Found May 25, 2012 on
Blue Seat Blogs:
Michael Del Zotto
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
It’s amazing how quickly someone becomes an afterthought in this league. When Michael Sauer went down with his concussion, it seemed the world had ended. Marc Staal was still out, Sauer was out, and in the following week Jeff Woywitka and Steve Eminger would both suffer injuries. The Rangers were forced to rely on unknown Stu Bickel to play regular minutes to fill out the blue line. Bickel impressed and the rest, as they say, is history.
But it’s not history. Fast forward five months and we have the playoffs, where Bickel is still dressing in almost every game for the Rangers. But the problem is that he rarely cracks five minutes of ice time per game, even when games head into overtime or triple overtime. For all intents and purposes, the Rangers are playing with five defensemen.
When Bickel does get on the ice, he is often caught out of position, his inexperience and lack of foot speed exploited by more experienced and skilled playoff competitors. Stephen Gionta’s goal on Wednesday night was evidence of a player that is still developing and learning the position at the NHL level. Thus, coach John Tortorella is forced to play his more experienced players and sit Bickel. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves the Rangers with five defensemen.
In the playoffs, depth becomes the most important factor. Players grow tired –both physically and mentally– and need more time to recover. With just five defensemen, the Rangers don’t have that luxury. And it makes you wonder: Would they be in this position if Mike Sauer was in the lineup?
Sauer’s absence is taking it’s toll on the Rangers. First and foremost, it would be Sauer in the lineup and not Bickel, a huge upgrade at the position. The pairing of Sauer and Michael Del Zotto was a solid pairing during the regular season, so it slides Anton Stralman back a notch to the “bottom” pairing. Bottom is in quotes there because Staal would likely wind up as his partner.
So instead of rotating five defensemen, the Rangers would wind up with three solid pairs of defensemen. But the benefit doesn’t stop there.
Remember that triple overtime game when Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh played about 4,000 minutes? With Sauer in the lineup, Torts likely doesn’t roll his top defensive pairing every other shift like he did in that game. Nor does he roll that pairing 25-30 minutes per game thereafter. It is a safe assumption that the minutes played by McDonagh and Girardi reduce significantly. Less ice time means less fatigue, and it is evident that the Rangers are fatigued.
Bickel’s play during the regular season masked the need for a sixth defenseman that is now being exploited. The Rangers are playing shorthanded, and it’s because they can’t trust Bickel on the ice at all times. It’s no slight against Bickel, but Sauer is the better player and gives the Rangers more flexibility within the lineup. The Rangers miss Sauer, and the playoffs have proven this fact.
BEST OF MAXIM
When it was over, a few moments after his team's season had come to an end, Rangers coach John Tortorella uttered six words that offered a glimpse into his psyche.
"I really thought we were coming," Tortorella said after Adam Henrique's Eastern Conference finals-clinching goal 63 seconds into overtime sent the Rangers home for the summer with a devastating, 3-2...
HEADS UP, HENRIK
Missed it by that much.
Rangers center Brad Richards didn’t have his best game in New York’s 5-3 loss to the Devils in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Wedenesday night. Richards didn’t register a single point, and ended up -2 in plus/minus on the night. He did, however, manage to get four shots on goal—well, five if you count the one on his own net last night on...
Head coach John Tortorella actually stuck around to give an insightful postgame press conference following last night's 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at MSG, so I thought I'd share this landmark event. Plus, there's not much else to say after what went down last night and what needs to be done in Game 6.
Will have any significant updates from practice later...
The New York Rangers played their best game of the postseason against the New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, it was a night Henrik Lundqvist played his worst
Call it bad timing. Whatever.
The bottom line is the regular season's best team in the Eastern Conference is on the brink of elimination in the conference finals.
Lundqvist gave up a postseason-high four goals on only...
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella just doesn't like to answer Stan Fischler. But, he does think his team 'played with balls.' 1:10 mark of his post game presser following last night's game 6...
Full story at Bob's Blitz ~ http://www.bobsblitz.com
Elimination. Something the 2011-12 New York Rangers have faced many times in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, but something they've yet to actually experience. Their backs have been against the wall before, but this resilient group of hockey players has never before failed in pulling through to salvage their season. With that, the Blueshirts should feel quite comfortable and confident...
The love-in started on Brandon Dubinsky's first shift.
A loud, welcoming cry of "Doob!" rolled down from the rafters at Madison Square Garden in recognition of a player who was playing his first playoff game since Game 7 against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Dubinsky had an assist in 15:38 of ice time in the Rangers' 5-3 loss to...
This one stings. It’s going to sting for a while. The Rangers were the best team in the Eastern Conference, but the best team does not always win. Even the best teams struggle with matchups, the best teams have clunkers, the best teams hit skids. The Rangers were barely playing above .500 hockey heading into the playoffs (11-9-1 in March/April), and played .500 hockey in the playoffs...
John Tortorella discusses the Rangers' Game 5 loss and the team's back being to the wall heading back to Newark...
For players reaction to Game 5 defeat, click the "Read More" tab below.
Players know the Rangers are up against after the Blueshirts' 5-3 Game 5 loss...
Remember to follow me on Twitter & Facebook or e-mail me at ...
Here are your post-elimination interviews from the players and head coach John Tortorella following last night's 3-2 OT loss to the Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Break-up day for the Rangers will be on Monday. Stay tuned for my season eulogy and a whole lot of individual...
From Sean Hartnett at WFAN.com:
Alone stands a masked man in white. He is the last line of defense. His duty is to guard his post from an army of onrushing soldiers dressed in red with the mark of the demon across their chest.
Henrik Lundqvist, the man that Rangers fans call ‘King Henrik,’ is faced with the task of not only keeping goals out of his net, but not allowing...
Despite their season being on the brink after last night's 5-3 loss to the Devils, the Rangers are still feeling good about their chances going forward (via Newsday)...Brian Boyle..."We don't need to say, 'Oh, we did some good things, it's a moral victory,' to kind of give ourselves confidence. We have confidence as a group."John Tortorella..."I...
Series: Devils lead 3-2
NYR Leading Scorer: Brad Richards (6-8-14)
NJD Leading Scorer: Ilya Kovalchuk (6-10-16)
NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (19 GS, 1.77 GAA, .930 SV%)
NJD Goaltender: Martin Brodeur (17 GS, 2.04 GAA, .920 SV%)
Rangers Projected Lines:
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Chris Kreider
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko-Derek Stepan-Marian...
TONIGHT’S GAME: The Rangers will face-off against the New Jersey Devils tonight at Prudential Center (8:00 p.m.; TV: NBCSN; Radio: ESPN 98.7FM), in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Blueshirts trail in the series, 3-2, following a 5-3 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers enter tonight’s contest [...]
If you are a New York Rangers’ fan, this is most likely what you are feeling regarding what happened to the team tonight.
The New Jersey Devils ended the team’s hope of getting to the Stanley Cup Final by beating the Blueshirts 3-2 in overtime on a goal by rookie Adam Henrique tonight at the Prudential Center. It is certainly disheartening considering the way the Rangers played...