A case for shot-blocking

May 16, 2012, by

____ is killing hockey. That seems to be the only headline that moves the dial in Canada these days.

Every couple of weeks it’s something else that is supposedly destroying the game. First it was keeping a hockey team in Nashville, a market that was never supposed to succeed. Whoops.

Then it was the Lightning’s 1-3-1 trap, which was supposed to lift them from mediocrity while simultaneously sink the NHL and its ratings. Shhh…don’t tell anyone they missed the playoffs and the ratings are breaking all kinds of records.

Finally, in the most recent piece of garbage written by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, the Rangers strategy of blocking shots will kill the league because as Kenny said, everyone “found it frustrating to watch and devoid of excitement.” Further, he says, “The Rangers are bad for the NHL, that’s why. If you found the Rangers seven-game second round series against the Washington Capitals to be compelling hockey, then good on you.” Interesting stuff.

I swear a zombie apocalypse could be destroying mankind and Ken Campbell would still be finding some irrelevant hockey nugget and acting like it’ll cause hockey and humanity’s impending doom. But hey, what else do you expect from a writer who is anti-salary cap because of rookie initiation dinners?

I digress.

The real issue is the media has picked up this idea that the Rangers are in fact ruining the game and predictably all fingers are pointing to the man behind the bench. John Tortorella. Some have even gone as far to say that the NHL should develop rules to prohibit teams from blocking shots.

Well, as Samuel L. Jackson once famously said in Pulp Fiction, and I continue to say on this site…“well allow me to retort.

The Rangers don’t play a “boring style of hockey.” Evidence by the Garden crowd this postseason. They don’t even play a defensive system by traditional logic. They actually play an aggressive 2-1-2 offensive zone forecheck. They allow their offensive defensemen free reign to pinch, jump into the play, or join the rush. You could even argue they are the antithesis of “dead puck” era hockey, whatever that means. But Ken simply writes the Rangers off as a neutral zone trapping team, even though that is completely false.

So because they are collapsing in front of their net and blocking shots, which most of the league is doing now anyway, everyone seems to want to take shots (pun intended) at their style of play and associate it with the trap? It’s ridiculous. These labels have become vague and meaningless. The fact of the matter is the Rangers team concept is the perfect fit for this roster and it should be praised by experts, journalists, and fans alike.

Instead of bashing the coach and the system, Tortorella should really be receiving praise. They should be praising him for the intricate decisions he makes on a nightly basis that helps the Rangers win hockey games. But is anyone talking about it?

For example, there was a point during Game 1 against the Devils where the Rangers had spent a ridiculous amount of time in our own zone and took an unfortunate icing. Following this icing, the faceoff back in our end zone happened to be a false start.

Tortorella, in a brilliant move, sent out a line change after the false start. When the ref came over to disallow the line change, Torts played dumb. He acted like he thought the false start was an offside, since the puck did end up at the point on the mis-draw. These 10-15 seconds of discussion with the referee were CRITICAL for the players who were stuck out on the ice.

But where’s the coverage? Is anyone talking about it? Or was my last paragraph the first time you have actually read about this?

This is the hockey media unfortunately, and as the Rangers continue to climb the mountain towards Lord Stanley, we will continue to have misinformed and biased writers try to undermine the team’s success. But don’t be fooled. You know what the real story is and you know where to get it.


  1. agentsmith says:

    as long as its ny the national media will try to undermine us till the end.

  2. Rangersalterego says:

    Bravo. Was at the game and knew exactly what was happening. Great move by torts

  3. Gary says:

    Its really funny to read the Canadian papers all blasting our style as boring. I’ve even seen writers call it the “neutral zone trap”! I’m not sure if they’re joking or not but you can’t blast us for blocking dozens of shots AND tell us the play is stuck in the neutral zone!

    More than anything these guys just seem sour that there aren’t any Canadian teams left — especially the writers from Ottawa

  4. The Suit says:

    The best part of that article was he says the Rangers block more shots than anybody in the league. It doesn’t take much effort to look up stats on and see not only do other teams block more shots than us, but we actually blocked less shots than last year.

  5. Scott C says:

    How about Barry Melrose on ESPN? He picked the Caps to win every game against the Rangers, then the Devils to win, now he loves the Kings style of play more than ours. (He played for the Kings). Torts is great becaude he completely ignores these “experts”.

    • wwpd says:

      he did?

    • Dave says:

      It’s better off that Melrose ignores the Rangers. He’s a curse.

      • Chris F says:

        Melrose was saying Caps would win the series the whole time, for sure. After the triple OT Rangers win, he said that the Capitals would bounce back. After the game 5 dramatic Rangers win, he said that since the Caps bounced back from the triple OT loss, they would bounce back again. Then going into game 7, he said without equivocation that the Caps would take the series.

        However, after the Rangers “upset” the Caps, he changed his tune, and said that if the Rangers kept true to their form, they would beat the Devils.

        • wwpd says:

          that does sound familiar. he was right two of those three times though, the caps did win games 4 and 6. but thankfully he was wrong when it mattered the most.

          definitely never played for the kings though 🙂 coached, i recall

  6. Chris F says:

    ESPN NY 1050 talked about this ad hominem yesterday, and I must say, I was very impressed by the coverage. Patrick McEnroe even had a two hour special last night with Ron Dugauy. The general consensus: Rangers hockey is all about hits, will and sacrifice, ans you don’t get more exciting than that.

  7. Walt says:

    If there was a Canadian team in the play-offs right now, playing the Ranger style of blocking shots, this ass would be praising them as innovaters. When you have nothing else to bitch about, you bitch for the sake of bitching!

    • Seahorse says:

      yeah Canadians! get an economy and birth children that will play into increasing the GDP of the nation, which cant compete with Phoenix (a bunch of seniors on social security) and the Panthers (a city dominated by Cubans), so you can get your teams and stop bitching about the rangers!

      • wwpd says:

        for a country mostly located in the north pole, canada does okay for itself

      • Mike C. says:

        Hey…I`m Canadian and i`m a die hard Rangers fan…have three jerseys…oh and lets not forget…Prust …Del Zotto…Girardi…Staal and nine others on the roster are also Canadians.

        • VinceR says:

          Love to point that out to fans around me at MSG when they chant USA vs. Canadian teams. “You probably want to take a look at our roster”

        • Mike C says:

          oops… I left out Richards …he`s canadian too.

  8. RobC610 says:

    I don’t give a shit what style they play as long as they win. They don’t play anything close to a nuetral zone trap, but even if they did if it helped them win then I don’t care. Didn’t the devils win 3 stanley cups with that system? Defense and goaltending wins stanley cups. Period. Look at the 4 teams left and they all have both. The canadian writers are both bored and jealous. A canadian team hasn’t won a stanley cup in nearly 20 years so they have to bitch about somethng. Whiners. I hope the rangers keep doing their thing all the way to the cup. That will really piss some people off.

  9. Matt J says:

    As I said on my article on bluelinestation, everyone that’s written these articles teams have already been eliminated from the playoffs.

    They think it’s a tragedy their favorite team hasn’t advanced, while a team that appears “boring” is advancing.

  10. Leatherneckinlv says:

    My playoff beard is starting to itch….that’s a very good thing…Thank you Coach Tortorella

  11. becky says:

    Well played Suit, excellent retort. But honestly, Campbell spends a solid amount of that article telling us how awful Torts is but that’s “not really why” he hates the Rangers — get a hobby, bro.

  12. Dave says:

    How about those comments by Brodeur? “We should take shots at their feet or heads.”

    Thanks Fatso.

    • Chris F says:

      Seriously? In what context did he say this?

    • Matt says:

      I heard (didn’t see) the comments this morning. Boomer and Carton played it, and the update guy, Jerry Recco, said Marty was saying it in a playful manor, and was laughing.

      I listened to the clip, it doesn’t sound like he’s laughing or whatever. To be fair though, I didn’t see him saying it, so not sure if he was or not.

      New Post dedicated to his comments?

      • becky says:

        Whoever laughs at pucks to the head is a psychopath

        • wwpd says:

          Fatso not exactly renowned for his ethical behavior, I’m not that surprised. Wonder if the league office considered following up on comment like that one?

          No fine obviously, since he didn’t criticize the refs

  13. Jeremy says:

    Killing hockey? Watching cally or boyle or girardi lay out repeatedly on a PK with a late lead can be even more exciting than adding an insurance goal to put the game out of reach…

    If you don’t get that, it’s probably because your team isn’t willing to do what’s necessary.

    This is a special group that was worth waiting for all these long miserable years. I couldn’t feel more proud or more fortunate to call them my own New York Rangers. Keep it up boys!

  14. VinceR says:

    Smash-mouth football vs. Run-n-gun and a thousand other comparisons. To people who want the “shiny object” version of the game things like blocking schemes, running strategy, short yardage throws, are all boring. They want to see a bomb down the field every time (ask Al Davis how that strategy works…too soon?)

    Those people that complain that defense is boring in hockey just want to see odd man rushes and constant tic-tac passing. They want to keep the play away from the boards and only want to see transition, high speed goals. They want the game to be like watching a tennis match.

    Yet I never hear anyone who actually watches the NHL All Star game say “wow, that was can’t miss watching!”.

    These are people who enjoy announcers like Doc Emerick who scream in anticipation if a puck is propelled towards the net from the blue line at half speed.

    I can go on for pages, but to sum it up, people who like this sort of hockey just aren’t hockey fans. They will always complain about anything that isn’t a ten goal game.

    Of course in the end what is really happening is this is nothing but the media filling in the gaps between games.

    • Mike B says:

      Excellent point regarding the comparison to the all star game. That’s what Campbell seems to be suggesting with his ridiculous article. I love the all star game, but only because that style is played once per year, for fun. To see that every night would drive me away from the game. odd man rushes are exciting because they happen a few times per game, great passing plays the same. If we turn the NHL into a game of shinny, it would be like turning MLB into a slow pitch softball game, nobody would like that.

  15. jr says:

    Article in the NYT also called it a “trap.” The 2-1-2 trap???? Just goes to show most writers don’t know much about hockey. And neither do their editors.

  16. Mike B says:

    Ken Campbell is an idiot, if the games were all 7-6 he’d be bitching about the fact that there’s too much offense and the nets are too big and goalies need to be given field hockey size pads. He’s ridiculous, he’s like Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets only he’s not funny.