“My name is Ozymandias/Look upon my blogs, ye mighty, and despair.” Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Rangers’ season has, despite being less than 10 games in, already seen some interesting ups and downs. We’ve seen a 3 game winning streak, a 3 game losing streak, glorious goaltending from Lundqvist (and Raanta!), and some excellent coaching from AV. Now seems like a good time to make 3 observations about things we’ve seen so far, and since this is my goddamn blog that’s happening right now.
1. Dan Girardi looks… not great
As a fan of hockey and good stories, I’ve always loved Dan Girardi. If you’re unfamiliar with his background, I’d recommend watching this. His career is inspiring and he seems to be a great family man and teammate.
NOW. My least favorite roster move the Rangers have made over last 5 or so years was when the Rangers cut Anton Stralman loose to re-sign Dan Girardi (for more term and more money per year than Stralman approached the Rangers with at re-signing negotiations). I’m of the bold school of thought that when deciding which of 2 players to keep, it is unwise to keep the one who is older, not as good, and more expensive. Sather made plenty of great moves, but that one hurt my brain then and still does now. Stralman got Norris votes (the Norris trophy is awarded to the league’s top defenseman each year) last year and Girardi started to slow down a little as the FANCY STATS continued to reflect poorly on his performance (that’s even while he shares most of his minutes with McDonagh). So far this year, Girardi’s play has continued to slip. He is making awful decisions with the puck, continues to find himself out of position, and generally looking like a shell of the player from 2 years ago. Hopefully this improves, and if it doesn’t the Rangers may need to find a way to move him to another team.
2. Power play: still bad, dumb
The power play is bad and dumb (see above). To me there are 3 issues that stick out very obviously, and it’s weird because this has been the case every year of AV’s tenure.
First: the zone entries are absolutely horrendous. Considering the talent on this team, it is mind boggling how awful they are at getting across the blue line and setting up. It works the same way every time: wingers stand still on the blue line on each side of the ice easily checked by defenders. Defensemen slowly trail the play through the neutral zone. Whichever player has the puck is forced to attempt to skate through all the defensemen, who are available to easily take the puck away because the Ranger’s other 4 players are either A) standing still on the blue line or B) several feet out of the zone and unable to help. This is dumb, and the coaches must know that it’s dumb, and for the love of God make it stop.
Second: if they accidentally do get the power play set up, the players without the puck never. Fucking. Move. It’s infuriating. Every good power play involves heavy movement from every player who doesn’t have the puck, which gets the defense off balance and opens up extra passing lanes which then lead to quality scoring chances. That does not appear to be the plan. The plan appears to be based entirely around a player standing in front of the goalie, 2 players standing still against the half boards (a theme emerges!), 1 player in the middle of the 4-man box formation every PK uses, and the guy at the point skating around aimlessly then firing a shot off a defender’s skate or leg. Again, dumb.
Third: I don’t think the Rangers have a single player who can take an effective one timer. You don’t need to have Ovi or Stamkos ripping unstoppable bullets from the left dot, but even someone with a solid shot would be an improvement. I counted 2 goals on Power Play one-timers last year (yes, I am a weirdo), and considering how little turnover there was on the roster there is no reason to believe this year will be much better. The ability to get off quick shots when forcing the goalie to move side-to-side is a huge power play asset, and the Rangers have built a team that isn’t capable of creating or taking advantage of those chances. Bad.
3. Nash stuff!
Nash is an interesting player to me. He’s always scored a ton of goals, thus the reputation as a top scorer. But after watching him for a few years now, I feel like Nash is an A+ all-around player who isn’t a pure goal-scorer. His athleticism and anticipation are the reason he gets 75% of his goals.
He has an accurate but not heavy wrist shot, which is part of why half his goals are weirdly placed shots from just above the face-off dot that look like they came here in a time machine from 1980. When he gets breakaways, he VERY clearly picks his move before executing it and observing the goalie. Usually that’s a recipe for failure, but his reach is so big that his moves rarely fail. I can’t remember more than a couple goals of his that came on slap shots (and don’t get me goddamn started on one-timers). Nash basically manages to be such a smart player who does everything so well that he can’t help but score. When I want to teach my son how to play hockey one day, I’ll show him tape of Nash in order to learn about the right way to do everything on the ice EXCEPT how to score.
Also, am I alone for thinking he might pot a few more if he used a shorter stick? His reach is a major asset when it comes to puck control but he leaves a lot of goals on the table (especially in the playoffs) because he’s a split second late getting to a loose puck around the net. If his stick were a few inches shorter (phrasing!) he’d be on those pucks quicker and it might result in a few more of those garbage goals around the net. Says the moron with the blog.
THAT’LL BE ALL! Let’s go Rangers.