Friday, February 29, 2008

Carolina Comets

When coach clueless put Dubinsky and Avery on the same line with Jagr the plan was to invigorate Jags and get him scoring. Well the line has been a huge success and the big reason why the Rangers are now 11-3-2 in their last sixteen. But it's Dubs and 'The Detriment' who are breaking things up and making clueless look like a genius. Dubinsky scored his 13th, Avery his 11th, six in seven games, and Drury with the game winner his 21st and Shanny's clincher was his 21st.

The Rangers roared to a 3-0 lead and saw it close to 3-2. With echoes of Montreal in their heads Shanahan put it away off of a beautiful feed by Dawes who also continues to shine. With Callahan also playing well it remains to be seen where Prucha will play when he is ready. Lundqvist made 26 saves and the two goals that Carolina scored looked stoppable, but why argue with a big win.

The two new guys, Backman and Sjostrum gave mixed reviews. Backman used his stick for the wrong reasons and drew three penalties, so the book is still out on him, and I'm not impressed. Sjostrum on the other hand showed good speed and seems to have the potential to develop into something. We will see. Now it's the Dark Rangers favorite foe, the Flyers, Sunday at MSG and then the Islanders, home and home.

ICINGS:

If you haven't looked at it yet the NHLsCap.com website has some interesting info, for example the Rangers Team Salary Numbers etc.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Excitment in Bytown

They are very excited in Bytown (nickname for Ottawa). Ottawa Sentors blogger "Senators Lost Cojones" is jumping up and down. The Senators found some cojones.

Five For Smiting:
And Lo, It Came To Pass That The Bryan Ate His Minstrels. And There Was Much Rejoicing
-- I need to start this with an apology. *Ahem*...sorry PPP, but you aren't going to get the rage filled re-cap of Monday's unpleasantness you were so hoping for. I know I promised one (and actually had it half written. It was just taking far longer than usual, what with having to mop the spittle from the keyboard every now and then. But...) And for the rest of my Gentle Readers, I offer the same apology. To those of you who came here tonight, expecting a froth and profanity filled tirade following last night's Boston Massacre, I'm sorry. I can't. I just don't have it in me. I'm just too freakin' happy! ...

TSN:
Murray replaces Paddock as Sens' coach -- Having dropped six of their last eight games and 14 of their last 21, the Ottawa Senators fired head coach John Paddock with just 18 games remaining in the regular season.

Bryan Murray, who coached the Senators for two seasons before taking the general manager's job last summer, returns behind the bench for the stretch run.

"(The change) comes certainly because of performance lately," Murray told reporters at the team's hotel in Philadelphia. "I think the results that we'd been having or not having was an indicator that some adjustment, that some emotion had to be brought back to the team.
SlapShot said:
The part of Lou Lamoriello will be played this playoff season by Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. . .The Senators just played two colossal stinkers, losing by a combined 9-0 to Toronto and Boston. After a dazzling 15-2 start to the season, the Sens have misfired, particularly after injuries to their star forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley.

Lamoriello’s own Devils have dislodged the Sens as first in the East, and with the Canadiens right behind them in the Northeast Division, the Senators could find themselves on the express elevator down to sixth place. . .
Hey, wait. That sixth place rightfully belongs to the Rangers, Commander Tom has dibs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Stealth GM Strikes - And Misses

All the talk about dumping Malik to St. Louis or Tampa Bay was just that, talk. In fact the Stealth GM likes Malik so much he got his clone in someone named Christian Backman. He is another no hitter. Now, with Mara out, the Rangers defense does have more no hitters than Nolan Ryan. Just what we needed. We needed a tough defender who could clear the crease and we needed a D man who could quarterback the power play. We got neither.

Brian Campbell who would have filled the bill, especially on the PP, was purchased by the Sharks for Steve Bernier and a number 0ne draft pick. You don't think the Stealth should have tried harder? Bernier in all of 59 games has a grand total of 13 goals and 23 points. You don't think we could have beaten that deal? The Devils traded Cam Janssen for Bryce Salvador also of St. Louis. Salvador had 61 hits and 91 blocked shots. Backman had 18 and 38. You think we could have gotten Salvador, a tough D man, for Colton Orr? Did we try? Backman, a first round pick in 1998, has only played in 45 games this year. This is his fourth year in the NHL and he has not played a complete season yet. So he is soft in more ways than one. Welcome home Christian. You will fit right in.

The other deal involving Montoya and Hossa is baffling to me. Why the deal? Do we need more players in the minor league system? Do we owe Don Maloney a favor? Fredrik Sjostrom is the only regular in the deal and he will probably be riding the Hartford-New York shuttle. The other two, enforcer Josh Gratten and goalie David LeNeveu are both headed for the minors. For this we gave up a blue chip goalie prospect. Of course losing Hossa is an addition by subtraction but you would think we could have gotten more for Montoya.

But we didn't need anyone. We are all set. If you don't believe me ask the Maven, Stan Fischler, who bravely roared, the Rangers don't need any additions. Feel better now? Remember that's the same guy who predicted the Rangers would win the Cup this year. Now I know you feel better. And after you analyze what Pittsburgh did, I'm sure you will feel much better. Let the games continue.

ICINGS:

Here is the breakdown of the Atlantic Division Trades. . .

Globe on Hockey Blog:
Mirtle: A deadline day roundup -- 25 trades, 45 players, 21 picks [entire NHL]

Rangers Acquired       Gave up
D - CHRISTIAN BACKMAN 2008 4TH ROUND PICK
F - FREDRIK SJOSTROM F - MARCEL HOSSA
G - DAVID LENEVEU G - AL MONTOYA
F - JOSH GRATTON

New Jersey Acquired Gave up

D - BRYCE SALVADOR F - CAM JANSSEN

Philadelphia No trades


Islanders Acquired Gave up

D - ROB DAVISON 7TH ROUND PICK
3RD ROUND PICK D - MARC-ANDRE BERGERON
6TH ROUND PICK F - CHRIS SIMON

Penguins Acquired Gave up
F - MARIAN HOSSA F - ANGELO ESPOSITO
F - PASCAL DUPUIS F - COLBY ARMSTRONG
D - HAL GILL F - ERIK CHRISTENSEN
1ST ROUND PICK
2ND ROUND PICK
5TH ROUND PICK
It looks like 6' 6" Marián Hossa is literally and figuratively the big fish in the above list. And coincidently the Rangers traded his brother, Marcel Hossa, to Phoenix on the same day.

In case you missed it you can still listen to the unmasked Stephen Lindsay, aka The Dark Ranger on the replay of WGBB(AM 1240) Hockey Talk.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday Party

The Rangers had an easy time last night against a depleted Florida Panther team and skated to a 5-0 victory. The shutout was Lundqvist's 8th of the year tying Eddie Giacomin's 37 year old season record. The win moved the Rangers into sixth place in the Eastern Conference setting off all kinds of six place theorists who somehow figure that six place is the place for the Rangers. The Rangers are 5-0-2 in their last seven with the third period debacle against Montreal being the only flaw in the run.

Gomez (14), Malik (1), Jagr (17), Dawes (10) and Straka (11) were the goal scorers for the Rangers. The three stars were Gomez, three, Malik, two, and Lundqvist one. Malik also had an assist and played well. The timing couldn't be better as the trade deadline is tomorrow. Maybe the Stealth GM could dangle him in a trade to pry Dan Boyle from Tampa. Now that is daydreaming, isn't it?

After the game coach clueless announced that the team is fine and doesn't need additions. They could make the playoffs without any new faces. Make the playoffs? Big deal. This team was supposedly put together to make a run at the Cup. Ask all the MSG talksters and the drive by media experts. This was to be a year we challenge for and win the Cup. Now coach clueless is talking playoffs.

Tomorrow night is the trade deadline and the Rangers have to make some key decisions. As presently equipped this team cannot win the Cup. That is what this is all about. Winning the Cup. It's not just making the playoffs. They need a hard hitting D man who is also a power play specialist and Dan Boyle is the man. They also need to re-sign Sean Avery as he will become a free agent next year.

ICINGS: On this date in 1940 the first televised game in New York City was aired. The Rangers beat Montreal 6-2. The game was televised on station W2XBS. No, I did not see it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buffalo Shuffle

So you thought that Shanahan fanned on the shot that Avery eventually scored on. Naw. That was a set play, where Shanny primes the pump is ready to unload, and when all the Sabres clog the front of the net he passes to Avery, who puts it past an out of position Ryan Miller for the game winner. Somehow Miller seems to play his worst hockey against the Rangers. The Sabres are 10-2-2 in there last fourteen and both losses are against the Rangers.

Avery, since taking the Greta Garbo "I want to be alone" stance has now scored five goals in five games. The Stealth GM has to sign "The Detriment," trading him is not an option. The Rangers cannot win without Sean Avery in the lineup. Go look up the record. Coach clueless in his press conference downplayed Avery's goal and contribution, lumping him in with the entire team's performance.

Speaking of performance, Dubinsky continues to shine. The top line is now a top line and this is due more to the work ethic of Dubinsky and Avery than it is to the stardom of Jaromir Jagr. Jagr being out of the lineup for the rest of the season will not hurt the Rangers that much, but losing Avery or Dubinsky would be a disaster. While Lundqvist made a big save on Vanek breaking in all alone it still doesn't look like his "A" game is back.

Want a good read this Sunday morning? Read Larry Brooks Slap Shots column in the New York Post. There is a big article on the Islanders, low talent, big work ethic and high over achievement. I found it interesting that it appeared under the Ranger game story. You don't have to be an English Major to read between the lines on the comparison of the two teams. Right now the Rangers are three points ahead of the Islanders. How far would they be ahead if they swapped coaches and Nolan was running the Rangers and coach clueless was coaching the Islanders? How long would Charles Wang tolerate coach clueless? None of this is in the article, it is my dreaming. Read the article. It tells quite a story and to me is an indictment of the Ranger performance and management.

ICINGS: There was a tune "Shuffle Off To Buffalo" written in 1932. That's even before my time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

No, I'm not talking about jb's article that went up this morning. I'm talking about the Ranger game last night. The Rangers were on their way to their most impressive win of the season when they hit a wall. If continued I would have extolled them and I would have predicted that now they are on their way. This would have made The Dark Ranger happy. However, they tanked and it was probably their biggest loss of the season, certainly their most depressing. The game was eerily reminiscent of the game played the last time the Rangers were in Montreal. Then, the Canadiens took a three goal lead and the Rangers stormed back with five goals to win 5-3. This time the Rangers blew a 5-0 lead. It is the first time in the history of the franchise they have blown a five goal lead. I could crow that the war-time teams never did that, but I can't remember them even getting five goals.

The Good. Shanahan gets two goals, Jagr gets four assists and they are all over the Canadiens and their mad man, Mike Komisarek, challenging him a couple of times. They drive rookie goalie Carey Price from the nets and score two goals on his replacement, Cristobal Huet. They have the Canadien fans so upset they litter the ice with objects that hold up the game. They are on their way to one of the greatest Ranger wins in one of the hardest places for the Rangers to win, Montreal. Granted since the Canadiens have left the old Forum, they are less formidable.

The bad. They collapse. They play defense instead of offense. At least I think that is what they were playing. They become reactive and stop taking the game to the Canadiens. They allowed Montreal to take the offensive zone with ease and continued to back peddle so that their goalie, Lundqvist, was left defenseless. Also, Lundqvist continues to be vulnerable to scrambles in front of him and has shown trouble controlling the puck lately.

The Ugly. The shootout itself is an aberation. Last night the Rangers made it a complete farce. Shanahan, who has three shootout goals, decided to use a new tactic last night and it failed miserably. Drury, who should not be in shootouts, was an easy stop for Huet. Jagr's attempt was a complete embarrassment. He might have well just skated into the goal with the puck, bowling over Huet. Lundqvist was faked out of his skates by Saku Koive and the game was over.

This will be a lingering loss. The spin doctors are saying things like, it's a point, it's one of those things that happen in a game, and we will bounce back. I hope so. I hope coach clueless can rally the troops because this is a game that could stay in the Rangers fragile heads for a long time. Stay tuned.

Rangers lose; Knicks win?

I'd rather lose with the Rangers, than win with the Knicks.

This is one more reason you have to prefer hockey over basketball. In the NBA, if you throw a cup of water in a guy's face your coach calls you feisty and nasty. In the NHL they'd laugh you out of the league after your face was rearranged for pulling that stunt.

So the New York Knicks won a game last night, but in their own unique manly style they also had a cat fight. Newsday reported it this way:

Chaos reigns. It seems the only way the Knicks know how to exist. As tomorrow's trade deadline quickly approaches and the players wonder what Isiah Thomas has in store, the frustration of a lost season is apparent.

Yet they won this game, 113-100, over the Wizards in overtime last night at Verizon Center. They did so with a chaotic run down the stretch, erasing a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes and scoring a franchise-record 23 points in the five-minute overtime.

And, with Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills in attendance, during a timeout before the Wizards' final possession of regulation, Zach Randolph and Nate Robinson got into a heated argument on the bench. Randolph dismissed Robinson with a toss of water in his face and Robinson responded by throwing his towel at Randolph.

And coach Isiah Thomas loved it.

"There's a little feistiness and a little nastiness that's happening," he said . . .
Knicks Cat Fight Video - zshare

Here is another famous cat fight video from the 1977 motion picture The Turning Point. Anne Bancroft (as Emma) resentfully throws a drink in the face of Shirley MacLaine (as DeeDee). The action starts at the 5:00 minute mark of this 8:28 video. The Knicks may want to use this as a training aid.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finalmente

Finally a victory over a Western Conference team. And what a win. This time we had to come from behind when Lundqvist was victimized by Jonathan Cheechoo and Marek Malik as Cheechoo banked one off of Malik to give the Sharks an early lead. But Callahan tied it right after a Ranger power play expired and Drury (19) scored the game winner on a PP. However, it was a nail biter down to the end and was finally over when Callahan netted his second (4,5) goal, an empty netter with 1.6 seconds to go in the game. So the Rangers are off the schneid against the West finishing with 1-7-2. More important the Rangers moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Philadelphia who have three games in hand. The Rangers are two points behind Pittsburgh which also has three games in hand. Pittsburgh is at Buffalo tonight and the Flyers are hosting the Canadiens tonight.

Hen-"Rich" Lundqvist outdueled Evgeni Nabokov by making 29 saves and has been near perfect since signing his new contract. The Rangers also resigned Girardi and Tyutin to multi year deals. Is there going to be any money left to make a bid for Vincent Lecavalier who wants out of Tampa Bay? Rumor has it that Vinnie wants Montreal, Rangers or a West Coast team. It's not a money issue, the guy wants fame and a Cup. Think about it. The guy wants a Cup and he is considering the Rangers. Tampa Bay needs a goalie and Montoya would look good in Tampa. However, it will take more than Montoya to get Vinnie. That's why GM's are paid the big bucks. Will the Stealth GM come out in the open over this one? Stay tuned.

Lundqvist was the third star, Callahan was number two and Chris Drury with the game winner and an assist was the number one star. Lundqvist looks like he is ready to return to early season form. Jaromir Jagr's goal scoring slump has now reached eleven straight games. He had two wonderful scoring opportunities with wide open nets and couldn't cash in. The Rangers desperately need the big guy to start putting some puck into the nets if they expect to make the playoffs and if they want to make some noise in the playoffs.

The loss was only the sixth loss for San Jose on the road. Actually they have nine losses but three were in OT. Their road record is now 17-6-3. The good news for the Rangers is that the Sharks go to the Island, New Jersey and Philadelphia for the next three games. A sweep of the three would be great. The Rangers next stop is Montreal on Tuesday where they will try to complete a four game sweep of Le Habs. The Rocket will turn over in his grave if that happens.

ICINGS: Brendan Shanahan's assist was his 683rd of his career tying him for 51st place all time with Brad Park. He is only three behind Jeremy Roenick and five behind the fabled Henri Richard.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Matinee Mayhem

Coach clueless put Dubinsky and Avery on the first line to stir Jagr up, to get him going, to break out of his slump. The line was dynamite. The young guys were stirred up. Avery had five shots on goal, scored two goals, the first one ten seconds into the game, and was the number two star of the game. Dubinsky had a goal, two assists, numerous rushes and was the number one star of the game. Jagr picked up two assists and was voted the number three star. Ten Ranger players had at least one point with Callahan and Shanahan picking up the other two goals. All in all a complete game for the Rangers who vaulted themselves into a sixth place tie with the Philadelphia Flyers who have three games in hand.

While the young kids in the stands were whooping it up, the young legs on the ice had a pretty good time also. Beside his goal Callahan had nine hits in over 15 minutes of ice time. Dawes in over 16 minutes of ice time had an assist, six shots and four hits. Girardi in over 20 minutes of ice time was a plus two and had five hits. The oldies got into the act also as Straka picked up his 700th career point. The game was so one sided we saw Dancing Larry in the first period and 'Sweet Caroline' greeted us with close to six minutes still left to play.

This was an impressive win for the Rangers as the Sabres entered the game on an 8-0-2 roll. Hen-'Rich' Lundqvist was in top form. Seemingly relaxed over his new six year $41.5 million deal, the Prince was solid allowing only a power play goal by Thomas Vanek with about seven minutes to play which spoiled his shutout bid. He made 29 saves and easily won his duel with Ryan Miller who was removed after Shanahan's goal. With twenty one games to go the Rangers need a solid Lundqvist in the net.

This will start tomorrow afternoon when the Rangers tangle with the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 70 points. They have a top notch goalie in Evqeni Nabakov who leads all goalies with 31 wins, has a 2.20 GAA and a save % of .908. They also have Joe Thornton who is 12th in overall scoring with 66 points and leads the NHL in assists with 50. Thornton beat out Jagr for NHL MVP two years ago due to the bias of the Canadian sportswriters. Maybe Jagr can get his adrenalin going for this one and break out of his goal scoring slump which has now reached ten games. The Rangers need it. This will be their last chance against a Western Conference team with the Ranger record standing at 0-7-2 against the West..

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Henrik Lundqvist Signs Six-year Contract with Rangers

In the New York sports world all salaries are relative.

Henrik Lundqvist signs 6 year $41.25 million contract with Rangers----
NY Giants:
  • Eli Manning (college grad.) signed a six-year, $45-million deal in 2004, included $20 million in guaranteed salary
NY Yankees:
  • Alex Rodriguez = $27,500,000 (2008)
  • Derek Jeter = 21,600,000 (2008)
  • Andy Pettitte = $16 million (2008)
  • Mariano Rivera = $15 Million in (2008)
  • Jorge Posada = $13.1 Million in 2008.
  • Johnny Damon = $13,000,000 (2008)
  • Hideki Matsui = $13,000,000 (2008)
NY Knicks:
  • Stephon Marbury = $20,109,375 (2007/08) + $21,937,500 (2008/09)
  • Zach Randolph = $13,333,333 (2007/08) + $14,666,666 (2008/09) + $16,000,000 (2009/10) + $17,333,333 (2010/11)
  • Eddy Curry = $8,947,543 (2007/08) + $9,723,983 (2008/09) + $10,500,423 (2009/10) + $11,276,863 (2010/11)
  • Quentin Richardson = $8,105,500 (2007/08) + $8,825,750 (2008/09) + $9,352,500 (2009/10)
  • Jamal Crawford = $7,920,000 (2007/08) + $8,640,000 (2008/09) + $9,360,000 (2009/10) + $10,080,000 (2010/11)
  • Malik Rose = $7,101,250 (2007/08) + $7,647,500 (2008/09)
  • Jerome James = $5,800,000 (2007/08) + $6,200,000 (2008/09) + $6,600,000 (2009/10)
  • Jared Jeffries = $5,632,200 (2007/08) + $6,049,400 (2008/09) + $6,466,600 (2009/10) + $6,883,400 (2010/11)
----
NY Rangers press release:
Lundqvist delighted to be staying with Blueshirts --
"I am excited that this got done, and I am excited to know that I will be a part of this organization for a long time," said Lundqvist. "I am just really happy because I love it here."

Hen-rik! Hen-rik!

Let the chants from the Garden faithful continue.

FoxNews / AP:
Rangers goalie gets $41.25 mil. deal -- Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers agreed Thursday on a six-year, $41.25 million contract extension that will keep the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist in the fold through the 2013-14 season.

Lundqvist, playing on a one-year deal worth $4.25 million, has struggled lately after a strong start to his third NHL season. The terms were hammered out this week as the Rangers enjoyed a rare five-day break between games.

The 25-year-old Swede is 24-21-5 this season with a 2.37 goals-against average in 50 games. He backstopped his country's Olympic gold medal run during the 2006 Turin Games.

"It feels good," New York's franchise goalie said Thursday after practice. "I said since Day One that I really like New York, I like to play for the Rangers and am so excited to be done with this deal." . . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chuck Norris vs. Sean Avery

---
Chuck Norris vs. Sean Avery
Section 404 reveals some little known facts about Sean Avery:
If Sean Avery was in a room with Hitler, Stalin, and Darcy Tucker, and he had a gun with 2 bullets, he’d shoot Darcy twice. . .

Superman wears Sean Avery pajamas. . .

When you open a can of whoop-ass, Sean Avery jumps out. . .

Sean Avery can get McDonald’s breakfast after 10:30. . . .
----
ICINGS:

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
A-VERY GOOD RANGER -- BLUESHIRTS MUST KEEP WINGER AT HOME IN NY

NOW that the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist are down to the shortest of strokes in finalizing a contract that is believed to be in the six-year, $36M neighborhood, Glen Sather must next find the way to negotiate an extension with Sean Avery, and sooner rather than later. . .

Rangers: A difference of opinion

---
Rangers: A difference of opinion

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Capital Punishment

Playing their second consecutive tough road game in two days the Rangers lost a big point when they lost in OT to the Ovechkin led Washington Capitals. A marginal tripping penalty on Hollweg near the end of regulation gave the Caps a four on three in OT and Mike Green ended it with a shot from the point through Marc Staal and Steve Valiquette. Green had also ended the previous Rangers-Caps encounter in OT, 5-4, way back on December 12th. The Caps were 2-3 on the PP and the powerless Rangers were 0-6 on their power play. And that basically was the game folks, as the Rangers continued to shoot blanks in a game they should have won. Jaromir Jagr was scoreless for the seventh consecutive game.

The Caps first goal on the PP by Ovechkin was also a dubious penalty on a call seldom seen in the NHL. It was a delay of game against the goaltender. Write me if you remember the last time you have seen that called. Later they called an unsportsmanlike conduct against Avery for yakking at the ref. The refs are developing rabbit ears and are getting like baseball umpires who if you give them a dirty look they toss you. But no penalties called on super stars like Ovechkin who manage to get in an extra hit after every whistle, but no calls because the league needs its super stars. Too bad the Rangers don't have any superstars.

All in all it wasn't that bad a weekend. Playing two tough teams on the road the Rangers came away with three out of four points. They are finished with Washington and though the teams split the four games the two OT losses by the Rangers enabled them to come away with six points to the Caps four. Only in the NHL folks, only in the NHL. So now the Rangers rest until Saturday against Buffalo. That's the good news. The bad news is that they probably will have four days of practice.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Valley, Valley Special

I can't figure this team out. If I could I would be the coach and we wouldn't have to worry about 'Clueless' anymore. Steve Valiquette posted his second shutout in a row both over the Philadelphia Flyers who tried the old rough stuff against the Rangers that worked in the 70's, but not this year and this time. There were eight fighting majors and the Rangers didn't duck from any of them. It was the Rangers seventh consecutive win over the Flyers at Wachovia.

Nigel Dawes and Scotty Gomez each had a goal and an assist. This is also a repeat for Dawes as he also got the first goal in the last Ranger win at Philadelphia. The story was Valiquette and the tough forechecking and hitting for the Rangers. The Rangers were officially outhit by the Flyers (21-15) but to me it seemed like there were more hits than that for both teams. The Rangers out shot the Flyers (33-31) and those two extra shots were the difference.

Valiquette was absolutely outstanding in getting his fourth win of the year, second shutout and lowering his respectable GAA from 2.37. The guy was amazing and wasn't fazed at all by playing against the tough Flyers on their home ice. Last time he shut out the Flyers I suggested that they play him against the Devils, but they put in Lundqvist who was brilliant against New Jersey. This time I truly believe he should be in the nets against the Caps and Ovechkin. After the Caps game the Rangers have five days off before playing Buffalo at the Garden next Saturday afternoon. The Dark Ranger must have been in seventh heaven today at Wachovia.

While the Rangers are now in seventh place in the Eastern Conference don't be surprised that by Saturday they will be in either ninth or tenth as all their opponents have games in hand. However, this mystic and erratic team must play every game like it is an Atlantic Division game. The Rangers have the best record within the Atlantic Division; it is outside and especially against the West that they are bummers.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Old Guns vs. Young Guns

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. — Lucille Ball
Jaromir Jagr will turn 36 years old next Friday (Feb 15th). Most fans would agree that his season has been a big disappointment so far. He has 15 goals, 32 assists, for 47 points and a 0 plus/minus in 57 games this season. The previous two 82 game seasons Jagr averaged 1.34 points per game. So the big question, upon which the fate of the Ranger season might be hanging, is: what's ailing Jagr? Have age and the demands of his style of play finally caught up with him? Or is Jagr just missing the scoring chemistry with sympatico linemates, like a Michael Nylander?

Either way, it's a mystery why Coach Tom Renney is still giving Jagr large amounts of the ice time, when he is clearly off his game.

As a reference point, the Rangers traded Brian Leetch to Toronto right around his 36th birthday on Mar. 3, 2004. Should the Rangers pull the trade trigger on Jagr? Has the old gun permanently lost his scoring touch?

Historically, old guns can still be good guns. Phil Esposito, gave the Rangers two very good seasons after he turned 36. Wayne Gretzky turned 36 the first season he was with the Rangers. He gave them two solid 90+ point seasons out of three. Brad Park, on the other hand, retired after he turned 36. The amazing Bobby Hull had his best season when he turned 36 (77 goals, 65 assists, 142 pts). The following season he had his second best (53 goals, 70 assists, 123 pts).

Consider the "Young Guns" marketing campaign for the Washington Capitals, who are currently three points behind the Rangers with one game in hand. Will the Rangers ever give their young guns: Dubinsky, Callahan, Dawes, etc. the kind of publicity the Caps are giving their young players? Why are the Rangers so committed to relying on old guns like Jagr and Shanahan, who just turned 39, to take them to the Stanley Cup?

Young Hockey Guns
Coincidentally, the issue of an old gun vs. a young gun might also be applied to the 2008 Presidential election. If Barack Obama wins the Democratic nomination, then you would likely have 72 year old John McCain pitted against 47 year old Obama. Now that's a showdown.

Western Patsies

I did something last night that I have never done since I first went to a Ranger game back in 1943. I walked out after the last Ducks' goal and went home leaving my son to endure another loss to another Western Conference team (0-7-2). It was the same old samo. We out shoot the other team, 33-19, but they outscore us, 4-1. What also was the same was the way coach clueless allocated ice time. Jagr (22:11), Straka (21:47), and Gomez (24:15) ate up most of the time, but got a collective ten shots on goal, all of which could have been stopped by the Makos(peewee) goalie. In contrast Prucha got all of 12:29 with no power play time, Dubinsky got 12:14 with 3:13 of PP time, Callahan, who scored the only goal, got 12:48 with :52 of PP time, and Dawes got a whopping 17:09 with 3:23 of PP time. Somehow Sean Avery got only 11:35 of ice time, 18 seconds of PP time. See what happens when you fight the coach's pet in practice.

They say that Congress is going to outlaw water boarding as a means of torture. I have two possible replacements. The first one would be watching the Rangers number one line of Gomez, Straka and Jagr and the second would be watching the Ranger power play which also includes the line of Gomez, Straka and Jagr. The Rangers were 0-4 on the power play. The Ducks were 1-2 breaking a 1-27 slump. The Rangers lead the league in helping other teams break their scoring slumps.

At the beginning of the season I said that if the Rangers were to be successful they would need big years from three players who I felt were the keys to the season. They were Avery, Jagr, and Lundqvist. Avery has lost his fire, Jagr has lost his pop, and Lundqvist has lost his magic. Is it coincidental that all three may be gone next year?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Stinkers

It was Super Tuesday in New York City. The NY Giants had a great parade celebrating their Super Bowl Championship and got the keys to the city. They saved the keys to the toilet for the Rangers who bombed again against another Western Conference team. They are now 0-6-2 against the West. With Anaheim coming in tomorrow night and San Jose on the 17th it's a good bet the Rangers will go winless against the Western Conference.

The highlight of the game was the dropping of the puck by two Giants. It was all downhill after that. The Kings stormed the net with a barrage of shots while the Rangers played rope-a-dope. There was Sam and Joe telling us what a bunch of great young legs the Kings have. Gimmee a break. They had all of 45 points coming into the game, the worst in the entire NHL. The Rangers, despite all comments to the contrary, came out flat. Flat as pancakes. Jason LaBarbara was giving up juicy rebounds all night, but how can you score on rebounds when you are playing a perimeter game?

Sean Avery, despite scoring a goal, played his worst game since becoming a Ranger. Hey, the Rangers are something like 35-16-9 since they got him a year ago from these same Kings. He and Strudwick gave away two goals to the Kings but the rest of the team was useless. No one played well. So what good does it do to beat a Montreal with a furious rally and go into the tank against a bottom feeder? It's games like these over the years that causes one to take with reservations any big Ranger win. So a great mini-road trip against the Flyers, Devils and Canadiens goes poof against a team called the Kings. Don't expect the Rangers to be participating in any parades soon.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Le Comeback Kids

Well if the Rangers don't go from here to the top of the pack after this game then forget about it. They aren't going anywhere. They roared back with two big goals by Chris Drury, off of a beautiful feed by Nigel Dawes, and Straka on a deflection of a Paul Mara shot. They played tough, tight and most importantly, disciplined. And Lundqvist after being victimized by his own team was outstanding. The Rangers after falling behind 3-0 totally controlled the game and it has to be the Rangers biggest win of the year. Can we keep up this performance? I say the young 'uns carried the day. Dubinsky, Dawes, Prucha, Staal and Lundqvist were all outstanding and Chris Drury looks like he is going to show us what kind of a player he is. This could be the start of something big.

Second Period-Rangers Storm & Fight Back

The second period didn't start out too good as Kostitsyn was awarded a penalty shot which was called on Sean Avery. Kostitsyn scored and it was 3-0 and the game looked like it was over. But then Rozsival scored a PP goal, Dubinsky found a loose puck and fired it home and then Gomez tied it on a beautiful rush by Marc Staal. However, it almost imploded on the Rangers as Hollweg came out with a vengeance and almost put Kostitsyn through the glass. This precipitated some brawls and penalties. Hollweg was given five and tossed. Komisarek was given two minutes. At the end of the second period the Rangers had killed off most of the penalty. The Rangers still have to kill off 41 seconds. We must stay out of the box for the third period. We lost some Mo on Hollweg's ill advised but understandable penalty as the Refs missed a Kovalev elbow to Hollweg's head. See you later.

First Period-Undisciplined

Trying something new here with a period by period post. First period is an unmitigated disaster. Two bad penalties by Rozsival, the second in the offensive zone on a Ranger PP, led to two Montreal goals. He should have sat the rest of the period. Another coach would have benched him. The second goal showed more undiscipline play as Gomez gave away the puck and both Strudwick and Staal went out of position to cover guys who didn't have to be covered. That left Kovalev all alone to Lundqvist's left and he buried it. Rangers are showing absolutely nothing with four shots and they are 0-2 on the power play. The top line looks particularly anemic, maybe some tonic from coach clueless will perk them up. See you later.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Jersey Bounce

The Jersey Bounce was a big hit for the Benny Goodman Band in the 1940's. The Rangers are getting a big bounce from New Jersey's Devils in 2007-08. The Rangers have now beaten the Devils five out of five with the Devils getting two points out of a possible ten. Zach Parise says, rightfully so, that the Devils are keeping the Rangers in the playoff hunt. The Rangers, along with the Islanders, are keeping the Devils from running away with the Atlantic Division.

Brandon Dubinsky was again the best player on the ice for the Rangers. He scored the first goal and put six shots on net in 15:44 of ice time. Drury with two PP goals and five shots and Gomez with an assist and four shots also played well. Jagr in 19:20got one shot and Straka in 18:15 got no shots. The game was played in a playoff atmosphere and it probably is a sign of what's to come in the last 28 games. However, the Rangers won their second big game on successive nights and now have won four of five going into Montreal.

Henrik Lundqvist was again brilliant against the Devils. He has allowed five goals in five games against the Devils. The one goal against him was scored by Parise from behind him, which is becoming a trend, but in front of him he was the old Prince. The Devils outshot (34-26), outhit (18-15), and won more faceoffs (25-17) than the Rangers, but when The Prince is on top of his game nothing else matters. Last night Henrik Lundqvist was on top of his game. On to Montreal and the House Of Horrors.

Benny Goodman - Jersey BounceICINGS:

Last.fm: Benny Goodman - Jersey Bounce [3:05]

Ella Fitzgerald - Jersey Bounce lyrics:
They call it that Jersey bounce
A rhythm that really counts
The temperature always mounts
Wherever they play, the funny rhythm they play

It started on Journal Square
And somebody heard it there
He put it right on the air
And now you hear it everywhere

Uptown, gave it new licks
Downtown, added some tricks
No town, makes it sound, the same
As where it came from

So if you don’t feel so hot
Go out to some Jersey spot
And whether you’re hep or not
The Jersey bounce’ll make you swing ...

So if you don’t feel so hot
Go out to some Jersey spot
And whether you’re hep or not
The Jersey bounce’ll make you swing

Ounce by ounce
The Jersey Bounce
Puts you right in the swing
That Jersey Bounce
It’ll make you swing

Friday, February 01, 2008

Valley High

The Rangers, riding the goal tending of Steve Valiquette and the young legs of Dawes and Prucha, stunned the Philadelphia Flyers for the sixth straight time at Wachovia Center last night. The improbable win coming on the heels of their shattering loss in Carolina was another instance of the maddening roller coaster ride this team has put its fans through. After weathering some early pressure from the Flyers and killing off the first penalty of the game, the Rangers took control of the game. I have never heard a Flyer crowd so quiet.

Valiquette needed to make only twenty saves to record his first shutout in his brief NHL career, twenty one games. The Rangers played a complete game and it was only their first road win of 2008. There was a lot of talk pregame about crashing the net. The net was crashed but it was done by the guys who always crash the net. Dubinsky, Dawes, Prucha and Avery plus the fourth line. Can the Rangers continue this style of play aginst the Devils tonight? Saturday against the Canadiens? For the rest of the season? Who knows, I don't.

They could. Remember they only had one day off after the Carolina game and the schedule is ideal until the week of February 10th when they get five days off between games. I believe the less time they practice with this clueless coaching staff the better off they are. Check it out for yourself. So let's not get too carried away off of last night and let's see what we do against the Devils tonight. Another thing, I love The Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, but maybe, just maybe Steve Valiquette should be back in the nets tonight.

However, one thing is for sure. The Dark Ranger slept well last night.

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