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Posts Tagged ‘tom renney’

Last night during the game, Marc called me up and said, “If the Rangers lose this game, Tom Renney will be fired.  Especially if they get shut out.”  I tend to disagree.  If Glen Sather were to fire Renney now, or make any changes, he would be admitting that he failed.  He’s not going to do that because his ego is far too fragile.

I ‘m going to put this one to a vote.  I’m not asking if he should be fired but if he will be fired.

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Hello!  Yes I’m alive and so are Marc and Rory.  They say hi.

The Rangers are 17-8-2 right now which places them atop the Eastern conference.  But are they really as good as their record would suggest?

Some days I watch them play and I would argue that they are just as good, if not better than their record suggests.  On other days (Oct 15, Nov 8*, Nov 22, Nov 30) they play terrible, uninspired games.  Why is it that there is such a large swing from game to game?  How can the Rangers right the ship and keep it that way?

*What happened to  “Every goal of every game,” NHL.com?

1. Fix the Power Play. Yes, I know. dead-horseBut seriously, something must be done about this.  The Rangers have the most power play opportunities in the entire league, their offense is what some would call stacked, yet they are ranked 11th in the Eastern conference.  Let me just throw out a few teams that have a better power play.  The Islanders, the Thrashers, the Lightning.  In the last five games, the Rangers are just 2 for 21 with the man advantage.  At least Tom Renney is now admitting that there is something wrong and is even considering putting a forward at the point. aaaaaaah

I think there’s forwards who can do that job. There’s defensemen, too. They just have to do it with a certain level of confidence and assertiveness.  We can look at a number of different guys. What would Zherdev be like back there? Chris (Drury) we’ve tried. What would Scott (Gomez) be like back there? What would Nazzy be like? That’s a short list of guys.

The problem I have with putting a forward at the point is that the Rangers are already leading the league in short handed goals against and they’ve been playing with two defensemen on the power play the entire season.  By putting 4 forwards on the ice, you’re conceding that your PP unit will not be as defensively sound.  Look how easily Chris Drury pounces on the defensive mistake of Martin St. Louis, caught out of position along the boards during a Lightning power play.

So, what do you do if the defensemen on the PP have not been effective but adding a 4th forward would add to the risk of shorthanded goals for a team that already gives up too many shorthanded goals?  Take the defensemen that aren’t working *cough*Rozsival*cough* on the PP off of the PP and put a different defenseman on the point.  Marc Staal doesn’t need the perfect pass to rip a slap shot.

Scott Gomez, please stop hanging around at the half boards and pretending to be Jaromir Jagr.  Cycle the puck and get some low, hard shots to the net with a man set up right in front.  Rebounds and deflections galore!

76074654CM010_NEW_YORK_RANG2. Give Petr Prucha a chance. Dear Tom Renney, Why is it that Dan Fritsche is allowed to have so many games to be consistently invisible yet Petr Prucha gets very few games to play hard, throw the body around, and draw some penalties?  You recently allowed Fritsche to play 10 games in a row.  He scored 1 goal against the Panthers and got 3 assists against the Devils (2) and the Bruins (1).  He scored his first goal of the season in his 9th game in a row.  I wonder if his goal came as a mix of playing against an inferior team plus getting more comfortable playing as he was playing on a more consistent basis.

Please, please allow Prucha 10 games in a row to show you that he is the better player and that he deserves much more ice time than you give him.  Why not try him on the Power Play?  Nothing else seems to be working so far.  Don’t forget, the teams you will be facing in the next couple weeks are much stronger opponents than the ones you faced in the last two weeks.

3. Stop stumbling out of the gate. The Rangers played 13 games in October. They scored first in eight of those games and had a record of 10-2-1.  They played 14 games in November and scored first in only four of those games.  Their record in November was 7-6-1.  In fact, before the game in Tampa, the Rangers had gone eight games without scoring first.

It might be alright to play catch up with a team like the Lightning or the Brodeur-less Devils.  Especially when you have a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist to keep you in it, but what happens when you stumble so hard that you can’t get up in time and give up 4 goals in the first 23 mintues of a game?  You need to come out of the gate strong and finish strong as well.

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OK they lost.  It was bound to happen eventually.  Let’s just move on and see if they can rebound from such a terrible outing.

There are a few roster changes to note:

  • Stephen Valiquette will get the start tonight to give Henrik Lundqvist a break for tomorrow’s game in Detroit.
  • Lauri Korpikoski will be scratched with an arm or shoulder injury.
  • Nigel Dawes and Dan Fritsche will most likely be the wingers on the third line centered by Ryan Callahan.
    • This would be Ryan’s first game as a Center for the Rangers.
  • Patrick Rissmiller and Petr Prucha are the healthy scratches.

There will be no changes made to line of Naslund-Gomez-Drury.  I think Renney is going to give them 1 or 2 more games before he breaks them up.

Look for fatigue to start playing a bigger role in games.  This is the Rangers’ 5th game in 8 nights and is their 7th game of the season.  The Maple Leafs are only playing their 4th game of the season and 3rd game in the same 8 days.  Their last game was on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.  They lost 5-4 in the skills competition.

Ryan Hollweg will not play tonight as he is serving his second suspension this season.

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I guess you could call this a Season Preview but we’ll just call it the Game Preview. Also, today is my birthday!

Back on October 5, 2005, the New York Rangers played a game for the first time in over a year. The NHL was finally back after a lock-out that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

It had been 8 years since the Rangers had last made the playoffs–when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals–and the idea that the Rangers were going to end the drought was ludicrous. That year, almost every “expert” had picked the Rangers to finish 30th in the NHL.

Honestly, did you have much faith in that team? Look at the lineup they sported for the 2005-2006 season opener against the Flyers:

Rucinsky-Nylander-Jagr
Straka-Ruccin-Hossa
Moore-Betts-Ward
Hollweg-Lundmark-Ortmeyer

Rozsival-Malik
Poti-Strudwick
Tyutin-Kasparaitis

Weekes
Lundqvist

Admit it. You looked at that team and thought, “We’re screwed!” But Slats was keeping his word; the Rangers were rebuilding. We couldn’t expect greatness in the first year. Honestly, I would have been content no matter what happened that season. But what happened that year stunned everybody.

The Rangers sat in first place in the Atlantic Division until the very last day of the season when they were passed by both the Devils and the Flyers. More importantly, for the first time since 1997, the Rangers had made the playoffs and Jaromir Jagr broke the Rangers single season records for both goals (54) and points (123).

Now fast forward to this season. The Rangers come into the game with a 2-0-0 record with two wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning last weekend in Prague.

Here is the line up that the Rangers sported for the first two games of the season:

Naslund-Gomez-Drury
Dawes-Dubinsky-Zherdev
Prucha-Korpikoski-Callahan
Voros-Betts-Orr

Rozsival-Redden
Girardi-Kalinin
Staal-Mara

Lundqvist
Valiquette

Only two, yes two, players from the 2005 opening night roster are still on the team. Only one of them actually played in that game! Petr Prucha was called up from Hartford soon after the start of the season and stayed up for most of it. But still that is only 3 players that remain from the October 5, 2005 to October 4, 2008. Speaking of Petr Prucha, of all the players currently on the roster, he has the most games played and most goals scored as a Ranger.

Looking ahead to this season, the Rangers are a younger, faster, more offensive minded team that can still shut things down when needed. The problem is that almost every offseason move the Rangers made is counting on the player playing better because of a change in scenery. So far, Naslund and Redden have scored goals. Zherdev has shown how wonderfully he can control the puck but has not finished. He does have the potential to set up many goals for Brandon Dubinsky. I really hope Zherdev doesn’t end up like Matt Cullen did with the Rangers.

There were some questions heading into this season about Dubinsky. Would he have the dreaded sophomore slump? Would he be able to produce without Jagr on his wing? We’re only 2 games into the season, but Dubinsky doesn’t look like he’s going to hit the proverbial wall any time soon. He was arguably the best player on the Rangers throughout the Preseason and has skated very well with new linemate Nikolai Zherdev.

Some other young players that must prove themselves are Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, and believe it or not, Petr Prucha. Dawes and Callahan will most likely thrive in a faster and more offensive minded environment. As will Prucha who is scratched for tonights game. But Tom Renney has to give Prucha more ice time. At least some more time on the Power Play.

As for any predictions, I think the Rangers will fight for control of the Atlantic with the Penguins for the majority of the Season. They will probably end up finishing in second place in the division which is good enough for 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight, the Rangers will hold their true home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. This team made a big splash in the free agency market by signing Brian Campbell to an 8 year contract for about $56.8 million. They also improved in goal with the addition of Cristobal Huet. This team is young and looking to prove themselves. They were very close to making the playoffs last season and you can be sure that New Captain Jonathan Toews and Sophomore Patrick Kane will skate circles around our defense at least once.

Hopefully the Rangers can find their scoring and break out against Huet who they have been fairly good against in recent memory.

I will be at the game and I might snap some pictures. I’ll post them later tonight if I can along with the recap.

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As if coming back from 0-3 in the series wasn’t going to be hard enough, the Rangers are going to have to do with it without Sean Avery (lacerated spleen), Blair Betts (broken bone in face), and without a 100% Chris Drury (torso injury). Drury is probable but after watching him skate at half speed and not taking any faceoffs in the 3rd period of game 3, I have to think he’s playing hurt.

So, where does that leave the Rangers? Well, the situation is not very good. Betts and Drury are the team’s top penalty killers, and the Penguins power play was destroying the Rangers despite Betts and Drury’s best efforts. I would be surprised to see Drury on the penalty kill even if he does play tonight. Now, without their services, it will be up to Scott Gomez, Ryan Callahan, and possibly Brandon Dubinsky to really step up their penalty killing.

Who is going to fill the empty spots in the lineup? Hartford call-up Lauri Korpikoski is going to play center for the 4th line but it’s not clear who will play wing and it’s also not clear who will play on the 2nd line in place of Sean Avery. It will be some combination of Prucha, Orr, and Hollweg. Korpikoski, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft, will be making his NHL debut tonight. Hopefully he can make the most of his 2-3 shifts per period. I think Prucha makes the most sense to fill in on the 2nd line. On Defense, Jason Strudwick will play along side Paul Mara in place of Christian Backman.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the situation does not look very good. But, there is still some hope. The Rangers have lost 3 in a row, but the Pens haven’t exactly dominated the Rangers in this series. The Rangers let a 3-goal lead slip through their fingers in game 1, and in game 3 the Rangers dominated the flow of the game but couldn’t capitalize on scoring chances as effectively as the Penguins.

It’s possible, right?

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I have to admit I completely underestimated the Penguins before this series. I look back at my series preview and I can’t believe I gave the edge to the Rangers offense. I let the flashy shot totals from the regular season get to my head. What I didn’t take into account was which team was going to capitalize on their scoring chances.

These Penguins certainly know how to put the puck into the net, scoring on 5 out of 17 shots in this game. You can’t fault Lundqvist. His save percentage looks terrible on paper, but not one of those goals was his fault. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t bad either.

How did the Penguins score 5 goals? It’s as simple as this: The Penguins offense was faster than the Rangers defense with and without the puck. The Rangers defense was burned several times, and frequently coughed up the puck throughout the game.

In the 2nd period, the Rangers seemed to have stolen the momentum after tying the game at 3 and keeping possession deep in the Penguins zone for well over a minute and a half. Then, Ryan Hollweg took a braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.  The Penguins power play, which was absolutely killer, capitalized to make it 4-3. The Pens only had 2 power play chances, but scored on both. (The Rangers went 0 for 5).

So where do the Rangers go from here? The series isn’t technically over, but really, it is.

I’d be surprised if the Rangers can even pull out a win in game 4.

Game notes: I’m not sure what happened to Drury, but he’s definitely hurt. After missing most of the 2nd period, he came back in the 3rd but wasn’t taking faceoffs. (Avery skated at center with Drury on the wing). Blair Betts might be seriously hurt after blocking a slapshot. Renney tried a number of different line combinations, but none of them seemed to work. I really don’t like seeing Brendan Shanahan on the 4th line. Gomez and Avery did not generate any scoring chances with Sjostrom on their line. If Renney was going to keep Shanny on the 4th line, why wouldn’t he dress Prucha instead of Hollweg?? I just don’t get it. I’d really like to see someone, anyone, other than Hollweg after that braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.

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This is an obvious statement, but the Rangers have to win this game tonight. If they get the series back to 2-1, they are still alive. 3-0 is a different story.

You won’t see me quote a basketball coach too often in a hockey blog, but Doc Rivers had a great quote last night after the Celtics lost game 4. He said, “I could hear them in the locker room, saying ‘hey, guys we’re going back home, it’s going to be okay.’ I told them, ‘You have to go make it okay.’ We have to go make it okay.”

Since falling into the 0-2 hole, the Rangers have all been saying that they were still in this series because they were heading home to MSG. I just hope they remember that nothing magical happens when you take your home ice that suddenly makes you play better. The team is going to have to earn these wins. Playing at MSG with 18,000 fans at your back is going to help, but nothing is automatic.

A few game notes:

Remember that lineup shuffle from yesterday? Scratch that. Petr Prucha will be scratched in favor of Ryan Hollweg, which presumably means that Shanahan will skate in his usual spot with Gomez and Avery. Strudwick will also be scratched, which means the fans at MSG will see plenty of Christian Backman tonight. Renney said that Paul Mara will probably see some time on the power play unit, so we got that right.

Despite Therrien’s comments yesterday that suggest otherwise, the Rangers feel they have done very little this series to make it hard for Marc-Andre Fleury to see the puck. Renney’s reaction to hearing Therrien’s comments: “Really?” The Rangers beat up on Martin Brodeur in round 1 by putting bodies in front for screens and deflections. Look for a return to that form tonight at MSG.

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