Monday practice topics: Redden/Staal moves, prepping for Washington and the dog days
Through 20 games, Marc Staal leads the Rangers in average time on ice at 22:29, including 1:27 on the power play.
Veteran Wade Redden is averaging about three minutes less per game and only 14 seconds with the man advantage.
Against Ottawa, Redden spent two minutes on power plays, and it’s a signal that there’s some tinkering going on.
"We’re looking to maybe expand his (Redden’s) role a little bit, and we’re also a little concerned with Marc (Staal), that he gets the most important part of his game down, and that’s the 5 on 5," coach John Tortorella said today.
Early in the season, Tortorella had said the coaching staff wanted to push Staal on the offensive side of the puck, and take the power-play pressure away from Redden.
"He’s (Redden) met us halfway, he’s played decently for us. Marc’s had his ups and downs. We still have a fairly young guy there in Marc and we’ve been heaping a lot of responsibility on him, as far as playing against a lot of top players and adding power-play time, it’s really the first time for him. You worry about ice time, we’ll juggle that a little bit."
As for Redden, Tortorella said, "We’re trying to rehabilitate (his game), he assessed his play last year, and he wants to play better, I think he has, he’s been steady; I don’t think he’s been great, I don’t think he’s been bad. That’s what we need out of him, especially when we have four young guys out there. But he has steadied himself and it’s a road that he continues to build on, if we think he can handle some more, we’ll give him some more."
Thanksgiving is 10 days away, and before you know, it’ll be Christmas, and after that, the "dog days", according to Tortorella.
"I think that’s what makes or breaks teams, the middle of January until the end of February, that’s where you need to stay on top of yourself mentally, those are the dog days right there…You look at that month of January, I think we have 16 games or so, it’s a lot of hockey, it’s a grind." The Olympics adds a twist, but Tortorella said, "I worry about those dog days no matter what’s going on. We, as coaches, need to be sharp. No matter if it’s going good, bad, or ugly we need to get them out of the rink at certain times. It’s not physical, it’s mental."
Don’t expect continual matchups from the Rangers against the Caps (12-4-4, 5-3-1 on the road and tied for first in the East) tomorrow.
"I like playing head on head," said Tortorella. "We’re playing a team that right on through their lineup, they’re a pretty solid club. We put responsibility on our top guys. I’m playing our top guys. I don’t know how it got in the coaches’ book that you can’t play guys over 20 minutes…I think our guys are in top shape. I believe the way these guys are conditioned, with the time-outs and because the game isn’t as physical as it used to be, they’re going to play."
Plenty of one-on-one battles along the boards in practice….Parenteau missed about 15 minutes midway through, when he was bloodied inside the right ear by a deflected Chris Higgins’ shot. He went off, was examined, and returned. "Oh yeah, it was ringing," he said afterward. "Fine now."…I don’t expect Chris Drury or Brandon Dubinsky back anytime soon. Tortorella on Drury (concussion): "We’re just trying to leave him alone. I know Rammer (trainer Jim Ramsey) will come to me when they’re trying to start the process. We haven’t even gotten there yet." On Dubinsky (broken bone in hand), also injured in the Calgary game 10 days ago: "I saw Dubi today, the swelling’s gone down, but he’s just trying to stay in the best shape he can (with off-ice workouts)."