Musings: When leadership plays its role; Special teams playoffs; Kreider’s ice timeApril 19, 2012, by
So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.
I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:
“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”
This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone. People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.
Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.
With a special teams series comes powerplay discussion, and the first two Ranger powerplays were perfect. Not perfect in the sense that they looked good, perfect in the sense that they actually put pucks on net and exploited weaknesses in Craig Anderson. Justin said it best when he noted that Anderson’s rebound control and lateral movement are big weaknesses, and the Rangers exploited that on the first two goals. They got shots on net on the powerplay, and capitalized. The rest of the powerplays were spent passing the puck and not getting enough pucks on net. You can’t score if you don’t shoot.
On to the scoring issue, the Rangers need to get contributions from other people on this roster. People are falsely pointing to Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, but they both have a goal and two assists, and are tied for the team lead in points (with five others). The players that need to pick it up are the ones that the Rangers leaned on for secondary scoring all season: Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin (when he comes back), Michael Del Zotto, and Brandon Dubinsky. Even Artem Anisimov has three points (all assists). The Rangers need to start getting full team contributions.
My Twitter feed keeps filling up with people asking me if I’m nervous about the series now. I was nervous when the Rangers drew the Senators in the first place. The Senators are a dangerous team that the Rangers do not match up well against. Yes, I predicted Rangers in 5 in my preview because I’m confident the Rangers can win, but the Senators are very capable of pulling the “upset.”
My Twitter feed is also filled with questions about Chris Kreider’s ice time. Why burn the year of his ELC if he’s only going to play four minutes a night? Well, last night’s game was a bit of an odd one. Kreider played 11 minutes in his first game, all at even strength. It’s very obvious that John Tortorella will not play the rookie on special teams. With 24 minutes of special teams play in last night’s game, that leaves just 36 minutes of even strength time –not including overtime– for Kreider to get in the game. Take into account the third period and the need to defend the lead, an area where Torts does not necessarily trust Kreider yet, and the kid’s playing time gets reduced more. Want Kreider to play more? Stop taking penalties.
- Which Ranger needs to step up more – Stepan or Dubinsky?
- Are you surprised that Del Zotto is currently the team leader in hits with 16?
- Brad Richards has 19 SOG, but only 1 goal. Do you think he will progress back to the mean shooting percentage?
- Are you worried about this series?