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Rangers continue to forget how to play defense in loss to Anaheim

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

This is not the same Ranger team we saw last year. If this team got blown out 9-2 last year, they had a fire under them and played a strong follow up game. This time around, the Ducks thoroughly spanked the Rangers, and the Blueshirts didn’t even pretend to play defense. In San Jose, they were playing well up until the four goals in four minutes in the second period. New York was always a step behind tonight.

It looks like this is a team that forgot how to play defense, forgot how to backcheck, and simply doesn’t know who to cover in the defensive zone. The blowouts are starting to affect their offensive game, and you can tell this team has no confidence at all right now.

On to the goals:

Ducks 1, Rangers 0

More of the same carrying over from San Jose.

More of the same carrying over from San Jose.

This was more of the same from this team that we saw in San Jose. After a Derek Stepan turnover, Bryan Allen quickly moved the puck to Corey Perry on the weak side at the blue line. Perry beat Ryan McDonagh wide, which forced Anton Stralman to come over to cover (red arrow). Perry was able to feed the now wide open Ryan Getzlaf for the goal. Stepan, who turned the puck over to start this whole thing, was coasting and watching the play, instead of recognizing that Getzlaf was his man once Stralman moved to cover Perry after McDonagh was beat (yellow arrow).

Ducks 2, Rangers 0

Three more fails on this one.

Three more fails on this one.

With Michael Del Zotto behind the net covering Teemu Selanne, Stepan decided to help him out by going behind the net as well. His actual position should be the front of the net waiting for a loose puck or to cover someone who gets to the front of the net. Naturally, the latter happened when Jakub Silfverberg got better positioning on Jesper Fast and beat him to the slot. With Stepan now out of position, and Silfverberg essentially alone in front, this one had goal written all over it.

Ducks 3, Rangers 0

This is one he wants back.

This is one he wants back.

Del Zotto tried another homerun pass, but this time it led Stepan right into a danger zone. A big hit caused the turnover, and Daniel Winnik took a nice shot from outside the circle on a two-on-two rush. This is one Henrik Lundqvist wants back.

Ducks 4, Rangers 0

This is never a good thing, no matter how well the goalie handles the puck.

This is never a good thing, no matter how well the goalie handles the puck.

MDZ and Benoit Pouliot forgot how to give/receive passes, and Hank decided to dive out 30 feet to poke the puck away. When it rains, it pours.

Ducks 5, Rangers 0

Oh come on.

Oh come on.

Pouliot can’t handle his second pass of the period, and this one again wound up in the Rangers net. This time around, after the turnover, Brad Richards doesn’t cover Saku Koivu, who took the Winnik feed and roofed it.

Ducks 6, Rangers 0

When you're playing poorly, you create your own bad luck.

When you’re playing poorly, you create your own bad luck.

After the Rangers lost (another) face off in their zone, the Ducks went to work moving the puck. There wasn’t really any coverage fail on this one, just some good movement by the Ducks. They also got some luck, as Dan Girardi knocked this one in (the pic above actually has the puck on his stick).

Something worth noting over the past two games: Alain Vigneault never called a timeout. He didn’t call one during the four goal onslaught Tuesday night, and he didn’t call one after the Ducks got out to a 3-0 lead tonight. I wish we had an explanation for that. Maybe he didn’t need to because he didn’t allow the team to have a between the periods interview.

This team has now been outscored 15-2 over the past two games, including a stretch where they were outscored 13-1 over 4 periods. One more game on this Western Conference trip before they return to the east coast and to more sleep friendly games.

73 Responses to “Rangers continue to forget how to play defense in loss to Anaheim”

  1. Walt says:

    I’m trying, but it’s hard as hell giving these guys a break. Our strong suit was defense, and after giving up 15 goals in two games, what the fu*k???

    Hank looks terrible. Hank has to play with a clear head, let his agent talk contract, Hank should play goal. There is something wrong here, and it’s hard to put a finger on it.

    I’m not ready to hang AV, he isn’t on the ice, the players are. Maybe these guys have been kicked in the teeth over the last 4-5 years, and AV is being too soft?? Whatever it is, it has to stop.

    If they can’t get their act together, bring up the kids, Miller, Lindberg, McIlrath, and Kreider, and let them play. They couldn’t look any worse than what we are seeing, and they learn at the same time. Maybe the vets are just too damn comfortable!!

    • Centerman21 says:

      You’re all getting what you asked for. You all ran Torts out of town because the team didn’t score enough. Well here’s offensive hockey. You usually don’t score much when you allow 3+ goals per period. Yay, offense.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    Your not going to play well unless you execute the fundamentals.

    Passing, cycling, back checking.

    Remember these guys were never asked to at fancy hockey.

    They will be rusty for a while.

    A few more games like this and av doesn’t make it 20.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Oh you better believe AV makes it to 20. He makes it to several seasons since the Rangers signed him to a 5 year deal…can’t just hire and fire coaches Steinbrenner style, it never works.

      Bad signs all over the place early this season. I don’t know what it is, but it’s more than just unfamiliarity with a new system. Excuses are running thin at this point.

  3. Spozo says:

    For me the most frustrating part is that we got to see this team play in LA. So we know how they are supposed to look. They were able to play within AVs system and play it well.

    These Rangers always like to keep things interesting!

  4. Jerry says:

    I know not everyone will be happy with this but I’m saying it.as a team they are not getting it done ,but it’s time to get rid of Boyle, pyatt,and delzotto.mdz can’t hit the net with a single shot and and is horrible all around.and pyatt and Boyle are two big bodies that play like they are 50 goal snipers that don’t want to hit any body.zuccs throws more checks than they do.its time to get rid of the dead wood.like Walt says get rid of these three and let the kids play.it wouldn’t be any worse.

    • Dave says:

      I’m willing to give it more than 4 games under a new coach.

      Will be interesting to see what happens at the deadline. Allen may force MDZ’s hand. Pyatt, well, that’s another story.

      Disagree about Boyle. Need guys who can play defense…well you know what I mean.

      • Jerry says:

        I agree about giving it more games.i just think that the guys I mentioned aren’t fit for av style hockey.i just think they are dead wood.

      • Puck Luck (@Centerman21) says:

        I don’t know that all do know what you mean. Boyle & DZ have become the “Whipping Boy” that gets blamed for losses. Boyle is supposed to beat everyone up because he’s 6’7″ & DZ won’t live down the “Turnover machine” label. Boyle throws his weight fine & that label don’t apply to DZ anymore.
        The problems go deeper than just coverage but when they play Zone on the PK they look pretty good Dave. They killed off 14 mins of Ducks PP time.

    • Centerman21 says:

      Yes, it could get worse. Right now it’s just a few games. They have played bad but if they just put kids in without earning a spot. It doesn’t help them or the team. They gave Kreider a spot last year and that didn’t work out. The kids in Hartford are there because they got beat out for a spot in camp. Boyle isn’t going anywhere. Say it as much as you like. DZ is a young defenseman. You don’t just throw him away. If a good deal is offered then take it but that doesn’t look likely since there’s no puck movers in the organization.

      • Walt says:

        So you believe that Pyatt is better than Miller, Lindberg, or Kreider? What the hell are you smoking?

        • Dave says:

          It’s not that. It’s more important to let those 3 kids develop and not rush them. Pyatt isn’t completely useless.

          • Walt says:

            Sorry Dave, he is good for wiping your butt after a good BM, and that’s it!!

            • Dave says:

              In the first two games, he was the team leader in puck possession. I haven’t checked since the 15-2 romp, but I’m willing to give him 15 games under a coach he’s played well with in the past before passing judgment.

              If this was still a Torts team, I’d want him gone.

  5. The Suit says:

    It’s more than just coverage fails, though that’s certainly a big problem. But we’re also trying to make passes at our blueline and in the neutral zone that aren’t there.

    I know Sather thinks soft chips and dumping the puck in “isn’t the way the game is played anymore” but in times like these you have to simplify your game, which hopefully they do in St. Louis.

    • Mikeyyy says:

      Sorry suit but I disagree. That’s the trap torts and renney fell into. Zero cups with that approach. The simple play will get you through the regular season but not too deep into the post season.

      I say keep going till they learn how to execute. Turtling up won’t help anyone.

      • Dave says:

        Suit isn’t saying to do that with every play. There are some lines (Richards-Step-Nash) that should be carrying the puck in.

        Others should look for the smart play. If that’s the carry-in (preferred method), then great. If there’s no pass, get the puck deep and go to the dirty areas.

        Worst case scenario, you force the opposition to go 200 feet instead of 150.

        • The Suit says:

          Agreed. You have to read the gap, which they arent doing. When the gap is tight you dump it in and forecheck hard. It’s not a Torts thing, or a Renney thing, it’s fundamental hockey, which every successful team knows how to find that balance.

    • Puck Luck (@Centerman21) says:

      Every team dumps the puck and chases at some point regardless of strategy.
      The Rangers play a zone on the PK right. A diamond that slides to a box at times. They look pretty good on the PK last night going on adrenaline and hard work.

  6. Erixon20 says:

    Good point about the timeouts. Hank made a few mistakes, but if not for some big saves early it could have been 6-0 after one. Everybody looks horrible. Staal looks OK, Boyle too and of course Cally. Other than that, they don’t belong on the same ice as these Western teams. While Hank hasn’t looked like the world’s best goalie, he is probably the least of our problems. Also, I’m sure AV has mentioned basic hockey defensive strategy such as covering the man in the slot…and guys like Stepan have been doing that their whole lives, so it is really unexplainable as to how sloppy they are playing. They are currently as unwatchable as the New York Giants. A change has to be made – major player shake up.

    • Jerry says:

      Boyle looks horrible.hes a huge body that hits no one.hes one of the softest players on this team.

      • Erixon20 says:

        He’s waaay softer than he should be, but he’s always among the hits leaders on the team. That said, we are probably the softest team in the East. I think Boyle has been one of our best players this year and in last year’s playoffs….and that is scary because he’s a marginal NHL talent.

      • Dave says:

        Let’s come to terms with the player Boyle is, not the player you want him to be.

  7. Sally says:

    No, not Cally!!!

  8. Todd says:

    They look lost. I said it last year and I will say it again, Sather needs to dump the underacheivers….. Pyatt dump, Del Zotto trade, Boyle trade, Pouilot now we know why he has been on 5 teams in 5 years and last but not least RICHARDS!!! Sather must be getting soft. He said he wanted to give Richards a second chance. Really? The guy is washed up. Don’t let the three goals this year fool you. At least one maybe two were fluke goals.
    I kmnow it is early in the season but if they don’t turn it aroiund, dump the dead wood and bring up the kids and let them get some NHL experience. the kids can’t play any worse than these “vets”.
    Sick to my stomach…..

  9. Bloomer says:

    This is what happens when you have a soft training camp and pre-season. The Rangers need to get back to the fundamentals and stop playing pond hockey for now. Powe needs to be brought back up as he gets defensive hockey. I like to see the line of Boyle, Dorcett and Pyatt reunited. This was the Rangers best line in the Boston series and the club needs some bump and grind right now. Play Cally with Steps and Richards. And for all you Boyle haters, he been the most consistent player so far this season so maybe you need to give him a friggin break.
    AV can coach a trap system. He did it in Vancouver whenever his twins were injured. As boring as it is, if the Ranger play with 1 forechecker and plug up the neutral zone, they won’t be getting blown out of hockey games and will have a chance to win.
    I think the club will be alright just need to get back to basics.

    • Erixon20 says:

      I’ll never get the Boyle hate. He’s a good 2-way bottom 6 guy with size, great on the PK, and shows some heart. Are people expecting Lindros2 or Bob Probert? As for MDZ, Pyatt and Richards…yeah I get that, but who would want them in a trade?

      • Jerry says:

        You tell me there’s not another guy down on the farm that can’t do what Boyle does for this team and probably less money.as for comparing him to those guys I personally think Boyle is a waste of space.and as for the big body thing ,the guy should use it.

        • Dave says:

          Eventually yes, there are farm guys that can do Boyle’s job (notably Lindberg). But if you want someone physical in that role, Lindberg is not your guy.

          No one else on the AHL roster can fill a physical role while also being defensively responsible. Those guys are very tough to find.

          Boyle is a guy that is physical enough and turns it up a notch in the playoffs.

          • Jerry says:

            Sorry Dave I know we are going on and on about Boyle ,I’m sorry I am not a fan of this guy .im not expecting him to be a first liner .as for the physical stuff I never miss a game the guy throws soft checks and gets credit for a check leader on the team.and as for stepping up in the playoffs well sorry at 1.7 a year he should step up all year.and so should the rest of the team.

            • Dave says:

              You are throwing Boyle under a bus for no reason. 2 goals were on Stepan. 2 on MDZ/Pouliot, 2 on Hank.

              I never use +/- as a reliable stat, but he was an even rating in a 6-0 game. Speaks volumes.

              He’s also starting 25% of his shifts in the OZ, is a -1 RCorsi so far, 2 points in 4 games.

              What more do you want?

              • Jerry says:

                I think this is one of the first times we disagree Dave.wow it’s a first.lol

              • Dave says:

                Maybe I’m misinterpreting here. I get the impression you’re blaming Boyle for these 2 games.

                If you don’t like his style of play, fine, we won’t agree to that. But there’s no way these games are on him.

              • Walt says:

                Like you, I never understood why the hate directed at Boyle. Yes he is big, and I wish he would get some boxing lessons, but he does his job well!

              • Jerry says:

                Not blaming him alone at all.i blame the team.i just don’t like his play.and I think we could infuse a little youth in the place of Boyle and pyatt.and on delzotto I think he’s overrated.

              • Walt says:

                Jerry
                Agree on Pyatt, and MDZ, but Boyle does a decent job, and if anything, try to trade him for something in return that can help the team. I still believe in Boyle though. MDZ could get us draft picks, and give us cap space. Pyatt won’t get us the time of day!!

              • Dave says:

                I’m a big MDZ supporter, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him dealt IF AND ONLY IF Conor ALlen plays well in the AHL.

                Pyatt – If this was Torts, I’d want him gone. He’s played well under AV in the past (and in the first 2 games this year), I’m willing to give him 15 games.

                Boyle – Let’s agree to disagree.

  10. Galen H says:

    Defensively they looked god awful last night, chasing the puck with no regard to their positional responsibilities.

    I was surprised that AV changed up the all of the lines, especially the defensive pairings after a little bit of info I heard on the LA broadcast last night. According to them, in the new CBA teams are unable to practice the day after back to back games on the road. Meaning after the first debacle in SJ, the Rangers were unable to practice (and definitely needed one) but still made such drastic lineup changes.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Is this true?? Am I in real life right now or bizarro world?

      I think I semi-concussed myself last night in a mens league game so maybe I just don’t understand what I am reading.

      Honestly though, if you have a source for that… or Dave / Suit / Company, if you could comment on this it would be appreciated. That’s a detail which didn’t make it to my attention and if it is true I would be disappointed to say the least

      • Dave says:

        Not sure what you are referring to? You mean that they couldn’t practice Wednesday? That’s accurate. The new CBA mandates a day off when playing three-in-four.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          I just think that mandated days off is complete crap for professional athletes. On a trip like this, if practice would fix things then it absolutely should be held. It should be up to the coaching staff / organization to realize what is and isn’t too much for the players. Not left to clauses buried in the CBA. Just rubs me the wrong way.

          These aren’t Regional Elite pee wee kids who need to be nurtured and reminded that hockey should be fun. They’re men. They’re professional athletes.

          Anecdotally, this is a microcosm of how I view politics and governmental policies. Don’t dictate at the macro level what you don’t have to. The federal government should let the state governments dictate certain policies within the confines of federal law.

          I don’t want Donald Fehr and Gary Bettmangina deciding who should be allowed to practice when and for how long. Let captain talk to team, report to coach, discuss with staff in order to figure out what is/ isn’t too much.

          Sorry for the rant.

          • Dave says:

            I agree with you. These guys are paid millions of dollars. That is a ridiculous clause.

          • Galen H says:

            Blew my mind too. I don’t see why that should ever be in a CBA.

            Maybe for my next job I’ll have to negotiate after 2 days of work I get the next one off… I won’t even ask for the millions in salary.

  11. Gary says:

    I am tired of the ‘if not for Lundquist it would have been much worse’ line. He has sucked, plain and simple.

    As for the team, what a mess. Fighter takes off his own helmet and then the other guys’ as a favor. Another fighter starts a fight, is thrown around like a rag doll and gets the extra 2. Girardi sliding around on the ice like a horizontal pylon, useless. Slow moving vertical pylons everywhere.

    I shut it off after the first, so maybe I am negatively biased. I still think this is the result of Torts’ system so ingrained in these guys that they don’t know what they are yet. They had better figure it out quickly or bodies are going to start flying out of the Garden before they even get back to the garden.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      You said it right there: “I still think this is the result of Torts’ system so ingrained in these guys that they don’t know what they are yet.”

      This team is trying to find an identity and it just hasn’t come together. Unfortunately, they are ignoring one of Tort’s fundamentals: defensive responsiblities. There is none right now.

  12. Ren says:

    See, this is why I voted “9” on the previous post. Even if you are learning a new system, it should only result in MAYBE 1-3 more goals. This team looks like it should be in the AHL. I like how the broadcasters say “well oh, you know SJ is a team that always competes for the cup…” well so should we, and a team that does shouldn’t be getting blown out like this. If we get blown out again it is going to be kind of ridiculous.

  13. Doug Peters says:

    I strongly felt from the beginning that AV was the wrong choice for head coach. NYR have never had any luck with frech canadian coaches – check their history with coaches. Messier should be behind the bench! Players look totally confused on the ice. NYR do not have any finesse players. They are grinders. I am not sure patience is going to work here.
    Training camp was handled all wrong. Why are we learning basic systems during the season? Isn’t this what training camps are for?
    Slats what have you done to perfectly good team?

    • Dave says:

      Don’t really see how past history with coaches affects their selection. Different teams, owners, GMs, players, etc.

  14. Dave says:

    Some good points here.

    1) Hank will only get better, especially as team defense adjusts to AV.

    2) See #1, adjustments are tough.

    3) Toughness and a vanilla team was something we actually touched on recently (http://www.blueseatblogs.com/2013/10/01/toughness-and-physicality-could-become-a-concern-for-the-rangers/)

    4. 4 games. Give it time.

    5. He was one of the top P/60 guys over the past few years, let’s give it time to average out.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      3) How do the Rangers fix this? Is it by adding a tough guy or two? Or more likely, instilling a philosophical change to play with more physicality?

      The mentality of this team has changed quite a bit in 2 years since the “black and blueshirts” of 2011-12. Did losing Dubinsky and Prust have this effect?

      • Dave says:

        It’s not personnel. People blaming the loss of Dubi/Prust are just creating excuses. The team has the guys to play physical, they just aren’t doing it.

        McDonagh, Girardi, MDZ, Staal, Dorsett, Asham, Cally all play a physical game. They just aren’t at the moment.

        • The Suit says:

          Gotta disagree with you here Dave. I think Dubi and Prust were tailored made for physical puck pursuit hockey and heavy forechecking.

          The defense, while physical, aren’t going to lead the forecheck and get after pucks behind the goal line. The only guys willing and able to do that are Cally and Hags, maybe MZA but he’s 5’6 170 soaking wet.

          Dorsett and Asham are not as quick, nor have as high hockey IQ as Dubi and Prust.

          • Dave says:

            These aren’t the Black n Blueshirts anymore. I’m not disagreeing that they could be an upgrade, I just think more stock is being put on their exits than should be.

            AV is preaching more carry-in than dump and chase (clearly there are issues, as we’ve discussed already). So Dubi/Prust aren’t really built for that. I do miss them, but let’s not make them into demigods.

            • The Suit says:

              Agreed. Just wish we kept Prust. Think if we had, results may not be much different but I think the effort would have at least been there.

            • Dave says:

              I really wanted to keep Prust too, but not at that price. That contract would’ve killed the cap this season.

  15. BobM says:

    It is quite obvious that the defense is not working giving up 20. Wasn’t the whole point of this new system in generating more offense? Is 6 goals in 4 games this new wonderkind strategy?

  16. BobM says:

    You can still lose a game 9-8

    Q: What do Ranger fans do after they have won the Stanley Cup

    A: They turns off their PlayStation 3

  17. tmd39 says:

    It seems to me like they are not in nearly the same condition after training camp as they have been in previous years. Maybe it’s a by-product of the schedule.

  18. Charlie in SD says:

    Well, I was super-excited to drive up from San Diego to finally see the Rangers in person. That didn’t work out too well. We left about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. It was as if the Ducks were playing my high school’s hockey team. No oomph, no fire. Callahan was giving his all, but it seemed like everyone else was going at half-speed. It’s one thing if they were losing games 3-2, but 9-2, 6-0?? I can’t take much more of this.

    • VinceR says:

      Don’t feel bad Charlie, they already have most of the small fortune from me for my season tix! (about 6 or so payments out of 9). As I haven’t had to endure this live yet, let’s hope they turn this around soon!

    • Dave says:

      Most of us won’t be able to take more of these blowouts, but they are (hopefully) temporary.

  19. Walt says:

    Eric

    Do I hear an echo, your points have been made my me, and I get laughed at, well I agree 100% WITH YOUR POST!! This team needs gonads big time.