Saturday, November 21, 2009

Torts Keeps Tweaking

We're still down 2 men at center. Drury is still feeling the effects of his concussion - and unlike some players - Chris actually uses his head while on the ice so a brain injury for Chris is far more detrimental than it might be for some other guys on the roster. Which brings us of course to Brandon Dubinsky who has an injury to his strongest asset – his shooting hand. Both men are out – probably past Turkey Day

The team takes the ice tonight as a unit that is only above the playoff line-of-death because we've played a few more games than some other teams. At 11-9-1 we're sinking and badly in need of some changes and some wins.

Your Rangers are faced with many troubles. We are depleted at Center - our fore-check is losing its effectiveness – we have a lack of scoring from all non-Gaborical (Editor – that’s not a word) (Dave Pucks: I know) personnel – and our defense is not so defensive.

But, say what you will about Tortorella - he is one coach who actually coaches his hockey team. So in the face of adversity, Torts will try at least some new things. He's been re-introducing his players to the traditional Tom Renney-style "dump and chase" and has been encouraging his defensemen to lighten up a little on the "4th forward" mentality and play some actual defense once in a while.

On the other hand - Torts has been encouraging Michael Del Zotto to shoot more - both privately and in front of the team - so the teenager won't feel like he should give up shots to pass to his senior Rangers. And Torts will keep on tweaking his brains out until something works. Okay - on to The Preview:

Who the Hell are we playing? The Florida Panthers are 13th of 15 teams in the East at 8-9-2 (pending last night’s game). Of course - that is not all that much worse than our 11-9-1. This is our first time facing them this season.

Primary Skaters: The Panthers are led by The Steves: Center Steve Reinprecht (9 goals), and Center Stephen Weiss (6 goals). Left Winger Cory Stillman also has 6 Goals, and Canter Nathan Horton leads the team with 9 assists.

In Net: Three men have fronted the twine for Florida (I just made that phrase up): Tomas Vokoun has a 2.76 GAA and a .922 save % in 16 games. But we may see Scott Clemmensen (5.14, .838%) or Alex Salak (6.5 GAA, .714 save%) because the Panthers will have played the night before against Detroit. Who knows really – but I hear some teams like to rest their top goalie – especially early in the season.

And for us? Who do you think? Can we rest our exhausted Goaltender - whose game seems to be slipping from overwork? Of course not. We ride the horse til he dies or breaks down. It's Hank. It's always Hank (2.54 GAA, .917%)

Scoring & Defense: We score 3 a game - which is not bad as I pointed out yesterday. Panthers are right behind us at 2.89 goals a game. On Defense we're letting up 2.76 goals a game, but Florida allows a sizable 3.42. The Panther Defense is their weak spot and the main reason they are 8-9-2.

Special Effects: On the PP we’re ranked 10th with a 22.4% success rate. The Panthers are way down the list at 26th at 14.7%. On the PK we are 4th best at 84.4% and Florida is 29th out of 30 teams at 73.7%. So – big advantage for us here – and we’d better cash in on it.

Scheduling Conflicts: We're coming off the tough home lose to the Caps on Tuesday. Florida kicked butt on Wednesday, beating the Ice-Bosons (Buffalo) 6-2, and then played the Red Wings Friday night. So they will be the winded team and the Rangers catch a break in this regard also.

Probable Lines:

Like we said – Torts is Tweaking away.

Line 1: Gaborik-Prospal-Kotalik. The Cannon (Kotalik) with his 6 goals (team 2nd best) joins the GAB line. That puts the teams top goal scorers (41% of our goals) together on one line for the first time.

Line 2: Parenteau-Higgins-Lisin. Big change here and Higgs tries his luck as a 2nd line center. You’re talking a total of 6 goals from these three gentlemen this season – but you have to start somewhere.

Line 3: Avery-Anisimov-Callahan. Anis falls off line 2 and lands here. Cally hustles and shoots a lot – but not much is finding the net. Seanny? He’s promoted from the 4th line – so that’s good. It’s almost like he died and his ghost is out there taking shifts. He looks like just another hockey player – which is breaking my heart.

Line 4: Brashear-Voros-Byers. Our Rock-em Sock-em Robots.

On Defense: same old same old.

Dave Puck Predicts: We have to win this game. The schedule turns against us in December and we have to take full advantage of the softer spots while we can. Those Panthers can shoot the puck a little. Let’s hope they play a back up goalie and we shoot their lights out. Rangers win 5-2

No comments:

Post a Comment