Another DVR fail, so some points from being at the game

December 11, 2013, by
Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

My DVR failed again last night, as Optimum told me the game was on NBCSN. It was not, and I recorded soccer instead. Luckily (or unluckily), I was at the game last night. While I won’t be able to give a goal breakdown, I can still manage some thoughts on the game:

  • Losing Ryan Callahan is a big blow, but maybe the time off for his sprained knee will help heal his shoulder as well. I’m convinced he was not 100% when returning, and it showed on the ice.
  • This was another game where the Rangers failed to show any real urgency or desire to win. Too many lazy backchecks, missed coverages, failed zone entries, avoiding taking the body, etc. The list goes on and on, but you all see it on the ice.
  • There were very few people at the game last night. I’d say MSG was 75% full. Some of it may have to do with the Rangers record, some with the weather, some with the fact it was the Predators. But there was no one there, and The Garden was quiet for the entire game, except when they got scored on.
  • This team sure is boring to watch, maybe that’s why no one showed up.
  • In 2011-2012, teams hated coming to MSG or having the Rangers come to town. That was a team that hit, fought along the boards, and made you pay for every inch of space out there. This team, not so much. Too vanilla. Even the additions of Arron Asham and Derek Dorsett can’t change the attitude of this team.

  • Alain Vigneault does not have the personnel to run his skill-based system. At least he admitted that last night. But it makes you wonder. There were coaches out there who ran Torts’ systems, the 2-1-2, puck pursuit, north-south game. If you already have a team built for that, why slam on the brakes and go to a system that this team clearly couldn’t handle? I’m not going to make this about John Tortorella, as there have been way too many rumors of him losing the room. But there were different personalities that ran the same system out there.
  • Makes you wonder if this team is going to get blown up. That’s not the right move. The coach needs to adjust. Torts realized safe is death wasn’t the appropriate system and adjusted. Time for AV to adjust.
  • Of course, I was a fan of bringing AV on board, since I thought he was a different locker room personality who would improve the powerplay. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. He improved the powerplay, but this team has no identity.
  • The first goal really stands out for me. After Ryan McDonagh hit the boards hard, no one came back to assist in playing defense. The Preds wound up outnumbering the Rangers, and put one in the net very quickly. That’s what this team is right now. No one plays defense consistently.
  • This team needs a mean player that can play, preferably a right handed shot. And no, losing Brandon Prust did not cause all of this. Perhaps losing all of Prust, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, and John Mitchell (all blue collar guys) was an issue though.
  • Looking at the farm, there is only one player who fits the bill of what this team needs: Dylan McIlrath. He’s not ready yet though. If something is going to be done, it will be done via trade.
  • Don’t expect a call up, in my opinion, to replace Cally. Taylor Pyatt will likely be back in the lineup.
  • When this team was losing earlier, they were still doing the right things on the ice, and that’s why we weren’t that worried here. If they continued with that effort, the wins were going to come. Problem is that they didn’t continue with the effort. They started getting complacent. They aren’t dominating puck possession anymore. They had a better FF% than the Preds last night, but that’s because the Preds are a trapping team that sat back once they had a lead. Score effects matter with FF%.

Fire away. I know you guys have some pent-up anger.

Categories : Game Wrap-ups


  1. Joe says:

    I was really excited about this season but with injuries and poor play, it feels like the hockey version of the Giants.

    This team as constructed is doomed. Too many 3rd/4th line players: Boyle, Pyatt, Pouliot, Dorsett, Asham, Moore, Cally, Brass that dont score.

    No toughness. And the defense looks lost.

    Build on Kreider, Nash, Step, Richie, Hags,Moore, McD…everyone else can be shipped out…and Richie will be gone at the end of the year too…

  2. Ray V says:

    time for Boyle, Richards and DZ to start packing. This team needs a shake up and NOW.

  3. AD says:

    Thank you for admitting AV may not have been the right coach selection and has been late to making adjustments around the players he now has. Next will be the recognition this coach’s philosophy and mindset pertaining to rookies is inconsistent with the organization’s successful approach the past four seasons. How many times over the past four years did we all hear you never play a rookie on the 4th line; and I do not recall any disagreements with that viewpoint — yet, playing Miller on 4th line with 3 intra-year call-ups in the early part of the season is acceptable? Let’s keep it real, at least.

    It is disappointing you are not expecting a call-up, and that you anticipate Pyatt to be inserted back into the lineup. We have a defense and scoring problem, and plan to replace Callahan with a player that nearly has the worst +/- on the team amongst forwards, with 0 goals / 1 assist in over 20 games. Not to mention his skating speed is horrific. But, hey, what do I know, AV is an NHL coach and I am not.

    This team and organization is reeling; it has become painfully obvious Sather made a huge blunder bringing in a coach who is the antithesis of what defined this team the past four seasons. This now leaves us with the only option of a large personnel restructuring to suit our coach, who happens to have a 5yr contract; and we all know that type of transition takes nearly two full seasons to implement.

    • flatbush says:

      Good point about the AHL system which has to be on the same page as the big team. Major renovations and not taking about the building

    • Joe says:

      So how does Torts go to a playoff team in Vancouver and have success introducing his system While AV comes to a playoff team and is struggling?

      Not sure its the coach.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        The coach has to adjust, but this is squarely on the players. They’ve taken a step back in their compete level, focus, and execution.

        Maybe some of that is on the coach to get them mentally prepared, but at the end of the day, it’s on the professional to bring it every game.

        It’s like they all took a deep breath that Torts was gone and relaxed a bit.

        Those “right things” Dave spoke of have slowly gone away.

  4. Chris F says:


    I actually felt that first goal was the least indefensible of the goals.

    When Mac went hard into the boards, the puck was already moving up the boards and the forwards were moving into position for the rush. Didn’t appear that anyone realized Mac was still down until the puck was intercepted and put back into the zone. At that point it was too late, only one man back. If McD didn’t go down, he’s in the slot and handles that play.

    • Chris F says:

      Not blaming Mac on that play at all, by the way. Just saying that he would have been in position if not for the hard fall into the boards and it did not appear that anyone noticed he went down til it was too late. No one’s fault really.

  5. flatbush says:

    Dave,Joe,, Think your on to something. I guess some players, the press and the upstairs guys at MSG made a wish and now it will take time to change. This is a management decision to change the culture and concepts from the Torts time. MSG can paint it anyway they like and tell us how much more the D will be allowed to offensive or that shot blocking takes a toll and they can rave about the upgrade building that the fans pay through the nose for BUT we need the players to play to the death and need the coaches to play to the strengths of the players not some wishful concept.

  6. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Dave, you really hit the nail on the head with the last bullet: “When this team was losing earlier, they were still doing the right things on the ice, and that’s why we weren’t that worried here.”

    It doesn’t really help to hypothesize but why the change in culture? What changed? If anything, we were looking for wins because of a couple things 1)regression to the mean (i.e. shooting percentage) 2)we also got healthier.

    For whatever reason, good habits didn’t persist. One thing I did not much care for was combining Nash and Kreider on one line. At the time Stepan-Kreider-Zuc was killing it. Leave that along and put Nash with a puck possession guy like Hagelin.

    I think I’m nitpicking a bit, as our problems are much deeper than line combinations. All that said, could we round back and try to figure out what changed with this team? Is it a playing home vs away mental thing? I won’t buy that crap.

  7. Sally says:

    Well I’m not angry, but I think it might be time to clear out the Management office because they don’t seem to have a vision about this team because if they did it would be structured differently. Yes, I know this isn’t going to happen because look how long Dolan kept Isaiah Thomas.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:


      I’ll disagree with you to some extent. Sather did come on the record after we got ousted in 5 games by the Bruins last spring saying that many teams with recent playoff success were built differently. Different personnel, different systems. They were puck possession teams. We were not that type of team under the Torts regime. His style wore on the roster and we all saw that they seemed to not be at 100% as the playoffs wore on.

      So once he decided he wanted to initiate change, he started with the coach. The roster overall inevitably has to be delayed. Given this years cap crunch and the large part of our retained roster from last year, it takes time to get the right bodies into the system. You could argue that Sather started this move with the Gaborik trade. Guys like Brassard and J Moore in theory would excel in a puck possession, smooth transition game. Good passers, fluid skaters. Put Pouliot on that list too. He’s been horrid, but the gamble to bring him in was that he would fit into such a system. Big shift in the culture change is bring in the new coach who will implement the system and redefine our culture.

      Given where we are at now, AV isn’t going anywhere. He got a 5 year deal to start. Digging deeper, we see that only 7 players on the roster are signed after this year. Buyout Richards and we have 6 with a bunch more cap room. Given we will most likely resign a few of our own (Kev wrote a great piece this morning on the list of FAs) like Cally, Kreider, Stralman, Girardi, among others we will end up retaining a few more faces.

      When its all said and done we will need to allocate a cap which will increase to around 70-71 mil and sign about half of a roster through free agency and the trade market.

      No way AV get’s shown the door before Sather has the chance to give him the personnel he wants to complete the organizational transition.

      In the meantime, AV better get it into gear and make the necessary adjustments in order to get us on track and make the playoffs in an extremely underwhelming Metropolitan division this year. Missing the playoffs this yr would be absolutely unacceptable. We don’t seem to be contenders this year but we’re not exactly a draft lottery team. Our new coach needs to show us he can be a leader and make the adjustments needed to keep this group competitive year after year while the org is working to reshape the roster to his and Sather’s liking.

      Sorry for the essay.

      • SalMerc says:

        Sorry, but your thoughts sound like a Ranger Management Pity party. I wanted Torts gone, and (it sounded like) players did also. How can Slats make the coaching move, but not support AV with the right flavor of players. If Poulion in an “AV-type” player, then who is the fall guy for that move.

        We limp into the playoffs and get an early exit OR get AV the right players OR decide that Slats just isn’t the right GM anymore.

        • Spozo says:

          It’s not that easy to completely turn over your roster in one season to get players that fit perfectly to a new coach.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          As I said, given the cap crunch and the number of returning contracts we had it was impossible to revamp the roster this offseason. Right now, the rangers have a mere $1,748,223 in cap space. There are 17 teams in the league right now with less.

          We cannot take on much cap in any trades. 17 teams in the league can take less than us. Roster overhaul was never an option for this offseason.

          In theory, I agree with you. If Slat’s was going to change, then fully commit to it. In reality, though, it wasn’t possible given the team’s and league’s financial conditions. It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it too.

      • Sally says:

        Hatrick, just letting you know it wasn’t me who voted thumbs down.
        My only comment is that AV seems a little too hands off. He made the comment that Brad Richards and Rick Nash were the leaders of this team and maybe that is why Callahan is looking a little lost recently.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          No love lost, Sally. AV for sure doesn’t seem to get riled up easy. He keeps that calm cool demeanor.

  8. Ray says:

    If Justin Falk played for Nashville, it’s 4-1 the other way.

  9. Spozo says:

    Everyone who has been here for the last couple of seasons knows I was a huge Tortz fan, but I will try to not let this rant degrade in to a Tortz vs AV post.

    One of the reasons I thought letting Totorella go was the wrong decision was that it was throwing what he had developed over the least 4 seasons right out the window.

    I’m not getting in to which system was “right” I just was against starting over. They blew up their style of play and this pushes you back a couple seasons. For a team that’s in a “win now” mode I don’t think it was smart to so drastically change. Who knows if this team could have won a cup with this personnel under Tortorella but when you bring in a coach that is the antithesis of the previous regime, it pushes you back a couple of seasons. If they really are in a win now mode (and I think they are considering over half the team isn’t locked up beyond this year) then I felt that Sather should have he stayed committed to Tortorella. He made the commitment and whether it was the right coaching regime or not he should have stuck with it.

    Now they still need to fully adapt to what AV is preaching.

    And who knows what will happen and who knows which system is the “correct” one to win a cup but what we are witnessing is a team in transition that I feel should not be in transition. They should have stayed the I course since Sather committed that course and put 4-5 years of development in to it.

    Here’s to hoping that AV will try and adapt. His recent comments about player personnel and their ability to execute what he wants sounds like he realizes this. Let’s hope he can get them back on track and make this season relevant.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I think you’re spot on. Wondering if you agree with my lengthy response to Sally above.

      • Spozo says:

        I think we’re on the same page Hatrick. I didn’t see your post until I was done writing my own essay.

    • SalMerc says:

      AV and Slats are old dogs who don’t learn new tricks quickly.

    • Gary says:

      Agree. The only problem is that they might need to blow it up again to suit AV’s style. They got rid of Torts and it is becoming apparent what Torts meant when he used to say ‘we’re not talented enough to play a certain way, we have to play our way’ or whatever he used to say. Remember how he used to go on about establishing an identity? That ID is out the window now.

      Last night I had my first thoughts of ‘blow this thing up’… ‘how much will Hank bring us?’… ‘Nash?’…

      • SalMerc says:

        If this is truly a “cap-strapped” scenario, AND we do not have AV-type players on this level, why not bring up the Hartford kids who ARE AV-type players and make them the 3rd and 4th line?

        Slats obviously will have patience with AV. We are a .500 team. If 2014-15 is now the goal, let’s see how the AV-system works for the new 2 lines that are AV types. Yea I know, an AV-type without talent is what, Poulion?

  10. Joe says:

    No matter what the the system is, you still need to play with passion and grit. This team has neither right now.

  11. evan says:

    People saying that Torts made adjustments is the biggest BS ive ever heard. Torts made ZERO adjustments to deal with the changing personnel that we had last year. He continued to use guys like gaborik, richards and nash in a grinding system. He was trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Last year we were no where near beating the top teams in the east, let alone a team like chicago. We were lucky to get a 6 seed and square off against the dreadful caps. Everyone is acting like we had some identity last year. We were a garbage squad the first 30 games of the year and then feasted on an easy schedule to finish the year. The bruins showed who we really were in the eastern conference semis.

    With that said, people are focusing on the wrong things. This is not an AV vs Torts making adjustments thing. AV is constantly changing lines, doing anything to get people going.

    This is a PERSONNEL problem. Our players are just not that good. It showed last year in the playoffs and it is showing again this year. You guys keep harping on getting an identity. We dont have the talent right now to get an identity. The top teams just have unbelievable skill and guys that punish you for mistakes. We do not have those guys.

    When hank’s play slips it shows how bad our players really are. Hank is the reason we were good the last 5 years. He covered the mistakes of everyone. This year he is having a down year and everyone calls for his head, instead of realizing that the real issue is our players are not that good in front of him.

    Both callahan and girardi may command 5 million or more a year in the open market, and i do not see 2 guys worth of that right now. Even the talent we thought we had is falling apart. Lets not forget about staal.

    This all falls on glen sather. We are going to have rebuild through free agency and that sounds like a nightmare to me. Id rather us fall to the bottom 5 and get a top 5 draft pick then constantly be stuck in mediocrity every year by building a team by throwing cash at the problem.

  12. Doug Peters says:

    “Perhaps losing all of Prust, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, and John Mitchell (all blue collar guys) was an issue though.”

    Finally, somebody noticed the loss of these players! There is NO battle on this NYR team.