Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/6/13
There was Ryan McDonagh taking a puck on the jaw before the three-minute mark of the first period of the first game. There was Brian Boyle twice sliding in front of power-play blasts after losing his stick in the second period in Phoenix and there were the Rangers blocking a total of 19 shots in their season-opening 4-1 defeat to the Coyotes Thursday night. A total by the way that exceeded the team average of 16.1 blocked shots per match both last year and over the past three years when that part of the game became inextricably linked with their identity and John Tortorella’s coaching philosophy. “It’s not only part of my game but for all of our guys” McDonagh who had a team-high four blocks said following Friday’s practice. “It’s kind of instinctive. “That’s not going to change. Maybe it’s not going to be mentioned a lot by the staff but it’s part of our game. It’s going to save us from giving up goals for sure.” The Rangers who face the Kings on Monday were given Saturday off by the coaching staff which believes a day of rest would prove more beneficial than practice to the already travel-weary club. The team will get back to work on Sunday. Coach Alain Vigneault’s Vancouver teams were not as zealous in blocking shots averaging just under 12 last season and 12.5 blocks per over the past three years. But the coach believes that’s an integral part of the game even if he does not broadcast that philosophy on a daily basis. “Not one of the 30 teams in the NHL can play a game without defending extremely well” Vigneault said “and part of defending extremely well is obviously your one-on-one battles stick on stick but part of that is also blocking shots. Players have to get in lanes and have to be in those lanes and if the puck hits you it hits you.
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