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

Friday, November 03, 2006

Road Warriors

Would you believe we are tied for first, in the Atlantic Division, with the Pens and Isles? Why not. It looks like another crazy year in the NHL. The Rangers put together a gem, for the second night in a row. The Rangers are now 5-2 on the road. Maybe we should cancel the home schedule and truly become road warriors. Kevin Weekes played another outstanding game in goal and would have had a shutout had he not drifted off into space on Kyle Mclaren shot at the 17:36 mark of the third period. Weekes made 29 of 30 saves in improving to 2-1. You all know that I am a big Lundqvist booster, The Prince, but I would keep playing Weekes while he is hot. At least play him against Buffalo at the Garden Sunday night. Who knows, he might just win the fans back, if he plays like he did in California.

The anticipated duel between Jagr/Shanahan and Thornton/Cheechoo never materialized. Jagr and Shanny combined for seven shots with Shanny getting the empty netter with 4 seconds left. Thornton/Cheechoo had four shots and Cheechoo's was in the first period. The Rangers did a job on Cheechoo, who became so frustrated with being so closely checked, that he was whistled off in the second period for elbowing Hollweg. Hollweg got 20 shifts, of 11:55 of ice time, and while he was only credited with two hits, strange California statisticians, he harassed the Sharks all night. He was a big part of the 18 giveaways compiled by the Sharks, four by Joe Thornton.

The Rangers, for their part, played as disciplined a game as they have played all year. They cut down on their giveaways, blocked 17 shots and shut down the number one power play unit in the NHL, killing five chances in five opportunities. They must play the same type of game if they are to beat Buffalo. But hey, Anaheim and San Jose are considered to be in the upper strata of the NHL. No chopped liver here. Its time for the Rangers to move into that Strata.

I'm still not happy with Pock and Dawes sitting or with Malik and Hossa playing. The Rangers are still too soft, Rozsival gets too much ice time and The Prince must return to form. However, these are topics for another day. Lets enjoy the moment. The Rangers have won three out of four on the road and for the first time this year look like a solid hockey team that is ready to move up on the list to the elite strata.

ICINGS: Kasparaitis made an impressive debut with Hartford. Rumors abound that the Rangers want him back in peak performance so that can trade him. Bad rumor, bad idea. If Kaspy gets back in top form, hitting and annoying, bring him back and trade Malik. But who would want Malik? Still think Brian Leetch is too old for this team?

Associated Press
Jagr's OT goal lifts Rangers past Ducks
Newsday
Jagr's OT Goal Wins It
Crossroads For Kaspar
Daily News
Jagr Sinks Ducks In OT
NY Post
Blueshirts, Jagr Pluck Ducks In OT
Journal News
Rangers' Kasparaitis Uncertain About Future
Hartford Courant
Kasparaitis A Big Hit
Breakthrough For Wolf Pack

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Step Forward

In playing an almost perfect game, the Rangers pulled out an OT thriller win over unbeaten, in regulation, Anaheim last night at the Honda Center. Jaromir Jagr scored the game winner at 3:09 of OT to even the Rangers record at 6-6. The Rangers are 3-0 in OT and shootouts. Jagr's game winning goal was the 104th of his career, tying him with Brendan Shanahan for fourth place on the NHL all time winning game goals. Gordie Howe is first with 121 game winners, followed by Phil Esposito with 118 and Brett Hull with 110.

I said almost perfect and there is a reason why I said that. While Renney made some good moves like benching Marcel Hossa and sending Kasparaitis to Hartford for conditioning he gave Marek Malik 18:10 of ice time in which he ably 'assisted' on goals by Anaheim's Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf. But there was a variety in his assists. One was with the stick and the other was with his skate. Is there no end to the magic of Marek Malik?

However most of the night was good news. Kevin Weekes was great. He should have been a 3-1 winner in regulation. He made 30 saves and was as solid as a rock. In the third period he stopped all 13 shots plus 3 in OT. He should have been the star of the game. Jagr was the third star and the Ducks captured the first two spots.

Colton Orr dressed, and got all of 2:07 of ice time. Nigel Dawes got 3:45. Why is this charade continuing? How is Dawes, who has the potential for scoring goals, going to develop with so little ice time? Fortunately Petr Prucha received more ice time and delivered with the game tying goal in the third period.

Jagr, despite his denials, seems to be rounding into form. He skated well and put five shots on goal, plus he got the game winner. He is the leader and played like it last night. Along with Brendan Shanahan they form as deadly a duo that exists in the NHL today.

But tonight is another test against a strong San Jose Sharks who have their own dynamic duo in Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Jagr and Shanny have 36 points and Thornton and Cheechoo have 27 points so it should be a fun game tonight. Kevin Weekes should be in goal against the Sharks. He earned it with his performance against the Ducks. Marek Malik should be benched in favor of Thomas Pock. The Sharks have more fire power than the Ducks and we don't need to give them the advantage of a slow footed defenseman who can't tell the difference in the colors of the Jerseys.

ICINGS: The stat sheet is becoming irrelevant. According to the sheet Malik had zero giveaways and two hits, They probably have those two stats reversed. They also had Hollweg logging 7:29 of ice time and no hits. Hollweg, playing over seven minutes and not getting any hits is like John Kerry and the rest of the elitist snobs saying something good about our Armed Forces.

Associated Press
Jagr's OT goal lifts Rangers past Ducks
Daily News
Jagr Sinks Ducks In OT
Newsday
Jagr's OT Goal Wins It
Crossroads For Kaspar
NY Post
Blueshirts, Jagr Pluck Ducks In OT
Journal News
Rangers' Kasparaitis Uncertain About Future
Hartford Courant
Kasparaitis A Big Hit
Breakthrough For Wolf Pack

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