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New York Rangers Fan Club

The Fish Bowl
by Toby Ivey

Tuesday, July 30 2002


An Offensive Defense

Ah yes, the Rangers have too many offensive defensemen...how often have you heard that line on message boards around the Internet?  Well in a way I agree with that comment, but not perhaps in the sense that the writers intended.

What those posters really mean is of course that the Rangers have too many offensively minded blueliners who are looking to jump up in the play given the chance, and if you look at the numbers on the defensive side of the puck (29th in Goals Against, 30th in Penalty Kill) you might be inclined to agree.  But that's not why I'm writing this article today...

Rather lets for a moment take a look at the other side of the equation.  Rangers General Manager, Glen Sather has constructed this team to play an offensive style of game and therefore the need for offensive minded defensemen.  On first pass it looks like the Rangers got fairly good production out of their blueliners...10th overall in points (146) and 12 in power play points (46), but let's take a closer look.

Last season the Rangers entire defensive corps managed just 22 goals which put them 28th in the league, ahead of just Pittsburgh and Boston.  Those 22 goals accounted for less than ten percent of the Rangers total, a figure that ranked them ahead of Boston alone.  On the power play things were just as bad...a total of 4 power play goals for the season tied them for 29th with Calgary and was five fewer than the league average.

To be fair the Rangers did go with four forwards on their first power play unit, which reduced the opportunities for the defensemen to score to some extent.  You can't however, say the Rangers defense had no chances...Leetch managed just one goal with 394 minutes of power play time, the most power play time of anyone on the team.  Malakhov spent 206 minutes with the man advantage for his solitary goal, while Berard had a fruitless 173 minutes.  By contrast, Tom Poti and Darren Van Impe needed just 30 and 36 minutes respectively to register their lone power play goals.

So what happened?

A large part of the blame belongs to the coaching staff.  Even during their successful run in November of last season, the Rangers power play failed to get going, while the coaches persisted with Fleury on the point.  Opposition goalies had clear sight of the shot from the blueline and had little worry of a rebound being picked up by a Ranger forward driving to the net.  The Rangers couldn't even get the defense moving with their passing on the power play and thus the points weren't really given much opportunity.  The same to some extent can be said for even strength, when once again the point men were underutilized. 

More blame can of course be placed on the players themselves.  Brian Leetch's solitary power play goal was the lowest since his rookie year where he played just 17 games, while his 10 goals was fewer than half of his previous season's total of 21.  Berard too was a disappointment considering all the hype that surrounded his return.  his 2 goal total was the lowest of his career, though perhaps not too surprising considering he had just 3 in his last season of 64 games with Toronto.  And the of course Malakhov, who started well but ended the season a little flat.  Probably to be expected considering he'd played just 24 games in the previous two seasons, and was asked to play a more defensive role while paired with Leetch.

So how do they improve?

First off you get forwards standing and driving to the front of the net.  It seems year after year we say the same thing...hopefully with the addition of Holik and a new coaching staff, we'll start to see a little more of that happening in the upcoming season.

Go with two defensemen on the points of the power play.  Fleury is now gone and to be honest he wasn't particularly effective at keeping the puck in the zone anyway...by putting Leetch and Poti on the points you get two players with good shots and the familiarity of playing the defensive position.  Get the forwards to actually rotate back to the point when the defensemen skates in and you've probably got one of the best power play units in the league.

Letting go of Berard and adding Poti was also a big step.  Berard was not particularly strong offensively and was often times a liability on defense.  Poti while not the greatest defenseman has seemingly better potential on offense.  His lone goal for the Rangers in his brief eleven game stint did come on the power play...an encouraging sign.

Finally, either split Leetch and Malakhov or take a long look at a player like Lintner or Tutin in camp.  Putting either one of those on the third pairing would enable the Rangers to go with two defensive pairings on the power play and would provide some puck moving ability on the third pair.  It's a riskier move given that their partner will probably be one of Karpa, Kloucek or Lefebvre, but the risk might be worth it.

Yes, last year's Rangers defensemen were offensive, but in the unappealing sense.  I am optimistic this year that the new coaching staff can implement a better approach to the game than what we've seen and that will be a big part of any success the Rangers enjoy this year, but there are some key players who will need to step up for this season and I expect nothing less.

Team G A Pts PPG PPA PP TG TPPG G/T PPG/T
COL 44 108 152 19 42 61 212 62 20.75% 30.65%
TOR 43 104 147 17 32 49 249 54 17.27% 31.48%
VAN 48 106 154 16 43 59 254 69 18.90% 23.19%
DAL 29 102 131 15 41 56 215 60 13.49% 25.00%
SJ 31 125 156 14 44 58 248 59 12.50% 23.73%
NYI 39 108 147 13 39 52 239 59 16.32% 22.03%
OTT 36 100 136 11 30 41 243 55 14.81% 20.00%
EDM 32 97 129 11 36 47 205 51 15.61% 21.57%
NAS 31 56 87 11 14 25 196 48 15.82% 22.92%
STL 28 125 153 11 54 65 227 62 12.33% 17.74%
WAS 48 84 132 10 18 28 228 58 21.05% 17.24%
PHO 33 121 154 10 42 52 228 53 14.47% 18.87%
DET 31 135 166 10 34 44 251 73 12.35% 13.70%
CHI 29 89 118 10 25 35 216 54 13.43% 18.52%
LA 26 126 152 10 54 64 214 73 12.15% 13.70%
MIN 24 78 102 10 24 34 195 55 12.31% 18.18%
PHI 31 105 136 9 28 37 234 39 13.25% 23.08%
MON 26 88 114 9 27 36 207 45 12.56% 20.00%
BUF 31 97 128 8 35 43 213 50 14.55% 16.00%
TB 28 70 98 7 19 26 178 46 15.73% 15.22%
PIT 20 63 83 7 13 20 198 47 10.10% 14.89%
FLA 33 87 120 6 32 38 180 50 18.33% 12.00%
CAR 27 105 132 6 31 37 217 63 12.44% 9.52%
ANA 23 68 91 6 30 36 175 43 13.14% 13.95%
ATL 25 75 100 5 23 28 187 37 13.37% 13.51%
NJD 24 94 118 5 26 31 205 44 11.71% 11.36%
CLM 24 62 86 5 24 29 164 50 14.63% 10.00%
CGY 25 99 124 4 46 50 201 55 12.44% 7.27%
NYR 22 124 146 4 42 46 227 48 9.69% 8.33%
BOS 18 89 107 3 8 11 236 39 7.63% 7.69%

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September 29th, 2017

How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17

Answer...
  STANDINGS
  Team GP W L OT Pts  
  Maple Leafs 7 6 1 0 12  
  Lightning 7 5 1 1 11  
  Blue Jackets 6 5 1 0 10  
  Devils 6 5 1 0 10  
  Senators 6 3 1 2 8  
  Red Wings 7 4 3 0 8  
  Penguins 7 4 2 1 9  
  Flyers 6 4 2 0 8  
  Capitals 7 3 3 1 7  
  Hurricanes 4 2 1 1 5  
  Islanders 6 2 3 1 5  
  Panthers 5 2 3 0 4  
  Bruins 5 2 3 0 4  
  Sabres 7 1 4 2 4  
  Rangers 7 1 5 1 3  
  Canadiens 7 1 5 1 3  
FULL STANDINGS
  RANDOM RANGER

DUNC WILSON
(1974-1976)
  Born: Mar 22 - 1948  
  Pos: Goaltender  
  GP: 23  
  Rec: 6-11-3  
  SO: 0  
  GAA: 4.24  
  Sv%: -  

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