60 minutes in a game.
12 minutes 29 seconds shorthanded.
And if Henrik Lundqvist didn't turn into the Great Wall of China last night in Vancouver, it would have been 4 losses to open the Rangers' season. Luckily, the King was focused all night, determined to earn the "Broadway Hat," a fedora awarded to the best Ranger player in winning efforts.
The problem still remains. This club has deserved to lose all 4 games this season, and lose them badly. They don't deserve to sit at NHL .500 with a 1-1-2 record, and they won't stay there until the biggest flaw in their game is rectified.
They weren't even good penalties. Four were in the offensive zone. 3 of them were holding, or holding the stick calls. Meaning, it was no accident. To get called for holding, your brain has to send a conscious signal to your hand saying "OK, lets go take a stupid penalty."
Brandon Dubinsky helped the effort once again, with an astonishingly stupid roughing penalty by going out of his way to hit a defenseman up high about 5 seconds after he moved the puck.
Vancouver managed 11 shots of their 40 shots on the powerplay, but it seemed like more than that. Most of those 11 required Lundqvist to react to deflections, screens and point blank shots - nice if you are shooting a highlight reel, not so much if you are trying to win a hockey game.
The sad part is that everybody on the Rangers talked about discipline for the past 2 weeks, and still there is no improvement. If anything, it is getting worse.
John Tortorella needs to do something, and I mean other than grimacing and/or smiling in disbeleif every time a Ranger heads to the box.
And no, benching Brandon Prust for a period is not the answer. By that count, Rupp and Anisimov should have also rode the pine for a frame, and Dubinsky should be in Hartford. No, you don't teach lessons with in-game discipline, that is just stupid. You don't teach players how to win, by hurting your chance at winning. Brandon Prust is a good player, and playing as well as any bottom 6 forward on this team, and even some of the top 6. He, and whoever takes the next boneheaded penalty, needs to be going over the boards every 4th shift.
It is time for Torts to take a different approach to this problem.
Herb Brooks knew about it. After an embarrassing tie with Norway before the Olympics, he skated his entire USA club to exhaustion. And that was right after a game. That is bordering on criminal. But they never put out another weak effort like that again.
Eric Mangini knew about it. As head coach of the New York Jets, Mangini forced his players to run laps around the football field for penalties, among other things. He may not have been successful in other coaching aspects, but his teams were always among the most disciplined.
Tortorella is reputed to be a tough coach. Yelling at his players for taking penalties is not going to work, they don't care enough. Benching them is counterproductive.
He needs to appeal to their animalistic survival instinct.
Ivan Pavlov discovered in his famous experiment that after a while of feeding dogs immediately after ringing a bell, the ringing alone became enough to make them salivate. Similarly, Tortorella needs to make his players associate penalties with complete and utter misery. If yesterday's skate is in the back of your mind, you sure are going to be careful about taking penalties. It is time to put the fear of Torts in these players.
Brandon Dubinsky is shaking in his boots.
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