Rangers return home with much to prove

Home. Finally.

Home. Finally.

The month was October. The year was 2011. The Rangers kicked off the season 3-6, and every day on this blog many begged for the return of Sean Avery and the firing of John Tortorella. Dave, Chris, and I turned the page on Avery and preached patience with Torts and his systems. The Rangers then went on a 12-2 surge and eventually the Eastern Conference finals, their first appearance beyond round 2 since 1997. Avery finished the season working in advertising.

Fast forward two years later and the Rangers are standing on the edge of October with a 3-6 record. Though Avery is long gone, and his name only pops up when photos of him with Housewives star Andy Cohen circulate the internet, the complaints from this fan base are essentially the same. Too many fingers are being pointed at AV this early in the process. For us, the message remains the same as it did in 2011. Be patient.

Over the course of the next 10-15 games we’re going to get a better look at what this team can do. Nine of the next twelve games are at home, with one of those road games taking place at Nassau. I’m not expecting another run like they did in 2011, but seven or eight wins doesn’t seem too greedy.

Of course, in order to get those wins a few things have to fall into place. First, the Rangers need to find some consistency. Defensively they have looked better and the team is starting to get how to play the overload in the defensive zone, which is a complex system mixing zone and man-on-man defense. However, their offense is still a bit inconsistent.

Several key players are still struggling with when to dump the puck vs. when to enter the zone with speed, when to try to make an east/west play vs. a simple play on net, etc. This is still going to take some time to get sorted out, especially with Callahan, Hagelin, and Nash injured. Hopefully, Brass, Stepan, and Pouliot continue to step their games up a notch. I’m looking at those three specifically since they all have ample NHL experience and are being used in offensive roles.

I’d also like to see our defense get back to joining the rush a bit more and contributing on the offensive side of the puck. The first shift of the season Staal joined a 3-on-2 and nearly had a goal. Since then we really haven’t seen the defense give us any wow moments, save a few shifts here and there. MDZ, McDonagh, and Staal were all on pace for 35+ point seasons last year. They’ve got a ways to go if they want to meet similar projections.

The Rangers also need a little more accountability and they have to stay out of the box. The offensive zone penalties in Detroit almost wrecked a very good night for the Blueshirts. Right now they’re 2nd in the league in PIM/G. That’s not a good place to be if they want to do some damage this month. Dorsett is 2nd in the league in PIM and both Pyatt and Pouliot have taken some dumb penalties in these first nine games. These guys have to play smarter moving forward.

Tonight the Rangers can put a lot of fans at ease with a consistent effort, but it wont be easy. Despite being back at home it’s still going to be a battle. I feel like the officiating is always sub-par when Montreal comes to town. I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but there have been too many games against this team where I’ve left the building scratching my head. Still, if the Rangers can continue to battle hard, keep it simple and stay out of the box, we can get this thing turned around in no time.

32 Responses to “Rangers return home with much to prove”

  1. Centerman21 says:

    Stepan needs to get back to the level he was at last year. He was asking for a lot of money and what if he got it and had the same stats he has now. It’s going to take time but at home against Montreal is a fine place to start. Last year he was good with/without Nash on his wing. I want to see him play like a top line Centerman.

  2. Bloomer says:

    The is essentially the same Ranger team as last year minus the current injuries. The only major difference is the coaching change. We will see how solid the Rangers defence is tonight as they play one of the better Eastern teams.
    Puck possession requires puck support and players who can make accurate passes. Every team strives for it, but the skating and skill level is not always there throughout the rosters. Thus, if the Rangers force east west passes that aren’t there: it will be a long night for the defence and Henrik Lundquist.

    • Centerman21 says:

      You’re 100% correct there. There has to be good puck support from all 4 skaters without the puck. They looked leaps and bounds better flowing through the neutral zone on Saterday and entering the zone with speed. It’s why they won IMO. There has to be clean passing. Limit the blind Hail Mary passes and execute when the opposition makes a mistake. Tonight will be huge. Do they come out swinging or are they flat? This is a good team but I believe the Rangers can be better. Stepan is probably feeling pressure to score but he needs to play like the top Centerman. I think he had his best game this year on Saterday as well.

  3. Walt says:

    This ream has always had trouble with quicker teams, and the Montreal group is just that. If we play with the same determination as we did against the Wings, we win.

    To Centerman’s point, Step has been showing signs of improvement, and tonight he scores a goal. As for Hank, it’s time to wake up, play up to your standards, and show us all that the begining of the season has been nothing like we will see for the rest of the season!!

    Dorsett has to play hard, not stupid. If he has to take a penality, drop the gloves with Subban, get him off the ice for five!!

  4. Mark says:

    Same team as last year but this year we have injuries to some top talent… I agree that they will turn it around defensively . They need to put some goal scorers into the system and not have to overpay for them on the free agent or trade market. Having said that there must be some trades coming out of Edmonton. They are already 13 points behind in their division (again) and they do have some young forwards.

  5. scott rankin says:

    PATIENCE! PATIENCE! PATIENCE!

  6. AD says:

    I read all the rags, monitor certain blogs, and watch a majority of games; and I do not recall the fanbase “begging” to fire Tortorella. That never happened. Most fans at the time realized Tom Renney brought the club he had as far as he could, and Tortorella was here for a multi-year restructuring. The Rangers never lost as ugly or gave such little effort as what we’ve seen in the early part of this season. But, hey, since the points for the two periods you are comparing are essentially the same, it may not matter, and AV certainly deserves more time and patience from me, for sure.

    What the fanbase should not be patient with is the GM; he ought to have been replaced some time ago and that automatically translates into less patience for the players or coach, whoever is performing worse.

    The win versus Detroit was very exciting and a joy to watch, given the effort displayed by every player in the lineup. However, it remains most likely Sather is making moves for the sake of change, and has not moved the needle at all closer toward a Stanley Cup (some will say it has been moved backward).

    Sather is our primary obstacle to winning; 13yrs and, what, 5 coaches, should be enough.

    • Dave says:

      I think it is fair to say that we need to separate pre-2005 Sather and post-2005 Sather. Pre-2005 deserved to get fired, that’s for sure.

      Post-2005, you need to look at the big picture. There were zero prospects in this system. None. He had to build the team from nothing while still finding a way to compete in NY.

      Hank made it easier to compete, same with Jagr. But since then we’ve seen a lot of youth and draft picks infused into the lineup.

      Team is skilled, deep, and ready for a run.

      • AD says:

        Wow I am surprised you would make this separation.

        If anything, and I do think there is some merit to your point, the separation should be pre-2009 and post-2009, fter the baggage associated with Drury and Gomez were essentially out of the organization.

        Hiring Tortorella was smart; becoming more disciplined with free agents was smart; trades made have been smart; a slew of 3rd & 4th line player signings have been poor.

        Sather has become better in more recent years, no doubt. I am thankful for that. Yet, he doesn’t cut it from the perspective of being a top 4 GM that can orchestrate his team to a Stanley Cup.

        He has had 13 years to bring this team to…….what we are today?

        • TxRanger says:

          trading gomez away and getting mcdonagh in return is a power GM move right there. straight fleecing. if anything, signing gomez was a blessing. i doubt callahan becomes the player he is without learning from chris drury. yeah, these signings werent what they were supposed to be, but they didnt end in disaster like the redden signing. shit, even the zherdev trade really wasnt that bad.

          • AD says:

            Signing Gomez was a blessing? Now that truly is rich….

            Callahan’s leadership stems from his play & effort every shift — that has been occurring since he played Squirts hockey. Drury got some contract for being a good teammate.

            Zherdev for Tyutin wasn’t bad? Oiy ve!

            • Mikeyyy says:

              Even if you ask cally he has said several times drury taught him a lot.

              How can you not like the Gomez for mcd trade. Every squirrel gets a nut.

            • TxRanger says:

              Zherdev could have been one of the best if you ask me, but the effort that should have been there was occupied by pure apathy. Tyutin, though pretty good, was not anything special. He’s a solid NHL player, but I’d make that trade every time. Sather, should’ve given him the money, for what a one year deal, right? Torts would’ve been able to get him going.

              Chris Drury is one of the most under-rated guys to be in this league. Super effort, great leader, and just played the game with heart. I was sad to see him get bought-out. I mean, he was the Captain after all. He obviously earned that.

    • The Suit says:

      Fire Torts chants at MSG, people holding signs saying send Torts to the Whale, and every post we wrote, even ones that didn’t even mention Torts or coaching were littered with comments against him. Haha those things happened AD. Trust me. I wish you were around back then.

      Just read the comments on these posts. We were barely a month into the season.

      http://www.blueseatblogs.com/2011/10/29/rangers-recap-thoughts-and-rants/
      http://www.blueseatblogs.com/2011/10/28/leafs-rangers-analysis/
      http://www.blueseatblogs.com/2011/10/17/torts-needs-to-act-now/

      • Dave says:

        I remember the good ole days. Now everything is filled with fire AV.

      • AD says:

        If you take out those posts, chants, & signs from those fans who dug their heels in for a clown on the ice (Avery) instead of a credible, established and successful coach, it was far, far less than implied. It became Avery vs Torts and there was not one fan that supported both. Avery’s support stemmed from the fact we were a losing team, by and large, during his time here and he offered entertainment value.

      • AD says:

        Ok point taken. It didn’t seem that prevalent to me then, probably because I was behind our coach from day 1 and never waivered. People sometimes see/hear what they want to hear, I suppose.

        Let’s hope AV can transition this team toward more success than what Tortorella accomplished. I don’t anticipate that and I believe Sather is wasting the best years of Hank, Cally and other core leaders on this team. But winning chanes everything — I nearly jumped off my couch the other night when Brassard scored, so even I can forget about Sather at times :)

  7. Erixon20 says:

    I liked Avery. At the time that was the only bone I had to pick with Torts….his poor treatment of Avery. Two huge egos and Torts won. NYR’s record always improved with Sean in the lineup, didn’t it? Guy could be effective on the 1st or 4th line and stuck up for his teammates. Sure he was a jackass, but other than one stretch all he did was help the team win games. btw I think this team is starting to come together, Step being the next to find his game.

  8. Chris says:

    I get the feeling that the reluctance shown by the defense in getting involved offensively has to do with its struggles in getting comfortable with the new coverage schemes. It’s difficult to take risks when you know they’re more likely to end in a costly mistake. Hopefully, as the defense gets comfortable, that will change.

  9. Chris says:

    And, boy, am I sick of hearing Sean Avery’s name. A marginal player at best, the fact that he’s still even mentioned is mind boggling. He played hard and he did his job well, and that earned him adoration from the fans. But sometimes we make the mistake of loving our average players because they have to work harder to compensate for their relative lack of skill, while showing discontent for the great players who make it look easy. It’s the Robinson Cano syndrome.

  10. Remmy says:

    Avery was one of the reason they turned the early season around that year…when he was called up he was playing awesome hockey…when Avery scored a goal in his first game back when no one else could, all Torts could do was shake his head in disgust and failure. He put Avery back in the lineup to prove to the fans chanting for him that he wasn’t any kind of savior and it backfired cause Avery kept getting points when 75% of the team couldn’t. That’s when I knew I disliked Torts. How could you be disappointed when a player on your team scores?! He should have swallowed his pride, approached Avery and said “look…let work this out” but he just couldn’t do that…instead we had to watch players like EC flounder while we had a much better, more energetic, entertaining player. Torts lost a lot of respect from a lot of fans that year and the whole thing was a giant pissing match waste. There was only one team that Avery could play for and that was the Rangers. No team was getting involved in the Torts Avery spat. Even the islanders backed off. It’s pretty sad that some Rangers fans get so upset over Avery…they don’t dislike Avery, they dislike the fact that some fans think he’s a hero. Well…he was a slightly better than average forward but everyone knows that his game was being an uberpest and playing with raw emotion, the rangers always seem to be lacking these killer instinct emotions and heart. This is the reason so many fans saw the befit to the team beyond the sightly better than average forward. He was a player that could single highhandedly change the aspect of any game for the better….or worse. He was working on the worse and it was showing, he was even starting to get fair treatment from the refs.

    It was all just a big waste from both John and Avery…but…Avery was committed to trying to work with the team…Tort was NEVER committed to giving Avery the same respect.

    • Spozo says:

      There is a reason Avery was fined, suspended, or waived any every team he played for in the NHL. Now he is out of hockey. Get over it.

    • Erixon20 says:

      Yes, agree completely. His presence in the lineup had a positive effect on the team and Torts put his own ego ahead of that, which is a shame. I liked Torts at the time but that was a failure on his part.

    • Spozo says:

      And Avery had 3 points in 15 games that year. When was he scoring when 75% of the team couldn’t?

  11. Remmy says:

    Sorry I remember now it wasn’t Avery’s first game back…it was the first time he played more than 4 mins in a game…which was the 3rd.

    Get over it? Yeah that’s what we all keep hearing…but the funny thing is that it’s usually the fans who dislike Avery who want to bring up the topic…then they pout when people defend him. You want to stop hearing from these Avery fans? Well…stop bringing it up then. Ignore his twitter, don’t bother commenting or writing stories about him. Make him as insignificant as you guys really feel he is.