Talking about the Rangers, unless I decide to talk about something else

Archive for November, 2011

Concerns vs. Montreal

For several reasons, tonight’s game against Montreal has me pretty concerned that the Rangers’ 7-game win-streak is about to end. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

1: What Goes Up Must Come Down

7 game win streaks are rare, especially if you’re a team like the Rangers who has good-not-great scoring ability. Eventually there will be a game where the defense is fine and Hank plays well, but the goals just dry up. It’s inevitable, especially if they keep playing games where only 1 of the lines is generating chances. There are 2 players on the Canadiens that have me thinking tonight could be the night the Rangers fall back to earth.

2: Carey Price

Price is the type of goalie that gives the Rangers absolute fits. He’s big and super athletic, and most games will make at least 1 save on a shot that would’ve been a goal against a lesser net-minder (other examples: Marc-Andre Fleury kills them; Cam Ward, last game aside, has a career save percentage of about .998% against the Rangers; Jon Quick, who seems to never give anything up against them). The Rangers only generate a few quality scoring chances per game, and if Price can make a stop on 1 or 2 of them it may decide the game, not to mention if the Rangers happen to just miss some of those chances on their own.

3: Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty is another type of player that kills the Rangers. He’s big, powerful, skilled, and a natural scorer. No Marc Staal makes Pacioretty especially dangerous in this game, since he’d normally be in charge of shutting down Pacioretty or maybe Camallerri. Right now, Pacioretty has 9 goals on the year and the Habs are on a bit of a hot streak of their own. Girardi’s been a stud this year, but if #67 gets rolling for Montreal he is a load to handle no matter how good of a d-man you are. I, for one, will be terrified whenever he gets the puck.

4. The Rangers are Miserable in Montreal

I don’t know the numbers because I’m lazy and frankly I didn’t start this for fun to do research, but I think the Rangers have like 2 or 3 wins in their last 10 games in Montreal. They don’t play well up there and it’s hard to pinpoint why (Theory: Montreal is a fucking awesome city. It is incredibly fun to go out up there, and if you’re a hockey player there’s no better place to meet a puck bunny than Montreal. Guys are a little less focused on the game when they’re up there, so they may come in a little less focused.). Hopefully the team is a little mentally stronger this year due to roster chemistry and Brad Richards’ leadership, and they can get past their problems at the Bell Centre. I hate that they spell it “Centre.”

5. Penalties and PK Subban

NHL players hate PK Subban. He gets on their nerves, and he’s really, really good on top of it. The Rangers have been taking a ton of penalties, less so lately but still an ugly total. Subban is the type of guy who could really get under the team’s skin. If he does and the Rangers spend too much time in the box, that spells loss even if the penalty kill is outstanding again. He’s another one to keep an eye on.

So that’s it. I don’t feel great about this game for those reasons, plus I’m a naturally negative person. I approach these things with a shitty attitude and expect the worst (which I suppose is the Mets’ and Jets’ fault) so why treat the Rangers differently? Also, God isn’t real, all that awaits us after death is rotting for eternity in the ground, and the Twilight movie made over $1 Billion this weekend.

Good Times! Everyone enjoy the game, and hopefully I’m wrong. Especially about the Twilight thing.

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Having a Legitimate Top Line

The GAS Line, as some are calling it, is now looking like a legitimate top line. This is the first time the team has had a true first line since Jagr left. Gaborik, Anisimov, and Stepan all provide different skill sets when they’re on the ice together. Stepan is a solidly built guy who battles down low very well and is a tremendous passer with unreal vision and anticipation. Anisimov is a legitimate 6’4″, with plenty of skill and size that allows him to protect the puck in the corners and occasionally get the puck to the net (of the three, I still think Anisimov’s the farthest from what he potentially could be), who is an exceedingly responsible defensive player that battles for loose pucks on the forecheck. Gaborik is just a hockey phenomenon. He just finds spaces without the puck or creates them with the puck in a way that I haven’t seen before. He’s not an elite player who imposes himself in the game physically and powerfully; he’s an elite player who knows the right time to explode and create a dangerous scoring chance. After every game I feel like he had 7 or 8 shots minimum, and almost all of them had me expecting a goal. He just finds a way to inject his skill set into game and create scoring chances for himself or his linemates.

I love when they’re on the ice. Tonight against the Isles, they didn’t dominate as much as normal, but they had a solid amount of quality scoring chances which is a good sign. Note that they didn’t get as much time on the ice since the Rangers took approximately 200 penalties. But they still looked really effective in a game where penalties dictated that they’d receive less playing time.

What does this mean for the Rangers? It means either (A) the GAS line goes 2 games in a row with out producing as a line then get broken up by Torts, or (B) they build more confidence and chemistry and becoming a legitimate threat to score at least one goal every night. I’m hoping for B, and I think it will be B for a few reasons. 1) Marian Gaborik is playing so unspeakably well that he’s going to elevate the play of Step and Artie no matter what. He occasionally plays in a zone like the NHL isn’t difficult for him. I love that zone. 2) Stepan is such a smart and creative offensive player, and can put the puck in the net as well as be an elite passer. He could easily end up with 60+ points if this line sticks (just from feeds to Gabby and putaways on rebounds alone he’s going to get to 40 without a problem.) 3) Artie has a ton of skill and offensive potential that he’s still trying to work into his game a bit more. If he does, he could be a regular 60+ point guy. If he doesn’t develop much more, he’s still a defensively strong center with a big body and is solid on face-offs. There’s a reason a ton of teams inquired about his availability last year, and it’s because he’s an already solid top-6 center with undeveloped potential.

Having this combo out there and playing effectively does a few things: it has them playing against the other team’s top d-men and forwards, and that leaves our other forwards (Dubi, Cally, Richards) playing against other teams’ second and third units in a match-up that will be favorable for the Rangers in most games. Additionally, it’s going to be so so so much better watching the team play with a high level of confidence that we haven’t seen in a while. With that confidence comes a swagger of sorts, and there’s the kind of feeling that the Caps used to give the Rangers: the lead is never safe. The ability to score and create chances regularly, with the D and goal tending the Rangers have in the back end, means almost no lead will be insurmountable.

We are going to have a fun team to watch this year. I am excited. On a scale from early-morning-hangover to an-erection-so-intense-you-lose-consciousness, I’m moderately aroused. This is why I get the big bucks.

Avery, and a Dusting of My ADHD

Confession: I have a full-time job involving cold calls and a cubicle. My commute is as fun as a swift kick to the groin every morning because I’m forced to sit near and often EVEN INTERACT WITH STRANGERS. My hours are long, and because I’m a stupid person who does stupid things I am not sure how much money I make yet because I feel too self-conscious to ask about bonus and commission structure. I spend 13 hours from the time I leave my door to the time I walk back through it at night. Basically, I’m busy as fuck and haven’t been able to write as often as I’d like. But once I start adjusting to being a cube monkey and answering to The Man, I’ll put more up here.

MOVING ON, this fucking Sean Avery thing. God this is stupid.

Sean Avery is bad. He is not a good hockey player. You can make arguments that he should have a line-up spot, the problem is that they are all wrong. For a few years he was an effective pest, but his shtick stopped working a few years ago. So, he currently brings this to the table: a pretty solid skater unless he has to turn in which case he looks like he’s about to have a yard sale and fly headfirst into the boards; someone who can’t be used on the penalty kill or the power play unless you enjoy wasting ice time with ineffective personnel (any time there’s a bench minor or a player gets ejected, Avery would go to the box to serve the penalty); someone who doesn’t produce points; and someone who takes a ton of penalties and rarely draws any without sending himself to the box as well. What’s appealing about that? Nothing.

Pests and fighters are pretty much useless in this league if they can’t play. Matt Cooke is a pest and dirty, but he can play. Same with Max Lapierre. Guys have figured out if you don’t want to deal with guys like Avery (or guys who are purely fighters), you do not have to. This renders Avery useless because when players ignore him, which they now do, he provides no value.

There are other arguments. There’s the “The Rangers were 12-5-1 in games where he had a point in [insert year here]!” That means 2 things: in an effective year he could only record points in 16 games. This is not a good thing. Second thing: teams tend to have a better record when they get secondary scoring. In other news, the world is round and dinosaurs are extinct. Blow me.

Another: “He fights and brings grit to the line-up!” He fights occasionally, but he was rarely even top 3 on the team in total fights. Avery will start some post-whistle scrums, but he’s not a hard or frequent hitter. No players particularly care about that. Any player would tell you in a heartbeat that they wouldn’t mind playing against Avery because he’ll talk and he’ll be annoying but that’s it. The Rangers already have Cally, Dubi, Staal, and players hate guys like that because they hit you harder than hell and they do it clean and they do it every second of every game. Avery doesn’t do that by any stretch of the imagination. He’s not good at providing a consistent hard forecheck and possessing the puck, which are the only 2 offensive responsibilities you have as a bottom-6 guy.

The worst: “The Rangers are better when he plays his game!” God. Go play in traffic. That’s up there with sportswriters declaring Tim Tebow to be Jesus or whatever because his shitty football team beat another shitty football team. If you find out that you’re yelling at people because an exception to the norm supports your argument, that means your argument is probably wrong. If Avery was good, no one would have to say “He’s effective when he plays that game.” They would say, “He’s effective because he plays that game consistently.”

In conclusion, I understand that people have different opinions about this. That’s fine; this is America and you’re allowed to have your own opinions. But just because you can have them doesn’t mean they aren’t stupid.

Random thoughts:
1. Andre Deveaux: not bad for a 4th liner. To improve his play, I say the Rangers call up Brandon Bell and sign some dude named Biv from a European league somewhere. Why, you ask?

I apologize for nothing.

2. That Joe Thornton-John Tortorella thing was pretty weird, man. Thornton always struck me as a pretty laid back dude. Granted, Torts not so much.

3. Jonas Hiller’s Movember helmet is pretty righteous.

4. Gaborik’s shootout move tonight broke my ankles and made me lose control of my bowels.

5. My office is right by the Occupy Wall Street home-base. Yesterday, there was apparently a pretty good amount of raping going on down there. I’m not really one for hot-button political issues, but I’d have to imagine that’s not the ethos behind the OWS movement. “Rape for Reform!” I’m thinking that’s a bad PR move.

6. Confession: I’ve never seen “Heat” or “The Shining.” I know I’d like both, but hell hath no fury like laziness or something. Also no Netflix.

7. Song that is currently stuck in my head (Wildly NSFW, unless your work place rules):

Sort of hard to believe Donald Glover got started in the Bro Rape video. Those lyrics are sorta Kanye-esque.

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