State of the Rangers

Lazy stick penalties still a concern for NY Rangers

Through two games, we’ve seen two extremes from the Rangers. They were atrocious in the opener, then played the most complete game we’ve seen in a while in the second game. While the games were polar opposites, there was one consistent – lazy stick penalties by the NY Rangers.

In the first game against the Isles, the Rangers took an incredible nine penalties. Of those nine, four were stick penalties, plus one too many men and one unsportsmanlike. That’s six bad penalties. In the second game, the Rangers cut the number of penalties in half (that’s good!). However, of those four, three were stick penalties. On the bright side, the Rangers didn’t have any discipline penalties. Also good!

Young Team Inconsistency

This is going to be a theme this year. The Rangers are a young team. The second-youngest in the league, actually. Expecting the ups and downs all year is a given. While most of the focus is going to be on overall performance, penalties taken is a big part of it.

Young teams take penalties. It’s basically a rite of passage. A messed up rite of passage, but a rite of passage nonetheless. Inconsistency is already showing in two games, and it’s something that will continue to rear its ugly head. This is a learning year for the Rangers, and part of that is stick penalties.

Neutral Zone Play

Over the past two games, we’ve been stressing the stark difference in how the Rangers played the neutral zone. In the first game, they were very passive, which led to the Isles gaining the offensive zone with speed. The Rangers backed off the blue line, thus essentially ensuring the Isles maintained possession in the offensive zone. Naturally this leads to stick penalties.

In game two, the Rangers pressured the neutral zone. This led to less puck time for the Isles, which naturally leads to fewer penalties for the Rangers. Another aspect is the Isles inability to maintain a consistent rush. This means less speed through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. This, you guessed it, leads to fewer penalties.

Rollercoaster Ride

This is going to be a rollercoaster ride of a season. We’ve already experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We will see more of the same, and expect to be frustrated with the number of penalties taken in any single game. We’ve been preaching this for a while.

Maybe the highs will outweigh the lows. But expect the NY Rangers to take penalties, and expect to be frustrated. I, for one, look forward to the comments after every loss.

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  • Kakko’s penalty was one that Kevin Hayes took all the time his rookie season: try and collect the puck, get that wrong, stop skating and then hook someone.

  • David Quinn wants every player to play hare every shift. Not too much to ask. What the challenge is, is how do you address a player when they have a lazy shift?

    Benching them? Sitting them a few shifts? Moving them down to a lower line? Maybe a conversation?

    I think that DQ uses different tactics based on his like/dislike of a player. I doubt very highly Howden gets benched after taking a stupid penalty, but Tony D is missing at least 2 games. Which player is more valuable on the ice?

    DQ needs to think not only tactically, but what his actions mean in the long term to good young players who might be losing faith in the coach and the team.

    • Well-articulated, Creature! You should be one of the guys behind the bench SCREAMING this in DQ’s ear! 18-19 year old kids in the Pros (not so in college) tune out adult criticism very quickly. Confidence at this age is also fragile. DQ needs to realize and appreciate that he is trying to motivate youth and not a veteran team.

      • DQ needs NOT to sound like a parent and sound and act like a coach. As a dad of 20 somethings, you know that you need to take a different approach when trying to teach a lesson.

        DQ is not a college coach anymore. He needs to use TOI as the carrot, but understand half of these kids are not used to being disciplined as they were all the best at their level.

    • One thing no one talks about is the relationship between effort and playing time. All else equal (and it isn’t of course), a player who plays 20 minutes a game may think in terms of easy shifts and hard shifts. A player who plays 8 minutes has no motivation to pace himself. He simply plays each minute like it is the only one he will get.

      Giving a young player like Kappo less than 10 minutes allows him to focus on every shift – and also gives him time to think about each shift after it has happened.

      There is also the issue of stamina. Overplaying some players is unwise. I can’t speak to the present team in this regard – except to note that one player with stamina is Mika.

      Bottom line though is that if a player is effective for 12 minutes a game, maybe his playing time should be increased and maybe it should not be.

    • Howden is 22, ADA is 25 – That’s a big difference in age and experience. I might add that next to goalie, the center position is the toughest position to play – which is why players at that position (not named Toews, McDavid and Crosby) generally take longer to hit their stride. This is also why the team has to be patient with Chytil. Sorry – ADA is a veteran now – no more excuses in my book for him … time to consider his trade value. I back DQ 100% on this move.

  • We’re still overreacting to one bad game. They’ve played two games, so after 1 bad game and 1 good game they’re viewed as inconsistent. Talk about a small sample size.

    Sure I’ll buy into this is a young team and they’ll have off nights and take bad penalties, but I won’t buy into the idea that they’ll be off and on all season. For the most part they’ll probably be “on” with hiccups along the way — but “on” doesn’t mean as dominant as they were in the 2nd game and “off” doesn’t mean as bad as they were in the first game. It will be more subtle than that with the occasional outliers.

    • Come on. Let’s go all the way. We have plenty of data. It may be only two games, but it is 120 minutes, 7200 seconds – and 7200 is a pretty big number.

      From what we’ve seen so far, this is a rapidly improving team. They should be at the level of the 1980s Oilers by the end of the week and opposing teams won’t even want to play them by the end of the month.

  • Maybe its just me, but, seeing a few other games around the league it looks like the refs are being super strict on slashing. I know I know early season refs always are cracking down/getting in the groove, but I saw it in several games where I was shocked that it was being called.

    • I was watching the Isles’ game last night and there was a flick of the stick that was called “slashing.”

      Butch Goring started laughing about today’s definition of slashing vs years ago.

  • After the next 6 games, we will have a better assessment of the Rangers team, since they face the Penguins (with Crosby & Malkin) and the Sabres – another young team with promising talent in Eichel, Dahlin, and Reinhart after tonight’s tilt with the Devils. Essentially, this is the extended training camp segment of the 56-game regular season schedule.

    I like Coach Quinn’s emphasis on Accountability and Professionalism towards the players individually. Case in point: healthy scratching Tony DeAngelo for his egregiously bad penalties in the season opener. As for total team discipline – such as commitment to a system of play – that’s a discussion for another time.

    Those stick infractions, though? That can be corrected by increased tenacity on the backcheck. Skate hard, pursue the puck carrier, get good body positioning, and you won’t have to hook, hold, or trip the player in desperation to break up plays!

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