FanPost

Seven Deadly Shots: Rynnas Going Forwards

Subtitled: Haters Gonna Hate

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Editor's Note: Tonight's game represented what will hopefully be the low point of Jussi Rynnas' time in Toronto. It was only a pre-season game but it was a harsh look at just how far Rynnas needs to come in his development before he's ready for the NHL. Luckily, he is a goalie that recognizes the vast amount that he can learn in Toronto as he came to be tutored by Francois Allaire.

Looking at those numbers in the Finnish league and what we have seen during this pre-season it's clear that Rynnas is still very much a raw prospect at the NHL level. While his 6'5" frame, long limbs, and quick lateral movement suggests that he has a bright future in the NHL there is clearly work to be done. Tonight the sum total of his faults were highlighted by a strong Red Wings team. In this great FanPost Bower Power is going to look at the seven shots that found their way past The Bus.

Friday night saw Jussi Rynnas get lit up by the Detroit Red Wings in his first full North American hockey game. Allowing 4 goals on 11 shots with a man down and 3 goals on 22 even strength shots, the Finnish League superstar has a long road ahead of him to the NHL. Inspired by Chemmy’s Corner, we’ll look at where Allaire might start improving Rynnas’ game. 

6:26 into the first, Detroit’s Jan Mursak snaps one by Rynnas. 1-0.

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This puck is sniped in on the short side. He’s a little too far to his right, as he doesn’t shuffle left once as Mursak walks lower, but the miss by Rynnas’ fast-moving glove hand makes it look like he wasn’t ready for that shot.

At 8:45, Jiri Hudler’s shovels in the first PPG off Modano's slap shot from the high slot. 2-0.

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Can Jussi Rynnas? I can’t. But I can see a whole lot of net. So can Modano. Rynnas is short on the lateral movement here, and falls behind the pass on the way over. He drops quickly, taking away the bottom of the net, juts his glove hand out (right height, good extension) – both good save selections – but unless that hits the mesh square on, he’s not going to absorb that puck. When the rebound rolls out, he’s in no condition to make the second save.  Rynnas makes a good second effort, but a Kaberle is watching the play instead of his man, and Hudler puts that away ten times out of ten.

With 1:35 left in the first, Jakub Kindl scores on a 4 on 4, though technically Mursk had stepped out of the box to make it a power play. 3-1.

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The play is originally a 3 on 2, and even as it becomes 2 on 4, no one picks up Kindl, who has time and space to make a nice shot. Rynnas, screened by our newest goalie, Francois Beauchemin, stops instead of moving all the way over with the pass. He’s a little too deep, too, which is cutting down the effectiveness of "the Eclipse." Again, a quick – albeit late – reaction doesn’t make up for the missed positioning. [note: There’s a second picture of Beauchemin's first career goal allowed here, but I didn’t embed it, as the camera’s right-lean shows a worse angle on the net than Kindl had available]

In the second, Hudler tips in a long shot on the power play, and it’s 4-1 (the eventual game winner).

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It’s a nasty tip. There are a couple things Rynnas could have done better here – squaring up and keeping a tight butterfly probably would’ve been the best choice with Hudler’s stick so close – but it’s pretty hard to fault Rynnas when Gunnarsson and Finger are just watching it all happen.

After a quiet second (only 8 shots on goal), Detroit brings the heat in the third, with 16 shots on goal in the period, and little time spent going the other way. Kronwall’s slap shot beats Rynnas on the power play at 2:28. 5-2.

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Rynnas overskates here. I think this is both the goal where the game slips away from Rynnas, and one where he really appreciates being out of position; there isn’t even an attempt at the glove save, though the puck is well out of his reach. Not much more to say, except that we saw Gustavsson do the same thing several times in the start of last season.

Franzen with the wrister at 4:27. 6-2.

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These are getting shorter as the game goes downhill, but I like this shot for two reasons: 1, because Rynnas is deep and too far to the left, and 2, because Kaberle looks like he’s trying out for a broadway tap show entitled, "Hockey!" I hear they need a defenseman with a great first pass. Franzen puts it blocker low – a favorite location for shooters in the NHL, but not too common in other leagues, as far as I know.

 And finally, with 10:23 left in the third, Zetterberg’s slap shot is in on the power play. 7-3.

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This is a heartbreaker, as it slowly trickles through Rynnas’ five hole, and he pieces together why there’s a horn instead of a whistle. I’m sure it’s a product of mental and physical fatigue at this point, but Rynnas is far too deep. He’s barely set for the shot as Zetterberg is taking it, and though his butterfly slides into a more appropriate position, too much damage is done.

So we’re done with the painful part, but what did this game tell us about Rynnas?  

Firstly, there’s a reason he’s nicknamed "The Bus" and "The Eclipse." He’s close on a lot of these shots because of his size. On a team with more grinders and fewer experienced snipers, his size alone would have held down a couple less accurate shots. Most of these goals came high (excluding only the last one and the redirect) because his long legs shut completely down the net.

Secondly, Rynnas maintains an impressive quickness: his glove speed is good, and those long legs shut down the bottom of the net very quickly – easily as fast as some starters in the league.

There are three things that strike me as needing to be improved immediately: his angles need work, he should have a straighter back in the butterfly (helping to take away the top of the net more effectively), and his play while screened, including save selection and following the play with limited visibility. Fortunately, these are three of the issues Francois Allaire became famous for correcting. Hiller, Bryzgalov, and Giguere are all famous for their positioning and rebound control, and a tight butterfly.

So why leave Rynnas in for seven goals?

There’s one thing that no other league will be able to teach Rynnas: the speed of the game. The speed of the NHL is unmatched by any other league. It’s faster than anything Rynnas saw in the Finnish Elite League, and it’s faster than the AHL. If Wilson (and Allaire, who I would think is making most of these decisions) just wanted Rynnas to experience the different regulations, Rynnas would’ve seen a full game in the "first round" of preseason, when we were playing against Ottawa’s prospects and soft players. If this was about resting Giguere and Gustavsson, Reimer or Scrivens would have stayed up, as they are currently much more NHL ready. But no, Allaire wanted to give Rynnas a look at the real deal: faster passes, quick-release shots, and the importance of letting angles do the work for you.

So now it’s back to the AHL for Rynnas, who has a brand new benchmark for the game, and can see on tape, the exact issues Allaire will be talking to him about. And while people question whether or not he’s better for the Reading Royals than the Marlies, he knows that Scrivens also signed for the opportunity to work with Allaire, and will no doubt be competing for a spot on next year’s Marlies. Rynnas will not be given forever to adjust his game to the North American style, and I’m willing to bet that next year’s Jussi will look notably improved from his showing against Detroit. But please, be patient. The last Finn we ran out of town could have used a little patience and development, too.

A closing thought: In his first full NHL [preseason] game, the 23 year old Rynnas posted a .794 SVP. Only 10% worse than Toskala’s 08-09 and 09-10 season SVPs when he was 31 and 32!

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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