Thursday, November 19, 2009

Or... Just Stop Somebody!

Everyone is missing the point – myself included.

We posted "Come On Somebody" a few days ago - about getting goals from someone other than Gaborik. Then Tortorella mentioned the same issue after Tuesday’s loss. And then everybody and his brother wrote about it. But there was something we all missed.

Yes – of course the Rangers will score more goals if they get their 2nd and 3rd lines to score more goals. That's true for every team in the NHL. But despite all of our reported offensive troubles - through 21 games we have 63 goals. And according to my Official Ty Domi Slide Rule that is exactly 3 goals a game - which for the Rangers is really not bad at all. It’s 10th best in the NHL – slightly better than where the world champion Penguins are right now. We’re a top-third offensive team.

And three goals a game is a lot more than the 2.4 goals per game we scored last year. It's a big step forward. More to the point - three goals a night on offense is NOT the reason we're losing hockey games.

What I'm saying is - the reason we've been in a tailspin ever since game nine is our defense. Or, more accurately, our LACK of defense.

We're letting up more goals than we did last year – 2.76 goals a game - and it's killing us.

And why is this happening? There are a few possible explanations:

1 - You can't have it both ways - Our defense is more offensive: Our six defenders are being coached by John Tortorella to get up ice - crash the offensive zone and shoot the puck. And it's been working - we're getting a lot of goals from our defensemen. But the flip side of making the defender into an extra forward is that now we're down one defenseman. When our backliners are out of position it allows our opponents to get more rushes and more quality chances on Lundqvist. The result is more goals against

2 - Some of our defenders stink. At least dollar for dollar. We have Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival each earning nearly Gaborik-like money. That is plainly ludicrous and is the single most powerful force holding down this hockey club. I don't blame the kids - Gilroy and Del Zotto are improving every day. But Redden and Rozy need to start playing like their contracts - or we should cut them - reclaim half their salaries and find guys who will play the position better.

3 - Hank? Maybe we're spoiled. But I used to be sure Henrik had the potential to dominate - to be the kind of goalie other teams feared. And at times - in past years - he was that goalie. But this year -not so much. Is it Tortorella's system that's slowing Lundqvist down? When Tom Renney was coaching here he designed the whole system around protecting our goalie. Under Torts. Hank is more on his own and his numbers are just not as good. But is it more than just system - are we getting less out of Hank that what we've gotten in the past?

So - is it the system, the quality of our defenders, or (say it ain't so!) Our goalie? Whatever the cause - we're letting up more goals - which is why we're scoring more, but still winning less. And that's just not going to work. If we’re going to start winning again – we’ve got to play better “D”. We’ve got to Just Stop Somebody.

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