Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back to the Basics

While everyone is still talking about the bad officiating, the latest Sean Avery debate and other assorted nonsense, we just wanted to point out that there will be a game played on Wednesday evening. Matter of fact it is an important Game 4 between the Rangers and Devils so if nobody minds we would like to talk about how we think the Rangers need to do in order to win.

One has to start with what cost the Rangers Game 3 and we are not talking about goals going off of skates. We are talking about the very poor job the Rangers have been doing getting the puck out of their own defensive zone.

It is maddening to watch the Rangers continue to turn the puck over to the Devils in their own defensive zone as if not for the Rangers turning over the puck as much as they have then the Devils would not have half the goals they have scored in this series. In other words, cut out the turnovers and you will cut down on how much the Devils will score.

Take the 2 power play goals the Devils scored in Game 3 as it was the Rangers putting the puck right on Devil sticks that directly led to those 2 goals. It is a lot easier to score on a team that has trapped themselves in their own zone than trying to work the puck from one end of the ice to another.

Really these are not the same Devils with the Trap that worked for them during the pre-lockout days. The Devil's forecheck is not all that tough to break these days but the Rangers have been making it look like the Devils are that great on the forecheck.

Clean up the turnovers is a great way to start but as we said a way to start. The next area that the Rangers need to work on is their own forecheck as they have not put hardly any pressure on the Devils to make them work their way up ice.

Other than Callahan and Sjostorm, the Rangers have put so little pressure on the Devils that it is almost as if they are basically not starting to play defense until the Devils are already in the Ranger defensive zone.

Yes in the 3rd periods of Games 1 and 2 the Rangers did a good job preventing the Devils from getting good shots on Lundqvist up close but how about disrupting the Devils so they don't get into the offensive zone to set up.

The Rangers in game 2 were effective generating turnovers that led to scoring chances especially odd man rushes. Being on the attack led directly to Callahan's goal in game 1, it is what can get the Rangers a Game 4 win as well.

The Rangers still have yet to come out for any game as if they had their backs against the wall and that has to change unless the Rangers want this series to go 7 games. With all the offensive firepower the Rangers have on the roster there is no excuse for them not to blow the Devils out of the water.

And of course there is that old tired horse also known as the dormant Ranger's power play. Take away Avery's power play goal on the 5 on 3 and the Rangers are 1 for 10 on the power play, a number that is totally unacceptable if the Rangers want to move on.

It boggles the mind that a team that boasts 2 Future Hall of Famers who have over 1200 goals between them, a player who averaged 16 power play goals a season with the Sabres, and others who are very talented offensive weapons but none of them can figure out how to make the power play work.

We have and it is a radically fundamental concept called cycling the puck. We are talking about the 5 Rangers on the ice doing something so fundamental as movement. If one looks at the Ranger power play and how it has not operated all season then it frustrates the heck out of you.

Tom Renney says the power play does not work because nobody shoots the puck, we say the power play does not work because the Rangers stand around waiting for someone else to make the play. We say it does not work because the team has 2 vastly different units that are polar opposites of each other.

We say the power play is not working because the Rangers make it easier for the Devils (and everyone else) but standing still. When you stand still then the defense does not have to adjust for where you are since they already know where you are.

Go back to Callahan's goal in game 1 because everyone lost track of where he was especially Brodeur and the next thing the Devils knew was that Callahan had scored. That is what the Rangers need to do which is motion, motion motion as when you are moving then the defense loses track of who is where and it creates an opening for scoring chances.

And there is one thing that we really think sadly that Tom Renney is going to have to do that is totally out of character for him. Tom Renney is going to have to react to a bad call just as Sutter has because his team needs to see that from him.

Most times a team is a reflection of their coach and if their coach does not show emotion when the team is getting the short end of the calls then neither will the players. We doubt for a second that any Ranger would mind it if they had to kill off an unsportsmanlike penalty if it meant that Renney was standing up for the players.

It just might even do something positive like rally the team around a common cause. They need one because the way the calls have been going the Rangers have been playing as it they were playing down 2 players with the Devils having a 7 on 5 advantage.

It is way past time for the Rangers to even up that advantage by using their own weapon which is the Ranger crowd. Score early score often and keep the pedal to the ground.

Take a page from the Montreal and Boston fans who have been loud and then louder which has clearly affected how the calls were being made.

In any event, the Rangers need to start playing their game and not what the Devils want.

IF the Rangers play their own game then this series can end in 5 games, the longer the Rangers let the Devils remain in the series the greater the chance of the Rangers losing.

Take it to them and then finish them off.

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