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Old
10-11-2013, 03:31 AM
  #1
SoftEuro4thLiner
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Our defensive game

Let's talk about our defense. I don't only mean the 6 guys we're putting there nominally, but also forwards coming back, our whole effort in our own zone.

I don't want this to be a panic thread, I want to analyse it. If all you have to say is "they suck" I have to say your statement holds some fundamental truth, but I kindly ask you to do this in another thread.

I'd be a lot more panicking if I didn't think we've seen what our defense could be in the game vs LA.

I'd like to give some examples of what I think is off:

Let me get started with the go-ahead goal for ANA tonight: Neutral zone turnover (this is our biggest issue, but I'd like to discuss it somewhere else), but then it's essentially a 3 vs 2 for us in our own end. Getzlaf and Perry (both world class players, of course) against McDonagh, Girardi and Stepan (our best defensive forward, our best defender and our #3 defender who usually is a stud defensively) - last year I'd have taken any bet our guys can sort this out. Tonight McD kinda misread what Perry was going to do, was a bit too agressive - and the damage was done. Girardi has to slide over to cut down Perry's angle and try to take away the passing lane, Stepan gets caught somewhere in no man's land and Getzlaf has an easy goal.

The 2nd goal. ANA going through the neutral zone much to easily, of the first three in our own zone, 2 are Ducks. They realize it, know they have a chance to set up behind the net nicely and wait for the cavalry. Silvferberg comes in, Stepan inexplicably goes behind the net (where 2 defenders already can handle the 2 Ducks players), Selänne just has to throw it in front where Silfverberg can cash in.

Not commenting on number 3 and 4 because were simply WTF-moments.

The fifth goal, we again turn it over, this time in our own end. But then, Stralman lets Winnik get behind him much to easily, the pass by Cogliano shouldn't be happening that way. McD make a pretty goofy desperation move, and Richards is too late on the backcheck on Koivu. Boom. I'll cut Richards a little slack here, because he was moving forward and frankly nobody could expect such a horrible turnover.

The sixth goal is a mismatch (our 4th line against their first), but they again have a way to easy time to just cash in from short distance.

If you remember that Nieto goal in SJ, again just no coverage of a third guy coming in and basically just driving straight towards our net.

I'd attribute a lot of it to turnovers, great issues in the neutral zone and a lack of physicality (especially the Getzlaf-Perry-Penner line had their way with us tonight), but the coverage in front of our net is just really BAD as well. Not that our battle level along the boards is anything to brag about. Stepan tonight made 2 mistakes I haven't seen him make all year last season.

I can't put my finger on what is off exactly, so anyone who'd like to help me solve that mystery is very welcome. Other views on the whole topic greatly appreciated.

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10-11-2013, 07:20 AM
  #2
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The breakdowns are incredibly frustrating, but we are looking at an entirely new way of playing defence so they are unlikely to continue for long.

What is worrying to me is the inability to get through the neutral zone. Sure we're missing Hagelin who has been a big part of that for us, but he can't be the entire difference.

I don't think it is a coincidence that the players who played the least under Torts that have been the "best" (least worst) so far. Under Torts the players were basically never asked to pass the puck at all, it was all get it down deep and grind it out along the boards. Playing like that for a longer period of time will make you lose the timing and feel for the passing game. Hopefully the players will adapt to this sooner rather than later.

I mean look at the players who hasn't looked entirely lost so far: Fast, Pouliot, Strålman, Pyatt, Zuccarello, Nash. These guys have recently played under other coaches. Whereas Girardi, Staal, Del Zotto, Callahan, Stepan look absolutely awful out there.

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Old
10-11-2013, 11:45 AM
  #3
Kel Varnsen
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Torts played a structured, defense first system. When the guys bought in 100% (read 11-12), it worked incredibly well. Now we bring in AV, and his thing is he's basically the exact opposite. Offense first, and creativity.

Here's a big thing with AV that people dismissed before the season started when I brought it up but maybe they'll understand why I thought it was troubling back when. AV doesn't ask everyone to do everything. He never asked the Sedins to play defense. Look at their zone starts. It was absurd. He didn't have them playing hockey, he had them playing "automatic offense". So big surprise, when things got tough they weren't ready to play D and you saw that team prone to breakdowns and underperformance. The problem is here we're no were near those teams talent wise. So you can't have guys who play "automatic offense" because even if they start there they sure as hell won't sustain enough and they'll have to play some D. But AV doesn't ask them to play D. And there in lies the problem. The other problem with this is it hurts the O guys from getting into a flow because they might get stuck on the bench for long strings of time as AV waits to give them a chance to play auto-O. It also wears out the auto-D guys because they sometimes get pinned in the D zone, which going back to system, is a lot less structured and defensive then the torts system that asked everyone to give 100% no matter what you're doing.

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10-11-2013, 12:40 PM
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Honestly a lot of it has to do with tightening up.

We go on these awesome stretches of clearing the pucks instantly soon as a team gets into the zone. Then when a team can actually maintain the zone it almost always leads to a goal. We break down instantly when we don't clear the puck and it almost always looks like we are on the PK when its still 5v5.

Maybe I am just being hopeful that its not a flaw in the system but if we stop getting over whelmed when they do maintain the zone we should be able to stop leaving our goalies out to dry. We will never have the perfect shut down defense with AV's system but we should be able to defend the net better when we cant instantly clear the zone. This is amateur hockey and its getting exposed as such right now.

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Old
10-11-2013, 12:54 PM
  #5
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What in the heck is going on with Ryan McDonagh? I think hes made more glaring mistakes these first 4 games than his entire previous tenure as a Ranger.

Is he stashing his stuffed wallet in his hockey pants?

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10-11-2013, 01:00 PM
  #6
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Has been non-existent for the past two games... It looks like they have forgotten the very basics of playing the game. It's ridiculous.

Snap the **** out of it already.

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10-11-2013, 02:11 PM
  #7
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Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue View Post
What in the heck is going on with Ryan McDonagh? I think hes made more glaring mistakes these first 4 games than his entire previous tenure as a Ranger.

Is he stashing his stuffed wallet in his hockey pants?

He's been covering for Dan Girardi, who is nowhere near the player he was 2-4 seasons ago. His skating was never great and, in this new system, he's probably going to continue to struggle. He was not very good last season and this year he's been downright bad. He is definitely a warrior and the type of presence you want in the locker room but I honestly can't condone giving him top 4 ice time any more. It wasn't unreasonable to predict that his playing style wouldn't hold up and, frankly, that seems to be the case to me.

If it were just this season, I'd be willing to attribute his playing to a slow start... but honestly, Girardi was not very good last year, either.

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10-11-2013, 02:39 PM
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I don't buy that it's simply covering for Girardi. I don't understand it. Adjusting to man on man from zone may be harder than it sounds.


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Old
10-11-2013, 02:59 PM
  #9
stan the caddy
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McDonagh was getting burned worse than Gilroy last night.

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Old
10-11-2013, 05:51 PM
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Rangers as a team have been structured around their goaltending and defense. Their offense has been what lags a bit though it's exaggerated by some how bad it is. Last year we were !5th in goals which more or less means out of 30 teams we were average.

The run and gun is not how the Rangers have been built. The fact is we do not have the really elite forwards where we could be successful playing that kind of style. We don't have a dominant forward like Crosby or Malkin or the wingers Neal, Kunitz or the pwp qb Letang to go along with that. We were never going to match the offensive skill level that the Pens just for one team have but there are other teams in the East also with more talent up front than us. Our strength was team defense.

The problem was when we hit the playoffs that team defense style of ours allowed lesser teams to hang tight with us if they tightened up as well--which turned just about every playoff game into a nail biter and in the end meant we couldn't close the deal.

The problem now is we still don't have the horses to play a run and gun style and that seems to be what AV and his coaching staff want and the Nash injury only exacerbates the situation.

Our general manager should have had more foresight when considering firing the previous coach--who exactly he was going to replace him with and how that replacement was going to get the best out of the players each particular capabilities. What we have now looks to be a classic case of misalliance. The players in bulk don't fit with their coach's style and it's apparent that someone will have to bend/change and it's going to have to be the coaching staff. Two other options--mass trades to find players who will fit--very unlikely scenario or fire the coach. Maybe it would be best if the general manager retired or was fired as well. GM"s have sell by dates too.

I don't know. It's a dysfunctional situation.

IMO Rangers should go back to the kind of system that suits the team better--concentrating on the defensive end and especially as long as Nash is out--for no other reason than to stabilize things. What we've watched throughout the preseason and the first 4 regular season games is an atrocity. The last two games the team has been absolutely and utterly destroyed. This group as well does not seem tough enough. Even when you lose there should be some positives to take from the loss--not here though.

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10-11-2013, 05:54 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Callahan Auto View Post
He's been covering for Dan Girardi, who is nowhere near the player he was 2-4 seasons ago. His skating was never great and, in this new system, he's probably going to continue to struggle. He was not very good last season and this year he's been downright bad. He is definitely a warrior and the type of presence you want in the locker room but I honestly can't condone giving him top 4 ice time any more. It wasn't unreasonable to predict that his playing style wouldn't hold up and, frankly, that seems to be the case to me.

If it were just this season, I'd be willing to attribute his playing to a slow start... but honestly, Girardi was not very good last year, either.
No one on our defense is playing well. That includes Girardi but McDonagh has been at best an average player. Del Zotto is not a right side guy. He's creating 0 offense. Moore has looked very bad as well. Staal after the first couple games--not much better than the rest of the D. Or Stralman.

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10-11-2013, 07:43 PM
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The defensive players especially are in the middle of a pretty big change in their game plan. AV expects a more complicated style out of them. They've looked bad trying to figure it out so far, but it's too early to say that they aren't capable of figuring it out.

Vancouver fans in other threads have stated that it often took defenseman a while to get comfortable in AV's scheme. We've got everyone trying to get comfortable with it at once. It'll get better.

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10-11-2013, 10:17 PM
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I'm not worried about McDonagh. He started extremely slow last year as well, but he was so damn good in the last 3 quarters of the season that nobody even remembers.

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10-11-2013, 10:52 PM
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They're killing themselves trying to be complex for AV.

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10-12-2013, 02:48 PM
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terrible players= terrible team

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10-12-2013, 03:56 PM
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I'm not worried about McDonagh. He started extremely slow last year as well, but he was so damn good in the last 3 quarters of the season that nobody even remembers.
Definitely. He and Staal are the least problematic. No one should be concerned about them.

Girardi and Del Zotto are by far the elephants in the room. I think Girardi will come around.

Moore is young and while he may have a bad year, in the long term I think he'll be fine.

Stralman is what he is.

Del Zotto I am very concerned for.

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10-12-2013, 09:38 PM
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I think the forwards are having a tough time adjusting to the system. Actually maybe the whole team is. There is just a lot of blown coverage.

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10-12-2013, 10:00 PM
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Nobody knows what they are doing. AV needs to do better or he needs to go. Team is so far behind the 8 ball

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10-13-2013, 11:11 AM
  #19
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So let me get this straight. The Rangers as a whole, not just defensively, are lost in AVs system.
The defense used to be playing tight and collapsing, very we'll structured.
Now under AV they are asked to be creative and think breakout not block shot, and to skate more.
Therefore good guys like McDonaugh stink now because they are lost and trying to adjust.

This is compounded by the Rangers not having the offensive skill to be creative.
So it seems the Rangers problem is both adjusting and possibly a personnel coaching style misfit?


You know I never liked the idea of blaming Torts for our poor offense. To me, I think Torts had a great defensive that got the most out of our personnel.
People say the Rangers got sick of his structure, nah, I think Torts got canned because he was too rigid and inflexible. He would not make some adjustments to adapt to new personnel.
He got big headed thinking his system as is was best and it had to be 100% pure.
When the players disagreed he got nasty and it was his rigid ness, arrogance, and rude mean treatment that got him fired.

The Rangers didn't need a new system, they needed Torts to be more flexible and humane. Torts needed to be like Coughlin who lightened up after 2006.

Point is the a Rangers just needed Torts to lighten up, or find a coach who offered the structure Torts has with a less inflexible negative personality.

Am I right?

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10-13-2013, 11:19 AM
  #20
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Nobody knows what they are doing. AV needs to do better or he needs to go. Team is so far behind the 8 ball
Yeah or we could expect more out of our players, majority of the goals are possible due to bad reads. That's on the player, it's defense 101 stuff. Perfect example is St. Louis' first goal when Staal completely forgot about his man and watched the puck instead of staying with his guy.

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10-14-2013, 12:13 PM
  #21
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Originally Posted by eco's bones View Post
Rangers as a team have been structured around their goaltending and defense. Their offense has been what lags a bit though it's exaggerated by some how bad it is. Last year we were !5th in goals which more or less means out of 30 teams we were average.

The run and gun is not how the Rangers have been built. The fact is we do not have the really elite forwards where we could be successful playing that kind of style. We don't have a dominant forward like Crosby or Malkin or the wingers Neal, Kunitz or the pwp qb Letang to go along with that. We were never going to match the offensive skill level that the Pens just for one team have but there are other teams in the East also with more talent up front than us. Our strength was team defense.

The problem was when we hit the playoffs that team defense style of ours allowed lesser teams to hang tight with us if they tightened up as well--which turned just about every playoff game into a nail biter and in the end meant we couldn't close the deal.

The problem now is we still don't have the horses to play a run and gun style and that seems to be what AV and his coaching staff want and the Nash injury only exacerbates the situation.

Our general manager should have had more foresight when considering firing the previous coach--who exactly he was going to replace him with and how that replacement was going to get the best out of the players each particular capabilities. What we have now looks to be a classic case of misalliance. The players in bulk don't fit with their coach's style and it's apparent that someone will have to bend/change and it's going to have to be the coaching staff. Two other options--mass trades to find players who will fit--very unlikely scenario or fire the coach. Maybe it would be best if the general manager retired or was fired as well. GM"s have sell by dates too.

I don't know. It's a dysfunctional situation.

IMO Rangers should go back to the kind of system that suits the team better--concentrating on the defensive end and especially as long as Nash is out--for no other reason than to stabilize things. What we've watched throughout the preseason and the first 4 regular season games is an atrocity. The last two games the team has been absolutely and utterly destroyed. This group as well does not seem tough enough. Even when you lose there should be some positives to take from the loss--not here though.
Great post. I expect/fear the bold.

It seems like we were starting to do a little better with Nash and Richards starting to click, because we had possession of the puck more with Nash. The offensive game isn't just about breakout and transition. The defense comes from keeping the puck in the offensive zone. We aren't doing much of that sonce Nash took the elbow.

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Old
10-14-2013, 08:18 PM
  #22
Zats Muccarello
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I miss Torts' system

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10-15-2013, 12:46 AM
  #23
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Definitely. He and Staal are the least problematic. No one should be concerned about them.

Girardi and Del Zotto are by far the elephants in the room. I think Girardi will come around.

Moore is young and while he may have a bad year, in the long term I think he'll be fine.

Stralman is what he is.

Del Zotto I am very concerned for.
So Moore gets a pass because he's "young," but Del Zotto, who is all of 5 months older than Moore (while being far more accomplished), you are "very concerned for"?

I'm more concerned about the fact that none of our top 3 defensemen have played more than 1 competent game yet this season. I'm not ready to panic yet, but if the top three is still getting burned 10 games from now, it might be time to move Girardi for an offensively minded RD and Staal for a defensively minded RD (McD with Girardi's replacement and Del Zotto with Staal's replacement--Moore and Stralman are fine as the 3rd pair).

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10-15-2013, 01:03 AM
  #24
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Del Zotto has 2 full seasons worth of games more experience than J. Moore, also. So I could see why some might be more concerned with him over the latter.

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10-15-2013, 09:39 AM
  #25
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There's no reason that the Rangers defensemen and team in general can't play AV's defensive system. There's nothing crazy about playing a more man-pressure defense VS. zone defense that Torts preached. Plenty of teams do it in the NHL, it doesn't require special players. Saying that the personnel don't fit the system in this instance is just an excuse

AV is also not trying to play run and gun hockey, he preached from the beginning that he wants a balanced team that takes care of its responsibilities defensively but has a long enough leash to be creative offensively. Just because he doesn't want the team to sit back in a shell all game long doesn't mean he wants run and gun.

What playing a puck pressure, "man to man" type of defense does mean is that all the players have to work together and know what their responsibilities are, and that really isn't any different than playing the zone that Tortorella likes. Players have to know where to be, who to pick up, and how to rotate their coverage. It's done differently than playing zone but these are basic fundamentals that are not beyond any of the Rangers players. What they need is time and practice to learn them, which they really haven't had enough of. Spending 21 days out of 25 on the road between the start of preseason and the start of the season kinda sucks

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