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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mailbag: Blocking Shots A Failing Strategy?


Suit,

Have you read Brooks' latest article trashing the Rangers philosophy of blocking shots? What are your thoughts on this from an X's and O's perspective? I know you pulled some stats a few months ago showing blocking shots generally isn't a characteristic of winning teams, but for some reason I feel like it is a reason why this team's having success despite all the injuries. What's your take?

- Jason

Jason,

First things first, while I'd love to claim that I wrote an article about blocking shots not being a characteristic of successful teams, unfortunately I did not.  The only thing on blocking shots that was posted here was a terrific article from Cap

Cap talked about the art of blocking shots, the proper technique, and how players are trained to block shots differently in Russia than how they are trained in North America.  If you haven't read it, I suggest you do so.

The article you are probably referring to was written by Dave over at Blue Seat Blogs.  Dave talked more about the correlation between blocked shots and wins, essentially the same thing Brooks brought up, only Dave thought of it first ;)  

Anyway, this too was an excellent article and should be added to your "to read" list.  

As far as blocking shots go from a strategic perspective, it’s pretty obvious that it has been the cause of many of our injuries.  When you dive in front of the puck the way the Rangers do and the amount that they do it, you are bound to lose players to broken bones and bruised body parts.  However, I do agree with you Jason that despite these injuries, blocked shots is one of the many reasons why our team has had success defensively this season, especially on the penalty kill.

Down the road though, I would like to see the Rangers possess the puck more.  Blocking a lot of shots, along with missed shots, and shots against on goal, are good indicators that your team’s puck possession isn’t as good as the opposition.  If the Rangers ever want to become the Blackhawks, the Redwings, etc, they are going to have to acquire faster skaters that want the puck and are patient with it.

This isn’t a knock against Tortorella’s tactics.  He has designed a system that is indicative of his player’s strengths and weaknesses.  However, if the Rangers can acquire prospects and players with more speed and skill, hopefully we can move away from having to block shots in order to be successful.

I want to see the Rangers eventually abandon having to play dump and chase on the power play.  I want to see Rangers forwards attacking the blueline on the penalty kill, not collapsing in front of the net and blocking shots.  I want our top players in the lineup, not out of it because they took one off the foot, hand, face, etc.  I think we will get there, but we will need to add certain types of players.  But that is talk for the summer, for now let’s enjoy where we are and hopefully we’ll get these next two wins.