Sunday, December 30, 2007

Auld Lang Syne

The right guy had the puck skating in all alone on Canadien goalie Cristobal Huet in OT at the Garden tonight. Sprung by passes from Dan Girardi, who had just broken up a Montreal rush, and Chris Drury who feathered him a beauty, Brendan Shanahan blistered one by the hapless goalie to give the Rangers a comeback win over Le Habs. It marked the end of an improbable comeback rally after the Rangers sleep walked through the second period, one shot on goal, and much of the third. I believe the rally started when Fedor Tyutin put a rocket off the post that originally was called a goal but was then over ruled by the powers to be. The goal would have tied the game at three apiece. The Rangers then started to press and with about five minutes left they tied the game as Drury won an offensive zone draw back to Paul Mara, went to the net where Avery was already causing havoc and put in the rebound of Mara's shot.

With a little over a minute to play coach clueless basically played for a point by putting the fourth line out to bottle up the Canadiens. No pretense at trying to win, let's go for the tie. Fortunately, 'player coach' Shanahan saved the night with his 14th goal of the season and the 641st of his career which now puts him in 11th place all time 27 goals behind Luc Robitaille.

The Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead on Girardi's 7th of the season but the Rangers in the person of Marek Malik gave it right back. After losing the puck he committed a foolish penalty which gave the Canadiens a power play goal. While the large contingent of Montreal fans were still roaring the Rangers came back to take a 2-1 lead only 17 seconds later on Jagr's 11th of the year, his fourth in three games and the 632nd of his career putting him 8 goals behind Dave Andreychuk who is in 12th place.

Two goals by Montreal plus passive play by the Rangers had given Montreal a 3-2 lead going into the third period. The Rangers were still sleep walking until Fedor Tyutin's rocket off the post woke them up. As I watched this game I became more and more convinced that there are three people that this team doesn't need and it would be addition by subtraction if they were gone. They are: Coach clueless, Marek Malik and Marcel Hossa. Meanwhile Ivan Baranka and Nigel Dawes are still in Hartford out of deference to two marginal NHL players. They are contributing nothing to this team. Watching Shanahan and Jagr comport themselves night in and night out is proof to me that this team doesn't need a coach, especially a clueless one.

ICINGS: Number two son and I were joined by my son-in-law and my five year old granddaughter Allessandra. Her first question to me was, "Grandpa, what number does Sean Avery wear?" The guy must have it folks. He draws them from all ages. Finally. A Healthy and Happy New Year to all my Pundit readers and their families. May 2008 be the best year ever for you. God Bless.

Happy New Year

Habs' Blogs Roundup

Sometimes it's fun to visit the bloggers north of the border and get their take on things. It is a foreign country after all. Vive la difference!

Four Habs Fans:

  • Bullet Point Bonanza - The Sunday Brunch Game Day Skate & Rangers Game Preview and Open Thread -
    - 7 PM start, Madison Square Garden. Is it the last building left with no sponsor? How can I make jokes?
    - Pay your cover charge to The Dark Ranger. His avatar scares me;
    - Habs are 3-1-1 on the road trip so far, helping to tie the Sens for the most road wins in the East;
    - Rangers coming off decent wins against the Canes and the Leafs, and are starting to show their offense;
    - Habs have scored 5 goals in 2 straight games for the first time since, I don't know, 1979;
    - Hot sexy Habs - I told you, 5 goals in 2 straight, so everyone! Even Michael Ryder!

    [Once you get to know him The Dark Ranger is not that scary.]

  • Canadiens' Contingent at the WJC - One year after the Habs had 3 players play major roles for their respective teams, including the the tourny MVP the Habs again have 3 players in this year's edition of the WJC, albeit in much reduced roles...
Habster / All Habs:
  • Hockey's Future: 2009 prospects: Victor Hedman - Simply put, Victor Hedman is a beast who has the potential to be the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL draft if his development continues to elevate over the next 18-20 months.
  • Habs Inside/Out: Ryan O'Byrne suffers broken thumb... - Canadiens rookie defenceman Ryan O'Byrne broke his right thumb in a fight against Tanner Glass late in the third period of Friday night's 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
    O'Byrne has returned to Montreal. Mark Streit will move to defence for the road trip-ending Sunday night game against the Rangers in New York.
Jaclyn / Habs Haven:
  • Habs Are Victorious In Montr--errr...I mean, Florida - Well, there was certainly no shortage of Montreal supporters at the BankAtlantic Center last night in Sunrise, Florida...
  • 07-08 Playback - Canadiens @ Penguins on October 27th of 2007. The final score of this game was 4-3 in a shootout and for those of you who happened to remember watching this particular game, you would know that this was no ordinary shootout. It took the 16th shooter to register a goal and the winning goal at that. That player was Andrei Markov...
  • Last Week's Poll Results - "Should Bob Gainey attempt to trade struggling winger Mike Ryder?" ...
Jeff J. / Sisu Hockey:
  • Googling PJ Stock Returns A Lot Of Stock Photos Of Pyjamas - Keeping up appearances of trying to sign the record-setting PP point man to appease the fans, knowing full well that Souray would receive and accept a better offer elsewhere? If this is really the way it played out, then it was a brilliant move by Bob Gainey.
  • транскрипция? - The guys are brothers, but apparently that's not enough for nhl.com to spell their surnames identically. Kostsitsyn? Kastsitsyn?
  • Diary of a Madman - This post is intended to be a bit of a primer for other Habs fans, demonstrating how I interpret some of these numbers for the Habs. If you think this is all hogwash, you're not alone. If you see something that piques your interest, I recommend reading some archives of some of the more numbers-oriented blogs
Eyes on the Prize:
Lions in Winter:
A Theory of Ice:
  • 12-8-07: Hurricanes 5, Canadiens 1 - As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross famously pointed out, any time a person loses someone or something important to them, they go through 5 identifiable stages of grief. It is, apparently, a nearly universal human pattern that allows one to psychologically adjust to the absence of something important in one’s life. Like, for example, a half-decent hockey team, which everyone knows is one of essentials of a happy, healthy existence. The Habs, however, are not a half-decent team these days, so I’d appreciate it if fans of other teams (Leafs excepted, of course, we know what vindictive souls y’all are) would approach each of us henceforth as one would a person who has just suffered the loss of a loved one in a mysterious and inexplicable accident. For the benefit of said other fans, let’s take a moment to review the 5 stages of hockey-fan grieving...
en français

Saturday, December 29, 2007

WOW!

The Rangers may have put an end to the could of, would of, should of as they completely routed the Maple Leafs before a stunned crowd at the Air Canada Centre. The Rangers scored five power play goals including two by Petr Prucha (3,4) and one each by Jagr (10), Shanahan (13) and Straka (7). The lone five on five goal was by Blair Betts, his second, as the fourth line continued their outstanding play.

Jaromir Jagr had a four point game, picking up three assists. It was the first time this season he had a four point game. Jagr now has 33 points for the season, tying him with Scott Gomez who picked up an assist and now has an eleven game point streak, the highest of his career. Jagr's goal was the game winner and he now has 111 game winners in his career putting him in sole possession of third place, seven behind Phil Esposito and ten behind Gordie Howe. Two of the Rangers power play goals were on the five on three as the Maple Leafs completely self destructed. Their one goal was scored by Darcy Tucker to break the shutout.

The recipient of this outburst was Steve Valiquette, who is now 2-2-1 this year and both wins against Toronto at Toronto in front of his mom and dad. This time his dad had the courage to stick it out the whole game. So the Rangers have now won two straight after going 2-6-2 and now are one point behind the Devils, who lost to the Islanders tonight, for the lead in the Atlantic Division. Of course they are only seven points ahead of the 13th place team in the Division. But they seem to have found their offense.

Tomorrow night against Montreal at the Garden will be the second leg of a five game Canadian stretch which then goes on the road to Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton. The Rangers may, I did say may, be hitting their stride as the slumbering giant, Jaromir Jagr seems to be awakening and Petr Prucha may be ready to break out, especially on the power play. All systems are go and a good stretch here is key to maintaining their position in their toughest road trip of the season.

ICINGS:

Video highlights: Rangers Rake Leafs
note: nhl.tv allows you to replay each goal and some of the saves from the links on the righthand side of the video window

Friday, December 28, 2007

For the love of the game

The Rocky Mountain News has a great list of the Oddballs of '07:

The strangest hops and funniest bounces from the year that was in the world of sports ... [here's a few]

Golfer Jay Williamson picked a person from the gallery to serve as his caddie after arguing with and firing his regular caddie on the 15th hole during the first round of the Canadian Open. ...

A Staten Island, N.Y., mother sued a Little League coach after her son was injured while sliding into second base because, the lawsuit claims, the coach failed to teach the woman's son the "skills needed to avoid and/or minimize the risks of injury." ...

A member of the New York Islanders' Ice Girls, a team of women that cleans the ice during television timeouts, claims she was spit on by someone on the New York Rangers bench and another reportedly had her squeegee slashed by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist after he refused to move from his crease. ...

New York Red Bulls soccer player Jozy Altidore, 17, was too afraid to ask coach Bruce Arena in person, so he called him seeking permission to miss a match so he could take his girlfriend to her prom. ...

Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard hosted his second youth fighting camp in Canada, which teaches young hockey players the finer points of on-ice pugilism. ...

"Dead man walking" was how New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey referred to a prankster who put some of the unwashable dye that banks use to mark money inside one of his receiving gloves. It took days for the purple dye to fade from Shockey's left hand. ...
Sports Business Radio:
SBR's Top 20 Sports Business Stories of 2007
14. NY Knicks mess - This has become THE worst organization in all of sports. From an embarassing sexual harassment trial with Dolan and Thomas to a miserable record for the NBA team with the highest payroll, James Dolan and company continue to set the bar lower and lower each week. ...
Newsweek:
The 10 Biggest Sports Stories of 2007

Courtney PrinceNY Daily News:
MSG settles sex harassment suit with ex-Ranger cheerleader Courtney Prince
Still reeling from one sex harassment suit, Madison Square Garden settled another Wednesday - striking an out-of-court deal with the former head of the Rangers pep squad.

A lawyer for Courtney Prince, the fired captain of the Ranger City Skaters, confirmed the deal but wouldn't elaborate.

"We resolved this matter with no admission of wrongdoing on the part of any party," her lawyer, Kathleen Peratis, said in a statement.

The Garden issued an identical statement.

Prince filed suit in 2004, claiming the Garden was a virtual frathouse where male executives treated cheerleaders like sex objects. . .

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Comeback Kids

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Oh Prince Henrik! We are not worthyThe Rangers did something last night that they haven't done since the first game of the season. They came from behind in the third period to win a hockey game. Jaromir Jagr did something he hasn't done all year. He scored two goals in one game. Even the refs did something that I have never seen. They called a five minute interference call on Colton Orr, who leveled Matt Cullen, knocking him out of the game. I have never heard of a five minute interference call. I thought Cullen had the puck and a case could have been made for elbowing, which I didn't think was the case, but I didn't see interference.

It was a feisty game fired up by a holiday crowd that reacted to every hit and save as if the season was on the line. It was only the third Ranger win in the last eleven games so there was a little desperation in both the Rangers play and the crowd's enthusiasm. Two Ranger were ejected from the game. Orr, who tangled with Commodore after Orr's hit, and Avery, who tangled with Ladd and anyone else who would get in his way.

The big guys all delivered. Jagr, with his two goals and number one star status, didn't seem that pleased accepting the award. Gomez, played great racking up two assists. His last assist was a thing of beauty, stripping the puck from a Carolina defender behind the Carolina net and feeding Jagr who backhanded it in. Drury was the third star getting the tying goal by doing the dirty work in front of the net. Shanahan got two huge assists. Both were shots on goal during power plays that resulted in Drury's tying goal and Girardi's game winner. Simple game. Shoot that puck, score that goal.

Can't sign off without mentioning Henrik Lundqvist, who in the final minutes made two out of this world saves. Carolina pulled their goalie with almost two minutes to play and the Rangers started to self destruct with penalties. It went from six skaters to five, down to six vs four and finally to six vs three and through it all the Prince stood tall, well actually prone and flat and tall. Well you get the idea. The crowd went wild letting out all the enthusiasm, frustration and cheap beer it had in them. Hail to The Prince.

ICINGS: You keep reading about the Garden scandals and now a former Ranger ice girl has settled a law suit with the Garden over Ranger management behavior, or lack of it. Amazing how the management of this once proud organization has declined in class. No more Season Greetings or Happy Holidays on the ice or seasonal music. Boy how I miss Mike Gutkowski who was Mr. Class and the organization showed it. However. I did have a grand time last night with number one son and two of my grand kids, Kaila and Nicholas, cheering on our beloved Rangers. Lets Go Rangers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas The Night Before (A Ranger) Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Ranger land
They were all rockin to the beat of the James Dolan band:
The banners were hung on the rafters with care,
With the hope that the Stanley Cup soon will be there.

Management was nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of dollars danced in their heads.
Sather, the Stealth, was busy shopping,
For a big moose that could do some popping.

When up in the Blue seats there arose such a clatter,
They sent Sean Avery up, to see what was the matter,
Away from the bench Renney raced up to the blues
But when he got there he was clue (less).

With MSG tapping the spree,
Along came Sam Rosen and Joe Michelletti,
And what to their wondering eyes would appear,
Six Ranger defensemen moving to the rear.

With a little old driver who came to the haven,
They all knew it was Stan Fischler, The Maven.
More rapid than fore checkers his players they came,
And he stammered and shouted and called them by name.

Now, Hollweg! now, Drury! now Gomez and Prucha!
On, Callahan! on, Betts on, Shanahan and Straka!
To the top of the Garden they dare not tarry!
For they did not want to miss Dancing Larry!

And then they heard the crowd a rootin,
As along came Strudwick and Fedor Tyutin,
As they cheered aloud and were turning around,
From the rafters came Brian Leetch with a bound.

And his ex-mates, Mike Richter and Adam Graves,
You knew it would be tough not to behave.
And the youngsters looked at them in awe!
Girardi and Staal and Nigel Dawes.

They knew this was the crew who won it in '94,
As in came Dubinsky, Mara and Greg Moore!
This was the group they would get the most of,
They were joined by Orr, Malik and Hossa.

But they all knew it would be no cinch,
Even though they had Lundqvist, The Prince.
They did not want it to be a drag-ger,
So they called on the Man, Jaromir Jagr.

They spoke not a word, they knew of the dangers,
But the crowd urged them on, shouting "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."

Silent Night

Merry Christmas from the Rangers forwards
For the fifth straight game at the Garden, Ottawa beat the Rangers. The team that the Rangers will have to get through if they want to play for the Cup has complete dominance over the Rangers at MSG. It's now five out of five, for the season Ottawa took three out of four. The script is getting old. The Rangers took the early lead and couldn't hold it. Marc Staal had an unlucky night when two pucks deflected off him past an unfortunate Henrik Lundqvist. In past days Lundqvist would have stopped the first, off of Staal's leg, and probably got a glove on the second, off of Staal's stick, but not last night.

But it was of no matter, the Rangers have no offense. The closest they came was a rocket by Jagr off the post in the third period. Shades of Bones Raleigh, circa 1950. I guess I'm doomed to watching Ranger rockets hit crossbars and posts. The best offense came from the fourth line and their forechecking was constantly keeping the puck away from the Senators. However, there are no goal scorers on that line. Come to think about it there are no goal scorers on any line. The Rangers outshot the Senators but most of the shots were from poor angles.

It's close to Christmas so we will cut down on the criticism; but please explain to me why Gomez and Avery got minium ice time in the third period and why with about 1:20 left to play Gomez wasn't on the ice but two defensemen, Rozsival and Tyutin were on the ice. Two goals down and coach clueless is still playing defense.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rocky Mountain Low

Rocky Mountain Low
Well the Rangers went to the mountain and it did nothing but bring them more grief. Ah, the apologists will tell us they played better and earned a point. Did they really play better? Henrik Lundqvist made 16 saves in the first period and the Rangers left the ice after one leading 1-0. There were massive giveaways and misplays. Most of the saves Lundqvist made were from in close. It was amazing. The Rangers kept giving it away and The Prince kept coming up big. You knew it wasn't going to last.

Lundqvist had to fight through a double minor given to Rozsival and later in the period he was outstanding killing off 1:43 of a 5 on 3. Blair Betts was outstanding also during this penalty blocking many a shot. It didn't take long for the Rangers loose play to burn Lundqvist. Strudwick tried one of those soft passes, for which the Ranger D-men have become famous for, and it was converted into the tying goal by Milan Hejduk his first of two as he looked like he would duplicate Gaborik's performance of the previous night. The Rangers rallied to lead 3-2 on goals by Rozsival (9) and Staal (2).

The tying goal that killed the Rangers was a softie by Marek Svatos who fanned initially and then rolled one through Lundqvist. Bad goal but what do you expect when your players are giving away the puck and they refuse to hit anyone who has the puck. Then the winner in OT when after a flurry in front of the Colorado net the Rangers were caught up ice, at least Jagr was, and Jeff Finger pounced on a loose puck and fired a shot that was saved by Lundqvist but a big juicy rebound was tucked in by Wojtek Wolski, left alone, for the winner. There was Jagr standing by the boards watching all this. Somehow the score sheet has him missing on this goal. I think he was missing all night and has been missing for a while now. While the big guys on the other teams have been stepping up our big guy is counting the house. Is there something wrong here?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Birthday Blues

Today is a natural "77" for the Old Pundit. The Rangers have played thirty games on my birthday since that famous day 77 years ago. Their record is 14-11-4, basically a .500 team. So they are playing up to par right now. Actually they are playing below that number as they truly fail to compete every night and their play lacks any semblance of intensity and tenacity except on some rare occasions. So we shall suffer through another year of mediocrity and failure to play up to expectations. But it's not new to me and maybe I've been around them too long and the cynicism is hard to dismiss. Without a complete sweep of the management team this season is another one that will end in disappointment. Happy Birthday Pundit!

Returning HeroesThere is a group in Texas trying to build a support center called the Warrior and Family Support Center and they need help and money to build a new center for returning injured veterans. If you can take a little time from your busy Christmas and holiday schedules and send them a check, I'm sure they would appreciate it greatly.

For credit cards call 1-888-343-HERO or at ReturningHeroesHome.org

By mail: Returning Heroes Home
P.O. Box 202194
Dallas, Texas 75320-2194

Checks should be made out to Returning Heroes Home Inc. This is a nonprofit 501c3 endeavor; all donations are tax deductible. Thank you and God Bless You.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TOASTED!

Rangers were Toasted!
For a while tonight I thought that I was watching Wayne Gretzky in the old WHL or was it Mario Lemieux against the Rangers in 1993 with five goals? I witnessed that game and the performance was so bad that Ranger fans were chanting, "We Suck." Tonight not only were the Rangers bad, the refs were bad. We picked up two unsportsmanlike penalties on plays where the Wild should have been penalized.

The first one was Burns elbowing Prucha. No call on Burns, but Rangers get two minutes for yapping too much. Second one was a blatant crosscheck on Drury, no penalty on the Wild, but the Rangers get two minutes for yapping again. Two dangerous hits that should have been penalties and weren't called, but let a hand touch a body or a stick near the waist and the whistle blows. Both calls led to Wild PP goals as the Rangers gave up three PP goals.

In case you haven't heard Marian Gaborik scored five goals tonight. Two were goals that he hit out of mid air. One goal he waltzed through the Rangers without anyone even looking at him. One goal was a give away and he skated in all alone on Lundqvist. Another goal he put in his own rebound in front of Lundqvist. No one laid a hand on him all game. It was like he had leprosy and if you touched him you got it too. However, Prucha continues to get hammered, but no retaliation by the Rangers. Strudwick tried by exchanging blows with Voros, but no one went after Burns after the hit on Prucha. Prucha gets hammered every night, but we never retaliate. In the old days we sent the enforcer out to get the culprit. Do the Rangers have an enforcer?

I was puzzled by the comments of Shanahan and Lundqvist after the game implying that the Rangers didn't play that bad a game and it was a contest five on five. Huh? Did they miss Jagr giving up the puck meekly leading to the Wild's first score? Did they miss Girardi and Tyutin getting toasted regularly by the Wild's forwards? Did they miss Drury making an ill advised cross ice pass that was picked off by Gaborik? Did they miss the fact that Lundqvist stopped only twelve shots out of eighteen? How could you have played a good game when the other team has a guy who scores five goals against you in one night?

So tomorrow we go to Colorado who is 13-3 at home and they love to come after you so prepare for another rough night. However, tomorrow is a big day for me and I will not let the Rangers ruin it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Night Stand

One Night Stand for Renney?
Well for one night it worked. For a change coach clueless made the right moves. He scratched Malik and Hossa and that opened up all kinds of good things for the Rangers. Marc Staal was moved to the first defensive pairing with Rozsival and that steadied Rozsival who racked up three assists, two on the power play. Strudwick moved back to defense which allowed Ryan Hollweg back in the lineup from exile in the blue seats. Hollweg was an instant hit, five to be exact, and along with Betts and Orr shut down the Sidney Crosby line. They were the unofficial stars of the game. The HBO line of Hollweg, Bets and Orr. Kudos.

The other change by 'clued for one night' was putting the top six scorers on the top two lines and leaving them there all night, no adjustments and no tweaks. It paid off. Gomez, centering Jagr and Straka had two goals, (7,8) and an assist, Straka had a goal (5) and an assist and Drury had a goal (8) and an assist. Seven different players shared the points. The Rangers were 2-7 on the PP. Pittsburgh was 0-4 on the PP.

Lundqvist who took a nap for the first two periods, 5 shots, put up his 6th shutout of the season which ties him for the league lead with Pascal Leclaire of Columbus. It was Lundqvist's 13th career shutout. The last game the Rangers won was also a shutout by Lundqvist, 1-0 over the Devils in OT back on December 9th. Lundqvist stopped 13 shots in the third period as the Pens tried to rally. Lundqvist was number one star, Gomez #2 and Chris Drury number three.

Now the Rangers go on a two day swing of Minnesota and Colorado and we shall see if this truly was a revival or a one nighter. Pittsburgh did not offer the same fierce forechecking that Phoenix and Washington did so the jury is still out. Let's see if the top two lines stay in place for a few games. Let's see if Malik and Hossa continue to sit and that Dawes continues to get meaningful ice time. Let's see if the fourth line continues to go against the other guys top lines. One game does not make me a believer. Let's see.

ICINGS: Joseph Kaiser of the Metropolitan Opera, who is starring in Romeo and Juliet, belted out the National Anthem and I mean belted out. He had to fight off the jerks who continue to chant nonsense during the singing but he received a loud ovation at the conclusion. Much better than John Amirante waving his arm to stir up an already rowdy crowd. The National Anthem deserves respect and not some inane chant.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Will 'Shakeup' Wakeup the Rangers?

John Dellapina, The NY Daily News
Tom Renney's goal in shakeup is more goals, wins for Rangers:

For a solid month, Tom Renney had three excellent reasons to avoid overhauling his forward lines even though the combinations left Jaromir Jagr largely to fend for himself:

  1. The Rangers were winning.
  2. The familiarity was contributing to the Rangers keeping the puck out of their own net.
  3. Jagr preferred remaining tethered to rookie Brandon Dubinsky rather than being centered by either Scott Gomez or Chris Drury.
With Reasons 1 and 2 no longer applying and Reason 3 defying reason, Renney yesterday moved some big pieces around in preparation for tonight's visit to the Garden by Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. . .
NY Post:
DESPERATE RENNEY SHUFFLES RANGER DECK

Newsday:
Slumping Rangers juggle line combinations
Blue Notes: Jagr, Gomez reunited in shuffle...

Journal News:
Rangers might turn to Gomez to spark Jagr

NorthJersey.com:
Play Drury or Gomez with Jagr

Sunday, December 16, 2007

'Yotes Yowl!

Go back to my last post. My post, dated 12/13/07, entitled Slipping Away, not jb's flights of fancy posts. In the last sentence of my first paragraph I wrote, "Bad news for Sunday's game, three days of practice."

Just as sure as God made little green apples the Rangers collapsed after not being able to score on an early minute power play. Check it out. The more time off the Rangers have to practice the worse they play. So what do they learn during practice? The practices according to 'inside' sources are gruelling. Wonderful. They must have left their game in that intense practice Micheletti was taking about after the game. So they are telling us if we really want to see the Rangers at their best we best schlep up to Westchester County and watch coach clueless and his lieutenants run an intense, hard skating practice. The only hard skating the Rangers did tonight was skate off the ice after the final buzzer.

Poor Valiquette, I feel for him. The Coyotes first goal was off of Tyutin's skate and then the Rangers stayed away from the net leaving Valiquette hanging out to dry. For some reason coach clueless felt impelled to put Marek Malik back in the lineup. Why? Watching him and Rozsival trying to get out of their own zone was a comedy act worthy of Abbott and Costello in their prime. The young ' Yotes forechecked the hell out of the Rangers as did the Caps the previous game. The Rangers are now 1-4-1 in the last six and have been outscored 24-10 in those contests. Whatever happened to coach clueless comment that not playing defense is not an option. He should restate it, maybe one of the nots fell out of the sentence.

Staying home has its benefits. I got to see the news conference. There was coach clueless with the look of the deer in the headlights. He sat Hollweg so Hollweg could see from the stands what he can do better when he returns to the lineup. So that's how it works, you have to sit to see how you can play better when you return. It didn't help Malik. If his logic is correct, then I suggest coach clueless goes and sits, for the rest of the season, and maybe he might learn a thing or two about what's wrong with his team.

What's wrong with his team? Well, obviously they can't score. They have no forechecking ability. Their attack is more ad-libbed than planned. They are not able to handle a tough forechecking team. Their defense is soft not only with taking the body but even their passes are soft. This is something that Girardi and Tyutin are doing more of, soft passes. Are they learning from Rozsival/Malik? Ray Bourque, the great defenseman had a philosophy on hockey. He said, you skate hard, shoot hard, hit hard and pass hard. I think tonight we were 0-4 on Borque's theory. The Rangers do everything opposite. Every facet of the game is soft. The cutesy passes that are often picked off by the opposition leading to odd man rushes.

But the worse part is that there is no idea on how to fix these problems. The Rangers are in a free fall and all we hear are words. Well we are only four points out of first you say. Were it not for Henrik Lundqvist and his sparkling play we would be about four points out of last place. He has carried this team so far without any support from the big guns. Or the little guns either. Lately there have been signs that Henrik is starting to crack. If the crack becomes serious the season is over. The other thing that is obvious is that the 'detrimental' Avery is sorely missed. Without him the Rangers have no spine. What he and the Rangers need are more Averys. We need more check mates for Avery and less Czech mates for Jagr.

Of course what we really need is a coach that has a clue about what's going on. However, then we would need a GM with a plan and an owner with some vision. Boy, are we in trouble.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Elf Pundit

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The Elf Pundit
link:
elfyourself.com: The Dancing Elf Pundit

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kayvon Zahedi meets Mr. Glen Sather

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Kayvon Zahedi meets Slats
Video: Kayvon meets Glen “Slats” Sather at NHL Awards:
What a truly hectic time and whirlwind adventure I had at the 2007 NHL Awards which were held at the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Thursday, June 14, 2007. Before we even got to the red carpet, I had a chance to meet the great Glen Sather - supreme architect and general manager of the Edmonton Oiler dynasty (home of my all-time personal favorite, Mr. Glenn Anderson.) Well… meeting Slats didn’t quite turn out as expected...
Yep, that's our 'Slats', now supreme architect and general manager of the New York Rangers. Kayvon doesn't know Slats like Rangers fans do ...

Glen Sather aka the evil Dr. Zen Blatherthe evil Dr. Zen Blather

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Slipping Away

Ranger season slipping away?
It not only refers to last night's game it is also pertinent to the Ranger season. Shanahan, who personally lead the comeback to tie the game twice, slips in OT and the Rangers lose. The Rangers are 4-5-1 in the last ten and are merely treading water, or is it ice, right now? Do you also notice how poorly the team plays when it has more than one day of practice? Bad news for Sunday's game, three days of practice.

The Rangers who are on a 1-3-1 skid have been outshot 19-9 in those five games and the one win was the Devil shutout. Another thing. Since Washington changed coaches they are 6-3-1, overall 12-17-2. Another team that has blossomed since changing coaches is Atlanta which is playing way over .500 with its new coach. Hmm! Changing coaches in the early part of the season to wake up a lethargic team, what a novel idea. You think the Stealth GM would do it. The absentee owner would have to fire the Stealth.

The Caps were charging all night and the Rangers could not build on their two goal lead. Sounds familiar. Coach clueless blamed the team. How often has the team blown two goal leads. You don't think the team goes into its 'defensive mode' and stops attacking, do you? It sure seemed that way last night. Ovechkin ran all over the Rangers last night. A goal, an assist, five shots on goal and five hits. Jagr had an assist, three shots on goal, a few giveaways and many pirouettes. Ovechkin plays North American style hockey, Jagr plays Euro-soccer hockey. It's time to make Brandon Shanahan the team captain. Shanny tried to bring the team back with an assist on Straka's tying goal and then his own tying goal. But then he stumbled or slipped and so did the Rangers.

ICINGS: Rosen remarked about how he was surprised by so many empty seats in the Washington Arena. Why act surprised, it's like that many nights in most arenas. The Rangers have empty seats every night but we always get the usual 18,200. The NHL is not putting a good product on the ice. The Rangers, overloaded with offensive firepower, have morphed into the New Jersey Devils. So the games are boring and we have a ton of goalies with GAA's around the 2.0 stat. I'm stopping now, this team with a couple of exceptions is becoming annoying. Plus the sleet and snow are starting to fall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where to Watch the NHL Online

News you can use. Website Last100.com has some helpful info.

Where to watch NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL online:

The Internet is not just a place to get the latest scores and follow your favorite team in the standings. The Web has evolved so well that it has displaced traditional media as the first-stop source for all your major-sports needs.

Except for local coverage, there’s no need to watch TV sportscasts anymore. Pardon the sports pun, but the Internet has all the bases covered — from providing the usual scores, standings, and statistics to rich, always-available highlights, interviews, streaming games, downloadable games, podcasts, extensive season and historical archives, and a host of mobile solutions from wallpapers and ringtones to live GameCasts with Audio. Best of all, there are no timetables...

NHL TVWhere to Watch the NHL Online

Like the NBA, the NHL also has a YouTube channel [free], with nearly 21,000 subscribers and 1.4 million channel views less than halfway into the season. The quality of the NHL’s channel — as with the NBA’s channel — is typical YouTube: lower resolution for faster load times. It’s a great way to pick through the highlights of last night’s games.

The NHL streams games to Comcast digital Internet subscribers and will let Slingbox users share video clips online. Like the NBA, the NHL offers additional games though NHL Center Ice to the satellite companies and other digital cable providers.

The NHL’s video portal is NHL TV / NHL Center Ice Online [Adobe Flash Player needed], accessible through the league’s Web site, which is much more overcrowded and difficult to navigate than the NFL’s, NBA’s, and MLB’s sites. As with the other leagues, fans can find clips, interviews, highlights, analysis, and historical footage at NHL TV...

Web Mobile Satellite
NHL NHL.com NHL Mobile Center Ice (DISH)
video highlights (via NHL TV) wallpapers/ringtones Center Ice (DirecTV)
Center Ice Online Mobile Club SMS alerts
NHL Game Radio NHL PowerShot2
NHL Channel on YouTube Mobile Web
NHL Podcasts

Sling Media

NHL video content available on iTunes

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ducks want "Crazy or Downright Outrageous" fans

Ducks want Crazy or Downright Outrageous fans
You can tell the Anaheim Ducks are working hard to attract fans. They are holding a "fan contest" to win a Honda Ridgeline.

The Ducks website:

What kinds of funny, crazy or downright outrageous things would you be willing to do to win a Honda Ridgeline? We want to find out!

Submit a video 30 seconds or less showing us what you’re willing to do to win a brand new 2008 Honda Ridgeline.

We’ll show selected contestant videos all season long at selected Anaheim Ducks home games and let the fans choose their favorites.

The more creative the better, and winning entries will then qualify for a chance to win a brand new Honda Ridgeline at our final home game on Fan Appreciation Night.

The sooner you enter, the more games and chances you’ll have to win, so get out your camera phones, digital or video cameras and show us what you’ve got!
Would any Rangers fans sign on for a chance at a new car? These restrictions apply:
  1. Must be a resident of the United States (void in NY, FL, and RI).
  2. Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  3. Videos that show the destruction of public property or property that does not belong to the contestant, offensive behavior/visuals, use offensive language or are inappropriate in any way for viewing by the general public will be disqualified.
The 'outrageous' plan: Go win the car. Put NY Rangers logos on sides. Post video of "Rangers mobile" in action on YouTube and give us the link, which we'll post.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Henrik Is Back

In a double streak ending contest, Henrik Lundqvist returned to form against the Devils today with his fifth shutout of the year, his twelfth careerwise and his second against the Devils this year. Lundqvist is now 9-2-3 against the Devils and Broduer since he came into the NHL. The win ended a three game Ranger losing streak and ended a nine game Devil winning streak. While Lundqvist only had to make 17 saves, he had two beauties in the first period. Thirteen seconds in, on sloppy play by the Rangers, he made a great save on Parise's deflection and then some more sloppiness by the Rangers forced him to make a great save on Madden's breakaway. Broduer made 28 saves and was voted third star.

Shanahan with the game winning goal, his tenth and second game winner, came off a beautiful feed by Gomez 30 seconds into OT. I wasn't there and watched the game on TV but I'll bet a big part of the crowd missed it coming back late to their seats because they needed another cheap beer. Shanny was the number one star and Lundqvist was number two. Broduer had no chance on the one timer. The Rangers have beaten the Devils four out of four this year.

While winning and having Lundqvist return to form was great, the Rangers overall problems still remain. The power play was 0-5 and it was the old story of pass, pass, pass and then pass. The number one line of Dubinsky, Jagr and Straka got all of two shots on goal the entire game and were practically useless on the PP where they got most of the time. The second line was spearheaded by Gomez who had a great game against his former team and got five shots on goal before setting up the game winner. The best line was the Drury, Callahan, Prucha line which played aggressive the entire game and got eight shots on goal.

It was fun listening to the drive by media announcers and commentators spinning what a great game plan coach clueless had in pulling off the victory. What? Henrik Lundqvist pulled off the victory. If you were watching you saw it, you don't need spinmeisters. Anyway, lets enjoy The Prince getting back to form and maybe one of these days the big O might actually wake up.

ICINGS: Nigel Dawes continued his hot streak with 2 goals and 3 assists in his last game. In 12 games with Hartford, Dawes is 9-4-23. Greg Moore in 24 games is 14-13-27. Remember what the great Redskin coach Allen once said, "The future is now."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sinking Fast

going down
It was too good to be true. Marek Malik was going to sit as Paul Mara returned to the lineup. That was about as good as it was going to get. Yes, the Rangers came back with two straight goals, the first by Marcel Hossa and Chris Drury's seventh, to give them a brief 2-1 lead and then the tying goal by Dupuis and finally the winner by Kozlov past backup Steve Valiquette who started for Lundqvist. Marian Hossa, quiet all night, scored an empty netter to close out the game.

Valiquette, making 18 saves, did not play badly, but should have had Kozlov's game winner. However, he was not to blame for the loss as the Rangers offense, except for the first period spurt, was non existent. The top line was the chief culprit. They were on the ice for Atlanta's second and third goals and put very little pressure on Atlanta's goalie Johan Hedberg who is now 8-3-0 against the Rangers. Jagr continued his slide with only two shots on goal and Straka had none and over passed on numerous occasions. But Lazarus arose from the dead and maybe so will Jagr. The second and third line had some good spurts and the Drury, Prucha, Callahan line was quite aggressive. Each of these two lines had a goal as Hossa was paired with Gomez and Shanahan.

Now it is the red hot New Jersey Devils, winners of nine straight, in the Garden Sunday, and it could get ugly both on the ice and in the stands. The Rangers have lost three straight and while sitting Malik was a good move, coach clueless must come up with some kind of plan how to turn this rudderless ship around. The Rangers are 3-0-0 against the Devils, including a shootout win, but that was before Sutter shook up the Devils. Patrik Elias is no longer the captain. What a novel thought, removing the C from an underachieving captain. Coach clueless doesn't have the guts to make such a move. Did I tell you that Pat Burns is looking to get back to coaching in the NHL?

Of course the other reason the Rangers have swept the Devils is Henrik Lundqvist. Right now this is a much different Lundqvist who has given up eight goals in his last five periods. His GAA is 2.02, the first time all year he is above 2.0. Look for Lundqvist to be back in the nets Sunday night and the first period will be critical for the Rangers. The Rangers are now 2 points behind the Devils and sinking fast. But if the Rangers goal scoring funk continues it may not matter how good Lundqvist plays.

ICINGS: Chris Drury scored the 200th goal of his NHL career and has picked up his game.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Trouble In Gotham City

Ranger Pundit: Trouble In Gotham City
I read an article the other day that said that Paul Maurice is in trouble as the Toronto Maple Leaf coach. If Maurice is in trouble then coach clueless is in double trouble and in fact should be finished.

Before a less than capacity crowd, at least 2-3 thousand short, and about a couple of thousand Toronto fans, the Rangers worst nightmare is starting to take shape. Henrik Lundqvist played like a mere mortal tonight and gave up four goals on ten shots before exiting after the second period.

Henrik Lundqvist is in a slump and therefore the scoreless wonders known as the New York Rangers are also in in a slump. You can't have one without the other. Forget Jagr. Forget Avery. As Lundqvist goes so go the Rangers. Lundqvist has given up 15 goals in 5 games while the Rangers have scored 13 goals in those 5 games and are 2-3 in those five games. Lundqvist cannot save the inept and soft Ranger defense much longer. Lundqvist has not been that sharp since coming back from that one game rest against the Panthers in Florida.

After scoring nine goals against the Islanders and Senators the Ranger offense has returned to mediocrity. The two goals tonight were by defensemen Girardi and Tyutin and both were on power plays. The even strength Ranger offense did nothing. There was no forecheck or sustained offense. They got all of 25 shots on goal. While the D supplied the offense its defense left something to be desired. Toronto forechecked with two forwards, sometimes three, and the Rangers had trouble getting the puck out of their own end. The so called top pair of Rozsival and Malik were awful and Malik's double minor led to a Toronto PP goal that started the rout. It is galling to know that when Mara returns it will not be Malik who sits. It'll be either Strudwick or Staal.

So we have useless Malik while Pock is in Hartford and we have useless Hossa while Dawes is scoring goals in Hartford. Of course we have a lot of other uselesses but most of them make big bucks and it's only a question of time before they open up and turn things around. At least that's what coach clueless and the drive by sports media would have us believe.

So coach clueless will preach defense at all costs tonight in Atlanta and those of you that were all excited about us being in first place in the Atlantic Division may soon find that by the end of this week or early next week the Rangers will be in last place in the Atlantic Division.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

M.I.A.

Its been a long morning. I had to arise early to go for a physical and that is why I did not show up at the game last night. However, I wasn't the only one who didn't show up last night, the Rangers didn't show up either, with some minor exceptions. I'm amazed at hockey players. They have to skate anywhere from 15-20 minutes a night and some of them seem to have a problem doing that night in and night out. They put in roughly 20-30 hours a year and they get tired and can't always give it their all. Think of it. How many hours a week, a year you put in? Do you ever mail it in? You can't.

Sam and Joe kept praising the fourth line for their great work but what did it get them? Hollweg got all of 8:13, Orr got 9:05 and Betts got 10:20 of which 2:01 was PK time. The usual suspects got their usual amount of big time Straka got 21:40 with three shots and Jagr got 20:49 with two shots. Two shots in over twenty minutes boils down to a shot every ten minutes, tough night for the big guy. Hopefully, he will show up against Toronto, and I do mean show up. There was one sequence in the first period when both Jagr and Straka passed up shots to pass the puck backward, away from the net, to no avail. Coach clueless was behind the bench for sixty minutes, that was confirmed.

Carolina is last in the NHL in goals against having given up 86 goals in 28 games. They are also last in PK with a 75% success rate. The Ranger were 0-4 on the PP getting six shots in eight minutes. How bad was this game? Bad enough for me to go back and fourth with an old John Wayne movie that I have seen many times, Angel and the Badman. It ends for the best and the Duke doesn't even have a gun in his hand at the end. The Rangers could have used a gun at the end.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Payback In Ottawa

The Dark Ranger must be very happy right now. The Rangers are in first place in the Atlantic Division over the hated Philadelphia Flyers by two points. The Flyers play Dallas tonight in Philly.

The Rangers got revenge big time against Ottawa today. They chased Martin Gerber, after the first period, scoring three first period goals. Remember Gerber shut out the Rangers last time they were in Ottawa back in October. Also, Lundqvist took over the lead in goalie wins passing Gerber, with 14 wins. The Rangers blitzed the Senators in the first period putting 12 shots on Gerber and cashing in three times. Dan Girardi started it with his third of the year, then a PP goal from Jagr, his seventh and Shanahan with his eight.

It looked like the Rangers would skate Ottawa right out of Scotiabank Place after Shanahan scored a PP goal, his ninth, at 9:33 of the second but Ottawa struck back five minutes later on a goal by Corvo. The third period saw the Rangers playing rope a dope as Heatley brought the Sens to within two at the 14:02 mark. Ottawa put 15 shots on goal in the third period but the Rock (Lundqvist) was there for all but Heatley's goal. Betts ended it with a empty netter for his first of the year. The Rangers only put four shots on goal in the third period.

So the Rangers who couldn't win a game on the road, now can't lose on the road. They are 6-0-1, with the shootout loss to Florida, in their last seven road games. Jagr scored in his third straight game and finally looks like he is ready to become Jagr. The question is, are the Rangers that good or is Ottawa, in a big six winless run, that bad? But the power play was 2-6 and has now scored two PP goals in the last two games. The Rangers are two points behind Ottawa for the Eastern Conference lead. How about that!