PlayoffsState of the Rangers

Shortening the bench

The Rangers play their biggest game of the season and perhaps biggest game since the lockout on Thursday night. A win over the Senators and progress to the next round could be the springboard to a successful post season. Or Friday morning could be the start of golf season.

With that said, should John Tortorella shorten his bench in the series finale? Given his tendencies to do so during his tenure with the Rangers will we see the Rangers coach double shift the top lines? This comes back in part, once again, to the potential part Chris Kreider may have to play in this game.

Despite scoring a huge goal in game six, being praised by the coaching staff after the game and generally, playing his best game as a pro Kreider still only played just over ten minutes. With a do-or-die game on Thursday any mistake, any slip in defensive assignments could mean the end of the Rangers season.

This morning Dave discussed Stu Bickel’s declining role and the potential introduction of Steve Eminger. Bickel is another example of Tortorella not wanting certain players in certain situations. The fact that he’s playing 5 blueliners right now is another example of shortening the bench. Given how tightly this series has been played a blow-out victory for either side is unlikely. In part because of the closeness of each game Bickel is routinely playing absoltely minimal ice time right now.

Kreider is likely to see plenty of shifts early on but will he be a victim when Tortorella comes to the crunch time of the series? What can reasonably be expected of a 20 year old rookie? Kreider is not the only player to play limited time up front. Artem Anisimov played less than ten minutes while Mitchell and Rupp played minimally in the game 6 victory.

Tortorella has players that he trusts such as Ryan Callahan and an impressive-in-game-six Brad Richards. There’s a good chance the core of forwards Torts trusts most will see an increased level of ice time in the Garden showdown.

The Rangers will need another quality performance from Derek Stepan in game seven. They’ll need another all action game from Brandon Prust and they’ll need Marian Gaborik to step up – compared to his recent performances. Expect them to have every opportunity to do so as Torts (potentially) sticks to his select few.

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  • Game 5 in the 2nd round against Buffalo in 2007 when Drury scored with just seconds left in the 3rd was a bigger game but who’s keeping track?

    I would like to see the Bickel’s and Kreider’s etc. get a fair amount of time just to provide fresh legs for the rest. Not a boat load of time, just a bit more to get all the players on the bench into the game and contributing to the overall energy of the team.

    • I don’t know. Wasn’t the series tied 2-2 at that point? So, while the Rangers blew a lead and an opportunity to go up in the series 3-2, neither team was facing elimination.

      Plus, they excelled beyond expectations that year by going to the second round to begin with.

      This Rangers team tomorrow night is faced with elimination in the 1st round after winning the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. I believe that’s a more consequential game, honestly.

      • That game broke the spirit of that team and was the beginning of the end of the Jagr era (and the start of the Gomez & Drury period).

        Sather blew up that team which set us back a few more years after Renney took this team out of the dark ages of the franchise’s history.

  • Chris
    You make some very valid points about Torts, and his history of using Elmers glue with some players.

    I agree with sec121, we need legs that are fresh, not with lead in the skates. I hope that at least early on, he plays Stu, and some of the others as well, because the Sens rotate four lines all the time. God forbid we go into OT, the players will again be dead tired, and that in and of itself could be the reason we could loose! Besides, with Stu on the ice, a message can be sent, without a word being spoken.

  • Ryan Callahan did not participate in practice today.

    Remember he took that shot off the wrist in Game 6.

    Hope it’s just a sore.

    • I highly doubt Cally will sit unless he can’t grab a stick and even then I’m sure he would find a way to play.

    • If Callahan can’t go than i personally would assume Eminger would play defense and have Buckel play left wing on the fourth line. Than Mitchell would move up to third line right wing. And i think Feds would play on the second line on the right wing. Or maybe Kreider will take the spot. We all hope Callahan’s injury will not affect him in Game 7.

      • For sure, Callahan is a beast. He’ll find a way unless his wrist is broke. I think we’d probably hear something if it were that serious.

    • Yeah Torts did say he’s fine and it was just a maintenance day. He did come back on the ice very soon afterwards and played the rest of the game. May have tightened up the next day and they just wanted to rest him, but I’m thinking he can grab a stick and if he can do that, he’ll be in.

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