Thursday, May 22, 2008

Captain Perimeter

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Kabooz's Bar & Grill, 2 Penn Plaza, New York CityWe were in the city yesterday visiting number two son and on the way home we decided to get a bite before boarding the LIRR. So we stopped at one of my favorite pre-game eateries, Kabooz's Bar & Grill.

Struck up a conversation with Mark, who sort of runs things at Kabooz. Kabooz sits on the upper level of Penn Station, the Jersey train so to speak. That's how the place got its name, a combination of the train and the bar. So it's, the caboose, for the trains, and the booze from the bar. It's a friendly place with some outside tables on the concourse, a noisy and active bar and a restaurant with good food, reasonable prices and friendly help. And then there is Mark.

We've known each other for years but it was always brief encounters like, how you doing and Ranger talk. Last night was a little different as the place was half empty and I opened it up with, "where's everybody?"

The Rangers killed me," he replied. He then went on, "We all knew the Knicks stunk but the Rangers killed us." "I thought the Rangers would do better but I was disappointed with Captain Perimeter."

Captain Perimeter?

Hey, that's my line. Even though I have never referred to Jagr as Captain Perimeter I always referred to his play on the perimeter. I said to him that he must be reading my blog, but he said no, he doesn't read blogs. All you have to do is watch the games and you know how Jagr plays.

He went on and I'm paraphrasing. We challenged Buffalo last year and nearly beat them but this year we didn't put up much of a fight against the Pens and I blame Captain Perimeter for that.

I told him that the coach wasn't that hot either and he agreed and said that coach clueless (my words) reminded him of Roger Nielsen. Mark didn't think that he could take the Rangers any further in the playoffs. He can't take us to the top, he stated.

I told him that we ran a poll and 85% of the respondents said that the Ranger coach was clueless. Mark agreed with that. He said he was happy that Jagr would not re-up with the Rangers and when I mentioned that they might sign him because of the opening of the season in the Czech Republic. And with Jagr being the nation's hero it was almost a given that he would be signed. Mark was not happy to hear that.

Why is Mark against the signing of Jagr?

It stifles the young guys, he said. He loves Callahan. He believes that Callahan along with Dawes gets too little ice time and he can't understand the Prucha benchings. He then took a swipe at the MSG crew and their jaded analysis. They are house men, he replied. They all work for the same guy, Dolan, and look what he did to the Knicks. While he agreed that Straka should go he thought that Rozsival would be a much better player without Captain Perimeter and the Rangers should keep him.

He left early to go home wearing a Yankee hat. His comment was that he was going to watch his other team that gives him agita. This got him going again on the Yankees and Derek Jeter. He was annoyed that Jeter threw the game away the other night with a two out error that led to six unearned runs scored off of Mike Mussina. Had A-Rod done that he would have been vilified in the press, but Jeter gets a pass.

So it was not a good night for Mark. Two New York media icons, Captain Perimeter and Captain Teflon were getting a free ride for letting their respective teams down and Mark was not happy with that. The New York drive-by sports media have circled the wagons around their favorites and the ordinary fan, Mark is their symbol, is not happy with their favorites and not happy with the drive-by's coverage. Interesting night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"There You Go Again"

That was the great line from the Carter/Reagan Presidential debate in 1980. Every time Jimmy Carter would rip into Reagan about something he did or said, Reagan would respond with that line, "There you go again." That would defuse the issue and eventually was Carter's undoing. What reminded me of that Reagan one-liner was Larry Brooks' Slap Shot article in Sunday's New York Post. There was Brooks going on again about Sather fixing to sign Jagr up for supposedly a one year re-up. I say supposedly because if Jagr gets signed it will be for two years because that is when Jagr's daddy wants him back to the Czech Republic to probably add to the family fortunes, or pay off some debts.

There was Brooks also intimating that Jagr's statement in the first year after the lockout, "We will make the playoffs" is akin or maybe even greater than Mark Messier's, "We will win" prior to game six against the Devils. Yeah, and I'm the second coming of Red Smith and coach clueless is the next Scotty Bowman. It's amazing how the apologists have circled the wagons around this great Drain Trust of the Absentee Owner, the Stealth GM and coach clueless. The Three Wise Men. Only, instead of the Gift of the Magi, they are giving us the gift of mediocre continuity. Yes, you heard right. Mediocre continuity.

Remember one thing though on this Jagr signing. He is not alone, he has company. In horse racing parlance they call it an entry. So we have Jagr,1A, joined by Straka, 1B, and Rozsival, 1C. Sign Jagr and it is a guarantee that The Stealth also inks Straka and Rozsival. You want to know what else it guarantees? It guarantees the same kind of perimeter, tic-tac-toe hockey we have had the last three years. It guarantees that Scotty Gomez and Chris Drury will continue to toil away as second and third line centers ad infinitum. It guarantees that the young players, with the possible exception of Dubinsky, will continue to get less ice time and in effect less meaningful ice time. It almost guarantees the complete dissappearance of Petr Prucha, either back to Hartford, or as trade bait. It guarantees the same sloppy, no hit, back on your heels type defense that is personified by Michal Rozsival. To my friend across the aisle in section 336 it guarantees that there is no way he will see Bobby Sanguinetti in a Ranger uniform next year.

The signing guarantees the same ineffectual power play which has been the bane of the team for three years. It guarantees the same kind of passive play that has been a hallmark of this team for the past three years. The question to ask is it really all that important to make the playoffs if a second round elimination is almost a guarantee? What is the gain if we continue to be a second round patsy? San Jose fired their coach, Ron Wilson, as he failed for the third time in four playoff appearances to get his team out of the second round. To top it off, he is their all time winningest coach. They get it, why don't we? We don't want to get it. The money rolls in for the playoffs and it all goes to the bottom line. So the Absentee Owner gets it and in effect so do his underlings, Stealth and clueless.

While other teams build a system the Rangers keep trying to find 'the right centerman' to fit in with Jagr. The Rangers are built around Jagr. What does this do for the team? What does this do for Gomez? Drury? Prucha? Dawes? Callahan? There will be more on this, but for the moment think about this. Do the Rangers really want to sign Jagr up for another tour of duty at MSG? There you go again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

RP's Keepers or Trash Heapers

The New York Daily News fan poll of Ranger free agents, who to keep and who to toss, has created some points of discussion and one has to believe that most of it has nothing to do with cap space. It all has to do with our personal likes and dislikes. I will now list the players, put their News poll numbers, my opinion and finally what I think that the Stealth GM will do.

Sean Avery   News Poll: Keep him 86% -- Dump him 14%

One has only to look at the Ranger record with Avery in the lineup and without him. We have posted it here many times. He is the ultimate agitator, the annoying pest and a skilled hockey player. Jagr had some of his biggest success this year when Avery played on his line along with Dubinsky. When coach clueless was asked about Avery's contributions clueless responded that a lot of players are contributing. That's been the party line since Avery filed for arbitration and the Stealth GM called him a detriment. Some detriment. The bucks are far apart. Avery is currently at $1.9 mil and would like $4. The Stealth would prefer numbers in the $2-2.5 mil range. As you can see they are worlds apart. The Rangers cannot do without Avery. He is the spine of the team. He must be signed. Perhaps a three year deal at $10 mil might get it done. I hope so. My sense is that the Stealth GM will make a big issue out of the money and will not sign Avery claiming that the money will help him with the cap. I hope I'm wrong.
Steve Valiquette   News Poll: Keep him 84% -- Dump him 16%
This looks like a no-brainer. There are no big bucks involved. Sign him and give him more playing time. I believe that the Stealth will do this.

Jaromir Jagr   News Poll: Keep him 81% -- Dump him 19%
I can understand the fans in large numbers wanting to bring Jagr back. He has been great in his three seasons even though he has digressed the last two years. However, after his first record breaking season, he had no way to go but down. He seems to be thinking along the lines of two more years and then back to Europe and specifically The Czech Republic. He also says that he may check the free agent market to see his worth. My opinion is that he will be disappointed by the free agent market. My feeling is that he also hurt himself when in an interview he admitted that he had not gone full board all season. In effect, he was saving himself for the end and while it was good, it could have been better. He was invisible the last game against the Pens.

To me bringing Jagr back is to bring back the same style of play for the last three years, basically a perimeter game. Bringing back Jagr will be stifling to the growth and potential of our younger players. Bringing back Jagr will ensure that the Stealth will bring back Straka and Rozsival. Bringing back Jagr will also ensure that Chris Drury will remain as the third line center. Did we give Drury all that money and all those years (5) to be a third line center? Think of this? Drury and Gomez, both big time players, are unable to play with Jagr on the same line. The team has become a Jagr oriented team or worse a Czech oriented team. Bringing back Jagr ensures that the Rangers will basically have the same team with the same offense that we had last year. Do we really want that? I don't and neither should Ranger fans. I am going against the grain on this and I say: do not bring Jagr back.

Turn the team over to Gomez, Drury and the young kids. Tough decision, but I say dump Jagr. However, my feeling is that the Stealth GM will find a way to sign him. How do you go to Prague, in the Czech Republic, to open the NHL season and not have the greatest player Europe has ever produced in the lineup? Unless he goes free agent and Tampa Bay signs him.
Michal Rozsival   News Poll: Keep him 60% -- Dump him 40%
The biggest surprise to me. What were those 60% watching the second half of the season? His series against the Pens said it all. Giveaways, uncertainty at the point and too many penalties. He took three in a row in the last game. To me the worst indignity was not making a move when Jerko Ruutu stuck his stick in his face. I say dump him. The Stealth GM will probably sign him and if Jagr is signed he is a lock to be signed.

Martin Straka   News Poll: Keep him 45% -- Dump him 55%
I'm surprised how close this one is. His relationship with Jagr not only helps him stay on the team it gets him first line status. Has an obsession with making a play, passing the puck. Refuses to shoot even when presented with golden opportunities. I still see him and Staal on a shorthanded two on one in OT against the Pens with no shot. However, coach clueless likes him. He once said that Straka is the kind of guy he would love to have as a son-in-law. I wonder what his teenage daughters think about that? There is $3.3 mil involved here, dump him. The Stealth GM will probably sign him if Jagr is signed, otherwise he might dump him also.

Brendan Shanahan   News Poll: Keep him 42% -- Dump him 58%
I like this guy. He is a throwback old time hockey player. He is fearless. Who else on the team would have the guts to challenge Brashear to an old fashioned showdown? Yes, he has lost a step or maybe two. Yes, his shot doesn't have the zip it once had. But he is still one of the smartest players on the team, is an excellent penalty killer and is dynamite in the shootout. Also, without a doubt he is the leader of this team on the ice and in the locker room and he is a helleva lot smarter than the coach. I say keep him. The Stealth GM will look at his salary ($5.3) and probably dump him unless they can agree on a lower salary which is quite possible.

Marek Malik   News Poll: Keep him 14% -- Dump him 86%
Didn't know Malik had that many relatives. The Stealth and I agree. Dump him.

Darius Kasparaitis   News Poll: Keep him 9% -- Dump him 91%
Kaspy has fewer relatives than Malik. Time has caught up to the old belter. Sadly, dump him and I'm sure the Stealth will agree.

So there you have it. It will be a most interesting off season. Do we bring back all the Czechs and continue with the same style of play that we have had the last three years? Is that what we want the same old stuff? The same old defense at all costs. The same old perimeter style game. The same old pass, pass, and then pass some more. The minimum ice time for the kids. The 'rounding up the usual suspects' for the power play. We need a QB for the power play. We need a bruiser on the back line. We need a forward who is a sniper. The trading deadline brought us Sjostrom and Backman. Backman has a $3.4 salary next year. What a deal. What a GM. What a mess.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Keepers or Trash Heapers

E-mail from the Ranger Pundit:

The News has a poll on who to keep and who to dump. Interesting. Two things standout to me. Number one, Avery leads all players as a keeper and for a strange reason 60% want to keep Rozsival. I will soon be posting my thoughts on who I think the Rangers should keep...
NY Daily News:
Who should the Rangers keep or dump? -- The Rangers' run ended on a low note, with a second-round playoff defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Looking ahead to next year, the News wants to know which players you'd keep - and which ones you'd dump.
[results below as of 10pm May 8th]

Poll: What Rangers free agents to keep for next season?

Rangers Salary Cap Considerations for 2008-09

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The NHL and Rangers Salary CapLike many fans we've just started trying to understand how the NHL's salary cap limit will effect the New York Rangers 2008-09 roster. This is an initial estimate of the Rangers salary cap numbers for next season. Trying to understand the NHL collective bargaining agreement and all its ins and outs for calculating the salary cap is a little tricky. But we'll take a shot. Because, you can't score unless you shoot (ta-dum-dum).

Starting with Dubi over at the Blueshirt Bulletin, who wrote:
Right now, that [current players under contract] all adds up to around $36 million, including upwards of $1.5 million in bonus payments from last season deferred to next season's cap calculation. With next season's cap likely to be in the $55 million range...
Using NHLSCAP.com for the Rangers contract numbers yields the following table of player salaries. Glen "Stealthy" Sather is looking at these same numbers as he tries to plot a course for next season.

Players currently signed for next season:

PlayerD.O.B.SPC avg.*2007 - 082008 - 09
Gomez
12-23-79
$7,357,143$10,000,000$8,000,000
Lundqvist
3-2-82
$6,875,000$4,250,000
$7,750,000
Drury
8-20-76
$7,050,000$7,100,000
$7,100,000
Backman
4-28-80
$2,300,000$2,200,000
$3,400,000
Tyutin
4-19-83
$2,843,750$1,025,000
$2,250,000
Prucha
9-14-82
$1,600,000
$1,600,000
$1,600,000
Girardi
4-29-84
$1,550,000$550,000$1,500,000
Staal
1-13-87
$826,627$850,000
$765,000
Pock
12-2-81
$667,500
$650,000
$685,000
Dubinski
4-29-86
$633,333$645,000
$635,000
Betts
2-16-80
$615,000$615,000
$615,000
Callahan
3-21-85
$575,000$575,000
$600,000
Orr
3-3-82
$537,500$525,000
$550,000
Hollweg
4-23-83
$512,500$500,000
$525,000
Total:
$33,943,353

$35.975 M

notes:
*Estimated average for SPC [Standard Player Contract] in effect during 2008-09 season.

italics denote 2-way contracts. Note: some players may be signed to 2-year contracts where one year is 2-way and the other is not.
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The averaged club salary is used to calculate the salary cap for the "Team Payroll Range System" as the NHL officially refers to it. The collective bargaining agreement does not use the term "salary cap." The "Club's Averaged Club Salary" is calculated by averaging each player contract (plus or minus other considerations) and then adding them together.

Some snips from the NHL's collective bargaining agreement:
Overview of Operation of Team Payroll Range. The Team Payroll Range created by this Agreement consists of a Lower Limit and an Upper Limit during each League Year for permissible spending by each Club based on its Averaged Club Salary...

"Averaged Club Salary." "Averaged Club Salary" shall mean the entire aggregate amount committed by each Club in a League Year, calculated daily, as Player Salaries and Bonuses in that League Year (and which is intended to include any and all other commitments to Players as set forth below), with Player Salaries and Bonuses calculated in accordance with the "Averaged Amount" as defined below...

"Averaged Amount." For any multi-year SPC, for purposes of calculating the Club's Averaged Club Salary in any League Year, the Averaged Amount of such SPC shall be used. That is, the Player Salary and Bonuses for all League Years shall be "averaged" over the length of the entire term of the SPC, using the stated amount, by dividing the aggregate stated amount of all Player Salary and Bonuses to be paid during the term of the SPC by the number of League Years in the SPC...

Illustration #1: A Club signs a Player to a three-year SPC providing for $500,000 in Player Salary and Bonuses in Year 1, $600,000 in Year 2, and $700,000 in Year 3. The charge to the Club's Averaged Club Salary in all three years of the SPC is $600,000.
So who counts against the cap? The NHLSCAP FAQ tries to answer that question:
It depends - are we talking about during the season or in the offseason? Let's cover both scenarios: DURING THE SEASON

During the season (not the team's season, the League's season), anyone on a team's NHL roster counts against the cap. This includes players on the Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non Roster and Non Roster. It also includes players who have a "bona-fide long-term injury" or LTI as well as players sent to the minors on conditioning assignments and players placed on waivers (until such time that they are assigned). Also included are any deferred salary and bonuses earned as a result of playing in a league year under the new CBA, and any ordinary buyouts. The new CBA lists one other area, but I'll omit it for now unless it happen to take place...

Who doesn't count against the cap?
During the season: Players assigned to the minors - even if on one-way contracts - do not count (as long as they are not on conditioning assignments or fit the condition of 50.5(d)(i)(B)(5) above) as well as players signed to a contract that are in Major Junior hockey or overseas. Players suspended by either the team or the NHL will not count for the duration of the suspension as long as the player is not receiving his salary; however, teams must keep enough payroll space available to be able to accept the player should his suspension end immediately. [subject to change?]
Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported that the Player Association estimated the salary cap for the 2008-09 season would be $56,300,000.

So combing some of the above numbers yields:

Est. Salary Cap
$56,300,000
minus current avg. contracts
$33,943,353
minus deferred bonus
$1,500,000
approximate Cap room
$20,856,647

The Blueshirt Bulletin estimated price for re-signing several Rangers unrestricted free agents (UFA's):

Jaromir Jagr
$6,000,000 - $8,000,000
Sean Avery
$3,500,000 - $4,000,000
Rozsival
$4,000,000 - $6,000,000
average total for all three:
$15.75 M

Possible cap room left to sign new free agents:
$20,856,647 - $15,750,000 = $5.107 M cap room
Conclusions:
As you can see, re-signing Jagr, Avery, and Rozsival severely limits what the Rangers can do in obtaining new major league defensive or offensive strength. Also, just filling out the roster is an issue. Rozsival should clearly be the one who is not pursued. Re-signing Avery is a priority. He is the spine of the team.

Valiquette was a solid and reliable backup goalie to the Prince. Comparing "Valley" and newbie Miika Wiikman, the edge goes to the incumbent. Valley added a big plus in the locker room.

It's also apparent, both in performance and salary cap terms, that the Christian Backman trade did not provide good value to the team. He will be the highest paid defenseman. Some way should be found to transfer his liability and come up with a real defensive asset for this team.

More RP thoughts to come.
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Unrestricted Free Agents and their 2007-08 salary info:

Jaromir Jagr -- $8,360,000 [$4,940,000 avg. counted towards cap ]
B. Shanahan -- $2,500,000 [$5,300,000 avg. counted towards cap ]
Marty Straka - $3,300,000
Paul Mara --- $3,000,000
Marek Malik - $2,500,000
M. Rozsival -- $2,300,000 [$2,100,000 avg.]
Sean Avery -- $1,900,000
S. Valiquette - $635,000 [$617,500 avg.]
J. Strudwick - $500,000

Restricted Free Agents:
Nigel Dawes -- $475,000 [$496,333 avg.]
Fredrik Sjostrom -- $800,000 [$775,000 avg.]
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Some Players Down On the Farm:

PlayerD.O.B.SPC avg.*2007 - 082008 - 09
Korpikoski, L.4-28-86$1,017,533$984,200$984,200
Anisimov, A.5-24-88$850,000$850,000$850,000
Bourret, A.10-5-86$850,000$850,000$850,000
Sanguinetti, B.2-29-88$883,333$850,000$850,000
Byers, Dane
2-21-86$608,333$625,000$600,000

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ICINGS: And you thought the price of oil was skyrocketing. Check out the inflation in the NHL's salary cap.

- $39 million for the 2005-06 season
- $44 million for the 2006-07 season [12.82% increase from 05-06]
- $50.3 million for the 2007-08 season [14.32% increase from previous year]
- $56.3 million for the 2008-09 season estimate [11.93% increase from previous year]

averaging a 13% annual increase

update: August 1st, 2008 - New York Rangers

Players SignedActual PayrollCap PayrollCap Space
2260,247,50055,284,643715,357

sources:
Blueshirt Bulletin:
Upon Further Review, Rangers May Not Look All That Different Next Season

NHLSCAP.com -- NHL Salary Cap informaton [excellent source]

NHL.com:
Collective Bargaining Agreement [.pdf file, over 400 pages]

Larry Brooks / NY Post Slap Shots:
Cap Map Shows Salaries Heading North -- Slap Shots has learned that the Players Association - with input on the number from the NHL - projects revenues to reach $2.575B this season, an 11.1-percent increase over the 2006-07 Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) of $2.318B. The cap should increase at a slightly higher rate because the players' share of the gross increases from 55.5 percent to 56.333 percent at the $2.5B revenue threshold. It assumes the players will once again exercise their option to approve a five-percent inflation bump.

Thus the PA estimates that the cap will be approximately $56.3M - give or take in concert with the final HRR number that will be determined by playoff revenues - next season, an increase of $6M from this year. It means clubs will be able to maintain summer rosters of up to nearly $62M in payroll before personnel decisions come due at the end of the training camp.

It also means the floor next season will be $40M, or slightly above that. It seems like expensive flooring, but not so much, actually. For of all 30 NHL teams, only Columbus (barely), Nashville and Phoenix will have invested less in payroll this season....
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Terrific Or Clueless?

The game was over and I was watching the Rangers post game show on MSG. The three experts, or hockey analysts, were Al Trautwig, Stan "The Maven" Fischler and Ron "Ooh La La Sasson" Duguay. They were analyzing the reasons the Rangers lost the final game and the series.

In case you forgot, Duguay played eight years with the Rangers, 1977-1983 and 1986-1988. He scored 141 goals in the first six years, 23.5 goals per year and had 13 goals in 82 games the second time around. Despite all of this Duguay was more famous for the "Ooh La La Sasson" television commercial than his heroics on the ice. There were times during that period that the Ranger fans turned the commercial on the Rangers with the chant, "Ooh La La We Suck." If you missed it, you missed a classic rebuke of a team by its fans.

But here were the three wise men and they basically were in agreement that the Rangers lost for the following reasons:

  1. Overall power play ineffectiveness.
  2. Not enough shots on goal. The Rangers got one in four attempts on the power play.
  3. Not enough shots in the game, especially in the first two periods. Twenty two shots the entire game and zero shots in OT.
  4. No pressure on the Penguin goalie.
  5. Team came out flat to start the game and only got 11 shots the first two periods.
  6. The Rangers were out hit almost 2-1, 41-22.
You could put 1 through 4 under one roof and that is the fact that the Rangers are a passive, defensive hockey team. It's the mentality that comes from the top. My Grandmother used to say, "The fish stinks from the head." Remember coach clueless's pronouncement in the middle of the season. "Not playing defense, is not an option." Brother Michael taught me that that statement would be classified as a double negative. There seems to be one 'not' and possibly two 'nots' not needed in that sentence. You don't believe the defense first mentality exists with this team? Did you see the play in OT when Straka and Staal came in two on one while killing a penalty and both refusing to shoot. Most teams, you shoot the puck and hope for the best and you never know. Number one son is always saying, "Shoot that puck, score that goal." Maybe he should be the coach?

But these are not just playoff problems. The Rangers have suffered from an ineffective power play all year long and what has coach clueless done to fix it? Nothing. He continually puts out the same crew, 'rounds up the usual suspects' and they spend the time passing the puck around the perimeter looking for that open spot, that perfect goal. Prucha, the most efficient goal scorer on the team, sits on the bench, most of the time. Prucha, when he does play, gets less than ten minutes a game, and no ice time on the power play. Callahan who never gets power play ice time got all of 25 seconds on the power play Sunday. Dawes got all of 1:19 on the power play Sunday.

So who gets all the power play time. Guess who? The dynamic Czech trio of Jagr, Straka and Rozsival all got over four minutes of power play ice time, the most on the team. Straka, believe it or not got 4:26 of power play ice time, 23:35 of game ice time and got all of one shot on goal and one hit, and I missed both. Rozsival got 4:14 of power play time, 25:54 of regular time, no shots, one hit and took three lazy penalties for six minutes. I missed the hit. Jagr, got 4:01 of power play ice time, 23:36 of regular time, no shots and no hits plus two penalties for four minutes and let Jerko Ruutu dump him on his butt with absolutely no response. Coach clueless looked on approvingly. He also watched as the Rangers tic-tac-toe style of attack worked to perfection. Jagr to Straka to Jagr to Rozsival to Jagr to Straka to Jagr, well you get the idea.

Reasons, 5 and 6, coming out flat and no hits is a coaching problem, pure and simple. The Rangers have come out flat more often than not in the key games this year. You have to admit this was a key game. Renney does not know how to get a team up.

So with these facts before them the three wise men of 33rd Street produced a chart entitled, Tom Terrific. Tom Seaver should sue for guilt by association. Terrific indeed! The regular season record, a little over three years, is 133-118, a winning percentage of .529%, and in the playoffs he is 11-13, for .458%. The Rangers were eliminated in five in the second round and last year they were eliminated in six. You can see that the team is going backwards.

The three wise men base their opinions on the fact that the Rangers have made the playoffs three straight years. First year, swept by Devils in the first round. Second year, ousted by the Sabres in six and third, knocked out by the Pens in five.

However, the reasons they give for the Rangers poor performance is an indictment of the coach not an endorsement. Passive team? Did you see clueless go berserk on Crosby's key dive in the first game? Of course not. He kept chewing that stale piece of gum he chews. Did you see coach clueless stomp his feet on top of the boards when Drury was cut and bleeding and staining the ice and their was no call? Of course not.

What would have been the reaction of the Pens bench had it been Sidney Crosby cut and bleeding like that with no penalty called? In fact, what would have been the reaction of Bettman and the empty suits in the NHL? The Ranger responsible would have been suspended. But, no one screams so there is nothing to correct. Remember the 1992 playoff game between the Rangers and Pens where Graves slashed Lemieux, who went down like a rock? Supposedly his hand was broken. I believe he missed one game. Graves was suspended for the rest of the playoffs. It comes under the heading that the more things change the more they stay the same.

So you tell me. Is our coach terrific or is he clueless? Can he take this Ranger team to the next level? Can he take any Rangers team to the next level? You know how I feel. Let me know how you feel.

* Sorry, due to some technical gliches (poll wasn't appearing correctly in all browsers)
this poll was closed early. But, the trend is clear.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Refs + Clueless = Elimination

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Chris Drury bleeding after getting a stick in the face from the Pens Ryan MaloneChris Drury after getting a stick in the face from Ryan 'Bugsy' Malone.
No penalty was called?

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When does a stick to the face, causing a cut and bleeding so bad that the ice is stained with it, not a penalty? When it is committed by Gary Bettman's Penguins in front of a home crowd in a tightly fought playoff game. Would you believe that Ryan Malone swung his stick, hit Chris Drury in the face, near the goal, and two referees and two linesman saw nothing? Would you believe that they had to bring out the maintenance crew to try to scrap off the blood? Would you believe that coach clueless didn't scream or yell but gave that look? You know the look. It's the look of cluelessness. But in case you think the refs were totally incompetent and didn't call any penalties you are wrong. They gave the Penguins seven power plays, they had one goal. They gave the Rangers four power plays, they scored nada and got all of one shot on goal. And right there was your hockey game folks. However, the refs do know a high sticking call that draws blood when they see one. With 1:18 left in the third period, Drury brought up his stick and cut Ryan Malone and drew a four minute penalty. They didn't have to use a scrapper to get any blood off the ice. I think a Kleenex applied tightly to Malone's face took care of that. I told my sons before the game that I was concerned about the refs calling a lot of penalties against the Rangers. Little did I realize that they would also miss such a blatant call.

It was hard to tell from this Ranger fan standpoint that this was a critical, elimination game. The Rangers came out as passive as their coach clueless is. All of 11 shots in the first two periods, and 11 in the third period when the kids got more ice time. Lauri Korpikoski, who must have gotten all of one minute in the first period, scored his first NHL goal. Nigel Dawes tied the game 1:22 later with a beautiful backhander. The Pens got 27 shots the first two periods, 7 in the third period and the only 5 shots of the OT. The kids created excitement and signs of hope. The vets played like, thank God this season is over. You don't believe me than listen to Jagr who said, "We were facing a very good hockey club, they've got young legs playing without fear." Hey Jags, I have news for you, we have young players who play without fear but they are spending the time watching the old guys screwing things up. Jagr got 23:36 of ice time, no shots on goal and committed two penalties. He also had the indignity of being shoved to the ice by Jerko Ruutu and not doing anything about it. In fact, no one on the Rangers did anything about it. They must have not seen it.

Straka got 23:35 of ice time, 4:26 of power play time and got all of one shot on goal. I must have missed that one. Petr Prucha, got all of 8:43 of ice time and zero time on the power play. He also got one shot on goal. You all remember Prucha, don't you. Fifty-two goals in two years, twenty-four on the power play and he has been on the bench almost the entire year while Straka leads the league in pirouettes. He has been on the bench almost this entire series while the power play plays tic-tac-toe with the puck and was 3-25 this series. So despite all the ref screwups the games were in the hands of the power play and coach clueless doesn't know how to fix it. All year the power play has lost games and all year the usual suspects were rounded up to do their thing around the perimeter.

It was amusing after the game to hear the apologists all have orgasms over coach clueless. They gave him the name of Tom Terrific. It seems Tom Terrific has gotten the Rangers into the playoffs for three consecutive years. His overall record in a little more than three years is 133-118. Fifteen games over .500, thats five games a year. Wow. His record in the playoffs is even more impressive. In three playoff years his record is 11-13. He can't get the team out of the second round. They extol him for how he has developed and used young players. Look at what has happened to Prucha. I said it before the season started and I will say it again. This coach cannot bring the Rangers to challenge for the Stanley Cup. To challenge, the team must win the East. This team is nowhere close to winning the East.

His partner in crime, the Stealth GM, was exposed in this series for what he is. An over the hill blowhard with no idea of what it takes to put a contender on the ice. Want proof? At the final trade deadline the Pens picked up Hossa and Gill while the Rangers picked up Sjostrom and Backman. It took coach clueless eight playoff games and numerous regular season games to bench Backman. Clueless is the reincarnation of Roger Nielsen, a good coach who could never take the team to the next level. That's coach clueless. The Rangers need a coach like Pat Burns or John Tortorella who can take a team to the promised land. The only problem is that these are tough guys who will take no guff from the Stealth GM.

Lundqvist was brilliant. He almost pulled it off but the Rangers took one penalty too many. He rose to the occasion for this game making 36 saves. Unfortunately except for a couple of kids no one else did much of anything. It will be a long off season but I'm afraid, unless we get bold with some big free agents we aren't going to make much progress. Why am I getting so excited? I've been through this before but it never feels good.

ICINGS:
Blood, but no call.

AP / NY Daily News:
Marian Hossa's OT goal gives Penguins 3-2 win, ends Rangers season -- The pivotal moment of the period may have been when New York's Chris Drury was unintentionally clipped and bloodied by Penguins forward Ryan Malone's stick in front of the Pittsburgh net only 92 seconds into the period. Both benches seemed to expect a 4-minute high-sticking penalty - play was stopped briefly to clean up the blood - but there was no call. . .

The Blueshirt Bulletin:
A Stick to the Head, A Kick to the Gut -- Today, the Rangers' momentum is blunted with less than 90 seconds left in regulation when Chris Drury was called for a double-minor for high-sticking Ryan Malone. A good call, without question. But it stood in stark counterpoint to an unpenalized Malone high stick that bloodied Drury early in the second period and sent him off for stitches — a horrendous non-call that jump-started the Penguins’ domination of that period, especially since Malone drew the marginal hooking call on Jagr that turned the tide when he should have been in the penalty box. That the deciding goal was scored off a rush that the Rangers believed to be offside entering the zone was just the icing on the cake...

Adam Proteau / The Hockey News Playoff blog:
Pens' confidence key to success -- I think the Hockey Gods are trying to call you out, Stephen Walkom. There can be no possible rationalization for your officials continuously putting their hands in their pockets in third periods of games.

I’m normally one of your biggest defenders, but what’s going on is casting everything – the officials, the players, and the game itself – in a not-so-positive light ...

Doug Fischer / Blue Shirts on Broadway:
Rangers Season Comes To An End -- The Refs missed what could have given the Rangers a 4:00 Power Play as Chris Drury took a high stick to the face and was bleeding profusely. But as I’ve said so many times in the series, a lot of the calls favored the Pens and this was no exception. A lot of times when a Ref sees blood you assume something happened and call something; It’s has happened numerous times this season both helping and hurting the Rangers, but of course-when we needed it most, no call…

Scotty Hockey:
Sad Way To Go -- Sitting in his ivory tower, Gary Bettman has got to be pretty damn happy with himself right about now. His golden boy can continue his quest towards the Stanley Cup and the perversion of hockey into something unwatchable is complete. You could barely hear the fans for all of the whistles from the referees in the second period. For a NHL playoff game to be so utterly controlled by special teams was a complete disgrace. This wasn't a true judge of who was the better team, it was which team could handle the officiating better. And the stripes came up short in the end, missing the offsides before Hossa scored to win the game - it was close, don't get me wrong, but Pascal Dupuis was clearly over the blue line before the puck cleared the paint...

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Overtime and Done -- they survived a double minor to Drury for high-sticking Ryan Malone late in the third that carried 2:41 into OT - Malone had cut Drury with a second-period high stick that went unseen and uncalled - but could not survive one final rush led by Sidney Crosby that in fact might have been offside.

No penalty call, no offside call, but that's not why the Rangers lost. They lost because something was missing. Last year's six-game loss to the Sabres felt like the start of the something. This loss to the Penguins feels like the end.

The Sidney Crosby Show:
Game 5: Pens v Rangers (W 3-2 OT) -- The second period started with the NBC reporters talking about how Coach Michel Therrien said his focus for this period was to reduce the number of turnovers. Right away, Sid fed the puck to Hossa, who was alone in front. The puck jumped up and over Hossa's stick, and he fell trying to gain control of it, so he was unable to fire a shot. Pressure again was applied by the Steel City Line when Bugsy was looking behind himself and his stick came up and into Drury's face. The blade lodged between Drury's protective shield and his face, cutting him on the left cheek. Drury was bleeding rather profusely. The Pens were given a seriously early Christmas present because none of the refs saw it happen, so no penalty was called. Talk about dodging a four minute bullet!!! Then, if you're a Rangers fan, things just got worse for you when on the very next play, JJ was called for hooking Bugsy...

The Confluence of the Three Rivers:
Hossa’s OT winner sends Penguins to Conference Finals vs. Flyers -- The Rangers fought to the very end, gotta give them a bunch of credit. They could have folded in the third period with a 2-0 deficit staring at them, but they came right back with two quick goals to stun the Penguins and the Igloo crowd.

It was a game of powerplays to be sure. Ryan Malone was very fortunate to not get called for a double minor high-sticking penalty on Chris Drury, especially considering that Drury was called for the exact same penalty late in the third period that didn’t expire until nearly three minutes of overtime were done. The Rangers’ powerplay was shutout again, going 0-for-4. The Pens didn’t fare much better, going only 1-for-7...

Jim Cerny / NewYorkRangers.com:
Rangers fight back, but fall to Pens in OT -- Rangers head coach Tom Renney agreed that losing in overtime was a very tough way to see the season end. "It's tough to swallow, it's as simple as that," Renney said. "We wanted to keep playing. It's disappointing. But we have to just suck it up." [...]

"This is just a disappointing season," said Shanahan. "We built this team to go farther than the second round."

Brett Cyrgalis / NY Post Blue Seats:
Sun Sets on Season -- The Rangers came out of the gate slow and were just getting burnt up and down the ice. They looked sluggish and were being outworked in every facet of the game. At one point, on one of their many failed power play chances, Jaromir Jagr was skating in circles because no one on his team was moving without the puck. He was the only one trying...

Lynn Zinser / NY Times Slap Shot:
Rangers’ Postgame: The End Comes Hard -- The Rangers feel they are well-stocked with young talent. They might not be on the level of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan and Dawes installed themselves as huge parts of this team. Still, it was hard for them to swallow the end of it all. They started the season believing they were Stanley Cup contenders after signing free agent centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez in the offseason. . .

Marian Hossa, right, shakes hands with Jaromir Jagr, leftCBC:
'I don't think I'm going to retire': Jagr -- If he doesn't re-sign with New York, Jagr still plans to keep playing.

"I don't think I'm going to retire from hockey," Jagr said after Sunday's loss. "I know I'm going to play somewhere. I don't know where...

ESPN:
Jagr wants to return to hockey; future fuzzier for Shanahan -- The persistent rumor has Jagr, 36, returning to Russia, where he played during the lockout. He has also indicated he'd like to play in the Czech Republic before he retires from the game for good. If he stays in the NHL, it's less likely he'll stay in New York. Jagr will be an unrestricted free agent in July...

John Dellipina / NY Daily News Blueshirts blog:
Season's over -- Rather than simply judge this Rangers season a failure because it lasted one game less than the one that preceded it, the pertinent questions are about whether this team has the pieces to continue to take legitimate runs at the Cup. Or whether a significant roster overhaul is needed. . .

Rangers Review:
Playoff Grades -- Before I do my post game, and really a post series wrap (tomorrow, Im spent today) I wanted to share with you my playoff grades for the team. Goal: Lundqvist:A-. In a postseason where he got very little support, he stood tall. Only game 3 stands out as an un-Henrik like performance...

Newsday:
Zipay: What's next for the Rangers? -- now a team in transition that needs to retool...
Zipay: Jagr says he'll keep playing, but where?
Staple: Rangers should allow youth to take over
Poll: How do you rate the season?

The Hockey Rabbi:
Rangers Go Bust -- with the notable exception of Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers' best players simply did not play their best hockey. Gomez's turn-overs set up more plays for Pittsburgh than his passes did for New York. Drury disappeared long before he injured his ribs. . .

Seth Rorabaugh / Post Gazette Empty Netter:
Clutch -- Marian Hossa sheds his poor playoff reputation by scoring two goals, including one in overtime, in the Penguins' series-clinching 3-2 win against the Rangers...

The Pensblog:
Fuhgetaboutit. PENS ADVANCE. -- All series, the Rangers looked "deliberate," as NBC's Mike Emrick would say. In the waning moments of a tied game, "deliberate" is interpreted as "careful." Over the course of a playoff series, it translates as "slow."

They're still a solid hockey team. But in the end... Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Brendan Shanahan made a combined $19 million this season. They combined for 1 goal in the whole series...way back in Game 1. That is a joke and yet more proof that you cannot buy a championship...
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Darren Dreger / TSN.ca:
Why So Many Short Overtimes? -- Six of the 13 overtime games last year were decided in the first overtime period, while the remaining seven needed a second overtime period or longer. No such marathons this year with the average overtime this year clocking in at 6:48, with 13 of the 14 games decided in the first 12 minutes and three ended by the winning teams first shot...

James Mirtle:
Final Eight by age -- Another breakdown of the teams that made the second round this season (even though three, and soon perhaps, four, are already eliminated):


TeamsAgeGoalDefForw
1DET32.1339.3533.4030.33
2COL29.4428.6430.0729.27
3DAL29.2432.7328.9529.15
4PHI28.8130.7229.8128.10
5SJS28.0632.0627.4027.88
6MTL28.0221.8529.6827.95
7NYR27.8726.1827.0428.41
8PIT27.7023.4328.3927.71

Ages are as of Sunday, with only players who have played at least one playoff game counting in the averages...
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Rangers aren't the only New Yorkers taking a spill:
NYPD horse throws officer off, then makes his way home alone
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Staal brothers hugEric Staal of the Rangers hugs brother Jordan Staal of the Pens
(via The Sidney Crosby Show)
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Rangers Pens handshake line Rangers & Pens shake hands (via Empty Netter)

Friday, May 02, 2008

That's One

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New York Rangers vs. Pittsburg Penguins - Round 2
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Jagr played like a man on a mission in game 4 vs. the PensThe report of the Rangers demise was grossly premature as the Rangers stayed alive with a gutsy win, 3-0, in an old fashioned, hard nose, penalty filled game at the Garden tonight. The Pens took eleven penalties for 38 minutes and the Rangers 6 for 20 minutes. The Pens were 0-4 on the power play and the Rangers were 2-7 on the power play. Special teams: Advantage Rangers.

The game had everything that makes hockey such a great sport. Jagr and Lundqvist rose to the occasion, Crosby and Malkin plunged to the depths. Besides talking to the refs after each whistle, it seems to be a team sport, Crosby, playing policeman, went after Girardi, with his stick still in his hand. Girardi had laid a perfectly legal hit on Malkin which Crosby objected to. Malkin, for his part, at the end of the game tried to kick the skates of Mara, a sort of slew foot, and for his effort Malkin received a ten minute misconduct at the end of the game. Mara recived a like penalty for going after Malkin. Mara called it classless and said it will be remembered. The Penguins seem to have a penchant for gabbing with the refs after each whistle, complaing about the calls against them and also about the non calls against them.

I thought it strange that a scrum broke out each time Jagr scored. The first time was when Brooks Orpik hit Jagr high as Jagr was scoring the first goal and the second scrum was after Jagr's empty netter. What was also strange was that there was no replay of Jagr's first goal on the big MSG screen and then it dawned on us that this was a Versus game and they didn't want the fans to see that the refs blew a call. This was the first time in memory that a goal, scored by any team, had not been shown on the Garden Vision. Jagr's two goals gave him five for the playoffs and three against the Pens. If this was Jagr last game at the Garden he went out in style. Right now, Jagr is playing like there is no last game, like there is no tomorrow.

Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding tonight and was the Prince again. He made 29 saves, mostly spectacular, some on breakaways and the key save on Malkin's penalty shot. You couldn't ask for more drama. The Rangers were leading 1-0 when Malkin came in on a breakaway and was pushed into Lundqvist puck and all. The goal was reviewed and it was judged that the net came off before the puck went in. On the penalty shot, Malkin came in on Lundqvist in slow motion waiting for the Prince to make the first move. Lundqvist did not budge and made a glove save on Malkin's shot. This was the second penalty shot that Lundqvist has stopped in this years playoffs. The other was the stop on John Madden and was also a game saver as that game was 4-3 Rangers when Madden skated in for the tying goal. Dan Giradi was the culprit in both instances committing the penalties.

Coach clueless made one key change in the lineup, a change that should have been made earlier in the playoffs. He put Jason Strudwick in place of Christian Backman and starting with his first shift you could see the difference. Strudwick was cool, solid, steady and tough. He logged 10:15 of ice time and dished out four hits, which is a whole month of hits for Backman. The Rangers out hit the Pens 40-35. Besides Avery, whose spirit was on the ice, the Rangers played without Betts, who had suffered facial injuries. Chris Drury, played hurt with bruised ribs, and logged 20:40, the second highest of all the forwards.

So the Rangers are alive, but Everest is one treacherous climb and they can't afford one misstep. Lundqvist must be the Prince again and if he is, along with the revitalized Jagr, who knows where this team can go. One eerie thought. Jagr's last goal was scored at 19:42 of the third period. 1942 was the year the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Red Wings to win the Cup. Thirty-three years later in 1975 the Islanders came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Thirty-three years later in 2008 ..............!

ICINGS:

Yahoo:
Malkin slew-foot: another penguin free-be? -- If you saw Malkin's actions last night, a slew-foot, not once but twice get uncalled (major + game misconduct), what was your reaction? what do you think should happen? ...

NHL Rule Book: Rule 91 Tripping:
"Slew-Footing" is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent's feet from under him, or pushes an opponent's upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent's feet from under him.
Malkin slew-foots Mara, Jagr scores; End Roughings in Game 4

More Youtube: Evgeni Malkin showing us how to cheapshot with a slewfoot May 1 2008 - via NHL Fight Club

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Rangers' Mara rips 'classless' Malkin -- “That’s a classless act by a superstar. And there’s no need for that in our game. We’re up, 2-0, and it’s not like it’s a little slew-foot – it’s a full kick if you watch the replay.”

-- Rangers defenseman Paul Mara, on a late slew-foot foul by Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty ...

Hockey Rabbi:
To Suspend Or Not To Suspend? -- First, Malkin should be suspended. There is absolutely no place in the NHL for a play like that...
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Blueshirt Bulletin:
Recipe For Success -- You take one part power play, two parts Jagr, and three parts Lundqvist. Mix them in a very large bowl shaped like a perfect circle, sprinkle in a healthy does of timely penalty killing, a pinch of gutty play by injured players and players replacing injured players, and a dash of frustration on the other side, and you have a recipe for winning that keeps the Rangers alive for one more game in their second round series...

Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Rangers beat Penguins to avoid being swept -- "They played Game 4, we played Game 7," said Jagr, who heard thunderous "Ja-gr, Ja-gr" chants in what might have been his last game as a Ranger at the Garden. "The next game is Game 7 again for us. Hopefully, they're going to be a little bit nervous." ...

Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
Back to Pittsburgh... where the Sunday matinee at the Igloo won't be a cakewalk. But the door is ajar. If Lundqvist stays hot, this might be interesting after all ...

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Staying Power -- Jagr Surge May be more than final fling -- I asked Jaromir Jagr to tell me that I was wrong, and boy did he ever. I think. I asked No. 68 if it is wrong to interpret the fire, passion and anger he's demonstrated the last two games - as exemplified by the way he twice shouted down Sidney Crosby on Sunday, then scolded Marian Hossa for diving in Game 3 before once again raging at Crosby during a third-period review - as evidence that he has made the decision to retire as an NHL player and thus sees this as a last opportunity that is irretrievably slipping away...

John Dellapina / NY Daily News:
Rangers avoid sweep, stay alive -- Jaromir Jagr said his goal for the evening wasn't to extend his Rangers career. It was merely to earn the right to play one more playoff game this season. Henrik Lundqvist's mission was similarly about simple self-preservation: Atone for a rare off night that had helped nudge his team to the brink of playoff extinction...

John Dellapina / Blueshirts blog:
Avery update: Doctors stop the bleeding

MSG:
Hockey Nite Live: Game 4 Analysis
Video: Rangers React
Game 4 Recap
Blogging Game 4

Scotty Hockey:
What A Pleasant Surprise! -- I won't step out and make a prediction for the next game, if only because it is hard to imagine the Penguins showing as little heart and devotion two games in a row and at home. However, i will go so far as to say that if the Rangers can carry their momentum over, they will be a hard team to beat. Tonight they did many of the things they weren't doing in Game 3: they fought for position, played physical, made good shot decisions and followed them up ...

Doug Fisher / Blueshirts on Broadway:
The Comeback Begins… -- tempers and frustration set in for a Pittsburh team that had yet to lose in the Playoffs. Malkin took a pair of cheap shots on Paul Mara while play was going on, which boiled over into a whistle, where everyone in Blue seemed to be going after everyone in White and vice versa. Mara and Malkin each got 10-minute misconducts and Mara got an additional 2 for Roughing. It appeared that Sergei Gonchar and Michal Rozsival should have gotten booked as well- Gonchar looked like he threw a punch at Rozie, after which they both dropped the gloves, no penalties called. Jarkko Ruutu was given a 2 minute roughing call and a 10-minute misconduct after the final horn sounded for roughing Chris Drury, who played great despite being injured in game 3 ...

Mike / Rangerland.net:
Yeah yeah, we know, still down 3-1, long way to go, yada yada yada… -- Big props to Prucha tonight. Definitely the kind of game that endeared him to Ranger fans in his first two seasons. Minus the whole goal-scoring thing, of course. He was really aggressive on the forecheck, mixed it up in the zone, and drew a penalty or two with his hustle...

Sam Weinman / Journal News:
Jagr, Lundqvist keep Rangers going -- But for a team to defy the odds in its attempt to come back against the Penguins, it needed to start somewhere. And so it began in front of an inspired home crowd, with Jaromir Jagr again placing his team on his shoulders, and with Henrik Lundqvist turning aside everything that came his way...

We are not worth O' Lun-KanThe Dark Ranger:
King Lunkan Steals It, NYR 3, Penguins 0 -- It just so happens fellow blogger BlueNationLeafs joined me for the game and we were sitting in front of a couple of Swedes who flew in just for the game. The Dark Ranger proudly wore his Lundqvist jersey and during one of the many "HEN-RIK" chants during the night, he informed us that Henrik in Sweden, during similar chants, is affectionately referred to as "LUN-KAN", which means spectacular one...

Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
Riding the 68 Train to Pittsburgh

HockeyRodent:
McCreary For President -- But if you are looking for any encouragement whatsoever, then review the game after JJ's goal. Watch how the Penguin's dominate territorially less and less - almost as if they were running out of petrol. Yes. I could have written "gas". But then, I'd be no better than John Dellapina or any of those other meat-and-potatoes columnists polluting Al Gore's internet ...

Lynn Zinser / NY Times Slap Shot:
Rangers Postgame: Two Heroes, One Victory -- At one point this season, the Madison Square Garden fans were busy chanting for the team to re-sign forward Sean Avery. But now, with Avery out for the season with a lacerated spleen and the Rangers’ playoff lives seemingly resting on the shoulders of captain Jaromir Jagr and goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the free agent the Garden fans are showering with attention is Jagr...

Lynn Zinser / NY Times:
With Backs to Wall, Rangers Fight Back

Rich Chere / NJ Star Ledger:
Lundqvist, Jagr keep Rangers' season going -- Jaromir Jagr was right. It's too early to write the Rangers' obituary...

Colin Stephenson / NJ Star Ledger:
Lundqvist is superb -- Going into what might have been their last game of the season, it was pretty clear that for the Rangers to stave off elimination for another few days, goalie Henrik Lundqvist was going to have to come up big...

Rich Chere & Colin Stephenson / NJ Star Ledger:
Malkin's kicks getting noticed -- Add slew-footing to Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin's arsenal of weapons. At least that's how the Rangers feel after Malkin kicked at Paul Mara twice and Chris Drury once late in Game 4...
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Hockey GirlsNew Young Stars of the NHL
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Little Penguin bedroom accessory
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Penguin Scat

The Pensblog:
You Can Tell By The Way They Use Their Walk. PENS LOSE.
GameDay (2.4) -- Ice Chickens @ Bullsh**s

Post-Gazette:
Penguins fail to get sweep
Collier: Jagr's play keeps Rangers afloat

Empty Netter / Post Gazette:
Put your brooms away

Igloo Dreams
Rangers 3, Penguins 0

Confluence of the Three Rivers:
Rangers extend series with 3-0 win over Penguins

The Sidney Crosby Show:
Game 4: Pens v Rangers (L 0-3)
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Was Malkin's non-goal a goal?Pens point-of-view: "Was Malkin's non-goal a goal?"
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