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The Exception and Not the Rule

Posted By Adam Gavriel On Mar 25 2011 @ 1:34 pm In New York Rangers | No Comments

Last night’s game, chalk it up to that.

We know what this Rangers team is capable of, and after three straight games of 5 goals or more it’s not uncommon to watch a team struggle offensively. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing from this Rangers team who has not scored more than 1 goal in its past two games, on the bright side? Their record in those games is 1-0-1…not exactly what you’d expect from a team scoring 1 goal a game.

But some things are not working and it’s becoming painfully obvious to watch Torts be stubborn and try to make them work. First of all and most importantly it seems that teams that play the trap, like Ottawa did last night and how the Devils have been playing since the mid-way point of the season have been giving the Rangers a ton of problems. Mostly because it seems painfully obvious again that Torts is too stubborn to change his gameplan while playing these types of teams. If the Rangers end up matched up against a team like Boston, (new) Washington, or Tampa Bay in the playoffs we may be in for a long series. These teams trap the neutral zone, take it over, and capitalize on every mistake. It’s not going to work.

Another thing that I’ve completely lost patience with is the combination of EC and Gaborik. They’re not working, and Torts split them up in the third period putting Stepan with Gabby. Right away Gaborik was rejuvinated. Maybe it was because he was more active in all three zones after being enemy #1 on the Senators only goal of the game, or maybe it was because he knows what he needs to do. I think Gaborik woke up big time after the Senators goal, his frustration of slamming his stick on the ice after the goal shows he’s an emotional guy, he knows he was at fault and not giving 100% effort there. Obviously this is inexcusable at this point in the season, but it was good to see him come firing back after that.

One of those nights where you really feel for Lundqvist who was near perfect in stopping 29 shots in 65 minutes coupled with the first four shooters of the shootout. Again, Torts stubbornness here. Lundqvist this season has a remarkable shootout percentage of 84.1 which is 10% higher than the next goalie who has faced over 20 shots in the shootout. It’s an insane number. Add to that the Rangers usually high percentage shooters and that’s a winning combination IF THE RANGERS CHOOSE TO SHOOT SECOND IN THE SHOOTOUT. I don’t like the Torts strategy of shooting second, and even though the Rangers are 8-3 in the shootout, 2 out of those three losses have come when the Rangers have shot first.

But we know this team, we know they’ll bounce back, the goals will come back.

A lackluster effort in the first 40 minutes of the game led to the loss, and they know it judging by post-game quotes where no one on the team could explain the lack of enthusiasm. It’s tough, but we know it won’t last.

And even when the effort wasn’t there they found a way to steal a point, and even more incredible they have 3/4 possible points in the last two games scoring 1 goal in both those games. Want more proof why Henrik should get serious Vezina consideration? There you have it.

Sadly it appears that even though he was benched for the entire third period and OT, Christensen will be back between Gaborik and Prospal tomorrow afternoon in Boston judging by this Torts quote from practice… Torts does say, in his mind, the Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik line is a line he wants to work and he’s trying to make it work… Just because you want something to work won’t make it work Torts, stop being stubborn and cut the cord before it’s too late. Christensen’s random flashes of brilliance with Gaborik don’t make up for his inconsistencies, and you can’t argue that those aren’t there.

I’d like to see some changes made to two of the Rangers lines in Boston.

I’d like Christensen to sit, and Avery to be re-inserted into the lineup and be put right with Gaborik.

Avery – Stepan – Gaborik

Dubinsky – AA – Callahan

Wolski – Prospal – Zuccarello

Fedotenko – Boyle – Prust

Or…

Dubinsky – Stepan – Gaborik (more defensively responsible and Dubi can take Stepan’s faceoffs)

Wolski – AA – Callahan

Avery – Prospal – Zuccarello

Fedotenkno – Boyle – Prust

However I’m less inclined to run these lines as it breaks up the Pack line.

Also these are just pipe dreams as I don’t think Torts sits Christensen.

I’m expecting Avery to however jump back into the lineup in the spot of Wolski or Zuccarello, Torts is stubborn.

It was huge for the Rangers to get a point last night and they need to keep finding ways to get points.

Tomorrow’s matinee game in Boston is a huge one. The Rangers just went 4-0-1 on that 5 game homestand, better than all of us thought they would do for sure. Now they’ll embark on a 4 game road trip before finishing the season with 3 straight on home ice. It starts in Boston and one game can set the tone for the whole trip.

Puck drops at 1 PM tomorrow don’t forget, on MSG.

Time to get back to winning, time to get back to full 60 minute efforts and high amounts of scoring chances.

Will be interesting to see what lines Torts runs, but I’m positive they won’t be too different from Avery being inserted for Wolski or Zucc’s.

7 points up on 9th place Carolina with Carolina having 2 games in  hand. 2 points behind struggling Montreal, and four in front of the overly consistent Sabres (I’ve got a soft spot for Lindy Ruff, dude is a magician – great coach).

Let’s get back to winning and march into the playoffs with some confidence.

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