Rangers continue to seek one basic player trait

February 6, 2013, by
Taylor Pyatt has been the one exception to an almost universal rule

Taylor Pyatt has been the one exception to an almost universal rule

Countless factors go into individual player evaluations, but one quality continues to dictate how the Rangers construct their roster: speed.

It’s not exactly a new revelation, the altered NHL demands that players possess speed and skill as the league has phased out the plodding physical specimens that were impact players in the 1990s. But few franchises have put as strong an emphasis on skating ability as New York. Just look at three of the team’s most recent first-round picks: Chris Kreider, JT Miller and Brady Skjei. What do all have in common? Tremendous skating ability.

There’s simply no room on Broadway, especially under coach John Tortorella, for players that can’t outskate the opposition.

If you want one reason why Monday’s Mike Rupp for Darroll Powe (and Nick Palmieri) trade went down, that’s it. Rupp, though a strong locker room voice and serviceable player, simply was incapable of playing Tortorella’s preferred go-go style. The big man was incapable of darting into the enemy’s zone to attack on the forecheck, rendering him basically useless.

Powe, on the other hand, can wheel. You won’t confuse him with a scoring threat, but Powe has proven the ability to skate at a high level, on top of other useful traits. The same characteristic was crucial to other recent acquisitions including Benn Ferriero, Arron Asham and Jeff Halpern.

The one major exception to this generally universal rule has been Taylor Pyatt. It’s not that Pyatt’s methodical skating doesn’t irk Tortorella; he made a pointed comment about it three games into the season:

“I worry sometimes about the speed of the game, but he gets there. He has been one of our most consistent players. Sometimes I worry that he isn’t going to get down the ice, but he gets there.”

But Pyatt’s hockey sense is off the charts. As Tortorella mentioned, Pyatt has an incredible knack for getting to the right spot on the ice, just in time. Three early goals have obviously helped boost his stock among the Blueshirt faithful, but Pyatt’s unique ability to read the play will make him useful whether he’s scoring or not, even though he makes Brian Boyle look like Carl Hagelin.

New York’s search for a winning recipe is ongoing; there are only a handful of players that seem immune to roster maneuvering this season. Those guys almost all possess foot speed and as we continue to guess how the rest of the season may unfold, it’s a wise assumption that players that can move have a far better chance at securing roles going forward.


  1. Sally says:

    It doesn’t matter how fast you are if you can’t put it in the back of the net.

    • VinceR says:

      And that goes back to how last night we seemed to get most scoring chances on the rush, and did not do well with forechecking/second shots.

      To put the puck in the net we need to generate more opportunities that are not dependent on rushes/breakaways/set plays.

      The speed desire is to get to the puck and make a play on it to generate fore checking and more opportunities. If we can’t get to the puck quickly and win the board battles, we aren’t going to have possession very much in the opposing zone.

      With that said, it doesn’t help if you pass up an open chance for a fancy pass or flub a shot on a wide open net.

    • Kevin says:

      This seems like a narrow minded way of looking at things…

    • george says:

      In the NHL today, speed is one of the most important things for a team. The speed of players can back up the dmen and create more opening for players.

  2. SalMerc says:

    We also seem to add players who do not know how to score in the “umbrella power-play”

    • Dave says:

      At some point the coach (note: Sully) needs to take accountability for the repeated failures.

      • Walt says:

        Just watch the Tampa, and Pens PP as examples of how to pass the puck around, and learn from them.

        We have more than plenty of talent on this team to generate offense on the PP, as the two teams mentioned, so why do we fail???????

        After a couple of yeas of the same garbage, time has come for a PP expert to be brought in to help.

  3. Matt Josephs says:

    I think it will take a bit of time for this new look lineup to gel. last night Kreider came back from injury, Powe played his first game, and Miller was thrown into the fire (and looked very good). Can’t wait until Callahan comes back.

    But last night the Rangers iced 4 lines that can skate. Give Marty some credit for last night. The power play is awful (and will continue to be), but the Rangers 5 v 5 play will only get better.

  4. Blueshirt In Paris says:

    Right now I see no glaring holes on the forwards. Underperforming players? Sure. But the personal is there.

    D depth and PP need to be addressed in that order.

  5. Greg B says:

    I was close to saying that the Rangers actually missed a player like Sean Avery, but then the Powe trade happened. Powe seems pretty similar to Avery but he has a better attitude and more smarts than Avery. More happy than sad to see Rupp go even if he was a great “team” guy.

    The PP- Why do we insist on dumping the puck into the zone then trying to go get it? This has never worked for the Rangers in the past few years. Lets have Richards/Nash make a play at the blue line and set up our PP in their zone. We definitely missed Cally on the PP last night. He’s not the only answer to the problems but could he have put in that rebound Stepan missed? Probably.

    Lets hope the combination of Kreider/Miller is not a one game fluke. Seems like we need all the help we can get this year, and if it means burning a year off his entry level contract- I think the Rangers brass says so be it.