Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Clinkers Equal a Tough Loss in Beantown

A crisply played Rangers matinee in Boston was spoiled by some bad luck. The front running Bruins held on to win 1-0, despite a spirited assault by the good guys in the third period. Down the stretch Renney was flying Air-Zer as frequently as possible in order to land a goal, but the best 'Z' could muster was a clinker off the crossbar. Roszy also had clinker. Those two close clinkers equal a clunker of a tough loss.

Lundqvist regained his form, which was one good take away from this game. The defense was also stingy and sticky, which is another big positive. Especially for a defensive juggernaught that now has become an offensive not. This continued lack of scoring was the ground glass in a tasty afternoon bowl of Beantown chowder.

Double shifting Zherdev is one creative option for this paucity of potted pucks. Renney deserves some credit for going with that strategy. Keeping Orr's ground-and-pound on the bench in favor of Air-Zer is no-brainer. We need some hope in the offensive end.

What's a Tuukka Rask? Is it Finnish for Rangers Death Mask? This kid now has a record of 3-1-1, along with his first NHL shutout thanks to the Blueshirts. Boston's future in goal looks wicked good. Like they need the help. No doubt, the Bruins are now the beast of the East. The road to Stanleyville is routed up I-95.

ICINGS:

Jaromir Jagr's Siberian team, Avangard Omsk, continues on a very difficult season.

Beyond the Blueshirts:
Wayne Fleming Out in Omsk… For Real This Time --

Avangard Omsk head coach Wayne Fleming, who was “benched” for the third period of a game earlier this month amid rumors he’d been fired, is no longer the coach in Omsk. In a press conference, Fleming stated that the decision was a mutual one between him and the club, wished the team luck, and said he had no regrets about the decision to coach in Russia. Senior coach Igor Nikulin, who led the team on a 6-game winning streak last fall after the club fired its first coach of the season, has once again been named interim head coach...
FYI, Russo's Rants had the Wild take on the Fritsche trade:
I was a little disappointed when I saw the Fritsche trade only because I could have looked really smart today. Yesterday, when I saw that Krys Kolanos was placed on waivers, I saw right under it that Dan Fritsche cleared waivers.

And I almost wrote on the blog how he’d interest a lot of teams, including the Wild, but most teams don’t want to take players off waivers anymore. They’d be more likely to call that team up the next day and offer a player for him so it could drop some salary and preserve some salary-cap room.

That’s what happened today with the Wild. GM Doug Risebrough was interested in the Rangers center yesterday, but he didn’t call GM Glen Sather, one of his best friends, until this morning to see if he could swap Erik Reitz for him...

Fritsche has a cap left of about $344,000 (prorated 875K), but instead of taking the whole thing, the Wild drops about 197K of Reitz’s 500K. That extra space could prove valuable at or near the trade deadline...
Russo also got Fritsche's view on what happened in New York for his Star-Tribune column, Wild trade offers opportunities:
"I've been hoping and waiting -- no, praying -- for this day to come," said Fritsche, 23. "I don't think excited really even describes it. I can think of a million different things [as to why I didn't play] in New York. Coaches have their guys. It's been a long year for me up to this point." ...

"I was very bummed out," [after not getting claimed off waivers] Fritsche said.
And:
Incidentally, adding Fritsche and deleting Reitz and Kolanos puts the Wild about $2.4 million below the salary cap...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prince Falls Off His High Horse

There is something a bit masocistic about reading the Penguin blogs after the Rangers and Prince Henrik collapsed in the third period against the Pens. Pitt won 6-2, scoring 5 in the 3rd. Some self flagellation couldn't hurt the Rangers after yet another blow-out in Pittsburgh.

The Pensblog:
STUNNED-QVIST. PENS WIN --

We hate to use an old joke, but Henrik Lundqvist must be pregnant, because he missed a period...
Becoming a Penguin whipping boy has its advantages. Eventually, the beatings become so commonplace that the master develops feelings for their poor serf.

The Pensblog:
NY RANGERS --
Our hatred for the Rangers keeps decreasing every time a Red Wing player or fan speaks. Rangers fans just don't seem so obnoxious as they once did. That'll probably change during tonight's game, when Naslund scores some debilitating goal and points to Craig Patrick...
Igloo Dreams:
The Pens weren't exactly dominant, and King Henrik certainly wasn't great, but the two points went to the guys in black...

Lundqvist didn't look very good in parts of the All Star weekend, and that continued tonight. He made a few big saves, but he wasn't able to make the few that mattered...
Empty Netters [with great pictures]:
18:49: What that? When did Minard-Staal-Sykora become the Michel Ouellet Memorial Line? Jordan Staal controls the puck in the corner and just kind of flicks a backhander without any particular purpose near the net. It hits off LUndqvist's leg and goes in. That's not even a garbage goal. It counts though. "Hey Song." Ryan Whitney gets the only assists. Penguins 2-1.

3:39: The roof has just caved in here for the Rangers and Lundqvist. Letang comes rushing up ice against Mara and simply whips a wrister by Lundqvist. That was like a 1980s Paul Coffey goal. Lundqvist did little to challenge that. Malkin gets the only assist. Penguins 5-2.

1:40: Wow, when was the last time the Penguins just poured it on like this? Malkin fights off two Rangers along the boards and dishes a feed to Carosby in the slot. Crosby spins and whips a dazzling backhanded shot to the far side on Lundqvist. Lundqvist looks like he needs a hug. Maybe he still thinks this is the All-Star Lame Game. Malkin gets the only assist. "Hey Song." We wonder what Sergei Kostitsyn thinks of that goal. Penguins 6-2.

-Crosby had his fourth four-point game of the season.
ICINGS:

David Staples / Edmonton Journal:
WHO IS NHL'S BEST DEFENCMAN (WITHOUT THE PUCK)? -- Brooks Orpik, PITT
WHO HAS GOT THE SCARIEST CONTRACT IN THE NHL?

update: Yet another Rangers beat writer, Sam Weinman, bites the dust. Does this imply that golf is more interesting than Renney hockey?

Sam Weinman / Journal News [LoHud.com]:
One move before the trade deadline you probably didn’t expect: me --
After 12 years at The Journal News — the last three of which were spent writing for the most devoted fans in sports — I am leaving to pursue a career in another sport I love, as a senior editor at GolfDigest.com. The timing of the move isn’t great, and I admit it comes with a tinge of sadness. But it’s also an opportunity I’m fortunate to have, and a new phase of my life I’m eager to enter...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scratching Out a Win

Renney's neutered Renegades ground out a patented run-of-the-mill 3-2 win against a slightly over matched Carolina team. Big deal. There is nothing exceptional going on with the Rangers play to do handsprings over.

The Rangers to a man seem committed to Renney's arduous March of The Penguins to the playoff land. Air Zherdev was backchecking, dumping, and scrumming.

The Renney system is now in full throttle and some fans are dropping off the bandwagon as they fall asleep. No problem, they can be jarred awake, and still run and catch up to this slow moving defensive juggernaut.

Valley was very solid, especially on some deflections, and probably deserved a star, but when the Rangers have a 'breakout game' offensively and get all of three goals, that feat needs to be duly recognized.

The good word in Rangerland is generally muted. No chest thumping just the sound of snoring and stifled yawns.

Rangers Report:
Quiet roll continues --

...for all their shortcomings, the Rangers have quietly rattled off five of six, and allowed just eight goals along the way. It might not be hockey that inspires. But as I’ve said before, it’s hard to poke holes in it when it seems to work...
Newsday:
Rangers win without wowing --
When hockey observers talk about the elite teams in the NHL, they generally don't mention the Rangers. To be honest, they are not the type of club that takes your breath away. They are not very flamboyant, witnessed again by a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes...
Hockey Rodent:
It's getting to be like pulling teeth [to enjoy a Rangers game]. The W-L record almost doesn't matter any more. I'm having a difficult time psyching up for each telecast - getting more and more tempted each night to DVR the experience so I can fast-forward through it... or simply skip the live broadcast and wait for Rangers in 60 to delegate to MSG Network the burden of selecting the most interesting stuff choosing the least mundane stretches to watch...
Scotty Hockey did find some rays of sunshine, but the bar has been set pretty low. Don't expect "goals and big saves or hits" in Renneyville:
The second period may have been devoid of goals and big saves or hits, but it may have been one of the most entertaining second periods in the Garden this season. The game opened up and featured nice passing and end to end action. Trippy.
The waiving of Dan Fritsche (1-3-4) is no suprise. How can a team be a defensive juggernaut without adding that 7th defenseman? Is Fritsche really the winner and Prucha still the loser in this move?

Some Like It Blue blog:
Fritsche Freed, Prucha Still Imprisoned --
And since Fritsche has been waived, make it whereas other PLAYER doesn't.

Congrats, Dan. You've broken free. You have a chance. If only someone will rescue you from the doldrums of New York hockey...

Petr, on the otherhand, has been reassured by Renney that he will not be waived.

Pitty.
Natural Hat Trick:
"Why Won't You Release Me". . . ? --
He might be too proud or too good a person to say so. But I'm sure Petr Prucha has got to be close to saying what I'm saying right now:

*I'm begging you for mercy.
Why won't you release me?*
The 'begging for mercy' part might become the new tagline here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Random Ice Chips

Rangers salary cap is massively top heavyTalk about being massively top heavy.

No, this doesn't refer to the spurious MSG management.

However, the NY Rangers have blown more cash on fewer quality players for next season compared to all the other teams in the league.

Consider these salary cap numbers currently on the books for the 2009-10 season:

  • Boston Bruins: 14 players signed, $42,645,833
  • Buffalo Sabres: 14 players signed, $41,188,690
  • Calgary Flames: 15 players signed, $42,649,167
  • Carolina Hurricanes: 16 players signed, $46,566,667
  • Colorado Avalanche: 13 players signed, $42, 075,000
  • Detroit Red Wings: 14 players signed, $41, 216, 666
  • Edmonton Oilers: 17 players signed, $43, 495, 833
  • New York Rangers: 9 players signed, $41,158,810
  • Ottawa Senators: 18 players signed: $44, 038,996
  • Philadelphia Flyers: 19 players signed: $45, 940,833
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: 13 players signed, $47, 610,000
  • San Jose Sharks: 13 players signed, $46,750,834
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: 17 players signed, $44, 523,333
  • Washington Capitals: 14 players signed, $42,471,796

Note that no NHL team, other than the NY Rangers, on the above list of salary cap challenged teams, has fewer than thirteen players signed for their $41+ million.

The Rangers only got nine players for the big bucks. One of whom, Pat Rissmiller, is playing for Hartford. How many of those nine players went to the All-Star game? One.

The Rangers get no bang for their buck. This is the ultimate pickle going forward.

via
Spector's blog: Potential Cap Problems for Some NHL Teams.

Will Mess return to clean up the mess?

The Blue Seats passes along some hope. Messier into management?
The Edmonton Journal reports "With Steve Yzerman in charge of Canada's 2010 Olympic team and contemporaries Wayne Gretzky, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Brett Hull, Cam Neely and Guy Carbonneau either behind NHL benches or learning the ropes in management, you get the feeling [Mark] Messier, who just turned 48, wants to be part of a team again, too.

"It'll probably be the Rangers New York Rangers ."
The Dark Ranger worries that Lundqvist's rough second period at the All-Star game bodes ill.
What alarmed me the most about the ones that got past Henrik, was that about 5 of 6 were over the pads. Now there will be many that disagree with me but I remember a King in a breakout season, that was never this weak up high. A better glove and an aggressive willingness to come out of the net, piled onto some already amazing butterfly goaltending ... all that had Kevin Weekes out of a job. What happened? Well its anyone's guess...
Rob at the NY Examiner also worries about the weakness on the high side:
Something a little more unnerving, especially for Rangers fans, is the fact that all six goals beat Lundqvist high. This is perhaps his greatest weakness, which is now spreading around the NHL faster than Commissioner Gary Bettman can ruin the sport of hockey.
SlapShot slaps down the scatter-brained coverage of the All-Star game by Versus.
All-Star Games are goalfests. If someone thought they could squeeze all this in and not take away from the action, they’d either never seen an All-Star Game before or are so focused on making the event appear IMPORTANT on TV with all the people running around the Bell Centre holding microphones that the truly important stuff gets lost.

Time and again, great plays went undescribed as they happened, only to be summarized — sometimes — after they happened. That unmatched skill is the only reason to watch an All-Star Game! But rather than amplify it, someone in charge thought it was better to obscure it. It’s supposed to be a showcase event, it’s supposed to attract new viewers, but the showcase is broken and new viewers are unlikely to be attracted to this mess...

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Curious Case of Petr Prucha

The Curious Case of Petr PruchaThe above title is a New York Rangers rift on the Academy Award nominated motion picture, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The movie is about a man, Benjamin Button, who ages backwards from age 86 to birth.

The Curious Case of Petr Prucha is a puzzling NHL story about a very talented NY Rangers player, whose career has strangely gone backwards from a rookie sensation to a frequently scratched scrub.

Prucha, who scored 30 goals and 17 assists during his 2005-06 rookie season has only played in 20 of 48 games and scored 3 goals, and 3 assists this season. This season he watches more Rangers games than he has played in. However, during his very limited ice time his performance has shown that he can still bring the Garden faithful to their feet.

What has happened to Prucha and why has Rangers coach Tom Renney been running his career clock backwards? In the movie, Benjamin Button ends up dying as an infant in New Orleans in 2002. Rangers fans have to worry that Prucha's Broadway career will soon die in 2009.

This afternoon Eklund at Hockey Buzz kicks some more dirt on Prucha's Big Apple future. Rumors: Prucha to...:

I am chasing several rumors today prior to leaving for Montreal.

The most intriguing is that Petr Prucha may once again be available so that the Rangers can begin to address other needs...The team that most wants Prucha is the Penguins, but the Rangers aren't moving him in the division. Four other teams are now in on this. Vancouver, Colorado, Minnesota, Buffalo and Nashville.

I would give Vancouver a distinct advantage at this point. and this trade could go down as early as this weekend. In fact I am told there are as many as 4 major deals that could go down this weekend...so Montreal will be alot of fun and I will be updating the entire time.
Rangers fans have to shudder at Prucha's recent remarks regarding where his Rangers career stands at the moment. It does not look good for Prucha on Broadway and his story looks like it's coming to a climax.

As Larry Brooks at the NY Post reported:
PRUCHA BACK ON RANGERS BENCH --
"When the team needs a spark by changing players, there are not too many who can come out, and so it's me," Prucha told The Post following yesterday's morning skate. "I'm disappointed."

Prucha, a healthy scratch for 27 of the first 38 games, was in street clothes for last night's match at the Garden against the Ducks after a run of nine straight played. The winger scored goals in each of his first two after being restored to active duty before recording three assists in the following seven matches.

"I feel like I need to [score] points to stay in," Prucha said. "The coach probably doesn't have much confidence in me to keep me in the lineup." ...
Dec 31, 2008, Newsday:
Despite being scratched, Prucha still has desire --
Renney said Prucha has been able to do that as well as any player he's ever seen. "It's not always a walk in the park and you have to be an independent thinker," Renney said. "There's a great saying that, sometimes when you're looking for a helping hand, it's at your own arm. I think [Petr] has known that and now he's been able to grasp that and run with it."
Most fans would agree with the Bleacher Report's sentiment from last month, Note to Tom Renney: Keep Petr Prucha in the Rangers Lineup --
Prucha is much more valuable to the Rangers donning his No. 25 that sitting in a press box in a shirt and tie for weeks at a time...

If Renney knows what's good for the team, he will keep playing him. But, then again, I don't think many Rangers fans would be surprised if he isn't in the lineup once....
However, it now looks like this Curious Case of Petr Prucha story will have a sad ending here on Broadway.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Specials Nite

It was like a Deli at the Garden last night as they were running specials, which suited the Rangers just fine. Bouncing back from the Pittsburgh thing the Rangers scored two power play goals, two short handed goals, the last one an empty netter and beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. The Ducks were the prime course and they cooperated nicely. The Rangers special teams were almost perfect, but the penalty kill bent in giving up a power play goal to the Ducks who were 1-5 on the power play.

The Rangers in a sudden explosion were 2-7 on the power play with goals from Naslund and Gomez, which was the winner. The shorthanded ones were from Sjostrom and Betts. Betts scored the empty netter and he was outstanding on the penalty kill, getting a standing ovation for his work and earning the number one star. The number one star should have been Lundqvist, who was named number two star. Scotty Gomez, who scored his first power play goal of the year, was the number three star.

Coach clueless, who used the Pittsburgh debacle as an excuse to bench Prucha, also benched Korpikoski in favor of Voros and Fritsche. Both saw close to 12 minutes of ice time, each had a shot on goal, which I must have missed and neither distinguished themselves. Clueless said he wanted "grease" from his team, hence the changes. Fritsche got one hit, Voros two and Voros further distinguished himself by missing the last ten minutes of the game without a shift. It seems after Voros's third minor penalty that clueless had seen enough. For this game anyway.

So you tell me. Who would you rather see playing? Two young kids with upside potential or two journeymen? Aah, but the journeymen were 'key' acquisitions during the off season by the Stealth GM and hence they will continue to play as the clueless coach continues to coach upward and satisfies the genius Stealth GM.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nothing Left In The Tank

The Rangers must have left whatever it was of hockey in Chicago, because there was nothing of hockey played by them today in Pittsburgh. Looking at it reminded me of watching an exhibition game. There was no there there. Three game winning streak gone. The three goals against them was the most in five games but that wasn't the problem. There was no offense. There wasn't even a serious threat. The Rangers drew two power plays, I don't know how and did nada. Pittsburgh was 1-5 on the PP but that wasn't the killer. The killer was that on a big game on the Nobody But Crosby television network the Rangers were an embarrassment. The Rangers took seven out of ten points on this trip by scoring 6 goals in 5 games. How long do you think that will last? Now may be the time to start looking at guys who may be available like Vinnie Lecavalier and Ilya Kovalcuk, who both seem to out worn their welcomes in their cities. Pull the trigger on some trades to get these guys. Forget the nonsense of the wonderful chemistry that exists on this team. If not we will get the fool's gold of the 2-1 wins against the dregs and collapse against the rest of the NHL. What a wasteful Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Father's Day Comes Early In Chicago

The Rangers gave their fathers, who were in attendance last night, an early Father's Day present with a 3-2 OT win over the Chicago Black Hawks, giving the Rangers a two game sweep of the short series. Unfortunately, the star of the game, Chris Drury, did not have his father at this game but there are reports that Drury's Dad will be at the Pittsburgh game Sunday so maybe he will do it again. Drury scored the first goal for the Rangers and then won it in OT by redirecting Redden's pass past Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Both goals were power play goals as the Rangers were 2-6 on the power play. The two goals gave Drury a team leading 15 for the season.

While Drury was number one star, Lundqvist number three, and Brent Seabrook of the Hawks was number two; the real stars were the Ranger penalty killers, especially Drury, as they killed off ten Black Hawk penalties, including four five-on-three's, holding Chicago to 1-11 on the power play. This was significant in more ways than one as going into this game the Black Hawks power play was ranked sixth in the NHL. The Rangers have the number one penalty kill in the NHL. The real killers here were the two refs, Mike Hasenfratz and Dean Morton, who may have thought their Dads were there and wanted to impress them. All told they called 19 penalties, 12 against the Rangers and 7 against the Black Hawks. This was Gary Bettman gone amok, where the slightest of infractions, real and imagined were called. The worst being the ten minute misconduct to Marc Staal. So why single out these two incompetent souls when the entire corps of NHL refs are incompetent? Red Storey, where are you when we need you so badly?

Henrik Lundqvist with 32 saves was brilliant, especially during the five on threes. Too bad the refs thought they were the reason almost 23,000 fans showed up, it might have been a heck of a hockey game if they had let them play. It even produced a stir from coach clueless as he screamed at the refs and had a long discussion with one of them. Was anything accomplished? No. However, he did show that he was alive and paying attention to the game, so let's be happy with the small stuff. On to Pittsburgh with an awakened and charged up Captain, Chris Drury. Now if we can wake up Gomez, who knows where that will lead us to. Beam 'em up Scotty!

ICINGS:

The Blackhawks, an Original Six NHL team, played at Chicago Stadium from 1929 to 1994. It was nicknamed "The Madhouse on Madison." It was also home to the Chicago Bulls from from 1967 to 1994. The Blackhawks and Bulls moved to the United Center to start the '94-95 season and Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995. CNN televised the demolition and they showed devoted Blackhawks and Bulls fans crying as the wrecking ball hit the old building. Michael Jordan reportedly has the center of the Chicago Bulls' floor in his trophy room. Do you think "Stan" Mikita might have some of the ice from the old rink in his freezer? Bonus points if you know who was on the famous "Scooter Line" with Mikita.

Chicago Stadium
Chicago Stadium

Islanders getting voted off the Island?

This story about the Islanders possibly leaving L.I. for Kansas City seems to be slowly gathering some steam over the past week. Today NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is chirping in Newsday: "Islanders' building needs to be replaced."
The Sprint Center was built in Kansas City with the intention of becoming the home for an NHL franchise, but after failed attempts to land the Penguins and Predators, the next target could be the Islanders.

Even though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this week that the Islanders are not looking to relocate, a person familiar with the planning of their exhibition game in Kansas City called it "a showcase."

Agreeing to an exhibition in a city actively looking for an NHL team appeared to be a convenient way for the Islanders to pressure the Town of Hempstead to approve the Lighthouse Project, the economic initiative by Charles Wang and partner Scott Rechler to redevelop the land surrounding Nassau Coliseum....
Newsday:
KC has the arena, but no major sports team --
If you built it, will they come?

That's what the city of Kansas City is asking about its less than 2-year-old arena, which sits without a functioning professional sports team to call its own.

Is that where the Islanders come in?

"We're not looking to take anybody's team," said Paul McGannon, head of NHL21, a local group trying to bring a team to Kansas City. "But if for whatever reason things don't work out on the Island, we would gladly accept a four-time Stanley Cup champion."

The 18,000-seat Sprint Center opened on Oct. 10, 2007, without an anchor tenant...
Newsday:
Give Wang, Islanders credit for making bold threat --
Can't you just see the ad?

FOR SALE: Unappreciated and disrespected National Hockey League franchise with four Stanley Cup banners that's down on its luck. Has been looking for new home and now is willing to relocate for right price. Owner motivated to sell. Buy low!!!

Don't get angry at me, Islanders fans. Save your e-mails and insults. Because this is exactly the type of scenario the Islanders want us to picture today. They won't ever admit this, but by reportedly agreeing to an exhibition game in Kansas City before next season, they are sending a clear doom-and-gloom message to the Town of Hempstead: Work with us on the Lighthouse project, or else...
Newsday:
Isles game in KC doesn't phase Hempstead's Murray --
If the Islanders' decision to consider playing a preseason game at glistening new Sprint Center in Kansas City in September was intended as a warning of what might happen if the Lighthouse Project isn't approved soon, the news didn't upset Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray ...
Darren Drager / TSN.ca:
ISLANDERS GOING TO KANSAS CITY FOR A GAME --
The New York Islanders are going to Kansas City.

The Islanders have agreed in principle with the Los Angeles Kings to play an exhibition game in Kansas City in September.

This may not seem like that big of a deal in light of the fact other NHL teams have used Kansas City in recent years as a neutral cite for preseason games.

However, according to league sources this game could be perceived as a veiled threat of potential relocation if plans for a new arena on Long Island aren't soon finalized...
Will the NY Islanders move to the Sprint Center in Kanasa City, Missouri from Hempstead, NYSprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri

Will the NY Islanders move to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO

Go West, young man, go West... -- Horace Greely
The Town of Hempstead and supervisor Kate Murray might want to pay attention to their Islanders. Showing them a little love might not hurt. Because, the idea of the Islanders moving to Kansas City is not that far fetched.

Case in point, the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. They became the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Why would a pro team want to leave cosmopolitan Seattle for the Great Plains Okie-ville of Oklahoma City? Simple, in Oklahoma City the Thunder are the only big league franchise in town. They are able to vacuum up a good share of the local corporate advertising and marketing dollars at their recently build (2002) Ford Center.

You can call this the basic "Big Fish in a small pond" business model. There are no other major league pro-sports teams competing for those corporate marketing dollars. Kansas City lost their last winter big league pro team in 1985, when the Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento and became the Sacramento Kings.

Large and small businesses like making a major league connection. Oklahoma City is home to two Fortune 500 companies: Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

Greater Kansas City, it turns out, is headquarters to four Fortune 500 companies (Sprint Nextel Corporation, H&R Block, Embarq Corporation, and YRC Worldwide Inc.) and additional Fortune 1000 corporations (Interstate Bakeries Corporation, Great Plains Energy, Aquila, AMC Theatres, and DST Systems).

Regarding the NY City metro area "pond," who exactly is the big fish for winter pro-sports? Is it the Rangers, Knicks, Nets or the Islanders? The Islanders certainly get the leftovers in this market. And how many Fortune 500 companies are beating down the door to get over to Hempstead, NY? Additionally, what happens if the Nets ever move back to Brooklyn? How many corporate boxes will they need to sell?

The bottom line is: Rangers fans might end up losing a few extra "home games" at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum if Hempstead doesn't come through for the Islanders and the Lighthouse project.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yes. We are a 2-1 Hockey Team

The coach clueless philosophy of defense at all costs was in full bloom at the Coliseum last night as the Rangers and Lundqvist hung on for a 2-1 win over the hapless Islanders. Only thing, last night the Islanders looked less hapless than the Rangers who were saved by Lundqvist and quite a bit of luck. The Rangers scored two goals in less than two minutes by Drury and Dawes and did nothing after that. Two goals against the worst team in the NHL. Two goals against a team that has given up the second most goals in the NHL. Two goals against a team playing their third string goalie, after their second string goalie got hurt after 5 minutes into the game. Two goals. Think about that.

Strong defensive effort you say. Holding the Islanders to one goal is no big deal. They have scored the third fewest goals in the Eastern Conference and rank 25th in the entire NHL. The Islanders outshot the Rangers 34-29. If not for Lundqvist, the goal posts and some fortunate bounces they could have won the game 5-2. They outhit the Rangers 35-23 and their hits were much more effective than the Rangers. Heck, the Rockettes can out hit the Rangers.

After the game coach clueless mumbled something about puck management and some other mumbo jumbo, and looking at the video today. To see what? To see what he has wrought with this offensively challenged team that must depend on its goalie every night to be competitive. How bad is it? There was Sam and Joe talking and marveling over Nikolai Zherdev's defense. Defense? The guy who was to be a potential 40 goal scorer is lauded for his defense. This keeps up they will be comparing Zherdev to Jan Erixon instead of Alex Kovalev. But that is what happens when the main philosophy is, "Not playing defense is not an option."

ICINGS:

Kotsy makes Ryan Callahan his skater MVP.

Chris Kotsopoulos / Kotsy's Korner:
Never a Dull Moment, Rangers Win 2-1 --

My observations of this game are the Rangers never get away easy. It's almost like they enjoy these close games... or is it they realize they can't and never will be an offensive juggernaut? I think it's the latter. Physically, they were out of it, which is common - but I really didn't like the way Tim Jackman was running around without any repercussions. You can't allow that to happen and someone should have let him know.

I will also continue to hammer this point... Ryan Callahan, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, has been the most consistent Ranger all season. In fact, if I had a vote - he would be my MVP of the skaters on this team. Obviously, the King would be the overall MVP... but Callahan would be a close second in that race as well. I really don't see any argument here....
Tony at the Dark Ranger also observes that Renney the "Prophet of Puck Scoring Parsimony" is intent on delivering the meager goods in his gospel:
Moreover, coach Renney's observation that the Rangers are a 2-1 team is becoming gospel...
No one was very excited by this win.
The Brooklyn Hockey Guy:
We saw tonight that even the worst team in the league can outplay the Rangers for an extended period of time when they stop backchecking, forechecking, and pressuring the puck...
Least of all the Hockey Rodent:
If you think I'm negative now, you ain't heard half the expletives which accompanied each pelting of the TV with The World's Most Famous Foam Masonry.

Did we stink?

Not quite. However, the final score is the only thing pushing the needle mint side of ADG's poo...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Phoenix Coyotes are an Endangered Team

The Desert Dogs of Wayne Gretzky are in danger of going belly up. The Great One's Phoenix Coyotes team is bleeding money like a teetering Wall Street bank. There have been a score of articles that have followed up the Globe & Mail's investigation into the dire financial situation of the Phoenix franchise.

One point that comes out is that the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is putting a big hurt on small market teams.

The CBA is the crowning jewel of of Gary Bettman's term as NHL Commissioner. Specifically the problem is the salary "floor" that is implemented under the CBA. The current CBA "floor" salary for a team is around $40 Million. This "floor" has become too much of an expense for many small market teams. So the final legacy of the Bettman led lockout might be the bankruptcy of several NHL teams or their migration north.

So who exactly did the CBA/lockout help the most? Not the players and not the small market teams.

Globe and Mail: Phoenix Coyotes going bankrupt in the desertDavid Shoalts / The Globe & Mail:
The bleeding continues in the desert --

Almost everything the Phoenix Coyotes own or earn is pledged as collateral to SOF Investments LP of New York, according to financial documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Two NHL governors say the financial situation is distressed to the point that the Coyotes have had to draw on advances from the league to meet a $42.4-million (all currency U.S.) annual player payroll and operational expenses. The advances are made from anticipated NHL broadcast rights, merchandise sales and revenue sharing.

It is not known exactly how much money the Coyotes have received from the NHL. The game schedule is at the halfway point, which could mean, under NHL bylaws, the club cannot have received more than half of the money it expects from shared revenue. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the Coyotes have not yet received as much as half of their expected share of the NHL revenue, which could come to $22-million.

In return for the advances, the Coyotes need the NHL's approval for any major player or financial transactions, according to sources...
NY Times:
The Morning Skate: How Did the Coyotes Mess Happen? --
On Saturday night, the Hot Stove panel on “Hockey Night in Canada” began its second-intermission segment discussing the hypothetical dispersal draft for the Phoenix Coyotes. Talk about jumping the gun...

The HNiC panel’s premature evaluation was set off by a particular report late last week in The Globe and Mail. Fresh off its most recent offensive against fighting in hockey (here, here and here) in the aftermath of Don Sanderson’s death, the national paper blew out the front page of its sports section with a red-ink-splattered package — literally — on the Coyotes’ financial woes.

No newspaper has been as dogged in chronicling the ongoing troubles of the N.H.L.’s U.S.-based franchises, and its journalists — especially David Shoalts and columnist Stephen Brunt — deserve credit for mining their sources to cut through the “all is well” output of the league’s fog machine...

On Frozen Blog:
How About a Depression-Led Realignment?
Our good friend Lyle Richardson has been following the macro-economic story and its potential impact on the NHL. Last month Richardson quoted the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran and his claim that NHL owners were looking to "the game's hotbeds as an economic salve," which front and center includes the specter of struggling U.S. clubs moving way north, over the border...
Cam Cole / Vancouver Sun:
Coyotes may be first in NHL bankruptcy stakes --
Even as the NHL pretends to be unconcerned that almost every scrap of Coyotes' assets are in hock to a New York equity-fund company, because the league believes the franchise is worth more than its debt, it may be time to question that belief.

What would a bankrupt team be worth, when it can't move because it's locked into a 30-year lease in a remote arena located miles from its nearest fan, a site chosen because it was part of a real-estate speculation that failed? What is any franchise worth unless there is a buyer interested in having it, and which buyer would that be -- and in which market -- as long as Gary Bettman and his influential backers on the Board of Governors keep snubbing RIM founder Jim Balsillie because they are running scared of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

You wouldn't want to swallow the oft-bandied-about figure of $30 million in annual losses since the franchise left Winnipeg...
Damien Cox / Toronto Star:
Coyotes could be next body buried in desert --
The Phoenix Coyotes may prove to be the story of the second half of the NHL season.

For all the wrong reasons.

As of yesterday, the surprising Desert Dogs were holding down seventh spot in the Western Conference, a tribute to their improving young players and the underrated coaching of Wayne Gretzky.

But they are also, it's believed, not only a house of cards about to fall, but a house of cards on fire.

So while the NHL would like to direct your attention to the remarkable host of twenty-something players who have all but taken over the league this season, or to the renaissance of the Original Six operations in Boston and Chicago, or to the overall outstanding quality of play this season, the state of the Coyotes in a rapidly deteriorating North American economy could take centre stage...
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ICINGS:

Katarina WittOlympic skating champion Katarina Witt, who is now 43, is co-hosting a German television sports show, and she was on Grouse Mountain to shoot a countdown to the 2010 Olympics.
Photograph by: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun

Sunday, January 11, 2009

KHL All-Star Game Photo Roundup

The KHL tried to lift a page out of the NHL's Winter Classic playbook by holding their 2009 All-Star game outside on a narrow and very frigid (3°F) ice rink at Red Square, Moscow. The game while very photogenic fell flat with the small crowd that could not even fill 3000 frosty bleacher seats.

This lack luster All-Star game caps off a number of KHL low lights so far this season. Like the recent firing benching between periods of Wayne Fleming the head coach of the Jaromir Jagr led Avangard Omsk team. Along with the whole sad Alexei Cherepanov affair.

However, the pictures from the All-Star game looked great. Just be happy you weren't there in person.

Jaromir Jagr's team wins KHL All-Star Game - Red Square, MoscowPlayers of the teams of Jaromir Jagr and Alexey Yashin play during the KHL (Russia's Open Continental Ice Hockey League) All-Star game on Red square in Moscow on January 10, 2008. The game was played at minus 16 degrees centigrade (3°F). Jagr's team won 7-6. AFP/Getty photo
----NY Times: K.H.L. All-Star Game Proves That Atmosphere Matters----
KHL All-Star game - Red Square, Moscow----KHL All-Star game - Red Square, Moscow----KHL All-Star game - Red Square, Moscow----KHL All-Star photos----KHL All-Star pictures----
related:
From the Rink:
Team Jagr wins KHL all-star game --
Fueled by Marcel Hossa’s (Dynamo Riga) goal with just under a minute to play, Team Jagr upended Team Yashin 7-6, to win the inaugural Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) All-Star Game today on Red Square in Moscow...
NY Times:
K.H.L. All-Star Game Proves That Atmosphere Matters --
A word of advice, then, to the K.H.L.: outdoor games are great, but you need at least 25,000 people on hand to provide the atmosphere a proper sporting event needs. So enough with games at what amount to public skating rinks — play your all-star game next year at a bandy stadium...
PuckDaddy:
Video: KHL's all-star triumph; what it means for Winter Classics --
...there's no arguing that seeing St Basil's Cathedral in the background of a hockey game is pretty killer. Kudos to that fishbowl-lens camera in back of the goal, which managed to capture both the action and the scope of the scenery; and the fans were closer to the action than they were in either Ralph Wilson or Wrigley, too...
Rangers Report:
How good can this league be? --
Marcel Hossa had a hat trick in the KHL All-Star Game yesterday.

I’m going let that thought sink in for a few moments...
Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
The KHL, where every lousy ex-Ranger is an All-Star!

International Herald Tribune:
Foreigners edge Russians in KHL All-Star game

Chamionat.ru:
KHL All-Star Photos

Universal Sports:
Photo Gallery: KHL All-Star Game

Prince Rebounds For Shutout

Henrik Lundqvist posted his second shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, making 33 saves. The Rangers were were led by their Kiddie Korps with goals by Brandon Dubinsky (6) and Lauri Korpikoski (2). Petr Prucha and Nikolai Zherdev also played strong games and picked up an assist each. Korpikoski with a goal and an assist was the number one star though a case could be made for Lundqvist.

Lundqvist bounced back from his Montreal debacle to shut down Ottawa, which surprisingly has scored the fewest goals by any team in the NHL. I say surprisingly because with snipers like Alfredson, Heatley and Speeza it is kind of amazing that Ottawa has scored fewer than 100 goals so far. It was Lundqvist's 19th career shutout and his 21st win of the year.

As a team the Rangers played the coach clueless defensive system to perfection. The defensemen were practically flawless. I wonder if the callup of Bobby Sanguinetti lit a fire under some of them? I would love to see the kid play a couple of games. He could replace Kalinin for a while. I know my friend Richie, from Westchester, in Section 336, would be ecstatic. He has been waiting for the Sicilian Stallion from New Jersey to make his debt for three years now.

Now it's on to the Island. You think we could score more than two goals against the team that has given up the most goals in the NHL? Don't bet on it.

ICINGS:
Reactions to the Shanny signing in Devils land have not been overwhelmingly positive.

2 Man Advantage blog:
Shanahan’s a Devil again! --

I think I speak for most Devils fans when I say…huh?

I’m conflicted at best, personally. I can only assume he’ll get a one-year deal, so it won’t be a terrible move if it doesn’t work out. It’ll definitely add some depth for a good playoff run, and boosts the power play immediately.

That said, where does he fit? The top two lines are pretty much set in stone for the time being - they’ve both been too good. The third and fourth are both solid lines, and while some shakeups were expected for tonight, I’m not sure who gets dropped to fit Shanny in. Mike Rupp? Jay Pandolfo? David Clarkson? Methinks Lou may be working on another move…
Interchangeable Parts:
A Super Saturday In The Life Of IPB --
Only 3 hours into Super Saturday and it’s all ruined. All ruined! According to Tom Gulitti, the Devils have officially signed Brendan Shanahan to a one-year contract. Schnookie: “Well, it could be worse. We could have Scott Clemmensen as our starting g– oh sh*t!” Boomer: “I don’t know what Lou’s thinking. Next he’ll be signing Randy McKay again.” Schnookie: “Hey, Claude Lemiuex’s in the middle of a come-back!” Pookie: [Vomits copiously.] ...
sundstrom / Devils forum at NJDevs.com:
I'm still scratching my head on this one. the team does not need more leadership - they really have plenty of it. i'm also not sure that shanny gives that "different voice" or energy boost that might put a spark into these guys.

for the most part, they are a solid hard working team. the latest two weeks has seen a decline in effort from the max they were getting in november but that's only natural in a long season, as much as it pains me to say it. they are not as skilled and talented as Detroit and SJ (or even Boston for that matter) where they can just get by on skill alone. Parise, who is the best forward save Elias, is not even the most skilled. But he is the hardest working forward in hockey and has good enough skill to translate those into very good play.

the kaberle thread highlights what, if anything, the devils really need which is a 20+ minute 1st pairing defenseman with good offensive instincts that can move the puck...
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The NY Post in their Sunday Sports SOUND OFF Section lets the dogs loose on Tom Renney. That is a sound editorial decision.

TOM TO GO
Renney's lost control of Rangers
It's time for Rangers coach Tom Renney to go! While GM Glen Sather is smoking cigars in the skybox, he may want to take a gander at his floundering ice follies. The Rangers have quit on themselves and their coach and because you can't fire a team, it's Renney who must be replaced. They don't play 60 minutes of hockey on any given night and not one player has been held accountable. Renney is a good coach, but his words have fallen on deaf ears. Replace him now or suffer the fate of the other two New York-area hockey teams.

Tim Franina
Plantation Fla.

Things are starting to become serious for the Rangers. They are hearing the footsteps of teams like Florida, Buffalo, etc and the notion that the Rangers will not make the playoffs will become very troubling for two men: GM Glen Sather and coach Tom Renney. The reason being owner James Dolan only cares about one point regarding the Rangers: making the playoffs. If the team continues to struggle, and I believe they will, they could be out of a playoff spot very soon. Patrick Rissmiller, Aaron Voros, Wade Redden, Dan Fritsche and Dmitiri Kalinin make a combined $12 million in actual salary. Couple that with disappointments Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, who combined for approximately $14M, and that's a whopping $26M in payroll down the drain and probably at tbest the eighth and final spot in the playoffs.

Chet Merola
Manhattan
----
Kotsy: Ottawa's Chris Neal looked like a chickenFinally, former Rangers player Chris Kotsopoulos, 'Kotsy,' calls out Ottawa's Chris Neil as a chicken. Another sound editorial decision.

Kotsy's Korner:
It was also interesting to see how Chris Neil of Ottawa tried and really did take advantage of a few Rangers players (Prucha & Staal). But, when facing probably one of the most honest tough-guys in Colton Orr, he declined. I'm not here to say Neil chickened out (he is a legitimate tough-guy himself)... but you make the call...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A 2-1 Hockey Team

A week or so ago, Joe Michelletti was commenting on the fact that coach clueless had remarked to him that he wanted the Rangers to be a 2-1 hockey team. Mission accomplished. Problem with being a 2-1 hockey team is that it doesn't always go your way. As Lou Costello remarked to Bud Abott, after Bud described the finer art of rolling dice, "Oh I get it. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose." Lately the Rangers have been losing far more than they are winning. No surprise there. When you play not to lose, you usually lose.

What made last night's loss all the more galling is that the Rangers lost in a shootout. That is not supposed to happen. Winning shootouts is the Rangers game. Coach clueless plays for the shootout. But you know the old expression: "Sh*t happens." The Rangers outshot the Sabres, but no matter. This is probably one of the more insignificant statistics in hockey.

But losing 2-1 hockey games opens up so many avenues for excuses. "We deserved better." "We outplayed them, but couldn't catch a break." "We keep playing like this and we are going to win a lot of hockey games." "There is too much talent in this room, for us to lose these types of games." And ad nauseam........

But the Rangers will continue to lose 2-1 hockey games and other games because despite all the shots on goal. They are a tentative hockey team. That is their coach's attitude. That is the team mentality. Nikolai Zherdev hasn't scored a goal in weeks. Is there any coincidence that his game went south after coach clueless had a 'conversation' with him. "Not playing defense is not an option." As Lou Costello so aptly put it. "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose." Lately the wins are getting harder to come by.

ICINGS:

The Rangers are slowly sliding down the standings. Why does Renny say: "we're headed in the right direction"? The direction they are going is south; 1-2 games equal many easy excuses.

Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Defense pays off with a point for Rangers --

After committing numerous damaging penalties in a 6-3 loss to Montreal at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Rangers didn't commit a single penalty.

Rangers coach Tom Renney appreciated the discipline; the Rangers had not had a penalty-free game since 1999. "We stifled them," Renney said. "We carried the play for the most part. In the shootout, Nazzy had [Miller] and just missed. We just didn't get the outcome we wanted. But we're headed in the right direction." ...
New York fans have heard the old, "we're headed in the right direction" before at MSG.

Alan Hahn - Knicks Fix / Newsday:
Isiah Thomas: 'We're headed in the right direction'
---
The last rumor in late December on Brendan Shanahan was that the Devils might be interested. However, there has been no news or even rumors so far this year about Shanny. Does that mean his career is over? He will celebrate his 40th birthday on Jan. 23rd. If he was signed now how many games could he skate? Sundin is still working to get in game shape.
----

Shanny agrees to join DevilsUpdate: Shanny's not done yet.

Talk about good timing. The speculation this morning about Shanny's career possibly being over was a bit premature. Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday afternoon that free agent forward Brendan Shanahan has agreed in principle to join the Devils.

So it's just under the wire for Shanny to get on the ice this season.

Devils.NHL.com:
Brendan Shanahan agrees to join Devils --
Three-time Stanley Cup champion returns to the club that drafted him second overall in 1987.

Brendan Shanahan is a New Jersey Devil once again.

Devils President, General Manager and CEO Lou Lamoriello announced Saturday that the former Devil and three-time Stanley Cup champion has agreed in principle to return to the club that drafted him second overall in 1987.

Shanahan has not yet signed a contract, which Lamoriello said will be worked out, "in the next couple of days."

There is no timetable set for when Shanahan will see his first game action this season, but he is expected to be more than just a power-play specialist. Lamoriello confirmed that Shanahan will be skating on his own in the meantime...
related:
Fire & Ice:
Shanahan back with the Devils (updated with quotes)
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Two Steps Back

The Rangers followed up Monday nights win over the Penguins with a Wednesday night debacle against the Canadiens. The one step forward was negated and then some with the 6-3 loss to Montreal. It was at least two steps back. Lundqvist was dreadful, basically responsible for the first two goals, one on a giveaway behind the net and the second on a juicy rebound. The win for Montreal ended a four game losing streak for them against the Rangers at the Garden. They broke the game open with four goals in the third period, the last being a short handed empty netter, the 13th short handed goal the Rangers have given up this year.

After the game, coach clueless complained about the officiating and the lack of penalties against the Rangers. I saw two bad calls. A marginal one against Voros, who is very marginal in his play lately, and a slash against Mara that was not called. Notice I didn't say missed because there was no way that a referee could miss a double slash. They just didn't call it. Clueless stated that he will now probably be more vocal behind the bench toward the refs. Wow! I suggest he spend his energies improving the style of play of his team. He should have them watch the brief footage of Prucha skating like a whirling dervish, offensively and defensively, and explain why he was exiled all these months.

Now it's hit the road Jack, and five big ones against Buffalo, Ottawa, the Islanders, Chicago and Pittsburgh. To me the big concern is Lundqvist. We have been saying all along that he can only carry this team so far and lately there have been chinks in his armor. A half a season has gone by and there is little hope that this team will change much. The defense is soft and the offense is still perimeter oriented but Lundqvist remained the rock. If he falters this team will go down like the proverbial rock.

ICINGS:
The ├╝ber-randy Four Habs blog put the old Ranger Pundit under their game day stripper. Thanks, that's a big complement, I think. Where is that bottle of little blue pills?

The most remarkable thing about Michael Farber's excellent 2,000 word profile of Sean Avery in this week's Sports Illustrated is that he found two players, who allegedly claimed to be friends with Avery. The friends of Sean Avery short list: Red Wings forward Kris Draper and Calgary's Michael Cammalleri.

After reading this story you have to remember the old saying: "never meet your heroes." Being a fan of Sean Avery means that you should never go near him, or else you might end up wanting to punch him. Anyone who can take pleasure in getting the mild mannered John Giannone riled up for a fist fight ain't right.

Michael Farber / SI:
The Trouble With Sean Avery --

The crude dissing of his former girlfriends was merely the last straw. Self-absorbed and a loudmouth throughout his career, the Stars' agitator has been cast out because he's a lousy teammate...

Even worse than his scripted misogyny, Avery was guilty of hockey's deadliest sin: being a lousy teammate. There can be room for personal agendas in other sports—think Terrell Owens with the Cowboys—but hockey takes a dim view of square pegs in their perfectly rounded holes...

"Brett Hull criticized us when we traded Sean, saying our team was bad for Sean and bad for the game," [Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi] recalls. "Freedom of expression. How does [Hull, the Stars' co-G.M. with Jackson,] like it today? They spent $15.5 million to protect the right of free speech. Adams and Jefferson would be proud...
related:
NHL Outsider: Is Sean Avery Finished?

So Jarkko Ruutu got a 2 game suspension for lunching on Andrew Peters' finger. Comparing that to Avery's 6 games for a crude comment gives more evidence that Bettman's case-by-case system of justice is seriously flawed.

NY Times:
Senators’ Ruutu Penalized 2 Games for Biting --
Biting is rare in hockey, but it happens. Last January, Devils forward Travis Zajac required stitches on his finger after being bitten by Philadelphia defenseman Derian Hatcher. The league did not discipline Hatcher.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Monday Night Special

The Rangers kicked off the 2009 home season in sterling fashion tonight by dismissing the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in front of a howling and chanting crowd that spent most of the third period serenading Sidney Crosby. The night was real special as the Rangers scored two power play goals, shutdown the Penguins power play, (0-8), and in the process scored a shorthanded empty netter by Scott Gomez (8).

Nigel Dawes (7) and Paul Mara (3) each scored a power play goal and Chris Drury (11) scored at even strength. Henrik Lundqvist posted his first shutout of the season, made 27 saves and became only the fifth goaltender in NHL history to win 20 games in their first four seasons. He made a couple of sensational saves early on against Crosby and Malkin that easily could have changed the outcome of the game.

The game also featured a personal war between Colton Orr and Brooks Orpik, with both exchanging elbows and only Orr getting caught and penalized. The culmination was a heavyweight brawl between Orr and Eric Godard that put the icing on a feisty game. The win propelled the Rangers back into the lead in the Atlantic Division, one point better than the Flyers who have two games in hand. It also jumped the Rangers from sixth to third in the Eastern Conference.

The game was the Rangers finest of the season. Can it continue? Who knows. For one thing, coach clueless kept the line combinations in place for the entire game. That helps. However, Lauri Korpikoski who had been promoted to the number one line just the other day, sat this game out. Petr Prucha, who had an assist on Drury's goal, played his third straight game. How long will that last? One other thing. The Penguins seemed to be a shell of their past selves. This was there 11th loss in their last 15 games. Yes, Gonchar has been out a spell and they seem to miss role players like Malone, Roberts and Armstrong. However, they still have a load of talent, and Crosby and Malkin are two of the best in the league. However, tonight the Rangers turned it up a notch and totally outplayed them. Can we keep it going?

ICINGS:


HockeyFights.com:
Eric Godard vs Colton Orr -- 7.7 rating. Who won?

Colton Orr -- 81.4%
Draw -- 11.6%
Eric Godard -- 7.0%
---
John Chandler / HockeyFights.com:
Orr Continues to Puzzle Godard -- If there’s one fighter in the league that knows how to generate a winning game plan, it might be Eric Godard. Always one to put strategy to use, Godard has been known to be able to slay some seemingly unbeatable monsters in recent years - most notably Derek Boogaard and Steve MacIntyre.

However as it is with most fighters, many have a rival that always seems to get the best of them. In this case, it would be Colton Orr that has Godard’s number...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sexy Lundqvist Gets Posterized

NY Post, Page 6 Magazine, Henrik Lundqvist: The World's Sexiest Ice ManHail to the Prince, but we pray to God this New York Post Page Six Magazine cover doesn't put the kursey kibosh on our royal keeper of the net.

Magazine covers are notorious for marking tops and bottoms. Henrik Lundqvist has been mostly a rock this year with just a few rocky games so far. He's kept the team in the playoff hunt despite being hung out to dry like a Swedish Bikini Team swimsuit by the Rangers soft defense.

Henrik at his day job (top) and with his girlfriend, Therese Andersson. Inset: Ex-teammate and headline magnet Sean Avery.
Rangers fans must hope Henrik's girlfriend, Therese Andersson (above), keeps her Lun-kin humble and under wraps. We're not ready for 'Broadway Henrik' just yet.

Kirsten Fleming / Page Six Magazine:
Henrik Lundqvist: The World's Sexiest Ice Man --

Sean Avery hogged the Rangers' spotlight last year, but now it's goalie Henrik Lundqvist's turn. With his killer saves and the ability to bounce back from frustration, he's poised to capture one of the NHL's top honors. And with his dashing sartorial sense and sex appeal, he's already caught the eyes of the city's fashionistas...
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Prucha Can't Spark Offense-less Rangers

According to Joe Micheletti, coach clueless was quoted as saying the Rangers aren't going to score a lot of goals, and they are a 2-1 team. Clueless is right on target as the Rangers lost to the Caps 2-1 for their fourth loss in the last five games. Their special teams did them in again as the PP was 0-3 and gave up their 12th shorthanded goal. The power play is now 1-17, ranks 26th in the NHL and the clueless coaching staff doesn't have a clue on how to fix it. Considering it is now going on three years and counting I think it's time to fire the entire coaching staff and take the Stealth GM with them.

Petr Prucha, the exalted exiled one, tried to spark this lifeless, punchless crew, but to no avail. I swear after he scored and was skating back to the bench coach clueless was scratching his head, wondering what happened. Prucha now has three goals in 13 games and it is becoming evident that clueless will have trouble benching him later on, but will find a way to do it. Ovechkin continued to run roughshod over the Rangers with only Marc Staal keeping pace with him and fighting him check for check. Ovechkin scored the game winning short handed goal for the Caps who have now won six straight and are ready to take over the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers are getting ready to fold like an accordion. They are closer to ninth than they are to first. They are closer to oblivion than they are to success. They don't have the kind of player who can lead them out of this ever growing funk. They have no ice leadership and have no coaching leadership. Upper management is no better as the cap problem and the defense corp problem have all been brought about by the Stealth GM. But, no sweat. Coach clueless says we are a 2-1 team.

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ICINGS:

Washington's Alexander Washington's Alexander "Slappy" Semin (#28) and Marc Staal (#18)
in 3rd period 'fight'. Moral: don't mess with Siberians.


HockeyFights.com:
Starry Day and Night --
Something was in the air in NHL cities yesterday. The theme seemed to be stars and non-fighters dropping the gloves and throwing some punches: Sidney Crosby, Alexander Semin, Doug Weight. If Vegas had odds on every player in the NHL fighting on a given night, a parlay on those three probably would have given you 10,000:1 odds, if not better...
HockeyFights.com:
Marc Staal vs Alexander Semin -- Who won?
Marc Staal -- 45.5%
Draw -- 28.9%
Alexander Semin -- 25.7%
more slap fest reactions:
Adam Gretz / NHL.Fanhouse.com:
Comparing the Fighting Styles of Alexander Semin and Sidney Crosby --
Words fail me.

Honestly, I was waiting for him to start pulling out Staal's hair, who apparently wanted nothing to do with Semin's open-handed slaps to the back of the head. I can't decide if this is the best fight video ever, or the worst fight video ever.
El-Bashir - Capital Insider / Washington Post:
Battle of the Bizarre Fights --
Alexander Semin engaged in his first career fight tonight with Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who had two small scratches under his right eye after the encounter. And for those of you who weren't watching the game, check out the first video. Descriptions of Semin's punches toward the end of the fight ranged from him playing the bongos to him looking like Energizer Bunny beating a drum...

Alexander Semin vs Marc Staal -- 91%
Sidney Crosby vs Brett McLean -- 8%
2000+ votes
Capitals Kremlin:
Semin Photoshop Madness: Semin Kombat --
Semin Kombat. Too bad the refs stepped in before The Siberian Slapper could pull off his fatality...
Gustafsson / On Frozen Blog:
Alexander Semin Fights Scut Farkus

Mother Pucker:
Crosby vs. Semin (Who’s more embarrassed?)

Ben / GunAxIn:
Semin fights like a 12 year old girl

Barry Melrose Rocks:
When Hockey Fights Go Bad: Semin vs. Staal

Friday, January 02, 2009

Wrigley Winter Classic Photo Roundup

This year's Winter Classic was a nice ice spectacle that showed that the Red Wings still have first dibs on the Cup. Also as Puck Daddy, Greg Wyshynski said, it's "something Gary Bettman hasn’t figured out how to screw up yet."

Red Wings give Hawks cold shoulder 6-4 at Wrigley Winter Classic----Assessing the Winter Classic----Winter Classic photo: practice--------Winter Classic----Winter Classic photo----Detroit's Dan Cleary leaves the Hawks bench after getting checked over the boards during the 1st period----Winter Classic 2009 picture: Red Wings fans----Wrigley Winter Classic----Detroit wins the 2009 Winter Classic 6-4 and improves to 25-7-5----The Winter Classic toss----
related:
Detroit Free Press:
Was the Winter Classic a classic? Writers from around the country weigh in

MLive:
Day-after-the-Classic II ponderings and articles

more Winter Classic 2009 photos:
Detroit Free Press
New York Daily News
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times

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