Sunday, October 23, 2011

Zuccarello Nets Game Winner For Whale; Will Recall Happen?

While the New York Rangers were getting blanked in Edmonton last night one Ranger in exile, Mats Zuccarello, scored the game winning goal for the Connecticut Whale last night as they beat Springfield 2-1.  Brian Ring had the recap for and said that the Zuccarello goal was in fact a lucky bounce as the Norwegian winger fired the puck towards the front of the net and it bounced off a Springfield player and in.  Certainly would be nice if the Rangers tried things like that instead of getting 19 total shots in a game, wouldn’t it?

Zuccarello is doing his part in proving he deserves an NHL shot on a scoring line with three goals and an assist in two games for the Whale.  His importance and offense skill certainly has not escaped coach Ken Gernander…
“It was awesome,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “He’s [Zuccarello] been a big time player for us in just the short two games he’s been with us, but he’s pretty good at generating offense for us.”
You would think that with the Rangers offensive woes they would want to try using players that have the ability to generate offense, but maybe that is too logical an approach.  Recalling Zuccarello is a popular line of thinking for many fans of the team, especially with his performance in Connecticut thus far.  Howeverr, bringing him back on the fourth line with minimal minutes would be a pointless.  Zuccarello is better off playing top line AHL minutes than riding the bench in the NHL, but there is nothing that says he could not get another shot to play in the top 9. 

The Rangers have failed to generate any forecheck to start the season, so stop using the Boyle line as the third line and give a more skilled line a chance there.  Adding Wolski and Zuccarello back into the lineup and removing Christensen and Newbury would give them at least the opportunity to do something offensively.  The Rangers might lose some “jam” doing it, but regardless of the 2-1 record on the trip to this point the Rangers have really only had a single good offensive period.

Time For Tortorella To Stop Media Antics, Face The Questions

There is no questioning the fire of New York Rangers coach John Tortorella.  It is that fire that makes him entertaining in a number of his press conferences both in confrontation with reporters like Larry Brooks and many appreciate the blunt nature to which he will discuss a number of topics.  However, last night following the 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Tortorella came out to fulfill his contractual obligation to meet with the media by stating off the bat that there will be no questions and calling out his team. 

Tortorella’s statement via Steve Zipay (video here):
"This is going to be quick. I'm not taking any questions. We sucked from head to toe. And we need to move by it. So I'm not going to dissect it with you guys. I know you guys have to do your job, but I'm not answering any questions. Okay?"
Video of the "press conference" can be found

The blunt assessment of the team’s performance is something that all fans appreciate because there was no attempt to insult their intelligence by trying to make the effort seem like it fell just short.  Few will take umbrage with the assessment because of the honest nature of it and the obvious disgust in his tone/body language as he delivered. 

The part that leads to some divide is the immediate dismissal of any questions which had split reactions across the fan base.  While the press conference that should have followed would have done nothing to change the results of the game that just completed and little to impact Monday’s game against Winnipeg, part of Tortorella’s job is to stand there and take questions from the media.    That is part of being a professional, which is exactly what Tortorella expects his player’s to be each time they step on the ice or have to answer for what went on there.

Tortorella loves to preach about accountability and taking responsibility for actions, but he dismisses the media’s ability to stand there and ask him questions about the product he helped facilitate putting on the ice.  Where is the accountability in that?  Why is he above standing there and being asked why Mike Rupp gets benched for taking an offensive zone penalty while Marian Gaborik doesn’t?  Is it inexcusable to him that he be asked why Gaborik and Richards were separated during the game?  Or any other question the media would have asked him for that matter? 

He may view the media as a nuisance that he has to put up with as part of coaching the New York Rangers, and he might even be right, but that doesn’t make him shunning that part of the job description okay.   Following the loss to the Islanders I praised Tortorella for taking accountability for his coaching decision in regards to Brad Richards being left out at the end of the power play and leading to the Islanders winning goal.  There is no reason that his actions following the game last night should have been any different.

As I said, answering the questions, whatever they might have been, changes nothing about tonight’s game nor does it truly prepare for Winnipeg on Monday, but you can be both professional and accountable to answer the questions anyway.  Take the responsibility for where you screwed up and then move on to get better.

Video: Tortorella Postgame: "We Sucked From Head To Toe," No Questions

Rangers head coach John Tortorella was not in a very good mood following his team's embarassing performance against the Edmonton Oilers and made that clear by saying "we sucked from head to toe." Tortorella also made it clear he had no interest in discussing it with the media by refusing to take questions.

Lundqvist Scares Rangers Fans With Early Exit in 2-0 Loss To Oilers

The New York Rangers saw their two game win streak end with a 2-0 loss in Edmonton.  Nikolai Khabibulin blanked the Rangers, stopping all 19 shots he faced, few truly threatening, to earn his 44th career shutout.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist to pace the Oilers who outskated and certainly outworked the Rangers for the majority of the night.  The first goal was thanks to an awful pinch by Brendan Bell leading to an odd-man rush the other way.  The second Nugent-Hopkins showing great patience with the puck and feeding former Ranger Corey Potter for the slap-shot that beat Lundqvist.

Beyond the game itself, the scariest moment of the night was when Henrik Lundqvist left the ice in the third period.  The New York Rangers fan base held their breath and prayed while awaiting news on what was wrong with the star goaltender.  It was reported that this issue was cramping in his foot because of issues with his equipment.  While cramps are not exactly a good thing it was a huge sigh of relief that nothing more serious happened to Lundqvist.
  • Rangers continue to struggle with teams that have speed and can move the puck quickly.  Transition teams don’t allow them to get the forecheck going and without it the offense just doesn’t seem to function
  • Gaborik was the Rangers best forward on the night showing very good burst again tonight, but his effort on the breakaway with the weak backhander was awful.  Gaborik is not really a great moves guy, which is why he isn’t in the shootout.  He is a shooter and his chance of success is much higher there if he uses his tremendous wrist shot.
  • Do not understand Tortorella breaking up Gaborik and Richards to end the first/start the second period.  That pair was the only one creating anything tonight offensively.
  • Power play was anemic again.  The 5-on-3 advantage was the most frustrating of the night as they passively play the puck back and forth to one another with absolutely no sense of urgency, which led to them creating nothing.