Monday, December 29, 2008

Prucha Sparks Defenseless Rangers

They played pond hockey at the Garden tonight and when it was over the Rangers had a 5-4 win. The goalies were safer when their defensemen were no where near them. Petr Prucha getting his first start since God knows when, was the spark the Rangers needed in a game that the Ranger defensemen were ready to give away. He scored a goal and was given the number one star by the media. The crowd kept chanting his name throughout the third period. This was only his 12th game of the year and it was his second goal. Consider that Gomez scored his 7th, in this his 34th game. Also consider that on average when he does play Prucha gets about one third the ice time that Gomez gets. Tonight Prucha got 12 minutes, Gomez 19.

Prucha got 5 shots on goal, delivered 3 hits and probably had coach clueless nervous as he was trying to figure out how to keep this dormant dynamo glued to the bench every night. With the Islanders mired in 15th place in the East with only 26 points and the Rangers third with 47 points it was real tough to try to figure out which was the bottom feeder and which was the pretender. But the pretenders prevailed and ended a three game losing streak. They go into the new year with 49 points in their 39th team game.

The Rangers need to get their act together and fast. They have given up 13 goals in the last 3 games and Lundqvist has shown signs of being too human. The defense is a shambles and the fan's venom is now split among three defensemen: Kalinin, Rozsival and Redden. Prior to this game they were a collective -30 and it went up after tonight. The misplays are one thing, but the refusal to use their bodies is perhaps the most annoying.

2009 starts at Washington, comes back to NY for Pittsburgh and Montreal, and ends up in Buffalo. All this in seven days. Should be fun folks. Happy New Year!

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ICINGS: PruchaMania gets some stoking.

Michael Obernauer / NY Daily News - Blueshirts blog:
Prucha's performance has Renney taking notice --
So what's it gonna take for Petr Prucha to land a regular job?

"If he could get three or four goals a night, he'll be fine," Tom Renney said.

Okay, the coach was only joking (right?), because he quickly added: "He did exactly what you have to do to win a job. He did a hell of a job tonight." ...
----
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
PRUCHA LEADS WAY OVER ISLES --
But, the most positive reinforcement for the Rangers was provided by the irrepressible Petr Prucha, who not only crashed the net to score the goal that tied things 2-2 early in the third, but who created havoc on essentially every shift. Prucha was back in the lineup after being unaccountably scratched from eight straight, and 18 of the prior 21 games.

"When you are out for such a long time, you start to ask yourself if there is something wrong with your hockey," said Prucha, whose name was chanted in Paul O'Neill style. "It's very tough to stay confident, but a game like this helps to get your confidence back...
----

Arthur Staple / Newsday:
Prucha sparks Rangers to 5-4 win over Isles --
The Islanders, as usual, made a mess of the third. The result was a 5-4 Rangers win last night at Madison Square Garden, fueled by the hard work of little-used Petr Prucha, who had a terrific game and scored 49 seconds into the third to begin a four-goal Rangers barrage and a wild third overall.

"You could tell he was like a caged animal out there," Chris Drury said of Prucha, who has been a healthy scratch in 27 of the Rangers' 39 games.

"We fed off him being in the lineup, which is a good thing," said Tom Renney, who put Prucha in and benched Aaron Voros...
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Hockey Rodent:
Prucha: Take That, Boss! --
Our Queen phoned from MSG to confirm that those chants of "Proo-cha! Proo-cha!" heard across North America via OLN Versus were coming from the 400s.

Why is he so popular despite a bubble gum card full of zeroes and hollow accolades by his boss who continues to slight the slight flanker? ...
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Mitch Fritz #49 of the Islanders and Colton Orr #28 of the New York Rangers fight on Dec. 29, 2008 at MSG in New York City.Mitch Fritz #49 of the NY Islanders and Colton Orr #28 of the New York Rangers

HockeyFights.com:
Mitch Fritz vs Colton Orr - Fight earns a 7.7 rating. Who won?

Colton Orr -- 61.2%
Draw -- 22.4%
Mitch Fritz -- 16.4%

Sean Avery: A Joker Lost in the Discard Pile

Sean Avery: A Joker Lost in the Discard Pile
The fate of our favorite Rangers' expatriate, Sean Avery, twists in a bitter Bettman breeze. It would be nice to see him back on the ice, but our former New York messiah has become an NHL pariah. Speculation on the fate of the 'Grate One' abounds. The idea of Avery coming back to New York is absurd.

The Yahoo Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski, neatly summarizes the reasons Avery won't be prancing on Broadway:

Five reasons why the Rangers don't need Sean Avery:

  1. The Real Rangers Needs.
  2. What the Stars Want.
  3. The Years.
  4. The Distraction.
  5. Finally, There Is No Messiah for the Rangers...

    [Larry] Brooks is right: The Rangers need to play more like Sean Avery. But it doesn't necessarily mean they need Sean Avery to do it.
Using a poker metaphor the Rangers are 'short stacked' and the cards are not running very good. It looks like the Rangers are now betting big money with a 'small pair' (Gomez and Drury) and with no face cards (Redden, Naslund, or Rozsival) showing up. Zherdev is certainly a wild card, possibly an ace, but he has nothing to get matched up with.

Adding an Avery joker to the Rangers hand won't help. At most you'll have someone smiling or leering back at you from a very weak head.

It now looks like Renney and his big bluff strategy (defense without defensive players) is getting smelled out by the league. The Renney-ites will say that he's been here before and he'll pull things out in January.

The odds don't look good for the Rangers.

related:
Ryan McFadden / The Bleacher Report:
Do The Rangers Need Sean Avery?

Dallas Stars blog:
Are you missing Sean Avery?

RangerPundit:
The Sean Avery File

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Can Clueless Now

It was an embarrassing evening for the Rangers last night as the Devils handed the Blueshirts their third straight loss of the season, 4-2. The Rangers were completely outplayed, out coached and outscored as the Devils broke their two game scoring drought. This team is now in serious trouble, they're on the down slide and coach clueless and the Stealth GM have no idea on how to fix it.

The Rangers were not ready to start the game. They took a stupid too many men on the ice penalty which the Devils cashed in on and then on a Ranger power play the Rangers gave up their eleventh short handed goal of the year. So the Rangers are down 2-0 and the Ranger fans are down, period, When you are not ready to start the game right there is one place to put the blame and that is right on the coaching staff.

Scott Clemmensen posted his second straight victory over the Rangers and stopped 31 shots, some spectacularly, but the Rangers really lack a big gun to take over a game. Scott Gomez and Chris Drury were AWOL at both ends of the ice. Redden was invisible. The $6 million dollar dud is going through the motions. Dawes (5) got a power play goal and Kalinin registered his first goal of the year. Lauri Korpikoski was probably the best player on the ice.

With a little over two minutes to go in the game and the Rangers down by two goals clueless sends out the fourth line. Defense to the end, even when you are down by two with two minutes to play. "Not playing defense is not an option." Petr Prucha sat out his 18th game in the last 20 while Aaron Voros and Fredrick Sjostrom continued to impersonate hockey players. Corey Potter handled himself well, got in a couple of good hits prompting number two son to remark that because of the hits he'll probably be back in Hartford tomorrow.

Clueless should be fired now before the season disappears in a cloud of dust. Lou Lamoriello would do it in a heartbeat. The problem is that the guy above him, the Stealth GM, should also be fired. After all it was he who spent money like a drunken sailor in Scully Square, buying such stalwarts as Redden, Kalinin, Rozsival, Voros, Frirsche and company. So now there is no money in cap space to get the players we need. So it's up to the absentee owner to pull the trigger. The trouble with that scenario is that the clown wouldn't know who to shoot and might get the wrong guy.

Now the rejuvenated Islanders led by the Ranger nemesis Ricky DiPietro come to the Garden on Monday and another embarrassing loss may even turn the apologists against coach clueless. Of course with our luck the Stealth will fire clueless and then take over the team himself. We all know where that path leads us to. Oblivion.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas To All.......

The Ranger Pundit, and jb, would like to wish all our readers, fans and non fans the Merriest Of All Christmases. We hope that this Holy Season provides you and yours with all the blessings and happiness that comes with being with loved ones this time of the year.

Right now we are at number two son's home waiting to partake of a traditional Italian Christmas dinner which includes among other things antipasto, Lasagna, gravy meat and a couple of different meat roasts with all the goodies. And of course, plenty of vino. Last night was the traditional Christmas Eve fish fest, at number one son's house, which included six different fishes.We missed one fish. Needless to say after that and a monster Egg Florentine breakfast finished off by Cinnabons, I am stuffed beyond belief.

However, it is about family and we got to see and enjoy three of our four children and all three of our grandchildren and that is what Christmas, the holidays and life is all about, spending time with your loved ones. Last night we attended midnight mass at the beautiful St. Mary's Church in Manhasset, LI and it was the highlight of the weekend as we were entertained by a beautiful chorus which sang traditional Christmas Carols.

So it's tradition, love, family, friends and the joy of Christmas that lifts us all. So a very Merry Christmas to all and to all a wonderful, happy, healthy and successful 2009. God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Shot Not Taken

Power Play Tactics: Championship teams need an excellent PPSpecial Teams

I wrote before this season started that with the team's loss of firepower, unless the Rangers improved on the power play they would be burnt toast.

Last night the toast was burnt. The Rangers were 0-3 on the PP. We took merely four shots on goal over five minutes and twenty seconds. The Capitals were 2-5. The Caps took nine shots in six minutes and 46 seconds. In about one extra minute, the Caps more than doubled our shot output. As Wayne Gretzky said, "the shot not taken will not score 100% of the time."

The two PP goals by the Caps put them back in the game from 4-1 to 4-3.

Make no mistake about it. This Rangers team was coached and built to play scoreless 5-5 hockey - a great goalie and defensemen who supposedly would get the puck out of their end fast. Not that bad a plan - albeit boring. However, if you are built like this, then you must prevail on "special teams." You must shoot the puck on the power play, and limit the number of shots against you on the power play. Last night, we did not.

Last year our power play was bad, and converted 16.5%. This year we have improved to 14.6%. St. Louis' coaching staff, on the other hand, set out to improve its league worst power play at 14.0% last year and is now at 22.3%. See what a coach can do! I have a great idea for Glen Sather. On April 2, 2007, Lou Lamoriello fired Claude Julien with three games left in the season, when the Devils had the second-best record in the conference and were on their way to setting a franchise record for regular season wins. Why? Because he could read the writing on the wall. How about it Glen? Do you like what you see on the ice?

.................

Chris Drury said we "should put this game in the garbage." Considering how he played, I understand why. He had nothing left in the tank after the first two periods (with three assists) and was on the ice for all three of the last Caps goals. He was one of the few Rangers who did not register a single hit. Mark Messier NEVER would have been on the ice for the last three goals without being significantly involved in the game physically. Sorry, this is not what I expect from someone with a "C" on their jersey.

The Coach should take a really close look at the monster he created. His veteran players are all soft because they have nothing to fear from him. The young kids, on the other hand, play hockey: Girardi, Korpikoski and Dawes (3) hits, Callahan and Stahl (4) hits, and Dubbie (5). If his high priced talent played the game physically like the kids do (Stahl's hit on "O" at the blue line was a classic stand him up and sit him down beauty), the Rangers would have won. (The only exception - Paul Mara, with a hit and two blocked shots. He was on the ice for over 20 minutes and during that time Washington did not score. Say coach - maybe Redden should watch Mara and Stahl play from the bench?)

Remember, the Coach told us that good teams find ways to win. Well, we are not a good team then, are we?

.................

Absent a significant trade or a new coach or both, look for this team to be in the six-seven-eight seed position shortly on their way to another early exit.

Ebeneezer Scrooge

You have to hand it to the Rangers. They know how to screw up the holiday season. Led by the one man wrecking ball known as Ovechkin the Washington Capitals stormed back from a 4-0 deficiet to beat the Rangers in OT, 5-4. Funny about that score. When it went to 4-0 Rangers, number two son said to me and number one son and grandson Nicholas, this game is going to end 5-4. Darn it, it ended 5-4 with the Rangers on the short end. However, there was something in the air watching Ovechkin skating and hitting and charging to the net that you knew something was going to happen, something was going to change.

How do you lose a game when you are up 4-0 about halfway through it? It's simple. You play rope-a-dope hockey, no hitting, a lot of loose passing, backing up in the defensive zone and creating havoc in front of your own goalie. A week or so ago I wrote an article stating that Lundqvist plays well in shootouts because there are no defensemen in front of him during the shootout. The winning goal was a classic example as all four players went into retreat mode as soon as Nylander entered the offensive zone. His deflected pass led to a one timer by defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, his first goal of the year.

After the game, Lundqvist was in a state of shock. He was unhappy to lose a point. Drury was philosophical, stating that the game should be thrown in the garbage and forgotten. He was happy to get the point. Coach clueless remarked that the Rangers didn't manage the game very well. Excuse me. Aren't coaches supposed to manage games?

However, the bottom line is that the Rangers aren't equipped to mount a challenge for the Cup, or for the Eastern title. They will be hard pressed to make the playoffs. Their defense is soft and weak with three marginal high priced defensemen. Also, they don't have a game breaker. Every contender team in the East has a game breaker. All due respect to Gomez and Drury who are excellent hockey players they are not game breakers, just solid role players. Finally, if they don't shore up the defense there is a chance that Lundqvist will break down and give up marginal goals. He has fallen to 21st in the GAA category with a 2.58 and is 20th in save % with a .911. That's been quite a drop over the last couple of weeks. The Rangers fortunes depend mightily on Lundqvist's success.

ICINGS: Cannot figure out for the life of me the benching of Petr Prucha. As an example, what does clueless see in Voros and Sjostrom that keep them on the ice and Prucha on the bench? Trade the kid so he can keep his career going. Better still, get a new coach who can appreciate a young talent like Petr Prucha.

Gomer's lack of productivity is being noted in Rangersland:

Scotty Hockey:

*My seat at the Garden is next to a Ranger-hating Flyer fan who just comes to the games because he loves hockey and lives in New York. He made the remark that Scott Gomez was a helluva Devil. And I would have to agree. Unfortunately he is a terrible Ranger. The Mexican't was worthless in this one, collecting a second assist while skating all sorts of circles to nowhere. He doesn't backcheck, his passes are off the mark when he isn't just softly dumping the puck away before he can get hit and he rarely shoots. For seven million dollars a year...
Hockey Rodent:
• Scott Gomez is a pussy. Unless he's playing hurt, he's got no business shying away from the checks he should be finishing. Granted, he's not much bigger than Petr Prucha. But at least Kid Kourageous isn't afraid to take Hal Gill into the boards.
The Dark Ranger had the pleasure of sitting in section 118 near Rod Gilbert, who did some ranting during the game, including saying:
"A defensive system works when you have defensemen to support it"...

"(shouting angrily) ...don't leave the center open!!!!".....
The Renney 'defensive' system is to defense, as lap dog is to dogs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No California Trifecta

After beating LA and Anaheim the Rangers were dreaming of a California sweep. No such luck as the Ranger offense kept shooting blanks in a 3-2 loss to the number one team in hockey, San Jose, that is now undefeated in regulation at home with a run of 17-0-2. The Rangers only goals were another unassisted goal, this one short handed, by Nikolai Zherdev, and Ryan Callahan, acting like a bowling ball picking up the ten pin, for a rebound.

I stayed up for this one figuring the Rangers would give me an early morning birthday present. However, I should have known better. Counting either the day before, 12/20, or the actual date, 12/21, the Rangers have lost seven straight games on my birthday, with a tie against Tampa Bay, stopping the streak in 19997-98. The previous year, 1996-97, was the last win, a 3-2 effort at Montreal. Knowing better I stayed with the game.

The Rangers were done in by their offense, or lack of it. Despite sitting in the second spot in the East, four points behind Boston, who have four games in hand on the Rangers, the Rangers rank tenth in goals per game and once all the teams catch up to the Rangers in games played, the Rangers will probably be sitting in the sixth spot fighting for their playoff lives. That is why the addition of Sundin or someone like him was so important. Listening and reading the apologists and house media how the chemistry is now intact and that is good is baffling. What is so important about this chemistry? Look at the three stooges on defense and tell me about chemistry.

Chemistry? The offense now revolves around two lines. The third and fourth lines are basically defensive lines. If it was up to clueless he would have four defensive lines. Drury is constantly being shuttled back from center to wing. I don't think the first line has been together for four or five straight games. Meanwhile Redden and Rozsival pile up over twenty minutes a game while their plus/minus continues to get more negative every game. Plus they don't hit anyone. Last night both teams racked up 38 hits each. Did you see the game? Most of San Jose's hits were crunching hits while most of the Ranger hits were glancing blows.

But it's too early to get excited and besides Christmas is coming. Christmas supersedes everything. It even supersedes birthdays. After all what are birthdays? Another day older and deeper in debt.

ICINGS:

The NHL looks like they favor the American Idol model of running a popularity contest for an All-Star team. So we end up with the Canadiens playing this year's version of Sanjaya Malakar. Nice guy who got a ton of teen votes, but couldn't really cut the vocal mustard. There is an argument that Sanjaya's remarkable run on Idol in 2007 was evidence that Simon and the Idol crew had "Jumped the Shark." We all know the NHL All-Star game Jumped the Shark long ago.

The NHL All-Star voting has boiled down to an international ballot stuffing propaganda war. This year pitting Pittsburgh against Montreal. The current system is broken and it's not burnishing the old NHL image very much.

One simple solution would be to give every fan who has a season ticket one ballot. Seems like the league could throw a small bone to the people who pay the freight. Or else they could just let the beat writers and anyone who's blogged about the NHL for six months or more decide. That will never happen, of course.

Some teams, like the Sharks, are mildly interested in getting out the 'texting' vote for their guys. For example, they put up a single voting link on their website:

VOTE FOR EACH SHARK ON THE BALLOT BY TEXTING "SHARKS" TO "81812"

However, the Canadiens have declared all out war on the balloting and their official NHL approved website practically forces their fans to vote with their team landing page:

Vote Often. Vote Canadiens
Yes. Vote Canadiens, Vote Often. Vote for the next Sanjaya and help the NHL get over the Shark again this year.

John Vogl at the Buffalo News has a recent update on the mischief,
Habs, Pens stuffing the e-ballot box:

The NHL All-Star voting has turned into a mix of accolades and accusations, as voters in Montreal and Pittsburgh have used their computers to turn the contest into a two-city competition. Penguins and Canadiens are dominating the leader boards, but whether the ballot casting is legal is up for debate.

Voting for the midseason gala's starters is entirely digital, with Internet and text messaging being the only way to cast ballots. In November, fans in Montreal found a way to have their computers automatically cast vote after vote for Habs players, and they posted the instructions on the team's message boards for others to follow suit.

The early results had Habs in all six starting spots, with their goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards running away with the voting.

But Pittsburgh fans, who boast the NHL's top stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, quickly joined in. They caught up to the Canadiens and have since zoomed past...

The NY Times reported on some of the history in this NHL race to the bottom. Fans Go High Tech to Tip the Scales in All-Star Voting:
Within hours of the start of N.H.L. voting Nov. 12, it was apparent to the league that fans had written computer scripts that would register thousands of votes automatically on the league’s Web-based All-Star fan ballot, the N.H.L. spokesman Gary Meagher said.

“It wasn’t just Canadiens who were getting those votes,” Meagher said, and within a week, the league had adjusted the bogus totals downward by 18 percent and upgraded its protections against robotic voting.

But the Canadiens players still held substantial leads at all six positions by huge margins. That would have put Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev and Alex Tanguay, all good players, on the ice for the opening face-off rather than the league’s two top scorers, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Goaltender Carey Price, and defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek were also in the lead.

Penguins fans were outraged, and the outrage grew when a Pittsburgh fan showed evidence on a blog that a Canadiens fan known only as tomzilla had posted instructions on the Canadiens’ official message board showing how to robo-vote.

So the club mobilized a counteroffensive...
Counteroffensive? Maybe the Pens and Canadiens should exchange prisoners at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo.
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Over at the 5-Hole blog, Ryan is calling out Sidney Crosby. This is after Sid took some cheap shots at the Thrashers's Boris Valabik during a game last Thursday (12/18). Boris is a big boy, 6'7" and 249 pounds and can probably take care of himself. But, the NHL reportedly frowns on two-on-one stuff and even the UFC wants to nix the below the belt work.

So let's get this sorted out. Sean Avery gets a six game suspension and possibly run out of the league for public potty mouth and Bing gets an old school bus trip to Buffalo? Sounds completely fair.

5 Hole -- Crosby the Coward:
Dear Gary Bettman,

The last time I checked, you can’t do this in the National Hockey League:


We think the Rangers should just play something from the Nutcracker Ballet every time Sid does something of note at the Garden.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Always About The Money

So Mats Sundin, after doing some head fakes in NY, decided to take the money and go to Vancouver. Surprise. We were led to believe that the overall lure of the big city and his pals Naslund and Lundqvist would lead to his signing with the Rangers at a reduced rate. The only guy I can think of who signed at a reduced rate lately was Brendan Shanahan. He is still available, go sign him. We could use his on ice leadership and one-timer. But Sundin wanted no reduced rate, he wanted the big bucks. So what's the surprise.

Remember Sean Avery? He was one of my favorites. The spine of the Rangers. I think we still need that toughness but he left too over a small matter, like $500 k/year. Remember how he loved NY? How he loved playing in the Garden? How the fans turned him on? How he was making an impression in the fashion industry? How the chicks were all wild for him, or vice versa? Whether it was The Stealth GM or him, $500k was too much to give up for all those beautiful sentimental things that put money in your pocket. So he left for the money.

Remember Mark Messier? The Messiah. He took us to the promised land. The hallowed Stanley Cup. He was The Ranger. He loved NY. He loved the faithful. Money was not an object, he said. Then him, his Dad, Smith and Checketts got into a spat over a million a year. Checketts wanted to know how long must he pay big bucks to Messier for one Cup. Considering Checketts paid big bucks to Patrick Ewing for a long, long time and he never won anything, you'd think he could shell out that extra million to the Messiah. So Messier left for an extra mil/year to Vancouver for three years of anonymity and failure. So the return to NY and the tears and the people he always loved, for the money.

Of course, other sports have their mercenaries. How about the great A-Rod, often described as the greatest baseball player ever manufactured. Maybe in the Dominican Republic. Remember how he always loved the Yankees and NY was the place he wanted to finish his career. That statement must be in the playbook for athletes. He came for $20 mil/year to NY to get all that love and the fans found out he was an underachiever with a .200 batting average with men in scoring position. So he opted out of his contract to test free agency and when he couldn't find any suckers, he decided he loved the Yankees again and the jerks gave him $27 mil/year and bonuses rated on individual performances, not team performance. Ah, but he loves NY. We all would if we can find sugar daddies who give out money like leaflets.

Finally the sainted Andy Pettitt. Who more reflects being a Yankee than Andy? He wears his heart on his sleeve for NY, and his money in his wallet. He will pitch for no one but the Yankees anymore. At least for $16 mil/year he will. However they want to reduce the number to $10/mil a year so now he is testing the market place. He loves the Yankees, the fans, NY but he loves the green stuff more.

So forget all this nonsense about love of city, love of fans, and money is not the key issue. Money is "The Issue." It's all about the big bucks. The players want to grab their fair share of the money that the greedy owners extort from us hard working fans for an inferior product. The next time they raise a banner at the Garden it should have a huge dollar sign on it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Valley Of The Rozies

Southern California is the home of the famous Rose Bowl. The Rangers supplied their own roses last night in the form of the tandem of Steve Valiquette and Michal Rozsival. Valley played another strong game in his back up roll as the Rangers went 5-1-1 in the second game of back-to-back games. They are 6-1-0 in the first game. Rozsival scored on a penalty shot that was a an early Christmas gift from referee Bill McCreary. Sean O'Donnell had thrown his broken stick toward Rozsival but there was a delay in calling the penalty. Anyway, to these old eyes it looked like a marginal call. I would be screaming if they called it against the Rangers. Anyhow, the Rangers sent out Naslund to take the shot, but the rules say the offended player must take it. So Rozsival took it and scored on a beautiful backhand thus elevating him on the list for the shootout. Rozsival then scored the winner in OT on a blast from Drury and Staal. It broke a string of five unassisted goals scored by the Rangers.

Despite Rozsival's heroics the star of the night was Steve Valiquette who made 39 saves, and wouldn't you know it the LA sports media did not even list him as one of the stars of the game. Rozsival as number two was sandwiched between two Kings players. This star of the game is turning into nothing more than a popularity contest to please the local crowd. The Ranger writers do the same thing. The whole system stinks. Fortunately there is nothing of significance involved here. Anyway, another outstanding performance by the Valley man.

The Rangers are now 10-5-1 on the road and 12-6-1 at home. Rozsival seems to be better on the road than at home. No boo birds. However, he is less tentative on the road. The mistakes are still there but offensively he seems to get more involved. He does have a good shot, but is reluctant to pull the trigger. Maybe this will change him. Maybe.

Now on to San Jose where the number one team in the NHL awaits us. What will it be? I'm looking forward to this test to see if we are ready for prime time. Is this winning streak, three games, for real? Is this the pre-Sundin streak where everyone is digging down deep wondering if they will be around when and if Sundin shows up? Will Sundin show up? For the answers to these and other earth shaking facts stay tuned to your Pundit. "As The World Turns."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dawes Does Ducks

Nigel Dawes not only stole a puck he also deked Chris Pronger out of his skates and then scored the go ahead goal, his fourth, that would lead the Rangers to a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Watching it last night brought me back to the days of watching The Late Show on TV which then was a movie, accompanied by the tune, Syncopated Clock, which was enough to put me to sleep. Dawes doesn't get many chances to score goals, even play, these days as he and Prucha are subs 1 and 1A. Actually this was Dawes 22nd game and Prucha who may be headed for greener pastures has only 11.

It was a weird game and a big win for the Rangers. All three goals were unassisted. Drury notched his ninth by stealing the puck and blistering one past Duck goalie Jonas Hiller, who made 27 saves. Nikolai Zherdev was credited with a goal, his eleventh, when he was pulled down by Pronger while skating toward an empty net. The Ducks had pulled their goalie while the Rangers were on a five on three PP. The goal gave the Rangers an inflated 1-4 on the PP.

The game was overshadowed by the rumors and constant references to the hoped for signing of Mats Sundin. It's between The Rangers and Vancouver. Vancouver has the money, two years at $20 Mil. The Rangers hope that Sundin likes the limelight of New York, the travel advantages of playing in the East and the chance to reunite with Swedish stars like Naslund and Lundqvist, who won the World Cup for the Swedes. The Rangers will have to unload some players, perhaps one of the core, to get down to the salary cap needed to sign Sundin. Signing Sundin will obviously change the makeup and chemistry of the team. It will be worth it.

---
ICINGS:

Left Coast views on the game. The famous Rangers trap works its magic.

Helene Elliott: / LA Times:
Ducks give one away to Rangers --
Niedermayer, once a model of calm and steadiness on defense, gave the puck away with a poor pass to set up the Rangers' first goal, by Chris Drury, at 2:26 of the second period.

The Ducks pulled even late in the period when Chris Kunitz converted a rebound, but defenseman Kent Huskins fanned on an intended pass in his own zone late in the third period and Nigel Dawes walked in alone on Jonas Hiller to score the go-ahead goal with 3:16 to play.

"They play the trap," Huskins said, "and you can't put it in the middle against a trapping team. It was just a bad play on my part."

Chris Pronger didn't help matters by resembling a statue as Dawes danced around him, and if Niedermayer and Pronger can be so fallible, what can be expected of their less talented teammates? ...
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Dan Wood / OC Register:
Turnovers ruin Ducks against Rangers --
Egregious defensive-zone turnovers by Ducks defensemen Scott Niedermayer early in the second period and Kent Huskins late in the third gift-wrapped two New York goals that effectively halted a five-game Ducks home winning streak.

“We just didn’t react well to their forecheck,” Niedermayer said. “They skated well, and those were a couple of bad decisions, obviously. When a team is trapping like that, the safest play is up the boards. We chose not to do it, and paid the price.”...
----
We're all still "Waiting for Godot Sundin."

NY Times:
The Morning Skate: Crossroads for Sundin and Avery
So the news media grinds the rumor mill like a zealous waiter over-peppering your salad...
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gotham or Granville ?

Is Mats Sundin Gotham bound?The signs are pointing towards an early Christmas in Rangersland.

Why Rangersland? Because J.P. Barry, Sundin's agent, confirmed with the Vancouver Sun that the choice is now only between Gotham and Granville and, it is pretty obvious that Sundin would have signed with Vancouver already if that were really his first choice. Plainly, Sundin is waiting to see if the Rangers can clear some cap space. It is also clear that the Rangers are trying to create that space. Sather recalled Corey Potter Sunday from Hartford and the team is taking him out west. It looks like Sather is trying to move a defensemen to shed salary before the trip ends.

Why an early Christmas? The NHL's roster freeze starts this Friday and lasts until December 27th. Barry indicated that Sundin is likely to announce his choice of new team by Thursday night so that his client can join the team right after the freeze ends.

Why Christmas? Because Sundin can make a huge difference if he is on this team. The Rangers' power play (14%) has been pathetic. Last year, Sundin had 10 powerplay goals and 19 powerplay assists. The power play is instantly better with Mats. And, he is not way past his prime. Sundin is 37, but still playing at a high level. He averaged 20 minutes a game last year and shot 12.4 percent. Those number are pretty consistent with his averages for the past five years.

If you look at the Eastern Conference, and compare the Rangers' power play to that of the three other of the top four teams so far this year - Boston (25%), Washington(24%), and Philadelphia (26%) - you instantly see that scoring on the power play is where we fall short. Sundin should close that gap.

Without Sundin, I am afraid the Rangers' will not have a very happy Christmas nor a Happy New Year. With Sundin on the power play, a healthy Lundqvist and the continued superior play on the penalty kill, look for this team to go deep in the playoffs.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Shootout Champs

Yes, another shootout, another win. That's eight shootout wins out of 20 wins overall. That's 40% of the total wins. Now if The Stealth GM can convince Bettman to have shootouts in the playoffs the Rangers will be golden. Of course I'm being cynical. There should be no shootouts and the games should end in a ten minute OT.

While the Rangers are now 8-1 in shootouts, Lundqvist is 7-1 with a save % of .875. There are eight goalies with 1.000 save %, but Backstrom of Minnesota has played the most, three games, and has only faced eight shots. Lundqvist has faced 24 shots and given up 3 goals. Lundqvist is great in the shootouts, the problem during the game is that there are guys named Redden, Rozsival and Kalinin in front of him.

For a change the special teams saved the Rangers. Naslund scored a power play goal (wow), his 12th and Betts scored a short handed goal and that was all the scoring against a team, Carolina, that gives up three goals a game. So the lack of scoring continues. The penalty kill was again outstanding especially killing off a full 2:00 minute five on three.

So the Rangers head west for a three game stint before returning to the Garden for the Christmas holidays. Maybe by then we will know more about Sundin, Shanahan and Avery. Maybe.

ICINGS:

Avery is done in Dallas reports ESPN. It will be an amazing pay day for our favorite miscreant if the Stars, do in fact, end up buying him out in July for $8 million. Could he have orchestrated the entire "sloppy" affair because he wanted out of Dallas? Did the locker room resentment, lack of ice time, and a poor offensive showing lead to a premeditated outburst?

Many questions about what the end game will be for Avery. But, if Dallas really wanted to stick it to him could they require him come to every home game this season and work as an usher? Or parking valet for the VIP's. That would be fun for the Dallas fans. They could taunt him up close and personal. However, the NHLPA probably would seek to veto that move.

AP/ESPN - Stars: Avery won't return:

Whenever Sean Avery is ready to return to the NHL, it won't be with the Dallas Stars.

The combative forward was eligible to return from a six-game suspension Sunday, but the Stars instead announced Avery will not rejoin the team -- ever.

"You have to do what's right for both parties, and that's what we're really trying to do," co-general manager Brett Hull said.

Avery was only 23 games into a four-year, $15.5 million deal when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suspended him for a crude remark about ex-girlfriends dating other hockey players. Simmering tension between Avery and his teammates and his coach boiled over in the aftermath, with the dressing room united in its stance against him ever wearing a Stars sweater again...
Bruce Garroich at the Ottawa Sun flogs the Avery is going back to New York rumor.

Sundin's final decision poised to shake up trade market ... 'Seconds' for Avery? He could be headed right back to Broadway:
Speaking of the Rangers, keep an eye on coach Tom Renney. There are whispers that if they don't start winning more consistently, Renney could be in trouble. If that's the case, Pat Quinn, Team Canada's coach at the world junior championship, might not be out of work long when the tournament ends Jan. 5. There was talk last year that Quinn could end up with the Rangers. "It might depend on what kind of job he does with Team Canada," said one league executive ... The news wasn't good at the NHL's board of governors' meeting last week. A third of the league's teams -- Atlanta, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, the N.Y. Islanders, Phoenix, St. Louis and Tampa -- are having attendance problems and are in deep trouble. Unfortunately, there's not enough room north of the border to relocate them all ...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Not Playing Defense Is Not An Option"

Did somebody miss a quote? Did someone notice it was a double negative? Or, did everything catch up to Moe (Redden), Larry (Rozsival) and Curly (Kalinin)? This dynamic trio of defenseless defenseman certainly weren't the whole problem last night but they were a big part of it. Plus, they draw a combined salary of $14.5 Mil/year and if there is anything that is going to stop Sundin from coming to New York it's the money that is pissed away on this unholy trio. The good news is that Sundin will be in the Garden tonight. The bad news: he will be sitting in a luxury box next to the Stealth. More bad news. He will be watching coach clueless work his magic against the Hurricanes.

There were three hockey games last night and the Devils won the important parts to win the game. They started out by threatening to blow the Rangers out of The Rock with a 5-1 lead. To the Rangers credit, led by Nikolai Zherdev, the Rangers stormed back and tied the game on Ryan Callahan's goal, only to fall behind on Elias's goal 11 seconds later and then it was all over. It was so bad that even Sam remarked about Lundqvist, "He is all alone out there".

The Devils are six points behind the Rangers and have six games in hand. In fact, all the teams in the Eastern Conference have games in hand on the Rangers. By the first of the year, this team, without any personnel improvement, or mindset improvement, will be fighting it out for seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth place in the conference.

Want another reason besides shoddy defense? The misnomer known as the power play. It was 0-10 last night and gave up two short handed goals, which brings that total to 10 for the season, tops in the NHL. The Rangers rank 23rd in the NHL with a PP% of 14.0. Think about this all you apologists and anonymouses who think we have a great coach. It is three years and counting and we still have a pitifully poor power play. This year it is at its all time worst, because of the short handed goals we are giving up. Three years and no idea of how to fix it. I call that clueless. What do you call it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pruchamania will soon be cancelled

The Hockey Rodent offers a very sober and sad, if true, requiem for Petr Prucha's career with the New York Rangers.

He hammers on a few points that we've been making over here at the RangerPundit for ages:

  • Tom Renney has destroyed, "killed," a very talented young player, Petr Prucha.
  • Tom Renney has taken the fun out of going to Rangers games.
  • Tom Renney hockey sucks.

The Rodent reads the tea leaves and concludes that Prucha's career in New York is history. He finishes his Renney rant by saying:
The gospel truth is that I do not hate Tom Renney. I genuinely like the guy. He's dapper. He's articulate. He's got the team higher up in the standings than they deserve to be.

I just hate how he's so thoroughly sterilized this club and how he's converted virtuosos into robots. He's blanded the brand so much I feel as if I've crossed the Hudson River.

Prucha was a reliable break from the meat and potatoes. Admittedly dreadful on the backcheck. Yet his anarchistic attack dared give this club a modicum of personality. But no. Tom couldn't have too much of that.

Renney killed Prucha. And now he's killing Zherdev as well. And "yes". I'm angry

Amen brother. Amen.
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Six Degrees of Sean Avery

There is some excellent Benihana-style slicing and dicing of NHL stats at QuantHockey.com. For example, what player born in 1980 has scored the most NHL goals?

However, looking at the numbers accentuates the negative if you're a Rangers fan.

The Rangers offense stinks, but it becomes painfully obvious when looking at the Rangers players in comparison to the rest of the league and then projecting their goal scoring for the remainder of this season.

QuantHockey: Regular Season Scoring

Rank
BornNamePosGPGAPPIMG/GPA/GP

1
1986Evgeni MalkinF28113546220.3931.250

2
1987Sidney CrosbyF28132841260.4641.000

3
1985Alexander OvechkinF27152237340.5560.815

4
1985Ryan GetzlafF28122335430.4290.821

5
1977Jarome IginlaF29141933180.4830.655

5
1988Patrick KaneF26132033180.5000.769

5
1980Simon GagneF26141933100.5380.731

8
1977Marc SavardF2882432380.2860.857

8
1979Joe ThorntonF2782432260.2960.889

10
1985Mike RichardsF27111930230.4070.704

10
1987Devin SetoguchiF2713173040.4810.630















34
1984Nikolai ZherdevF3191625190.2900.516

54
1973Markus NäslundF31101222140.3230.387

101
1979Scott GomezF2651318240.1920.500

110
1986Brandon DubinskyF3151217430.1610.387

145
1984Daniel GirardiD313121580.0970.387

145
1976Chris DruryF31871560.2580.226

145
1977Wade ReddenD3021315180.0670.433


The season is 38% over (31 out of 82 games) for the NY Rangers. Adding insult to the dismal showing by the Rangers, is the fact, that they also have 3-4 games in hand over most of the other teams. Here are the projected goals for the full 82 game season for the Rangers leaders:

  • Nikolai Zherdev -- 24
  • Markus Näslund -- 26
  • Chris Drury -- 21
  • Scott Gomez -- 13
  • Brandon Dubinsky -- 13
  • Daniel Girardi -- 8
  • Wade Redden -- 5

So either Zherdev or Näslund will need to catch lightning in a bottle (against a more difficult schedule) or else the Rangers will not have a 30 goal scorer this season.

Putting things in context, Sean Avery scored 15 goals during 57 games for the Rangers in 2007-08.
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The NHL is becoming like the movie business, but instead of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" we get six degrees of Sean Avery. Because, in the end it all comes back to Avery.

So that brings us to this flight of rumor mongering that must be checked out just on the headline alone and for the Kafkaesque scenario it presents. The idea of the Rangers bringing Sean Avery back to New York in order to dump him in Hartford and gain traction in the Mats Sundin chase is an idea based on a half bottle of Jack Daniel's. But, doesn't Slats like his Jack?

Greg Caggiano / The Bleacher Report:
Sean Avery Headed Back to the New York Rangers? --
... the Rangers will trade Redden or Rozsival to Dallas in exchange for Sean Avery. Is this a trade I would make? Absolutely.

I have made it known that I am not Avery's biggest fan, and even after saying that, I would still make this trade. As mentioned by ESPN's Rumor Central, the Rangers would then waive Avery upon his acquisition and upon clearing waivers, be sent to the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford, thus making a major salary dump and clearing approximately five to six and half million dollars.

And who knows, if Avery goes through with his anger management classes and reshapes his lifestyle and become a more tolerable person, the Rangers could call him up (prefferably waiting until next season) and still have Avery on contract for the remaining three years on his contract...
---
Scott Burnside / ESPN:
Stars bosses meet to discuss Avery, options --
Sean Avery's future with the Dallas Stars may have been brought a little more into focus Wednesday, but the decision won't be shared at least until Avery's six-game suspension comes to an end next week.

Stars owner Tom Hicks told reporters at the board of governors' meetings in Florida earlier this week that he would meet with president Jeff Cogen and co-GMs Brett Hull and Les Jackson Wednesday to discuss options for moving forward with Avery.

Jackson said the club won't make any public announcement on Avery until next week...
----
USA Today:
Stars coach indicates Avery done in Dallas
--
Sean Avery may be out of a job with the Dallas Stars, regardless of how the NHL disciplines him for his comments about actress and former girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert.

Stars coach Dave Tippett indicates Avery likely won't be welcomed back by the team, saying, "I find it hard to believe that Sean could come back in that dressing room and we could find that continuity again."...
----
If Avery is ejected from Dallas where could he end up?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Go Go Gomez

Scotty Gomez's skating around like the roadrunner finally paid off last night. After skating out of his zone, he passed off to Naslund and then went to the net to tap in a sloppy rebound off of Thrasher goalie Hedberg for the game winner in OT. This was another rather nondescript win over a hapless Atlanta team that now has all of 22 points and is tied with the Islanders as the second worse team in hockey. Tampa Bay gains the honor of the worst team, and wasn't that a smart move in firing Barry Melrose?

The Rangers needed a shorthanded goal off the chest of a charging Callahan and the first goal in 83 games by Colton Orr to make it to OT. Atlanta has given up 96 goals, only the Islanders and Toronto are worse in the entire NHL at 98, and yet we could only manage two goals against this team. Rumors are that The Stealth GM is meeting with Mats Sundin on Saturday. None too soon. How about getting Shanahan in there also as this team right now is leaderless, coachless and very nearly scoreless.

After watching Orr score, Gomez decided to get physical and went at it with Thrasher star Kovalchuk and gave a pretty good account of himself. Kovalchuk seemed to be bloodied. It was the highlight of a rather drab game between two equally matched inferior teams. Now comes the test as the Rangers visit The Rock to face the Devils. Maybe the sight of the Devils will get the team out of its funk. The Rangers continue to lead the Atlantic but the three teams behind them all have games in hand. The Devils who are eight points behind have six games in hand. The first big test comes next week when the Rangers are on the road in Anaheim, LA and San Jose and then come home to face the Caps, Devils and Islanders to close out the year. Do you think we will still be in first place on Jan. 1st?

ICINGS:

Scotty Gomez is going to have to work a little harder to get credit for an official NHL fight. A couple of roughings and a slashing add up to six minutes in the sin bin, but it's not a fight equivalent. After the skirmishes last night with Kovalchuk and the one up in Montreal he still has not recorded an official fight since February 9th, 2000.

Double Latte bonus points if you know his opponent or the opponent's team. Answer here.

The "winning small, losing big" Renney Stratagem really puts a hit on the old plus/minus rating. Only two Rangers are currently "plus." Who are they? Single Latte bonus points. Answer: player 1 and player 2.

Interestingly, the lowly Thrashers had six players last night playing with a positive +/-.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rangers Stink Out The Joint

If I were the Stealth GM I would spend the rest of the week dialing 1-800-MSundin and see how soon he wants to come back and give him whatever he wants, the cap be damned. I would also call the old guy, Shanahan, and see if his weary bones are up to one more year skating on the Garden Ice. The Rangers are in deep trouble. While they are sinking in their own ice, coach clueless keeps up the discipline, defensive mantra: "Not playing defense is not an option."

Meanwhile the team has scored four goals in four games, being shutout twice, both times on Garden ice. Out of the seventeen games they have won, seven have been by shootouts, that's 41%. The players are more in tune with what is going on than the coach is. While Drury and Naslund have been warning that these shootout wins will be negated in the playoffs the clueless one keeps insisting that the team "finds" ways to win.

Against Pittsburgh coach clueless made some lineup changes that looked promising. Gomez centering Naslund and the Z Man and Petr Prucha back in the lineup. Prucha scored a goal. The next game Dawes was in the lineup to replace an injured Betts. Dawes scored a goal. Dawes was benched last night for the offensively hapless Betts and the three top skaters, Gomez, Naslund and The Z-Man were all on different lines and all were ineffective. There was no flow and there was no cohesion. But clueless saw an improvement. I guess giving up three goals after giving up six is an improvement.

I also saw a different Lundqvist last night. He seemed to be reacting to every movement of the puck and didn't seem to be his old confident self. Of course, having Rozsival in front of you for over twenty minutes should make any goalie antsy. Looking at this team I don't see the big guy who can carry us a game or two. Naslund has seen his better days and Zherdev seems to be trying to find his niche with this team. Drury and Gomez now seem to be what they were with other teams. Strong role players but not the type or talent to carry a team. At least not with this team, this system, this coach. Drury has had two thirty goal years in ten seasons and Gomez has had one in eight.

So make those calls Stealth, make those calls. While you are at it check out the availability of Pat Burns and Larry Robinson, just in case coach clueless runs out of adjectives. We don't need any more stinkers like last night.

ICINGS:

The Ranger Pundit is gaining allies.

HDH / HockeyBird.com:
It's time [to fire Renney] --

... back to my original premises . . . time for change. What change, you ask? Well I hate to sound like a crazy ranting disgruntled Ranger fan, but it is time for Tom Renney to go. Pink slip time for sure...

Here are some reasons:
  1. Their record is deceptive
  2. The [non] offense
  3. The Power Play
  4. The 'Renney system' - It is defense, defense, defense. All defense all the time. When Blair Betts is your most important skater, your team is in trouble...
    ----

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rangers Help Celebrate Montreal's 100 Year Anniversary

The Rangers were so impressed with Montreal celebrating their 100 year anniversary they not only watched the ceremony with interest they also watched Montreal for sixty minutes. They left Lundqvist totally naked.

Our friend Blow-Me-Down drew some positives out of last night's woeful performance:

Rangers looked really good tonight. All their socks matched, jerseys with the numbers on the back where they should be. Gomez had just the right amount of stubble for that 'rugged' look, I noticed when the camera panned in for his reaction after his silly penalty (I mean his second one, not the first one which was much less dumb), he just might have one of those 'leave a half-inch of stubble so you look like Sonny Crockett' razors they sold on late-night infomercials in the '80's (or so I am told).

And the coaching staff looked absolutely dashing... Renney quite dignified but with a certain rakishness. And Pearn, absolutely natty, forgive me if I go so far as to say debonair.

Really, really good looking team.
This team is indeed dashing. They'll dash this season on the rocks if they keep pulling these disappearing acts.

Where was the physical play that slowed down the Pens high scoring juggernaut? Colton Orr gets less than two minutes in the first period after setting the tone for the Pens game. So that is how Renney rewards physical play that wins games?

All 21,273 in attendance had a magnificent night to remember thanks to the potted plant Rangers, who nicely dressed the spectacle up.
-----
ICINGS:

Avery leaves NHL headquarters after meeting with Gary Bettman

The NHL slaps down Avery's potty mouth with a six game suspension.

NHL.com:
Avery banned six games --
The verdict is in, and Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery will be sitting out a little while longer for the inappropriate comments he made earlier this week.

The National Hockey League announced Friday that Avery has been suspended for six games without pay, retroactive to Tuesday's game in Calgary, as a result of the comments he made Tuesday morning after the his team’s morning skate at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Avery also agreed to seek professional anger-management evaluation and, if necessary, structured counseling in light of his pattern of behavior, which the NHL has deemed unacceptable and antisocial...
Stan Fischler mentioned last night that Brett Hull has taken a big hit over his signing of Avery. The NY Times has the latest on Bret Hull's Bad Management Moment:
The Sean Avery debacle in Dallas has given Brett Hull an uncomfortable few days in the spotlight as the Stars’ co-general manager.

He stood up at a news conference on Friday, after N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Avery’s six-game suspension for his latest clash with polite society, and had the difficult job of describing how the signing of a player he championed had gone so wrong...
NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly released this statement regarding the NHL's punishment of Avery:
While the NHLPA does not condone Sean’s comments, which were clearly inappropriate, the discipline imposed by the Commissioner is unprecedented both in its severity, as well as the process by which it was handed down. We have also seen signals from the Dallas Stars that Sean’s contractual rights might be challenged. We are monitoring the situation as it develops, and we will evaluate all legal options as the circumstances warrant. In the meantime, our first priority is supporting Sean’s efforts to learn from his mistake and move forward in a positive manner.
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Rangers get suited up to look their bestThe Rangers are always working hard to look their best

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Sean Avery File

We really wanted to skip this latest Avery affair. But, our Sean Avery file needs updating.

First, the controversy. On December 3, 2008, Avery was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for making disparaging remarks about a former girlfriend to the media. Avery made the remarks after a morning skate in Calgary, Alberta. Avery stated,

"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."
Avery was suspended by the NHL within hours of his comments. He watched from the pressbox as the Stars beat the Flames, 3-1, on Tuesday night (Dec 2nd).

On December 3rd, 2008 Avery flew to New York with Stars co-general manager Brett Hull to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman. Avery also issued a public apology for his crude comments.
I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary. I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate.

It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past.

I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far.
On December 4th Avery's meeting with the NHL lasted a couple of hours and concluded without a decision being made. NHL.com reported:
Sean Avery arrived at the National Hockey League offices in midtown Manhattan at 10:50 this morning wearing a checkered gray suit with no tie and a pair of dark sunglasses.

Avery's hearing regarding his indefinite suspension after remarks he made Tuesday in Calgary about an ex-girlfriend's new relationship with an NHL player began at noon today inside the NHL's main offices.

The meeting ended at 1:25 p.m., but no statement has yet to be released...

Hull also said Avery expressed remorse in his face-to-face meeting with Bettman...
Update, on December 5th, 2006 the NHL announced their punishment for Avery's remarks:
The verdict is in, and Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery will be sitting out a little while longer for the inappropriate comments he made earlier this week.

The National Hockey League announced Friday morning that Avery has been suspended for six games without pay, retroactive to Tuesday's game in Calgary, as a result of the comments he made Tuesday morning after the his team’s morning skate at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Avery also agreed to seek professional anger-management evaluation and, if necessary, structured counseling in light of his pattern of behavior, which the NHL has deemed unacceptable and antisocial...
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One of Sean Avery's former girlfriends is Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is best known for her role as Kim Bauer the daughter of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in the Fox television series 24.

Cuthbert is currently dating Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf. After breaking up with Avery, Ms. Cuthbert also dated West Islip born Canadien Mike Komisarek. Avery's remarks were generally considered to be in reference to Ms. Cuthbert and Mr. Phaneuf.

During the 2006-07 season Ms. Cuthbert wrote a blog for NHL.com. On that blog she wrote:
My name is Elisha Cuthbert, born in Calgary, Alberta, but raised in Montreal, Quebec. Growing up in Canada opened my eyes to the world of hockey. My brother plays on two teams -- his school and city. My mother plays on a team as well. I, on the other hand, am just an actress who loves the sport and does not play -- but that doesn't mean I can't talk about it!
Sean Avery and actress Elisha Cuthbert, who he trashed with sloppy seconds commentSean Avery and actress Elisha Cuthbert. She ditched Justin Timberlake’s best friend Trace Ayala for Avery - US Magazine
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Sean Avery and Elisha Cuthbert---
Sean Avery and actress girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert Photos of Sean Avery and Elisha Cuthbert

The Sean Avery Timeline:

Some reactions to Sean Avery's latest controversy:

Greg Wyshynski / ESPN Puck Daddy:
Predictions: How long will the NHL suspend Sean Avery?
--
It's official: The reaction to Sean Avery's "sloppy seconds" press conference and subsequent suspension are more comical and absurd than anything the man actually said.

Have any of these pearls-clutching hockey puritans sat between the penalty boxes of an NHL game, where the young children of wealthy season ticket holders can hear taunts about what one player's mother did or did not swallow (true story)? Have they ever laughed at well-told tales of junior hockey hazing or sexual exploits that leaves you wondering if young players will grow up to be in the NHL or a state penitentiary?

Or we going to actually believe that the NHL's image has somehow been irrevocably damaged because of Sean Avery's choice of words? On a Chris Simon or Todd Bertuzzi level?
----
Greg Wyshynski / ESPN Puck Daddy:
Sean Avery, indefinite suspensions and NHL gullibility --
The League suspending Avery for opening his yap and making a frat boy joke elevates his antics back to legendary status. This is the Avery Rule all over again; Avery looks irresponsible but mischievous, and the League looks like it's making special considerations because the class clown acted up. Give him 10 games, give him 30; he wins again...
----
Jim Litke /AP- USAToday:
'Most hated man in hockey' takes it up a notch --
Bad taste isn't a capital offense, but Bettman decided within hours it was one worthy of an indefinite suspension, citing Article 6 of the NHL constitution, which covers conduct "detrimental to the league or game of hockey."
----
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
NHL Sloppy Handling of Avery --
As of tonight, Sean Avery will have been suspended for as many games (two) for yesterday's on-camera vulgar reference in Calgary to the Dion Phaneuf-Elisha Cuthbert relationship as Randy Jones was last season for his late October hit from behind that concussed Patrice Bergeron and forced the Boston center to miss the remainder of the season.

It's good to see that the NHL has kept everything in perspective here, isn't it? ...
----
Evanka Osmak / SportsNet Canada:
Sloppy suspensions --
Sean Avery has said, and done, a lot of idiotic, immature things over the years with Tuesday's comments in Calgary being no exception, but getting suspended for referring to his ex-girlfriends as sloppy seconds, are you kidding me? Since when did the NHL discipline players for gossiping?
----
Jim Kelley / SportsNet Canada:
Gone in 32 seconds --
Sean Avery has set back the image of the NHL and even relations between pro athletes and women to a point that it will take years to undo the damage...
----
Damien Cox / ESPN:
What message should we take from NHL's suspension of words? --
The NHL has tried before to silence inappropriate chatter, particularly use of racial slurs on the ice. But anybody who knows the game and knows players understands that Avery's choice of words was relatively benign compared with much of what gets said between NHL players.

So it wasn't what was said. It was how it was said, and the setting it was said in.

This gets more complicated by the minute.
----
Scott Burnside / ESPN:
Isolated incident? No, Avery's career has been defined by indiscretions --
In one swift moment, Sean Avery has moved seamlessly from mildly entertaining village idiot to something darker and more pathetic.

After waiting for reporters to gather around him in Calgary following his team's morning skate Tuesday, after ensuring Canada's national sports network cameras were rolling, the Dallas Stars forward launched into a rehearsed, crude statement referencing former girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, and her current beau, Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf...
----
Tracey Myers / Dallas Star Telegram - Five for Fighting blog:
More than words --
This situation with Avery had become like a volcano. The pressure had been building... just needed someething to trigger the eruption. Enter dumb quote here.

So what next? Ship him to the minors? Buy him out? The Stars have certainly done that before. It's going to cost the Stars no matter which way they go. I'm thinking they really don't care...
----
Andrew's Dallas Stars
The Red Wings chime in on Avery -- The Detroit Red Wings visited kids at a hospital Wednesday. They talked about Sean Avery too. Details from the Detroit News.
Many Red Wings players had heard, or heard about, the lewd comments former teammate Sean Avery made Tuesday.

The Wings supported commissioner Gary Bettman ‘s decision to indefinitely suspend Avery, now with the Dallas Stars.

“There’s no room for that in hockey,” said Chris Osgood about Avery’s comments about current players dating Avery’s former girlfriends. “Guys say stuff on the ice, but guys who are veteran guys and have respect for the game, it belongs nowhere in sports. It has nothing to do with the game. More or less, it’s an attention getter.”

It’s unfortunate, said Osgood, if kids, especially boys, heard Avery’s comments...
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Mike Heika / Dallas Morning News:
Avery is not the Dallas Stars' only problem --
If the Dallas Stars find a way to get rid of Sean Avery – and it appears that’s their plan – it will not solve all of the problems of this season.

Dave Tippett said as much Wednesday when asked what has gone wrong with his team.
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Jacquielynn Floyd / Dallas Morning News:
If you are appalled by Sean Avery's comment, you're not alone --
Before you write off my grossed-out revulsion for Sean Avery as girly squeamishness, consider that I’ve got a lot of company.

Mr. Avery’s own colleagues are clearly appalled at his purposefully ugly, deliberately public remarks.

“It’s unacceptable,” said star forward Mike Modano.

“It’s a slap in the face,” said netminder Marty Turco.

“I personally hope this costs him,” said on-air announcer Ralph Strangis.
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Avery's 'press conference'/interview that crossed the line:

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The Sean Avery File will be re-named the nitwit file. Keep the trash talk on the ice Sean.

Links:
ESPN.com:
Avery suspended indefinitely for comments related to ex-girlfriends
Stars LW Avery issues apology for televised comments about ex-girlfriends

NY Times:
Avery Punished for Vulgar Remark

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Prince and The Prucha - Redux

We are going green here at the Ranger Pundit. That means we are into recycling. For example, the title of this post "The Prince and The Prucha" is being recycling from an old January 20, 2006 post by Mike with that same title.

In fact, that January 2006 game was played by the Rangers against the very Pittsburgh Penguin team, who the Rangers dispatched tonight in yet another shootout.

Who said, "history doesn't repeat, it rhymes?" Well, that alliterative daily double of the Prince and the Prucha did it again tonight just like they did it 35 months ago. They saved the Rangers' bacon from getting devoured by a feisty ice chicken.

Thirty-five months ago Petr Prucha was the toast of Broadway as a sensational rookie on his way to scoring 30 goals during the 2005-06 season. Against that 2005-06 edition of the Pens, Prucha scored the game winner. Tonight an energetic Prucha tied the game at two with less than six minutes remaining. Also, back in Jan '06 that other sensational rookie, goal-tender Henrik Lundqvist, just having been dubbed "The Prince" by Mike held the Pens to 1 goal. The Blueshirt won that game by a final score of 2-1. Isn't Richard Petty "The King." Anyway, tonight Lundqvist prevailed yet again in the shootout, or should we just call it the Prince's Puck-Stopping Potentate?

The Prince, of course, as been prancing and potentating here at the Garden ever since. But the Prucha has been in exile. Why? Why has our Prucha seemingly been sent to Siberia with Jagr?

There was also that December 5th, 2005 game against the Wild that the Rangers won 3-1. Prucha scored two goals, including the game winner. Mike had these notes about Prucha, in that post entitled, "Prucha and The Prince" :

Up against the number one penalty kill in the NHL the Rangers scored two power play goals by that man, Petr Prucha...

Prucha's goals both came from in front of the net as he continued to exhibit his toughness around the net. This is the reason why Prucha should be on the first line. He is a perfect compliment to Jaromir Jagr's perimeter game....
Holy smokes. Two power play goals against the best penalty kill team in the NHL? And it was our exiled man from Chrudim who scored those two goals while playing "in front of the net." What a novel scheme. Put one of your most talented players on the ice near the net where he can use his skills and quickness to score power play goals. Brilliant idea! Unless you're a dimwitted man from Cranbrook, backed by a lunkhead from High River.

Regarding Prucha's crucial goal tonight, The Blue Line gets worked into a "Pruckamania" and said: "He scored it in classic Prucha fashion -- cleaning up around the net after a rebound."

The Rangers must find a way to put Petr Prucha on the ice and has anyone considered playing him on the power play? If he does get some serious ice time we might just end up with a series of "The Prince and The Prucha" games. We might even have to start numbering them.

There were of course other notables in the game. The Dispatcher, Gomez, with his 400th assist, Redden with a couple of assists, and Zherdev's goal and yet another shootout score. But it was really Prucha's night. A triumphant return to his people. The rafters shook with chants of "Pruuuuuch!"

Please, let's go back to the future and get some more classic Prucha, some more Pruckamania. Also, "More Cowbell" while you're at it, the Prucha is back from exile. At least for awhile.

ICINGS:

HockeyFights.com:
Eric Godard vs Colton Orr -- who won?

Colton Orr -- 71.2%
Draw -- 21.2%
Eric Godard -- 7.6%


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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Time For Some Changes

No, its not the big change we need. Coach clueless is safe, because the Stealth GM is safe. You see they are an entry, just like a horse race. The Stealth GM is 13A and coach clueless is 13B. Right now if I have to give odds I would say they are 500-1 to be successful. So its the lineup that needs changes and needs them fast. Barring a blockbuster trade or finally signing Sundin this mediocre offensively challenged outfit needs a change. Of course change is the operative word these days. It was the big word in the past election. Now we see who is in charge and we see there is no change.The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The first step is to put together a number one line that is a blockbuster unit. Scotty Gomez is the best center and the team's most effective passer. He should be centering the two best offensive forwards. Right now that is Zherdev and Naslund. This should be a free wheeling trio with strong firepower. Chris Drury should be centering Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes. Yes, the same Dawes who is spending too much time on the bench because of some supposed defense deficiency. According to clueless, everyone on this team has a defensive deficiency.

Brandon Dubinsky should be the third line center with Lauri Korpikoski and Petr Prucha on the wings. Yes, Prucha should be freed from exile. This ten game suspension is ridiculous. Also he should be given more than a three or four game test. Here was a hot shot rookie scorer who has been turned into a bench warmer. The fourth line should be put together from the rest of the pack. Betts, Sjostrom, Voros, Orr and Fritsche. It doesn't matter. Except for some slight advantages like Orr's fighting skill or Voros creating problems in front of the net, the five are basically indistinguishable.

The power play should also be revamped. Only three defensemen should get any power play time. Girardi, Mara and Staal. Zherdev and Drury should be used at the point. There is no weakness there for giveaways at the point. Remember we have given up seven shorthanded goals and a defenseman has been at the point all seven times. Thought should be given to bringing up Brian Fahey and/or Corey Potter. And BTW what is the status of Bobby Sanguinetti? Is this going to be another Jim Schoenfeld not ready for primetime project? These are my thoughts. I know the Stealth's and coach clueless's thoughts. What are yours?

Will this happen? Of course not. Should it happen? Of course it should. Something has to happen and soon, otherwise it would be a continuing .500 season, a sixth or seventh place seed and a first round elimination. Now that might get the Absentee Owners attention. One round. Less revenue.