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09-21-2003, 04:13 PM
  #33
Evil Sather
YOU KILL THE JOE
 
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The Rangers Defensive Corps is not horrible. It's not even bad. Their team defensively is quite awful, but stick 6 Lidstroms back there with the kind of team they've had the last 6 years and MAYBE you make the playoffs twice. When the forwards sag low all the time and consistantly leave the pointment open, and when you're giving a fossil 18 minutes a night of prime playing time, including 1st PK and 1st 5 on 3 against, you're going to get scored on a lot.

Leetch is very good positionally; he gets in trouble when he tries to overcompensate for his partners shortcomings. It's no coincidence that the last partner he had that he played well with (other than Malakhov for half a season, and even then Leetch finished with 79 points -- what defenseman has come close to that??) was Beukeboom, and Beuke knew his limitations and took care of his side. With Quintal, Lefebvre, Kevin Hatcher, Popovic, and Poti as his partners, it's a micracle Leetch has done as well as he had. Take it from someone who watches him every game.

Malakhov, if he's explicitly told to concentrate defensively, is very, very good. He made a great shutdown pair with Purinton for around 15 games until Dale got injured, and played probably his best hockey ever when paired with Leetch and told to only worry about defense -- Halfway through the year he was mentioned as a Norris possibility.. he was that good... for half the year, thats the rub.

Kasparitis started out God awful last year, but for all the times he was called "Kasparminus" he still finished a +5 and was +22 the last half of the year. He roped himself in and stopped taking himself out of position.

Poti I dislike intensely, but he is what he is. If he can become average defensively it will be an accomplishment. By far the worst defensive guy we have. He does block an ungodly amount of passes with his stupidly long stick, but he's bad positionally and the least physical 215 lb. guy this side of Jonas Hoglund. The weakest link.

de Vries I haven't seen enough of, but seems to be one of those 'smart, steady' types. Whether he craps the bed for us is up to him, but I reserve judgment.

Mironov, as much as I didn't want him re signed, was fairly physical and only took around 30% of so of the games he had with us off. Maybe if he's made to concentrate defensively he can pull it out, but I'd call him our 6th D in any case.

Purinton improved incredibly last year before he got injured. He actually showed moves in the offensive zone, and say what you want about him backing up while playing D, but at least he doesn't get beat wide much anymore, and he knows what he can and can't do, and doesn't try to do what he can't do. He knows his role, and plays it... can't ask more of him than that.

Overall, except for Purinton, all the Rangers D can move the puck out of the zone fairly well. Also, barring Dale, they can all at least skate fairly well to very well. Other than Poti, none of them are soft. They have all the ingredients, and what they need more than anything else is for the forwards to truly make the defensive zone a 5 on 5 situation, instead of 5 on 4.5 or 5 on 3 with a couple of them cherry picking (one notable goal against last year with both Kovalev and Messier jumping... Kovy is Kovy, but come on Mark, my 12 your old cousin could catch you late in the season). Take it from someone who watches them every game, they can absolutely be the sum of their parts, if they get enough help.

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