FanPost

Neutral Zone Play and Team Toughness


Hi all.  I'm a new poster but I have been a long-time reader.  I wanted to contribute some thoughts on what I think will make the Rangers a successful team, meaning that they will make the playoffs.  I have said on other blogs that the overall key to the Rangers' success is directly linked to their play in the neutral zone.  We've all said it.  This team is not fast, not tough, not overly talented, etc.  Then what should they be?  They need to be a hard working team.  They need to finish their checks and clog the neutral zone.  Not institute a trap but just be on top of the opponents as they try to make their way through the neutral zone.  This requires energy and good positional play.  Sauer was the perfect example last night.  Was he exceptional?  No.  But he was steady and his good positioning during the game allowed him to disrupt the Bruins' rush as he was able to stick-check the puck away from the opponents.  Actually on one Bruins' rush, Sauer was beaten but was able to recover and stick-check the puck away because his positioning was excellent on that particular play. 

The last 2 games cannot be anymore proof of what I am saying.  They played a pretty quick team in the Leafs and a tough team in the Bruins.  In both games the Rangers played very well in the neutral zone and their good positioning was evident in the number of blocked shots they had in both games.  This is their blueprint for their success as they do not have the talent to get "easy" goals.  Other than Gaby they do not have that player or players that can score at a moment's notice or making something out of nothing.  FroLoaf is not the answer yet as 10 shots on goal in 6 games doesn't cut it as your #2 goal scorer.  Not to mention that his 2 goals were:  One, supposed to be a pass and two, a deflected shot that went over the goalie's shoulder.  Do we know what his shot looks like?  Follow me after the jump for my pet peeve.

I have a lot of respect for people who have extensive hockey knowledge and experience.  I have watched hockey for over 40 years.  That's my resume.  I said it at the time of the signing and I will say it again.  Boogard (BooBoo) is a complete waste of cap space and a roster space.  There is no situation or game that he can contribute to.  This idea of "deterrent" is ridiculous for today's NHL.  This isn't the 70s, 80s, or even 90s, where there was more of a reason to have such a player on the team.  If BooBoo is such a deterrent then why was Neil able to run around creating havoc during the preseason?  Then why was the King (again) basically run over by Phaneuf without any retribution?  Torts is obviously ticked that this guy is on the team as he has played him less than 5 minutes per game.  BooBoo's "dance" last night with Thorton was comical.  I went to both home games this year and he skated around like he didn't want to get hurt to collect on his full contract.  No fights?  Fine.  But a check or 2 every once in a while would be nice.  Oh, he did last night and got a very questionable boarding penalty.

Here's what should happen.  The team should have overall toughness, just like they displayed the last 2 games.  You don't need to put the opponents through the proverbial wall.  Just finish your checks, keep the opponents away from your goalie, and STICK UP FOR ONE ANOTHER.  This is what keeps the other team honest.  Not having a thug nailed to the bench while the opponent takes liberties on the ice.  Want to get the opposing team's attention?  Then put their star player through the proverbial wall.  That does it every time.  Thanks for reading.

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