by Patrick Hoffman on 12/02/10 at 12:57 AM ET
Scotty was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the Rangers’ play through 26 games.
PH: Since we’re just over 25 games into the season, what are you general thoughts on the New York Rangers at the quarter point?
SH: With or without the injuries, we are who we have always been, a mediocre team that will battle for a low playoff spot. The boys in blue have managed to deal with the injuries and a supremely heavy schedule and have accumulated a record that is just above .500. Not bad, but not great. Considering they have gotten off to good starts the last few years, what has happened to date can almost be disregarded as how they do through the December/January/February doldrums will really define the team.
PH: Which players on the Blueshirts have impressed you so far this season? Please tell us why.
SH: Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Mike Sauer. Dubi and Cally have stepped their game up another level and have taken over the team - whether that would have happened had Dru and Gabby been injured, we will never know but the final result is one to be thankful for. We know what Boyle has done - skating lessons - and it clearly has paid off. While it was just his stride that was worked on, Boyle seems to have realized how to play within his limitations and just shoots the damned puck ... amazing concept and one that has paid off in goals. Prust showed signs last season of being a more complete player when he was teamed with Arty and Shelley and he has kept evolving - and has taken over the enforcer role to boot. Sauer has not let his first stint and what happened with it (Paul Mara’s mistakes ending up in Sauer being sent down thanks to warped accountability) get to him and has turned into a solid, steady defenseman. Cast in that three-headed monster with
Gilroy and Eminger at the start of the season, Sauer has proved he is the most reliable of the three and will hopefully continue to do so the rest of this season and for many seasons to come.
PH: Which players on the Blueshirts have disappointed you so far this season? Please tell us why.
SH: Artem Anisimov, Derek Boogaard and Michael Del Zotto. Arty got off to a hot start that made most (not I) think that he had taken the confidence gained from that stint with Shelley and Prust and turned into a top six center. Well, he cooled down and is back to being the soft player who hangs out on the periphery. One goal, zero assists and an utter inability to win faceoffs has gotten him busted down to the fourth line. He had better shape up soon ... As for Boogey, rumour had it that he got himself into shape when he came to camp but he has been almost as disastrous a signing as Donald Brashear (just without the hatred from us Ranger fans). He actually scored a goal and has been in a few fights but he has fought just for the sake of fighting -he doesn’t detract the opposition from doing much of anything and has been battling minor injuries. Despite working out with Gary Roberts in the offseason, MDZ has been even worse than he was last year. MDZ has been atrocious in his own zone and utterly
incompetent as power play quarterback. And yet Tortorella keeps throwing him over the boards time after time after time.
PH: Generally speaking, what have you thought about the coaching of John Tortorella this season? Think he’ll be the coach ome next season?
SH: I don’t care for Torts whatsoever, I haven’t since the Washington series. This season he has yet to come up with a way to make the team play anything but variations of dump and chase hockey. He can’t come up with a way to make the power play work. He can’t come up with a way to make the team win at home. He can’t make the team bring forth the same effort night after night ...
PH: What does the team need to do to establish some consistency?
SH: Well, having stable lines and a solid game-plan could help. When the Rangers faced the Penguins the first time, they played a smart defensive game that resulted in a win. The second time they attempted to run with them and failed. Torts needs to figure out what works for this team and sticks with it - the coach can help define the team, or at least point it in the right direction and yet this one points out how the team is missing Drury and Prospal in most every interview. A pair of has-beens shouldn’t change the team too much, no matter the letters that have mistakenly been left on their sweaters.
PH: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
SH: Don’t believe the hype, watch the games with your own eyes. I hate having to hear people regurgitate stuff written in blogs, written in columns or spoken by idiot analysts (who are paid by the teams they cover) like Joe Micheletti.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.