If this was last year, I would have been at the game, in person, watching the Rangers battle the Thrashers. Instead I lost my only chance to watch the team I love live thanks to the Thrashers jumping ship and move to Winnipeg, so for that reason I truly despise Winnipeg, the Jets, their stupid maple leaf uniform, and everything to do with that franchise. With that said, the Rangers did play a game against them, so let’s get down to business.
The stat sheet shows the Rangers being outshot 28 to 17. 17 shots in a game. Somehow the Rangers managed to have fewer shots on goal than they did against Edmonton. How is that possible? Well, the stats actually break down like this. They had 17 shots on goal, but another 13 shots went wide, and 8 shots were blocked. So their combined total attempted shots on goal was 38. Compare that to 27/14/14 for the Jets for a total of 55 attempted shots. I really needed to see those numbers to believe it. Why do these number matter? If you do the same calculation VS the Oilers you actually see a worse differential, as the combined shot attempts by the Rangers in that game was actually 44, compared to 49 for the Oilers.
What does this tell me? The Rangers are gripping their sticks too tight. Nobody wants to be the man. Everyone wants to defer to someone else. Very few guys just want to fire the puck at the net, instead they are looking to set up a teammate. So because of that Tortorella is making them dump in deep, recover pucks and try to play the dirty game till they can figure out how to do the pretty game. But that is sort of self-defeating the team because they DO have a lot more talent than last year, and SHOULD be playing a little more skilled than they are. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The Tortorella haters are going to blame him, but I still think this all comes down to personnel and execution. The Rangers have the personnel, they just don’t seem to be executing their game plan. It’s a sad state of affairs when the Rangers have to play Ruslan Fedotenko on their first PP unit. But that’s the situation they find themselves in right now, their main guys just aren’t getting it done, so they need to have their lunchpailers carry the load.
It’ll come. I believe in this team, I believe in this coach, and I know it’s just a matter of time before it all starts clicking together. After all, the Rangers just played 7 of their worst games in the past 2 years, and yet came away with 8 points, all on the road, including a transatlantic road trip. Not too bad all things considered.