Ice time beginning to even out

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Last night’s game was one of the most hard-fought and entertaining games we have seen in the past decade. It was one of the most important games of this season, and possibly the most important game in the Rangers/Islanders rivalry in almost 20 years. This is the type of game where –given coach John Tortorella’s penchant for leaning on his most trusted players– you would expect some of the depth players to see maybe four or five minutes of ice time. That was not the case last night.

Save for Arron Asham, each Ranger player spent the appropriate amount of time on the ice as per their role on the team. Darroll Powe, who is a fourth line player that kills penalties, saw 13 shifts and 9 minutes of ice time. Eight minutes of that was at even strength, and another minute was on the penalty kill. Taylor Pyatt, Powe’s linemate, does not kill penalties. He saw 8:15 at even strength and that was it (I’m discounting the four seconds of PP time for both, as that was the end of the PP for matchups).

John Moore, a third pairing defenseman who is still new to the team, saw 7:55 in even strength ice time. Steve Eminger, his partner, saw 11:35 in even strength ice time. This isn’t all that unexpected because in a close game, a coach will lean on those who are familiar with the system. Moore is new, and is still prone to positioning mistakes that come with moving from Columbus to New York. Eminger has been with the team for a few years now, playing under Tortorella. He’s not the best option, but he will make fewer systemic mistakes.

One other aspect that goes into ice time is matchups. If the Dan Girardi/Ryan McDonagh pair plays only against Alex Ovechkin, and Ovechkin plays 30 minutes, then Girardi and McDonagh will play 30 minutes. This is something that Torts has been pretty good at this season. So it may be counter productive to look at just ice time, and maybe look at the opponent’s ice time as well.

Torts is not the type of coach to roll his lines evenly. He never has been and he never will be. His mindset is to play your best players as much as you can, and there’s nothing wrong with that mindset. But as the Rangers get more dependable depth players, the ability to spread out the ice time becomes a crucial mix to keeping the best players fresh.

7 Responses to “Ice time beginning to even out”

  1. Chris F says:

    I was impressed with Moore’s play last night. He was confident and physical. He did not back down. Hope he enjoyed his first Isles/Rangers mash-up!

  2. Chris F says:

    I must say, though, that as exciting as last night’s game was, I am still troubled by a number of aspects of the Rangers game:

    1) Continued defensive-lapses and bad turnovers;
    2) A tendency to get hemmed in our own zone for sustained periods of time;
    3) An inability to sustain our own pressure (18 minutes without a shot between the second/third periods);
    4) An overall lack of poise.

    Hank stood on his head, and we had some fortuitous bounces that prevented Isles goals (yes, we also had our share of bounces that could easily have been Rangers goals), but the Rangers seemed to lack consistency and fluidity. The frenetic pace of the game accounts for much of that, but that’s how games tend to go in the playoffs, with the play feeding off the energy of the crowd. We have to do a better job of preventing entry across the blue-line. We just did not seem capable of slowing their rushes last night, and therefore had to resort to collapsing into the slot, which makes it a whole heck of lot more hectic for Lundqvist. Huge two points, but the boys need to get it together.

    • VinceR says:

      Yeah, the lack of puck possession in the offensive zone was somewhat aggravating. They didn’t have the forecheck going and couldn’t get the puck low. The 4th line had a couple of nice possessions but that was it.

      The Isles were able to do that and it showed how much it really wore down the Rangers…by the 3rd they were pretty gassed trying even to move the puck out of their own zone…had trouble maintaining short shifts. As soon as they did get it out of the zone, there would be a need for a line change which really hampers any offensive flow.

  3. Chris F says:

    Any news on when Dorsett may be available to play?

  4. Matt Josephs says:

    Girardi still played 29 minutes last night. That’s still pretty troubling even if some of those minutes came in overtime. Staal being out still hurts. Gonna need him come playoff time even if he’s unable to play his normal shutdown minutes. 15-20 minutes of Staal would be very welcomed right now.

  5. The Suit says:

    Great post.

  6. Lou says:

    Worried about this aspect of Tort’s style come playoff time.

    There are times in each game to play the bottom three d-men and there are times to put in the fourth line.

    Yes this may increase the risk of getting scored on, but ultimately will pay huge returns in the fresh legs preserved of the big boys.

    Gotta play EVERY player a minimum of 12 minutes – period! And let’s not be afraid to play our fourth line against the oppositions 2 or 3rd. Their role (which needs to be better defined) is to grind, bruise and weaken the opposition. Playing 4th line against 4th line doesnt add anything.

    Torts needs to trust his bottom guys!

    And yes, Moore played an excellent game and is a superb skater. His minutes need to be increased to 15+. I certainly prefer to see him out there than Emminger (who’s all heart but limited talent).