It’s Thursday, which is usually Chris’s day to do his Musings, but unfortunately he’s “busy flirting with middle-aged women in hopes to earn more beer money,” so you’re all stuck with me. Yes, that was his email to me this morning. Love it.
Anyway, I can’t match his British wit, so instead I decided to take questions and hot topics about the Rangers from Twitter, email, and down in the comments section.
What did Marian Gaborik do to get benched for the first half of the second period? Is Torts going overboard?
I don’t think there is a definitive right or wrong answer when it comes to benching players or decreasing their icetime. The fact of the matter is we’re not on the bench, in the locker room, or at practice. We just don’t have a 360 degree view.
With that said, in my not so humble opinion, I think Gaborik deserved to be benched. He was playing passive and wasn’t sticking to the game plan. His role is to attack the puck and the slot in the OZ. In the defensive zone, he wasn’t sticking with his man or trying to win battles along the wall. He just wasn’t getting it done and others were playing better than he was.
PS – Dave Maloney also brought up similar points during the radio intermission on 1050.
As far as Torts going overboard, I disagree with what others are saying. If Gabby is doing the things I just outlined, how do you not bench him? What kind of message does that send if Torts benches others, but not their star player? Not a very good one. Tortorella has been consistent in this regard all season. You can’t change your philosophy now. Players will tune you out.
What do you make of the moaning coming from the media about Tortorella’s press conferences? Some have suggested a walk out or asking the league to get involved.
Tortorella has the media taking shots at him and not his players, job well done. Nick Monte at Rangers Tribune said it best. “Media complaining about not being able to do their job because of Torts is absurd. I don’t get quotes from the coach, yet still produce better material.”
What do the Rangers have to do to clear the zone better?
This is kind of a multi-part problem. Their defense needs to do a better job of making outlet passes. Stralman and Girardi had some difficulty getting the puck north in Game 2. However, it’s not all on them. You’re behind the 8 ball when you lose key faceoffs in the defensive zone.
The Rangers also need to maintain their two-three man forecheck. We saw spurts in Game 1 and Game 2 where we were on the aggressive and we were pinning the Devils in their zone. They are not that good in their own zone, so we have to counter with similar tactics more consistently.
Would you rather see the Rangers block shots or switch to more of an aggressive strategy and play the points?
Typically speaking, I’d prefer playing the points as a strategy. I think you have a better chance at creating counter rushes if your high forwards are challenging their blueline.
With that said, the Rangers aren’t built in that fashion. They are still young and growing up defensively. My fear of this roster having a more aggressive strategy is we’d end up leaving Hank out to dry. I don’t know what you guys think about all this, but I saw enough of that in Hank’s first few years in the league and we never got passed the second round.
Do you think Tim Erixon should replace Bickel in the lineup?
I haven’t followed Erixon much since he was sent to Hartford. If the reports are accurate, he struggled with defensive zone coverage. If he struggled against AHL forecheckers, I can’t imagine him playing well against NHL forechecking, during the playoffs no less. I think Sully’s hands are tied here with the defense. Eminger has basically zero playoff experience and hasn’t played in weeks. John Scott (nice trade Sather!) is supposedly out of shape. It’s Bickel by default.
That’s my take folks. What do you got?