A Need for Grit

December 9, 2013, by


It’s no secret, hockey is a war of attrition. Come playoff time, games are usually settled in dirty areas of the ice by close scores. The Rangers style of play has certainly changed since they last made a run in 2012 where they pretty much embodied my last sentence. This season we’ve begun to learn what we don’t have and that’s grit.

To date we have seen mostly inconsistent play where either we’re putting away 4-5 goals or we’re giving up 4-5 goals. This isn’t a good sign for long-term success. And while I certainly appreciate some of the skilled plays we are seeing, we all know how hard it is to maintain that style consistently over the course of a long season, or a 7 game series. The Rangers need to address this before the deadline because hockey isn’t just a war of attrition, but also a game of matchups.

Pouliot, Pyatt, hell even Brassard and Richie may not provide AV with great matchups against more balanced squads like the Bruins, Caps, Wings, and Penguins. Those teams look very solid and all of them have players that not only can generate something out of nothing offensively, but they also have players who thrive below the dots. The Rangers have really only shown us one way to win hockey games so far and they haven’t shown us that way very often.

In my opinion, when the skill plays dry up, you need to rely on forwards who can bring offense through grit, an ability to physically impose you defensively, or forecheck the defense hard in their end zone. We are missing that right now. What we need is a third line with size who can bring a hard forecheck in the offensive zone and can make you pay our side of the blueline. Someone who could alleviate some of Dorsett’s ‘enforcing’ responsibilities or even a 4th line agitator would surely be an extra bonus.

When push comes to shove, it is going to be interesting to see if Sather will look to trade some of these mediocre finesse players who comprise our roster for more physicality. Ultimately, we need grit because offense derived from grit tends to be more consistent than pond hockey.

If the Senators continue to slip, perhaps Chris Neil ($1.9M cap hit) would be available. Or maybe you go a little younger and take shot at another Ottawa guy like Zach Smith ($1.9M) who hits, fights, wins face-offs, and can pop a few goals. The Sabres shouldn’t need Steve Ott ($2.9M) if they’re going into a full scale rebuild. David Jones ($4M) in Calgary is also another guy who brings size, grit, and offense. There are a lot of possibilities here.

While you may not be enamored with the aforementioned names, I think it’s about time we at least had this conversation. I know other sites are usually quick to crap on acquiring players with more jam. And those of us who appreciate intimidating players are always accused of being Neanderthals. But make no mistake. Whether you like it or not, this is the world the league created, that the refs execute, and that we have to live in. Right now, we’re not built for their world.


  1. Nick says:

    What about Ryan Reaves from St. Louis? He’s cheap (600k) and has a very physical presence.

    • The Suit says:

      He’s out with a broken hand. Though a 7 min a night enforcer won’t be a cure all.

  2. Dave says:

    This is a very vanilla team, but I think consistency and scoring are more of a concern right now.

    • The Suit says:

      I think their inconsistency stems from a lack of grit and an inability to manufacture offense from physicality and forechecking.

      • Dave says:

        Right, but they were doing this last month, so what changed?

        • The Suit says:

          Per the post, I don’t agree that is how we were winning games last month. I believe there is a lack of balance on this roster and I think it needs to be addressed.

          • Dave says:

            I don’t know if I agree with that. Way too many times I’ve written about how a good cycle led to a goal last month.

          • @Centerman21 says:

            Nothing is always there. Different opponents have different strengths & weaknesses. We seem to fall to the tougher teams too easily. Need to be able to adapt strategy in game on the fly sometimes. We won’t last 5 games against Boston in playoffs. The lineup seems full of top 9 type players. The 4th line needs an Asham on it with Dorsett. They’re both Righties. Ironic? Then there has to be an energy guy on the 3rd line. A guy that can forecheck hard and throw a hit to change momentum. Jeez. I really like Zack Smith. I’ve been looking at him for a few days now. Big body. Sorry to ramble but I don’t see how we can keep both Moore & Boyle. Keep one trade the other or include him. I like Boyle but if he gets you more so be it. Moore is faster. This team is just a bunch of players instead of a unit of men all on the same rope. Needs to change.

            • The Suit says:

              Dave Maloney said on MSG that he didn’t think that the Rangers, as presently built, were the type of team that could work down low and grind out a win.

              Sad but true.

    • HARLEMBLUES says:

      Get some MEAN and NASTY players and see how consistently we score.Dorsett isn’t nor should he be an enforcer.To many nice guys on this team.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Fair to say the issues are across the board at this point. Six in one…

  3. johnO says:

    Yes please

  4. Gary says:

    Excellent post, let’s hear it for the neanderthals. Remember how the team instantly changed when the SD (why can’t I remember his name?) guy showed up last year?

    I miss Prust hugely for this team. Does his contract look so bad now? He’s got that team stacking up against the Bruins now. Maybe not man for man, but they stand up to them and more than compete.

    • Chris F says:

      Ryan Clowe from SJ?

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Prust was nice, but is constantly injured. We have our Prust in Dorsett right now – undersized physical enforcer, who is subject to injury because of it.

      Clowe was also nice, but got hurt immediately, because he’s constantly hurt, and is now hurt for the Devils.

      They’re nice, but unreliable over a full season.

  5. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Fully agree. Many teams with recent success play a heavy game, which we can’t right now. Most of the powerhouses have a good mix of size, speed and skill up and down their line-up. For proof, just see the rosters of LA, St Louis, Boston, Anaheim, to name a few. Then watch each team play a couple games.

    Other teams, like Pittsburgh and Chicago, don’t need as much size as they’ve got some super skilled players. Still, though, they’ve got guys in there like Bryan Bickel, who has the size to impose his will along the boards and in front of the net.

    It pretty much seems unanimous right now that the sentiment is we do not have the size and skill to match up against the leagues best.

    It would go along way if we could replace some of our depth guys (Pyatt, Pouliot, Boyle or Moore, Dorsett) with players like Bickel, Okposo, Smith-Pelly, Chris Stewart, Ryan Reaves, Joel Ward, Dustin Penner. We need more Lucic-type power forwards on the wing who can play a physical/heavy game, wear down opponents and make more room on the ice for guys like Stepan, Brassard, Nash, Hagelin, etc.

    • The Suit says:

      Agreed. And even Chicago for all their skill doesn’t mess around. Shaw plays heavy, as does Toews, Bollig, Seabrook, etc.

    • Walt says:

      From one neaderthal to another, I wet my pants with your post. You hit the nail on the head, but failed to mention even the Pens have their share of goons. Vitali, Bortuzzo, Engelland, Adams, Glass to name a few. With all their stars, they have plenty protection for them.

      I find it ironic that Slats, when coaching Gretzky, always had a Mc Sorley type of player flanking Wayne. When did Slats become a wimp at heart???? Why hasn’t he surrounded Nash, and the skill guys with protection?? The game has changed, but big nasty players, who can do more than drop the gloves are necessary today, every team has their fair share of them, except us!!! WHY??? Address this now Slats!!!!!!

  6. Staten Island says:

    Stu Bickel , McIwrath, Haley………bring em up !

  7. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Though I know he is not the answer this year, a rejuvenated Kyle Beach may be a steal for Manshinter. He can do all of that and a change of scenery will hopefully get this kid going. He has a tremendous amount of upside for what little we gave for him. As for this year I think we need one who can fight the big guys as well. Dorsett is getting hammered by the bigger guys. Jones I know nothing of but Cody McCormmick is a good solution for this year

  8. Chris F says:

    A little off topic here, but does anyone know what the status of Michael Sauer is? Is he still technically with the organization? If so, is he on LTIR?

    I know the expectations have been bleak for quite some time, bit is there a chance this kid ever comes back?

  9. joe719 says:

    I don’t think the answer is in bringing in so-called tough guys. The Team needs some TALENT! Somebody on defense who can actually carry the puck up the ice, and (wait for it), set up a play!. They need some size and toughness on the blueline. Somebody who will not just stand next to Hank and watch as he constantly gets crowded out of his crease. But most importantly, they need a bona fide #1 center. Someone who can use an asset like Nash in the right way. I like Stepan but he is no #1. Brassard has really shown nothing this year. Boyle and Moore; the less said the better. Richards–inconsistant at best. Its not gonna be easy to fix this. They might have to overpay to bring in the elite talent they need. But the only other option is to hope that they come together on their own; I have no faith in that option. I know that wrankles some people here; but face it. Right now, they’re just no good!

    • Chris F says:

      Much improved analysis over last night’s one-liners. You’re getting there, Joe! 😉

    • SalMerc says:

      I would say they are average, as their record depicts. Some touch guys who can do something other than get PIM. Does Buffalo have anyone, as it is time to clean house there.
      What about David Perron from Edmonton. MDZ and Talbot for Perron and 2nd round pick

  10. The Suit says:

    Gee I wonder why Asham has been recalled.

  11. George says:

    We need a Prust like player. Dorsett fills those shoes but another one would be nice.

  12. becky says:

    I prefer MacArthur from OTT, but unless they seriously spiral out, he’s been one of their only consistent scorers. He plays a heavy game, though.

  13. @Centerman21 says:

    Too bad David Jones has such a high cap hit or he’d be a perfect trade target for the Rangers. He’s a righty too. 11 points is perfect for a 3rd line RW. Zack Smith is a nice player too. I think the Rangers can fix the 4th line from within the organization. It’s the 3rd line that needs help. That’s supposed to be a line that can bang in the corners but chip in a goal or 2 here and there. Like was said here the 3rd line scores by working hard on the forecheck. I think the big RW for that line will help Change this teams season. Asham-Boyle-Dorsett when healthy would be a serviceable 4th line. Right now our bottom 6 does nothing to effect the outcome of the game.