Mailbag: Bickel the whipping boy, Sully and the powerplay

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Two questions for this week’s mailbag, both stemming from posts this week.

Q: Why the hate for Bickel? You tweeted he’s probably the whipping boy, but I don’t know why you feel that way.

Yes, I did tweet that Stu Bickel is likely to be the whipping boy this year. But to be clear, we don’t necessarily agree with having any one particular whipping boy. It just so happens that Bickel has been horrid this year, and his struggles extend to last year during the playoffs as well. Bickel has found himself out of position more times than we can remember, and his skating isn’t where it needs to be for the NHL level. But that doesn’t make him a whipping boy, that just makes him a matchup defenseman. People will look to him as a whipping boy because he was played at forward while Chris Kreider sat as a “healthy scratch.” In fact, Kreider has an ankle injury. Regardless, unless Bickel turns this around, he may find himself as the whipping boy.

Q: What is with the powerplay? They don’t move at all.

Well, Chris covered the powerplay a little while back, and Suit has an entire post dedicated to powerplay strategies. Basically, the Rangers run an umbrella powerplay, which is designed to get the puck to the point for shots. Naturally, the Rangers aren’t shooting as often as most would like, and instead are having their passes intercepted and cleared. While the Rangers are more static than others on the powerplay, the umbrella strategy doesn’t cycle players as much as the overload strategy, which is where you see the funnel. That said, a static powerplay is incredibly easy to defend, and the Rangers have too much skill to sit around. There needs to be more movement to open up shooting lanes. It’s worth noting that Torts has always had a successful powerplay wherever he has gone, except the Rangers. It’s also worth noting that Sully runs the powerplay, not Torts. Read into that if you want. Or don’t. Up to you.

Show More
  • I typically find your posts very good. Your comments on the pp are dead wrong.

    The umbrella is all about movement. You move the puck around the umbrella, and cycle back behind to get a pk guy to bite into thinking they can get the puck. This causes a man to be out of position and opens up two shooters down low to put the puck away or send the puck back up to the top,for a blast from the point.

    Static and powerplay NEVER go hand in hand. A good umbrella when run correctly, stretches the pk coverage, puts lots of recoverable shots on net, and when done correctly let’s your team outnumber the opposition in the slot.

    Keys to the umbrella
    Work yourself into 2 on 1 situations
    Get the puck to the OPEN man
    Take lots of shots and …..
    Work for the rebounds in front of the net.
    And most importantly, let your players be creative as thst opens up the holes for shots. (Good luck with thst one, anyone tries a nifty move and they get benched)

    We do the second and 3rd extremely well. But never take advantage of the 2 on 1 or pounce on rebounds….

    And until the rangers actually play well for 60 minutes…please don’t harp on me about the games they got lucky in.

    After 3 years of an abysmal powerplay the onus for success lies in the coaches hands….not the players at this point.

    • Did you even read what I wrote? Try re-reading, because I never said the umbrella doesn’t cycle. I said it doesn’t have AS MUCH cycling as an overload.

      I also said that a static powerplay is easy to defend.

      Learn to read please.

      • I am saying that cycling is critically important…whether its behind the net, on the overload or around the horn on the umbrella.

        Maybe I was a bit eager in my response….you weren’t dead wrong….kinda wrong? lol. Or better yet, I respectfully disagree with your opinion regarding the pp 100%.


  • I agree with Mikeyy the Rangers need to have more possession on the PP and move the puck around. This as he said will open up shooting lanes to the net. They spend way too much time skating back to their own end retrieving the puck. Bickle has balls of steel but he has been a pylon this year. He needs to go back to Hartford and work on his game. A player I like the Rangers go after is Ryan OReilly. His style of play would fit in nicely with the Rangers.

  • I believe PP problem lies with their breakout into the offensive zone. Please ask Del Zotto to refrain from these long passes thru the neutral zone every time they break out of their zone on the PP. A PP is about puck possession and short passes tape to tape. This should allow them to end their PP woes.

  • POWERPLAY DEFINITION….I Started playing Hockey @ 7 in No Micigan, coached by a Ol’French Canadian, my coach till I was 15, when I played HS…I played hockey till I was 60 years old, and can still hear Claude screaming…PUCK CONTROL…His philosophy was to carry the puck into Off zone, NEVER DUMP..HE’d Say..We have a 5 to 4 advantange..Control the Puck…Just watch when we dump the puck, how long it takes to scrum and try to regain possession…HEH TORTS & SULLY…Carry the puck into the off zone..!!!!

  • Stu Bickel can never improve his game while his pants are stapled to the pine. I’m not saying in no way that he is fleet footed, but when other teams have their 4th lines out there, give the man a shot at some ice time.

    He give this team his heart, and soul, and his reward is sitting. He plays the forward position, when needed, drops the gloves when needed, and still he is the butt end of anything written. Folks, this is the best we have at this time, other wise they would have made a move already, so give the guy a break!

  • I’ve been following the Rangers since the 1940s and the fans have always had, indeed need, a whipping boy, somebody who they could take out their frustrations on. In the late fifties it was Rod Seiling, a good if undersized defenseman, scorned because he didn’t crush the opposition against the boards but finessed them. Then, skipping over a few others, it was Carol Vadney, often greeted with the cry “hit him with your purse!”, and decades later, of course, it was that tall Czech — whose name escapes me at this moment — and then Wade Redden, another Seiling type, who the fans so abused that Sather had no choice but to park him in Hartford until Hitchcock, a hard-nosed coach, demanded that the Blues sign him. Now Bickel is hardly a Bobby Orr but he is nowhere as bad as he’s been depicted. But that’s the nature of being a Ranger fan: without one — or several — players to castigate for this “bad play” or that “stupid pass” watching games wouldn’t be any fun. And of course all of us are “experts,” who inherently know what so-and-so “should have done” instead of what they did. It’s so easy to sit in the blue seats, or any seat, and yell and tell your seat mate what a dolt what’s his name is. Isn’t it?

  • Personally my new whipping boy has become Derek Stepan. He’s USELESS!!! Seriously, when was the last time he did anything to help the team win?

    • I agree with you on Steps at this moment. I feel like he is missing because He and his linemates can not skate with the puck. And his leadership qualities will not shine on a team like the Rangers untill he is more seasond.

  • Bickel should have known he needed to improve his skating in the off season. He either didn’t try or is incapable of better play. Either way, he doesn’t belong on the team. I’d rather see Gilroy play than Bickel and I’m not a Gilroy fan. But at least Gilroy can play his position.

  • Back to top button