Thursday, December 31, 2009

Are We For Real?

Have the Rangers quit on Tortorella? After falling behind 3-0, the coach called a timeout and screamed at his players, to no avail. They were just as bad after the scream out as they were before. Maybe, they quit on us, the fans. They sure as hell didn't sh0w us any respect, the people who pay the freight. I think the Rangers quit on themselves. How else to explain it after Blair Bett's goal in the opening minute. This one was total destruction. If there was one good play we made I would like to be reminded of it. Even the house guys, Sam and Joe, had a hard time coming up with one.

Where do we go from here? Isn't it time to back up the truck and dismantle this mess? The four game winning streak against the sub par teams is a distant memory. Two of those teams, the Islanders and Flyers, have come back to beat us and Carolina is on deck tonight for payback. We haven't hit rock bottom yet. That dubious distinction awaits us in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

But let's be honest as we have been here before. Until the Stealth gets fired this team will continue to sink, not only this year but years to come. However, we all know that unless there is a change at the top, with the Absentee Owner, we will be stuck with this loser.

I may not be awake to cover tonight's game so I will take this opportunity to wish one and all out there in hockeyland a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All...........

The Rangers gave their fans a holiday treat last night with their fourth straight win, a 4-1 pasting of the Florida Panthers. It broke a five game schneid at MSG and tied the Panthers for the eighth and final playoff spot. While the 'old reliables' Lundqvist and Gaborik shone again there was help from the supporting cast as Prospal scored two goals and Drury notched another in his comeback bid.

The Rangers played one of their better games of the season which is quite encouraging to their fans. In the last four games the Rangers have outscored their opponents 14-5, led by the sterling goal tending of Henrik Lundqvist. The guy seems to be a fortress right now and everyone must have their fingers crossed wondering how long this will go on before he tires and collapses.

The same goes for Gaborik. It is hard to visualize the lineup without Gaborik in it. So this Christmas let's hope Santa brings us an injury free year for Henrik and Gabby.

Speaking of Christmas, I will like to wish all of you out there in hockey land a very Merry Christmas to you and your families and loved ones. God bless everyone of you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Lundqvist Again

The Rangers continue to feast on the dregs of hockey, winning their third straight against the sub parest of the sub par teams. Their 3-1 win over Carolina was nothing to write home about despite the hype provided by Joe (are you kidding) Micheletti. If not for Lundqvist the Rangers go in the tank on this one. Henrik Lundqvist may well be the savior the Rangers are looking for.

There is both good news and bad news here. The good news is that he could lead the Rangers to the promised land. At the least, to the playoffs. The bad news is that he would save the onions of the Stealth GM. Now I have no illusions that the Rangers missing the playoffs would result in the demise of the Stealth. The Stealth and the Absentee Owner are connected at the hip. They are like an entry in a horse race. They are 1 and 1a. But maybe, just maybe, lightning might strike and we get rid of the two of them.

Gaborik continued his stellar play with his league leading 25th goal, plus an assist. Dubinsky also had a goal and assist and Marc Staal who also was outstanding notched an empty netter. The next game should be something of a test as the Rangers play the Florida Panthers, so we shall see if we can beat a contender.

Long live The Prince!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Prince And The Kids

So now we know the strategy for saving the season. Play Lundqvist until he drops. The Prince was brilliant again with 36 saves. In the last eight games his GAA is less than 2.0 and his save percentage is about .95. The Rangers reverted to their 2 goals a game but this time it brought a win. During this period the Rangers are 3-4-1. With the Prince's numbers the Rangers should have been 8-0.

The other element that seems to be in place now, at least for two games, is the young guys are getting more meaningful ice time. Staal got a tad over 30 minutes. Anisimov scored the winning goal. Sanguinetti got over ten minutes, including PP time and he wasn't afraid to shoot the puck. Rozsival is the only blot on the blueline. Of the other five, Girardi is the senior man in point of service.

So now the Rangers head to Carolina to play a sub, sub, sub par team and it will be interesting to see how they react with a chance to win their third straight, the longest since the early seven game winning streak. How long can Lundqvist carry this team, because without a doubt Henrik Lundqvist, The Prince, is the true leader of this hockey team.

Prince Lundqvist saves RangersLong live The Prince!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Prince Does Save The Peasants

So the coach screamed, one player cried, the other players had a meeting and guess what happened? Nothing. They came out as duds again and were outworked and outshot, 14-4, in the first period, 37-22 in the game. A PP goal by Callahan and a miracle goal by Chris Drury, which is still under review to determine the authenticity of the player, gave them a 2-0 lead after the first period. Lundqvist was outstanding in the first period and throughout the game and the losers knew it. The Isles coach, Scott Gordon confirmed it with, "The guy in the pads at the other end was pretty good."

He was good enough to win the home and home series but was betrayed by his team mates one of whom cried to the press that he was being singled out. Singled out! He should spend the rest of the season watching the replays of him and his buddy Rozy getting toasted by opposing forwards. They would make wonderful croutons for salads and soups.

So the Rangers beat the Islanders and scored five goals. So what? So what does it prove? It proves that on any given night one sub par team can out mistake another even more sub par team. The problems are still there. Henrik Lundqvist can mask the problems only so long. He can not carry this team the entire year without some big changes. I'll say it one more time. Unless there is a blockbuster trade and shakeup this Ranger team as it is constituted will not make the playoffs.

Long live The Prince.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Stink

I don't know any other way to describe it. There is a supposed shakeup tonight with Kotalik and Redden out and Christensen and Sanguinetti in. But what about the other stiffs like Rozsival and Drury? Last night I fell asleep during the second period. When I awoke I had some problems with MSG so I switched to the Islander channel and Howie Rose. I heard things like, "It sounds like Let's Go Rangers, but it really is Fire Sather". Also, a closeup of Drury produced the comment that he is invisible tonight. Tonight? He's been invisible all year. The final nail was at the end when the Rangers finally scored and the color guy wondered where was all this energy throughout the game? You think Sam and Joe would say these things. However, in all fairness, Joe did rip the poor defensive play on the Islanders first goal.

So tonight is the encore performance from last nights debacle. Drury promised things would be different. He didn't give a Mark Messier we will win statement, but things will be different. How? Tortorella was supposedly upset with the teams performance. Why? This is basically the team the Stealth put together with the approval of the coach, Tortorella.

So two sub par teams meet again and right now while the Islanders may be sub par, the Rangers are sub, sub par. Let the farce begin.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

48 Shots=2 Goals=1 point

The Rangers put on quite a show last night. They drummed up the energy to put 48 shots on goal. Unfortunately they only scored twice and that wasn't enough to win the game which was lost in the shootout, where they were outscored 2-0. So the slide continues as the Rangers head into a home and home against the beloved Islanders. This should be one hellava brawl as both teams are at the 31 point mark and reeling. If this was a football game we could dub this The Toilet Bowl.

Speaking of 31 points, there are five teams in the Eastern Conference that have accumulated 31 points and that are fighting for positions 10 through 14. And you say there is no excitement left in hockey. Like Sam said last night, a point is big this time of the year. A win would have given the Rangers sole possession of 10th place.

So the Rangers move on or is it down. Too bad PA Parenteau was sent back to Hartford. At least he could score in shootouts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bah Humbug!

I know it's early, but that is exactly what my granddaughter Allessandra shouted to me over the phone after she inquired as to how the Rangers did last night. The Rangers right now are the Grinches. They will ruin every holiday that comes around this year. The Rangers are an equal opportunity holiday ruiner, regardless of creed, race or nationality. Their ineptness knows no bounds and their effort is pathetic and has no spirit.

One of my readers wanted to know how I have put up with this for 70+ years. I'm a masochist. It wasn't too bad when the seasons started in October and ended in April. Now they go from September to June. Before their were a few teams who made the playoffs and you knew fairly early when the Rangers would be eliminated. Now there are so many teams and quite a few are as bad as the Rangers so its difficult to know when they will be eliminated. So we keep backing in and we hear Sam and Joe shout, "The Rangers make the playoffs," like it was the Yankees adding another Championship.

Last night? Another loss. Gaborik tried. A goal and an assist. Lundqvist tried but was beaten again by another breakaway. Two goals we scored and Tortorella says we are stuck on two goals. Tortorella has now become the shake and bake coach. No line hits the ice two shifts in a row without a change in personnel. We put guys on the point on the PP who can't shoot, Drury, guys who can't hold the puck in, Rozsival, and guys who should be in Hartford, Redden.

But what's the use. This has been going on for seventy plus years and I don't think there are enough great ghosts of the past to save this sinking ship. How bad is it. One of the fans last night was overheard talking to his buddy, "Tortorella is safe. His name is too long to get up a good 'fire Tortorella' chant. In Italian we have a phrase, "The fish stinks from the head". You figure it out where the problem is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Prince Can't Save The Peasants

It was another super human effort but unfortunately Lundqvist couldn't pull it off as the hapless, punchless Rangers fell to the Black Hawks in OT, 2-1. The Prince had it going until about 5 minutes to play when Dan Giradi took a stupid stick between the legs penalty which led to a Hawk PP, which naturally led to the tying goal. The goal was scored in a scrum in front of Lundqvist while the Rangers were trying to stick the puck out instead of using their bodies on the Hawks. Some stuff never changes.

The winning goal came after Prospal flubbed a gimee in front of the Hawks net which led to a Hawk breakaway and the winning goal for the Hawks. The Rangers were outshot 38-16 and got all of one shot on goal in the third period. One shot in twenty minutes. Most of the third period was played in the Ranger defensive zone. The Rangers were outshot, outhustled and eventually outscored. The Rangers had a shot when Gaborik was scoring but now the opposing D Men have found a way to shut him down, all seems to be lost.

Meanwhile the empty suits in the Penthouse continue to fiddle while the Rangers burn. Is there an end in sight?

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Split Weekend

If ever you needed proof that the fortunes of the Rangers are directly tied into the performance of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, this weekend provided all the evidence you needed. In Buffalo, on Saturday night, The Prince was outstanding with 36 saves as he led the Rangers to a 2-1 win over the hot Sabres, ending their four game winning streak. Last night it was another story as the Prince faltered by giving up a soft goal late as the punchless Rangers fell 3-1 to the injury ravaged Red Wings.

The Rangers continue to be futile on offense. Even Gaborik shows some signs of futility, getting only an assist in Buffalo and no shots on goal against Detroit. Of course, he had to contend with the Red Wing defensive duo of Niklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski who checked him constantly. Too bad Gaborik can't go up against the Ranger defensemen. Oh wait. He did. Last year. He scored five goals against us.

So this is what we have to look forward the rest of the year. There is no help coming. Christensen is not the answer. Maybe, Dubinsky can come back and along with Gaborik spark the offense. Maybe, but I doubt it. However, that is all that is left for this punchless squad. Lots of hope but little faith. Meanwhile someone should teach Anisimov to skate with his head up.

Today is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. God bless all our veterans through the years who have fought and died in the many wars to defend the constitution of the greatest country in the world, the USA. God bless America!

Friday, December 04, 2009

So This Is A Shakeup?

Whom are they kidding? This is a shakeup? This is samo samo. Erik Christensen is with his fourth team since being drafted by the Penguins in 2002. In nine games this year he has zero goals and is soft. Forget about working the boards, he is another perimeter player so he fits right in.

Ilka Heikkinen is another European defenseman. Good on offense, soft (there is that word again) on defense. So he fits in. Valiquette has been cleared on the way down, will he be cleared on the way up. Interesting.

Chad Johson, the new goalie from Hartford, probably won't see any action except maybe in a mopup. The book says he gives up too many rebounds. Interesting.

So, this is a shakeup?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Lonely Lone Ranger

Kato, Green Hornet, Batman, Robin
The Lone Ranger has Tonto. Batman has Robin. The Green Hornet has Kato. Poor Marian Gaborik, he is all alone. No Tonto, no Robin, no Kato and now no Henrik Lundqvist. In another display of poor hockey the Rangers fell again to Pittsburgh and once more were victimized by a hat trick from Mike Rupp. Mike Rupp? Crosby? Yes. Malkin? Yes. But Mike Rupp? However, Rupp had help. Michal Rozsival turned what should have been a nothing play into the game winning goal as he kept backing up toward Lundqvist. Of course, Lundqvist didn't help by fanning on it. It was one of three soft goals that Lundqvist gave up. But Rozsival will continue to get his 20 plus minutes of ice time. Tortorella couldn't wait to send Sanguinetti back to the minors.

But this is what the Rangers are coming to. A mistake prone team that can't play 60 minutes of hockey. I'm tired of hearing how we stayed close to them and caught a bad break. Bad teams get bad breaks. Good teams get the bounces and the breaks. We are a one man team right now and it is impossible for Gaborik to score enough goals to make the Rangers a winning team. The Rangers have no goal scorers, save Gaborik, no defense, no grit, the goalie is starting to go south and they lack leadership, especially in the coaching area. Add the mismanagement of the team by the Stealth and you have the perscription for a disaster that is currently taking place. A shakeup is looming.

The good news. Baseball practice starts in February.

ICINGS: Sources are telling The Ranger Pundit, that GM Glen Sather, who is apparently feeling some heat from the Dolan's, is looking to make some moves to improve the floundering Rangers. Sources tell me the most recent chatter has the popular NY native, Chris Higgins, headed to Anaheim for Todd Marchant and a defenseman.

Last night the Rangers honored Brian Leetch and Wayne Gretsky. When their names were called the Penguins, led by their leader, Sydney Crosby, tapped their sticks on the ice as a sign of respect. The Rangers, collectively, sat on their duffs during the procedures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Lost Weekend

So if you thought the Tampa game was bad and you missed it, the Rangers put on another one of their performances (?) last night that makes you wonder how bad can a team get and makes you wonder even more if this is in fact a hockey team. I go back to my statement a few posts ago. "Right now, short of a blockbuster trade, this team will miss the playoffs." I may have to amend that to state that it will probably finish last in the East. That should put the 1945 Rangers in a better light.

This was another game where the head of a Ranger was a target for an errant elbow. This one was by Matt Cooke on Artem Anisimov who lost his helmet in the process. Do you believe that Cooke got a two minute interference penalty? Of course you do. Imagine if Avery had committed that penalty. It would have been five minutes, a game misconduct and a meeting with Bettman on Monday morning. Avery did get 17 minutes for going after Fedotenko as the frustration was building for one of the few Rangers playing the game. Speaking of playing, my fellow blogger and friend Scotty Hockey is conducting a poll on the return of Chris Drury and the effect it would have on the team. I don't know the results of the poll but I have a question. Who is Chris Drury?

Not only was the game strange but some of the decisions of the non-participants was also strange. Enver Lisin, dressed, and not getting a minute of ice time. Pitt coach Dan Bylsma putting Malkin and Crosby on the ice with about a minute to go in the game. An official stopping a fight between Brashear and Cooke before it got started. Hey, no fights. This is hockey. Or was it hockey? It was for one team. I hope the other team shows up and plays before its fans tomorrow night. Maybe if the fans are wise, they won't show up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rangers Gut One Out

There were no flurries of goals this time. In fact Gaborik's early goal was standing up until Moore tied it up late in the third period off of a Sean Avery mishandling of a puck from an ill advised pass. It was up to the shootout specialist, P.A. Parenteau, to end it by beating Tomas Vokoun, after Lundqvist stopped Horton, Reinprecht and Weiss. It was the second game winner for Parenteau in a shootout.

Wade Redden went down early in the game forcing the Rangers to play with five defensemen until the third period when Matt Gilroy had enough of Victor Oreskovich acting like a bowling ball and using Rangers as pins. Matt dropped the gloves and went at Osreskovich. Unfortunately, Gilroy drew 17 minutes in penalties which resulted in the Rangers playing with only four defensemen. To me this was the highlight of the game for the Rangers. This was too long overdue, a Ranger sticking up for his team mates. It was worth the 17 minutes and in all honesty even if it cost the game it was worth it.

How long Redden will be out is unknown. The Rangers have been putting off a decision on a seventh defensemen for a while. Scouring the league looking for a suitable big guy may be good, but now is the time to bring up Bobby Sanguinetti. If nothing else, it will make the day of my Sicilian friend in Sec 336.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you out in Rangerland.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Are These Imposters?

So what brought about this great renaissance? Number one son credits my previous post which compared them to the 1945 crew. He figures that Tortorella posted the blog on the bulletin board. If so, I must be careful about my spelling. Anyhow, that was quite an offensive barrage the Blueshirts unleashed last night. While Gabby was doing his big things, it was good to see Sean Avery come out of his funk. He is such a key ingredient to the success of this team.

My enthusiasm was tempered by the fact that Columbus has the second highest goals given up in the league. Only Carolina is higher. And in a recent game they gave up ten goals. But the heck with stats. The Rangers had an outstanding offensive game after wiping out a two goal deficit. Sloppy coverage led to the Columbus two goal lead and that still has to be addressed.

For one night the Rangers were dominant, at least offensively. They still have many issues to be resolved and I believe that was Tortorella's take after the game. However, you take progress one step at a time and last night the Rangers made some small progress is solving the goal scoring problem. The breakdowns on defense must still be resolved. One game does not a season make.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going Backwards

Number one son called after the game, he went, and wanted to know if I have seen any thing like this Ranger team before. I said yes, 1945. Those 4F's and NHL rejects at least tried. I don't get the feeling these guys try. They can't play an all out 60 minute game. They have to play it in spurts. The excuse that Dubinsky and Drury are hurt don't cut it with me. Neither one was lighting it up when they were in the lineup and neither one is capable of sparking this team. In fact, as I look at this team, there is no one on it capable of sparking it. Gaborik is a great goal scorer, but team sparker he is not.

The team needs a complete make over. Overall, the team is too soft, on the offense and especially on the defense. Besides softness, there is no punch, and I do mean scoring punch. That other punch is lacking also. You can't win with one scorer. We don't even have a line. Torts keeps trying to find the compliment to Gabby and Prospal. The problem is that the other three lines are non entities. They need a big moose center man, one who can move the puck and protect his linemates.

The defense is playing shorthanded. You're shorthanded when you have Redden and Roszival getting too much ice time every night. You are playing shorthanded when they even skate up. The best defenseman on the team is a 19 year old kid. There is not a banger on the D line. There is no one to protect Lundqvist, to clear the crease or keep the opposing forwards honest and on their toes. We seem to come up with a lot of good young defensemen but none of them tough, rough and ready to do body damage. Is this the scouting system not doing the job or just looking at the wrong things in a defenseman? We seem to be obsessed with D men who can move the puck over the hit men. So we sign a Marek Malik while we pass over a Brendan Witt.

Right now, short of a blockbuster trade, this team will miss the playoffs. The young players we seem to be enamored with will not take us to the promised land unless we trade some of them off to get the desired two or three players we desparetly need. 1945 is beckoning!

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ICINGS:
1944-1945 Rangers Team Photo

Final standings 1944-1945 Season:

National Hockey League GP W L T Pts
Montreal Canadiens 50 38 8 4 80
Detroit Red Wings 50 31 14 5 67
Toronto Maple Leafs 50 24 22 4 52
Boston Bruins 50 16 30 4 36
Chicago Black Hawks 50 13 30 7 33
New York Rangers 50 11 29 10 32
Top 4 Teams qualified for the playoffs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not Enough Gabbies

Sometimes it takes a while to discover what's wrong with a team. Not with the Rangers. What is evident right now is that the Stealth did a poor job during the off season. It seems that the Stealth did not sign enough Gaboriks. We need more Gabbies. Oh, we have gabbies galore but they are just that. Gabbers. "Suck it up." "Look into the mirror." "We need to play a full 60 minutes." "It's one shift at a time." What we need are guys who score goals. When Gabolik was asked what is wrong with the team, the answer was a blunt, "we don't shoot enough." Hmmm, where have we heard that before.

Of course shooting takes on another kind of dimension. You think it would help any if guys like Voros, Boyle, Higgins, Redden, Lisin, Brashear, Staal, etc. would shoot more? Now maybe if the opposing goalie wasn't in the nets it might help. But even then it's not a gimmee. We have one goal scorer and one big point man and that is Gaborik. Yeah, I know Prospal is among the leagues top ten scorers. How many points do you think he would have if Gaborik wasn't on the team? Somehow, no matter where he shoots from and regardless of the angle, Gaborik scores. Angles mean nothing to him. Open nets mean nothing to the other Rangers.

But all is not totally lost. Having been relegated to watching all the games on TV rather than going to the Garden I enjoy the Gaborik show. I watch intently when he is on the ice and when he is not I do things like pottie, snacks, pills and exercises. However, things are get'n more difficult. Torts has decided that Gaborik needs more ice time pushing the 30 minute mark. I may have to give up pottie. Well you can't have everything. Shoot the puck Barry, shoot the puck.

One Great Love

So you think you're a Wayne Gretzky fan? Well, Kevin Smith has dibs.
ICINGS:
Fun fact for the day: Will Smith, Wayne Gretzky and Joe Montana all have sons, who play on the same California H.S. football team!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Rookie And The Prince

The Rangers revived an old formula last night to win a hockey game. Have Henrik the Great stonewall them and have someone, anyone score the game winner. In this case it was anyone on the seventh try in the shootout. Anyone turned out to be P.A. Parenteau, the rookie up from Hartford, who already had registered a legitimate goal in his first game against the Islanders. In case you are interested in names, P.A. stands for Pierre-Alexandre, hence the initials. The strategy was simple. The coach asks P.A., "Are you any good at this?" "Hey Lou. Can you play first base?" Both P.A. and Lou responded affirmatively. It remains to be seen what kind of longivity P.A. has, especially with the Rangers.

So the Rangers stopped a losing streak and temporarily moved up a tad in the standings. But with minor exceptions the basic problems are still there. The positives were Prospel's shorthanded goal, a pickup in Avery's game and solid work from Lundqvist who made 35 saves and stopped five of seven in the shootout. But that looks like the way things are going to go this year. Big game from The Prince and some unlikely hero stepping up. "Hey Rozsy, can you throw a check, I mean, use your body?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Hi. This is Adam Graves."

That is the way the conversation started. I picked up the phone and lo and behold it was Adam Graves calling to find out how I was doing and would I be visiting the Garden soon. He had found out that I was ill and on behalf of the entire Ranger crew he was wishing me well. I forgot to ask if that included The Stealth, but Adam is too nice a guy for me to hit him with that. We talked Rangers for about 10 to 15 minutes and while we were kind of optimistic we both agreed the Rangers needed to get tougher, especially on the defense. We parted making a tentative date for dinner at the Garden Club. Having met Adam at the Ranger facility upstate at my Grandson's camp, the phone call solidified my opinion of Adam Graves as one of the nicest guys in sports. The phone call was followed up two days later by a basket of cookies designed as a floral piece. The cookies were in the shapes of pucks, players, nets, etc.

The Rangers? They continue to flounder after getting off to a fast start. It's obvious that one player cannot carry a hockey team. Gaborik is a wonderful hockey player, but the only thing he ensures right now is that the Rangers don't get shut out. And while they need another scorer, there are too many playing poorly and Sean Avery is completely out of whack. He has no spark, no bite, no chip on the shoulder attitude. Tortorella has succeeded in neutering Sean Avery. The defense? Good news is that it's a young defense, except for the R & R duo. The bad news. They are, as a unit, soft, and they give up the puck too easily, especially in the neutral zone. They should get younger by bringing up Sanguinetti and find a way to jettison Rozsival. Enough is enough.

Finally, their rock, Henrik Lundqvist, has shown signs of cracking. He seems to be tired, suffering some minor injuries, and has let in too many soft goals. However, if he is tired now what is going to happen when he goes to the Olympics and returns for the home stretch? Tortorella looks safe regardless of the Rangers finish, which right now looks like no playoffs. Right now the Rangers are the worst team in the East division and the attendance, or lack of it, shows. You have the spectacle of Sam Rosen hawking tickets for future games and the Garden claiming capacity crowds. My sources tell me about the thousands of empty seats at the Garden. Another long season as my summer of discontent turns into a winter full of disappointments and disasters.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rangers No Show for Wild

Rangers Woes Exposed by Wild. Eric Belanger scores 2nd goal for Wild
This team is going down a slippery slope. Torts led Fire Wagon Hockey is falling apart. The Rangers lost 3-2 to the Wild in a weak effort in Minnesota. Rangerland does not like what it's seeing.

Scotty Hockey:

That the game was telecast on the Armed Services Networks is even worse. The Rangers were not just embarrassed in Minnesota, but worldwide...

Not only is he [Brashear] inept with a hockey stick, he is a big, dumb coward who doesn't help his team in most any way. The Rangers lacked energy, the Wild dressed not one but two over-sized tough guys and yet Brash didn't dance with either...
The Dark Ranger:
Capt. Drury, Ryan Callahan, Sean Avery, Chris Higgins -- at their current point pace, they each will get to maybe 30 points. Scream about defensive inadequacies, scream about the goalies' propensity to give up some questionable goals, but look at these guys and realize that they are killing the team. Drury, Higgins & Avery -- apparently they were neutered during the offseason. All those fans who were crying about Dubinsky not being signed -- are you happy that your prayers were answered -- the guy has 9 points but he is invisible and looks like he learned his puck handling skills by watching the wrong tapes of Gomez's ventures as a Ranger? Callahan has lost a step or two since his flu. Meanwhile, Michael Del Zotto has 12 points. I need not say anymore...
Dubi Silverstein / Bleacher Report:
Among the minus players: Donald Brashear. There was a genius move by Sather, picking this guy up. Not only has he rarely fought, he has rarely even thrown a body check—even Enver Lisin hits more often than he does.

But he can handle the puck, we were told—as witnessed by his gorgeous turnover that led to the Wild's first goal late in the first after Lundqvist nearly brought the Rangers out of the period with a scoreless tie.

Drury was minus one for the fifth straight game, again caught a step behind the goal scorer, coasting, his signature move since he came to New York...
Rangers Review:
What angers me more than anything here is that it is the rookies, Dane Byers, PA Parenteau, and the other young players who are playing relatively well. Meanwhile guys like Donald Brashear, and Chris Drury, older veteran guys who have very specific roles, are playing like absolute crap...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rangers Flounder on Island

What the Halibut!

The Blueshirts reeled in a stinker last night at Uniondale, losing 3-1 to the Islanders. Everyone of our veteran stalwart heroes was skunked. Has this team become so finely tuned around Marian Gaborik that his absence throws everyone's game into the chum bucket?

This team needs to get some grit, ASAP.



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Banged Up

FYI, Some Twitter updates on our keys to the kingdom.

Jim Cerny:

at Rangers practice: no Gaborik or Lundqvist on the ice, will tweet more info later...Voros takes Gabby's place on top line today

Torts says Gaborik got hurt in a collision last night, injury not related to previous groin/hip issues...not a serious injury

Gaborik will be evaluated tomorrow and will be game-time decision

To clarify, Gaborik's collision was on-ice last night, Lundqvist's was a one-car fender bender this AM...Henrik is fine, BTW
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Steve Zipay:
Lundqvist, Gaborik not practicing

Gaborik, having treatment, was absent; Lundqvist was in fender-bender this AM, uninjured
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Andrew Gross:
No Marian Gaborik or Henrik Lundqvist on the ice today for the NY Rangers

Henrik Lundqvist in a one-car fender bender, slid on rainy road, hit guard rail. He is said to be fine.

Tortorella evasive about Gaborik's availability for NYRangers game tomorrow night but said injury is not major and unrelated to hip/groin.

(h/t The NYR blog)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When that Shark Bites

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it … ah … out of sight.

Ya know when that shark bites, with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there’s nevah, nevah a trace of red.

Now on the sidewalk … uuh, huh … whoo … sunny mornin’ … uuh, huh
Lies a body just oozin' life … eeek!
And someone’s sneakin' ‘round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife? ...



Sharks 7, Rangers 3
----
ICINGS:

Natural Hat Trick:
I loved that Jed Ortmeyer scored tonight. Ignoring my attachment to the Coyotes and all things Prucha for the moment, Jed was a Ranger first and Jed was the ONLY thing to cheer about for a while - namely during the 03-04 season. His attitude and spunk was so vital to the fans during that time and he was a big favorite of mine. They loved and appreciated it and all he brought to the game, every single night. Ignoring the Rangers, and save Prucha doing well in Phoenix, nothing makes me happier than the fact that Jed is playing NHL hockey again.
----
Scotty Hockey:
So, Donald Brashear was added to protect his teammates and yet he did nothing to protect Avery. The team was flat and blews a 2-0 lead, where was he to have that big fight to get the pendulum to swing back to his team? Nowhere. As ludicrous as it is to say, it is time to dress Aaron Voros. At least he checks people...
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Kotsy's Korner:
Sloppy play, penalties, and poor goaltending did the Rangers in tonight. The 3rd period was just basically going through the motions for both teams. The game was really over after the 2nd period...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rangers on a Roll

Ranger Nation is as positive as I've ever seen it. The Rangers have been hitting on all cylinders. This is an exciting team when all the parts are working, and even if some of the parts take the night off like last night, the team still wins.

Holy shmoly! How long can this good vibe last and how will the team handle the inevitable losing streak? Injuries of course are the nightmare scenario that will not be discussed, just to keep that negative mojo out of the mix.

The rest of the league, the media, and even the gamblers are taking note of the resurgent Rangers.

Some reactions from around the horn.

Sean Avery is keeping himself out of the box and on the ice, to the Rangers' benefit.

Sarah Kwak / Sports Illustrated:
Sean Avery's on his best behavior --
Three games in, and already it's apparent that there's something different about Sean Avery's head. This goes beyond the new helmet he was hawking after scoring two goals in the Rangers' 7-2 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.

"I want to tell all the kids out there to definitely switch from their Bauer helmets to these Cascade helmets," he said.

"Your check's in the mail," a reporter wittily remarked...

Don't be mistaken. Avery's verbal game is still very much the same. "Some of the things he says [on the ice], you wouldn't believe," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told reporters earlier this week. But for the first time in a long time, Avery seems to be using his head just as much as his mouth...

The most surprising twist to the Rangers' 6-1-0 start isn't necessarily the 4.00 goals they're averaging per game (tied with Atlanta at the top of the league). They saw a marked scoring increase (2.33 to 2.76) after Tortorella took over last February. It isn't really who's leading the charge. Marian Gaborik has averaged .59 goals per game over the last four years, behind only Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. No, the biggest surprise is where the rest of the goals are coming from.
In seven games, Rangers defensemen have scored seven of the team's 28...
----
NY Rangers - - This Week: 1 . . . Last Week: 22
New York Rangers 5-1 A tremendous start for Marian Gaborik, who has nine points and a plus-7 rating in five games but, just as importantly, rookie defencemen Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy aren't looking out of place, which upgrades the blueline corps.
Key Injuries: None.
----
Dubi Silverstein for Blueshirt Bulletin / Bleacher Report:
New York Rangers: Reasons To Be Cheerful --
Reason No. 37—Why the Power Play Is So ImportantIt can help bail you out on a night where little else is clicking and the opposition is clocking you. It especially helps when it clicks early, and often (well, two power play goals counts as often in today's NHL).

That gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead that the Kings kept threatening to erase but could never completely overcome. Vinny Prospal scored his 200th career goal on the first advantage, and he got help from replay in getting credit for the second, the Rangers' second five-on-three goal in three tries (and the one failed attempt was just a few seconds long).

So make it 9-for-25 (36 percent) in the past five games. How refreshing! ...
----
Doc's Sports Service:
NHL Power Rankings --
3) New York Rangers (25/1) - The Rangers are playing well offensively and clicking on defense. Marian Gaborik is earning his massive contract so far, and likely will until he inevitably gets hurt. The team has always had the talent, but so far this year they are playing with what they have lacked - cohesiveness and determination.
----
ICINGS:

A training video for the young'uns on firing the deceptive wrist BB.

NHL TV:
Gaborik's goal last night

One of the King's popular fans shows his love on BlueshirtsUnited:

King Henrik will save it his way

Friday, October 09, 2009

Resilient Rangers Survive 3rd Period Lapses

Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers handles the puck against the Washington Capitals

Marian Gaborik scores two third period goals to lift Rangers over Caps, 4-3

Rolling four lines in the fourth period sounds like a good idea in theory, but the Rangers fourth line executed that theory (and almost the game) on the altar of stupid penalties (Voros & Brashear). So Gabby's two goals were like a solar eclipse that silenced the natives as they were screaming for the mighty Ovie to plunge his dagger into the chest of the prostrate visitors, for an Apocalypto sacrifice. But there was no ripping out the still beating Ranger heart, no severing of the head, and pitching it down the temple steps to be caught in a DC bureaucratic bailout basket. Instead the Broadway visitors jumped up, slapped the mighty high-scoring priests of D.C., and ran off into the jungle, to return home with two freshly picked points. Tasty fruit indeed, because it was snatched off the table of the mighty Ovie.

The Prince's stick sword, was another theory that almost executed the good guys. Redirecting to the corner, good idea, until the Prince's mis-guided stick almost skewered the team in the loin. Lundqvist should just keep using his head/helmet to redirect all shots. All the better to help him keep his eye focused on the puck. Good to hear Lundqvist acknowledge that he owes Gaborik a "nice" dinner for those two third period goals. Goats don't usually get off the altar for free.

Callahan, as usual, was a warrior. What was that talk that he might not play?

Best stat of the night: Total ice time: Del Zotto (14:05), Rozsival (8:22). This is the message we've been waiting to get sent. Torts to Michael "Big Contract" Rozsival: keep your weak stuff on the bench. I'm going to let the kid play.

The Resilient Rangers round-up:

Rangers Rants:
Rangers 4, Capitals 3: Postgame wrapup --
Lundqvist had absolutely no explanation for the 90-foot softie he allowed to Nicklas Backstrom.

Coach John Tortorella was thrilled that was not the story of the game.

“Hank’s been bailing us out of some messes along the way here for a while,” Tortorella said. “I’m glad the team hung in there and helped him out, it was good to see...
----
Stan Fischler / MSG:
'R' as in Rangers Resiliency --
Deflating Alex Ovechkin, Inc. is encouraging enough but it's the combination of goal-scoring when it counts, goaltending to preserve a lead and a machine that is moving into a higher gear as the anticipated Sean Avery return looms on Sunday afternoon at the Garden with the Anaheim Ducks waddling into Manhattan...
----
Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Gaborik's two goals give Rangers 4-3 win over Capitals --
This was the type of game the Rangers would have lost last season, and maybe the one before that. Give up a fluke goal to erase a one-goal lead. Allow a power-play goal to give the opponent the lead.

Two points flushed away.

Introducing Marian Gaborik: Difference-maker...
----
Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
Midnight Wrapup: Rozsival, Gaborik, Lundqvist, stats --
Drury: "We're growing some guts and battling through things on the road. Tehre was a tricky bounce and it's tied up....We just stuck with it and battled back. All we talked about during the day was stay out of the box. We certainly didn't do that, but our penalty kill hung in there (8 for 9). We really gutted it out."
----
Chris Kotsopoulos / Kotsy's Corner:
This Team is Different! --
That’s the difference that I see so far with this Rangers squad. They do not sit back and lay down like dogs. They kept the pressure on the Caps and just continued to play their game. As a result, they were victorious in the hostile Washington arena. I saw a team tonight that cared for each other out there. They bailed out their star goalie by making sure the Voros penalty’s PP goal would not be the lasting impression of the night. That’s what the word “team” means and this win proves that. This Rangers squad is different in more ways than one. You have to like what you see so far! Over and out!
----
Notes: The Ranger Pundit, Mike Savino, goes into surgery today for a triple by-pass. Get well soon Mike, your Blueshirts are looking pretty good.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Things in My Crease — 10/8/09

Sean Avery gets more notice for not playing, than most players get for playing.


NY Post:
Rangers await Avery's return --
Come Sunday, John Tortorella will find himself in an envious situation.That's when he'll have to find someone on his roster to sit in favor of Sean Avery, who has set the home matinee against the Ducks as his anticipated return from a preseason knee sprain.But tonight in Washington, the Rangers will have to go without him -- which, three games into the season, has gone just fine.
----
Is Nikolai Zherdev, now of the KHL (Atlant Moscow Oblast), still owned by a bunch of NHL fantasy teams? Pay attention!
----
Even superstars get knocked on their keister.

Sid Crosby gets knocked down
----
NY Times:
N.H.L. Scores: Bankrupt Coyotes Shock the Champions --
Only two games on Wednesday, led by a clash of the high and the low — the glamorous Cup champion Penguins vs. the bankrupt, unfancied Coyotes. And what a surprising result it was. Home teams listed first:

Pittsburgh 0-3 Phoenix. A 24-save shutout for Ilya Bryzgalov as the lowly Desert Dogs rise to a perfect 3-0 start. “There’s no real excuse for it, we weren’t good at all, but we’ve got to move on,” says a shocked Sidney Crosby. Summary
----
Hockey Fights:
Rick Rypien Needs No Slingshot --
Rick Rypien had to reach up - way up - when he took on Hal Gill last night. With an eight-inch difference in height it’d probably be expected for Rypien to just want to survive, but he was on the offensive for a good portion of the fight. Rypien handled himself more than well, landing a few good shots with a little bit of bounce and magic...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Things in My Crease — 10/2/09

It's Hockey Time!!! NHL season number 92.

Steve Zipay:
Rangers will be on their bench for Pens' ceremony --

To ensure that their players stay focused, some coaches keep them in the locker room during lengthy pregame ceremonies in road arenas.

Friday, Rangers coach John Tortorella and his players won't duck the Stanley Cup banner-raising in the Igloo before the season opener. They will watch the half-hour ceremony from the visiting bench...
Just wondering: would MSG sell the road team's bench seats (if vacant) for a 30 minute ceremony?
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Yes, a new blog that follows the hockey fight game.

HockeyPunch.com:
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More evidence that our MSG stat keepers are blind.

Behind The Net:
What's the matter with Madison Square Garden? --
when we look at the data recorded in each NHL rink, we do find "rink effects" - the bias of those watching the game and recording the stats for us. For several seasons, Madison Square Garden has had the shortest shot distance in the NHL (see Alan Ryder's "Product Recall for Shot Quality" for more details.) This is not by chance; there are systematic errors in recording shot location (both for and against) at MSG.
----
Hockeyism:
Avs Getting a New Mascot --
It’s anyone’s guess as to what we’ll see..
Is this a sneak peek of the new Avs mascot? Some kind of furry dog (St. Bernard)?
----
So the Gomez-Gionta-Cammalleri line is called the "Smurf Line"? And they're already clicking?

CBC.ca:
Canadiens prevail over Maple Leafs in OT
----
Chris Sprow / ESPN:
In the NHL, We're All Winners --
Forget the Ivy League, the NHL is the real king of grade inflation. And it's genius! Really...
----
And no Avery.

Andrew Gross / NorthJersey.com:
Rangers gaga for Gaborik --
Tortorella said there was "no possibility" Sean Avery (sprained right knee) would play tonight. …

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's Time For Hockey

There we were sitting in front of the TV set watching the 700th rerun of Bonanza, my wife, number two daughter visiting from Tennessee and myself when the phone rang. It was number one son asking how I felt and then telling me it was time to get off my butt and return to the hockey wars. Number two daughter chimed in, there are no private phone calls in my house, and it turned into an avalanche when wifie joined the party. So here I am. For better or worse, I am back.

Back to what I may ask? After watching a couple of games there was some excitement with the young guys, but most of them are back in Hartford. Two of the young D men, Del Zotto and Gilroy, look very good. The two veteran D men, Redden and Rozsival, look very bad. The loss to the Capitals in the last game saw two giveaways by Rozsival that led to the Caps first two goals. Nothing new here. I didn't see much of the game as I had to retire for an early morning in the dialysis center, where I go three times a week. Let me say this, hockey fans. Going to the dialysis center three times a week is no worse than having to watch the Rangers for the last 70 plus years. Trust me on that.

We have a new coach, John Tortorella, who I was excited about last year. I'm less excited about him since the Avery affair and the spat with the fans in the stands. Torts is talking good right now and saying all the right words. Words like, performance is going to dictate playing time, not big contracts. Who wants to make a small bet that Redden and Rozsival will lead the D men with ice time game after game with no regard to their poor play? There are talkers and doers and we shall see what Tortorella is.

But it is a long season and let's not over analyze this early. Pray for Henrik Lundquist as he is truly the last line of defense. Unless something unusual occurs it looks like another nail biter down to the end in the battle for 7th and 8th place. I just hope that my summer of discontent don't turn into a winter of disaster.

5 Things: In my Inbox — 9/30/09

Boo, the Blackhawks lost our cup.

NHL.com:
Lions roar against Blackhawks --

ZURICH, Switzerland --The Lions of ZSC Zurich issued a proud roar Tuesday night that was heard throughout the hockey world. In dramatic fashion at Hallenstadion, before a riotous home crowd, the ZSC Zurich Lions handed the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks an unexpected 2-1 defeat in the Victoria Cup ...
Good. Don't get angry get better.

Andrew Gross / NorthJersey.com:
Rangers' Girardi sees flaws --
Dan Girardi is taking coach John Tortorella’s sharp criticism of his preseason performance as a challenge. And a warranted one at that.

"Maybe I wasn’t playing my best," the defenseman said Tuesday as the Rangers began preparing for Friday’s season opener at Pittsburgh. "I’m known as a pretty simple D-man. I can’t be comfortable just doing the minimum." ...
Sports Illustrated:
30 Kids to Watch in the NHL

National Post:
Mats Sundin calls it a career

flames.nhl.tv:
Flames Fan Appreciation Video 2009-2010

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

5 Things: In my Inbox — 9/29/09

Tim Bontemps / NY Post:
Anisimov has staying power --

After registering one shot in the Rangers' opening preseason game and not playing in the second, Artem Anisimov looked like anything but a lock for the Rangers' roster.

But since then, Anisimov has proven he's not only going to be on the team for Friday night's opener in Pittsburgh, but that he should be among the Blueshirts' top three lines...
----
Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
The Best Ranger(s) ever --
Somebody brought up the point last week that Jaromir Jagr may have been the most skilled or most talented player, still in his prime, to ever play for the Rangers.

Interesting thought. Not sure if I completely agree or not, but here’s another set of arguments along the same lines...
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Gabe Desjardins / Behind The Net:
It has been years in the making, but Behind the Net's blog has finally moved to nicer digs. You may have seen my work in the Wall Street Journal, ESPN, Puck Prospectus or this year's Toronto Maple Leafs annual, and I've also been helping James Mirtle with some of his more convoluted statistical queries, like where NHL players come from.

My goal this season is to answer 30 statistical questions in 30 weeks - one question for every NHL team. If there's anything of a statistical nature in hockey that you'd like to know about, please post it in the comments. My focus is on advanced stats since the lockout, though I do sometimes look further back than that (or make future projections.)...
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Stan Fischler / Twitter:
Full credit to Theo Fleury for his attempted comeback. Too bad he limited himself to the Flames. He could help five clubs, Leafs at the top.
----
"Sanctioned" NHL Video:
2009-2010 Dallas Stars Ice Girls on the Lake --

Saturday, September 26, 2009

5 Things: In my Inbox — 9/26/09

Is Gary Bettman really going to remove the St. Wayne Gretzky Chapel from the NHL Headquarters?

NHL HQ: The St. Wayne Gretzky ChapelCam Cole / Vancouver Sun:
Gretzky abandoned as Bettman fights over fate of Phoenix team -- NHL owes much more to a man who changed the game

Even a year ago, the National Hockey League never would have had enough confidence to risk jettisoning its primary lifeboat of the past three decades, Wayne Gretzky.

Now, after Sidney Crosby has confirmed his greatness with a Stanley Cup and Alex Ovechkin has supplied the flashy game and personality that Crosby lacks, Gary Bettman's outfit evidently feels secure enough in its U.S. marketing prospects to be able to abandon The Great One to his fate, cut him out of whatever future it thinks hockey has in Phoenix, and gamble on how No. 99 will react to the betrayal...
----
Andrew Gross is plugged into the brain of the Torts.
----
Brooks / NY Post:
With Avery iffy, Rangers wing it --
When the Rangers' roster is established for Friday's opener in Pittsburgh against the banner-raising Stanley Cup champion Penguins, Sean Avery is doubtful.

"If Sean comes back, another winger will go down," head coach John Tortorella said following yesterday's detail-oriented drill session that lasted for more than an hour...
discussion:
SNY RangersBlog:
Brooks: Rangers In Interesting Spot If Avery Is Out -- The problem with sending Voros down is that he has to go through waivers, and a call-up would put his re-entry number at $500,00, which someone could claim and leave the Rangers with $500,000 in dead money.
----
TSN.com:
Fleury Released By Flames; Will Address Future on Monday --
The verdict is in. After a much-publicized attempt at an NHL comeback, Theoren Fleury has been released by the Calgary Flames.

The team released a statement on Friday confirming the decision and GM Darryl Sutter spoke with TSN afterwards.

"There was a decision made here this morning that, for Theo to play here, he was going to have to fit into our top six wingers," Sutter said. "He didn't have the capabilities to do so. It had nothing to do with Theo's heart or his mind for the game because I learned a lot here the last two weeks just being around him...His work ethic and everything involved every day was great. It's unfortunate that when you haven't played the game for six years, and at the age he's at, that the legs just aren't where they need to be." ...
related:
Doug Hamilton / CBC.ca:
Which NHL player should retire? --
Retired NHL player Jeremy Roenick, Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake, NHL player agent Kent Hughes and Canadian women's hockey player Jennifer Botterill offer their thoughts as part of CBCSports.ca's continuing five-part series of predictions on the lighter side of the game...

Friday, September 25, 2009

5 Things: In my Inbox — 9/25/09

Glad to see that a guy getting paid $2.8 big ones over the next two years to fight is trying to tune up his fight game and keep from falling down.

Andrew Gross / NorthJersey.com:
Brashear still has some fight --

Donald Brashear heard more boos than cheers from the Madison Garden crowd Thursday night despite his first two fights as a Ranger.

"It seems like a tough crowd but I’ll find a way to win their hearts," Brashear said after the Rangers beat his previous team, the Capitals, 3-2. "I got a little feel for what they like."

Coach John Tortorella somehow linked the fan reaction to Brashear being "disrespected" by the media when he signed a two-year, $2.8 million deal.

Likely it has more to do with him pummeling Rangers players the previous 15 seasons, capped by breaking Blair Betts’ orbital bone and jaw with a vicious hit in last season’s playoffs...

related:
NY Daily News:
Rangers coach John Tortorella says lay off new Blueshirt Donald Brashear

HockeyFights.com:
Sugar and Brash Set Stage at MSG
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Rangers running low on defenders --
If it were up to John Tortorella, the Rangers would go into next Friday's season-opener in Pittsburgh with only six defensemen on the roster. At least that's what the coach claimed prior to last night's 3-2 Garden exhibition victory over the Capitals...
Hockey's Future:
Hockey's Future Top 50 prospects, Fall 2009 26-50 --
33. Artem Anisimov - With good size, work ethic and solid two-way play, Anisimov has made an excellent adjustment to the North American game over the past two seasons in the AHL. The 21-year-old has the hands, instincts, and vision to be a top player in the NHL...

39. Ryan McDonagh - McDonagh was Minnesota’s reigning “Mr. Hockey” when he was selected first among the US defensemen available in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, 12th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. A quick-skating, big, powerful, offensive blueliner, he entered the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 2007...

related:
Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Anisimov on roster bubble as Rangers win
James Mirtle / From The Rink:
2009-10 NHL Season Preview: Philadelphia Flyers --
Outlook: GM Paul Holmgren's biggest move in the off-season was to deal for franchise defenceman Chris Pronger — swapping Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and two first-rounders for the big blueliner — and his presence gives the Flyers a far deeper defence core than they went into battle with last season. That alone should make Philadelphia's own end a tough place to play this season.

And it's a good thing, too...
----
Will Gretzky end up the next GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

ESPN:
Gretzky steps down as Coyotes coach --
Wayne Gretzky's tenure as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, a period marked largely by on-ice futility, ended abruptly Thursday when the "Great One" announced he would be stepping down amid the financial turmoil surrounding the team.

The Coyotes hired former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett hours after Gretzky announced his departure, which had been rumored as the bankruptcy court battle between Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and the NHL over the sale of the team dragged on...

related:
TheHockeyNews:
POLL: Was Gretzky right to step down? Is Tippett a good replacement?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

5 Things: In my Inbox — 9/23/09

Olaf Kolzig, "Ollie the Goalie" retires after 14 seasons in the NHL.

NHLPA.org:
KOLZIG RETIRES AFTER STELLAR 14-YEAR CAREER --

After 14 seasons, veteran goaltender Olaf Kolzig announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League.

Kolzig, 39, a two-time NHL All-Star (1998, 2000) and former Vezina Trophy winner (2000), appeared in a total of 719 NHL games, 711 of those with the Washington Capitals. His 303 career wins rank him 21st all-time among goaltending wins leaders. Olaf also posted a career 2.71 GAA along with a .906 save percentage and 35 shutouts.

“I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to play the game of hockey at the NHL level for many seasons and I am grateful for everything the game has given me,” said Kolzig. “I would like to thank my family, all my teammates and the fans for making my time in the NHL so special.” ...
Steve Macfarlane / Slam Sports:
Fleury's chances improving --
Now the 5-foot-6 winger has to prove he's worth more with the big club than Jamie Lundmark -- who has pumped out a pair of goals and two assists through three games so far -- young Swede Mikael Backlund, an energetic Brett Sutter and arguably even Dustin Boyd, David Moss and newcomer Nigel Dawes to earn a spot on one of the top three lines expected to score with regularity...

Counting the little guy out, however, is something nobody should do -- especially with more of his friendly rivals heading to southern B.C...

Changing minds is what he did two decades ago when breaking into a league considered too big for him. Fleury seems to be doing it all over again. In another week or so, we'll find out where it takes him.
TSN.ca:
30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS: GRINDING IT OUT WITH LEMAIRE
--
It was a very busy summer in the swamp as the Devils overhauled their roster following a disappointing first round playoff exit at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

It was a mass exodus in the early going, as veteran Bobby Holik announced his retirement while blueliner Niclas Havelid chose to return home to Sweden. Longtime Devil John Madden blew into the Windy City as a free agent, while Scott Clemmensen parlayed an excellent season as Martin Brodeur's injury replacement into a three-year deal with the Panthers. Brian Gionta took his show on the road to Montreal, while Mike Rupp signed with the Penguins. But the biggest loss was felt behind the bench, as Brent Sutter stepped down as head coach and later joined brother Darryl in Calgary...
Philly.com:
Maroon happy to survive Flyers' roster cuts so far --
Blair Betts looks like a lock to earn a contract...
NY Post:
Rangers focusing on power play fix --
To say the Rangers' power play was bad last year would be an understatement.

The team scored only 48 goals with the man advantage to finish 29th out of 30 teams, with a 13.9 percent rate.

If the Rangers want to have any success this season, the power play will have to improve, as coach John Tortorella knows...

Monday, September 21, 2009

5 Things: In my Inbox

WinterClassicTickets.NHL.com:
Register for your chance to see Bruins vs. Flyers at Fenway Park
-- Jan. 1, 2010

An nice A (Avery) to Z (x-Zherdev) breakdown of the changes to our Blueshirts.

Greg Wyshynski / Yahoo Puck Daddy:
Preview: Introducing the 2009-10 New York Rangers! --

2009-10 Preseason Report Card:

Forwards: B (Sean Avery, for the record, played on his best games as a Ranger in Game 7 against the Capitals.)
Defense: C
Goaltending: A
Special Teams: C (In other words, an ‘A' for the kill and an ‘F' for what's called a "power play" but looks nothing like it.)
Coaching: A-
Management: C+ (Sather's made some mistakes, some corrections ... and more mistakes?)
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
The Rangers' Sean Avery won a settlement in his libel case against Toronto radio reporter Howard Berger following mediation earlier this month, Slap Shots has learned. The suit was brought in the aftermath of the pregame incident in Toronto on Nov. 10, 2007, after which Berger alleged that Avery had made comments to Jason Blake relating to the Leaf winger's previously diagnosed cancer. Terms of the settlement are confidential. Avery has at least one more pending suit relating to the incident.
Hockey Rodent:
Max Headroom --
Which brings me to that topic. I'm telling you, Stephen Valiquette needs to tighten up quickly.

Johnson and Zaba have looked sharper than Marmaduke in the early going. Healthy attitude only goes so far, especially in a year Henrik Lundqvist figures to make fewer starts than a season ago.
NY Daily News:
Brandon Dubinsky inks two-year deal, ends 8-day holdout with Rangers --
Dubinsky and the Rangers came together Saturday on a two-year contract worth $3.7 million, a significant raise from the $522,500 qualifying offer the team put out in June and from the roughly $700,000 offer the Rangers were holding fast to as recently as last week. It also is a significant relief to a team and a 23-year-old who were bracing for a protracted fight - or a trade that neither really wanted...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Theo the Hero

Theo Fleury scores shootout winner for FlamesFor a guy scraping six years of rust of his wee body Theo Fleury played a hell of a game last night. He beat Kevin Poulin in the shootout to seal a 5-4 Flames win over the Islanders. The Saddledome crowd went nuts. Outstanding!

A round-up of Theo Fleury stories:

Calgary Herald:
Fleury steals show in Flames return --

At the start, six years of pent-up energy waiting to be released, he virtually sprinted down the runway leading from the dressing room to the Pengrowth Saddledome ice, his skates barely touching the red rug en route, the last of them to pop into the spotlight, into view and onto the ice. By design.

At the finish, he basked in the adulation, the one to decide the outcome on a wonderous shootout deke that left N. Y. Islander goalie Poulin more contorted than the stripes on a barber's pole. Fleury's stick in the air. A winner.

"This,'' he said, savouring the shootout winner against the Tavares-less Isles, "is SO much fun. When I was in Chicago, I dreaded going down to the rink. Now, I can't wait to get here. Walking into the building tonight, it felt . . . special. I've played in a lot of big games. This one was important in its own way...
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Flames.NHL.com:
Fleury Gets Winner in Shootout --
Fleury looked okay on the offensive zone but appeared to be trying too hard -- read looked unnatural -- when it came to the defensive systems at times. But hey, nobody expected perfection after a six-year absence, right? And, truth be told, he got better as the game went on, even getting a good scoring chance late in the third period...
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Theoren Fleury (14) dekes Kevin Poulin for the winning goal.CBC.ca:
Fleury makes triumphant return with Flames --
Attempting to make a comeback at the age of 41, the popular yet troubled forward hit the ice with the Calgary Flames for the first time since 1999 and scored the shootout winner in a 5-4 pre-season victory over the New York Islanders at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Thursday.

"That was pretty exciting," he said. "It was fun, it was a fun game to be in."

As the capacity crowd of 19,289 chanted "Theo, Theo", Fleury scored on Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin with a forehand deke to send the fans into a frenzy...
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related:
Puck Daddy:
Video: Phaneuf hit sends Isles' Okposo off on stretcher -- Here's the hit everyone will be talking about: Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames, regaining his reputation as one of the NHL's most lethal open-ice checkers with an absolute demolition of Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders. The massive hit, and the aftermath ...
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Update: And this blast from the past, just stumbled across this gem.

Hockey Bird:
Ode to Theo, August 13, 2002 --
He yells at refs, beats up mascots, fights with fans, takes stupid penalties, quits games, sulks, pouts, and at any given moment he could announce a relapse and be gone forever from hockey. But he’s also our little boy. And we love him...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Following Fleury

The little man from Oxbow, Saskatchewan has created a stir.

If you want to follow the ebb and flow of the return of 41 year old Theo Fleury to the NHL check out twitter.com/NHLFlames:

  • Massive cheers for Fleury as he hits the ice

  • As expected, Fleury is mobbed by fans as he leaves the ice after the skate but appears to be signing everything put in front of him

  • Huge cheers for Fleury as he steps on the ice for the pre-game skate

  • Probable linemates for Fleury tonight are Langkow and Dawes. Look for Iggy to be on the top line with Backlund and Jokinen

  • FROM FLEURY: I don't know at this point how I'm going to react to that situation and react to the crowd. It's going to be emotional.
related:
Theoren Fleury makes his return to the SaddledomeCBCSports.ca:
Fleury set for Saddledome return --
The spotlight will shine on Theoren Fleury when he makes his return to the Saddledome, as his bid to make the Flames begins Thursday when Calgary takes on the New York Islanders in pre-season action.

The diminutive forward will see NHL action for the first time in six years, as he's looking to earn a spot on the Calgary roster after being reinstated to active status by the league last week.

"I have to earn everything again and I'm OK with that," Fleury said. "I'm here to try and make a really good team that has a really good chance to do some good stuff this year."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Taking a break

Mike "The Ranger Pundit" is temporarily putting himself on the injured reserve for the start of this season (his 73rd), so his blogging will be very sporadic He hopes to make it back to his full-time pundit perch as soon as possible.

The upcoming season will be an extremely interesting one as the Blueshirts have re-tooled to play Torts Fire Wagon Hockey. Go Rangers!

Yippee Kiya! Here comes John Tortorella and New York Rangers Firewagon Hockey

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Evgeny Grachev — A Star is Born?

Evgeny GrachevThe Traverse City tournament provides NHL teams and fans each year with an early peak at young talent. This year the Traverse City has again given the Rangers something to be happy about.

Craig Custance of the Sporting News lists five players as having demonstrated that they are ready to contribute at an NHL level right now. One is Evgeny Grachev. That is pretty impressive for a 3rd round pick in 2008 to be placed in the same group as Alex Pietrangelo, who was taken 4th overall in the same draft, or Evander Kane, who was taken 4th in 2009.

Hockey's Future has listed Evgeny as having 8.0 level (first line) talent: "Think Patrik Elias, Keith Tkachuk, Mattias Ohlund, Adam Foote, Sean Burke, Olaf Kolzig."

It will be interesting to see if Grachev and Gaborik have some chemistry together on the ice in the near future. Since Grachev can play center, and the Rangers need another center, there should be room for him on this team now.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Know Your NY Ranger Greats

Who is this Ranger GreatWho is this Ranger GreatWho is this Ranger Great?

First one to post the correct answer in the comments claims bragging rights this week as a Rangers fan with skills. As usual, no hints, no Google.

related:
Know Your NY Ranger Greats #2
Know Your NY Ranger Greats #1
Know Your Old-Time NY Rangers

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Zorro Rides Off To The Sunset

Zherdev Rides Off To The Sunset
So a player who seemed to have the talent, but lacked the heart is gone after one disappointing year under the tutelage of two different style coaches. Neither the slumbering coach clueless or the firebrand Tortorella could get Nicolai Zherdev out of his lackluster play. So another Stealth GM experiment has gone awry and if one looks at the current roster one surely understands that there will be more angst and more disappointments ahead for both the Rangers and their faithful, loyal and frustrated fans. Let's face it. Right now it looks like a first round exit, if we are lucky enough to make the playoffs.

This year's team looks no better than the team that opened the 2008-09 season. Matter of fact, it looks worse so don't think the playoffs are a lock. The Rangers are going into this season with no number one center. The player they are counting on to be "The Man" has great talent but is subject to many injuries. If he stays healthy we have a gamer, if he gets injured we are in deep trouble. Higgins is a good addition but the rest including the detestable Donald Brashear are nothing more than window dressing, which The Stealth has had a love affair over the years. To make matters worse the strength of the team, the penalty kill, number one in the league, has been completely dismantled with the release of both Blair Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom. Trust me, the undisciplined Rangers will rue the day they broke up this dynamic duo.

The defense has lost one of its stalwarts when Paul Mara was allowed to leave. We are still stuck with the awful tag team tandem of Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden and their combined yearly salary of $11.5 mil. Mara was a great team man who often jumped in to protect his teammates. The only thing that Rozy and Redden will protect are their bloated contracts. Tortorella claims that only the performers will play and it has nothing to do with contracts. Don't bet on it. Rozy and Redden will continue to log in excess of 20 minutes per game, regardless of their performances and plus/minuses. The opportunity is there for a youngster or two. Will we finally get to see Bobby Sanguinetti? Or will the Stealth go to the NHL graveyards and dig up some retread? Oh, did I mention that we still don't have a power-play quarterback?

So it's good-by to Nicolai Zherdev. Zorro, we barely got to know yee.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Yippee Kiya! Rangers Firewagon Hockey

Yippee Kiya! Here comes John Tortorella and New York Rangers Firewagon HockeyYippee Kiya! Here comes John Tortorella
and New York Rangers Firewagon Hockey.