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Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Dan Girardi: Not doing so hot IMO

“Ask not for whom the blog tolls; the blog, it tolls for thee.” – John Donne

I have touched on this before, but our old friend Dan Girardi has been off to a bad start this season. To compare his on ice performance to a dumpster fire is an insult to dumpster fires everywhere. His raw Corsi (total percentage of shots on goal for/against; a 50% rating means you’re even) stats, per this tweet from Travis Yost, are 6th worst IN THE NHL. If you look at that list you’ll also notice that he has the highest total time on ice by quite a bit (he’s also typically amongst the minutes leaders for the Rangers every game), which concerns me because it means that not only is even strength possession number horrifying but he’s still being leaned on heavily by the coaching staff when the numbers strongly suggest that his usage needs to be pulled back significantly.

My thoughts on Girardi have been a little complicated. Possession numbers have never been kind to him, but as with all numbers they needed to be reviewed in the appropriate context. Girardi is constantly deployed against the other team’s best forwards, who, until this year, have seen their scoring rates drop when facing off against Girardi (For example, Ovechkin’s goals/game rate is about half as low as his career rate when facing the Rangers, and Girardi eats most of those minutes. I could look this up but I’m lazy and I will not. They mentioned it in the telecast during the last Rangers-Caps game and that’s good enough for me.). He also sees a lot of penalty kill minutes.

ACCORDING TO MY RESEARCH (don’t tell me I don’t work for you), from the beginning of the 2009-2010 season through the end of last year, he has averaged 23:48 of ice time per game. Considering he basically never misses time, he basically plays 30-something games in total ice time per year. And his minutes are HEAVY, man. All the shot blocking and hitting will wear a player down, especially considering Girardi isn’t an especially large guy (6’1″, 208 pounds listed, so assume both are lower).

It is hard for guys to play that many minutes season in and season out. Basically, it’s a skill that isn’t thought of that way, similar to durability and consistency. The problem is that Girardi isn’t outstanding athletically or skill-wise or skating-wise, if he declines at all it’s going to be hard for him to keep up with NHL-play. If he can’t keep up with NHL play, then who gives a shit if he has the endurance to play lots of minutes for almost every game in a season?

Which brings me to the problem: Girardi is having problems with basic NHL defenseman things, which would render one of his more valuable attributes essentially useless. One of the little things I keep noticing, every single game, is that he is having problems controlling the puck. Whether it’s along the boards or, worse, a clean open ice pass, Girardi is consistently mishandling passes. The reason this hurts is because, especially under pressure in your own zone, you get next to no time to play the puck in the NHL. Guys are on you immediately. When you flub a pass or mishandle a puck behind your own net, the other team gets on you and you either rush a pass (which usually is a bad one) or don’t move the puck at all (which allows a forecheck to continue). A lot of poor decisions Girardi has made with the puck have happened specifically because he’s not controlling the puck like a player in the NHL should.

Worse problem: he is making really brutal reads defensively. If you go to the Rangers’ team site and watch highlights and videos of some saves and goals allowed by Hank this year, you’ll notice Girardi pretty frequently ending up in spots that range from useless to outright dangerously bad. One that comes to mind is when Henrik Lundqvist made a save on a WIDE open Loui Eriksson in the first period against the Bruins on Friday afternoon. The Bruins win the faceoff, and then to his credit, Girardi blocks a shot. Next, the puck falls a few feet away from him and McDonagh flies up from Girardi’s left towards the player with the puck. As a defenseman, it’s Girardi’s responsibility to see his partner skating out to the high slot and immediately get back to the net front to make sure no one is open in the most dangerous area on the ice. Instead, he literally just stands still. Eriksson is wide open, his teammate makes an easy pass, and the only reason he doesn’t score is because our goalie is Henrik Lundqvist, praise be His name.

That is a single example chosen from many. Girardi’s play is a legitimate problem. The team has played over 20 games and this has been how he’s performed basically every single night. I realize I’m basically listing symptoms without giving a diagnosis, which I hate doing, but the way he’s playing makes me worry that Girardi may have lost a step and is now the dreaded “player at a different stage of his career,” which is a polite way of saying it’s about time to think about taking him out behind the woodshed. Hopefully he turns it around.

Let’s go Rangers.

HOLY FUCKING FUCK

Jesus Christ, you guys. MSG almost fell over.

Every dollar the Rangers have spent and will spend on paying Brad Richards is worth it. Unbelievable. He looked happier than anyone I’ve ever seen after he put that in. The guy has made so many unbelievable plays his whole career, he has a cup, he has a Conn Smythe, and he was elated. Worth every penny, unless he gives Lundqvist AIDS and clips McDonagh’s Achilles heels with scissors sometime this week.

This was one of the most legendary games in franchise history. I’m not one to be earnest about anything, but I’m honestly really happy I got to be there. It was unbelievable. I’m going to watch these clips on YouTube for another 2 hours.

Good for Marc Staal. He’s one of the poster boys for this new era of the Rangers, and you know he was in heaven after that.

Game 6 in Washington on Wednesday night.

MAGIC NUMBER: 9 wins to go.

On the Hagelin/Carkner Suspensions

Now that I’ve had a little more time to think about it, the 3-game suspension for Carl Hagelin doesn’t bother me too much on its own. Even if he only hit Alfredsson with his elbow accidentally (Alfie did move his head and bring up his stick right before contact), Hagelin still would’ve caught him up high and done some damage. It seemed like he was leaving his feet. Alfredsson missed the rest of the game and still may not play tonight. 3 games for Hagelin is harsh, but it isn’t outlandish. Players were getting 5 games for elbows to the head causing injuries, and 3 for a guy who seemed to do it accidentally and has no history of disciplinary issues (honestly, he probably needs a GPS to find the penalty box) is fair.

Rangers fans are generally pretty furious with the suspension, though, because it didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened days after Shea Weber received a fine and no suspension for basically palming Hank Zetterberg’s head and slamming it into the glass. It also happened a period after Matt Carkner sought out Brian Boyle to get back at him for throwing some rabbit punches at an unwilling Erik Karlsson in Game 1. Seeking out Boyle for a fight would’ve been one thing, but Carkner’s attack was probably as close as we’ll get in the playoffs to felony assault. He came in high with a crosscheck on Boyle’s blind side, sucker punched him twice in the face, then punched him 5 times in the ribs while he was on the ground. Carkner’s defense was that he expected Boyle to fight back, which I wouldn’t have trouble buying if Carkner had actually, you know, given Boyle an opportunity to respond to a challenge as opposed to jumping him without warning and essentially trying to injure him. Carkner has been previously suspended for doing exactly the same thing earlier this year when he sucker punched an Islander multiple times in the face and broke his orbital bone. He got a game misconduct and is suspended for tonight as well.

Considering his prior suspension, his intent and the sheer viciousness of the play, the fact that Carkner is regularly healthy scratched, and in the previous 13 games he dressed he played more than 9:00 minutes only 1 time, a 1 game suspension seems light but probably wouldn’t have had much of an effect on the series even if he got more games. What makes it feel so shitty is that Dubi missed the whole game since the refs missed the attack on Boyle and he went in to rescue his teammate. A team leader and key special teams player for the Rangers missing the rest of the game for that feels… well, kind of yucky for lack of a better term.

There’s also the issue of suspending to injury. If Alfredsson is scheduled to play tonight, the Rangers will be able to appeal the Hagelin suspension (as of now he’s apparently 50/50) and probably get it reduced by a game. That would feel better. But what nags me about this is that intent is much less of a factor than result, and that seems like backwards logic. Objectively it’s pretty fair to say Hagelin’s hit was reckless but accidental, whereas Carkner jumping Boyle was reckless, intentional and wildly excessive. The suspensions differ because Alfie got concussed and Boyle wasn’t injured.

I understand the need to discipline Hags for his hit on Alfie, both for his actions and the result of the hit. But to suspend Carkner less severely than Haglein just because Boyle didn’t get hurt seems deeply wrong. I’ve never understood this approach to discipline on any level; for example, I don’t understand why an attempted murder charge doesn’t fetch the same punishment as a regular murder charge. Why do you punish someone less just because either (A) they’re shitty at murdering people or (B) the person they attempted to murder is tough as nails and survives? I don’t view the two crimes any differently because the intent was the same: to kill. The result seems irrelevant to me.

Obviously I’m using a hyperbolic example, but it still illustrates my point. Carkner wasn’t making a hockey play or trying to follow the enforcers’ code, he assaulted Brian Boyle to hurt him to get revenge. Hagelin was trying to make a clean hit and hockey play but he made a reckless mistake that ended up hurting Dan Alfredsson.

Accidental injuries will always be a part of the game, attacks like the one Carkner unleashed on Boyle are the sort of plays the NHL needs to get rid of. Neither of the incidents deserves to go unpunished, but it will never feel right to me that the message the NHL is sending is that intent matters less than result.

Sean Avery Retired

 

WE HAD A GOOD RUN SEAN.

No we didn’t. Today, Avery officially retired. This ends the era of the only chant (“AVE-RY”) that bothered me more than “SHOOT THE PUCK,” and also the end of the career of by far the most overrated Ranger since the lockout. I have 2 thoughts:

1. Good. He couldn’t turn without looking like he was going to fall over, and he took about 25 minutes to beat Jimmy Fallon in a shooting contest. His talent vs. attention-received ratio was Tebow-esque, only if Tebow was a world famous asshole.

2. I haven’t gotten a chance to use this video yet, so this is happening right now.

Signs of a Slump

Over the past few years with the Rangers, the clearest indicator of a slump is when the 3rd line is the most effective line on the team for several games in a row. Really, the best way to know the team has been playing poorly is when you hear Sam Rosen say the 3rd line has been the team’s best line.

The common misconception amongst Rangers’ fans when this happens is that the 3rd liners deserve to have a bigger role on the team because they’re more noticeable than the top-6 forwards. When a team’s 3rd line forwards are guys who have produced points in their career but accepted roles as defensive forwards (think Jordan Staal or Franz Nielsen) for the sake of the team, the idea of giving that type of player more minutes makes sense. When a team’s 3rd line forwards are guys like the Rangers have had the last few years, it’s a bad idea at best.

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Important: Stop Yelling Shoot

There are some things everyone knows about New Yorkers. They’re energetic. They’ll have an opinion and voice it with no hesitation. They won’t back down from a little conflict.

The crowds at Rangers’ games are often a cool microcosm of the characteristics that give this city its personality. But that personality can immediately transform from fun to infuriating when people either A) are idiots, B) aren’t idiots but have no idea what they’re talking about but still feel the need to loudly express an opinion, or, worst of all, C) when they’re both of those things.

I would be lying if I said I knew why I used this picture.

You’ll run into this all over New York. For some reason a lot of people have decided that “having a lot of personality” is the most important trait to have. I would argue that if your personality is terrible then having a lot of it is not a good thing, and I would imagine that bringing up that theory would probably lead to someone saying “COME AT ME BRO” or calling me a pussy.

Rangers’ fans who yell “SHOOT!” at players are exactly that. Hundreds or even thousands of people join together to scream shoot because it seems like the thing to do, but I guarantee you most of them couldn’t tell you why they’re doing it. It starts with a few people yelling and then it slowly spreads out like a ripples on a retarded pond, because a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about but feel like they need to be talking.

When you go out to a party and you see a person you’re attracted to, it’s entirely natural to have the desire to strike up a conversation and hope that you end up getting a date or going home with that person. But I think we can all agree that it isn’t a good idea to start yelling at that person from across the room “HEY YOU IN THE RED DRESS LET’S BANG!!!” because it won’t achieve anything and will make you sound like a caveman. Yelling “SHOOT” is the hockey version of this because there is less implied rape.

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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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