Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marian Gaborik Talks About His Benching

Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants has this from Marian Gaborik on whether he was shocked to be benched tonight...
"Yeah," Gaborik said. "Obviously I haven't produced much lately. Obviously, in these types of games, it's a big game. I'm not giving up, I've just got to work harder, just try to get out of it, that's the bottom line. Confidence is a very big part. The last few games, I felt good and we created chances. I think things were happening but it was not going in. It surprised me tonight to get benched. It's the coach's decision, that's the bottom line. I have to produce and help this team win games.

"I've got to score, I've got to score. You definitely want to go out there and prove you should be on the ice."
 I am kind of with Gaborik in his surprise that the benching happened, but it was certainly the right move by coach Tortorella.  Glad to hear Gaborik say that he is going to keep working and the understands he has to score, but like the scenario with Del Zotto talking the right words while feels good is meaningless unless he brings it to the ice. 

Do you think tonight's benching within the game will get Gaborik going? Will the benching only make it worse?  Does Torts need to go further and bench him for a game?

Video: Tortorella Strikes Back At Questioning of Effort

The press conference with John Tortorella started out with Torts looking as low energy as I have ever seen him, but he got energized at the end when a question was raised about whether effort was part of the team's problem during tonight's game. Also discussed were the PP, Gaborik's scoring struggles, the need for the skill guys to start scoring.

Zuccarello, Stepan Try To Rally Troops But Rangers Fall Short 3-2 to Flyers

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Another day, another game and the same scenario played out for the New York Rangers this weekend.  Once again the Rangers played two lousy periods tonight and tried to mount a furious third period rally only to come up short by a 3-2 score.  The good side is the same as last night in that this team does quit on a game and had its chances despite only playing 20 minutes to get points out of the game, but the bad is the same that they seem to love sleeping for two periods and battling their ass off for one.
Speaking of repeating patterns twice in the first period the Rangers would give up goals seconds after they finished killing off a penalty.  The first was scored by Jeff Carter at 6:14 when he was left all alone in the slot to tip a Matt Carle point shot past Biron.  At 14:54 of the period a very similar play would happen as again a player left alone in the slot, this time Ville Leino, takes a shot and it has a deflection off Ruslan Fedotenko and goes in to make it 2-0 Flyers.  The first period was so bad that the Garden booed the team as the period ended and it was well deserved.

Lineup vs Philly: Biron To Start; Gaborik with Anisimov and Dubinsky

Steve Zipay tweets Martin Biron will get the start for the Rangers tonight instead of Henirk Lundqvist against Philly.  Biron has been very good for the Rangers this season with a 7-3 record 2.26 goals against average and .919 save percentage.  No knock on Biron, but to me this move is a mistake not to go with Lundqvist in a huge game against the best team in the East who you have failed to beat twice already this season.  More than just the points this game is a psychological hurdle for the Rangers and with that they should be going with Henrik.   Maybe his hand still hurts from beating Pacioretty about the head.

In terms of the rest of the lineup no changes among personnel and the team will use the same lines as they did in the third period last night:


I do not understand these line combinations.  Drury has done nothing to earn a move to the second line, so why not allow Avery to play there and leave Zuccarello on right wing why he is more comfortable?  That simple move would also allow you to leave Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust together and create more continuity in the lineup with Drury being on the fourth line where he belongs.  If the reason you are putting Drury on the second line is because Stepan and his faceoffs that is not a good enough reason to do it.

Video: Dylan McIlrath Pummels Tyler Yaworksi

During the first period Rangers prospect Dylan McIlrath dropped the gloves with Tyler Yaworksi and by the time it was over Yaworski probably wished he had made a different decision.  On a night where Henrik Lundqvist had to fight to defend himself let us imagine in a few years it will be McIlrath who is the one throwing the bombs on those who dare to bang around his goaltender.

Video from hockeyfightsplus

To get a full recap of the other prospects last night head over to the The Prospect Park where Jess Rubenstein breaks it all down as always.

Sean Avery Needs To Be Unleashed

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
So far this season John Tortorella has pushed a lot of the right buttons this season and is certainly up there for coach of the year with the job he has done with this New York Rangers club.  One button he refuses to seem to consistently push however is the one player on the Rangers team that can push the other team’s buttons; Sean Avery.  While the Rangers were getting Avery’d by Subban there was Avery playing his three minutes per period as if the world would crumble if he got more time.  With each shift that Avery had even when the team was asleep at the wheel he made an impact and yet he still ended the night with a measly 9:46 of ice time.  Only Kris Newbury less ice than Avery last night and he was far from the second worst forward the Rangers had in the game for that to be warranted.  Subban said before yesterday's game when asked if he was an agitator, "I'm not Sean Avery."  Whether he is or he is not the Rangers need more of Sean Avery.

I understand that with every shift you send Avery on the ice there is the risk he could explode and hurt the team with a bad penalty, but there were plenty of those going around last night and Avery was one of the few who were helping when he was out there.  To continually short change Avery for fear of what he might do or to rein him in to prevent those things is counterproductive to the larger picture of what Avery can bring to this club.  If Avery goes out and does something wrong, then by all means punish him to the fullest extent that you can, but Avery has done nothing to hurt this team this season.

The reality is that Avery has been a great soldier for the team in not making noise with his consistent demotions, especially the one this week when he was demoted by the trade for Wojtek Wolski.  Avery had just played three excellent games with Gaborik and Anisimov and yet without a second thought he was immediately back on the fourth line toiling away with Drury.  The skill of Wolski and Gaborik together is an intriguing proposition, but what we have seen this season is that Gaborik is at his best when he has grit to play with him because he does not want to play the hard game.  A line of Wolski, Stepan, Gaborik has plenty of skill, but does not mesh with this team’s identity and breaks the rhythm of the way the other lines at least attempt to play. 

There will obviously be new lines today because of the performance last night and they might be the same as the ones we saw in the third period last night where the Rangers attempted their comeback.  If so that would see Avery with Boyle and Prust and he can certainly fit right in with those two in the role that Fedotenko has played this season.  What I would rather see is Drury removed from the kids and let Avery play with the skill of Stepan and Zuccarello so they have some toughness and protection on their line

I have never been one of Avery’s biggest supporters because of the antics that he seems to get caught up in more than the hockey side, but for the majority of the year he has been a focused hockey player and has shown his hockey skill and intelligence when given the opportunities to do so.  There is bound to be that moment where he loses focus, but until that happens let him play and stop treating him as if he is guilty until proven innocent.  Avery has produced as he is 10th on the team in points (16) despite being 14th on the team among forwards in average ice time.  It is time that Tortorella puts aside whatever his deal is with Avery and just sends him out there go play as he knows how because like it or not Torts saw firsthand last night what happens when a team gets Avery’d.

Drew Doughty Old School Hit Lays Out Taylor Hall (Video)

Maybe it was the throwback uniforms that the Los Angeles Kings were wearing tonight that caused Drew Doughty to turn back the clock with this crushing hit on Taylor Hall.  Whatever it was Doughty destroyed Hall with a hipcheck after tracking him as he came down the wall.  The hit was perfectly clean which these days means there must be a fight afterwards, but the hit is still a thing of beauty.