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

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