Dumping to Chasing: How Rangers Have Become One of the Fastest Teams in the NHL
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Dump and chase. Dump and chase.
How boring a method it is, but a useful one if you can execute it.
What's the point of dumping if you're not able to chase? Every team needs speed, and the Rangers have lacked that quality in their game for quite some time.
Bringing in veteran after veteran, the team grew more experienced, but less able to get the job done. After a complete 180-degree turnaround, Glen Sather (with the help of his assistants), has composed one of the youngest and most talented teams in the league.
With youth comes energy, and with energy comes speed and quickness.
It all started with Ryan Callahan, who will absolutely do anything to get to the puck first and keep it.
The 5'11" captain isn't afraid to hit anyone, but perhaps his most useful asset is the speed that he possesses.
Able to drive past defenders and get to the corners, Callahan is a very valuable player. The leader of the Rangers will block shots, hit anything that moves, and use his speed to make an impact on the game.
In the summer of 2009, Sather brought in the Slovak sniper, Marian Gaborik.
Why do you think Gaborik is able to pot so many goals?
Gaborik is impossible to catch on a breakaway. It is almost guaranteed that Gaborik will have a prime opportunity to score when he gets past the last defender.
How does he get into open space for one-timers?
It's that simple. Gaborik isn't a big guy and he sure isn't strong on the puck. Speed is the reason why he is so successful in the world's best league. It allows him to get past the unfortunate player stuck with the responsibility of marking him. His quick acceleration allows him to get into the necessary space required to score goals.
When the Rangers drafted Carl Hagelin in the sixth round, how many of you actually thought that he'd one day be a player who needed to be on the roster? Not many, I assume.
Hagelin is just under 6', but he is a gritty and relentless player.
He's also the fastest skater in the NHL. Due to his speed, he created many goals for himself and his linemates by just simply getting to the puck before the defender.
His speed also lets the Rangers do something that is not only creative, but useful: ice the puck.
While both teams are in the Rangers' zone, the Rangers—upon getting the puck—may dump the puck down the ice, knowing that the Swedish speedster will get to it first and create a scoring chance.
The University of Michigan star is now a fan favorite in New York because of his tenacity and speed—both of which allow him to have a major impact each and every shift.
Finally, there is the rookie named Chris Kreider.
A 6'3", 230 pound offensive powerhouse. Despite his size, however, he'll be challenging Hagelin next season for the title of fastest skater in the league.
His speed allows him to get separation from the defenders and to jump the gaps on face-offs due to his size.
He, like Hagelin, will most likely beat out any icing to keep the play going in the other team's zone. He did it at Boston College and he did it in the NHL playoffs. He used his speed to his advantage to help his team win. He'll do it next season as well, that's for sure.
The one thing that could be said for all four of these players is, it doesn't matter what line they're put on. They will be an immediate spark plug due to their quickness.
While it may not apply to Gaborik, the other three play with a chip on their shoulder and will do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it means going up against a guy twice their size.
While the Rangers are a very talented team, they'd be nothing without speed. So, if you're one of the fans who get aggravated watching the team consistently dump and chase the puck, you should rethink your stance on the technique.
The Rangers will continue to dump the puck under coach Tortorella, but with the addition of Kreider and Hagelin for a full season, it will make it a much more useful option.
Defense may win hockey games, but speed scores goals.
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