Friday, October 31, 2008

The Z Man Does It Again

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Z-Man, Nikolai Zherdev the new Zorro?The Z Man, Nikolai Zherdev, did it again last night. He saved the Rangers buns and threw a lot of excitement into a game that saw the high flying Blueshirts struggling against a terrible Atlanta Thrasher team. In fact, if Zherdev keeps this up I shall refer to him as Zorro. I don't know if any of you remember Zorro? It was a big movie in 1940 starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. Who are these people Pundit? Actually the movie was "The Mark Of Zorro." Anyhow, Disney caught on to a good thing and made a Zorro TV series, starring a guy named Guy Williams. The premise was of a rich aristocrat during the day who turns into a crusader at night and saves some damsel in distress or some poor peon who was being abused by the wicked government. After he fleeced the bums, Zorro scrawled a 'Z' on their chests so they know who did them in.

Rumors have it that Zherdev can't sleep before a game. Do you think he is prowling the big bad streets of New York? Anyway, last night Zorro, oops Zherdev, left quite a few marks on the Thrasher defensemen and goalie Lehtonen, who I think played the best game he ever has in New York. Zherdev, er Zorro, had a goal (5) and an assist. His goal was a highlight film goal that will be shown many times on MSG, and why not? His goal gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead which they relinquished four minutes later. However about three minutes later The Z Man put on a show of coming around the net, forcing Lehtonen to be out of position, and finding Girardi with the game winning goal. What a show.

So naturally Zherdev was the number one star. Lundqvist naturally was the number two star, and naturally Prucha was benched again. And while the power play did score a goal, by Naslund, they were pathetic, especially on a five on three. So the clueless coach, who is pounding his chest because of the start, has no idea of how to fix a power play, has an error prone defense and continues to destroy the career of a fine young outstanding player. So tell me, Garden announcer apologists what a great coach we have. But why complain? The record is 10-2-1, an all time record for the opening month, and we are the number 1 team in the NHL.

ICINGS:

HockeyFights.com
Toe-to-Toe They Go --
While last night’s almost-full slate of games didn’t fulfill expectations in terms of quanity, the fights that took place yesterday were certainly quality stuff.

Thursday’s fight card was headlined by the fourth career meeting between Eric Boulton and Colton Orr during the opening minutes of Thrashers-Rangers. Orr was the more active combatant early on but Boulton came back with a string of counter-punches and the two continued to exchange blows in a long one...

Results / HockeyFights.com:
Eric Boulton vs Colton Orr
Results - Who won?
Colton Orr -- 47.6%
Draw -- 31.7%
Eric Boulton -- 20.7%
From 208 votes with an average rating of 8.8

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ranger$ Dollar$ and $ense + Hockey Hair

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Colton Orr: The best hockey fighter for the buck in the NHLForbes gets it right. The best hockey fighter for the buck is Colton Orr. Add to that, the fact, that this season he can also play some hockey. Hope the better skating doesn't take away from his fight game.

Peter J. Schwartz / Forbes:
Best Hockey Fighters For The Buck --
To determine the best fighters for the buck, we compared player fighting stats since the start of the 2006-07 season to their pay last year. Since a game's momentum usually swings to the team whose player prevails in a fight, we awarded a bonus for each win and subtracted points for each loss, as determined by fan voting at hockeyfights.com, an online Mecca for pugilism at the rink...
The best fighter for the money is Colton Orr of the New York Rangers. Orr fought 34 times during the past two seasons (the most in the Eastern Conference), winning 21 of them (tops in the NHL). His $525,000 salary last year was only $50,000 above the league minimum, 9% less than the average of other enforcers who have qualified for restricted free agency....
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Forbes also reports that the Rangers are the second most valuable NHL franchise after the Toronto Maple Leafs. Forbes says the Maple Leafs are worth $448 million and the Rangers are worth $411 million.

The Business Of Hockey --
The 2007-08 season was the National Hockey League's most successful since Forbes began tracking team values 10 years ago.

Fueled by higher ticket prices and a stronger Canadian dollar, revenue increased 13%, to an average of $92 million per team, while operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) rose 48%, to $4.7 million per team...
#1 Toronto Maple Leafs - Current Value: $448 mil
#2 New York Rangers - Current Value: $411 mil
#3 Montreal Canadiens - Current Value: $334 mil
[...]
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#10 New Jersey Devils - Current Value: $222 mil
[...]
#29 New York Islanders - Current Value: $154 mil

New York Rangers - Current Team Value: $411 milThe New York Rangers are owned by Cablevision Systems, who bought them in 1997 for $195 million ...
The value of the Rangers continues to surge as they have once again become a perennial playoff team and dominate the metropolitan hockey market, despite the New Jersey Devils' new building across the Hudson River.
Cablevision stock closed today up $.30 to $15.74 a share giving the firm a market cap. value of $4.67 billion. Therefore if you own a share of Cablevision today, about 8.8% of that, or $1.38, is your piece of the NY Rangers.
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Brendan Shanahan has come to his $enses and decided to move on. Larry Brooks of the NY Post reports, SHANAHAN WON'T WAIT FOR RANGERS:
The waiting is over. And so, too, is Brendan Shanahan's career as a Ranger.

The 39-year-old unsigned right wing who'd been advised for months by GM Glen Sather to "sit tight" in anticipation of both a roster spot and salary-cap space opening up to create an avenue for his return to Broadway, Shanahan is no longer doing so...
When Rissmiller was waived and nothing else happened that must have been the cue?
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ICINGS:

The Mullet = Hockey hairA very well done homage to the mullet by the "Not Your Average Ice Girl," who is an Islanders fan, Wham! Bam! Hockey Glam!- The Mullet:
Ape drape, Beaver Paddle. Camero Cut. Canadian Ppassport. Kentucky Waterfall. Mudflap. Neckwarmer. Squirrel pelt. Tennessee tophat. And my personal favorite, Hockey Hair.

Yes, the mullet is a staple in hockey fashion. The flowing locks dancing in the breeze while the mullet aficionado swiftly skates up ice is a sight of beauty.

Notable NHL mullets...
Send yourself to the penalty box if you can't name at least three two great hockey mullets.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Captain And The Prince

The new Ranger Captain broke out of his mini slump last night against the Islanders with two goals. Chris Drury rose to the occasion last night at the Coliseum to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 win. Of course the star of the game was The Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, who was unbelievable when he had to. I really have to stop saying that, he's always unbelievable. In ten games he has a 1.99 GAA and .927 save %. The two goals last night were not his fault.

The Islanders played without DiPietro, Witt and Andy Sutton all injured, so a big part of their team was out. While the Rangers did not play one of their better games they did get two points and that is what the NHL is all about. The Rangers outshot the Islanders 39-30 while the Islanders outhit the Rangers by a whopping 32-17. The Islanders did seem to be more determined than the Rangers but that usually happens in this rivalry where the supposed underdog seems to outplay the favorite. I know it is a cliche but the standings really don't matter when these two teams get together.

There seems to be some criticism of the team's performance in some circles this morning and while some of it may be justified there could be a very good reason for it. The Rangers have played the most games of any team in the league and have one more in October which will bring the grand total to 13. The closest team is Anaheim which has played 10 games and has 10 points. They are still trying to find the right combinations on both offense and defense.

Their power play continues to be moribund at 14.5%. There are only six teams with a worse PP percentage. Their penalty kill is a robust 91.7%, second in the NHL. I think the team lacks a basic toughness, especially on the defense.

I am not pleased with the lack of ice team given to Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski seems to have disappeared. However they are 9-2-1 and that is the overriding issue. So far they have seemed to find a way to win. Also, so far they have swept their Eastern rivals, The Devils, Islanders, Flyers and Pittsburgh. However, it is a long season and their are still 70 games to go.

ICINGS:

Yes, the team is leading the league, but there are some big uglies in that sweet cup of Joe. Zherdev, for one, has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse. A smattering of Rangerland worries:

The Dark Ranger:

Our boys do not seem to be playing great hockey -- it feels unreal that we are leading anything at this point, let alone the LEAGUE!!? With an actual working system in place and our coach Tom Renney every evening working on his chemistry set, we are seeing improvements as the season progresses (with the exception of our defense.....side note - "thank you Henrik again and again!") one would think we have more to look forward to....
Hockey Rodent sees "Bad Times Looming"
I'm telling you here and now that the past three games (despite generating six points) are screaming a message of imminent humility.

Last season, nobody believed what I was preaching until six or seven games into the crash and burn. There's winning. And then there's winning for the wrong reasons. Lately, it's the latter.

I say, the fix begins with relegating Naslund to the nether lines...
Amanda Panda:
Who Did Not Look So Good ... 1. Dubinsky...

2. Zherdev - In my opinion, Zherdev is one of the most frustrating players to watch. While he is tremendously skilled and has the capacity to do jaw dropping things with the puck, he is also prone to overhandling the puck and to making blatant errors....
Rangers Review:
Zherdev better learn that you need to come to play every night, and that crap like what we saw last night will never be tolerated in Rangerland...
Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report:
Let’s face it, of the Rangers nine wins so far, six have come against teams with sub-.500 records. That includes two wins over Tampa (1-3-3), and recent wins over Columbus (3-6) and the Islanders (2-6). Not that beating those teams is a given...

Markus Naslund didn’t seem to find his game until last week, and Wade Redden still seems to be fighting it...
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Aaron Voros - Nate Thompson Fight


Puck Daddy:
The first beautiful thing about this fight is that it takes place at the Nassau Coliseum during a New York Rangers/New York Islanders game, which means the crowd makes it sound like Round 8 of an Oscar de la Hoya/Manny Pacquiao fight. It's bedlam.

The other beautiful thing is that Aaron Voros and Nate Thompson were tossing bombs; even the ones that missed were rather awesome...
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p.s. If anyone knows where the Rangers are hiding Patrick Rissmiller please let us know. He's still not in Hartford as of early this afternoon?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Z Man To The Rescue

It wasn't Matthieu, Matthieu, Matthieu but considering it was only the eleventh game of the season and the Rangers in desperate need of a goal and a new hero, it was quite an accomplishment. Brother Michael would not like that sentence but the results were remarkable. Nikolai Zherdev brought a Saturday night crowd with a Monday morning attitude to its feet by whistling the tying goal past Penguin goalie, and nemesis, Marc-Andre Fleury at 19:51 of the third period. A new hero, Nikolai Zherdev, The Z Man, introduced himself, formally, to the Garden denizens.

The Rangers did a dead man's waltz for the first twenty minutes and cranked it up in the third period by putting 18 shots on goal. Markus Naslund (3) had gotten the Rangers back in the game at the 5:09 mark with a PP goal which perked up the crowd but it looked like the French kid who was making like Jacques "Jake The Snake" Plante in the nets would hold the Rangers off. However, the Z Man would not be denied and may have set the stage for far greater heroics this year.

It was left to Fredrik Sjostrom to win the shootout as the last drama was left to The Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, to stop Sid The Kid, who tried numerous dekes and feints, to no avail. But the night belonged to The Z Man with his fourth goal of the season and may well be the spark this team needs to lift the Rangers and their fans. Who says we don't have a super star. Introducing Nikolai Zherdev, The Z man.

ICINGS:
How many souls did the Blueshirts crush last night over on the Penguin blogs?

Illness over at the Pens blog -- ... Pens Lose:

- Ouch. 2-goal lead in the third period disappears.
- Don't even want to look at shot totals for the third period.
- Uneventful games produce uneventful blog posts.
- Point city.
- Vomit
Seth Rorabaugh at The Post-Gazette Empty Netter blog has a great view of the game from his Pittsburgh living room and goes over all the gory glorious details of the Rangers comeback win. Seth happens to think the "LET'S GO RANGERS!" song is stupid, but he kindly provides a Youtube video of it. Penguins at Rangers live - 10-25-08:
Postgame: This might be the Penguins' most disappointing loss of the season...

Give the Rangers credit for working their way back in this game. How many teams would've curled up and died after not scoring on a two-man advantage like the Rangers had in the second period? ...
The Rangers win is a "rancid memory" says Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- Lackluster third turns into loss in a shootout:
If the Penguins win the Atlantic Division by a point, they might feel a little better about the one they picked up last night.

Same way if it clinches home-ice advantage or gets them into the playoffs.

But until then, their 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden will stand as one of the more rancid memories of their 2008-09 season.

Hard for them to think of it any other way after they built a 2-0 lead during the first 36 minutes of play -- and still were up by a goal with 10 seconds left in regulation -- but couldn't hold back the Rangers' third-period surge long enough to escape with a second point...
Molinari also takes time on Sunday to delve into donating Penguin brains to science (it's Pittsbury after all). If they could get all the Pens to donate their gray matter they might fill a dixie cup. However, Marc-Andre Fleury is running scared about donating. "I would be scared that they'd unplug me right away [and] take my brain out [before I actually died]," he said.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Down Goes Renney, But Rangers Come Back

Tom Renney took one for the team last night. A stick upside his head from Blue Jacket defenseman Rostislav Klesla knocked him out. The team did not specifically call Renney's injury a concussion, but it must have been one if he was knocked unconscious.

There is nothing funny about a concussion. When you hear the word concussion substitute "brain injury" and then you can appreciate how really dangerous this type of injury can be.

See Wikipedia:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also called intracranial injury, occurs when physical trauma injures the brain....

TBI is a major cause of death and disability worldwide and the leading killer of people under age 45. Major causes of TBI include falls, vehicle accidents, and violence. Prevention includes using seat belts and helmets when riding bicycles or motorcycles and during some sports.

In addition to the damage caused at the moment of injury, brain trauma causes secondary injury, a variety of chemical events within the brain that contribute to damage in the hours and days following the injury. This presents the opportunity to discover new treatments that limit damage by interfering with these damaging cascades...
So this is bad news for Coach Tom and our prayers are with him. And even though we take our blogn' shots at him here at the Ranger Pundit we hope the noggin is okay. We won't say a word if he decides to wear a helmet for the rest of the season.

I saw the game last night from a distance while having dinner at an Outback Steakhouse. The Devils-Flyers game was on next to it. It seems like every time I looked up there was a fight going on over at the Devils-Flyers. It looks like Clarkson, who has been itching to get into a brawl, got his chance. There was also more scoring going on in the other game. I found myself watching more of that game, while just glancing over to see if there was any scoring going on with the Rangers.

Nikolai Zherdev obviously had a great game with his goal and two assists. Will this launch "Z" and as Section 335 says, help give the Rangers "a real scoring threat every shift"? Let's hope so.

Some reactions to the game:

Zipay / Newsday -
Zherdev returns a winner for Rangers in Columbus:
Zherdev, the 23-year-old Ukranian right wing, wrapped it up with a beautiful top-corner backhander off an odd-man rush at 13:48 of the third. It was his third point in his first game skating with vets Drury (one assist) and Markus Naslund (two assists). Zherdev has three goals and five assists in 10 games.

"I'm not able to sleep before games," said Zherdev, explaining his early presence at the rink, where he was booed when he touched the puck. "I'm glad I scored and got two assists."

Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock expected his former player to step up. "Players like Zherdev only respond to responsibility," he said, "and for us, it was that the more responsibility you gave him, the bigger the role, the better he played ...You look at his numbers on big goals, his goals in shootouts, in overtime, he contributed."
Scotty Hockey --
Ref Interference Swats Jackets:
The Columbus Blue Jackets were robbed on Friday night. Somehow both officials and the video judges in Columbus and Toronto all mistakenly agreed that Brandon Dubinsky's eventual game-winner was a fair goal even though he clearly redirected it in with his skate...
The Dark Ranger --
Renney Wakes Up Puzzled Saying "Yes, Jaromir!?":
New York Rangers Coach Tom Renney saw his past, present and future before him in one WHACK! as he took a direct hockey stick swat to his head, middle of the second period last night against Columbus. He'd be delighted to learn that his Blueshirts dominated throughout, properly rotating and checking and controlling Ken Hitchcock's Blue Jackets from start to finish. Maybe the dent in his head will keep him from moving around the lines for tomorrow's first season meeting against the Pittsburgh Penguins!!?
HockeyBird --
Bonked:
When told he was in Columbus, dazed head coach Tom Renney asked if they had discovered the new world yet.

When told they had just defeated the Blue Jackets on their home turf, dazed Rangers couldn't believe their ears.

Pretty much outplayed by their hosts, your heroes squeaked by with a victory thanks to their omnipresent backstop, one Henrik Lundqvist...
Rangers Review --
You Can’t Go Home Again:
Chris Drury and Markus Naslund had, in my opinion, their worst games (offensively) as Rangers. Drury and Naslund were constantly out of synch, neither could read off of the other with any degree of accuracy, and the 2 of them just held back Zherdev big time.

I was for the change and moving Zherdev to their line, but after that performance, it seems to me to be a waste of Zherdevs talent to put him with those 2. The Playstation line once again produced on the Power Play while the Naslund Gomez Drury trio have done less than nothing with their time on the ice…speaking of..

I think it seems clear, based on pretty measurable ways, that the 3 best forwards for the Rangers, thus far, have been the 3 kids on the Playstation line (Voros Dubi, Zherdev)...
The Blue Line --
Zherdev stars in return to Columbus:
Lest this blog site turn into a daily obsession about Nikolai Zherdev, we'll just say this: the Rangers scored three goals last night in their victory, and Zherdev was in on all three of them with one goal and two (primary) assists.

Power play? Check. Even strength? Check.

The idea of Zherdev being a 200-point scorer? Okay, hyperbole from Ken Hitchcock aside, so far especially in light of Steve Zipay's conversation with a seemingly-happy Fedor Tyutin, that trade is working out quite nicely for both parties...
And new Rangers blogger Amanda Panda and Nigel --
A Very Successful Opening Ten-Pack:
Speaking of offense, Niko has it, that much is for certain. 1 goal and 2 assists against his old club last night despite playing on a new line (with Drury and Naslund) for the first time. It seems Zherdev can play on any line and be successful. At the very least, he’s had success with each of the Rangers’ top three centers. Now if only Naslund could pick it up, we might have a true #1 line.
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ICINGS: Speaking of Nikolai Zherdev, there really needs to be a decent, standard, and well accepted nickname for our new left winger. I have seen "Z", Niko, Nik, Nicky Z, etc. Here at the RP I have also referred to him as "The Winger Kiev" or "Z Winger Kiev." But, there needs to be a Rangerland consensus. What nickname works for you?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rangers Hockey: 5 Things I Want to Know

#1 When will Chris Drury get off the schnide? He's "Keepin' the Faith," but he is "goal-less and he's almost assist-less. He's also at minus-five through nine games. That's the worst mark on the Rangers."

#2 Did Sean Avery really duck a fight with David Clarkson last night? The Beast of the East blog has all the News & Notes regarding the Devils - Stars game and what happened with The Grate One.

#3 Speaking of The Grate One, what exactly did he say about John Giannone's wife that sparked their verbal altercation after the game on Monday?

#4 Why does Matts Sundin have to go to L.A. to get his "on-ice" training? Can't he do that a little closer to home?

#5 Is Patrick Rissmiller going to be re-assigned to Hartford or not? This morning he still seems to be in limbo following his waiver.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rangers Cluster Management: Culling the Flock of Weak Stock

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Rangers GM Glen Sather manages a cluster of 3rd and 4th line forwardsFlock General Manger has to take his loses and cull weak stock

The evidence that something ain't right at Rangers World Headquarters again went on display this afternoon with the announcement that left winger Patrick Rissmiller was placed on waivers. Rissmiller had played in just two games for the Blueshirts after signing as a free agent from the San Jose Sharks for a three-year deal for $1 million per year. Rissmiller had no goals, no assists, and was a -2 in his two games.

Why the Chief Sheepherder and Flock GM, Glen Sather, stockpiled a cluster of third and fourth-line forwards is anyone's guess. Clustering works if you are in the sheep business, but not hockey. And eventually every sheepherder has to cull his flock of weak stock.

Some reactions to the latest move by the Rangers "Brain Bust":

Hockeybird:
I was baffled by the signings of Rissmiller and Voros when they happened, and even now they look strange. Three years each? Sure, Voros is looking ok right now, but he started hot out of the box last season and fizzled right after Christmas.

They already had Prucha, Dawes, Korpikoski, Sjostrom, Callahan, Betts, and Orr as extra forwards for the lower lines. They then took on Fritsche in the Zherdev deal. If you already had these guys, WHY take on Rissmiller?

I think this whole mess was a big misread on the part of Sather...
Lynn Zinser at Slapshot:
[Renney] has rotated a set of forwards in and out of the lineup in frenetic fashion. It has not allowed Petr Prucha, Nigel Dawes, Dan Fritsche, Patrick Rissmiller or Lauri Korpikoski to find any kind of rhythm or role on this team. And each game, the Rangers have more than $3 million of salary invested in healthy scratches.

Finally, one choice was made on Tuesday. The Rangers placed Rissmiller on waivers with the intention of sending him down to Hartford.

This all stems from the Rangers going forward-crazy during the free agent signing period in July. They grabbed Markus Naslund, Aaron Voros and Rissmiller in free agency, traded two defenseman (Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman) for forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche and re-signed forward Fred Sjostrom as a restricted free agent.

The problem is, the Rangers ended up with too many of the same kind of player, third- and fourth-line forwards with limited offensive upside, and they have struggled to choose which ones to keep...
Andrew Gross at Ranger Rants:
The Rangers will likely use the [Rissmiller] roster spot for a seventh defenseman and it's still likely that another from that forward group may eventually be on the move as well - excepting Korpikoski and probably Dawes...
Steve Zipay at Blue Notes:
If no one claims Rissmiller, who skated in a green jersey today as a spare forward after playing in just two of the first nine games, he would be assigned to Hartford. At that point, the remainder of his annual salary does not count under the cap, only the days during which he was on the 23-man roster.
Pucks on Broadway:
This saves the Rangers approximately $1 million and perhaps paves the way for another defenseman or it may involve Brendan Shanahan and Mats Sundin. Suffice to say this will most likely not be enough to sign either, but it may be a step in that direction.

I still put my money that this will prompt another defenseman on the Rangers roster.
NYRangerscast:
The writing was on the wall from the beginning of the season. Too many forwards, not enough time to go around. Rissmiller has been the one guy that hasn’t earned a spot on the club in the small chunks of playing time he’s gotten...
Maybe this move is one step closer to -- Manic Rangers Fan / Let Prucha Play:
The Rangers are struggling to find the right combination with Naslund and Drury. Lauri Korpikoski has been given a chance as has Patrick Rissmiller who has since been put on waivers (why he was signed in the first place still boggles my mind). Why not give Petr Prucha a real shot at making an impact on the team and developing chemistry with those two for a few games...
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update: The Rissmiller deal was for three years at $1 million per year, not the $1 million for one year as originally reported by several sources.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Boring, Losing Effort

These games are getting boring and predictable. Rangers get an early goal and either through an inept offense, overly cautious play and dedication to a defense mentality or all three, they lose. They lost 2-1 to a Dallas team who got the winning goal from Mike Modano after some sloppy play from Girardi and Kalinin, who were also on ice for the first goal scored by Brenden Morrow. Morrow tied the game with a "nasty and ugly" (his words) shot from his back during a power-play. The Rangers only goal was scored by Markus Naslund, a power-play goal. The Rangers put 29 shots on goal and the Stars threw 27 at Lundqvist.

The much ballyhooed return of Sean Avery produced a surprisingly large number of boos from the Garden crowd. I guess they believed the propaganda that emanated from the Stealth that it was all Avery's fault for leaving the Rangers and that he was greedy. Poor Avery. All he ever did for the Rangers was make them a winner. Just look up his record when he was in the lineup. But it was a quiet game for Avery. In close to 14 minutes of ice time there were no points, no shots but he dished out 5 hits and absorbed quite a few hits. Bottom line. Avery's Stars beat Clueless's Rangers. At the end it was the Rangers who deserved the boos, and Avery's team got the win.

The Rangers are 6-2-1 and still on top in the East, but for how long? Lundqvist remains a rock in goal, but for how long before his own defense does him in? The offense seems confused. Chris Drury seems to be in a serious funk. He started out slow last year but recovered. The Rangers desperately need him to start scoring and leading this team. The team needs scoring and the expectant scorers are not coming through. One wonders what a guy like Petr Prucha is doing on the bench while the likes of Rissmiller and Fritsche continue to get ice time. This clueless coaching staff has taken a player like Petr Prucha, a thirty goal scorer, and completely destroyed him. Spotting him every third or fourth game is not going to cut it. Trade the guy before his skills continue to erode. Let him play for some team that could appreciate and benefit from his talents. Could Shanahan and Sundin be in the Ranger future?

ICINGS: Another night of quite a few empty seats. I have yet to see a real packed Garden this year but they announce 18,200 every night. And the luxury boxes, forget it.

Rangers Hockey: Five Things I Want to Know

# 1. When will Chris Drury and Markus Naslund break out of their scoring funk? And will Naslund turn out to be the weakest link? Blueshirt Bulletin:

Still, there is an obvious problem brewing with two of the team's top players. Drury, the team's new captain, and his season-long linemate Markus Naslund were so clearly the worst of the Rangers' four lines last night that they didn't play at all over the last five minutes of the game and had only one and a half shifts over the final ten minutes. Gomez, freed from their line, had a second straight dynamic game, this time producing results with a pair of classic Gomez assists for each of his linemates, Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes, and controlling play every time he was on the ice. The next step would be to split up Drury and Naslund to see which one is holding back the other...
FYI: the Rangers are averaging 2.63 goals per game so far this season (21 goals after 8 games). Last season they averaged 2.50 goals per game.

# 2. What are the odds that Sean Avery gets his first goal of the season tonight against the Rangers? And who did he get tickets for (anyone from Vogue)? Steve Zipay / Newsday -- Avery won't talk to NY media before game at MSG:
Believe it or not, Sean Avery is ducking the New York media. Avery and the Dallas Stars visit the Garden tomorrow, and the former Ranger won't talk to the media before the game, according to a statement from the Stars...

Avery has no goals and two assists in five games.
Avery the anti-hero/villain returns stories: Post, Daily News, and Newsday.

# 3. Will the KHL rename their top rookie award after Alexei Cherepanov? Beyond the Blueshirts:
To honor the 19-year old forward, the KHL is expected to name its award for top rookie — an award won by Cherepanov himself two years ago when he set the Russian Super League record for goals by a first year player — after him. KHL president Alexander Medvedev has expressed public support for the idea, but a formal announcement has not yet been made. There has also been talk of re-naming the arena in Omsk in Cherepanov’s honor, though nothing has been confirmed.
# 4. Does the "Goals Saved Above Average [GSAA] statistic provide a good measure of a goalie's value? And is there any possible way that Lundqvist will ever win the Vezina Trophy with Redden and Rozsival "standing" in front of him?

Goalie Rankings using GSAA
mc79hockey.com:
I’ve put together a list of goalies who have faced at least 2000 shots since the lockout, with their scaled save percentages and something called goals saved above average [GSAA], which is just how much better than average they are in terms of goals saved. The formula there is (Shots*Scaled Save Percentage) - (Shots*League Average Save Percentage). The list is sorted by GSAA...
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# 5. Are hockey bloggers really the "scourge of the earth"? And will the Ranger Pundit ever get invited up to the MSG press box? That will probably happen after Tom Renney and Glen Sather take Mike out to lunch. James Mirtle - The blog police:
I can see why the Oilers wouldn't want a member of Covered in Oil blogging from a team-sanctioned location, even if their brand of wit is effectively harmless. But the proper response here was simply to let him know that type of coverage wasn't appropriate for the press box and leave it at that.

I don't agree that that's the case, but the team is certainly within their right to do that. What I object to is treating bloggers, regardless of what they write, like the scourge of the earth.

Here's Greg Wyshynski:
It's pure bullying, based on a belief that anyone with "blogger" affixed to his or her name is a reckless amateur with no business sharing the same free popcorn with the pros in the mainstream media.
What teams like the Oilers should see in Covered in Oil is the value of intelligent hardcore fans providing offbeat coverage of a team they adore...
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hosed In Hockey Town

Yes, I know that clueless and the drive-by's thought it was a good call, but give me a break. The call was a home town special. Ask yourself the question. Would the refs make that call against the Wings in Detroit? No way baby, no way. Originally I thought it might be a stupid call from the bench. However, after watching the replay it was an obvious bad home town call. Korpikoski was at the door, trying to open it and wasn't even in the play. You're in the third period in a one goal game you don't make that call. It no way figured into the play.

Years ago the third periods were virtually penalty free especially in a big game. The nonsense calls were not called. The old adage was "Let boys be boys." Flagrant penalties were called but not these stupid too many men on the ice when one can't get off because of a stuck door. Notice it is always the visiting teams that have the stuck doors. Maybe the visiting team should start bringing WD-40 with them and start spraying the doors.

The Rangers played an outstanding game. At least most of them did. Drury for some reason seems to be lost. No matter where they put him there is a problem. However, I'm not worried about Drury as I believe he is too good a player and will turn it around. Naslund is another story. I was never pleased with the signing and I hope that I am wrong and he becomes the big scorer we need. However, he is 35 and I believe that he is on the downside of his career. About him I am worried. If this keeps up the Stealth GM is going to have to go out and get Mats Sundin.

The other problem that seems to becoming worse is the defensive duo of Redden and Rozsival. It was never more apparent then last night's overtime when Redden was toasted and for some inexplicable reason Rozsival planted himself firmly in front of Lundqvist, basically screening him for the game winning goal. There were Red Wings to pick up but he didn't do it. Add to this his constant mishandling of the puck and you have a defenseman who does not belong on the first pairing.

The good news was the play of the other lines. Gomez, centering Dawes and Callahan, who both scored, played brilliantly. The fourth line of Betts, Orr and Sjostrom was strong the entire game and the Dubinsky, Voros, Zherdev was good again with Voros scoring two goals. Alas, they weren't strong or good enough to beat the defensive dynamic duo and the stupid refs.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Valley Ice Guy

Wasn't there a movie about Valley Girls? They could be making one this year about Valley Guys. Steve Valiquette stood on his head last night and he wasn't playing against The Dark Rangers "beloved" Flyers and he wasn't playing in Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Valley made 21 saves and made some crucial ones late in the game. In the shootout Nikolai Kulemin beat him but the Z Man, Nikolai Zherdev, and Fredrik Sjostrom cashed in to give the Rangers the win and the Valley Guy his second win of the year, his first shutout of the year and the third of his career.

Of course you know that Valiquette takes an ice bath before each game. Maybe that's why he looks and plays so cool on the ice. He is part of it. His counter part in the Maple Leaf nets, Vesa Toskola, was pretty good too stopping 32 shots. The Rangers were 0-8 on the PP the Leafs 0-4. The Rangers power play has been a problem for three years and this stellar coaching staff that the drive by media praises hasn't a clue how to fix it. The game was pretty dull until the Rangers revved it up in the third period. But Toskala was up to the task and so the OT and then the dreaded shootout and then the sixth win in seven games and now on to Detroit to face the storied Red Wings.

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Steve 'Valley' Valiquette shuts out Toronto Maple LeafsSteve Valiquette stops Maple Leafs
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mailing It In

After winning five in a row the Rangers mailed it in tonight with the result being a 3-1 loss to the undefeated Sabres, who are now 3-0. The highlight of the game was Paul Mara going after Patrick Kaleta, who hit Mara late and high, again. Remember Kaleta is the guy who busted Mara's face last year with a late and cheap hit. The Rangers gave up a goal in that five minute kill, plus they gave up a shorthanded goal and that basically was it. The Rangers could muster only 9 shots on goal for the first two periods.

So the media might blame Mara for the loss, but I will not do that. It's early in the season and if you want to avenge old scores this was a night to do it. There are three more meetings between these teams and I am sure that we have not seen the end of this little feud. Even without the Mara incident the Rangers did not bring their A game. Their power play was lame, no goals and they gave up a shorthanded goal and their penalty kill gave up two goals.

So the special teams did the Rangers in. Even strength wasn't any better. The Rangers had only 9 shots the first two periods and wound up with 20. Most of the shots were blocked or redirected but I didn't see the Rangers try getting more aggressive or trying anything different. However, it's early in the season and after the long trip and playing the most games of any team the Rangers looked pooped. But there is no rest for the weary as there is Toronto Friday, Detroit Saturday and Dallas with Avery on Monday.

ICINGS: The crowd was no where near capacity with about 3-4 thousand empty seats. Plus I counted at least 8 empty luxury suites. It looks like the economic problems are spreading to the Garden.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alexei Cherepanov — R.I.P.

Alexi CherepanovThe Rangers had a stirring victory at the Garden last night but the death of the young Russian prospect, Alexei Cherepanov, cast a pall on the event. A young life snuffed out is a tragedy regardless of the person's position or status. Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to the family of this young man. May he rest in peace.

The game? It turned into competing chants of "Hen-reek" and "Marty". Marty lost. In fact, since the kid from Sweden showed up Marty hasn't been doing too good against the Rangers. Henrik is 13-2-4 against the Whiner since entering the NHL. Coming off of last years 1-7 record against the Rangers in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs it is no wonder that Lamoriello, Sutter and Marty are happy there are only six regular meetings this year.

Marty may be happy that Avery is gone but a new agitator has stepped in to take The Grate One's place and his name is Aaron Voros. In 13 minutes of ice time Voros scored two goals, in front of Marty, had an assist, dished out two hits and got two penalties. He now has three goals and four assists this year. Of course Dubinsky was in the middle of everything with a goal, two assists and two hits. He made an unselfish pass to Callahan for an empty netter and his Dick Wakefield knuckler totally fooled Marty who waved at it like he was calling a cab. Dubinsky, like Voros, now has seven points which are team leading.

Of course Henrik Lundqvist was the number two star. He had 26 saves and had to be good during the second period where the Rangers spent most of the time backpedalling. All in all a great victory that somehow had the starch taken out of it by the unexpected passing of a young man with a promising future.

Rest in peace Alexei Cherepanov.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Do You Know — It's four in a row

It wasn't pretty but it was a two pointer and that's what counts. I gave up pretty years ago. The Rangers played it right. They came out roaring against a team playing their first game and the Rangers struck with a vengeance. The Z Man, Nikolai Zherdev, starting to look like the hot shot we all told ourselves he would be, opened up the scoring with his second goal of the year and it was quickly followed by usual non-scorers: Blair Betts, Fredrick Sjostrom and Michal Rozsival, all scoring their first of the year. To me, Rozsival was the big goal, because he has the shot and with his passing buddy Jagr gone he might shoot more. He should shoot more, the question is, will he?

The Flyers came back strong in the last two periods and the Rangers almost gave them back the game when both Dubinsky and Gomez took lazy penalties that resulted in a 1:33 two-man advantage for the Flyers. The Rangers killed it with strong goal tending from Steve Valiquette who stood tall, literally. He made at least three big saves as the Flyers kept crashing the net and Valiquette. In fact one of the Flyer goals was scored off of a blatant goalie interference by Daniel Briere. Briere had taken a two minute goalie interference penalty in the first period when he elbowed Valiquette into the net. The Rangers tired badly in the third period but that was expected with their gruelling opening schedule. But they did hang on to win. The Dark Ranger can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Rangers continued their perfect penalty killing stopping 6 Flyer PP's and their own 1-6 on the PP proved to be the game winner. The opening four game winning streak is one shy of the team record of five straight, done twice, the last one being 1983-84. That team was 9-1-0 (ties) after ten games and finished 42-29-9 (ties) which was good for a fourth place finish in the year the Islanders finished first.

So tomorrow night its the Devils, undefeated in two, with the chief whiner Martin Brodeur coming in with the knowledge that his main tormentor Sean Avery will not be there. Maybe Voros or Sjostrom or Orr can take over the role of the A Man. Expect some fireworks as Orr will be facing off against Clarkson.

ICINGS: So there was Al Trautwig in a tizzy over the fact that Sarah Palin had dropped the puck at a hockey game. Livid was the word. What's a matter Al? Haven't you seen other politicians at sporting events. They throw out first pitches. They start NASCAR racers. They even kick off tennis matches. It took Ron Dugay to put it in perspective. It was good publicity for hockey which needs all the publicity it can get. It saluted hockey moms who are coming on strong. So we now have hockey moms to challenge soccer moms. Who knows. Some day we may have mom moms.

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update: More on politics spilling over into hockey. It appears that Lynn Zinser at the NY Times Slapshot blog has changed her post discussing the Palin pucking dropping at the Rangers game a couple of times.

Terry Trippany / NewsBusters.org:
NYT Pulls Misleading Account of Palin Puck Dropping Ceremony — The New York Times took the unusual step of quickly editing and replacing a hysterical post by hockey blogger Lynn Zinser that covered Sarah Palin's appearance at the Philadelphia Flyers home opener where she was invited to drop a ceremonial puck...

Discussion:

Don Surber: Just ask me — Question: Is everyone at the crazy at the New York Times? --

Question: What is PMS?

Answer: In this case Palin Madness Syndrome. It afflicts tens of millions of liberals each day...
Embed Producers / Fox News:
Palin Drops Puck at Flyer’s Game Receives Mixed Reaction

Jim Treacher / Mother, May I Sleep with Treacher?: I'M GOING TO START CALLING THEM THE DEATHBED MEDIA
Alex Koppelman / Salon: Palin booed at Flyers game
William Teach / Stop The ACLU: Obligatory Palin Got Boo'd In Philly Post
Stephen F. Hayes / Weekly Standard: More Anger from the Left
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Gov. Sarah Palin drops puck at Rangers-Flyers hockey game on Oct. 11, 2008Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and contest winner Cathy O'Connell of Erdenheim drop the puck between Mike Richards (right),of the Flyers, and the Rangers' Scott Gomez, an Alaska native, before the Flyers' season opener at the Wachovia Center.
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Philly.com:
Palin hears plenty of boos

Mark Murray / MSNBC:
PALIN DROPS PUCK TO BOOS, CHEERS
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Random Philly Fan: Jason FlyerRandom Philly Fan: Jason Flyer
via Hockey Dump

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Kids On The Block

It was a feisty game and a noisy opening night and those that were worried about the new guys blending in and contributing have no worries. At least for one night. Against a young and mistake prone Black Hawks the Rangers led by an ever improving and upcoming star Brandon Dubinsky won their third straight game of the year. New additions Wade Redden (2), Nikolai Zherdev (1) and game number one star Aaron Voros (1) all scored as did Dubinsky who was number three star and scored his second of the year. In my eyes, Dubinsky was the star of the game as his presence was felt on every shift. He had a goal, 2 assists, 4 shots and five hits.

Henrik Lundquist turned away 30 of 32 shots and was voted the number two star. The crowd seems disappointed everytime Lundqvist is not named the number one star. The line of Dubinsky-Voros-Zherdev was a revelation getting 7 points and an accumulate plus 6. So a good first night against a Western Conference team which gave us fits last year. So now its six games in ten days against the Flyers, the Devils, the Sabres, the Maple Leafs, the Red Wings and the Dallas Stars who will be in on Tuesday October 20th with our old friend Sean Avery. That should be quite a night. In fact, the ten night stretch should prove quite a bit about these Rangers.

ICINGS: Sign of the economy? I counted at least 8 empty corporate luxury boxes last night plus some empty seats. Petr Prucha was benched last night and seems destined to be somewhere else real soon. Trade him with Rozsival and one of the young goalies to Minnesota for Marion Gaborik. Fahey or Potter, or both, would be excellent replacements for Rozsival.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Opening, Another Show

I believe that song is from a Broadway show but I can't remember which one. Would you believe that another hockey season is upon us. It will be the Rangers 83rd season and my 71st. My, time flies when you are having fun. The Rangers won two Cups in the 12 years prior to me becoming a fan and only two in the years I have been a fan. So maybe the kids are right. I am the problem.

So what kind of a season will we have? How the hell should I know. Hey Pundit, Pundits are supposed to know these things. You want predictions, listen to Stan "The Maven" Fischler who has predicted Cups for the Rangers for the last three years. It must be in the contract. This season promises to be more of the same. Great expectations, low results or low expectations and great results.

One thing this year I can predict. It will be different. A new Captain that is truly a Captain. A lot of new faces that could prove exciting or could flop. Can Chris Drury really lead the Rangers, along with his sidekick Gomez, to the promised land? Will Markus Nasland and Wade Redden resurrect their careers in Blueshirts? Can hotshot Nikolai Zherdev actually become a hotshot and raise the Garden rafters? Will Laui Korpikoski become this years Dubinsky who we hope will be even better than last year. And what of Staal, Dawes and Callahan? Will they continue to improve? Will Henrik Lundqvist knees hold up? Can the team overcome the cluelessness of the coaching staff?

We ask these type questions every year and do they matter? What matters is that hockey is back and there is no better competitive sport in the whole world and I will be there tonight with my two sons and my grandson and folks that is priceless. Let's Go Rangers!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rangers hockey: Six things I want to know

  1. What is up with Shanny today? When will this story please go to bed?

  2. Between Petr Prucha, Patrick Rissmiller, Dan Fritsche and Fred Sjostrom who will go and who will stay?

  3. Did Sean Avery already earn a minor star for the Rangers opener against Chicago?

  4. When will the NHL go back to Prague and who will the biggest Czech star be?

  5. Does having Gov. Sarah Palin drop the ceremonial first puck at the Rangers-Flyers game on Saturday in Philadelphia mean that some Flyers fans bring their Irish confetti and will the poor beat writers be inconvenienced?

  6. Is the NHL ownership so shaky that the financial crisis might hit the NHL hard? And that "eight to 10 NHL franchises, mostly U.S.-based, and recent expansion cities, are either seeking new ownership, looking for equity partners, or are even in danger of folding outright"?
----Slats as a house painter
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New York Hockey Talk / Odds & Ends

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New York Hockey TalkThe New York Hockey Talk show on WGBB-1240AM with Rob Kowal kicked off the new season this past Sunday, October 5th. Rob's main guest was Dave Maloney.
Guests on the show included insidehockey.com's James Murphy, followed by former New York Ranger and current radio announcer Dave Maloney. Then njdevs.com site administrator and frequent guest Matt Sweetwood talked some Devils hockey with Rob. Former Islanders television play-by-play announcer Jiggs McDonald then came on the program to talk some Islanders hockey, followed by Bridgeport Soundtigers PA announcer and Zambonis lead singer Dave Schneider, who closed out the show.
New York Hockey Talk is broadcast Sunday evenings from 9:00pm to 10:00pm on Long Island's 1240AM-WGBB, and can also be heard during the hockey season live from their website during the show.
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The odds are long, but the Rangers are a nice "value play." Now all they need is some value for their pay.

The Spread / Rangers Season Odds:
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBG Global have listed the Rangers odds to win the 2009 Stanley Cup at 10/1. Bodog has New York at 12/1, while Sportsbook.com gives the Rangers a 20/1 shot.

Oddsmakers have also listed New York at 7/1 to win the Eastern Conference this season.

The Rangers seemed poised to make another playoff run this year with all of their offseason additions, but they must get better against Western Conference opponents this season. The boys in blue were 1-7-2 against the West last year and that must improve if they want to be serious contenders. But aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers are the best in the Atlantic Division and might be a nice value play this season...
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Show me the Borscht.

Daniel Tolensky / HockeyBuzz - From Russia With Numbers: Inside Malkin’s Magnitogorsk Contract
I thought it would be interesting to also take a detailed look at Malkin’s last Russian contract (with Metallurg Magnitogorsk) to see what he was making before joining the Penguins and the bonuses that were available...
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From the "Dah" file.

Rory Boylen / Inside Hockey - Hollweg needs to smarten up:
Give me Sean Avery. Give me Jarkko Ruutu. Give me Chris Neil, Dan Carcillo and George Parros, to name but a few. But get rid of this Hollweg clown because his act is old, stale and dangerous. Plus, it was never funny to begin with.

He reminds me of a minor peewee-aged kid who grew six inches over the summer, returning to the ice for his first year of bodycheck ing hockey. He doesn’t know his strength, isn’t used to his new-found size and so he has difficulty with balance, and, most importantly, he doesn’t know the fundamentals of what makes a good, clean, honest hit.

You’re not in minor peewee anymore, Mr. Hollweg. Learn how to lay a hit correctly or else one day you’ll be the one destiny curses with the weight of having been responsible for crushing someone’s spinal cord...
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Beyond the BlueShirts / Jagr Amongst the KHL’s Players of the Week:
Jaromir Jagr has been named the top forward in the KHL for the week beginning on September 28th. Jagr tallied 3 goals and 4 assists in 3 games for Avangard to earn the accolade...
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FYI, the favorite athlete of Brooklyn born actor Tony Danza: Christos Kostas Tselios.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Now Boarding the Rangers Express

I'll never forget a Boston Bruins game at the old Boston Garden serveral years ago where we had seats next to the goal judge. It was a great view. As a newbie sitting there you instinctively did a lot of flinching, ducking and covering every time a shot sailed past the net and hit the glass in front of your face. However, the most memorable part of that game was not a highlight goal, but a disastrous injury.

One of the opposing players, who came racing to the puck that was behind the net, was given a hard check into the boards. His skate some how got stuck in an awkward position and he suffered a badly broken leg with a compound fracture. It happened right in front of us. It was horrible to see a young player's season and possibly career (I don't remember who it was) end in a split second just a few feet away. The medical personnel had to bring out a stretcher to carry the player off. The Garden was in shock and dead quiet for several agonizing minutes.

NHL players have gotten even bigger and faster since then. Did anyone else notice a rather large fellow named Evgeny Artyukhin as he freewheeled around the ice this past weekend? It was hard to miss him. Thankfully no Rangers were crippled by this young truck. Calling Artyukhin a truck is fair, because he's 7 inches taller and only about 15 pounds lighter at 260 than Jermome Bettis, the former NFL "Bus" was during his playing days.

Who would you rather stand in front of after they got up 10 yards of steam on their respective playing surface? Consider that Bettis started decelerating after about six.

This season most observers are saying the Rangers are faster than last year. That is considered a good thing. But, is there ever a downside to too much speed? Will speed and quickness on the ice combined with larger players result in more injuries? Bottomline, has the NHL game become more dangerous?

If you were a Ranger racing a player like Artyukhin for the puck would you always want to get there a split second ahead of him?

ICINGS:

---Evgeny ArtyukhinRunning into Evgeny Artyukhin.
Russia's Evgeny Artyukhin (in red with back to photo) takes out Finland's Jari Viuhkola in Helsinki, Finland, November 9, 2006.

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NHL.com / Islanders Lee carried off the ice on a stretcher:
New York Islanders defenseman Chris Lee was carried off the ice on a stretcher after being checked into the boards from behind by Florida's Rostislav Olesz in a preseason game Monday night.

A team spokesman said the 28-year-old Lee had movement, was conscious and was taken to a hospital....
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CBC / Maple Leafs' Hollweg suspended 2 games:

Ryan Hollweg of the Toronto Maple Leafs learned Monday that he has been suspended for the first two games of the season.

Hollweg, 25, received an automatic suspension because he has accrued three boarding and game misconduct penalties in a span of 41 games.

The rugged forward committed the third infraction in last Wednesday's 7-3 pre-season loss to the St. Louis Blues.

He will sit out Thursday's season opener at Detroit and Saturday's home opener versus the Montreal Canadiens.

Hollweg earned similar penalties playing for the New York Rangers last season, in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 5 and a 5-3 victory over Montreal on Feb. 3...
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The Hockey News / Rangers return to North America following exhausting European jaunt:
"[The Metallurg game] felt like a very important regular-season game, bordering on the playoffs," Drury said. "We did not want to lose that game. We did not want to go into the regular season with a loss."

They didn't. And in turn, the Rangers came home with a pair of wins that could prove crucial when it's time to mete out who will be in the playoffs...
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Nice Weekend

It was a nice weekend. It started 11:00 am at the Rinx in Hauppage, LI watching my grandson Nicholas and his Piranhas coast to an easy win. Nicholas was a plus 5 with 4 assists. Then we headed to number two son's house for an end of the summer party with about 50 or so people. So there wasn't much time to watch the Rangers. Did get there in enough time to see Martin St. Louis tie the game and Dubinsky score the winner on a power play. The Rangers were 1-7 on the PP. Sunday was more of the same as Nicholas was in a soccer match, that started at 2:00 pm. Nicholas played goal in a scoreless first half and forward in a game the Penguins (Nicholas' team) lost 1-0. The Rangers game was over by the time we got home. So I saw very little action this weekend.

The Rangers? They looked good on what I caught on highlights and the reruns. The bad news. They could only score two goals per game. The good news. They won two games. They completely outskated and outworked Tampa Bay. It was total domination except on the scoreboard. They outshot Tampa Bay 80-40 in two games. Tampa Bay was 0-4 on the power play in each game. The Rangers managed a power play goal in each game. 1-6 in the first game, Dubinsky's game winner and 1-7 in the second game, Redden's, which tied the game at 1-1.

The Rangers controlled the puck throughout both games and Henrik Lundquist was, well he was Henrik Lundquist. Let's hope the stories of his knee problems are grossly overstated otherwise this season will be over quickly. While the power play did score in each game it was only 2-13, a so- so .153%. Plus scoring only 4 goals on 80 shots is not too efficient either so there are some disturbing signs when they go up against the tougher defensive teams. However, that is tomorrow's problem and there are 80 games left to fix the problem. If not fixed then expect the Shanahan and Sundin rumors to resurface.

ICINGS

Scott Gomez after scoring his goal in PragueScott Gomez after scoring his goal Sunday
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Afer the Tampa sweep, Scott Burnside at ESPN asks, Who are these Rangers? Drury, Gomez providing some answers:
Two games do not make a season, no matter how impressive you might be in winning them. But two games might just be enough to establish an identity. And as far as the New York Rangers are concerned, establishing a personality is as much about deconstructing the old as introducing the new...
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Random thoughts from Rangerland about the Rangers grabbing a pair in Prague.

Rangers Review, ... Post Game Thoughts:
Now don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think this team has enough talent to be a truly elite team, but I do believe this is a playoff team we have here, and once we substitute Voros, Dawes, Prucha, Mara, and Kalinin for Sanguinetti, Anisimov, Cherepanov, Byers and Del Zotto, we will be FAR better off. Till then, we are finally sowing the seeds of how this team will be playing in the future. Electric offensively, directing pucks to the net, crashing the net, and skating the other team into the ground. Once the talent level catches up to the work ethic and game plan, this team has juggernaut written all over it...
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HockeyBird:
Speed. Damn these guys are pretty fast eh?

Point shots. Even from Rozy. This bodes well looking to-wards the future.

A good transition. Because of the speed on the ice, the Rangers are able to generate a fast break......and so far the breakout looks pretty damn good.
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Blueshirts on Broadway, Czech Mate!:
I really have to tip my cap to all of the Rangers, everyone showed up and played well in the first two games of the year.

All of the vets like Gomez, Drury, Redden and Naslund were poised and young guys like Dubinsky, Callahan and Korpikoski also played very well and with a lot of energy. Even the 4th liners were getting quality scoring chances.

On defense, guys stepped up, I thought Mara played especially well, hopefully Kalinin will get better as the year goes on.

The Rangers as a unit, looked faster, stronger and better then the team that was put out a year ago and Tom Renney has to be pleased with the way they played. Case and point has to be the second period, where the Rangers got 18 shots on net and had to have at least 7 blocked and another 7 go wide.

The chemistry was there early and that is something they will have to latch on to as the season progresses....
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Two-fers are SOP. Lynn Zinser at Slapshot:
I had to laugh out loud when the story written about the opener by our stringer Frantisek Bouc included a quote from a Czech fan complaining about the lack of goals. All I could think was, welcome to the world of Rangers fans. If the Czechs wanted scoring, they should never have invited the Rangers.

Yes, it was only the first two games of the season, but the Rangers’ inability to score more in games they completely dominated feels a lot like the Rangers of the past two seasons, the team management felt the need to blow up and remake. It is entirely possible that this is just a result of a bunch of new players thrown together who will take time to gel...
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NY Rangers blog:
...i guess we're going to have to get used to 2-1 games. Like a fellow Ranger fan said to me today, if you're a betting man take the under all year long with the Rangers.
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A couple of comments from The Blue Line:
* Petr Prucha, still a non-factor. Can he even be traded at this point?
* And let's just say it now: We think Scott Gomez is going to have a huge, huge season. He looks crisp and is getting the puck at the net. There, we jinxed it. Now you can accuse us later. We just had to say it...
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Ranger Rants:
If the Rangers can get this type of effort consistently - rolling four lines all with a chance at getting points, skating quickly and moving the puck well, shutting down the opponent's power play (Rangers PK is now 9 for 9) - they should be a strong contender in the Eastern Conference...
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But, Tampa Bay was not at 100%. Damian Cristodero at Lightning Strikes, Vinny insists his shoulder is okay:
Don't know how many of you saw the game on TV, but if you did, you saw how much Vinny Lecavalier struggled. The star center, though, said his surgically repaired right shoulder is not the problem. "It feel pretty decent," he said.

Lecavalier, who played just two exhibitions before the regular season, had loads of trouble holding the puck, and though it would have been a great play, had the puck role off his stick with 11 seconds left after a Vinny Prospal pass set him up in front of the net...
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CBC reports Barry Melrose is unhappy after two loses:
In his first two games behind the Lightning bench, coach Barry Melrose is already showing signs of frustration.

"We don't compete," he said of the Lightning, who tied Los Angeles with an NHL-low 71 points last season. "We're too easy to play against. Until that changes we're going to have trouble. We have a lot of skill on our team, but skill means nothing if you don't work hard."
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Friday, October 03, 2008

Postcards from Prague

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Chris Drury named 25th Rangers captainChris Drury named 25th Rangers captain.
He played all 82 games for the Rangers last season,
scoring 25 goals and 58 points

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So the Rangers make the right decision and the "C" stands for Chris, as in Drury named Rangers' 25th team captain:
32-year-old forward only second U.S.-born player to receive the "C"

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that center Chris Drury has been named the 25th Captain in team history. Chris Drury is no stranger to being an NHL captain. He was a co-captain of the Buffalo team that won the Presidents' Trophy as the regular-season champion.

"Chris Drury is a natural leader who possesses all of the qualities and characteristics we desire from our Captain," Sather said. "He has always been known as a clutch performer and a winner. Chris leads by example with his tireless work ethic on and off the ice, and is extremely deserving of this honor." ...

Bill Cook (1926-27 – 1936-37)
[...]
Jaromir Jagr (October 5, 2006 – June 30, 2008)
Chris Drury (September 30, 2008 – ) ...
The Rangers made the announcement today, but their website shows that Drury has been the captain, retroactive to Tuesday, September 30th, the date of the SC Bern game.

Do you think anyone is paying attention to the Rangers and all their goings-on in far off Prague?

NY Post: RANGERS NAME DRURY CAPTAIN
Newsday: Chris Drury named Rangers captain
NY Daily News: Chris Drury named 25th Rangers captain
NY Daily News / Photo Gallery: Rangers captains through the years

NY Times: Renney Awards the Captain’s C to Drury
AP / USA Today: Rangers name Drury captain
The Canadian Press: Veteran forward Chris Drury named captain of New York Rangers
CBC Sports: Drury named 25th captain of Rangers
The Vancouver Sun: Rangers hand Drury the 'C'

Stan Fischler / MSG Game On
Chris Drury as Rangers Captain -- Ole Reliable Gets Rewarded:
A natural "C" if ever there was one
Jrnl News: Rangers Report:
Chris Drury is the 25th Rangers captain
“I think as a leader you have to be the hardest working guy on the team,” he said.
NY Daily News: Blueshirts: Drury's in as 25th Ranger captain
The Record: Ranger Rants: Drury named Rangers' 25th captain
Newsday: Blue Notes: The leaders: Drury, Gomez, Naslund
Blueshirt Bulletin: Captain Clutch

Kukla's Korner: No Surprise Here
NYRangerscast: Chris Drury Named Captain
Bring the Cup to NY!: Leader of the Pack
NYR Examiner: Glen Sather announces new Captain
Manic Ranger Fan: Rangers Name Drury Captain
NY Rangers Blog: Drury Named Captain
Rangerland.net: Drury named captain

---Chris Drury celebratesChris Drury celebrates
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Get ready for a Bohemian rumble?

Slapshot checks out, What Czechs Want: N.H.L. Fisticuffs:
The other big question was asked of Tampa hitman David Koci, a Prague native. Would he wreak vengeance on the Rangers’ Colton Orr after their fight in a recent warm-up game? If so, it would be the first “real NHL fight” Czech fans have ever seen.

“I cannot guarantee a fight,” Koci said Friday night. “But you never know what happens at the end of the day.”

For what it’s worth, Lightning coach Barry Melrose confirmed that Koci will get ice time in the Prague games.
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Say it ain't so. Petr Prucha benched and PO'd. He won't even be on the 4th line for the Czech Republic opener. Ouch.

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes:
Who sits for the opener and witnesses to a riot...
Let's see, five lines, one's out for Saturday:
We're thinking Rissmiller, Fritsche and, gasp!, Petr Prucha. Could the Rangers sit the Czech winger in his homeland? Don't dismiss the possibility. Or maybe Sjostrom instead. Voros-Betts-Orr seems to be a lock.

UPDATE (Prucha and Fritche were the last players on the ice after practice and Prucha later reportedly blew off a television interview request with some anger, saying that he wouldn't be in the lineup on Saturday)
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Rangers.NHL.com:
Fahey, Potter reassigned to Hartford on eve of game vs. Tampa Bay

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has reassigned defensemen Brian Fahey and Corey Potter to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Rangers now have 24 players on their opening night roster, including three goaltenders, six defensemen and 15 forwards...
Mitch Beck at Howlings adds:
No big surprises. The Rangers reassigned defensemen Brian Fahey and Corey Potter. They've held onto Miika Wiikman for now. He will probably be reassigned once the team arrives back from Europe. The only possible reason that they could extend that is if they are unsure of Henrik Lundqvist's knees which, if the persistent rumors are correct, are believed to be a bit tweaked.

The moving of Fahey and Potter back to Hartford is the right thing to do. Tom Renney, in previous statements to the press, has mentioned that a possible seventh blueliner would probably see only 20-25 games of action...
Blueshirt Bulletin calls these "Paper Cuts"
... the reality is that Potter and Fahey, neither of whom would have dressed for the season opener anyway, are still with the team in Prague and could instantly be called up should a defenseman get hurt tomorrow night.

Lauri Korpikoski appears to have made the team -- he told me today that as far as he knew, he was the Rangers' third line center.
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Arthur Staple at Newsday calls out Lundqvist, Rangers are King Henrik's court now:
Lundqvist's 11-9 [playoff] record the past two seasons is not up to par. The second-round losses to the Sabres in 2007 and the Penguins last year are not befitting an elite goaltender...

Lundqvist has been a key to the Rangers' success the last three seasons. It's time for him to be the key to a breakthrough.
Arthur be careful. Don't forget you're a company man now.
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Notes about Tampa from Damian Cristodero at when Lightning Strikes.

The GOOD:
- Vinny Lecavalier scored a goal and a shootout goal. Should provide him confidence going into the regular season.

- His linemates Marty St. Louis and Vinny Prospal skated well. - Evgeny Artyukhin is looking more and more confident.

- Rookie defenseman Vladimir Mihalik is looking more and more confident. - Power play is at least moving the puck better.

- Defenseman Andrej Meszaros becoming more and more of a force and inserting his personality into the game.

- Mike Smith is a good goaltender.

- Lightning finished preseason 5-1, and we can start thinking about the regular season. "Now," Lecavalier said, "it's the real thing."
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No 'Hockey Night in Canada' for Rangers games Blueshirt fans. You must stay true to your MSG Blue.

Ken Shott:
NHL Network to carry 'Hockey Night in Canada' --
"Hockey Night in Canada" is coming to the United States. That means more Don Cherry and his between-period rants.

The NHL Network announced its TV schedule Friday and, for the first time, it will pick up CBC’s "Hockey Night in Canada" Saturday night double-headers. The first broadcast will be next Saturday, when Montreal visits Toronto at 7 p.m., and Calgary hosts Vancouver at 10 p.m.

Overall, the NHL Network will televise 75 games, all in high definition. Games involving the Devils, Islanders, Rangers and Sabres will be blacked out because MSG has the territorial rights...
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Hockey Night has its critics, such as Sean Avery, who is sour on Grapes:
NHL tough guy Sean Avery reopened his feud with Don Cherry this week by stating the CBC commentator knows next to nothing about hockey.

“He's a staple as far as Canadian hockey goes,” Avery said during interview on the CBC's The Hour. “And I grew up watching Coach's Corner, and he serves a purpose. “

But he really does not know sh*t about hockey.
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Do you think the Islanders feel neglected?
... if you’re looking for info on the Isles, forget it!
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Recommended reading for the Ranger Pundit. Didn't Theo hang with Beansy?

The Theo Fleury Tell All Book is Coming:
Theo Fleury fans - and you still see some Avs fans with his jersey at games - might be interested in a coming book he “wrote.” It supposedly has lots of juicy stuff, and here’s an advance quote he gave to the publisher, Triumph Books:

“I think that people need to understand why. What it was that made me do what I did. I knew I was crazy insane and so did everyone else,” Fleury writes. “I didn’t hang out on the surface. I would go five, six, seven, eight levels below the streets of New York and party with people I didn’t know. Freaks, transvestites, all kinds of shady people. Or I’d be walking home from a game dressed in my custom made suit from Giovanni’s in Montreal and I’d stop and buy three or four bottles of wine. Then I’d head for the Chelsea Piers between 23rd Street and the Hudson River and hang with homeless guys around a burn barrel shooting the sh*t. I would ask them how they got there. I’ve always been interested by that kind of stuff. The Rangers must have been sh**ting bricks.”
The MSG/Rangers management are professional brick makers. Bricks rhymes with Knicks.
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Scotty Gomez, an alternate captain, meets fans at Prague practiceScotty Gomez, an alternate captain, meets fans at a Prague practice, which fans could buy a ticket to.
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