Musings: When leadership plays its role; Special teams playoffs; Kreider’s ice time

So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.

I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:

“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”

This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone.  People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.

Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.

With a special teams series comes powerplay discussion, and the first two Ranger powerplays were perfect. Not perfect in the sense that they looked good, perfect in the sense that they actually put pucks on net and exploited weaknesses in Craig Anderson. Justin said it best when he noted that Anderson’s rebound control and lateral movement are big weaknesses, and the Rangers exploited that on the first two goals. They got shots on net on the powerplay, and capitalized. The rest of the powerplays were spent passing the puck and not getting enough pucks on net. You can’t score if you don’t shoot.

On to the scoring issue, the Rangers need to get contributions from other people on this roster. People are falsely pointing to Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, but they both have a goal and two assists, and are tied for the team lead in points (with five others). The players that need to pick it up are the ones that the Rangers leaned on for secondary scoring all season: Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin (when he comes back), Michael Del Zotto, and Brandon Dubinsky. Even Artem Anisimov has three points (all assists). The Rangers need to start getting full team contributions.

My Twitter feed keeps filling up with people asking me if I’m nervous about the series now. I was nervous when the Rangers drew the Senators in the first place. The Senators are a dangerous team that the Rangers do not match up well against. Yes, I predicted Rangers in 5 in my preview because I’m confident the Rangers can win, but the Senators are very capable of pulling the “upset.”

My Twitter feed is also filled with questions about Chris Kreider’s ice time. Why burn the year of his ELC if he’s only going to play four minutes a night? Well, last night’s game was a bit of an odd one. Kreider played 11 minutes in his first game, all at even strength. It’s very obvious that John Tortorella will not play the rookie on special teams. With 24 minutes of special teams play in last night’s game, that leaves just 36 minutes of even strength time –not including overtime– for Kreider to get in the game. Take into account the third period and the need to defend the lead, an area where Torts does not necessarily trust Kreider yet, and the kid’s playing time gets reduced more. Want Kreider to play more? Stop taking penalties.

Quick questions:

  • Which Ranger needs to step up more – Stepan or Dubinsky?
  • Are you surprised that Del Zotto is currently the team leader in hits with 16?
  • Brad Richards has 19 SOG, but only 1 goal. Do you think he will progress back to the mean shooting percentage?
  • Are you worried about this series?

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  • Great post, I enjoyed it! In answer to your questions I think Stepan needs to step up. Dubi is contributing to games – he didn’t score a great deal in the regular season and he isn’t now, but he’s visible, and he gets involved at both ends. Stepan has been cancelled out completely. He needs to find a way into games.

    I would have been surprised about your stat re: DZ before this series but seeing the way he was bossing the Sens’ offensive players in front of goal last night I’m not so much – it’s great – he needed to bring more physicality to his game and he’s done so at just the right time.

    I’m a little nervous I have to say. We just have to get back to playing our game and prove why we’re number 1 seeds.

  • I don’t think it’s a leadership issue, it’s coaching! Torts is a very good coach, but he isn’t letting the team play with a lead, he apears to be coaching not to lose!!!

    I think Dubi is playing a good series, maybe not scoreing, but very good none the less. Step, young man step it up, look at your buddy McD!

    Mike Del Zotto has been hitting all year, not surprised, but we need the same from Marc.

    Richards has had some tough luck, look at the save by Anderson on his back. This will change, Brad is too good not to have this turn around for him.

    I’m worried shitless over this series. Team speed, physcality, letting our guys get pushed around by Carkner, Koko the clown, and Neal, that has to stop. I think one good fight, Scott vs Carkner, or Neal, and this BS will come to a halt. What have we got to loose? Sit Mitchell for one game, and let the punches fly!

    • Totally agree, Torts’s prevent to win defense, including overusing players and not running 4 lines – the Sens run 4 lines, and mixing up lines in the 4th game of a playoff series is a large factor in Rangers losing.

  • Great post Dave, you are right on the money.
    My tesponse to your questions is as follow.
    Question number one = both.
    question number two = yes
    question number three = yes
    question number four = yes

  • I just cannot believe we have scored first in every game and lost 2. During the regular season we had plenty of games where were dominated possession wise, but we always found a way to win. We obviously got the raw end of the stick with the Dubi ejection in game 2 that destroyed our line combos. However, this series looks to be one giant coin flip the rest of the way.

    To your point of MDZ having 16 hits, who cares. He has been an absolute travesty this series on defense. And the person who ABSOLUTELY has to step up is Dubi. I thought after his ejection in game 2 he would take over. Thought wrong yet again. He is playing himself out of NYC with the size of that contract and a shrinking cap next year.

    • sorry, Gabby needs to step up.

      Forget dubi….he’s doing his job. But the fact that Gabby can’t fight through a check is bothering me. He has to keep his feet moving and start getting some penalties called against the sens…fight through it and show his resliiancy…otherwise he won’t be a Ranger too much longer….there was another Ranger great who had wheels and could score, but was a playoff failure, Mike Gartner…he got traded, then we won a cup.

    • Evan, it seems like your analysis on DZ is a little shortsighted. That image of the puck being kicked into his own net burned into your memory a little? DZ has been a strong point for the Rangers in this series, as well as the rest of the blue liners.

      • Agreed. MDZ has made some excellent defensive plays throughout this series and it is a reason why he is playing so many critical minutes, including on the PK. Not sure why anyone would think his play has been a “travesty.” He’s been on the ice for all of two even strength goals and hasn’t registered a single giveaway.

  • I do believe by not finishing it off last night they have given the Senators all the confidence they need to finish it off.

  • 1) I am looking more from Stepan. He’s been too passive.

    2) MDZ is handling the pressure well. Think the blueline as a whole has been solid this series.

    3) Brad Richards looks great on some shifts and looks like Gomez on others. Not sure what to make of his series yet.

    4) I said from the get go I was worried about drawing the Sens in the first round and I picked “not loving it” in the poll. This series is going the distance. Hold fast folks.

  • I don’t know how guilty they were about “sitting on the lead” last night. There was 1.2 periods in regulation in which this was special team play. The first Ottawa goal came as the NYR was pressing and almost score, the second comes with them on the power play.

    And even during that time with the lead there were offensive opportunities and they just couldn’t bury them.

    I’m a little worried about the series, but I think most people really underestimated the Sens. A 2-2 split is not unexpected. If they lose game 5 at home, then maybe a little panic sets in. Remember, Ottawa has had a lead in this series for 0:00.

    Hoping for a win in game 5 and then we have Haggy back.

  • I loved the look messier was giving during the games when the camera pans to him.

    He is already thinking about something…don’t know what it is, but maybe just maybe he needs to be down on the bench with torts like Shoeny used to do with Renney.

  • Good post, good points.

    1) Stepan needs to step it up – all his shots are telegraphed, you can tell from TV when he will shoot as does the opposing team, he also cannot get down the ice along the boards without getting crunched.

    2) I like DZ’s play, he seems to be the only one not afraid of the tone the refs are setting in this series, we got here by banging the opposing teams against the boards, we need to stick with it.

    3) Richards is doing ok in my mind, I wish he would of taken a little more time on the backhander when Anderson was on his back.

    4) I’m worried we keep drawing refs who don’t allow our normal style of play like in game one, when we severely forechecked the Sens and made them pay if they touch the puck. We need game 1 style to win this series, or any series for that matter.

  • Rite on about Messier. I hope he calls Torts in and informs him about how to play the Game. It’s by attack,attack,attack, shoot,shoot,shoot. Allowing your opponent 60 shots a game is not how to win. Puck posession and 1 or 2 players at the net on offense is the way to score. Chasing down the puck on defense not laying down on defense stops a constant 5 on 4 or 5 on 3 power play at even strength. If you’re laying down you’re not defending.

  • 1) Stepan needs to step it up, he’s been a ghost this series. Dubinsky is doing his thing, I can’t really find too much fault with his game right now.

    2) Eh, don’t really have an opinion on that. I wish everyone would hit more right now, though.

    3) I would love to see more from Richards, Gaborik and Callahan. But last night they did combine for a goal and 4 assists. Gaborik needs to go harder on the puck, and Richy needs to get his vision back.

    4) Definitely worried about this series, but who isn’t?

    All things considered, though, there is no reason to panic. The series is split, going back to NY. Lundqvist has been solid, though not overly stellar. Defense has been good. Ottawa’s biggest offensive threats have been largely a non-factor. Rangers are the better team, and they all seem calm and ready to get this done.

    Let’s see what happens back in NY. They just need to play their game, play physical, keep within the system, and for the love of God, shoot the damn puck and crash the net. This series is still NY’s to lose.

  • Stepan needs to step the **** up. He hasn’t done shit all series long, looks terrible out there. He lets teh puck slide right by him like 5 times a game, almost always at key points in the game.

    Shocked that DZ is the leader, I would have guessed Girardi.

    Richie played a lot better yesterday, including that one backhander that Anderson beat him on. Keep it up and the goals will come. A lot more worried about Artie, Dubi and Stepan. Gabby needs to be more visible too.

  • Excellent Post Dave.
    Stephan for sure needs to pick it up for sure, His head is not in the game. And also Richie too. Is it me? But Richie looks clueless and useless with the puck along the boards? He cant seem to hold onto the puck in order to make a play.
    MDZ is growing and not surprized at all excellent to see and say now. Glad we kept him instead of Gilroy. Also a big surprise is Stalman’s (Like your post) play. GJ Stalman..
    Once Hags is back in the line up, things will change, until then we have to win game 5.
    And the Hockey’s version of the prevent defense, needs to stop. Standing everyone up on the blueline just makes us run around and loss position and get caught flat footed, keep the pressure on and attack attack.
    Yes I am, Anderson is playing Hankable good. And Ottawa senses this. We need game 5

  • Is this thread really praising the work of Michael Del Zotto this series? Yes he is being more physical, but the Senators have been targeting him and Bickel consistently (and getting a lot out of it in puck control). Neil has absolutely eaten Del Zotto alive. That third pairing has been atrocious.

    Plus he has been pathetic on the PP. His outlet passes have been poor, and he has made several dumb cross-ice passes.

    Spare me with this nonsense that he is the leader out there.

      • Arisrules is not talking about you Dave, read the comments directly above him. Talking about the “threat” not the “post”

      • Yea I wasn’t talking about your post, which I felt was spot on, but rather the comments below. Those seem to paint MDZ having a glowing series, but I think he has been poor.

        • MDZ has played well, he needs to do more on the PP (as does everyone on that unit), but he has stepped it up defensively.

          He has been much better at holding the blueline, he has made some great plays defending the rush and he’s played physical without sacrificing positioning. And most importantly Torts is using him on the PK, which shows how much he trusts him.

          • The PP has been putrid, and he’s made many mistakes on the ice (including several horrendous cross-ice passes that were either intercepted or on the verge of being intercepted. He needs to be better.

  • Arisrules is not talking about you Dave, read the comments directly above him. Talking about the “thread” not the “post”

  • if lundqvist loses another playoff series to to a mediocre goalie again like anderson and varlomov and neuverth he will be the most overrated goalie in history

      • The “other guy” who faces how many more shots? I’ll give you a chance to look (hint: trick question)

        Seriously, I’ve got tacos I’ve picked up on the way home from a fun evening, so I’ll give you a night to evaluate the statistics, situations, and rosters from the varlomov and neuverth series. Oh, and the current series also (close attention to the statistics)

        Seriously?! Is there anyway we even win a single game that we did in those Caps series without Henke? No, name a SINGLE one! Just one game!..

        And you think we won games 1 or 3 of this series without Henke? Game 1, arguable, but go back and review the replays of the two goals from Game 1…what would you have a non-overrated goalie do to stop the 2 goals that went in, perform quantum kinetics with his mind? And game 3…REALLY?! Did either of you actually watch game 3 before those statements?

        ….wait you are really bringing up the 2009 playoffs in which we brought the first seed within 2 or so minutes of OT in game 7, and are saying Henke wasn’t the reason we were even in the playoffs that year?..Wait, I’m going against my original statement…tacos and boozy naps to attend to, I said I’d let you go back and review…

        Like I said, I’ll wait until your response to explain how Henke “lost” those series to, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, mediocre goalies (so an offense can’t score against “mediocre” goalies and it’s the opposing goalie’s fault). Of course henke only stopped Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Laich, Green etc, while the Caps goalies had to stop ….wait, no Callahan last season…ok Dubinsky, Drury and a half effective Gaborik in 2011 and…OH BRYAN MCCABE! Wait no, in 2009 we also had Scott Gomez.

        Seriously, I’m drunk and halfway through my first taco…haven’t even searched on statistics yet. But really, do either of you want to reconsider the statements before someone more sober and knowledgeable in the game, statistics, etc refute it? Because I’m nearly ready to bite into the second taco and I’m pretty much a hack at analyzing hockey and it hasn’t been too hard for me to poke holes in these statements.

        By the way, San Loco might not be the most authentic, but those suckers be mighty tasty in a pinch!

        • Love the bite in your very well stated reply to people who obviously don’t know, understand, or appreciate the job that Hank has done for this orginaztion, now, or in the past!

  • Dubinsky. He was supposed to come back like a ball of fire after his ejection and he’s done nothing.



    A little.

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