Saturday, March 31, 2007

Two Points Closer

The Rangers bounced back from their last loss and hit some milestones in Philly tonight. They won their 40th game of the year, for the second consecutive game. They won their tenth game in the month of March. The first time in team history they have done that. They swept the Flyers in Philly, four out of four, first time they have ever done that but more important they moved two points closer to a playoff position.

The big difference between this year and last is that last years season ended with a six game losing streak and this team is ending the season on a roll, so far. Since the trade deadline the Rangers are 11-2-3 and there offense seems to be picking up. Of course they have given up ten goals in their last two games as the defense has gotten sloppy. However, the addition of Sean Avery has given the team a swagger it seemed to be missing before. He was on the ice for two Ranger goals picking up an assist on Callahan's (3) goal.

Jaromir Jagr played one of his strongest games of the year with two goals (27,28) and an assist. His first period goal was pure artistry and he was voted the number one star of the game. Nylander with three assists was number two and Ben Eager of the Flyers with two goals (5,6) was number three star. Jagr's performance had to be very encouraging as the Rangers come down the stretch. He is now two goals shy of recording his 15th thirty goal season of his career. Maybe, just maybe, he may be ready to start carrying the team and it will be none too soon.

Lundqvist made thirty three saves but I believe there were at least two that should never have made it to the back of the net. However, he excelled in the third period after giving up the fourth Flyer goal early in the period. We need the Prince back in top form for the remaining four games to get get into the playoffs and then do some damage.

The game was kind of docile for a Ranger/Flyer tussle. The Flyers out hit the Rangers 18-11 and there were few if any confrontations. The Rangers were also outshot 37-34 but where it mattered they came up on top. The other Ranger scorers were Pock (4), Straka (28) and Prucha (20) who continues his fine second half rebound. Also Thomas Pock is playing like I always believed he could and it would be a shame for him to sit for either Tyutin or Rachunuk. Along with Gerardi and Callahan and the Avery and Mara additions they have been mainly responsible along with Lundqvist for the teams success.

Only one team in the hunt lost tonight and that was the Islanders who fell to the Ottawa Senators. Carolina did not play but the other three, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Toronto all won. It is beginning to look like four teams will fight for the last three playoff spots with the Islanders and Carolina fading away.

Tampa Bay 90 points 3 games remaining
Rangers 89 points 4 games remaining
Montreal 88 points 3 games remaining
Toronto 87 points 4 games remaining
Islanders 84 points 4 games remaining
Carolina 84 points 4 games remaining

ICINGS: Fedor Tyutin might return tomorrow night against Toronto and I hope he will replace Strudwick who I have to admit has filled in nicely but so would have David Liffiton.

Newsday
Shaky but still standing
Lightning holds lead on Rangers
NY Post
It's 'Playoff' Time
Avery Bullies Blueshirts To Front Of Race
Daily News
Rangers wobble & win
Rangers Hit Road
Journal News
Avery Has Been The Catalyst To Rangers' Run

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Retro Loss

It is to be hoped that last night's loss to Montreal was an aberration and not of things to come down the stretch. After all the Rangers had beaten Le Habs in the two previous meetings and the last one a 4-0 shutout at MSG on February 27th. But there were eerie familiarities of games past that were lost in similar fashion. The dreaded two goal lead, the inability to pad the lead, the sudden breakdowns, the inept power play all led to a big defeat for the Blueshirts in the House of Horrors.

On paper the power play looks strong. It ranks eight in the NHL with a 18.8%. Last night it was 1-6. The problem is that Renney has gone back to old habits with the return of Shanahan and Straka. The power play was on the ice for 10:04. Jagr got 7:05, Nylander 6:41, Straka 6:03 and Shanahan only 3:31. Nylander (24) scored the only goal assisted by Shanahan and Rozsival. Rozsival got 6:27 of PP time and had no shots on goal the entire game. Thomas Pock had only 2:24 of PP time and did score his third goal of the year but not on the PP. For the game Jagr and Shanny shot blanks with seven and six shots on goal. Straka, in 18:58 of ice time had one shot on goal but many pirouettes. This line must be broken up and a north south forward added to the line and Nylander back to the second line between Shanny and Avery.

The penalty killing while ranking tenth with a 84.1% is starting to bend. It gave up a PP goal to the Islanders and last night gave up two, both to Kovalev (17,18) as the Canadiens were 2-5 on the PP. The Rangers committed five penalties in the second period but so did the Canadiens. As there were some offsetting penalties the Rangers went 0-2 in the second period and the Canadiens were 2-4. There it was, game, set and match.

While Lundqvist was removed in the second period it was Stephen Valiquette who took the loss. He gave up two goals on ten shots. It was almost an even split in time in goal with Lundqvist getting 29:47 and Valiquette logging 30:13. So Lundqvist got the rest that Renney wanted to give him. With five games to go there is no rest for the weary.

The defense had a few mixups but this happens with the pressure of all must win games. I guess I am still confused why Jason Strudwick is playing. We can't use him in the playoffs. I would rather have seen David Liffiton in there until Tyutin comes back. What bothers me, and I know that I have mentioned it before, is that Thomas Pock will probably sit when Tyutin and Rachunek return. I think he is an asset bringing speed and offense, three shots plus the goal last night.

So the Rangers get three days of rest before playing the Flyers at Philly Saturday night. They need all hands on deck on what promises to be a potential brawl for the final game of the season between these two hated rivals. My son reminded me that the last time we won five in a row, in December, we went into the tank on a seven game losing streak. Can't happen again, there are only five games left in the regular season. Is it now time for Jaromir Jagr to start carrying the team on his shoulders?

ICINGS:

March 28, 2007
Newsday
Rangers wilt under second-period shelling
Daily News
Rangers Can't Take The 6th
NY Post
Red-Hot Blueshirts Humbled By Habs

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Islander Five O!

Henrik Lundqvist
I look at this Ranger team and I am starting to be amazed. They are doing things that I thought this team was incapable of doing. They beat the Islanders 2-1 in OT today on a Michael Nylander tip in with 49 seconds left in the game. This is their fifth straight win, their third straight over the Islanders and they are 10-1-3 since the trading deadline with only the addition of Avery and Mara plus plenty of young legs, which are slowly starting to disappear.

So how are they doing it? Certainly not by their offense which has only feasted on the bottom feeders. They still prefer the tic-tac-toe rather than the straight north south style of offense. They still work for the perfect goal. The defense is doing well now but what happens when Tyutin and Rachunek come back? Strudwick will obviously sit and then its probably Pock. Renney is playing Strudwick now but he will be ineligible for the playoffs. Why not play Liffiton, big, tough and sound defensively? Pock has been a perfect partner for mistake prone Rozsival and brings offensive skills to the position. He will probably sit the rest of the year when Tyutin and Rachunek return. Is this a good move?

There is only one position left and that is the position that gives the Rangers the great equalizer. The position is goaltending and the goaltender is Henrik Lundqvist. In his last twenty games he is 12-3-5 with a GAA of 1.54 and a save % of .938. In his last thirty six games Lundqvist has a GAA of 1.78 and a save % of .932. These are Vezina trophy numbers and MVP numbers. Imagine giving up less than two goals per game in thirty six games and the Rangers are fighting along with five other teams for the last three playoff spots. The Rangers should be contending for the top spots in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. The supporting cast has not lived up to the performance of Prince Henrik Lundqvist.

ICINGS: Watched the game on NBC and it left a lot to be desired. Immediately after the game NBC switched to golf. Outside of Joe Micheletti on the sidelines I had no idea who the two announcers in the booth were. Just think next year we get the Food Network as the main TV Network for NHL games.

March 26, 2007

Newsday
Nice Recipe For Winning
Plus And Minus
Shanahan Trying To Get Timing Back
Daily News
Lun Is Number One
Eighth Not Enough
Hollweg In No Hurry To See Simon
NY Post
Isles' Clock Running Out
Six-Shooter
Journal News
Rangers Continue Their Winning Ways By Beating Island
More old school video. Today's clip - John Wensink of the Boston Bruins Challenges the North Stars bench. Via Eric McErlain at Off Wing Opinion:
At 1:08 in, you'll see why Wensink was a fan favorite for a whole generation of Bruins fans in the 70's. It's not every day you see a guy challenge an entire bench. And win.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lundqvist Carries Rangers

Let me admit right up front that I only saw about two minutes of the Ranger game today, but I did see the infamous shootout. What I did see were some amazing saves in OT by Lundqvist , the Nylander and Jagr shootout goals and the two saves by Lundqvist to give the Rangers their fourth straight win putting them one point behind sixth place Tampa Bay. However, the Islanders won and as I am writing this Carolina, Toronto and Montreal are all winning and Tampa Bay is losing to Ottawa. The Rangers must keep winning and tomorrow's game at the Islanders will be a war as the Islanders are two points behind the Rangers and have a game in hand.

Why did I miss the game? I was at the Tarrytown complex of the Rangers as Adam Graves conducted a clinic for Jr. Rangers and my Grandson, Nicholas, was there, along with his father, Michael and myself. So there we were three generations of Savino's and we had a ball. Everyone remembers Adam Graves as the hard working wing on the Messier line, never mailing it in, steady and reliable as they go. Also, as nice as they come. Guess what? In front of about thirty five young skaters and admirers, Adam Graves is the same great guy. For one hour and fifteen minutes of drills and another half hour of Q's & A's the guy had complete control of his young skaters and adult audience. Nicholas, a product of the Rinx on Long Island, loved it.

So I missed the game. Sorry, I was doing something more important. From what I heard it wasn't much of a game but thanks to a late goal by Pock and the continuing heroics of the Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers prevailed.

ICINGS: The Rangers were 0-5 with 8:11 of PP time and the Bruins were 0-8 in 16:42 of PP time, including 1:31 in OT. Straka returned and got 19:38 of ice time as Callahan's ice time dropped to 8:43.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sather the Younger

Glen Cameron Sather, or 'Slats' used to be a tough guy. He earned the nickname 'Slats' because of his gritty style of play. 'Slats' appreciated a good brawl. So the question of why Sather and Renney did not dress Colton Orr for that February 17th game against the Flyers is a mystery. Where did the 'Slats' of old go?

Here is a 1969 video of 'Slats' (#14) having an old school brawl with the 'RoadRunner,' also known as Yvan Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rangers KO Flyers


This time Colton Orr was dressed for the Flyers.. The last time he wasn't and the Flyers led by Todd Fedoruk and Ben Eager pounded the Rangers in a 5-3 Ranger loss. Acting like an involved, active owner, James Dolan, after that game, read the riot act to Glen Sather and Tom Renney for not playing Orr against the Flyers.

It didn't take long for Orr and Fedoruk to get together. Twenty one seconds into the game they met at the blue line and after some grappling Orr landed a haymaker on Fedoruk's face which knocked him out cold. He hit the ice and was taken off the ice on a stretcher and taken to St. Vincent's Hospital. Preliminary reports indicate a concussion and he will be ok. It was eerie. On a night when Shanahan was returning from a concussion against the same team that he accidentally got injured. Ben Eager acted like he wanted to revenge his partner but only made half hearted efforts to tangle with Orr and later with Jason Strudwick. Next time we play them Renney should put young defenseman David Liffiton in the lineup, he would be a good backup for Orr.

Petr Prucha (19) opened the scoring and the Rangers were up 1-0 after the first period. Avery (15) and Jagr (26) made it 3-0 after two and Avery (16) and Ortmeyer (2) wrapped it up in the third for a 5-0 win. The Prince closed it out with a total of 17 saves and with the crowd chanting, "Hen-Reek", "Hen-Reek", he coasted to his fifth shutout this year and his seventh career shutout.

After losing two one goal games in a row the Rangers have now won three straight by a combined score of 14-1. In these three games the Rangers have outshot their opponents 115-69. The last game against the hot shot, high scoring Penguins the Rangers outshot the Pens 42-22. The Rangers keep up this offensive and the shots against them will be low and with Lundqvist on top of his game right now they will be very tough to beat. They have to keep it up because six of the final eight games will be on the road. The Rangers are now 19-15-5 at home.

The three stars of the game were Avery, Lundqvist and Shanahan in that order. One of the stars could have been Colton Orr but then that would be an acknowledgement by the NHL that toughness counts in the NHL. The liberal drive by media will probably plaster the sports and editorial pages with articles condemning fighting and violence in hockey and demanding an end to it. However, it is an integral part of the game and hopefully Tom Renney won't forget it soon. The Flyers have been dishing it out for years but tonight they met their match and got their comeuppance. I'm sorry Fedoruk was hurt so badly and hope he recovers soon. Our prayers are with him. However, if you live by the sword...........

ICINGS: Coming home from the RR station I was listening to WFAN and a Flyer fan calls in and complains about how this fight was a blot on the game and that Orr and Hollweg are dirty players. The kettle calling the pot black. He said the Flyers will remember this when we play our last game there. Good. The Flyers invented hooliganism in hockey. Remember the Broad Street Bullies? They gave the Bobby Clarkes of the hockey world all their toughness. I remember the goon Dave Schultz beating up Dale Rolfe of the Rangers one night without anyone on the Rangers lifting a finger to protect Rolfe. What was the outcome? Schultz and a bleeding Rolfe got five minutes each for fighting. Hypocrites.
March 22, 2007
Newsday
Knockout, Shutout
Daily News
Shanny, Rangers By KO
NY Post
Shan-To-Hand Combat
Journal News
Rangers KO Flyers

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How Sweet (Caroline) It Is

Jagr scores game winner with 33.8 seconds remaining
A week ago Jaromir Jagr said he felt something good was going to happen, he could feel it. I was waiting, the faithful were waiting. Well we wait no more, unless Jagr has more tricks on his sticks or his opponents sticks. With 33.8 seconds to go in the game Jagr put one past goalie Jocelyn Thibault off the stick of Pens defenseman Robert Scuderi and the Rangers were 2-1 winners in a game that lifted them up to seventh place, one point behind sixth place Tampa Bay. How sweet Caroline it is.

Jagr's 25th of the year was also the 106th career game winning goal of his career putting him in fourth place all time, four behind third place Brett Hull's 110 and fifteen behind all time leader Gordie Howe who has 121 game winners. Phil Esposito is second with 118. Brendan Shanahan is fifth with 105.

Blair Betts (9) had given the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the third period. It looked like it would hold up but Michel Ouellet (16) tied it at the 14:18 mark of the period on a rare breakdown by the Rangers. I say rare because the Rangers played one of their finest defensive games of the year holding the Pens to just 22 shots on goal. Besides scoring the first goal, Blair Betts played an outstanding game getting four shots on goal, two hits and basically shutting down Sidney Crosby, who had only two shots on goal, both in the first period, which in essence stymied the Pittsburgh offense. From my viewpoint Blair Betts was the star of the game. The NY sportswriters voted Jagr, Lundqvist and Thibault in that order, the three stars of the game. What the hell do they know.

The win put the Rangers in seventh place, one point ahead of Carolina and one point behind Tampa Bay who is in sixth place. All three teams have nine games to play. The Islanders, Toronto and Montreal are two points behind eighth place Carolina and three points behind the Rangers. The Islanders have eleven games to play, Toronto ten and Montreal nine. The loss kept Pittsburgh from tying the Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division.

In the last eleven games the Rangers are 7-1-3, picking up 17 points out of a possible 22. They beat a red hot Penguin team, 8-1-1, coming into this game. This is the first time the Rangers have beaten the Penguins in regulation and are now 3-2-2 against the Pens. Conversely the Pens are 4-1-2 against the Rangers. Simply stated, we have picked up 8 points in the seven games and the Pens have 10 points in the seven games. Go figure. Only in the NHL folks, only in the NHL.

The last meeting of these two teams takes place Saturday, April 7th, in Pittsburgh, and it will be the last game of the season for both teams. Lets hope that the Rangers have everything settled by then, but by then Jagr may be having more good things happening.

ICINGS: Jason Strudwick put in 12:15 of ice time, no shots, no hits and basically was OK. I would rather have seen David Liffiton play who was more involved in the Bruins game. Good news, bad news. First the good. Brendan Shanahan will return against the Flyers. Bad news. Brandon Dubinsky, who only got 6:19 of ice time, goes back to Hartford. Same thing will happen when Tyutin and Rachunek return. Then Pock and maybe Girardi sit and these two guys have been solid and have been a huge part of the Ranger resurgence. Then we will have the same lineup back that was treading water, going nowhere and leaving Lundqvist out to dry. Keep Dubinsky and Callahan and bench Isbister and Orr. Callahan had five shots on goal and three hits in 15:23 of ice time. These young kids have given the Rangers the life and lift that they so desperately needed. They have ignited a spark that was missing all year. Now that I think of it lets get a young coach, a guy like Craig MacTavish, I'm tired of looking at Tom Renney and listening to his stupid pronouncements.

March 20, 2007
NY Daily News:
A Blueshirt bounce
Straka, Shanny could return tomorrow
Newsday
Rangers get some help
NY Post
SEVENTH HEAVEN

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Party

Happy St. Patty'sThe St. Patrick's Day Parade and its various parties spilled over to MSG last night and a fine Irish lad by the name of Ryan Callahan led the Rangers to its most impressive victory of the year, a 7-0 rout of the Boston Bruins. Callahan, who will turn all of twenty two years old this Wednesday, scored two goals, had seven shots on goal, dished out three hits and even participated in one of the three barroom brawls the Rangers had with the Bruins. Yes it was a fiesty, festive, rollicking St. Patricks Day at the Garden.

Henrik Lundqvist put up his fourth shutout of the year making thirty saves and now has a GAA of 2.42 and a save % of .914. Hasek leads in GAA with a 2.14 and Mason has a .926 to lead the save % group. Also Lundqvist hit the thirty win mark for the second consecutive season. He is only the second Ranger goalie to accomplish that feat. Eddie Giacomin leads all Ranger goalies with four consecutive seasons of thirty plus wins. Lundqvist will break that record providing he stays healthy. He was voted the number one star and tossed his stick into the stands which set off a mild tug of war between some fans.

With the win the Rangers took over sole possession of eighth place one point ahead of Montreal, the Islanders and Toronto. The Islanders have a game in hand on the Rangers and the Rangers have a game in hand on Montreal and Carolina. Carolina is a point ahead of the Rangers in seventh place. The Rangers are only three points behind sixth place Tampa Bay. Every night there are different teams in different positions. Think of the game , musical chairs, and you get the idea. This one looks like it will go down to the last game with five, maybe six teams, fighting for the last three playoff spots.

The Ranger power play exploded with four goals in the first four chances. It was Rozsival (9), Prucha (18) and Cullen (14, 15) twice. Callahan, 12:05 of ice time, scored both his goals at even strength, going to the net both times. He was voted the number three star. The other goal was scored by Sean Avery (14), who also got three assists and was voted the number two star. The youngsters besides Callahan, all shone. Pock's ice time increased to 19:25, 2:48 of PP and 2:02 of PK, and he responded with an assist, two shots on goal and a hit. Girardi, with 19:19 of ice time, 2:45 of PK, continued his solid play with four shots on goal and two hits. David Liffiton was rock solid. The twenty two year old is an imposing figure at 6' 2" and 210 pounds. He played 15:36, 4:04 of PK, two hits and mixed it up with Jeremy Reich, who also got into it with Ryan Hollweg. Like I said before, a festive St. Patrick's Day.

ICINGS: The one sour note was that Dubinsky was benched with the return of Hollweg. Why not sit Isbister? Straka got injured in the first period and it doesn't seem serious. If he is out Monday maybe Dubinsky will get another chance. Lets hope.



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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Powerless

The Rangers continued their futility on the power play last night and it cost them a big point and a chance to move into a tie for seventh and eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff run. The Rangers went 0-6 on the power play stretching their run of futility to two goals in the last thirty four attempts. Is it any wonder that they are floundering in the playoff race. In fact playoff race is a misnomer, it should be called the playoff back-in.

For the second night in a row the teams that the Rangers are contending with all lost. Toronto and Montreal both lost. The night before it was the Islanders and the Hurricanes who both lost and all the Rangers do is tread water. They are now one point behind the Islanders and the 'Canes. They are tied with Toronto for ninth and tenth, one point ahead of Montreal. The Islanders have a game in hand on the Rangers and the Rangers have a game in hand on Carolina. Talk about mediocrity, that is what the NHL is now. Five teams tripping over each other to see who can back into the last playoff spot to be eliminated in the first round and maybe they may even win a game. The owners will be happy, they get their million plus profit per game and next year they raise the prices again and we, the jerks, will go.

While the Ranger went 0-6 on the PP the Thrashers were 1-6 and that was in the OT and it cost the game. The ref called a garage league penalty against Cullen and the Thrashers, who failed on a one minute plus five on three in the first period scored on a four on three in OT. The Rangers had chances on the PP, boy did they have chances. But the usual suspects could not score. Prucha put a point blank shot right into Hedberg's gut. Isbister with a wide open net on the left, shot wide to the right, and Jagr, who was going to carry the team on his shoulders, had Hedberg down and at his mercy but couldn't lift the puck over him. So much for waiting for good things to start happening.


The kids? They were great. Dubinsky got only 7:40 of ice time, no PP time, but got three shots on goal and one hit. Ryan Callahan got 15:06, 1:38 of PP, and had two shots on goal. David Liffton had 7:26, two shots and one hit. Girardi and Pock got increased ice time, 17:53 and 16:25, and none of the five embarrassed themselves and should have gotten more time especially Dubinsky who looks like he is the real deal as does Callahan. The 'Canes out hit the Rangers 24-12, perhaps reflecting the absence of Ryan Hollweg. The Rangers were led by Callahan with three hits and Pock with two. While Jagr had five shots on goal, two in the 2nd period, he couldn't cash it in when we needed it. The kids should have been brought up sooner and maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. It was fun watching young legs skating north south instead of east west figure eights.

ICINGS: The bad news. There are only 11 games left to play. The good news. There are only 11 games left to play.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Maturity, Two Goal Leads & Other Rants

Tom Renney says the Rangers lack maturity and that is why the Rangers can't hold on to two goal leads. Nonsense. The Rangers can't hold on to two goal leads because mainly they can't build on the lead. The power play isn't functioning. I say functioning because if you don't shoot you can't score. They are now two for their last twenty eight on the PP. That is .08% a far cry from their season average of 18.8%. Its the same old stuff on the PP with Renney rounding up the usual suspects as they play tic-tac-toe. The Garden chant of shoot the puck has kind of boosted the shot total but what do they do when they hit the road. The top line, the Jagr line, is the biggest culprit. Renney said he put two thumbs up when he heard the crowd's chant. Two thumbs up? Why didn't he put his two feet down and demand they take more shots or change the personnel? Who is the coach here? He should take the responsibility. Instead of accusing the team of lacking maturity why don't he say what's really the problem. He can't coach and this is what scares me if we make the playoffs or we come close. He will be rehired.

So now we are bringing up Ryan Callahan. I understand he may replace Hollweg who has the flu. Too bad. Too bad Hollweg has the flu and too bad that is the only reason Callahan is brought up. I would like to see Callahan replace Isbister. I like Isbister but what has he done, one goal in ten games and is thirty years old. Callahan, a sniper, is twenty two. The other option is to sit Orr if Hollweg can go tomorrow. We need goals right now and not four minutes from Orr, who is an honest straight up guy who sticks up for his team mates. Defensemen David Liffiton has been brought up from Hartford and will replace the injured Rachunek. This gives the Rangers four players brought up from Hartford, five if Callahan plays. The players would be Girardi, Pock, Liffiton, Dubinsky and Callahan. Add this group to Prucha, Hollweg, Betts, Ortmeyer and Lundqvist and the Rangers finally have a young team on the ice. Add Tyutin to this list and this is the kind of a team that the fans would love. Question. What took so long to get it? Necessity.

Not a contender for the playoffs or the Cup you say? I say, so what? Put Avery on the first line with Jagr and Straka. Nylander centers the second line with Shanahan and Prucha. Dubinsky centers Cullen and Callahan and the HBO line of Hollweg, Betts and Ortmeyer. You have speed on every line and at least one sniper on every line except for the fourth line. More importantly you have an infusion of youth and the excitement that youth and talent bring to a hockey game. The fans would love it. Too bad we had to have some injuries to see how good Girardi, Pock and Dubinsky can play. Had this group been brought up earlier in the year we could have seen how good these kids are, now they are in the pressure cooker of a hot playoff race.

You tell me. Make the playoffs with the veterans, no guarantee, or go with the four or five youngsters and see what develops and maybe next year we will have a bona fide contending team?

ICINGS: Atlanta has been on a roll since picking up Keith Tkachuk, 6-2. Tkachuk has played well for the Thrashers with 5 goals and 2 assists in eight games. Jason Strudwick is back from Europe and has been practicing with the Rangers.

Another Two Goal Tank Job

At the 15:22 mark of the first period the Rangers, on the strength of two goals by Michael Nylander (21,22), took a 2-0 lead over the Ottawa Senators. I leaned over to my son and his two friends and remarked, "Ah, the dreaded two goal lead". They laughed and I could sense that they were thinking that this old guy had too much vino. Their disbelief soon turned to dismay as the Rangers, for the eleventh time this year, blew a two goal lead. The Rangers have blown 2-0 leads in each of their last five losses. The final score was 3-2 as the winning goal by Andrej Meszaros ( 7) was nothing more than an errant pass by Meszaros that went off the stick of Marek Malik past Lundqvist for the winner. Now when was the last time we heard of a similar outcome? I will tell you. It happened on March 10, 2007 in Pittsburgh and Corey Armstrong put one in off of Marek Malik's stick to give the Pens an OT win. No wonder the boo birds returned to the Garden in the third period for Malik.

The loss drained the Ranger fans who left with the sense that all the good feelings generated by their 4-0-1 of last week, including the two big wins over the Islanders, were wiped away. It wasn't the loss that hurt so much but how it was lost. The Rangers played a strong first period and then forgot to keep doing what got them their two goal lead. Jagr and company insisted on trying to pass up the middle rather than shooting it in and forechecking. Some fans thought they were tired. From what? Not any more tired than Ottawa or any other team in the NHL with these crazy schedules. Ottawa came in having lost four of its last five. They were ready to be beaten.

The checking line of Betts, Hollweg and Orr was disappointing. They had one shot on goal, five hits, four by Hollweg and were on the ice for the winning goal after they could not keep the puck in the Senators zone and allowed them to break out. Karel Rachunek, who has been very effective lately, hurt his knee in the first period and only played 6:31. This caused many different defense pairings and not all of the D men stepped up. Rozsival again got too much ice time, 28:39, and it showed with his erratic passing and sloppy play. Paul Mara had his worst game as a Ranger taking a hooking and a goalie interference penalty that eventually led to the Senators first two goals. The goals came right after the penalties were over with Mara stepping on the ice. You had the spectacle of three Ranger defensemen on the ice when the two goals were scored. I still think that Alfredsson goal(25) was deflected in off of Pock's stick. Maybe its not too bad when the Rangers lose their sticks.

How bad was the loss? The Rangers dropped from a tie for eight into a tie for tenth, however Montreal has one more win than the Rangers. Carolina, Toronto and Montreal all won tonight. Carolina is now tied with the Islanders for seventh and the Islanders who have lost Simon for the rest of the season saw their goalie DiPietro go out with a possible concussion. This race for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference is topsy turvy and will go down to the last week, maybe last game. The last week finds the Rangers playing Toronto (H), Islanders (A), Montreal (H) and ending with Pittsburgh(A). The Rangers are 7-8-2 against the four.

It was a bitter defeat for Lundqvist, fresh off his winning The NHL First Star of the Week. He has a 1.80 GAA since the All Star game. Last year it was Jagr and Lundqvist. This year Lundqvist is The Lone Ranger. Jagr has failed to supply the scoring punch the Rangers so desperately need. Yes, he had two assists tonight but we need goals from him. After the All Star break he declared that he was ready to carry this team on his shoulders. He has not lived up to that promise. After tonight's game he remarked, "With everything bad, there's something good. I believe something good is going to happen. We're waiting for it. You have some tough luck, but you keep fighting." Maybe he knows something we don't. But let's not wait, let's go get it.

ICINGS:

March 14, 2007
Newsday
Two-goal lead remains curse
Shanahan practices and says he has target date
Daily News
Rangers' bad bounce
NY Post
Deadly Sens

March 13, 2007
Newsday
Jagr & Co. Trying To Rise To Occassion
Daily News
Rangers Continue Playoff Push
NY Post
Renney Sticks To PPG 'Guns'

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Big Rebound Win

The Rangers were dead tired against Pittsburgh in the third period yesterday and blew a two goal lead and eventually the game in OT. Less than 24 hours later they showed up at MSG to play the Hurricanes in a crucial game. And show up they did and play they did in another playoff atmosphere type game. Of course it had to go to the proverbial shootout, but what the hell, they won it. The Rangers are now tied with Carolina for the number eight spot with 76 points but do have a game in hand on Carolina. The Rangers are only two points behind the seventh place Islanders, with the Islanders having a game in hand.

While Rozsival and Malik still got too much ice time, Renney distributed the allotted time much better. Brandon Dubinsky got 11:50 of ice time including some 40 seconds of power play time and got two shots and three hits. Girardi and Pock got up to 12:41 and 14:24 with Pock getting 1:24 of PP time. Petr Prucha logged 14:49 with a significant 4:01 of PP time with two shots and two hits. Jagr and Nylander were under twenty minutes and the Rangers showed no sign of the fatigue that set in Saturday at Pittsburgh. The Rangers out hit the Hurricanes, 31-21. with Rozsival leading the way with five followed by Rachunek with four. Rachunek's play has really picked up in the last few weeks and especially since the addition of Paul Mara who in 21:22 of ice time put two shots on goal plus getting two hits.

Marek Malik, perhaps feeling the sting of the boos from the fans, put a Brian Leetch rush on early in the first period, skating into the offensive zone, ripping the puck at Cam Ward then picking up the juicy rebound, skating in and putting a backhander past Ward. The crowd went wild and there were no more boos for the rest of the night. When Justin Williams tied it at the 10:04 mark of the second period it looked like another swan dive for the Rangers. But Lundqvist hung tough the rest of the way making thirty saves all told, some spectacular, to keep the Rangers in the game. Then came the OT and a terrible high sticking call against Nylander gave the 'Canes a chance to win it but Henrik hung tough and then on to the shootout.

I will cease to comment on the merits of the shootout for the rest of the season.The Rangers seem to have an advantage over most teams in a shootout with Lundqvist in goal. They are now 8-4 in shootouts with Lundqvist stopping 37 of 44 shots with a .84 % save percentage. Henrik is 7-3 in shootouts. Carolina is 0-5 in shootouts.

The shootout had its usual drama. Nylander went first and was stopped by John Grahame, who replaced an injured Cam Ward in the second period, and then Lundqvist beat Justin Williams. Matt Cullen then scored his third shootout goal in seven attempts which put the pressure on the 'Canes. Ray Whitney then shot wide and up came Jagr to the roar of the crowd. He put one past Grahame and the Rangers had eight place. It was Jagr's 2nd shootout goal in seven attempts and it cleared the Ranger bench and brought the crowd to its feet. The three stars were Cullen, Lundqvist and Malik, in that order and there were no more boos for Malik, only cheers.

ICINGS:

March 12, 2007
Newsday
Jagr, Lundqvist Are Clutch In Shootout
NHL To Simon: 25 Games
Daily News
Jaromir Razes 'Canes
Hollweg: Time Fits Crime
Simon's Season Over
NY Post
Rangers Do It With Defense
Journal News
Jagr's Shootout Goal Gives Rangers Tie For Eigth

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Dreaded Two Goal Lead

You can come up with a lot of reasons why the Rangers blew another two goal lead and lost to the Penguins today. You can blame Malik's stick for deflecting Corey Armstrong's shot past Lundqvist. Of course if Malik had any speed he would have been in front of Armstrong and could have blocked the shot. However, you really can't blame Malik on this one because both Straka and Rozsival made weak attempts to clear the puck out of the zone and were both unsuccessful.

You could blame the power play which went 0-5 and on two successive power plays in the second period failed to get a shot on goal. They had a chance to put the game away with a 2-0 lead but they allowed a shaky Marc-Andre Fleury to wiggle off the hook and turn the game around.

You could also blame referees Dan O'Rourke and Chris Rooney who must have thought it was St. Patrick's Day and let Sidney Crosby get away with everything including a quite obvious goalie interference in the third period that had Lundqvist livid. Crosby is the true heir apparent to Mario Lemieux in that you act pained every time you are touched and get away with murder on the opposition. Jaromir Jagr doesn't get this respect because he isn't a Canadien.

You could blame the loss on the fact that the Rangers were tired from their two wars against the Islanders. How tired are they going to be tomorrow afternoon against the rested Hurricanes? Or you could put the blame on the fact that Jagr got hurt and did not play at all in the third period.

However, I put the blame solely on the shoulders of head coach Tom Renney. Why did he start the OT with Straka and Nylander as forwards along with two overplayed defensemen, Rozsival and Malik? This is a dangerous group to have on together. They were tired skating on to the ice. One forward, Straka, can't shoot, the other, Nylander, won't. In 21:36 of regulation time Straka had no shots on goal. In 19:55 of regulation time Nylander had all of two shots on goal and none in the third period. They spent most of the game skating east west and even took the OT faceoff and skated backwards. From there it was all downhill. Why play a guy like Straka, if he can't shoot? Isn't an able bodied youngster like Immonen or Callahan or Dubinsky, who was dressed but I don't think Renney knew it, better than a player who could just skate?

The power play in the second period had three attempts to get the elusive third goal and in two consecutive penalties failed to get a shot on goal. On one attempt the second unit got only 29 seconds of PP time. What did Renney do to fix this? Nothing. The Rangers were 0-5 on the PP and Renney constantly sent out the usual suspects and they routinely went into the North Carolina four corner offense, pass, skate; pass skate; pass skate; ad nauseum. What happened to Mara and Cullen on the points? Certainly they are better than Rozsival and Straka. Again, not to be redundant, one can't shoot, Straka, the other, Rozsival, won't.

Nothing has changed with Renney. Brandon Dubinsky, who showed great promise against the Islanders, got all of 4:46 of ice time. Daniel Giradi, 11:15, Thomas Pock, 10:22, Petr Prucha, who scored two key goals against the Islanders in the two game series, got all of 11:35. Rozsival got 28:44 and Malik clocked 23:39 of ice time. Is it any wonder why they where dragging and were beaten at the end.

Lundqvist was quite livid at the end. He criticized the team for taking too many penalties, nine, and not being able to clear the puck. All three goals scored by Pittsburgh were a result of the Rangers inability to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Two were scored on the PP. The Pens were two for nine on the power play. Like Lundqvist said, too many penalties and we can't clear the puck. Renney was happy with the point.

ICINGS: Jagr left with soreness in his right leg after the second period. No word as of this posting on his availability for tomorrow's game against Carolina. Unfortunately Tom Renney will show up.

March 10, 2007
Daily News
Time For Players To Use Heads
League's Turn To Wield Stick
NY Post
Hollweg: I'm Lucky
Newsday
Simon Faces His Fate
Journal News
Islanders' Simon Suspended, Could Be Charged

Friday, March 09, 2007

Vicious Chris Simon Cheapshot



Chris Simon cheap shot on Ryan Hollweg

Chris Simon cheap shot

Hollweg after Chris Simon cheap shot


Reactions:

NY Daily News: Simon simply ugly - Chris Simon's brutal brutal hit on Rangers winger Ryan Hollweg last night may have been the NHL at its ugliest, but it did help the Rangers move into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Simon, the Islanders' tough guy who used to play for the Blueshirts, reacted to a shove by taking a two-handed swing with his stick to chop Hollweg on the chin with 6:31 to go in the third period, setting up the Rangers with a five-minute power play that turned into the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum. . .

NY Post: CHIN MUSIC - The Blueshirts, winners by 2-1 in a shootout after pouring 57 volleys on Rick DiPietro at the Garden on Monday, were locked in a 1-1 draw in the third period at the Coliseum last night when Ryan Hollweg sent Chris Simon into the boards in the Rangers' defensive zone.

There was no penalty call on Hollweg, nor should there have been. But for whatever reason, Simon lost his mind. As play swept up the other end, the Islanders winger took a couple of strides toward Hollweg and took a baseball-bat swing at the Rangers winger's jaw as if to send No. 44 to the opposite field.

The chop connected with Hollweg's jaw, sending him to the ice, bleeding. Simon was assessed a five-minute match penalty. A minute and 16 seconds later, Petr Prucha scored from in front on the power play to give the surging Rangers - 4-1-2 in their last seven and 8-3-2 in the last 13 constitute a surge - a 2-1 lead they protected until the end, even if it took a controversial video review decision in their favor on a puck that may or may not have crossed Henrik Lundqvist's goal line with 20.4 seconds to go to seal the victory.

"[Simon] has been a pretty honest guy his whole career, but that was disgusting,'' said the Rangers' Sean Avery, a vital force again. "I don't think he should be allowed to play another game the rest of the year...

Wikipedia: 2007 Suspension - On March 8, 2007 The Islanders faced their arch rivals the New York Rangers. At 13:29 in the third period, Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg checked Simon into the boards, which no penalty was called on, though Simon is reported to have suffered a concussion. Seconds later, Simon retaliated by striking Hollweg in the neck (chin area) with his stick. Hollweg escaped serious injury and Simon was given a match penalty for 'attempt to injure' (ejected from the game). Simon's major penalty resulted in the eventual game winning goal by Ranger Petr Prucha. Simon has been suspended indefinitely without pay pending a hearing. In addition the Nassau County District attorney is investigating possible criminal charges against Simon. . .

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Onward And Upward

You have often heard me say here that its better to be lucky than good. Tonight the Rangers had a little bit of luck and a great bit of good. In a game that even exceeded Monday night's classic the Rangers believe it or not have climbed into a tie for eighth with Toronto and Carolina, though they have games in hand on both teams. More remarkable the Rangers are now only three points behind the Islanders for seventh place.

There were two huge plays that turned the game in the Rangers favor. The first one was Chris Simon acting like a madman and almost decapitating Ryan Hollweg and giving the Rangers a five minute power play which resulted in Petr Prucha's (17) game winner. Boy, has this kid come back to put together another fine year. The other was the 'no goal', or was it a goal? Thank goodness for instant replays. It would be rough on the refs if the call would be up to them alone and not the boys in Toronto. But the ref was emphatic waving his arms and the goal judge never put on the light so I have to assume the call was correct.

Give the Rangers full credit for almost sweeping the Islanders in the two games. I say almost because the Islanders got a point. Marty Straka played 15:38 of hurt, aching hockey. Paul Mara scored the tying goal (4) and also played an amazing 22:20 of agonizing hurt time. Brendan Dubinsky validated all of our demands to bring him up by playing a solid 8:35 getting two shots on goal, one hit and winning five out of six faceoffs. He played his best hockey in the third period. The other two young guys, Girardi (9:46) and Pock (9:25) were solid throughout getting eighteen shifts. The thing for Renney now is to make sure these kids stay in the lineup. Keep the Dubinsky's and Pock's playing. Girardi seems to be set.

Henrik Lundqvist was magnificent again. He stopped thirty shots and his GAA is now 2.42. Since the All Star game his GAA is around 1.85 and his save % around .930. He is now carrying this team and with some goal support the Rangers could surprise a lot of people, including me. The big question, can he go every game til the end of the season?

One last word on Simon. I was absolutely shocked to see Chris swing his stick at Hollweg. I always admired him for being a big tough enforcer, policeman. However, I was disappointed at his post game news conference when he did not apologize to Ryan Hollweg. He said he had to talk to the league first. He deserves at least a twenty game suspension but knowing Campbell expect ten.

Prucha, DiPietro and Lundqvist were the three stars of the game in that order. But you could also make a case for about five or six other players on either team. My favorite was Sean Avery. Even though he was a minus one, he played 19:51, got four shots on goal, two hits and drew a key penalty on Sean Hill which led to Mara's power play goal. He got two penalties, one was suspect and just played his usual annoying game and constantly drove to the net and constantly annoyed every Islander near him, throwing the Islander defense off their game.

So the Rangers win again and their young guys, Lundqvist, Prucha, Dubinsky, Girardi and Pock all shine and the two newcomers, Avery and Mara blend right in. There is still no guarantee of a playoff spot but at least with the young guys in there it has become exciting. It was playoff type hockey marred by a vicious stick penalty by Simon that led to the Rangers getting the winning goal and a controversial 'no goal' called that would have tied the game. Just think, fifteen more games to go. Can you take it?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rangers Outshoot Islanders

The Rangers were relentless, the Islanders were determined and the result was a playoff type hockey game that unfortunately had to be decided by a shootout. I say unfortunately because this was an old fashioned rock 'em and sock 'em game that should have continued and not turned over to the shootout specialists.

The Rangers took eighty one shots putting 57 on goal and fifty six were stopped by Ricky DiPietro, the only goal coming on Petr Prucha's (16) rebound of Jed Ortmeyer's shot. The Isle's Jason Blake (33) put the Islanders ahead by putting one in off of the skate of Paul Mara. I guess now that Aaron Ward is gone Paul Mara will take his place on kicking in goals. I'm going to ask my friends at InsideHockey.com to see if they could do some research to see how many goals have been scored against Lundqvist off of Ranger skates.

The Rangers shot from everywhere and anywhere and hit posts, players but mostly they hit DiPietro. Let's give Ricky his due, he was outstanding tonight and was number three star of the game. Renney rotated four lines and they came in waves. Nylander and Straka overpassed and overskated laterally but Prucha, Ortmeyer, Isbister, Betts, Avery and Jagr never let up and never got discouraged.

The shootout? The Rangers went first again and Nylander's backhander was stopped by DiPietro. After Lunqvist stopped Satan. Matt Cullen gave the Rangers the lead by snapping a wrister past DiPietro. Lundqvist then stopped Kozlov and Jag had a chance to win it but DiPietro extended the game by smothering Jagr's forehander. This left it up to Randy Robitaille who was stopped by Lundqvist to the roars and relief of the crowd.

Now its on to the Island where Ranger fans will help Wang and Snow sell out the Coliseum. The Rangers have to play another A+ game to continue to climb in the standings. The Rangers with 71 points are two behind eighth place Carolina and have played two less games than Carolina. The Rangers play Carolina in the Garden Sunday but first things first as we have the Islanders Thursday and Pittsburgh Saturday, both on the road.

Thank goodness there are no shootouts in the playoffs.

ICINGS: Lundqvist is now 6-3 in shootouts and has stopped 35 of 42 shots. Matt Cullen's shootout goal was his second in six attempts. He was number one star and Prucha was number two star. The Rangers are 15-14-5 at home, the first time this season that their wins are higher than their regular season losses. The Islanders OT loss was their 11th, the most of any team among the top 12 contending teams in the Eastern Conference. Marcel Hossa was injured in the 2nd period and has a sprained MCL in his left knee. No word on how long he will be out.

March 6, 2007
Newsday
Cullen delivers in shootout
Busy night for DP (56 saves)
Hossa injures left knee
AP
Rangers Beat Islanders in Shootout
DiPietro Gets Record; Rangers Get Win
CBC
Cullen lifts Rangers over Islanders in shootout
Daily News
Rangers shoot to 10th spot
NY Post
Rangers Play Heavy Mettle

March 5, 2007
Daily News
Surviving Rangers Want Isle Revenge
NY Post
Rangers Need To Muscle Up
Newsday
Avery Has Pumped Much-Needed Life
Journal News
Rangers Try To Grasp Momentum

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Rants and Misspeaks

I misspoke the other day when I called the St. Louis Blues a bottom feeder. Prior to the Ranger game the Blues were on a 7-2-1 roll and only one less point, 65, than the Rangers. The fact that we struggled against them was not a surprise, the fact we came back so late in the game to pull it out was a big surprise. Maybe we are the bottom feeders?

Talk to an Islander fan and they will tell you that they are having a great year. Talk to a Ranger fan and they will tell you that they are having a miserable year. Look at the standings and you will see that the Islanders are only six points ahead of the Rangers in the standings. Add in the OT losses as regular losses and the Islanders are one game over .500 and the Rangers are three games under .500. The Islanders have lost two more OT games than the Rangers have. Two extra points. instead of none. Also, the Islanders have beaten the Rangers four out of four and there is eight points right there. So having taken all eight points from the Rangers why aren't the Islanders way ahead of the Rangers? It could be that the Islanders aren't having that great a year after all and the Rangers really are having a miserable year.

So Glen Sather showed up at the Mark Messier tribute in Edmonton and was extolled as an Edmonton icon. Funny, I don't remember seeing him at the Messier tribute in New York, or the Richter tribute or the ceremony yesterday for John Davidson. He is the stealth GM and President of the Rangers. This is the guy who was praised by the drive by sports media a few years ago by dumping some Ranger stalwarts such as Leetch, Kovalev and Graves and getting in return hotshot prospects. Who are these hotshots? One, Josef Balej, played all of thirteen games with the Rangers, scoring all of five points, (1-4). He is now playing in a Swiss A league in Europe. We lost Kovalev on this one, but we got a guy named Bruce Graham also. Does anyone out there know where Graham is? He is with the Charlotte Checkers having a decent year, (29-15-44). We gave Kovalev up for a prospect that may never develop or is a good three to five years away. In other words, we gave up Kovalev for nothing.

Brian Leetch was traded for Jarkko Immonen, Maxim Kondratiev and prospects Chris Chucko and Michael Sauer. Despite the absence of a second line center the Rangers refused to give Immonen a chance to fail until now that we have injuries. Kondratiev played 29 games for the Rangers and was (1-2-3) before he was traded to Anaheim for Petr Sykora who was not resigned in the off season. Michael Sauer is playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL and in 29 games is (1-9-10). Chucko plays for Omaha in the AHL and is (10-10-20) in 60 games. So we gave up Leetch for a suspect Immonen, according to our high prospect specialists, and nothing else. We traded Leetch for nothing.

Some GM. He gave up two NHL All Stars for basically nothing which doesn't help us this year and will probably not help us in the foreseeable future. Compare Glen Sather's seven year fiasco with that of John Davidson's one year tenure for St. Louis. In hindsight we should have traded Glen Sather for John Davidson while Davidson was an announcer on MSG. Now that would have been a trade and instead of JD's, "Oh Baby" we might have gotten Glen Sather's, "I missed that one Sam."

The Rangers are now only four points behind Carolina for the eighth spot and we have two games in hand. Unfortunately we have Toronto (2 points) and Montreal (3 points) ahead of us with one game in hand on Toronto and three on Montreal. However, we have to beat the Islanders otherwise Islander fans can say they are having a great year and Ranger fans can moan on what should have been.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Reverse Procedure Brings Positive Results

So now after 33 games on home ice the Rangers finally figured out how to win. Allow the other team to score the first two goals and then come back and win the game. It took a while and was very frustrating watching the Rangers flounder but the end result was a win. Is it going to guarantee the Rangers a playoff spot? No, but who cares right now. Lets live for the moment. This was a great and exciting comeback for the Rangers and their fans.

Stephen Valiquette started his first game in goal for the Rangers and at 1:35 of the first period he was looking at a 1-0 deficit on a soft goal allowed to Brad Boyes (14). When ex Ranger Radek Dvorak snapped one in at the 17:24 it was 2-0 and Valiquette looked like he was in for a short day and the possibility of a major league rout of the Rangers looked immenent.

But Valiquette and the Rangers hung on and it wasn't until the 11:14 mark of the third period when Rachunek (5), on a power play, caught the corner of the net to make it 2-1. Then on a huge turnover by the Blues, Rachunek fed Sean Avery (12), left alone in front of the net, who fired a bullet into the net, tying the game and setting off an eruption and bringing the kid laden crowd to its feet amid a frenzy of cheers and gooals-gooals! The Blues called a time out.

The Rangers pressed hard for the win in OT. Jagr almost won it with a beautiful spinarama and his shot was headed for the far corner but was stopped with a great save by Blues goalie Curtis Sanford. But all the excitement and drama was slated for the shootout. The abominable shootout that has absolutely nothing to do with hockey. The shootout. The answer to the TV Networks fears about long OT games cutting into their prime time money making schedules.

Renney decided to go first again. This time Nylander made him look good by putting the Rangers one up. However, Lee Stempniak tied it and when number two shooter Prucha fanned on his shot, Doug Weight put the Blues up 2-1 and the Rangers had only one shot left. The stage was set for some high drama as Jaromir Jagr came on the ice to a roar of cheers. The man who had stayed away from these proceedings, the man who has said that he doesn't feel and do well in these hooplas, had the puck and the game on his stick. He delivered by stuffing the puck past Sanford and the crowd gave out with an enormous roar. Was it a roar of jubilation or of relief? No matter. Jagr had come through and tied the game and all the previous failings and disappointments were forgotten. But Valiquette had to stop Brad Boyes, who shot wide on the winning attempt and when shootout specialist Hossa (3-4) scored, Valiquette had only to stop Glen Metropolit to win it for the Rangers. He made the save and the Rangers won the game. Avery, Valiquette and Hossa were number one, two and three stars.

The earlier cries of "Refund", "Refund", "Refund" were soon forgotten by the crowd.

ICINGS: Two ceremonies, one before and one between periods, honored ex-Ranger goalie and current Blue's President John Davidson and linesman Pat Dapuzzo. Wouldn't JD look good as the Ranger President and GM right now instead of the elusive and evasive Glen Sather who has brought this team to the chaos it is currently in. Pat Dapuzzo was honored for officiating in his 1500 game. He was given a plaque and his wife was given a bouquet of Roses by league officials. Wow! A bouquet of Roses. One Rose for every 125 games.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Renney, Rangers Go Into The Tank

When the obituary is written at the end of this season it could be said, they couldn't handle the dreaded two goal lead. Last night was the third game on this homestand that the Rangers blew a two goal lead. Instead of six points they get two, which I'm sure pleased Tom Renney no end.

Tom Renney decided that his team should shoot first in the ill conceived shootout. The home team should always shoot last and get hyped when their goalie stops the other teams first shooter. However, no matter. Nylander, Jagr and Prucha did nothing. Jagr is now 0-4, Prucha is 0-5 and Nylander is 3-8. Jagr decided to shoot and while he didn't score he did put a good move but may have been rusty. With all the noise about him ducking the shootout, he had to make an attempt. Maybe if all the top players refuse to shoot in the shootout, they will do away with it. Fat chance. I will say it again, one day a Stanley Cup will be decided by a shootout and those of us who like hockey and hate gimmicks will wonder aloud, "How did this happen?"

The third period was the downfall for the Rangers, again. Lundqvist seemed to lose his focus after Jordan Staal's shorthanded goal, his second against the Rangers and his sixth of the year. He toasted the pair of Rozsival and Cullen. Lundqvist was then caught out of position on Armstrong's shorthanded goal as he first chased the puck and then retreated back into the goal too late to stop the shot. The Rangers who had only given up two shorthanded goals prior to the Columbus game have now given up four shorthanded goals in the last three games.

Sergei Gonchar scored the tying goal on a power play after the Ranger power play was negated by a terrible call by referee Craig Spada, who whistled off Betts for charging Pens goalie Fleury who was a good fifteen feet out of the net. I know it sounds partisan but the refs continue to job the Rangers game after game, especially on home ice. What was exasperating was that Spada was at the blue line and Rob Schick was closest behind the net and called nothing.

So the Rangers picked up a point on Montreal, Carolina and Toronto but gave up one of those games in hand that are useless unless you pick up two points. Let's face it we are a sub par .500 team. We have won thirty games and have lost, including shootouts, thirty-four. Tell me, when does Tom Renney start to take full blame for this mess? Nothing has changed on the ice. Sure Ward is gone, but Rachunek still plays while Pock sits. Isbister is brought up from Hartford while Callahan sits in Hartford. Cullen is back as a second line center, a role he has proved that he can't handle. The power play continues with the same line continuing to keep passsing the puck around and staying on too long, hence the shorthanded goals. The PP is 4-16 in the last three games and has given up four shorthanded goals in the last three games. Maybe we should decline the next time we get a power play opportunity.

The Rangers have not beaten the Pens once in regulation in the five games played against each other. So now we prepare for another bottom feeder, St. Louis. I don't know about you, but I can't wait until this homestand is over so that we can hit the road and win some games. For those of you who care, you can send the flowers and mass cards to MSG in care of James Dolan, master destroyer.

ICINGS: Fedor Tyutin was injured early in the second period with a sprained knee. It is not known how long he will be out.

March 2, 2007
Newsday
Mara Arrives After Wacky Tuesday
Giveaway Night At The Garden
Daily News
Blueshirts Point Downhill
NY Post
Jagr No Help In Shootout
5 Questions For Joe Micheletti
Journal News
Rangers Let Another One Get Away