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Musings: Trying to stay alive and do the impossible, plus two rants

Not going anywhere. (JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF)

Not going anywhere. (JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF)

Chris isn’t available to do the musings today, so you’re stuck with me today. Today is game day, although I sense that many have a feeling of dread today. With the Rangers down 3-0, it’s understandable. Winning this series is unlikely, but it has been done before against these Bruins. That was in 2010 when the Flyers came back from down 3-0 to win the series, but many of the Bruins on that team are still on the current team. It’s not impossible.

Of the players still on the roster: Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Shawn Thornton. That’s 11 skaters, although Krejci was injured for the last four games of that series in 2010.

Of course, the Rangers will need to get some sort of steady defense –difficult without Anton Stralman or Marc Staal– and some sort of consistent offense. The Rangers need to put Henrik Lundqvist in a position to win, which they haven’t done yet this series. If Hank gives up two goals, the Rangers can’t win. That seems to be the case, and it really shouldn’t be. Hank’s been fantastic –aside from Game Two– and you sort of feel for the guy.

Rant: Why do people think that Hank isn’t a playoff goalie? If he gives up more than two goals in a game, then the team automatically loses because the team can’t score. It’s utterly ridiculous. It’s always people who don’t follow this team too. If you even do a little research you’ll see the Rangers don’t score, and almost all of Hank’s losses are when he gives up 2 –or even worse, 1– goals. Just laziness.

Rant #2: Why do people think that all of this is John Tortorella’s fault? A) He doesn’t work on the PP, that’s Mike Sullivan (the next point will cover the anemic powerplay). B) His systems aren’t passive, they are aggressive. There is a big difference between “defense first” and “passive” that many just can’t see. We’ve covered this ad nauseam on this blog. If you want direct links to our posts, ask in the comments. I’m not putting them here. C) He has not lost the locker room. Everyone saying he has is a fan that isn’t in the locker room. Also, everyone thought Joel Quenneville lost the Chicago locker room last season, and look what happened. D) People take exception to his “yelling at the players.” He’s a coach, not your friend (thanks Herb Brooks). There’s a saying in the professional world: “It’s good when you get yelled at, it shows people care. It’s when they stop yelling that you need to take notice. It means they’ve given up.”

The powerplay: It’s tough to have a successful powerplay when your PPQB (Brad Richards) forgets how to play hockey. Michael Del Zotto is not ready to take over the pressures yet (he’s just 22, defensemen don’t really get comfortable until they hit that 24-25 year old mark). John Moore has a nice shot, but he’s a rookie. Dan Girardi doesn’t belong on the point. You can make an argument for Ryan McDonagh, and that’s about it. Of course the bigger issue is lack of movement and the relatively static nature of the powerplay. It won’t get Sully fired (he does other things), but they will probably look to hire a powerplay coach in the offseason.

The Penguins sure are hitting a stride now. Tomas Vokoun really stabilized them in net.

Surprised that San Jose is giving the Kings so many problems. I didn’t expect that, but I still think the Kings repeat this year.

How about those Red Wings? Everyone thought the Hawks would steamroll, but the Wings have looked mighty impressive so far.

Some non-playoff notes:

  • Alain Vigneault was fired by Vancouver. For those hoping it happens to Torts: Keep dreaming.
  • The Rangers have until June 1 to sign 2011 draftees Shane McColgan (4th) and Sam Noreau (6th). McColgan is still playing in the Memorial Cup, so if the organization signs him, it likely won’t be until the conclusion of the tournament. As for Noreau, I’m surprised the team hasn’t signed him yet. I know he’s not the best prospect, but this was a team very thin on defense at the AHL/ECHL level. I don’t watch Noreau regularly, but he’s one big dude and was given primary shutdown minutes for a Baie-Comeau team that went to the QMJHL Finals.
  • The Rangers also have until June 1 to sign Peter Ceresnak (2011, 7th). I don’t expect them to pursue this option, which is why I’m relatively surprised Noreau hasn’t been given his ELC at the moment.
  • The other 2011 draftee (Steve Fogarty, 3rd) is in the NCAA and just finished his freshman season, so the Rangers won’t sign him until the end of his junior year at the earliest.
  • Could you imagine if Mike Sauer didn’t get hurt?

Questions:

  • How many games do you think the Rangers win in this series?
  • If the Rangers get swept, do you consider this to be a successful season, all things considered (lockout, no camp, roster turnover, two top players not producing)?
  • Who do you think comes out of the East? West? Who wins the Cup?
  • If you think Torts has lost the locker room, what makes you think that? Remember the point made above.

50 Responses to “Musings: Trying to stay alive and do the impossible, plus two rants”

  1. tmd39 says:

    “Why do people think that all of this is John Tortorella’s fault? A) He doesn’t work on the PP, that’s Mike Sullivan”

    This sounds like Chris Matthews providing cover for Pres. Obama. Why do you blame Obama for the IRS scandal, he doesn’t run the IRS? Bull. He’s the top dog, the buck stops with him. Same with Torts. Sully is his guy, but the PP hasn’t work under him. It’s time for Torts to take some responsibility.

    • SalMerc says:

      here here

    • Arisrules says:

      While I think Torts is at fault, this analogy is inane.

      Obama took the blame for the IRS scandal, and you’ve seen the acting IRS commissioner resign, and multiple people being placed on administrative leave, not to mention that there are several investigations going on.

      What has Torts done regarding his PP? It’s gotten worse, despite having better tools! That ultimately is the downfall with the arguments supporting Torts. He has more talent, but he is doing less with it.

      • tmd39 says:

        He took blame? By saying “This is terrible” and firing the acting commissioner, who wasn’t even on the job when the targeting of conservative groups started? I guess you think they just got the intel wrong when they said the Benghazi attacks were a result of protests.

  2. Sally says:

    Hey Dave, Hate to be a pooh but,

    1. 1 game
    2. They made the playoffs so yes
    3. Pens, Detroit
    4. Don’t think he has lost the room, but think the shortened bench is killing them. If he can’t trust players to be on the ice then they shouldn’t be on the team.
    PLEASE HIRE A POWER PLAY COACH!!!

  3. Joe says:

    I wish to respond to your rant #2 from my perspective. I get where you are coming from, however I couldn’t disagree more. Tortorella is the “HEAD” coach, he is responsible for all aspects of the play on the ice. He’s had 4 1/2 years of coaching a team that is built to win now. His system is not working! For whatever reason, it is not working, period! A.) Keeping Sully as your PP coach when it doesn’t work is a great sign of loyalty, (wish he was my friend) but loyalty is not winning us any games. Sometimes a head coach has to know when to cut his losses and move on. He will not! The PP is abysmal. B.) I agree his system is not passive, but it is defense first. This requires players to think defense before offense while transitioning, hence the term. You mention that the problem is the team is not scoring enough for Hank. I agree! Let’s get a coach in here who would put in an offense first system that would get this team scoring and leave our biggest asset (HANK) to win games for us 4-3 and 3-2 or whatever. I think we have the horses to pull this off! C.) When was the last time you were in the locker room? Whether or not Torts has lost this team doesn’t matter, what matters is his systems are not working here! D.) I agree once again with you, except I don’t think anyone takes exception to the players being yelled at, but rather the method in which he calls his players out in front of the national media, i.e. Hagelin. I understand it sometimes helps to motivate a player through the media, but not the harsh way he does it!

    One game at a time….Rangers do it tonight!

    • Walt says:

      Joe

      Thanks for your remarks, I agree with all of it. Had I said this, they would be saying I hate the coach, so I’ll just say thanks for reading my mind!!

      • Dave says:

        We know you hate the coach. So the argument isn’t really new. We just keep going back and forth on the same issues. We won’t agree on it unless Torts actually kills someone.

        • The Suit says:

          Torts praised Hagelin in other aspects of the game in that same quote and even said he’d probably try him out on the power play. Yet all of that got cut out by the media. If you actually listen to Torts speak instead of just reading Brooksie, you’ll see he wasn’t throwing HAgs under the bus.

          • Joe says:

            I heard the entire quote, and I don’t read Brooksie because I know he has an ax to grind. I heard what Torts said! just because someone says some nice things, that doesn’t make the harshness of the bad things sting any less, nor, in my view, make a good motivational tool. Again, i am just providing my side to show others who read this blog a different point of view. I don’t hate Torts, in fact I wish him success and health and happiness in his life. I just think that he has had his chance here and it is not working. I wish someone could tell me how they think it is working. If you think working is making it to the finals or semi finals, then that is where we differ. As everyone knows the only thing that matters in sports is Championships! it’s what we all want. Especially in this town.

    • Dave says:

      The team was only built to win now this year. So I don’t know where you got 4 1/2 years from. There has been significant turnover from then to now. This is the first year where they were “expected” to make a run. They got to the 2nd round without Brad Richards (or Gaborik) in a lockout shortened year. Many people forget that this season is a fluke because of the lockout.

      • Joe says:

        oh I see, then why am I am watching this year? I guess you believe Torts would have won the cup this year if he had an 82 game season. I on the other hand do not!

        • Dave says:

          You watch because you support the team and hope they win. Why else would you watch?

          • Joe says:

            To see a championship! which is why I believe a coaching change is needed!

            • VinceR says:

              You understand that is completely rare right? Pittsburgh has as many Stanley cups in the past 20 years as NYR…they should probably fire Bylsma and gut the team.

              This isn’t the Yankees and there is a salary cap. We all hope for a championship every season, despite the odds, but if you are expecting one, 99% of the time you will be disappointed.

    • Mike K says:

      The Rangers were NOT built to “win now” when Torts took over the team. The only reason they’ve started making “win now” trades is b/c of how quickly the team has grown under him.

      • Dave says:

        When Torts took over, he had the core in place (Hank, Staal, Girardi, Cally). Everything else was put in place after Torts took the reigns.

      • Joe says:

        Answer one question my good man…When, in all the years Torts has been here and all the different personnel he had, did the Rangers have an acceptable power play?

        • VinceR says:

          When have the Bruins had an “acceptable” power play in the past few years? I thought it was only about championships.

          • Arisrules says:

            With how good the Rangers are on 5 v 5 defensively, a decent PP propels this team forward. It’s been an issue for a long time now, and it remains unresolved.

            This is a “heckuva job Brownie” moment.

  4. The Suit says:

    1) 4 games!!!
    2) Successful season. We made it to the 2nd round.
    3) Rangers vs Chicago, if not us Boston.
    4) No clue what the room thinks of Torts either way and I don’t care. Not how I evaluate coaching.

    • Dave says:

      You really think they come back from this? I’m the biggest optimist there is, and I think they get to game six.

    • becky says:

      That optimism just made me smile for the first time all day- it was definitely the use of three exclamation points

  5. Mikeyyy says:

    4 games
    No. Sweep is unforgivable to me.
    Rangers and la. Rangers win.
    He hasn’t lost the lockerroom. He has slowly been losing the fan base. He needs to get that back.

    • Dave says:

      He gets that back with a Cup. It’ll be funny to see all the praise from those who called for his head when he gets one though.

      • The Suit says:

        Like all the praise Torts got 7 days ago for beating DC? Fickle this bunch.

        • mikeyyy says:

          And I am not even a torts fan to begin with.

          But you can’t change anything now, and complaining about it only hurts the team. We will have enough to talk about in the offseason. But for now, I hope the boys come out and torch Boston tonight.

        • Joe says:

          i never praised him a week ago, just to be sure

  6. Spozo says:

    Dave, it’s hard to win the Tortorella argument when half of his critics on here wanted him gone after last season.

    • VinceR says:

      That pretty much sums it up. But he does play favorites. Ask Brad Richards tonight, as he has been confirmed a healthy scratch in an elimination game.

      • Walt says:

        Hay VinceR
        Are you a part of the staff, we went round, and round yesterday, and I’m seeing plenty of your posts today? If you are, well I just learned something.

        • VinceR says:

          Don’t know what you are getting at here Walt, which staff? BSB? No. NYR? No. I am in a profession that has nothing to do with any sport.

          Were you being sarcastic about something? If so, it flew over my head. The Richards scratch info was all over twitter from various writers.

          • Walt says:

            No sarcasim ment here. I was inquiring if you were a writer for the BSB, and your not. It’s cool!!

        • VinceR says:

          Also, I’ve been posting on this board for 2 years or more, we’ve gone round and round every so often.

  7. Spozo says:

    I love how Torts “style” of coaching is the reason we are losing to a teams that plays practically the same way. I’m sure that doesn’t have anything to do with Boston being 2 seasons removed from a cup win and still have like 3/4 the same team. Lets be honest here. I think a lot of people underestimated the Bruins. They have certainly taken it up a notch and are showing their playoff experience.

  8. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Richie- a healthy scratch tonight?!?! (per TSN)

    That was a ballsy move by Torts, and a necessary one at that. That is the correct call and a very tough and personal personnel decision to make. +1 to Torts.

    Now dress Newburry, and get that 4th line out there regularly to bang some bodies. Rangers stave off elimination tonight!

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Maybe Clowe or Powe come back? It’s longshot, but Clowe for Richards would be a nice swap.

  9. Ray says:

    1. Zero
    2.No, from where they were last year, showing that there is a team you can’t play with at all is failure. The Rangers are no longer close to a Cup. It will be interesting to see if Sather trusts the development of Kreider, Miller, Moore or if there are a few big chances afoot.
    3. San Jose over Pitt
    4. Hasn’t lost it

    Rant 1: I love Lundqvist, but he hasn’t helped this postseason at all. He has been at his best when then the teams have been mismatched and at his worst when the skaters have not resolved the issue. He was incredible in Games 2 and 5 against Washington and again on Tuesday. But the Ranger skaters got bashed and all three games were lost anyway. OTOH, the right goalie performance could have stolen Game 1 vs. Boston — and he didn’t do it.

    Girardi may not be ideal for the PP point, but he has maturity and a hard shot. With the current roster, I think the Rangers are best served with a QB at one point (Richards or Zucc) and Girardi at the other.

    • AdamGravesIsTheMan says:

      What Game 1 did you watch?? If it wasn’t for Hank in net, the game would have been over in the first 30 seconds of Overtime. He stood on his head and made save after save to give us a shot at winning. He was outstanding during the penalty kill (and got some help from the posts). It wasn’t until the Rangers gave up a odd-man rush that they finally scored.

      • Ray says:

        If he had stopped either of the first two goals, there is no overtime. Most good goalies would have stopped one or the other.
        They weren’t great goals. Granted, most goalies would have given up a goal that Henrik stopped somewhere or other, so it’s unfair to blame him for the loss. But this was a game that Lundqvist could have stolen — and he didn’t. The Rangers didn’t deserve to win, but it was a game that Conn Smythe goalies win.

        • Arisrules says:

          This is nonsense. Lundqvist has been by far and away our best player. We wouldn’t have gotten past the first round without him, and each of these games against the bruins would have been blowouts without him.

          He can only pitch shutouts so often. Last year year he had a sub 2 GAA and an absurd save percentage, but was 10-10. That says it all.

          • Ray says:

            Look at the first three games of the Bruin series. The Rangers were mauled in Games 2 and 3. Lundqvist was brilliant – so what. Two losses all the same. In Game 1, the Rangers were less decisively beaten on the ice. Lundqvist played well, yes, but if he stops either of the first two goals, and many goaltenders would have, he steals the game.

            IMO, Game 4 was the first game where the Rangers were outskated and won because they had the better goaltender.

  10. Evan M says:

    If Torts can’t take the blame for the failure of special teams, then he can’t take any credit for success. That’s saying the coach isn’t responsible for how his team performs. It is a shared responsibility among coaches and players, but when the same crap keeps happening every game in back-to-back seasons, the weight falls on the coach.

    Trust me that I’m not a Torts hater, and am willing to be patient through one more season, but I feel the negatives (to this point) out weigh the positives.

  11. mikeyyy says:

    Compiled for your viewing pleasure

    Pulled PP data for the last 15 years…PP is worse now than with Renney. And worse in the playoffs. Not saying its anyones fault but we need help.

    Reg |Play |Year |Leaders
    15.7 |5.3 |12-13 |Cally with 6 Stepan with 4 and Nash with 3 (Shortened Season)
    15.6 |17.8 |11-12 |Cally with 13 Gabby with 10 and Richie with 7
    16.9 |5.0 |10-11 |Cally with 10 Gabby with 7 and Dubi with 4
    18.3 |DNP |09-10 |Gabby with 14 Cally with 9 Prospal with 6
    13.9 |12.9 |08-09 |Drury with 10 Naslund with 8 and Zherdev with 4
    16.5 |16.7 |07-08 |Drury with 12 Shanny with 11 and Jagr with 7
    18.5 |24.1 |06-07 |Nylander with 14 Shanny with 14 and Straka with 8
    18.9 |9.5 |05-06 |Jagr with 24 Prucha with 16 and Sykora with 7
    0.0 |0.0 |Lockout |No PP as everyone was playing golf
    14.2 |DNP |03-04 |Holik with 8 Nedved with 5 and Leetch with 4 (Shortened Season)
    16.2 |DNP |02-03 |Lindros with 9 Nedved and Messier with 8
    14.7 |DNP |01-02 |Lindros with 12 Fleury with 7 and Nedved with 6
    17.9 |DNP |00-01 |Messier with 12 Leetch with 10 and Nedved with 9
    16.9 |DNP |99-00 |Graves with 11 York with 8 Nedved with 6
    20.4 |DNP |98-99 |Graves with 14 MacLean with 11 and Nedved with 9
    17.6 |DNP |97-98 |LaFontaine and Leetch 11 pp each gravy with 10

  12. Dunc says:

    The Rangers might get lucky and win one, but Torts is living in the past and his style in unwinnable against any team capable of hemming the Rangers in their own zone for 30 seconds at a time more than 3 times a game.

    • Spozo says:

      Show me evidence of a single game played by any team in the last 10 years that was not hemmed down in their own zone for 30 seconds 3 times a game and I will make you next mortgage payment.

  13. SalMerc says:

    Team cannot win it all if they are not a “team”. Torts style, while welcomed by some, is hated by others. Unless Slats can find 20 guys who only do things the “torts way”, we will not win. Not so sure you won’t hear that some 5 guys are looking to move after the season.

    • VinceR says:

      Torts style is all about playing as a team. Not some players only having to do some things when they feel like it. That’s when he holds them accountable.

  14. mikeyyy says:

    We need more diversity on the squad.

    Too many Canadians and USA Players….not even one russian….not one.

  15. becky says:

    1- 2
    2- yes, albeit a bit frustrating. I’d like to see some more consistency next year, which I think we will have as all of our new pieces can come together and meld better with a full regular season.
    3- Bruins – SJS – Boston wins
    4- not my place to tell. I don’t think that Gaby leaving is telling though, some superstars just act like primadonnas