When the Rangers should hit the panic button, what to change if they do

January 22, 2013, by
Some panic options are always nice

Some panic options are always nice

Chris had a fantastic post yesterday urging Rangers fans to not be fearful of their 0-2 performance. He made great points and provided some interesting stats that should talk even the most critical fans off the ledge. To be honest, I’m not sure why anyone’s on the ledge to begin with.

Anyway, I have been working in sports for most of my career and I don’t know a single suit around the industry that worries about a team’s performance after 2 games, not even football. With that said, there is a time when everybody takes stock and makes actionable recommendations to those in a position of power. So when do those talks take place?

A wise man once told me the time to have those conversations is generally around the 25 game mark of an 82 season. Applying the same logic to a 48 game season means you can all hit your panic buttons around games 12-14, if the Rangers don’t turn it around. Of course by then every other blog on the planet will have covered what the Rangers should do next, so here’s several hot topics that may or may not invoke change between now and Valentine’s Day.

Acquiring a depth defensemen

No one wants to see Bickel play under 10 minutes a night. The problem is who on this roster is capable of logging those crucial defensive zone minutes after a penalty kill or late in the period? Who can Torts trust for mop up duty?

Eminger isn’t that guy, at least not against the conference’s elite. Gilroy’s minutes took a hit in last year’s playoffs and his performance in the AHL this winter didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Should the Rangers struggles continue, I think they’ll have to acquire someone who is both a strong skater and responsible in his end zone. But what do you give up? Chris will explore this in depth later.

Switching Gabby back to right wing

As we said earlier this week, switching Gabby to left wing actually creates more benefits for the team than leaving him at right wing. A) It will help Marian with his board play, which is an area where he often gets injured. B) It creates a natural passing lane between Gabby and Stepan, who’s a right-handed shot. C) Gabby scores more from the left side anyway. It will take time, but consider Gabby’s move with the long-term in mind.

Strategy change

I know everyone and their mother wants to see the Rangers collapse less in their own zone and be more aggressive with sending forwards to the points. I detailed that exact strategy with visuals over the summer and it’s still worth a read if you’re like me and dig the x’s and o’s of hockey.

However, I created the analysis thinking the Rangers would have more than 5 days to prepare for a season. There simply isn’t enough time to overhaul the system and make these guys go against their natural instinct. To boot, other than Nash, Glen brought in more shot blockers. Save this one for the offseason.

Other than these topics, I am not sure what else is worth tabling at this point. I don’t want to over analyze 2 games. Hopefully the Rangers can skate off some of their rink rust before they go at it against the Bruins again on Wednesday. Hold fast.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Bloomer says:

    Gabby is not the game breaking he once was. Better for the organization to trade him now. He is not a great playoff performer so the time has come.

    • The Suit says:

      Gabby is coming off a 40 goal season and was injured in the playoffs? Get back to the end of the line, next time bring chicks..

      • Walt says:

        Love your reply!! A man gets 40 goals, and you want to dump him?

        Bring on the chicks, at my age, it may get my blood moving again. Come to think of it, like Bob Hope would sing, thanks for the memories!!!!!

      • Jerry says:

        Yea that remark is a little crazy.id rather have gabi and Nash then just one.it gives teams a lot more to worry about.

    • Chris says:

      Wow. Way to jump on someone’s back. Does that mean 99% of the league last year were not what they once were, he was third in goal scoring I remember.

      He’s a little rusty and needs time to adapt but to suggest he’s over the hill is immensely premature. If he has a poor season, at the end, maybe we can begin to criticise him. For now, let’s hope he get’s on track.

  2. Jerry says:

    The problem with the team is the chemistry in my mind.the move for Nash was fine.i feel we should have left everything else alone. Yes Prust wanted a big raise but the way torts is quoted in all these articles saying it will take a lot to replace him well than maybe he was worth it.we should have kept him Feds and Mitchell.i know everybody is going to talk about the cap issues and no one had a crystal ball with the lockout and the buyout of redden which has helped the cap next year ,but we would have had enough to keep them.it would have been tight but could have been done.i think it’s just to many changes.its just my opinion.

    • Dave says:

      The Prust loss hurts, but let Asham get settled in before you go and wish you had Prust for $2.5 million a year.

      Halpern > Mitchell. Pyatt > Fedotenko. It’s been two games.

    • Chris.C says:

      Yes the chemistry was destroyed losing all the players we had. Yes the chemistry will be back though. Asham is a excellent replacement for Prust, and the acquiring of Pyatt, Halpren also good replacements for Feds and Mitchell. They just need time.

  3. Sally says:

    I too think most of the problem is too many new players and no training camp. Hopefully, they will gel quickly. I’ve ceased to worry about line make ups because Torts is going to change them.

    • The Suit says:

      Agreed. Go buy yourself something pretty. Here’s my corporate card.

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      Spot on Sally…it is not having the camp that was the issue….better to be the turtle start of the race and be the hare at the end. This team is too good to become worried after 2 games.
      Dominic Moore would be a good signing and Gilly should be good as a depth defenseman. Let’s see how Gilroy plays before speculating. I still like Bickel as well

  4. SalMerc says:

    Would be nice to see urgency from all four lines. I think we will learn all too soon that Stepan is a 3rd line center at best. I also see very little offense from the 3rd and 4th lines so far. Hopefully Boyle 2013 will look like Boyle 2011-2012 soon too.

    • Dave says:

      Stepan is a second line center, but Boyle is actually a 4th line center. Hopefully Miller pushes that soon.

      • SalMerc says:

        Then Stepan needs to play like one! His role is to deliver crisp passes and set up his linemates. The small two game sample doesn’t show his ability to do this yet. He may grow into the role, but an invisible Gabby is the result of a poor center. Also note that the 2nd line is NOT going against the opponents No. 1 checking line.

        • The Suit says:

          Come on Sal. Go rewatch last season, particularly when Stepan was centering Gabby. I’ll wait…

          You finished? Great.

          Notice how most of Gabby’s goals off the rush were assisted from Stepan? Yea I noticed that too…and the fact that the kid put up 50 points as a 21 year old.

          • SalMerc says:

            I did look, he has spurts of greatness, but none of that was evident in the first two games. Could be rust, but rust should not replace his urgency. Watch him back-check in the first two games – I will wait.
            He does that very well. Watch the tape to tape passes and the scoring opportunities he created. I am still waiting to see them. Put boyle as a center for Gabby and watch both of them come to life. Torts is too smart to wait until game 10 to make this change. You heard it here. Already putting Gabby on the first line due to his lack of production will only make line 2 more invisible.

            • Jared says:

              If Boyle wants to be a 2nd line center, which I think he is not, he need to chill with the bad penalties. 11 pim (granted 5 for fighting) is a bit much.

              In my opinion, the stats for step are gonna be down for him this year solely because of Gabby not running along side him. So I think it is loaded to pass judgement. The points stepan gets are gonna be more off grinder goals from Callahan and the other linemate whoever it may be.

        • Dave says:

          It’s been two games, and Stepan has two assists in those games.

          Last year Stepan had a line of 17-34-51. He’s a second line center.

  5. Chris.C says:

    I have no concern with the start of the Team, As I do with our Defense. Sorry to all the Bickel lovers, he sucks plan & simple. The team needs Gilroy or Emmy (sorry Dave, I know how u feel about them)in the line up until they can acquirer someone. I also read somewhere about 48 gms in 99 days this year vs 48 gms in 100 days last year, However last year it was a mixed bag Western & Eastern Teams. This year its strictly Eastern Teams which is mainly in ur face Physical playing teams. The top 4 needs there minutes reduced and Bickel is just not the answer to the bottom pairing

    • Dave says:

      If there’s one place they need an upgrade, it’s with Bickel. I can live with the bottom six forwards –although I’d like an upgrade there too– but Bickel’s presence should be as a spare defenseman.

    • Jerry says:

      I agree the Bickel thing has to be changed.against Pitt the other night if Bickel lays a hit along the boards that goal doesn’t happen.he just doesn’t fit.

  6. rocketroy says:

    Not Doomsday Yet….I generally never over react to a slow stsrt by the Giants, Knicks or Rangers…BUT…I have been a fan of all (3) since 1955, so I have seen everything..Believe Me..My problem is the way we got beat by the Bruins & Penguins…Basically in every phase of Hockey, including Goaltending(Not Good)…I have a huge problem with our Powerplay…Since Torts became our Coach, we have struggled on the PP, and continue to do so…I am convinced that we need to be in the Top Ten in the PP to have a chance…To this end, I was really hoping Torts would swallow his Pride, and bring in a new Asst Coach for Special Teams, as it is apparent to me that neither he or Sullivan know how to put a PP unit together.
    JUST SAYING!!! RocketRoy-Ohio

    • The Suit says:

      Roy, sounds like you’ve been overreacting since 1955. Please put your dunce cap back on and head to the back of the classroom. No Howdy Doody for you tonight.

    • VinceR says:

      I think the power play hasn’t looked all that bad after the first couple against Boston (and they were admittedly atrocious). They are starting to generate the opportunities and I think once the rust is off, they will be burying them.

      I do need to say though, no offense, but some phrases are not becoming to the over 22 male set…just sayin’.

    • Dave says:

      It’s been two games with no training camp. Simma.

  7. Jack says:

    The PP has struggled ever since I can remember (with the exception of the Jagr one-timer days), so I really don’t think Torts is to blame. I think that our powerplay has looked much better so far this year in terms of moving the puck around, the only part that seems to need more work is the break out from our own zone and settling in the opponents zone. Once we can get that part down, it won’t take long for richards to start finding nash and gaborik for open shots and for guys like cally and boyle to start putting in some deflections or rebounds.

    I agree the rangers have been getting beat in most aspects of the game, but we have to realize that this is a new group of guys who have not played together at all yet, and we have lost to two very strong teams that are virtually the same as they have been for the past couple years in the bruins and penguins.

    I thought that after Nash scored the Rangers started to get some life back into their game, and I think that life will carry over in the next couple. No way lundy doesn’t bring his A game Weds against the B’s, and no way the Rangers go down without a fight for a third straight loss. Look for the rangers to rebound in a big way with a big win on weds.

    • The Suit says:

      Agree on all counts Jack. Please see my tailor, Vincenzo, at Neiman Marcus. Tell him Suit sent you.

    • Walt says:

      In defense of Jack, I watched the Detroit Vs Bluejackets last night, and man alive, I’d give anything to see the Rangers pass the puck on the PP like the Red Wings do!

  8. rickyrants13 says:

    Wow you guys amaze Me in here. No one is saying that we should jump ship. But please everyone of you are smart enough to see that the Rangers isues right now are the same ones we delt with last year. Only they seem worse right now Because Lundy isnt covering them up.

    Off is not a well oiled machine and wasnt last year.

    Deff cant get out of their own zone far too often. And this happens when all pairs are on the ice not just Bickel. And the same thing happened last year.

    The PP doesnt scare anyone. And this was the case last year.

    We still have trouble winning faceoffs. just like last year.

    With this roster the only thing we can hope for is that Lundy gets back to covering the style we play up just enough for Nash to make a bit more difference then last year. Thats it. And thats sad.

    When we started the season there was more hope then that. But so far nothing has shown me that Del Z has changed his game enough to be that PP QB we need. And the teams style is stifling some of our more gifted players. Like Stepan, Kreider and Hags.

    But like many of you it is only game 2. But even if we start winning many of what ails this team will still be lurking

    • Spozo says:

      I still don’t get your point. We still have same problems as last year. So that means we should still have the best record in the East right? That doesn’t seem so bad to me.

      • rickyrants13 says:

        Do you ever look outside the box? There is more to fin first in the east and you know that. I know your a Rangers fan and you want to be positive. But when things on the farm arent in order. The harvest will not be brought to market.

        And with all of the same problems as last year. The harvest doesnt look any better then it did last year.

        • Spozo says:

          But that exactly where I disagree with you. I think we will be better this year than last year. We upgraded or stayed the same in every position from last year.

          The goalie situation is a non issue.

          The defense has exactly the same personnel. I think it is reasonable to assume that Staal and Mcdonagh will be better than they were last year just based on Staal being completely healthy and the natural progression that Mcdonagh will make for any kid in the league especially one of his caliber. Girardi has probably plateaued on his progression which isn’t a bad thing. We know what we get in Stralman, Bickel, and Gilroy but I would say that group is the same as last year if not slightly better.

          The offense had a good amount of turnover but the Rick Nash addition far outways anything we gained or lost in the bottom six. Yes it can be argued that this team misses Prust but Halpern will undoubtedly help us on faceoff and in the little sample size that we have seen, Pyatt seems likes a good pickup. So the Net gain here is Rick Nash and arguably the rest of our forwards are of the same caliber as last year.

          So I view this team as better than last year. I know you will point to Tortz system of play and pretty much anything he does as bad but if it is the same exact system as last year with an upgraded group of players (albeit just in Nash) why isn’t that enough to get two more wins in the ECF and into the Stanley Cup Final.

  9. Kris says:

    Torts system relies on timing. What you see is the result of 5 days of camp and playing 2 other teams considered contenders. They are playing Torts system which takes time, other teams are throwing the pucks at the net and getting ugly goals. As I stated yesterday, I wouldnt mind them abandoning Torts system for a few games to get the timing down. Let Hank see shots and get in a rhythm before attempting to block shots. The failed attempts are added screens. Put pucks on goal before trying to go to the back door play. Get the timing down and everything will follow.

  10. Matt says:

    Fun Fact: 12% of teams who started 0-2 have made the playoffs since 1990. (NFL stat)

  11. SalMerc says:

    Did you guys watch the Pittsburgh power-play? I did and watch with wonder on how their PP is heads and shoulders above ours. Granted Crosby & Malkin are in the league top 5, but shouldn’t Nash and Richards be in the top 10? If so, why are we so poor compared to them? Hey Torts, you listening????

    • Dave says:

      The Pens have had the same powerplay for a few seasons now.

      This is the first time the Rangers have kept more than 2 guys on the powerplay for consecutive years. Takes time. Definitely takes more than two games.

      • SalMerc says:

        I am hoping and praying you are right. Every other team had the same short training camp. The first 7 games are against teams we will eventually need to beat. I will lose and learn early to win later. Torts may be the only person in the world with less patients than me.

        • Dave says:

          I’m not referring to a short camp. The Pens haven’t had the same turnover the Rangers have had from year to year.

    • rickyrants13 says:

      Funny how all other replies ro this will shoot you down. But not Me. You are 100% right The Rangers PP has never been even close to good under Torts.