. Well, let me be the first to tell you… I’m sick of all the crybabies who scream out about every hit in the NHL. Yes, some hits are dirty and cheap. The problem is the monster that was created by all of the NHLs rule changes. Has anyone asked why so many hits like this have occurred? All one has to do is think back to the post-lockout thirst to open up the game. They eliminated obstruction (hooking, holding, interference). At the same time there was chatter for ending fighting, so the instigator rules were to be enforced more. So what did all these rule changes provide the NHL... High scoring hockey? Nope. Numerous 50 goal scorers? Nope. What it did is provide the NHL with a problem. A lack of respect amongst its players. That is why you have all the questions and crying about hits (that are for the most part legal). The NHL will not let the players police their own when these situations occur.

First, if a player reacts to what one feels is a dirty hit or play, it will cost that player a truck load of money in fines/suspensions. Secondly, this is where the lack of player respect comes in… If you know no retaliation is coming, what fear do you have as a player? None! Lastly, the players have a responsibility to understand that this is a physical game played at a high speed. It doesn’t give you the right to admire your pass or shot for too long- or you will get destroyed. It’s as simple as that! A message to the players: Keep your head up! You must know your opponent and who is capable of taking your head off. The last part is the most important to me. If you are not aware of who’s on the ice when you are on, then shame on you! Hockey is not just about skill. Hitting is and always will be part of the game… I hope.

Well, I’ll be in Troy, NY this weekend where the Quinnipiac Bobcats will take on the Union Watchmen in a ECAC quarter-final round (best of 3). My man Bill Schweizer and myself will do the radio broadcast at 7:00 PM on AM 1220 WQUN. If you get a chance, listen in! Friday and Saturday for sure.. And maybe Sunday for a potential Game 3. Over and out!

Bobcats Radio Link:


GENO said...

Hi Chris glad to see the blog up and running. Well where do we start, oh tonight' s game, or lack of one from our boys. Torts did not have this team ready from the opening face off. They were out played -hit & out scored which = another loss. When is some one in the upper echelon going to come to the conclusion that this current Ranger team lacks SIZE - MUSCLE - and on Defense all the above plus HEART. Their opponents do not have any fear of any Ranger on the ice maybe with the exception of about 4 mins a game when the 4th line with Shelley on it is skating. Even then he hasn't dropped the gloves to fight as a Ranger yet --- has he? Brendan Prust was one of the leaders in fighting majors until he became a Ranger ??? Puzzling is it maybe there is something in the garden water now ? And tonight, Torts had a lot BALLS embarrassing the King by removing him from the game when he did. I admit it wasn't one of the King's best efforts, but he was standing on his head all year for this team. Maybe Tort's should've replaced himself behind the bench instead tonight, the boys might've responded with a better effort.
As for all the crying about the hitting, people are forgetting that this game is a man's man game. It is played by men. It should be policed by the men who play the game to make sure that there would be no head shots - stick swinging - or any other dirty unmentionables, and not by some ass kissing yes man who for got how he used to play the game. That would stop all the crying to refs on every hit and letters to Miss Bettman's office for review. Enough of this European style hockey, THIS IS THE NHL!!! That use to stand for something prior to Bettman. ........ Geno

Kotsy's Korner said...

Geno, What was disappointing to me was the lack of defense showed by the team. No back check, No support in their own zone, Way too many odd man rushes against, Careless giveaways. It go's on and on.

At a time where points and wins are needed they came up with a dud. there's no beating around the bush on this one. I do have to disagree with you on Prust, I feel he's done his job. Shelley did have good go with LeBlond last night.

Now for all the outcry about the hits in the NHL. I think I've stated my case. The NHL created this monster with all the tinkering of the rules. Your opinion and mine are basically mirror images.

Jason said...

Chris, it looks like little has changed for the Rangers this seasons. We can talk about the NHL players being professionals and having to take responsibility for their actions until we are blue in the face. However, I have a hard time seeing this happening with the Rangers this season. Blown coverages, odd-man rushes, and poor decision-making with the puck have plagued the team pretty much from day 1. You have said it before that the responsibility is squarely on the shoulders of the players. If so, the players are certainly not responding. Is it because the coaching staff is not pressing the right buttons or because the team is so poorly constructed? I am sure this is probably a combination of both, although I tend to think the latter plays a much more prominent role. What would you say if you were in the locker room with the current Rangers flock?

The team, over the course of sixty plus games, has shown mediocre play that at once frustrates and fails to inspire. Can the Rangers make the playoffs? Mathematically, of course they can. Based on recent play, likely not. I know the old adage that once you get into the playoffs you never know. But do you truly think they can survive a 7-game series against the Caps or the Penguins? Getting embarrassed on that stage is not exactly what any fans wants to see. Also, the extra playoff gates make Dolan think that everything is hunky dory. Is it really a coincidence that the Rangers and the Knicks began their downward spirals right about the time Cablevision gained full control of both teams?

GENO said...

Chris, I'm sorry that I've spoken out of turn with Shelley's go last night. I must have changed the channel because my blood pressure was going through the roof. For missing that one I apologize. As for Prust, I didn't mean he is not playing a good game when he is on the ice, I meant that I expected a little more fist action from him. I thought that is why they got him is for toughness. I know that you don't have fight to be a tough team, but it sure helps when your opponent knows that you have willing combatants. Maybe then they would not take that many liberties on your key players. Gretzky had McSorley/Grimmsom - Clark had Schulz/Kelly and an assortman of others, Trottier/Bossy - had Gillies, Howat and a few others. Gaborik/Lundquist/ and the young D-Men - have -- ???? That is what I am trying to say, there is no protection still in this lineup. Is it the players, or is it the way they are coached ??? You don't see many teams around the league who get pounded like the Rangers without some sort of retaliation. Even if it means taking a penalty, this shit of turning the other cheek must stop, and stand up for yourself, even if you get your ass kicked, at least you get respect for trying. Maybe it will rub off on the rest of the team and they will have a gut check. Its not too late.

JohnM said...

It is well documented by John Tortarella the veteran Rangers have shown that they have a tendency to feel they have entitlement rights around their playing time, work ethic, and about their perceived roles on the ice.I have to agree with the coach. The performance at NJ on March 10th 2010,showed what a lack of urgency that exists from the veterans on the Rangers. The vets did not leave it on the ice. They played just enough. It is despicable. And I will never forget it as a Ranger fan. It was not the first time this happened this year with these vets. Jokinen played his ass off. He was not here earlier in the season.

greg m said...

what else is there to say,with 15 or so games left? i think its all been said, torts sucks, torts is great, sathers good, fire sather,no heart no muscle,they seek support in those areas,sather still sucks..everyone points fingers blah blah blah you know.its like being in atlantic city at this point,the playoffs are a crap shoot,roll the dice cross your fingers and hope for the best!,,,,lol

greg m said...

ps, and like a partner in a battered still happy to be here! go figure!

Leatherneck said...

Hello Chris, first off kudos to Sather for being different this year and staying silent on the trade dead line..Now if he can package Redden and say one player for say Souray and Penner from the Oilers we may have the room to start developing a team. I say we build through the draft and lets get a top 5 pick 2 of the next 3 years and build a winner..look at the Pens..Crosby, Fleury, Malkin, Staal and Orpik..these are all home grown talents and all but Orpik a top 5 pick..being in the middle gets you must have the roller coaster ride to win consistantly as a cup winner

Kotsy's Korner said...

Jason, What I would say is everyone do there jobs damn it! and play smart Hockey. It's unbelievable to me at this level you still have to be taught how to play "Team Defense?"

Why is it at times this year the Rangers look like a good Hockey club who can play with anybody? and then some nights not? Did they lose the ability to think from game to game?

Jason, Fortunately or Unfortunately LOL... I still think like a player and therefore want to believe that things will get better.

Kotsy's Korner said...

Geno, No problem ... It is what it is LOL.

Kotsy's Korner said...

JohnM, Good to see you still have the fire going LOL. Last night's game was a total failure in "Defense" and the result showed it.

Veteran players need to step up and lead by example. Neither happened last night.

Kotsy's Korner said...

greg m, All that and the kitchen sink as well LMAO. Atlantic City?... Hmmm...That might be a good idea.

Kotsy's Korner said...

Leatherneck, Nice to hear from you. Hope things are going well. Sather has left himself some decent options this summer and it will be a very interesting to say the least.

B.J. McSitteer said...

Time is fleeting for the Rangers no doubt, but have some faith that those Bruins are in some serious trouble. They won tonight but how much do they have left?

Now as for the "head hunting", with each protection rule the league puts in, starting way back with the mandatory helmets (a good rule mind you), the line of respect gets a little thinner. We spoke before on the Olympics about the game changing with the ice and it's the same with the physical game. Hockey was designed a certain way by Canada and it should remain that way. Bone crushing hits are as important as a sweet pass. Remember when Chris Nilan played in an all-star game? More hitting=more open ice=more goals=better hockey.What the league needs is more of the Bob Probert types who play along side Steve Yzerman. Tiger Williams, Dave Semenko etc. Tampa's got the right idea with Downie playing on the top line and it's time to get more players like that. Rivalries used to hate each other, certain teams would make you sick but they always had respect for each other and if you bkore the rules, you got yours. I try not to push the history on people to much but the 1940s Leafs had the two hardest hitters in the league in Gus Mortson and Bill Barilko (plus a few others). You want to talk respect, Barilko used to give a little "boop, boop" warning and then crush you against the boards. For those who may not know, that team produced the first dynasty winning 4 Cups in 5 years. That's Hockey!

Kotsy's Korner said...

B.J.McSitteer, I totally understand some of the scrutiny with some of these hits. However, I've also had enough of the automatic crying that follows every hit.

These hits will never completely go away no matter what the NHL try's to implement as a rule.

Rivalries would be a nice thing to see again. Unfortunately they are long gone. I like the history lesson on the Leafs. Good stuff.

WALLY said...

Hey Kotsy,
It's an important one today with the FLYERS coming in of that big win over the HAWKS yesterday. It won't hurt to bad if the Rangers win this one as I would rather see them in the payoffs than Boston or Tampa.
We got together with Mancini & his wife Debbie last night as Michelle got tickets for the Leaf game. Great game & Paul says Hi! I sent him your Blog so hopefully he signs up.
Good Luck!!!
Talk To You Later

B.J. McSitteer said...

Big win tonight Chris, only one back can you feel it? I don't even like the Rangers and I'm excited. See watching the play-off run when your team is out is even better because there's no bias and you can just enjoy good hockey.

Speaking of those rivalries, wouldn't you like to see them go back to the Campbell/Wales days where you battle within your division every year and build up a good hate? Those battles of New York in the 80s were killer (look who I'm telling). Remember when WUTV used to put on a special Rangers/Isles game way back before FOX? That's what the game is missing today.

Kotsy's Korner said...

Wally, The Rangers got ya! Hopefully they will continue to rack up the W's. Glad to hear you had a good time with "Henry" LOL.

Kotsy's Korner said...

B.J. McSitteer, Give the Leafs another year and I think they will be ready to battle for a playoff spot.

You are speaking to the choir on this one. When we used to play 8 games against each other rivalries were at a peak. You hated each other.

The NHL should realign the teams to make this possible once again. I won't hold my breath on it though.

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