Sorry for the delay in reporting last nights game. I had to spend two hours in my dentist's office this morning and believe me the pain of the Rangers loss was worse than the dental visit. Mental anguish can be worse than physical pain.
So how do you talk about and explain last nights game. The mantra going around sounds like, "If I told you back in October that we would be battling for first in the Division in March, you would have accepted it." Even my dentist hit me with that one. Okay, but this is March and October is long forgotten and we blew a chance to get a lock on first and the three seed.
The mainstream media is quick to put the blame on Ryan Hollweg's boarding penalty on R.J. Umberger, resulting in a five minute power play and Hollweg's disqualification. That shouldn't have been a big deal for a team like the Rangers who are first at home in killing penalties with a 89.4%. In the previous five games against the Flyers the Rangers killed 28 of thirty three chances for a 84.8%. So how did the Flyers go three for five on the power play last night? So what went wrong? Before you answer, I have a question for you. Where was Jed Ortmeyer?
It is tough to second guess Tom Renney with only thirteen games left to play. He has done a great job in bringing the Rangers to a point where they could possible win the Atlantic Division.
But how do you leave Jed Ortmeyer out of the lineup? Ortmeyer is one of the key penalty killers in the NHL. He is one of the premier shot blockers in the NHL. He ranks second to Kasparaitis in hits and blocked shots on the Rangers. Renney knows and has preached how different components bring different skills to a game.
It's Jagr on the offense, Lundqvist in the nets and Ortmeyer on the checking and harassment and killing penalties. Isn't it kind of late for experiments like Colton Orr to be getting ice time over an established player like Ortmeyer? Was Orr in the game to challenge and combat Brashear? If so, how do you explain Brashear getting almost eleven minutes of ice time and Orr getting four? Has Renney forgotten that the HMO line is a critical piece to this Ranger puzzle that he has so carefully crafted?
Jagr was unbelievable. He almost won this single handedly. The JagrMeister must be smiling today. OK, half smiling. The rest of the Rangers were awful, especially the defense. I know this new NHL forbids much of the body work that is needed to clear the crease, but this was ridiculous how soft the Rangers 'D' was. Kaspy being hurt certainly did not help but isn't that when others are supposed to show up. Sandis Ozolinsh was invisible, no shots on goal and coughed up the puck twice, once to Simon Gagne who buried it past Lundqvist. Ozolinsh gives credence to the adage, you get what you pay for. A third round pick has given us, so far, a third rate performance.
The Prince did stop 30 of 35 shots. The Flyers crashed the net all night and our 'D' was helpless to stop it. The offense wasn't much better getting 23 shots on goal but not putting any traffic in front of Esche. There was one sequence in the third period where Jagr was skating around in the offensive zone, around the net and not a single Ranger got in front of the net. He was brilliant. The assists given to the Rangers were ridiculous. Jagr got all the goals on his own initatives and skills. Last night, Jaromir Jagr was truly The Lone Ranger.
ICINGS: Rangers post Olympic final 24 game record now stands at 4-5-1-1. Rangers now stand at 3-1-2 against Flyers with all three wins coming at Wachovia Center. There are two more games against the Flyers, at the Garden April 4th and at Philly April 15th, the next to the last game of the season.
NY Rangers player salaries vs. NHL averages
Left Wing Center Right WingMartin Rucinsky ($3 M) LW
Prucha($525,000) Straka($3M) Jagr($7.8 M*)
Hossa($585,200) Nylander($2.28M) Sykora($3.116 M)
Moore($450,000) Rucchin($2.261M) Ward($625,000)
Hollweg($526,000) Betts($500,000) Ortmeyer($501,600)
Colton Orr ($450,000) RW
Sandis Ozolinsh($2.750 M) D. Kasparaitis ($3.344 M)
Marek Malik($2.5 M) Tom Poti ($2.356 M)
Michal Rozsival($703,000) Fedor Tyutin ($450,000)
Henrik Lundqvist ($817,000)
Kevin Weekes ($1.9 M)
*Washington picks up part of Jagr's $7.8 million salary, which is reduced from $8,360,000 under the new CBA. Rangers pay Jagr approx. $4,900,000 (estimate). Jaromir Jagr, whose $7.8M salary is the league's highest, is also the NHLer whose salary is furthest above average for his depth-chart position.
Colby Cosh's breakdown of average NHL salary by position:
Average NHL salaries by current depth-chart position [Colbycosh.com]
NY Rangers Depth Cart & Salaries [tsn.ca]
NY Rangers Salaries [OutsideTheGarden.com]
TORONTO (AP) - New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg was suspended for three games without pay by the NHL on Thursday (Mar. 23rd) for checking Philadelphia's R.J. Umberger from behind Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Hollweg was given a a major penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct for the first-period hit in the Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Flyers. Philadelphia scored twice during the 5-minute power play for the major penalty.
Hollweg will forfeit $7,515. He will be eligible to return Wednesday night for the Rangers' game at the New York Islanders.