Most of us figured the Rangers dedication to block shots under John Tortorella would go by the wayside once Alain Vigneault took over, but the 19 blocked shots (last year's team average was 16.1) in Phoenix on Thursday night proved it's very much still in the Rangers game plan…
“It’s not only part of my game but for all of our guys,” Ryan McDonagh, who had a team-high four blocks, said to Larry Brooks at the New York Post. “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.”
Even Vigneault admitted blocking shots is an integral part of any successful defense…
“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.
“It’s the same thing on our penalty killing. You have to get in those lanes so the puck can’t get through. Right now I don’t think we’re consistently doing that enough, and that’s why the other teams are getting a little bit of momentum on the penalty killings we’ve had so far.”
…i'm glad to see AV mention the Rangers aren't getting into the lanes enough on the pk. The lack of Rangers players diving in front of the puck on the penalty kill has been very noticeable under AV and is obviously effecting its success.
…also happy that the Rangers haven't completely abandoned blocking shots. I was worried that taking away that aspect would mess with the games of Girardi, McD and Callahan who make a living sacrificing their bodies. Although, cutting down on the blocks will obviously increase the probability of those guys staying in the line-up, especially Callahan.