Monday, November 23, 2009

Tortorella: “It Is A Miserable Time”

Opening Remarks: The Rangers have now lost 4 out of 5 and 7 of 10. We've tumbled clear out of the playoff picture to 10th place in the East – 2 points below Boston and the Line-Of-Death. We're a quarter of the way into our season and – we're tied with the Islanders for God's Sake! How did this happen?

Coach Tortorella had plenty to say to reporters yesterday about the Rangers losing streak:

"You stay with it. You just keep trying to battle through this. The only way I know is for the team to stay together. We have to have a little bit of resiliency. It is a miserable time, but you have to come to work and fight your way through."

And honestly – I'm not exactly sure what the problem is. On Saturday the Rangers only got goals from their top line. But on the other hand – it was only their top line that let up goals. Lines 2, 3, and 4 were pointless for the night – but were all even on plus-minus. Gaborik, Prospal and Kotalik scored 2 goals but were each minus 1 on the evening. So who is to blame here?
Is Hank as good as ever but the victim of a leaky defense? Or is he slowly slipping from greatness to not-so-greatness?

If you're looking for bright spots – Captain Chris Drury skated with the team this weekend – but won't be back in action tonight. And I don't like thinking like this – but doesn't it feel as if Chris isn't really the team captain anymore?

Anyway – tonight brings another chance for the Rangers to end this losing streak – and so - on with the Preview:

Who The Hell Are We Playing? The Columbus Blue Jackets are still a name that still sounds fake to me – lie something from a movie that wanted to make up a pretend hockey team. Blue Jackets? Anyway, they are 12-6-3 and in 6th place in the West. In their last 10 games they are 6-1-3.

Primary Skaters: This is a team that gets goals from the Left Wing position. Their top goal scorer, with 14 is left winger Chris Nash. Raffi Torres – also on left Wing - has 9 goals, and Left Winger Kristian Huseloius has 8 goals. Center Antoine Vermette leads the team in assists with 12.

In Net: This is a team with a reliable 2nd goalie: Mathieu Garon, who in 8 appearances has a GAA of 2.46 and a Save percentage of .923. Their main starter Steve Mason has a 3.44 GAA and a .889 save percentage – one of the worst we've seen for a starting goalie.

Scoring & Defense: The “Azure Coats” score about 2.4 goals a game and give up 2.7. Our totals are 2.95 goals for and 2.77 goals against.

Special Effects: On the Powerplay Columbus is the 2nd best team in the NHL with a success rate of 25.3%. We're down at 12th with a 22.1% PP scoring rate. On the PK Columbus is 19th overall with a 78.8% success rate shorthanded. The Rangers are 4th best at 84.7%. So their PP versus our PK should be interesting to watch

Scheduling Conflicts: The Blue Jackets played Thursday and Saturday. They lost Thursday to Nashville. We also lost Saturday – so the teams will be about equally rested. And anyway, extra rest was no help at all to us against Florida.

Probable Lines: Honestly - I don't know. Tortorella had a one game experiment with putting Kotalik with Gabs and Prospal on the first line – but he's already said he won't be repeating that.
So who joins that top line? Put Lisin back there? He's still showing the effects of a sore foot. Higgins? But they just started Higgins centering the 2nd line. Mr. Sean Avery? He has been playing better. Hmmm.

And until they set line one – I can;t take a guess at line 2 or 3. So, sorry – I really don't have a clue..

On Defense: More of the same.

In Goal: The Rangers will come to their senses and give a well deserved rest to their franchise goalie and... No- who am I kidding? They will send poor Hank out there yet again until he breaks down.

Dave Puck Predicts: I just don't want to predict a loss. And we're lost a few games at home in a row. But hope springs eternal. I'm saying Rangers win 3-2.
Where we Stand: 10th place. We're 2 points below 8th place Boston and tied with the hated Islanders and somewhat disliked Montreal Canadiens.

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