Pregame at the Garden tonight was all about Brian Leetch and his first game at the Garden in an opposing teams uniform. Prior to the playing of the National Anthem (yes the jerks yelled while it was being sung), the Garden video center played a tribute to Leetch. You couldn't hear it as the crowd was roaring and chanting: Brian Leetch-Brian Leetch-Brian Leetch. The ceremony ended with a thunderous ovation for the man who played seventeen years with the Rangers before being dumped unceremoniously by Glen Sather. While the return on the trade is beneficial to the Rangers the manner in which it was handled was bush league.
The Ranger fans who came to cheer an ex-defenseman wound up cheering for a new (this year) defenseman, Michal Rozsival, who scored the game's first goal and also picked up two assists, which gave him number one star designation. With Jagr being shadowed by Yan Stastny, son of the great Petr Stastney, it was up to the other Rangers to deliver and that is just what they did. Betts, short handed, Straka, Nylander and Moore were the other goal scorers. Jagr got an assist on Nylander's goal and now has 101 points, two ahead of Joe Thornton. But the true stars of the game, the ones who set the tone were the HMO line. The Kamikaze Kids returned with a vengeance.
The HMO line was absolutely outstanding. The Rangers actually outhit the Bruins 19-15. Hollweg had seven hits and three shots on goal. Ortmeyer had a shot on goal and three hits. Moore had three shots and one goal and to top the evening off Ryan Hollweg and ex-Ranger Dan LaCouture mixed it up near the end with no damage to either player. It was a great team effort and the Rangers are now closing in on their first playoff after a seven year drought. They have now won three straight after losing six straight. They are four points up on the Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division with both teams having fourteen games left to play. Wednesday nights game against the Flyers should be a barn burner.
Henrik Lundqvist was voted second star. He made nineteen saves and a few were of the sensational variety and prompted the crowd to chant his name. Very quietly, without a declaration from Tom Renney he has become the number one goalie on the Rangers. Not so quietly he has become the number one goalie in the NHL. I don't think he will play all of the last fourteen games because there are three back to back games coming up. They go to Florida this weekend with Florida and Tampa Bay on Friday and Saturday. Then next week its on the road again for Wednesday and Thursday against the Islanders and Ottawa, and the the following week its Saturday and Sunday against the Bruins and the Devils. Look for Kevin Weekes to get some action in these sequences.
With the Flyers coming in it may be time for a lineup tweak. I think Hossa should sit and Jason Strudwick should be moved up on the wing. It gives the Rangers a little more toughness for this game. Hossa hasn't been scoring anyway and Strudwick would give the Rangers some insurance on the back line as a seventh defenseman.
ICINGS: I have a pet peeve with Marek Malik not waiting for the National Anthem to end as he puts on his helmet and skates away from the blue line. Did he do that in the Olympics when they were playing the Czech Anthem? Post Olympic final 24 count now stands at 4-4-1-1..
Eric McErlain over at the Off Wing Opinion blog has a poll asking:
"If the season ended today, who would be the NHL MVP?" Guess who is leading with 34% of the vote? That's a moot question here in Ranger Land.
Tim Hortons Hot Joe is Hot IPO
So Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money was ranting about the Tim Hortons IPO last night.
Do you remember Tim Horton? He was a hall-of-fame defenseman who played 19 years for Toronto and was with the Rangers for two seasons. He played his final two seasons for Punch Imlach's Buffalo Sabres until his untimely death. Legends of Hockey:
Early in the morning of February 21, 1974, Tim Horton was killed in a single-car crash while driving home to Buffalo after a game in Toronto against his old team. Police who chased the sports car reported that it was traveling over 100 miles per hour before it crashed just outside of St. Catharines, Ontario. Toronto won the game that night, but Horton, even though he missed the third period with a jaw injury, was selected as the game's third star for his standout play.
In 1964, Tim Horton opened a coffee and doughnut shop named after himself, in Hamilton, Ontario. That small shop was the start of a chain that took over the coffee and doughnut business in Canada. Today that "small" coffee shop chain is the hottest IPO on Wall Street as Wendy's international is spinning it off as a separate company to the public. Bloomberg - Tim Hortons Boosts Offering Price, May Raise $800 Mln:
Tim Hortons has 2,597 restaurants in Canada and 288 outlets in the U.S., selling coffee, doughnuts, sandwiches and soups. The company says it has 74 percent of the Canadian market for coffee and baked goods, based on customers served.
Wendy's, based in Dublin, Ohio, plans to spin off the rest of its stake in Tim Hortons by year's end. The company will trade under the symbol THI and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Here's a cup of hot joe and a good donut to you Tim Horton. R.I.P.