Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stand Pat Rangers Blank LeHabs-Pens Next

Basically the Rangers stood pat at the trade deadline pawning off the 34 year old, disappointing Aaron Ward to the Bruins for the 27 year old disappointing Paul Mara. It's a wash. Ward has three goals and ten assists and Mara has three goals and fifteen assists. Mara is supposed to be a power play specialist, but before you get too excited, remember that last year Oh No Ozolinsh was supposed to be a power play specialist. We then traded Pascual (we hardly knew ye) Dupuis to Atlanta for hot prospect, first round pick, sixteenth overall in 2005, Alex Bourret. But we know what happens to hot prospects on the Rangers, don't we? They go to Hartford and sufficate under Jim Schoenfield and his staff of prospect experts. But let's not be negative, we had a good night last night.

We beat our long time tormentors, the Canadiens, ending their six game winning streak at the Garden. Isn't it amazing how other teams pile up winning streaks on our home ice? The Rangers are now 13-14-4 on home ice with ten more home games to go. Ouch! This was Lundqvist's 16th consecutive start and he was brilliant. He turned the game around in the first period right after Jagr's opening game's goal, stopping Michael Ryder on a breakaway and coasted from there on. By the way, Karel Rachunek was beaten by Ryder on that burst. Renney gave Rachunek over 22 minutes of ice time. What am I mising here?

Lundqvist has now moved up to 13th with a GAA of 2.53 and a save percentage of .909 which has moved him up to 16th place in the save % category. There are only two teams in the Eastern Conference with less goals against than the Rangers. The Devils and Ottawa are those two teams. Imagine where we would be if we could score some goals? There are eleven teams in the Conference with more goals for than the Rangers. The three teams with fewer goals then the Rangers are Boston, the Devils and the Flyers.

Jagr scored one of his magical goals (23) and Marcel Hossa continued his surge with two goals, (9 & 10) and played one of his strongest games of the season. He played over nineteen minutes had two shots and four takeaways. Cullen scored the final goal (12), an open netter, shorthanded goal. The Rangers played a disciplined game committing only two penalties and stopping the number one power play unit, 2-2. They also held Alex Kovalev to no shots and Saku Koivu to one shot. Overall the Canadens were held to nineteen shots. The biggest improvement in the defense is that the forwards are not getting trapped and are getting back on defense more quickly. Is this killing the offense? Good question.

The Rangers are now six points behind the Islanders and Montreal for the eight spot. The Rangers have three games in hand on Montreal and are even with the Islanders. Unfortunately the Rangers have to catch and pass Toronto (3 points), and Carolina (5 points). The Rangers have one game in hand on Toronto and two on Carolina. The Penguins are coming in bolstered by the addition of hardnose, veteran Gary Roberts and tough guy Georges Laraque. It should make for an interesting game tomorrow night. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who played well against the Devils last night, has been inconsistent prior to last night. He has a 2.89 GAA and a save % of .904 so he could be had but the Rangers must go to the net and get in front him rather than pepper him with long range shots.

The homestand comes to an end with games against St. Louis (Saturday) and the Islanders (Monday) and then on the road to the Islanders and then Pittsburgh. It is our first meeting with St. Louis, we are 0-4 against the Islanders and while we have split with Pittsburgh, 2-2, they have six points to our four as we beat them in OT and a shootout. A lot of teams, the Islanders and Penguins especially, have improved themselves greatly and we have stood pat. It remains to be seen which strategy wins out, but it doesn't matter because Sather is set for life, according to Dolan, and if Sather is set for life, by default, so is Renney.

Go Lundqvist! Long live The Prince!

ICINGS:

March 1, 2007
NY Post
Rangers Taking Shot With Mara
Journal News
Rangers' Malik Opens Up
Hartford Courant
Pack Can't Beat That Devilish Trap

February 28, 2007
Newsday
Ward Sent To Bruins
Daily News
Mess Goes 'Home'
Jagr Deals Habs An 'L'
NY Post
Nothing Of Note
Journal News
Ward Traded, But Jagr Denies Role
Rare Easy Win For Rangers



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