So after last night's 3-1 blowout loss (okay it wasn't really but it sure did feel like one didn't it?) to the lowly Islanders, Rangers fans have been up in arms. And let's be honest they should be. If the Rangers are as good as they are making it look like they are then that is a game you need to win. And while it's unrealistic to expect the Rangers to beat every lowly team they come across they should at least compete the (hopefully few) games they lose, and they did none of that last night.
But last night's game was so much more than just a loss to the Islanders, and although that loss sucks, the Rangers have bigger fish to fry. There are many problems that we have seen over the season and I think it's time to address them in a good old fashion rant.
For starters we need to talk about something that I never thought I would ever have to talk about on this blog. The poor play of Marc Staal. Now to be fair it's not just him playing poorly so is his defensive partner Dan Girardi. But for the past few years Staal he has usually been able to overcome the poor play of his defensive partners. Now I have a few theories on this.
1) Staal is still getting used to the offensive system, especially since in the Tom Renney regime he never pinched ever and hardly joined the rush. Now under John Tortorella he is all over the ice, including the offensive zone, and has to work twice as hard to come back. This new system may also contribute to his momentary hesitation in the neutral zone which has lead to a few horrific turnovers and poor plays.
2) Maybe the very defensive system of play that Tom Renney employed masked some of Staals defensive lapses. Perhaps Staal is not as good as we thought he was defensively, yet. He is still only 21 years old and has tons of time to mature. And already he has become one of the Rangers best stand-up and shut-down defenseman just not for the past few games. (Someone on the site either DBMaven or Dave came up with this so stick salute to them.)
3) The final theory is simply that Staal is being leaned on like never before. In the Renney system Marc Staal was a big time defender, he was one of the top guys, but he was not the top guy. Renney stuck to his veterans and gave Michael Rozsival and Wade Redden more ice time, and put them out in every situation possible. But right now Marc Staal is the guy and maybe he simply is not prepared for that type of pressure. Obviously time will fix that problem--as no one is debating his talent--but for now its a problem we have to wait on. Maybe Torts should switch up the pairings.
Okay enough about Marc Staal playing bad, it's making me feel dirty. Join me after the jump for more problems.
I think that the entire New York Rangersteam needs to meet in the locker room, look in a very large mirror, and promise themselves that they will hold teams accountable for running their top goaltender. Yes, the refereeing does not help when they let the opposing players barrel into Lundqvist un-punishedbut the Rangers still need to do something about it. The next time an opposing player hits the goaltender I want whoever is on the ice to put their face into the ice. Take the two minutes, no one will mind, because at least you will be protecting your top-prize goalenter and sending a message that you will not take any crap.
A week or so ago I posted an article on worrying about Chris Higgins, after his horrible game and benching against the Montreal Canadians. Well here we are a week later and he is still without a goal and looks lost on the ice. I thought that last night--again--he was invisible and when I did notice him it was for the wrong reasons. I already went into this in that post so no need to go further here, he needs to be better, end of story.
Speaking of needing to be better why don't we take a look at Michael Rozsival who played one of his worst games of the year last night which--believe me--is an accomplishment. His play leading to the John Tavares goal was brutal and made Jim and I want to jump through the T.V and bench him ourselves.
But enough about the players the transition game the past few games has been awful. When the Rangers turn the puck over it seems like none of the forwards are coming back to help out until it's too late. Last night in particular Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Higgins and Enver Lisin caught my eye with horrible plays coming back. (I'm sure there were worse and more offenders but there is no need to go through all of them here, the point is made). One of the main reasons why Tortorella's system works is because he conditions his team to have the stamina to come back and make those defensive plays after a botched play in the offensive zone. The team needs to buy into this or it's going to be a long, long season.
Also Larry Brooks has a great article on Drury here. Check it out.
I think I have made my point here. For those of you that are newcomers we tend to tell it like it is around these parts. I don't think you need me to tell you that the Rangers sucked last night. But what you probably do want to read are a few of the underlying problems that others might not talk about, problems which I think I have addressed above. No one said this team was perfect, and a hot start does have it's way of causing problems (especially since many of you are slamming down on the panic button already). This is a good team, but a team that has some issues they need to work through. It might take some time, we need to be patient.
Relax, it could be worse, we could have lost to the Islande--oh wait ...