Sunday, December 31, 2006

NY Post's Brooks Apes Ranger Pundit


If you read Larry Brook's in this morning's New York Post on last night's game he opens with this paragraph. "It may or may not be true that the meek shall inherit the world, but it is an absolute certainty that the meek will never win the Stanley Cup."

If you read the Ranger Pundit on Wednesday, after the Islander loss you would have seen this opening paragraph. "The good book says that the meek will inherit the earth. The Rangers must stop reading that book, it does not include the hockey world."

We here at the Pundit have always prided ourselves on our originality and our point of view has always been from an old (don't ask) Ranger fan with his own opinions after many frustrating years of watching our blueshirt wizards. So we appreciate Brooks and the Post copying our main themes. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Now for the game. The Rangers played this game the way they have to play every game if they hope to make the playoffs and more important challenge for the Cup. They scored the first goal on Prucha's backhand, his seventh. Their defense was tough and disciplined. Thomas Pock was exceptional in 20:20 of ice time, with two hits, and outstanding work when the Rangers had to kill off a five on three for over a minute. They played tough. Did I use the word tough? Yes I did. The Rangers outhit the Caps 32-21 with Hollweg, who else, leading the team with five hits. Tyutin, Rachunek and Aaron Ward chipping in with four hits each. Tough? The Rangers fought designated goon, Donald Brashear twice, and held their own. Orr fought with Brashear and also with Morrisonn. The big fight, the main event as they used to say in the old Garden was Brendan Shanahan challenging Brashear and holding his own. The young Shanahan would have probably cleaned Brashear's clock.

Ah Shanahan! He decided he had enough of Brashear mugging Jagr. He decided to challenge the big goon. I don't mine goons. I've seen them all. But there were class goons like Fotiu and Sandy McCarthy who skated away from their opponent when they fell to the ice. Not Brashear. He keeps throwing punches while his opponent is on the ice. Caps coach Hanlon put Brashear opposite Jagr and he proceeded to jab, poke, punch and whatever else he could pull off. Then Glen looks pained and feigns innocence when Brashear is penalized. Shanny had enough and went after the goon. But is this the man we want to be the Ranger's policeman, the enforcer?

Can the Rangers continue this type of play? Lundqvist looks like he is at all star form. The defense has added speed and mobility with the adition of Pock. The offense may be ready to break out with Jagr and Prucha getting back to form. The toughness! Ah, that is the question? Was this a one game wonder? The test will be against the Devils on Tuesday.

However, I would like to wish each of you, you too Brooks, including your families and loved ones a wonderful, happy, healthy and succesful 2007.

HAPPY NEW YEARS FROM THE RANGER PUNDIT ORGANIZATION.

ICINGS:

December 31, 2006
Daily News
Tough Rangers End Skid
NY Post
Old-Time Hockey
Don't Give Shanahan Phantom Tickets
Newsday
The Skid Ends With A Bang

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Seven Come Eleven

Seven losses in a row and heading for the all time Ranger losing streak of eleven accomplished back in 1943 from October 30th til November 27th. They spaced the games out pretty good in those days. That team would lose the first eleven games of the season and wound up winning six games and getting four ties in a fifty game schedule. So breaking that streak would put this team in pretty bad company. Can the Rangers do it?

The way they are playing it is hard to see how they can win another game. I said the other day that the mantra is, how Jagr and Lundqvist go so go the Rangers. While the only goal on a deflection was kind of soft, Lundqvist played another outstanding game. However, it looks like The Prince needs to pitch a shutout every night. Not with this defense kid.

Something or someone is bothering Jagr. He just isn't right. Of course it could be the pounding that he takes every night. It might be the ineptness of the rest of the team, especially the forwards. The Rangers had a 5 minute power play and got off all of 2 shots in the first 3:35 of the PP which ended the first period. The penalty was assessed to Chris Neil for charging Petr Prucha. The penalty was quickly negated at the start of the second period when Michael Nylander was called for hooking. So one game after being benched for a stupid four minute penalty, Nylander took another one. So much for learning lessons.

The inept forwards. Prucha seems completely lost. Cullen is not a second line center. Jason Ward is not a center. Shanahan is tired. Straka seems destined to constantly skate around in circles. Hossa and Hall are, well, Hossa and Hall. Enough said. Hossa and Hall and Orr play and Jarkko Immonen sits. Immonen in 11 games has 4 points. Hossa in 36 games has 3 points and Hall in 38 games has 10 points.

The game was noted for cheap shots by Ottawa which has gone from finesse to intimidation. Chris Neil should have been tossed for his charge on Prucha, and Schubert, not once, but twice kneed Hollweg. He should have been tossed. But with Kerry Fraser as the ref what do you expect.

So tonight it's the Caps who always give the Rangers fits. I'm staying home. I'm as loyal as you can get but I'm not going to ruin my night and my holiday watching Tom Renney screw up another game. Sorry!

ICINGS:

December 30, 2006
Daily News
7th Hell For Rangers
NY Post
Seven Sins
Newsday
Rangers Get A For Effort, L For Loss

December 29, 2006
Daily News
Rangers In Need Of January Resurgence
NY Post
Desperation For Rangers
Newsday
2nd AHL Stint For Ortmeyer
Journal News
Rangers' Jagr Continues To Struggle

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rangers Go Meekly And Quietly

The good book says that the meek shall inherit the earth. The Rangers must stop reading that book, it does not include the hockey world. Forget the stats that put the hits at 28-20 favoring the Isles. It was no contest in hits. Hunter, Hill , Campoli and Kozlov all leveled jarring hits with Jagr the recepient of most of them. Jagr, perhaps grudgingly, paid the Islanders a lot of credit. "God bless them, they played a good game, now they've got toughness and skill." Ah toughness. While the Rangers were accumulating Czechs the Islanders were getting checkers. While the Rangers were hot for stick handling defensemen the Islanders were going for body crunchers. While the Rangers were going for perimeter forwards the Islanders were going for net crashers. While the Rangers went for a philosophic no action coach the Islanders went for a roll up your sleeves, put on your hard hat, get in the trenches and fight like a wounded animal type coach.

It is amazing that Jagr admires the Islander toughness. Wasn't he initially thrilled with all the Czech's that the 'drain trust' gathered? He was battered last night and there was no one to protect him. Who could. Straka? Nylander? Rozsival? These guys have enough problems protecting themselves. As Jagr and Lundqvist go, so go the Rangers. Lundqvist, though not quite good enough to win did play a strong game with 36 saves. Of course DiPietro was perfect.

Jagr though had problems with the close checking, hard hitting Islanders. Even Tom Poti put him down with a hit and no Ranger retaliated. Jagr had no shots in the first two periods, but got 5 in the third. He also coughed up the puck five times. But that is not why the Rangers lost. They lost because right now they are not tough enough to compete in this new NHL. Last year they caught everyone by surprise with their tic-tac-toe perimeter game which caught up to them at the end of the season. This season the entire league is wise to them. Put the locks on Jagr and chances are you will beat the Rangers, unless Lundqvist can steal one. There seems to be fewer steals in Lundqvist's arsenal these days.

Recently Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote an article complaing about the Rangers shortcomings. In his opinion Straka was the only Ranger to exceed expectations. Debatable point. The supporting cast after the big four, Jagr, Shanahan, Straka and Nylander are weak. The free signing pickups are disappointing and the entire defense is weak with maybe the best Ranger defenseman ranked about 60th in the league. He predicts no playoffs with this team. Great analysis. Only one thing wrong with this analysis. This is the same team that Larry Brooks picked to win the cup at the start of the season. Think about that for a moment. What went wrong? You still think that Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

ICINGS: Nylander was benched for the entire third period for giving the Islanders a double minor by clipping Radek Martinek. The Islanders scored eleven seconds after the end of the penalty. He seems to be an easy guy to bench despite racking up good numbers. Renney also benched him last year. You don't see Cullen or Aaron Ward or Adam Hall get benched do you? What do they have in common. Two things. They are useless and Sather signed two to big free agency contracts and traded for Hall, losing the gutsy Dominic Moore.

December 28, 2006
NY Post
Benchings Make Rangers' Point
Newsday
Renney Penalizes Nylander

December 27, 2006
Daily News
Isles Ice Rangers
NY Post
Skid-Row Rangers
Newsday
Jagr Praises Isles' Talent, Work
Isles Take Jackpot On A Full House
DiPietro Has Upper Hand In Goalie War
Journal News
Islanders Blank Rangers In A Battle

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas The Night Before (A Ranger) Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Ranger Land
The Blue Seats were rocking to the beat of the band:
The banners were hung on the rafters with care,
With the hope that the Stanley Cup soon will be there:

The owners were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of profits danced in their heads:
And Dolan with his spread sheet and Sather with his roster,
Had just settled down for a game of canasta,

When up in the Luxury Suites there arose such a clatter,
Don Maloney went up to see what was the matter,
Away from the bench Renney flew like a flash,
To join Rod Gilbert in his holiday bash.

The TV cameras were tapping the spree,
When along came Sam Rosen and JoeM Micheletti,
And what to their wondering eyes would be next,
But Jaromir Jagr and his cohorts, the Czechs,

With a little old driver who came to the haven,
They all knew it was Stan Fischler, The Maven.
More rapid than eagles his players they came,
And he stammered and shouted and called them by name.

Now, Hollweg! now, Ortmeyer! now Ward and Prucha!
On, Nylander! on, Rachunek on, Shanahan and Straka!
To the top of the Garden they dared not tarry!
For they did not want to miss Dancing Larry!

And then they heard the crowd a rootin,
As along came Kasparaitis and Fedor Tyutin,
As they cheered aloud and were turning around,
From the ceiling came Mark Messier with a bound.

And his ex-mates, Mike Richter and Adam Graves,
He knew it would be tough not to behave.
And the newcomers looked on them in awe!
Betts and Pock and Nigel Dawes,

They all knew this old team played for keeps,
As in came Cullen, Rozsival and Kevin Weekes!
This was the group that they would get the most of,
They were joined by Orr, Hall, Aaron Ward and Hossa

But they all knew this would be no cinch,
Even though they had Lundqvist, The Prince.
So they all stayed with the holiday tradition,
Knowing that they had Malik the Magician.

They spoke not a word, they knew of the dangers,
As the crowd chanted, "Let's Go Rangers."

And they cheered and they yelled as they were getting a little tight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Caribbean Odyssey Ends-Ranger's Woes Continue

Pray tell me how did this team win five in a row preceding this five game collapse. But more about that later. What a wonderful trip. Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenada, Martinique, St. Barth's, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk's Islands. The highligts were many but standing out were Bert's Bar in Barbados, the bat cave in Martinique, the Bacardi Rum plant in Puerto Rico, the beautiful clear crystal waters of the Islands and the beautiful cruise ship the Silver Seas.

And now the collapse. It started the night after the big win in Dallas and the 46 save performance of Lundqvist. It was in Toronto and Weekes should have been in the nets and Lundqvist should have been saved for the Devils. Instead it was back with Lundqvist against Toronto with the results devastating. The last two were absolutely the worse. A two goal lead blown in the third period to Florida followed up by tonight's disaster in Tampa Bay which was predicted by Martin St. Louis prior to the Rangers blowing a three goal lead in the third period.

All aspects of the Ranger game have gone south. The Ranger defensemen refuse to use their bodies preferring stick work, best epitomized by Marek 'Lurch' Malik. I know he has been out the last few games but his spirit is emblazened into the Ranger 'D'. Jaromir Jagr, playing his worst hockey as a Ranger, refuses to shoot the puck deep and chase it so he eventually loses it to the two or three players checking him. And Henrik Lundqvist who gave up a horrible game winner seems to have hit a wall. The Rangers could almost live with the first two maladies but they cannot live with Lundqvist giving up soft goals. Frankly, he looks tired.

So what do our 'drain trusters' plan on doing to right the good ship lollypop? Why they are thinking about bringing back Martin Rucinsky. Martin Rucinsky, another 35 plus year old. The theory is that Jagr likes him. You know the drill, another Czech player, who can't check by the way. Remember when the Rangers traded Mattias Norstrom for Jarri Kurri because Gretzky like Kurri. That was a great trade wasn't it? Of course, you might add, that already have brought up Brad Isbister who has all of 100 goals in seven seasons.

How about them doing what they promised early in the year. Bring up the youngsters and play them. Yes play them, not just in practice, but in a regular game. However if they are going to get some vets then go get Tkachuk from St. Louis not Rucinsky who would be making his fourth uneventful appearance with the Rangers.

Then there is the coach. He keeps telling everyone how good the Rangers are after every loss. If the Rangers are a good team, as Renney claims, then Renney is a bad coach. I heard the Mike Keenan was in the stands during one of the past losses. So we continue the .500 roller coaster ride on our way to mediocrity.

And for this I left Paradise. Back to Bert's for a cold one and some hockey. Bert is an Ottawa Senator fan and has their games piped in on his several TV sets. After watching tonight's fiasco a Bacardi Reserve on the rocks would hit the spot right now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Losing Streak Continues at Four

There is no joy in RangerPundit Ville. The old pundit is working on his tan and his beloved Rangers are getting their backsides tanned night after night. When will this pain stop? Sure there are many things worse than watching the Rangers right now - pulling patrol duy in Baghdad comes to mind. But, this losing streak is sucking the joy out of the holiday season.

The Rangers were up 2-0 after two periods but collapsed defensively in the third. The Rangers went 1-for-9 on the power play. The Panthers capitalized on one of only four power play opportunities. Michael Nylander missed his third straight game with the flu. Can we just blame this losing streak on the flu bug? Jagr is not playing well, does he miss Nylander that much?

On target comment over at the NY Rangers Cafe:

Jagr = this years Ozolinsh? - Last night, Jagr makes the play to set up Ward, but turns the puck over leading to the first Panther goal, then makes little effort to back check and doesn't collapse to help Tyutin on the second goal. Worst yet, his body language is just awful and the turnovers and blind passes seem to be taking away the aggressiveness of his linemates because they have to 180 and cover for the error.

He needs to pick up the pace.
Ditto the "pick up the pace."

ICINGS:

Dec. 22, 2006
CBS Sportsline
Panthers 3, Rangers 2
NY Daily News
Rangers flop in third
NY Post
RANGERS WOBBLE WITH ANOTHER LOSS
Newsday
A meltdown in Florida

Dec. 21, 2006
NY Daily News
Rangers Are Recovering
NY Post
Rangers Summon Isbister
Newsday
Their Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Breakdown Lane

The Rangers are ailing, physically and mentally. Physically there was Henrik Lundqvist (flu), Michael Nylander (flu), Matt Cullen (knee) and Marek Malik (groin). Mentally there were "seven different Rangers taking penalties to leave their team shorthanded seven times in a 16:23 span bridging the first and second periods." No surprise the Isles won the game 4-3, and the Rangers have now lost three in a row.

Shanahan was also dealing with the the flu and was a question mark before the game, but he played and was honored with Jagr in a pre-game ceremony. Both were given silver sticks for their milestone 600th goals. They both tried to make a special night of it, with Jagr scoring twice and Shanny once. But the weight of all the penalties and the missing teammates sunk the Blueshirts.

If you're going to go off the grid and miss some games like the Ranger Pundit then you couldn't have have picked a better time to hand off those season tickets to the nose bleeds. This stretch of eight games in thirteen nights has caught up with the Broadway Boys.

The Blueshirts have started handing out the blues for the holidays along with joyless rides home on the LIRR. The only good news is that the Ozolinsh experiment is over and Thomas Pock is now backup from Hartford. That is something to build on for the second half of the season.

ICINGS:

NY Post
Rangers Hit By Blake-Out
Daily News
Rangers Slide Hard To Stomach
Newsday
Manpower Edge Is Crucial
It's Blake's Turn For Garden Party
Journal News
Good News/Bad News Night For Rangers' Jagr, Shanahan

Tuesday, Dec. 19th -

Daily News
Ozolinsh Out; Hello Nedved?
NY Post
No Quick Fix In Ozo's Exit
Newsday
Ozolinsh waived, Pock recalled from Hartford
Journal News
Ozolinsh Waived As Lost Weekend Echoes
Hartford Courant
Pock Gets His Rangers Callback

Monday, December 18, 2006

Devils Stomp Rangers 6-1

So the Rangers have dropped consecutive games by a combined score of 15-3. Some are calling it the lost weekend. Sounds like a good idea - deep six these last two stinkers and pretend it's just due to injuries and playing seven games in eleven nights. Excuses come easy when you don't have any positives to put on a postcard and mail to a distant Pundit.

Dear Ranger Pundit, Hope all is well with you. Don't worry about the Rangers they will still be here when you return. They're not going anywhere fast.

Now the Blueshirts have two goalies suffering from shell shock and with enough combined confidence to sprinkle on a glass of egg nog. Season's greetings from the deer in the highlights.


Icings:
Daily News
Rangers' Lost Weekend
Parise & Devils Take Replay Trip Down Isle
NY Post
Broadway Boo-Shirts
You Don't Rebuild With Old-Timer
Newsday
It Goes From Bad To Worse
Journal News
Rangers Not Making Any Excuses In Loss To Devils

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Leafs Rout Rangers

Leafs rout RangersA terrible night, on Saturday, for NY sports. The Rangers are routed and the Knicks melt down and start a brawl with Denver. Not one of those magical nights to save for the next edition of The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden.

The Prince was treated like a peasant last night by the Leafs as his knights all went AWOL or turned into tin men. How does the royal psyche handle going from his best game of the year on Thursay to the worst game of his NHL career on Saturday? He allowed eight goals on 24 shots and who knows what the damage would have been if Renney hadn't pulled him.

Regarding the winning streak, Brooksie said it nicely:

The five-game winning streak that was largely constructed with wisps of smoke, reflections of mirrors, and heaping teaspoons of goaltending came to an essentially predictable end with a 9-2 debacle of a defeat to the Maple Leafs, in which the Blueshirts allowed more goals (eight) in the first 33:27 than they had (seven) in the previous 305:00.
The Maple Leafs fan blog enjoyed the game: "Leaf fans know their is nothing sweeter in hockey then seeing the Leafs give an opponent a real good thumping."

It looks like Renney will get Lundqvist back out on the ice tonight and give him a chance to forget last night as quickly as possible. Amen. The RangerPundit caught a break being out of the country and missing last night and the Rangers "worst defense effort in neary 14 years."

Let's see if the scuff marks on the crown have been buffed off and if a Musketeer or three shows up tonight to defend our Henrik and return fire.

ICINGS:

NY Post
Northern Exposure
Daily News
What A Leaf-ingstock
Newsday
Rough Day At The Office
Hartford Courant
Valiquette Bounces Back; Pack Win In Shootout

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Prince Shines in Lone Star State

No twin references here, regarding Henrik Lundqvist playing against his twin brother Joel. How many Joel's are there in Sweden anyway?

Instead an episode of Law & Order. Stealing games in Texas is fun, but every thief eventually gets caught. When does the law catch up with the Rangers, who were outshot, 16-4, in the first period, 30-14 through two, and 45-20 overall? But, because of Lundqvist's heroics won 5-2 in Dallas.

Dellapina: The Rangers' again-sensational sophomore simply stole a game from the Stars last night at the American Airlines Center. Stopping a career-high 43 shots...

Tom Renney said, "That was all-star, MVP, Stanley Cup goaltending."

All we need now is some all-star coaching to go with the goaltending. What's the chance of that?

The thieves will continue their crime spree in Toronto on Saturday. They had better be careful, the Mounties don't take kindly to foreigners coming into town and robbing the locals.

ICINGS:

Newsday
Henrik On His Game
Daily News
Henrik Is Rangers' Lone Star
Go Get Your Checkbooks!
NY Post
High Five For Rangers
Fans Will Pay For Playoff Success
Odd Family Reunion
Journal News/AP
Rangers Run Win Streak To Five Games

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Four In A Row

Weekes is playing great, HockeyBird:

Nice job by Kevin Weekes. Even though he didn't face many shots, he made the important saves when the Rangers needed them, particularly just before the Nylander goal that put the Blueshirts up 3-1...
BlueShirts on Broadway:
Kevin Weekes was in goal again tonight for the Rangers and once again he looked sharp- holding the Flyers to one goal in the game...
Ozolinsh & Rackunek are not, BlueShirt Bulletin:
It makes even less sense to see Sandis Ozolinsh in a Ranger uniform. He did nothing to deserve the second chance he got earlier this season other than be under contract, and he did nothing with the second chance other than throw his offensive game down the same crapper his defensive game has always been down. In what would have been an excellent opportunity for Thomas Pock, now in Hartford, Ozolinsh got back into action because Aaron Ward came down with the flu. And just like that, Ozolinsh is woefully out of position on the Flyers' only goal, and so is Karel Rachunek, who did fine without him thank you -- it's simply uncanny how much difficulty the puck has getting out of the Ranger zone when that pair is on the ice...
Let's hope Jed Ortmeyer can get it going in Hartford, Newsday:
Jed Ortmeyer, out since August, when he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, will play three games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this week to determine his ability to rejoin the Rangers.

The 28-year-old right wing, who was cleared for contact in practice Nov. 24, is in the AHL on a conditioning loan, which is permitted for players with long-term illnesses...

ICINGS:

Daily News
Rangers Take Over 1st Place
NY Post
Swatting Flys
Journal News
Rangers Not At Their Best But Will Take Win Over Flyers
Newsday
Unexpected Offense
Minors Return For 'Ort'
Hartford Courant
For Recovering Ortmeyer, It's No Minor Stint

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekes - save the highlight reel

The RangerPundit is off on a jaunt to the Caribbean, so maybe the Rangers will go on a winning streak now that they don't have the pressure of performing for the old man. Maybe he will bump into Brian Leetch on his journey south. Kind of like finding that other mythical guy who works one day a year and has a lot of free time - Santa Claus.

Will the Garden crowd start chanting Weekes....Weekes pretty soon?

Comments about the game last night by some bright lights from the army of ten-thousand pundits-in-waiting on the message boards:

StealingSociety:

Can Weekes make a save without a rebound?
JButler17:
NY Daily News - "He's mentally tough, he certainly has the capacity to deal with that," Renney said. "And I think that's the evolution of a guy into this role. And I'm not suggesting that he's a backup goaltender in this league - not at all.

"If I was a team that needed a goaltender, I'd be phoning the Rangers. I know that."
Are they trying to put the word out that they are ready to deal Weekes?
BigJoeJr:
Give that GOALIE ANOTHER START!! DEFINITELY should be the FIRST STAR!34 SAVES!!! ...His BEST GAME as a Ranger.
nyr2k2:
...the NHL is becoming very NFL-like with all the parity (or mediocrity, if you prefer).

I still feel like the Rangers, not just this season but for the better part of the decade, struggle against teams they "should" beat; teams with worse records, far less talent, etc... We'll be riding a streak of well-played games, and a cold team will come into MSG and blank us. Conversely, we'll be cold and then shock someone or at least take them down to the wire.

Maybe it's just that I'm a frustrated fan, but the level of consistency displayed by this team is maddening. I don't know if it's coaching, or focus, or just soft players. It sure can be damn painful to be a Rangers fan, though, that's for sure.
french60wasp:
...I really hope Hossa can chip in some goals. The guy has been fantastic over the last 3 games.

Roszival has been tremendous as well. I am eating a bunch of Rio crow lately.

Hollweg and Prucha worry me. Hollweg was really late with a bunch of hits yesterday, and Prucha is pressing so much that he was out of control and out of position a bunch. Yes, he created a great chance with hustle, but the rest of the time he looks like he his fighting the puck all over the place. He totally looks out of synch.

Immonen is going to start scoring goals. He has been responsible defensively and has been in good position to score goals. His first will be an "ugly" goal, guarenteed.

Cullen is defintely a 3rd line guy. He has had so many chances and just can not finish.

Ward played better, Malik had some nervous moments but is playing pretty well. Kasper was really struggling, holding guys all over the place. For every penalty he took, he could have been called for another one. Rachunek played ok again. To me, if Kasper can't improve, they really need to put him and Ozolinsh on waivers and get someone who can check with Rachunek.

ICINGS:
AP
Straka, Weekes Lead Ranger to Victory
Daily News
Weekes Enjoys Big Night
NY Post
Kevin-Sent
Newsday
Unusual Suspects Eke Out Squeaker
Journal News
Weekes Gives Rangers Strength
Hartford Courant
Special Teams Pulling Together

Saturday, December 09, 2006

De Je Vu-All Over Again

Yogi Berra would have loved todays game at Scotiabank Place. It looked like a rerun of 2005-06. Lundqvist was sparkling in the goal and Jagr was running the offense. And the new 'old kid' on the block chipping in. Lundqvist sparkled with a 34 save performance. He would have had a shutout had Matt Cullen put a little more juice on his clearout pass while the Rangers were killing a penalty in the second period. The goal narrowed the Ranger lead to 2-1 but the Prince was perfect the rest of the game. He outdueled Ray Emery who made 26 saves. Since the Islander debacle Lundqvist has performed brilliantly.

Jaromir Jagr looked like his old self. A beautiful pass to Straka for the first goal. It was the surging Straka's 16th goal of the season. Then Jagr scored on one of his patented moves. Skating from the left of Emery to the center and then firing a laser for his 14th goal of the year and his league leading 43rd point. Imagine when he gets healthy. Jagr leads Hossa of Atlanta by two points and Hossa has played one more game than Jagr. Jagr had six shots on goal four of them in the third period when he owned the ice.

Shanahan scored his league leading 22nd goal, one more than Hossa who has played one more game than Shanny. The game was a hard hitting affair with the Senators outhitting the Rangers 32-28. Chris Neil of the Senators lead all hitters with 7, his teammate Mike Fisher had five. The Rangers were lead by Ryan Hollweg, who else? He had 5 hits and for the first time in memory every Ranger defenseman had at least one hit, with Ward and Tyutin getting three hits each.

The Rangers are now tied with the Devils for first in the Atlantic Division but the Devils have two games in hand. However the Rangers have to be encouraged by the strong play of Lundqvist in the last two games and what looks like the start of a surge from Jagr.

Now it is on to a Caribbean tour for the Pundit and half of his family. We will be flying toBarbados tomorrow where we will catch the Ranger-Florida game. We will be at Berts in Barbados cheering our heroes on. We will be back in print on the 22nd of December. Until then, you will be updated by our able staff led by jb. We are off to an adventure in paradise.

ICINGS:
Daily News
Rangers Put It Together
NY Post
Sixty-Minute Special
Newsday
Slamming door shut

Friday, December 08, 2006

King Of The Shootouts

Henrik Lundqvist has been having his problems lately, however no matter how poorly he plays in the first 60 minutes, he is perfect in OT and the shootouts. Last night The prince played a strong 60 minutes, 28 saves, including 9-9 in the third period and 2-2 in the OT. He was scored on by Nils Ekman's penalty shot and Sidney Crosby's sanitized rush for his 12th goal of the year. It was sanitized as no Ranger (Kasparaitis and Rachunek) touched him. When it came to the shootout The Prince was perfect again, stopping Evgeni Malkin, Nils Ekman and Sidney Crosby. Lundqvist is now 4-0 in shootouts and is 22-22 on shots/ saves in shootouts. The closest other goalie is Johan Holmqvist of Tampa Bay who is 7-7. Manny Fernandez of Minnesota is 6-0 in shootouts but has given up 7 goals in 32 shots.

The Rangers have not beaten the Penguins in regulation this year. In four games the Pens have accumulated 6 points the Rangers 4. The Rangers seem to go into a brain lock when they play this team. For some reason the Rangers can not exploit this young teams inexperienced defensemen. Of course we know the reason. The Rangers are the only team I know that come down on a three on two or three on one and continue to pass the puck backwards, further and further away from the goal.

Renney made some changes but as usual they were half-ass changes. He played Kasparaitis but left Rachunek in the lineup. He put Immonen in as the second line center but put Cullen on his wing and dropped Prucha to the third line. Immonen seemed tentative at times but made one great defensive play in the third period skating back on defense to break up a rush and won 6 out of 8 faceoffs. Kaspy had 6 hits and 6 blocked shots in his 15:51 of ice team. That is a month's worth of work for Ozolinsh. Rachunek was his usual non-productive self, no hits.

Outside of Lundqvist it was Ole Man River Shanahan rising to the occasion. His third period goal off of a beautiful feed by Jagr tied the game and then came through in the shootout for the game winner. The guy is amazing. Twenty two minutes of ice time, the tying goal, the winning goal, four shots on goal, one hit and four takeaways. If it wasn't for him the Rangers wouldn't be contenders for the AHL title.

ICINGS: Quite a few empty seats last night but it was announced as the usual capacity.

So The NY Post (Larry Brooks) and Newsday (Steve Zipay) came up with the exact same headline?

AP
Lundqvist Bounces Back, Rangers Top Pens

NY Post
Lundqvist Rules in Shootout
Newsday
Lundqvist rules in shootout
Nylander leaves to see birth of sixth child

December 7, 2006
NY Post
Renney Wiping Dust Off Darius
Journal News
Rangers' Renney Trying To Get Cullen Going
Newsday
Renney Tinkering With Lines, Defense Pairings

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Prince Falters-The D Collapses

Sometimes you learn a lot listening to the crowd at the game or the crowd on the train. The crowd at the game was wondering how a gutsy guy like Kasparaitis and a fiesty rookie like Pock should be sitting while two wimps like Rachunek and Oh No Ozolinsh get regular shifts. They were both on the ice for more than 19 minutes each, had no hits each and were a cumulative minus five. Marek Malik, the other ball of fire who poses as a defenseman and makes Lurch look a speed demon, also had no hits. In fact the Islanders defensemen out hit the Rangers 'sweet six' 11-4. The telling blow came at the end of the second period, with the score 4-3, and the Islanders crowding the net and not a tap of a body from the defenseless duo of Rachy and Oh No. Kozlov scored his second goal to basically kill the Rangers hope of coming back. To rub it all in there was Brendan Witt doing what Brendan Witt does best. Pushing the skaters to the outside, clearing the goal mouth area and dishing out four hits and even getting an assist on the first goal. This is the guy that the 'drain trust' passed over for Aaron Ward, who seems to have completely lost whatever game he brought here from Carolina.

Ah yes, Viktor Koslov, who scored four goals, mostly unchallenged. This was Koslov's second career hat trick. He has 11 goals for the season. Last year he scored all of 12 goals playing with the Devils. His forte was shootout goals. The most goals he has ever scored in a season was 22 with the Florida Panthers in 2002-03. In his 14th NHL year he has a grand total of 155 goals, which averages out to 11.07 goals per year. Last night the Ranger defense made Viktor Kozlov look like a superstar. He skated around virtually untouched. Is it any wonder he was smiling all night?

Now from the train crowd on the way home. It was noisy on the LIRR and it was mostly Ranger fans and they were having a good time despite the loss. But they were wondering what happened to Lundqvist. Oh yes, they were blasting Renney about not playing Kaspy but The Prince was the topic. Remember this was before Lundqvist's admission that he really couldn't get into the game. What! The man is a goalie and that is his job and these are the Islanders the Rangers were playing, and he couldn't get into the game? What happened to the guy that played two outstanding games in a row against Tampa Bay and Carolina? What happened to the guy that along with Jagr carried the team on his back last year? If he can't get into an Islander game maybe he needs a brainwashing tour in Hartford.

The train crowd seems to think that Lundqvist has gone Broadway. He is now a rock star. He couldn't concentrate on the game because maybe he is worrying about the next gig for his band. He's eating it all up now. The Cindy Adams article in the New York Post, the 100 most beautiful people in New York list, the New York night life scene, the adoration of the Garden crowd, ad nauseam...Shades of Ooh La La Dugay.

The Islanders took 21 shots and scored 7 goals and only misfired 6 times. The Rangers took 43 shots, misfired 14 times and scored only 4 goals. The difference was that the Islander shots usually weren't challenged and the Rangers allowed them the offensive zone with little resistance. This is not a new revelation about our porous defense. The Pundit usually blasts it after every game and the fans notice it also, but nothing changes. I would be hard pressed to think of one outstanding save made by Rick DiPietro. Most of the shots were right at him and he looked ready to be taken, instead it was the Rangers who were taken.

So the Islanders are in first place and the Rangers are reeling with four straight losses. Yes losses. I know we had three OT and shootout losses which gaves us three points in the new NHL. Kiddies, we have lost four in a row. Its not all bad though. If we keep losing Renney the Philosopher will actually have to act and coach instead of relying on Shanahan and Jagr to carry the team. Or maybe the great 'drain truster' will hire Mike Keenan as the coach and then you will see how a defense is supposed to play. Still think Brian leetch is too old for this team?

ICINGS: Brendan Shanahan moved into a tie for the league goal scoring race, with his 18th career hat trick and now has 20 goals for the year. Imagine where we would be if he had not picked up the phone to call the chief 'drain truster'. Jagr tallied his 13th but seemed to be frustrated as his body isn't performing the way he wants it to. He played over 25 minutes and put five shots on goal, though none in the third period. Prucha, Orr, Tyutin and Hollweg had no shots on goal though Hollweg had 5 hits the most by the Rangers.

Daily News
Oh, Henrik! It's Pine Time
NY Post
Henrik's Psyche Takes A Beating
J.D.-Led Rangers Iced The Islanders
Newsday
Kozlov Becomes Center Of Attention
Lundqvist Allows 4 In First, Asks Out
Can't Take Them Lightly Anymore
Journal News
Kozlov, Islanders Too Much For Rangers

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Four And Out

The Rangers lost to the Sabres for the fourth time this year. This time in a shootout, the first shootout loss for the Rangers. And that was the bad news. The good news is that, barring a playoff meeting, the Rangers will not play the Sabres again this year. Lets face it we can't beat these guys. Last night we should have beat them in regulation. The combination of Tyutin and Weekes, and add in Ward also, was too much for the Rangers to overcome. There was also a power failure in the HSBC Arena. Too bad it didn't go totally dark then maybe we could have slipped a few more shots past Ryan Miller.

The Sabres only got nineteen shots on goal and three found their way into the net. The first Sabre goal, by Jochen Hecht, found its way into the net when Weekes and Straka got tangled up after a weak clearout by Tyutin. Yes Aaron Ward was on the ice also. The second goal came on Brian Campbell's backhander that Weekes was down when he should have stayed up. Yes, Tyutin and Ward were on the ice. The third goal was by Ranger nemisis, Chris Drury, who caught Tyutin going the wrong way. Yes, Aaron Ward was on the ice. These follies wasted a good effort by the rest of the team. The Rangers out shot the Sabres 39-19, 28-8 after the first period.

Once again, as in the two previous OT losses, the Rangers could not put a team away. After Nylander's third period goal giving them the lead they couldn't break Miller again and were partucularly futile in the OT when during a four on three they unleashed six shots on Miller to no avail. Then came the OT, when Briere scored it was all over. Nylander, Shanahan and Prucha all came up empty. Straka, their hottest goal scorer, now has 15, was injured and out during the OT and shootout.

For some reason Jagr did not participate in the shootout. Why? I don't know. Hey, that's our third baseman (old Abbott & Costello routine). Jagr, while not getting a goal got two assists and was instrumental on the first goal, blocking Miller' view in front of the net. He took seven shots, including three in OT, but no cigar.

So another OT, shootout loss, due to spotty goaltending and loose play by the defense. Remember Lundqvist gave up some questionable goals in the two previous losses. You don't think its the defense, do you? You don't think Kasparaitis would be an improvement, do you? You don't think a young player like Thomas Pock would be an improvement, do you? You don't really think Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team, do you?

Jaromir Jagr recently commented that the Rangers don't seem to have the ability to put teams away. He said, "Maybe we are not a good team". Maybe the Captain is right.

ICINGS: Ryan Callahan made his debut. In 3:40 of ice time, six shifts, he managed a shot on goal and a hit. Maybe move him up to the second line and give him some meaningful ice time.

Is Brian Leetch going to the Tampa Bay Lightning?

Fauxrumors had this rumor - Leetch Moving South?

Daily News
Blueshirts Lose But Take Heart
NY Post
Sabre Rattled
Newsday
Rangers Swept Away

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Holik's Revenge

Bobby Holik got his revenge on Glen Sather tonight. He not only scored the winning goal in OT, his second of the night, but he ran over one of Sather's prize acquisitions, Aaron Ward, to bang in his own rebound in a 5-4 Ranger loss.

There was Aaron Ward, sprawled on the ice, while Holik and the Thrashers raised their sticks in triumph. Now where have we seen that before? Aaron Ward sprawled on the ice while the other team skates off with a win.

Ward is the guy that Glen Sather went after because he was on a Stanley Cup winning team. Tough guy Brendan Witt was the D man that Sather should have signed. Witt has the toughness that this Ranger team so desperately lacks. The other signee by Sather is the equally disappointing Matt Cullen. Remember, Brendan Shanahan called Sather not the other way around.

Speaking of the lack of toughness, how about that Rachunek-Ozolinsh combo? Rachunek refused to use his body as Marion Hossa dipsy-dooed his way to a goal that cut the Rangers lead to 3-2. They say that Ozolinsh's offense has gone south because he is concentrating on his defense. Huh?

On a night that Jaromir Jagr was held scoreless, he missed scoring on another breakaway, and Henrik Lundqvist was human, he should have had Holik's first goal, the Ranger defense collapsed in the third period and in over time. Adam Hall, getting PP time, scored two goals, Straka recorded another highlight film goal and Michael Nylander tied it in the third from close up.

But the defense folded. Tyutin was the lone exception, dishing out some hard hits. The other five were useless and looked like they were spinning rather than holding their ground and leaving Lundqvist defenseless. This then is the defense that Darius Kasparaitis cannot crack? This then is the defense that young Thomas Pock cannot buy a shift? This then is the defense that Brian Leetch is too old to play for?

The Thrashers are a sure fire playoff team with their net crashing style. The Rangers are not a playoff type team with their perimeter offense and soft as mush defense. The Rangers as they are currently structured are not going to make the playoffs. They need help on the blueline and help on the front line. Plus they could also use help behind the bench and in the corporate office.

For the second night in a row the Rangers lost to a cup contender in OT. The drive by sports media and the Ranger apologists will argue that this means they can play with the best. But can they beat the best, consistently? I say they can't, not with this team.

ICINGS:
A lot of empty seats but they will give the usual capacity announcement. Holik was booed constantly. He got the last laugh. You think if Sather showed up he would be cheered?

NY Daily News
Holik sinks Rangers

NY Post
BOBBY BEATS RANGERS IN OT

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Refs Sink Rangers



Dury beats LundqvistThere have been many poorly refereed games in the new NHL, but last night was one of the worst. Not only were there bad calls leading to penalties there were the usual assortment of non calls. The Rangers got away with nothing. The Sabres got away with everything including the game. The final indignity was Jason Pominville picking Brendan Shanahan on Chris Drury's game winner.

There were ten penalties called on the Rangers and four on the Sabres. The first one was a double minor on Chris Drury for blooding Adam Hall. And wouldn't you know it, there was Lindy Ruff, the old Lady Bynger, screaming about the call on the bench. He must have thought that Hall put his nose on Drury's stick. It must have worked as the Refs only called four more penalties against Buffalo and ten against the Rangers. There were a variety of takedowns, trippings and interference infractions that were never called against the Sabres.

The Rangers helped the Sabres with two beautiful giveaways, a regular practice these days. Trying to kill a questionable Hollweg roughing call, Matt Cullen was in the offensive zone and passed the puck back instead of putting it in deep. The Sabres broke out and scored their first goal. The second was a giveaway by Ozolinsh right to Thomas Vanek, in front of Lundqvist, who buried it for a 2-0 Buffalo lead.

Give the Blueshirts credit as they roared right back with a goal by Straka twenty seconds after Vanek's and then in the third period a tying goal by Straka which sent the game into OT giving the Rangers a point, which moved them into first place by a point over the Islanders. However the Islanders have two games in hand. Jagr picked up his 25th assist adding to his league high 37 points. Nylander recorded his 23 assist and Straka's two goals gave him 13 on the season. Along with Shanahan this has become the Rangers best and only threats to score some goals.

And therein lies the problem. Jagr, Straka, Nylander and Shanahan have 50 of the teams 74 goals, 68%. The other nine forwards on the Rangers have a total of 18 goals, with Hollweg and Orr having no goals. The defense has 6 goals from 8 defensemen, with Malik, Ozolinsh, Rachunek and Kasparaitis having no goals. Contrast that with Buffalo where every forward with significant games except one, Andrew Peters, has scored a goal. Peters has played in 19 games. In effect the Rangers were throwing one and a third lines against four last night.

Lundqvist played another strong game, stopping 28 of 31 shots. The Sabres were 1-10 on the PP and the Rangers were 0-5. However the refs and two monstrous giveaways was too much for the Rangers and Lundqvist to overcome. The Rangers meet Buffalo one more time and that is up in Buffalo on Friday December 1st. If we lose again, that should be a signal to the 'drain trust' that this team needs a big scoring moose up front and Keith Tkachuk would fill the bill nicely. And the defense. You still think Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

ICINGS:

AP
Dury, Sabres beat Rangers in overtime
Daily News
Rangers officially furious
NY Post
SHANAHAN BLOWS WHISTLE ON REFS

Straka Strika!



Strak StrikesIt looked like an outstanding defensive play by Straka, one that would preserve the tie, heading into the shootout but it ended up as one of the decisive plays of the year giving the Rangers a win with just three seconds left in OT. Stripping super rookie Evgeni Malkin of the puck, as Malkin was on a breakaway, Straka spun around, put the puck through the legs of defensemen Josef Melichar, passed to Jagr, cut to the net reaching the side of goalie Fleury, where he tapped in Rozsival's beautiful pass. Probably the most exciting ten seconds we have seen all year.

The three game winning streak will be on the line tonight against the Sabres at the Garden. With the Devil loss to San Jose last night the Rangers are now tied for first with the Islanders, who have a game in hand.

Jagr had another great game which pleased his adoring fans who continue to boo him every time he touched the puck. The guy they should be booing is Craig Patrick who as GM traded Jagr to Washington instead of the Rangers, out of spite that the Rangers fired him as GM years ago. Jagr was number one star and Lundqvist was number three. Jagr got his 12th goal of the year and leads the NHL in points with 36. He passed the great Stan Mikita in career points with 1468, making hi the greatest European scorer in the NHL.

Lundqvist played another great game. His GAA now is 2.80 and his save % is .904 and he now has 11 wins only two behind leader J. Giguere. The officiating was awful. The Rangers scored a goal and no one saw it, Hollweg was cut near the eye with a Pen stick and no one saw it and then they gave Jordan Staal a penalty shot on a play where he got off the shot. No way did that earn a penalty shot.

ICINGS:

AP
Straka's OT Goal Hands Rangers 2-1 Win
Daily News
Rangers Make Good On Henrik's Heroics
NY Post
Straka Of Genius

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

HEN-REEK!!!

Yogi would call it de ja vu, all over again. The only thing missing was Dancing Larry. The Garden was rockin, Jaromir Jagr scored two goals, the crowd sang "Sweet Caroline", The Prince threw a shutout and the crowd was on its feet chanting his name, Hen-reek, Hen-reek, Hen-reek. It was the second big win over a team that came in on a roll. The Hurricanes had won five out of six and one of those wins was against the Rangers on November 15th by the score of 2-1. But not last night.

You knew it was going to be something special when Marcel Hossa opened the scoring at 3:39 of the first period by deflecting one in off of a Tyutin shot. It was Hossa's first of the year. The bread and butter guys took over after that with Shanny getting his 17th and Jagr hitting the nets twice, once on a beautiful wrister right after blowing a two on zero opportunity.

The line of Betts, Ward and Hossa continued their fine defensive play shutting down everyone they faced. Additionally they each racked up a point. The Hollweg, Orr and Hall line got about three shifts a period and dished out 5 hits, three by Hollweg. Other noteworty feats included Karel Rachunek blocking 7 shots and Malik Marek dishing out 4 hits and blocking 4 shots. Oh yes he gave the puck away three times but who is counting.

The story however was Henrik Lundqvist. The Garden faithful love this kid. Yes he made 34 saves but it was how he made them. Carolina came out strong but The Prince thwarted them and after Hossa's early goal the tone was set for a great night. In the third period there was a a three save sequence in about one second that brought the crowd to is feet. Lundqvist brought his GAA down to 2.92 and his save % up to .900. He has given up nine goals in his last five games

Now on to Pittsburgh. If there is a team that we need to thrash it is this team. We are 0-2 against them and we owe them bigtime. It will be interesting to see if anyone steps up to Jarkko Ruutu who has made Jagr his personal punching bag.

ICINGS: Jagr's two goals put him 15th on the all time goal scorer's list passing Jari Kurri. That makes Jagr the highest goal scorer of a European player in the NHL. He is 6 goals behind Dino Ciccarelli and 8 goals behind Bobby Hull. He leads the NHL in points right now with 34 and leads in assists with 23. Shanny has a league leading 17 goals. It is going to be an interesting year watching these two old war horses climb the goals chart. Next is Dave Andrechuk with 640 goals. Jagr is now one career point behind Stan Mikita, he has 1466 points, for 12th spot all time.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jagr Scores. Pock Plays, Rangers Win



Jagr scores 600thIt's very simple. Jagr scores a goal, his 600th, Thomas Pock plays, sparingly, and the Rangers come out of their funk, for one night at least. Jagr got it done early (1:43) to kick start the Rangers and also picked up two assists to get back to the top of the NHL in scoring with 32 points. Brendan Shanahan picked up his 16th goal which ties him for the league lead in goals. Thomas Pock played on a line with Hollweg and Hall taking nine shifts as a left winger. Hollweg was his usual aggressive self crunching out six hits. Betts centered a line with Ward and Hossa on the wings that shut down the Bolts top line of Lecavalier and St. Louis.

The win was impressive. Tampa Bay came in on a 5-1-1 roll, winning 4 out of the last 5 and were 5-0 against the Atlantic Division. The Rangers completely dominated Tampa Bay. They out shot the Lightning 34-28 and out hit them 21-17. In the all important face off category it was the Rangers 59-41%. Jagr easily could have had three or four more points setting up Straka and a gimmee to Malik but they couldn't cash in.

Ah yes, Malik. He took a penalty at 15:27 of the third period which eventually led to the shutout breaking goal by Eric Perrin. When he returned to the ice he was booed by the faithful every time he touched the puck. Pray tell me, what kind of shape must Kasparaitis be in to replace Malik in the lineup? Or Rachunek? Or Ozolinsh, who had another no contact game? No shots and no hits. But Kaspy sits and Renney philosophizes.

Lundqvist was the Prince again. Very slowly he has brought his GAA down to 3.11 and his save % up to .893. He should have had a shutout and the crowd knew it and gave him a standing ovation after the goal was scored. They took their frustration out by booing Malik for the rest of the game. Watching the replay at home there was Joe Micheletti bashing the defense, Rachunek and Ozolinsh, for playing very soft and allowing the breakaway for the goal. Hey Joe, be careful, JD would never have said that. Homers don't bash the home team. Joe, keep it up and tell it like it is.

So who are these Rangers? Right now they are a .500 team. They lose to an underwhelming team like Pittsburgh (twice) but beat teams like Anaheim, San Jose and Atlanta on the road. Last night they beat a red hot tough team like Tampa Bay, who had a hex on the Atlantic Division until the Rangers came along. Until Sather and Renney surround Jagr, Shanahan, Hollweg and Lundqvist with the supporting cast they deserve the Rangers will flounder through a .500 season and miss the playoffs. You still think Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

ICINGS:
With rumors swirling that Hitchcock may resurface in St. Louis isn't it a good time to try and pry Tkachuk from the Blues. Is Keenan ready to pounce back?

Daily News
Jagr's 600th Lifts Rangers
NY Post
Jagr Joins 600 Club
Heroes Welcome
Newsday
Jagr's Goal Keys Rangers Win
Journal News
Rangers' Jagr Scores 600th Career Goal

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Clueless in Pittsburgh

The mainstream drive by media are all lamenting the lack of scoring by the Rangers in their three game road losing streak. Really? Where were they prior to this game? The Pundit brought it up after the last game against Carolina, while they were all moaning about a tough loss, played tough defensively, blah, blah, blah.

Playing a Penguin team that was 1-4-2 in their last seven, the Ranger's offense went to sleep as the Rangers committed eleven penalties to Pittsburgh's six. The Ranger's were 0-6 and the Pens 2-11, both goals were on five on threes. The Rangers could not muster any sustained attack and their only goal, by Shanahan, was unassisted.

Jagr played as if he was disoriented. The talk before the game, by the media, was Jagr getting his 600th goal in a place where he started his career. Maybe that is what the Rangers were thinking also. Why get caught up in something like this is beyond me. I guess the whole night tonight will be spent with graphics and such getting ready for the big one. Jagr was harassed all night especially by Jarkko Ruutu, who seems to have a thing against Jagr. You remember it was Ruutu who hit Jagr in the Olympics and injured him. In two games against the Rangers Ruutu has gone out of his way to nail Jagr every time he gets a chance. That's hockey. My problem is where are Jagr's defenders to come to his aid. I got news for you. There are not too many on the Rangers. Right now, I count two, Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr.

Hollweg in 9:02 of ice time got 5 hits and tangled with Penguin tough guy Thorburn. Orr got 2:39 of ice time and no hits. Perhaps the pounding by Brashear in the Washington game took the spirit out of him. Anyhow, the Rangers have six more games against Pittsburgh and the Ruutu situation aginst Jagr must be addressed. The Rangers cannot have Jagr pounded every time they play Pittsburgh. The Rangers need toughness and they need it now, not at playoff time.

The Rangers need a Keith Tkachuk and they need him now. St. Louis is going nowhere and they have the fourth worst record in the NHL. Tkachuk is still a force at 6'2" and weighs 231 pounds. He leads the Blues in scoring with 18 points and is second in goal scoring with six. He is a NHL number one center. The Rangers do not have a number one center. Tkachuk's addition will put the Ranger centers in their annointed spots. Nylander #2, Cullen #3 and Betts #4. It would put Jason Ward back on the wing where he belongs. Unless we make a move quickly the Rangers will fall further behind the Devils and perhaps the Penguins and Islanders also. These teams are all tougher than the Rangers.

Speaking of toughness why is Kasparaitis still on the bench while pansies like Malik and Ozolinsh are in the lineup giving games away? Ozolinsh coughed up the puck three times last night, threw the puck into the screen for a penalty which led to a five on three goal for Pittsburgh. He also compiled no shots and no hits. And Kasparaitis can't crack this lineup? Bench Malik and Ozolinsh tonight and play Kaspy and Pock.

ICINGS: You still think that Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

Daily News
Jagr & Blueshirts Are Simply Pitt-iful
NY Post
Ranger Penal Colony
Newsday
Penguins Skate Past Rangers, 3-1
Hartford Courant
Wolf Pack Struggle To Score

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where Did The "O" Go?

Since dismantling the high powered Thrashers on November 10th 5-2, the Ranger offense has gone into a funk. The drive by main media are all writing about what a tough game it was to lose and how they lost it on a giveaway. Nonsense, the offense has gone south in the last three games. I know, you are going to tell me about the three goals we scored against the Devils. Those goals were scored in 90 seconds. We were scoreless for 58:30 minutes. In fact, since the Atlanta game, taking out the 90 second abberration, the Rangers have scored 2 goals in 178:30 minutes. The two goals were scored on the power play.

So what's the problem? Brendan Shanahan has 14 goals. The Rangers have 64 goals. Brendan Shanahan has 26% of the Ranger goals. Brendan Shanahan is the guy who called Glen Sather saying he wanted to play for the Rangers. Sather never persued him or had any intention of persuing him. The point to all this? Where would the Rangers be without Brendan Shanahan?

The defense has particularly hurt the Rangers. The entire defense has scored 6 goals and Thomas Pock, who has appeared in only five games has one of them. By contrast, Pittsburgh, the Rangers next opponent has gotten eight goals from its defensemen, two each from Gonchar and Whitney. While the Rangers still rank fifth in the NHL this dropoff in the last few games does raise some alarms.

There are seven Rangers who have no goals at all. In fact, two of the players, Hollweg and Orr have no points at all. Marcel Hossa has two assists but that was because he was fortunate enough to have Jagr on his line. Meanwhile a goal scorer like Nigel Dawes sits in Hartford now, when he should be getting regular shifts with the Rangers. The shifts he did get added up to 4 minutes of ice time. Who would you rather see playing, Hossa or Dawes?

Renney wanted to bring the goals against average down as it was among the highest in the league. The Rangers now have the sixth highest goals against in the NHL. Did bringing down the goals against also bring down the goals per game? Most of you may think I'm nuts writing about a scoring problem for a team that is fifth in scoring right now. However, should Jagr or Shanny go down for any reason it will be a long season.

ICINGS: I think we should give credit to Weekes for again coming off the bench for a fine performance. The two returning heroes gave up the winning goal. Aaron Ward with his weak clear and Matt Cullen for failing to stay with his man.

AP
Brind'Amour Lifts Canes Past Rangers 2-1

Daily News
It's No 'Cane Do For Rangers
Newsday
Costly Mistakes Spoil Return
Staying On The Defensive
NY Post
Rangers' Solid Effort Unrewarded

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

90 Second Surge Blitzes Brodeur

It was sudden, decisive and totally unexpected but it was surely welcomed. A 90 second barrage against the hated Brodeur and the hated Devils. What could be better? It started at the 2:05 mark of the third period and ended at the 3:35 mark of the third period. 2:05, goal Jagr. 2:31, goal Jagr. 3:35 (what took so long?), goal Shanahan. Points, set and match, game over. The comeback actually started with an end to end rush by Malik. Yes Malik! He went end to end ala Brian Leetch, had Brodeur down but barely missed the far corner of the net. That should have been a warning signal to the Devils.

A simple plan by Renney, double shifting Jagr, turned the tide. What was amazing was that Devil coach, Claude Julien, didn't pick it up and adapt to it. Lou Lamoriello would not have been suckered into this one. Jagr double shifted with Jason Ward at center and Marcel Hossa on left wing. The defense pairing on this shift was Karel Rachunek and Sandis Ozolinsh. So the whole unit was changed for Jagr. Instead of catching the Devils line of Madden, Pandolfo and Rasmussen, Jagr got Elias, Brylin and Gionta. Also, Ward and Hossa are net crashers as opposed to the perimeter game of Straka and Nylander. Hence, Jagr scored from in close on Hossa's pass and then Jagr scored on a floater with Ward causing havoc in front of the net.

Lundqvist played a strong third period, 10-10, after allowing a softie on Jamie Langenbrunner's slapper. However, The Prince has shown tendencies in the last few games to play a strong third period. He has now won three out of four, giving up 10 goals for a 2.50 GAA. He is getting back to his game and that will come none too soon.

Now the Rangers take their 7-3-0-0 road record to Carolina, who has found their game. They also have 21 points so its another important matchup for the Rangers against a top flight team. The Hurricanes are coming off of a 7-4 home loss to the Sabres. Should be a good one.

ICINGS: Kasparaitis returned to the Rangers and was a scratch. Thomas Pock was also a scratch. There are plenty of teams that could use guys like Kaspy and Pock. Good fight between Orr and Ranger nemesis Cam Janssen. Janssen seemed quiet after that getting only 3:56 of ice time, getting only two hits, and was on ice for Shanahan's winning goal.

Daily News
Rangers Erupt To Dump Devils
Mess: No More Dynasties
Newsday
Messier: Struggle Can Help
Renney Yells, Rangers Rally
NY Post

Three-mendous
Jagr Eager To Shoulder Heavy Load
Star Ledger
Renney's Words Inspire Shanahan
Devils See Jagr Shift The Outcome
Journal News
Rangers Score Three In Third To Beat Devils
Hartford Courant
Dawes Not Too Down

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bump In The Road

'Ollie The Goalie' Kolzig returned to the past and stopped the Rangers cold in DC last night with 41 saves and the Rangers road streak of three straight came to an end. The Rangers broke the shutout at the 18:09 mark of the third period with Nylander's 7th of the year.

The Rangers, as they do so often after a big game, came out flat and sloppy. They were out shot in the first period 17-5, and committed five penalties. One was a major fighting penalty where Donald Brashear took the measure of Colton Orr. That fight seemed to take a toll on Orr, or was it Renney? Orr got only 2:18 of ice time the rest of the way. While the Rangers killed the other four penalties in the first period, and overall killed 7-7, they could never recover from their first period doldrums. The Rangers lead the world in coming out flat in the first period following a good game. How will they come out against the Devils Tuesday night?

However the story was Kolzig. he stopped 16-16 in the second period and 20-21 in the third. The Ranger score was on a PP with Lundqvist pulled. They were 1-4 on the power play. Lundqvist was brilliant in the first period stopping 16-17 shots. He was burned when Ozolinsh put a blind pass on the stick of Boyd Gordon for the Caps first score. The third goal was scored when Matt Pettinger undressed Malik in front of Lundqvist. Now you know why Lundqvist plays so well in the shootouts. There is no one in front of him.

The Devils come in two points ahead of the Rangers having played one less game. While the Rangers have scored nineteen more goals than the Devils, 60-41, the Devils have allowed sixteen fewer goals than the Rangers, 43-59. Is this the immovable force vs the irresistible object? The Rangers are under .500 at home, 2-4-1-0. the Devils are under .500, 3-4, on the road. Will this be a yawner or a barn burner? One thing for sure. We will see a lot of Devil fans, sitting in Ranger fan's seats. Contrary to Garden voices, the Rangers have not sold out for the season, otherwise why are there always single seats on sale.

ICINGS: Will Kasparaitis be back? Will Malik sit? Will Thomas Pock ever play? What are we waiting for Oh No Ozolinsh to accomplish? For these and other answers please visit your local Madison Square Garden. You still think Brian Leetch is too old to play for this team?

AP - Rangers' streak snapped
Daily News - Rangers Put Loss In Perspective
Newsday - Dawes And Pock Could Be Bound For Hartford
Tired End To Decent Trip
NY Post - 4-Get About It
Hartford Courant - Pack Score 5 On Power Play

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Keep 'Em Rolling, Rolling, Rolling!

The Rangers magical road trip hit new heights last night when the Blueshirts blew away the top team in the NHL before a stunned capacity crowd in Atlanta. It was no contest. The Thrashers twice pulled within two on two power plays but the Rangers quickly responded to build the lead up to three goals. Five on five play was no contest and while the Thrashers out hit the Rangers 23-8, the Rangers were not outfought and played a feisty tough game. The Rangers had only three giveaways, all by the top line, one each, while Atlanta gave up the puck 16 times, constantly being harassed by Ranger forwards. The Ranger defensemen did not turnover the puck once.

What was interesting in this game was that not one Ranger forward got over twenty minutes of ice time. Jagr was tops with 19:51. The least amount of time went to Colton Orr who was on the ice for 6:20. However, he spent nine minutes in the penalty box with two roughing calls and a fight with Eric Boulton. The Thrashers tried to intimidate the Rangers but to no avail.The Rangers were 2-4 on the power play and Atlanta was 2-6. Overall the Thrashers are 5th on the PP with 20.9% and the Rangers are 7th with a 20.6%.

The Rangers held Marian Hossa, the leagues top scorer in check. He got one shot on goal and picked up an assist on the power play. Hossa has 28 points, followed by Kovalchuk and Jagr at 26 points and Michael Nylander at 24 points. However Atlanta has played three more games than the Rangers who are now tied with the Devils for 1st in the Atlantic Division with 19 points. The Rangers are now 7-2-0 on the road and a win over Washington tonight will set a new Ranger record for the best road start ever.

Henrik Lundqvist continued his comeback with a fine performance, stopping 28 of 30 shots. His GAA is now at 3.37 and his save percentage is .888. He should be in the nets tonight against Alexandar Ovechkin and company. Keep 'em rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep those doggies moving Rawhide!

ICINGS: The Pundit's report is late due to the fact that he spent most of the morning watching his grandson, Nicholas, playing pee wee hockey at The Rinx, in Hauppage, LI. He was great. What else do you expect to hear from a Grandfather.

AP - Nylander's two goals power Rangers past the Thrashers
Daily News - Rangers Get Act Together
Newsday - A Season's Best
NY Post - Road Warriors

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Shootout Sensation

It is now obvious what the Ranger plan is to win the Cup this year. Play every game for a shootout and pull in the big W with the Big Prince in the nets. They did it again last night although in the process they blew another two goal lead. This time they hung on to get to the shootout where Lundqvist was perfect again, 3-3, improving his overall record for three games to 19-19 one of five perfect goaltenders but the others not having more than three attempts.

Lundqvist made 36 saves in boosting the Rangers to their 3rd win in four games. They have accumulated seven points in four games as they drive toward the top spot in the Atlantic Division. His 19 shots and saves are the most in a shootout for any goalie. J. Giguere, Anaheim, has 17 saves, but has given up 6 goals. The next highest percentage save belongs to Antero Nittimaki, who has a .875%, with 16 saves and allowing 2 goals.

Lundqvist has a GAA of 3.49 and a save % of .884 well below last years numbers and well below what is expected of him. So Lundqvist struggles but not in the shootout. In the shootout he is perfect. Maybe it is the defense in front of him. Maybe its the poor decisions, poor passes, slow feet, are you listening Malik? One thing is clear. Lundqvist is as solid as a rock in the shootout. So lets play for a shootout.

Speaking of shootouts a beaut is coming up Friday in Atlanta. The Thrashers have the most points in the NHL, 27, and the most goals scored, 67. The Rangers have the fourth worse goals against, 54, and need to tighten up the D if they expect to make a game of it. Of course, we need Lundqvist to elevate his game to give us a shot, or play for a shootout.

ICINGS: Not only are there no rookies playing, Pock and Dawes continue to sit, but the veterans continue to be overplayed. Jagr and Nylandr went over the 24 minute mark, Shanny was at 23:53 and Straka logged 20:50. Hossa and Ward got over 7 minutes each. What happened to the youth movement? Still think Brian Leetch is too old for this team?

Daily News - Rangers Fight Through Woes
Newsday - Shanny's Outlook: A Dogfight
NY Post - Blueliners Earnin' Boos
Journal News - Rangers' Ortmeyer Getting Closer To Return
Hartford Courant - Wolf Pack Week Ahead

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Politics Of Morality

Just a few thoughts on the elections.

Senator John McCain, at a press conference, noted that 19 of the 28 seats the Republicans lost were due to corruption scandals. Such Republicans like Foley, Ney, DeLay, Burns and a few others were involved in some kind of scandal. They and their surrogates were defeated. It's great that the American voter has no tolerance toward the corrupt. But do they?

When it comes to Democrats the voters are more tolerant. The Democrats had Alan Mollohan, W. Va., William Jefferson, La., Robert Menendez, NJ and Alan Hevesi, New York, who also participated in some kind of chicanery. They were all re-elected.

Democrat voters have more tolerance toward Democrat crooks than Republican voters have toward Republican crooks.

Moral of the story. If you are going to be a political crook it pays to have a (D) after your name.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rangers Give It Away

Aaron Ward did not have a very good night tonight. Coupled with Kevin Weekes shaky performance in the third period, it proved deadly to the Ranger hopes of winning three straight against top notch teams. Ward was on ice for Thomas Vanek's wraparound, Jason Pominville's follow up rebound that Weekes played poorly and finally for Daniel Briere's game winner in OT. The worst part of the game winner was that Ward had the puck in his own zone and had plenty of time and room to bang it off the boards and out of danger. Instead he did the unexpected, the unbelievable, he passed the puck further back into the zone. Pressing , Buffalo sensed the opportunity and cashed in the winner. The game ended with Ward on his knees in front of Briere who had his arms extended, signalling the game winner.

There was good news and bad news in this game. The Rangers were 3-6 on the power play and Jagr had a goal, two assists and another possible injury to his shoulder. Petr Prucha continued his resurgence with a goal and then took a puck in the face and came back with a face mask. Weekes played fairly well the first two periods with some great saves but he seemed shaky and uncertain in the third period. The defense still played giveaway. The Rangers coughed up the puck 15 times and the Sabres, a much more disciplined team, gave it up only six times. The chief culprits for the Rangers were Jagr, Rachunek and of course Magical Malik. They each had three turnovers each. Hollweg was the leading hitter in the game with five. However, he took a questionable penalty in the 2nd period which led to Briere's first goal. So you see for every positive there was a negative.

The Rangers five on five game had very little. This has to be improved on if the Rangers are to improve and advance. If Jagr was seriously injured then the Rangers have a problem. The goaltending must be steady. Kevin Weekes cannot carry this team in this wide open league. The Rangers need Lundqvist and need last years Lundqvist. One of my sources at the Garden tells me that the Rangers are considering sending The Prince to Hartford. Rumors also have it that Lundqvist may have an injury that is hindering his game. We hope and pray this is not true. However, look for Lundqvist to start against Florida Wednesday night in Florida. Then we will see if there are any truth to the rumors of demotion or injury.

ICINGS: Before the game we visited Patsy's on 74th and Columbus Ave. It reconfirmed my opinion that they make the best pizza in New York.

Daily News
Rangers Let Lead Slip Away
Newsday
Getting A Point Is Not Really Point
NY Post
Rangers Fall
'This Has Not Shaken Me'
Journal News
Rangers Lose To Sabres In Overtime
Hartford Courant
Pack Survive Late Rush