Monday, March 30, 2009

Waiting to Exhale

Ryan Callahan after he blasted a right wing shot past Marty Brodeur for his 21st goal at 15:06 in the 2ndI was holding my breath before tonight's game. I was very worried about the Devils.

Would our old Sean Avery lucky charm still work its magic and turn Satan's spawn back into Martha and the Debbies? Or would the adopted Sons of Lou show up as Marty, the winningest goalie in NHL history, and the traveling Zach Parise scoring show? Would our wheezing and gased Rangers team end their two game slide? And, would our Prince be princely, our Torts tortly, and our Wade stay on his blade?

I won't argue with that Versus viewer mail about this being the best 0-0 game after the first period, and the best 3-0 game after the second. Still, going into the third I wasn't ready to do a victory lap around the sofa yet. Shanny had that look. Would he find a way to smite us? Payback for some possible Slats slight? Maybe irony just wanted to toy with us.

Fortunately, the 3-0 score held up and the Blueshirters won a critical game that firmed up their playoff chances. The Devils mean time are looking very shaky and un-Devil like. They now have a five game losing streak.

Seeing Ryan Callahan get a shot off in the slot and score, at 15:06 in the 2nd, was like seeing the first Robin of spring. A sight that was missing all winter. Where did those shots from the slot migrate to? I hope they stay around awhile and have more offspring.

Lundqvist's 38 saves yielded his 20th shutout and earned the first star of the game. Gomez with an assist on Callahan's goal had the second star. Girardi scored is 4th goal and was the third star.

Finally, our spine, the Grate One, Sean Avery was splendidly spiney and grating. Although, he did a pretty good rag doll imitation as David Clarkson manhandled him. Hitting Avery with a two minute penalty for roughing the ice with his face must be some new version of the Avery Rule.

So with five games remaining and 90 points, one behind the sixth place Penguins, the Rangers are now being projected as playoff bound by the statistical geniuses. Let's hope the stats don't lie. And, that our heroes continue to thaw out the Renney freeze dried offense.

ICINGS:

The Sean Avery article from the Sunday NY Times tells us that the Grate One has gone zen master. Pay attention grasshopper.

NY Times Fashion & Style:
The Demon on His Shoulder --

IN the first period of the New York Rangers game Tuesday, Sean Avery, a left wing, repeatedly punched an opponent in the skull. An hour later, Mr. Avery stood in a locker room at Madison Square Garden discussing men’s fashion.

“I admire well-dressed men no matter where they are — a guy in a police uniform that has it pulled together nicely or a doctor in his scrubs,” he said, a nasty scratch bleeding on his chin. “I like that identity of having a presence. I think that’s what it is. It states your presence.” ...

“He [Avery] has become a little more Zen in his thinking.” ...
Sean Avery, at the Perry Ellis show last September----
update:
Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants diligently provides Avery's take on the Clarkson altercation and the game, The Avery tape:
On not fighting with David Clarkson in the third period: "It's a 3-0 game at that point. I don't think that there's anything to gain by doing anything at that point."

On whether it took discipline for him not to fight: "It certainly takes discipline, for sure."

On why he didn't want to fight Clarkson: "You fight for your team and for your teammates. At that point, I didn't need to fight for either of them, so there's really no point."

On being angry he received a roughing call anyway: "I don't really know what happened there. There's a lot going on in a big scrum. We came out with a power play so that's a good thing." ...
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2nd Update:

Jeff Klein at the NY Times gives us a more in-depth look at Avery the puppet master.
A Fuller Portrait of Sean Avery vs. the Devils --
Sean Avery was not merely a Zen master in the Rangers’ 3-0 victory over the Devils on Monday night. He was a Machiavellian Zen master...
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Well after bedtime, Petr Prucha showed why he's the man in Phoenix.

Petr Prucha after scoring a power-play goal 53 seconds into overtimePetr Prucha tallied a power-play goal 53 seconds into overtime on Monday to lead the Coyotes to a 6-5 win over the Dallas Stars at Jobing.com Arena. He was the game's first star.

coyotes.nhl.com:
Recap: Coyotes 6, Stars 5, OT --
Petr Prucha scored 53 seconds into the extra session on a power play to lift the Coyotes to a 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars in front of 13,381 at Jobing.com Arena.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Prucha, who scored his second goal with the Coyotes. “It would be even better if we won it before the overtime … we are happy to have two points tonight.”

Prucha, who already had two assists in the game, was sent out by Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky for the four-on-three power play after Stars defenseman Andrew Hutchinson was called for tripping. With a down low set up by Shane Doan, the captain fed a pass to Prucha, who one-timed the puck past Stars goalie Tobias Stephan for his sixth goal this season. It was the first four-on-three goal the Coyotes have scored this season...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Ugly Igloo Loss

I was trying to remember the last time the Rangers won a game at the Igloo and frankly I can't. Not only that, we also seem to get the short end of the questionable calls and the even shorter end of the phantom calls. I have stayed away from the mantra that Avery and the Rangers are getting screwed. I have changed my tune after yesterday's game. The Rangers were called for nine penalties to three for the Pens. While the calls and non calls against Avery were bad the worst call to me was for the five minute interference to Colton Orr on a clean hit. However, hockey has always been a sport subject to the whims of the refs, and these are the things that must be overcome in a game and in a season.

Right now the Ranger season is on the brink. They are in seventh place, one point ahead of Montreal and just two points ahead of ninth place Florida. Florida and the Rangers both have six games to play, none against each other. The Rangers strong suit right now is their penalty killing. Their Achilles heel, their power play, though you have to admit the word power is a misnomer.

Right now the Rangers seem to be in disarray. Even the coach can't decide on his D-men. Sauer got less than two minutes. Does it pay to dress a guy for two minutes? I guess it does as now they are sending him down and are bringing up Potter. How much ice time is he going to get? Of course the culprit on defense remains the highly overpaid Redden who neither sits or can be sent down. Twenty-seven minutes of ice time and on the ice for the winning goal by Crosby who went right by him. So Potter will be brought back up. Why not bring Bobby Sanguinetti up who was an AHL all star and a power play specialist? You think we could use a power play specialist?

The coach said that the Rangers did a lot of good things yesterday even though they lost. It is time to start winning and the time to start is Monday night against the Devils. Either that or start preparing for next year. The bad news, about that, is that Wade Redden has five more bloated years left.

ICINGS
:

Rangerland Musing on the Igloo Ignominy

Chris Kotsopoulos / Kotsy's Korner:
Rangers Screwed in Pittsburgh Again --

It seems like whenever the New York Rangers play the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo, not only must they try to beat a very talented team - but they also have to beat the new age NHL and its referees...
Scotty Hockey:
Why is it that Joe Micheletti feels the need to be Wade Redden's personal publicist? Micheletti raved on and on about how wonderful Redden was when the Penguin ran into him in the neutral zone and the Rangers were able to go the other way and score. Not mentioned was the pathetic netminding by Fleury to allow the telegraphed wrap-around attempt slide past him. But Redden, wow. Just give that man the Norris NOW!!!!!
Hockey Rodent:
I'll heartily agree there were some gruesome calls and outrageous non-calls, the plain truth is that Pittsburgh outskated their guests at even strength, particularly in the attacking zone...
Steve Zipay / Blue Notes - Newsday:
After 4-3 loss to Pens, Rangers call out refs --
“The thing that’s frustrating is two teams with the type of position we’re in at this time of year, I just hope we allow the teams to make the difference and to determine the result,” said Tortorella after twelve penalties were called on the Rangers, giving the Penguins eight power plays to the Rangers’ three.

As for Avery, Torts said: “I’m the first one to say that Sean makes his own bed with some of the things that happened, but I think he’s done his penance here,” Tortorella said, “All I want is, I hope he’s given a fair shake, he does something stupid on the ice, give him a penalty; if it warrants him getting kicked out the game, kick him out of the game, the way he’s trying to concentrate on the game, and the way he’s trying to play, I hope he gets treated fairly.” ...
The Manic Ranger
Rangers Players Call Out Refs.. --
Apparently there are new "Avery Rules" in the NHL. Feel free to slash, trip, and do w/e the !@#$ else you want to do to him because it won't be called. There were numerous cases against Pittsburgh today when a penalty wasn't and should have been called. Granted the refs don't see everything, but when it's such a regular occurrence and often in plain view, it's inexcusable...
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HockeyFights.com:
Colton Orr vs Eric Godard -- 6.3 rating, who won?
  • Eric Godard -- 64.1%
  • Draw -- 23.3%
  • Colton Orr -- 12.6%

----
HockeyFights.com:
Sean Avery vs Tyler Kennedy -- 2.6 rating, who won?
  • Tyler Kennedy -- 55.4%
  • Draw -- 40.0%
  • Sean Avery -- 4.6%

----
Did the loss to the Pens really push the Rangers out of the playoffs?

Eklund:
Your Projected Final Standings -- Eastern Conference...

1. Bruins (E)
2. Devils (E)
3. Capitals (E)
4. Hurricanes (+1)
5. Flyers (+1)
6. Penguins (-1)
7. Canadiens (E)
8. Panthers (+1)
-------------
9. Rangers (-1)
10. Sabres (E)

Rangers -16.8 (62.9%)-- percentage of making the playoff change today...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rangers, Tortorella Implode

I don't know what was worse last night, the collapse from 4-1 or John Tortorella's lack of answers and decorum. If the Rangers blew it, and they sure did, Tortorella was no help in trying to explain why. The team's explanation that Atlanta is playing with nothing to lose attitude is bogus. Let's face it, the Rangers have gone from a 2-1 hockey team to a two period hockey team. Maybe it is too short of a time period for a high voltage, up tempo coach to install life into a team that was burdened and bludgeoned to death with a defensive mentality. Maybe.

However, explain why Nikolai Zherdev the one pure sniper on the Rangers did not get a shot in the shootout? Why did they stick with the Girardi-Staal defensive pairing for so long when they were on the ice for all four Atlanta goals? Why, oh why does this power play continue to falter in big situations?

Sure they scored two goals but they had ten opportunities including two five on threes. They should have buried Atlanta instead they spent the whole third period watching Ilya Kovalchuk flying around the rink creating all kinds of havoc, without anyone laying a glove on him. He ended up with a goal and and two assists. Girardi and Staal were both minus four.

Maybe Tortorella and the Rangers will have the answers before stepping on the ice at the Igloo. They better have them because there are no more opponents to play who "have nothing to lose" left. From now to the wire it's Pittsburgh, the Devils, Carolina, Boston, the Canadiens and the Flyers twice. These games will also give the new coach a chance to fine tune his act. After all, it's one thing for a team to disappear after two periods, but for a coach to do that leaves many questions unanswered. One of them may be, is this the right coach for this fragile team? I think so, but who knows, I've been known to be wrong once in awhile.

ICINGS:

Documentary: A Penguin Mating Ritual

Pens Mating Ritual
Jan Snyder / Hockey & High Heels [A different kind of hockey site]:
Penguin Devotion Pt 3 : The Ultimate Penguin Wedding --

Paul proposed to Nicole at a Pittsburgh Pirates game (off season for the Pens!).“We decided that since we were only getting married once that we were doing it the right way, with a Pittsburgh Penguins themed wedding,” said Nicole...
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Squeezing More Juice Out of the Power Play

Power Play Tactics: Championship teams need an excellent PPSo why is the Rangers power play still stinkeroo under Coach Torts? That was a big hole in Tom Renney's Blueshirt coaching responsibilities. Renney had a chronic inability to build a power play unit that could score. Is the problem really a congenital defect of the Rangers roster that no amount of tinkering can fix?

The good news is, at least, the Rangers have stopped the massive bleeding, that is, giving up short handed goals in bunches. More good news is that, after over a month on the job and thirteen games, coach Tortorella himself has finally figured out that he has a serious PP problem. His team is seriously handicapped, or if you want to say has special needs. He could have saved himself a lot of time if he'd read a few Rangers blogs.

For example, like our Section 335 has observed:
The Shot Not Taken --

unless the Rangers improved on the power play [this year] they would be burnt toast...
Today, Katie Strang at Newsday brings us up to speed, as Torts finally tries to get the PP up to speed. Thank you very much Coach T.

Katie Strang / Newsday:
Rangers' stagnant power play concerns Tortorella --
Tortorella doesn't care about [crummy power play] statistics, standings or rankings. After his team didn't convert on back-to-back power plays while up 2-1 against Minnesota Tuesday, however, he became concerned.

"We end up winning the game, but you stand behind the bench and you say, 'We just go 0-for-2 at a key time in the game, is it going to come back and bite you?' That's where we need to be more consistent, is scoring a big goal," Tortorella said yesterday. "I don't care if we're 1-for-7, 1-for-8, if it's a big goal at a key time in the game, that's the most important thing with special teams right now."

Moving with and without the puck, Tortorella said, will be a focus to improve the unit...
ICINGS Update:

Andrew Gross / Rangers Rants:
Valiquette gets the start --
Live from Atlanta, where I'm kicking myself for blogging yesterday I thought Henrik Lundqvist would start tonight because, of course, Steve Valiquette is getting the start. The reason I'm kicking myself was discussing the Rangers (lack of) goalie rotation with a colleague on Sunday before the Ottawa game, we agreed that this Atlanta game would be a perfect spot to start Valiquette, especially with an afternoon game coming up in Pittsburgh Saturday...

Lord of the New Jersey Slackers Puts on His Goalie Pads

Kevin Smith blogBig time Hollywood actor/writer/director Kevin Smith is taking his New Jersey slacker posse up to the “Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament” taking place in Brantford, Ontario on June 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Smith, a Hollywood heavyweight and goal-tending round mound of rebound, has put together his own semi-celebrity "Puck U" team. On the team are his wife, Jen Schwalbach, and a cohort of his Jersey friends and D-list actor pals.

Who do you think wears the GM pants in the Schwalbach family?

Smith's View Askew production company is also sponsoring two teams from his fan club message board: the Monroeville Zombies and the Leonardo Reapers.

Smith is a long time New Jersey Devils fan from Highlands, NJ. He filmed, his breakthrough 1994 movie, Clerks, for $27,575 in a Leonardo, NJ, convenience store where he worked. The movie has a scene where the main characters play street hockey on the roof of the Quick-Stop store, while slacking off, of course. That earns it a big slacker stick slap (say 3x).

Smith plays the not so Silent Bob, of the super-slacker duo Jay and Silent Bob. Smith's latest movie was Zack and Miri Make a Porno, released in October 2008, starring Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks.

Bottomline: It would be nice if a New York/Rangers fan team got a chance to drill Mr. Devil-Slacker-Wood multiple times in his massive 5-hole. Silent Bob talks too much Devils smack. Who's a fat %% ? Pot say hello to kettle. Plus, any friend of Beantown's Ben Affleck and Matt Damon needs to be hammered and humbled just on general principles.

link:
NewsAskew.com:
Cheer On Kevin & Co. At the Gretzky Street Hockey Tourney! --

A lot of chatter has been happening over at the immortal View Askew WWWBoard regarding the upcoming “Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament” taking place in Brantford, Ontario on June 5th, 6th, and 7th. This all-ages charity event will feature teams battling it out by age bracket...
Walter Gretzky Street Hockey Tournament

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost Trapped

Not quite, but it was close. Watching a Jacques Lemaire team playing hockey is about a half-step above watching my two eighty-year-old grandfathers play checkers. Both are guaranteed to put the viewer to sleep. Lemaire's plan goes deeper than that. He hopes to put the opposition to sleep. For the second night in a row the Rangers had to play trench hockey, but unlike Sunday night when they fell 2-1, they pulled it out last night on Scotty Gomez's (16) game winner off of a nice feed by Avery. Avery tried to energize the crowd by engaging Cal Clutterbuck (that's his real name) in a disagreement over a previous late hit on Antropov. Colton Orr later mixed it up with Owen Nolan to keep the crowd awake.

Of course the highlight goal was scored by Nikolai Zherdev from what looked like an impossible angle behind the net. It was his 22nd of the year. The Z-Man also picked up an assist. Actually these games shouldn't be that close but the Ranger power play continues to be pathetic. This is one thing that coach Tortorella has been unable to fix. It was 0-5 and the night before it was 0-6 and in the last nine games it is 4-41. What do you expect of a power play when night after night Wade Redden gets the most ice time on a power play. Could it be that Jim Schoenfeld is protecting the Stealth GM's interests? This power play will signal the death knell of the Ranger playoff season.

The Rangers have eight games to move up in the standings. They are four behind Philly, who have two games in hand, and there are two games against each other. They are a point behind Carolina and have a game in hand. However, if they don't get the power play going it is not going to matter where they finish, they will be cooked in the first round.

ICINGS:

HockeyFights.com:
Cal Clutterbuck vs Sean Avery -- Average rating of 5.8. Who won?

  • Cal Clutterbuck -- 44.4%
  • Sean Avery -- 37.0%
  • Draw --- 18.5%



HockeyFights.com:
Owen Nolan vs Colton Orr -- Rating of 5.4. No doubt here who won.
  • Colton Orr -- 66.7%
  • Draw -- 26.7%
  • Owen Nolan -- 6.7%


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Greg Wyshynski / Yahoo Puck Daddy:
MSG brawl doubleheader; can punch-less Wild make cut? --
Perhaps the only shock here was that Avery wasn't the first one to remove his helmet, considering the game was on national TV.

Why fight so early? Because Avery played like a slice of crap in the Rangers' previous game, according to Coach John Tortorella: "I know Sean knows he didn't play well that other night. He didn't get some ice to play on. I think he wanted to get back into his game, bang a little bit, fight." ...

Scotty Hockey:
39-27-8: Not So Wild But Still Two Points --
Cal Clutterbuck also asked for it and Sean Avery answered the bell. Finally. Avery picked his spot well, taking on someone of pretty much the same size and aptitude. The Garden roared after the first period fight and Avery went on to add another assist. It is interesting that when he is involved in the game, banging bodies and doing whatnot behind the play, the Rangers step up their game and get more offensive chances. When Avery steps back, so do the Blueshirts ....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not There Yet

John Tortorella remarked a few days ago that the Rangers may not be in the shape they need to be to play the type of hockey he wants them to play. Last night may have well proved Tortorella's point. The Rangers were listless to a fault. Sean Avery said that the Rangers didn't bring their 'A' game. Hell, it looked like the 'B' game was missing too. Back to back, didn't seem to bother Ottawa, which was playing basically a defensive game. What are the Rangers going to do Tuesday against trap happy Minnesota?

Ottawa has now won nine of their last ten and snapped the Rangers winning streak at three games. Now I know you can't win them all down the stretch, but there are certain games that are there for the pickings and this was one of them. It was a game that could have, and should have been won. The Rangers reverted to old bad form going 0-6 on the power play and getting all of four shots on goal. It was back to the pass, pass and then pass again. The Rangers got 29 shots on goal. Some things never change though even with the new coaching regime. Wade Redden got over five and a half minutes of futile power play time while Girardi got about a minute and a half and Marc Staal got all of 25 seconds. So much for the mantra, if you play well you get the ice time. If you have a $6.5 mil contract you play until it hurts and trust me it is hurting for Redden to play so much.

With nine games to go the Rangers have to get back on track. Fourth place is still within sight and with two against Philly and one against Pittsburgh it is a possibility but you can't let the gimmees get away. Tuesday night against Minnesota should be a gimmee. Let's see if Avery and the gang can bring the 'A' game. It sure was missing last night.

ICINGS Update:

Hope Sauer sweetens defense.

Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
Mike Sauer summoned (Update) --

Mike Sauer, 21, a rugged defenseman whose early pro career has been detoured by injury, has been called up from the Wolf Pack and will make his debut against Minnesota tomorrow replacing Michal Rozsival, who injured his left knee last night against Ottawa...
Howlings:
SAUER TO NY --
Sauer played with Brandon Dubinsky with the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL for two seasons, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Sauer is also, along with Lauri Korpikoski, the only remaining pieces of the Brian Leetch trade...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Our Defense is Offense

What an incredible breath of fresh air is wafting through the old Garden.

"Our defense is offense," said Rangers coach John Tortorella after last night's win by the Blueshirts over the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3.

Amazing. That simple statement, "our defense is offense," sums up the tectonic shift in hockey philosophy that the NY Rangers have experienced. It explains the fast turn-around from a team that was locked in a confidence draining death spiral to a team now showing some swagger as they methodically march toward the playoffs.

Under the old Tom Renney regime the bankrupt doctrine was always the double negative: "Not playing defense is not an option." A bitter pill for all of us in Rangerland to swallow.

Last night, Marc Staal, after the win, enthusiastically expounded on the new Tort's discipline:

We're all skating all the time; no one is standing around waiting for the play to come to him.

Torts doesn't like us to spend any time in the defensive zone at all . . . . at all . . . so we're always aware of making the quick pass and moving it up and then getting involved supporting the play at the other end.
It's the difference between playing up on your toes under Torts, versus sitting back on your heels under Renney.

Playing on the toes, is playing to win. Playing on your heels, is playing not to lose. Playing "on the heels" is the same as watching a notorious NFL prevent defense give up gobs of yardage and the winning score in the final two minutes as the fans scream no.

What a glorious change of hockey philosophy. If you're going to lose, and that applies to all but one of the thirty teams in the NHL, then why not go down with your boots on and your guns blazing?

So let the young guns blaze away.

My stars from last night: Callahan (happy birthday[24] and more sparkling), Avery, and Staal.

Despite the breakdowns, lapses and cracks in the defense, Rangerland is unanimously upbeat.

Scotty Hockey:
38-26-8: Hockey Night In New York --
Walking out to the sweet sound of Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" after the Rangers 5-3 win over the Sabres was a treat on Saturday night. The game itself? Almost as nice.

A packed Garden witnessed the Rangers skating hard, creating chances and putting the puck in the back of the net. It is a remarkable change from a month ago ...
Hockey Rodent:
Carpe Diem --
Now for the sweets...

There is definitely a rejuvenated attitude between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. With a trio of conference rivals struggling (see Column 2), there's opportunity. Where there's opportunity, there's the opportunity for opportunistic opportunism. That's the best kind of opportunism I know. Thus, today's title.

Sean Avery has demonstrated he's a lot more than snarl. He's not just strong on his skates. He's got speed. And he's got the more difficult kind of speed: speed with the puck. Why... you could almost say he's got opportunistic speed. That's the best kind of speed I know this side of warp drive....
Rangers Review:
It’s Contagious - Sabres@Rangers Post Game Thoughts… --
When you’re hot, you’re hot. That’s all there is to say about this team. Right now they are playing as confidently as any team in the league, and its showing. Even tonight, in a game where the really weren’t as sharp as they should have been, they still were the better team. Now don’t get me wrong, they didn’t just half ass a win here, like they’ve done oh-so-many times under Renney. No, we definitely deserved the 2 points, but we weren’t at the top of our game either...
Natural Hat Trick:
It is still, weeks into Tortorella's regime, surprising me to see what a completely different team we have been blessed with.

It's amazing what a system - the right system - can do.

Hank has not been perfect, at times far from it, but in the new system he hasn't had to be. I see the visible relief on his face...
Mark Herrmann / Newsday:
Tortorella instills Rangers with fighting spirit --
We don't know how good the Rangers would have been had they not changed regimes a month ago tomorrow. We don't even know how good they are now. It sure is clear, though, that they have an edge.

They have taken on the personality of their coach, John Tortorella, who has made such an imprint that he doesn't even seem like the "new" coach anymore. He made the point yesterday that his reputation as a screaming lunatic is vastly overrated. Then again, he is the type of guy who could start a fight in an empty room...
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
BLUESHIRTS GO FORWARD --
The puck is moving. So are the Rangers...
ICINGS:

Brooklyn Hockey Guy:
Don't forget to check out NHLPlayoffRace.com -- It's a new site featuring the Original Playoff Race Chart that numerous NHL GM's and league officials get emailed to them nightly...
Walt PoddubnyRest in peace Walt Poddubny.

NY Rangers:
Former Rangers star Poddubny dies at 49 --
Walt Poddubny, the only player other than Wayne Gretzky and Jaromir Jagr to lead the New York Rangers in scoring in each of his years with the Blueshirts, has died at age 49...

Poddubny, a center who wore No. 8 for all of his 152 games with the Rangers, followed up his amazing year with another tremendous season in 1987-88, leading the team with 38 goals and 88 points to stand alone atop the Blueshirts in both categories. No other Rangers player came within 10 points of Poddubny in that second season...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Case Against Renney

Petr Prucha mis-used under Tom Renney
Many news writers and commentators have been quick to defend Renney in seeking to explain why the Rangers are a better team under Torts. They point to the (re)acquisitions of Avery, Antropov and Morris to explain why the Rangers are a different team. They are wrong. Renney’s failure was his inability to recognize and properly use young talent. Allow me to make the case.

1. Torts quickly understood that Callahan has burning energy and desire as well as talent. He has been rewarded with power play time and first line duty. He has responded with production.

2. Torts quickly understood that his youngest defenders were his best defenders. Now Stahl and Girardi get 37 shifts and 24 minutes of ice – and they perform. They even kill penalties.

3. Renney did not even play Lundqvist over Weeks until his performance and fan unrest forced his hand.

4. Wayne Gretzky realized that Prucha is the real gem, not Dawes. Last night Coach Gretzky had Prucha on the ice for 18:50, more than any other Right Wing – in fact more than any other wing or center iceman. Dawes was a healthy scratch.

5. Wayne Gretzky realized that Kalinin had significant offensive talent, and last night Kalinin had an assist and a power play goal. In seven games he has a goal and two assists. In his two full healthy years at Buffalo he scored over 20 goals each time.

Just imagine if Renney had used Prucha, Kalinin, Stahl and Girardi correctly. Do you really think we would be fighting for our playoff lives right now?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sparkling Callahan

No, I am not talking about some vintage wine. I am talking about the 24 year old Ranger forward from Rochester, New York, who more than any other Ranger has fit right in to John Tortorella's high uptempo system. Callahan scored his 17th goal last night, the Rangers third of the game, in typical Callahan fashion, right in front of the net. He has been a whirling dervish and Tortorella has rewarded him with first line assignments and power play time both almost non-existent under the old regime.

Last night's thriller was an old fashioned punch, counter punch game and one of the more reliable of all the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist, almost blew it. He gave up a real softie to Andrei Markov to tie the score late. In the shootout he allowed two of the three Canadien shooters to score which was quite uncharacteristic for him. However, for a change the Rangers picked him up, by scoring three for three in the shootout. So turnabout is fair play. Lundqvist has bailed this team out on more than one occasion.

The Rangers seem to be peaking at the right time and with just 11 games to go the timing couldn't be better. The Rangers have a four point edge over ninth place Florida and are two points behind Pittsburgh and Philadelphia which are tied for fourth. Fourth would be a great finish for the Rangers, which would guarantee home ice for the first round. It's amazing what a new coach with a new system can do. Of course, having a dynamo like Ryan Callahan helps quite a bit. He is the ever-ready battery of hockey.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Avery! Avery! Avery!

Avery! Avery! Avery! Sean Avery scored two power-play goals in Rangers 4-1 win over the FlyersAvery! Avery! Avery!

When you are the prodigal son, the sinner, the outcast of the NHL you are happy for the little things. Sean Avery is no normal prodigal son. He doesn't just accept the fatted calf, the fine wines and the jewels, he pays back. Boy does he pay back. Yesterday, at the Wachovia Center he had a nice game, scored a goal, but his team lost to the hated Flyers 4-2. Today was redemption day for the Rangers led by that man, that one, that prodigal son. Did he have a game.

He scored the first goal on a deflection of a Derek Morris shot, then scored the third goal right in front of the net and in between he was an all around whipsaw, dishing out five hits and making life miserable for the Flyers. In the process he jumped the Rangers into a tie with Montreal for sixth, two points behind Pittsburgh for fifth and four points behind the fourth place Flyers.

Redemption is sweet. So here was the Garden crowd chanting his name with every goal, with every hit and with every sighting. He was given an uproarious standing ovation when he was announced as the number one star. And to think that someone said he didn't belong in the league. It must have been an Eastern Conference opponent who said that.

Oh, there were other players and other stars who contributed. Andropov got his third Ranger goal and Sjostrom scored his second goal in three games, his seventh of the year. Dan Girardi endeared himself to the 150th consecutive sold out crowd by dropping his gloves and going after Mike Richards who had just decked Nikolai Zherdev. He got 2, 5, and ten but so what. He sent a message as did the rest of the Rangers. Brandon Dubinsky also got into the hit parade with 5 hits.

Andropov was the number two star and Lundqvist was number three, but on this night, all eyes, those in the crowd and on the benches were on the prodigal son; who was not just happy to return again, but he returned with a vengeance. With 11 games to go the Rangers have their spines restored and now the rest of the team must keep it going.

ICINGS:

More love for the Grate One.

Chris Kotsopoulos / Kotsy's Korner:
Avery Leads the Way --
Sean Avery led the Rangers with 2 PP goals and played with his usual reckless, "in your face" style that the Rangers have missed all season long. I, for one, am very happy that he's back. Avery's game has a little of everything - he can skate, hit, score, agitate, and most of all he has the opponent thinking about him constantly. I love it! Oh, and when Flyers coach John Stevens complained about Avery getting away with his stuff on the ice... all I can say is, "Wahhhh!" Has he looked at his own agitator (Scott Hartnell) lately? I'm just glad that Avery's back and I'm sure the Rangers fans are too! ...
The Manic Ranger:
There Is Only One Sean Avery --
“We got emotional and used it in the wrong way there,” Stevens said. “I think (Avery’s) probation period is over and now he’s back up to his old antics and we got sucked in to be quite honest with you. We started worrying about him instead of playing the games. He draws your physical attention and allows their skilled people to play and then we play the whole game shorthanded.” said Coach John Stevens. Hmm skill players huh? Didn't Avery score two of those goals himself? This sounds like a bit of an excuse. Seems like Avery was even able to get into Stevens head. In reality Avery played a hard nosed game today, he did nothing deserving of being called 'antics'...
Natural Hat Trick:
He Belongs In Blue. . . --
Sean Avery is made for Manhattan. Made in the mold of and effective in this uniform. I will not go so far as to say there is a perfect athlete or a perfect player, but if there was ever a player where you said, he can only work there, that is his perfect match, that's Sean Avery and New York.

Granted, half of it might be because he, after having been here and been happy here, had this thought in the back of his mind all along that this is where he belonged and if he wasn't here, he wasn't going to be happy, effective Sean. Which on some level you can't even blame him for. We can all name athletes that just played better in one location over another in their careers...
Jane McManus / Rangers Report:
Avery and the Rangers --
Full disclosure, I’m not crazy about focusing on the designated matinee idol. So when NBC put a camera on Sean Avery and called it the “Star Cam,” well, let’s just say Avery would have had to do a lot in order to make me want to write about him.

He did it...
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
RANGERS RIP FLYERS --
If this isn't as well as the Rangers can play, then it is certainly as well as they have played at any time this season. Coincidence of coincidences, Sean Avery had more than just something to do with it...

And in the middle of it all was Avery, who scored twice from in front, drew two penalties directly and one indirectly, distracted a Flyers team that failed to get the memo about the New Sean, and who, four goals and six games into his Encore on Broadway, is acting as the same catalytic agent he was upon first joining the Blueshirts two years ago...
Wonder why this guy at the Bleacher Report is such a big Avery fan?

Martin Avery / Bleacher Report:
The Secret To Sean Avery's Success With The New York Rangers This Time --
Many are amazed by the change in Sean Avery, but not me.

I've been following his hockey career for more than 10-years and I've seen him make a series of big changes.

He is like a horse that wants to change into a giraffe, a dinosaur that evolves into a bird, or a Neanderthal that becomes a sensitive new age man...
Martin Avery / Bleacher Report:
Stars, Penguins Must Kick Themselves As Avery Is First Star of The Game --
The Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and a dozen other teams must be having second thoughts for sloppy decisions about signing Sean Avery.

Now, that he is scoring a goal a game and leading the New York Rangers into the playoffs...
----Sean AveryThe Grate One

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No Brotherly Love

It was not a good day for the Rangers today in Philadelphia. It started out okay with Antropov scoring on a breakaway but it slowly evaporated after that. In fact, so did Antropov. Martin Brion, playing perhaps the game of his life, made 39 saves, aided and abetted by the posts and the refs. The refs came in and waved off the tying goal by Gomez that on the replays seem to go in off of his glove and/or stick. It looked like a goal but the review, which usually sides with the refs said no goal. It would have tied the game at 2-2.

This was the game that Tortorella showed absolutely no patience and instead used his version of the old TV show, "What's My Line?" Who knows. I couldn't figure it out. Just about everyone played with everyone. The line of Gomez, Callahan and Avery which played so well against Nashvile was broken up in the first period. Avery did score again, to cut the deficiet to 4-2 but that was with Callahan and Dubinsky. But it was too little too late.

Zherdev returned to good graces and enjoyed increased ice time, had a couple of golden opportunities but no cigar. Naslund continued to get third line time and one wonders where this is all leading to. For some mysterious reason Wade Redden got the most ice time of any of the D-Men and it showed. He was a minus two and woefully out of position on Richard's go ahead goal. In fact, he was near the Flyer goal after making a decision to pinch and he seemed to stay there.

Tomorrow I will return to the scene of "my meeting" and also my first game back since my event. I look forward to a revitalized Ranger unit led by a more patient coach. BTW, Scott Gomez's game has improved since Tortorella has showed up. Is Chris Drury ever going to show up and step up in one of these games?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tortorella Makes Sweet Music

It was a natural. It was Music City and the coach didn't like the tune his Rangers were playing. So he changed a few things. First, he blistered the team between periods one and two. Next, he put together a line of Gomez, Avery and Callahan. Third, he said attack, attack, attack. The result was the Rangers came back from a 2-1 first period deficiet and beat Nashville 4-2 to climb back into the playoff picture.

There was other good news. Henrik Lundqvist became the first goalie in the NHL to win 30 games in his first four seasons. The Rangers scored their 8th shorthanded goal of the season. Sean Avery got his first goal as a Ranger this year. Scott Gomez had three points, a goal and two assists. Marc Staal had the first two point game of his young career, a goal and an assist. Finally, John Tortorella has put his stamp on this team. Gone is the defense first mentality and welcome to the attack mantra.

There were other big changes. Nikolai Zherdev was benched for the second and third periods. Markus Naslund got less than 10 minutes of ice time, only Colton Orr got less time as a forward. Wade Redden got the second fewest minutes of any defensemen. So things are changing folks. Of course, the power play didn't work. It was 0-4, but the penalty kill was 1-6. On to the weekend showdown with the Dark Ranger's favorite team to hate: the Philadelphia Flyers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Carolina Swoon

The Rangers reverted to mid-season form in a passionless loss to Carolina last night dropping them into ninth place. The 3-0 loss was reminiscent of the February dog days. There was nothing last night. There was no there, there. They got all of eight shots in the third period and it was doubtful any were hard enough to break a pane of window glass. They looked tired, they looked spent. The best Ranger was the NHL's favorite whipping boy, Sean Avery. He had the best chance for a score in the second period, but couldn't lift the puck. He was called for another dubious interference penalty, his third in two games.

Maybe Tortorella is driving this team too hard? Of course, that is a joke. This Ranger team may not be shape to play Johnny T. Hockey. That is no joke. After all we have gone from the laid back at the blue line, one forechecking player and defense at all costs, and made a 180° turn, where the D-Men now join the rush, go deep and the forwards check all over the place. So it's more tiring and a player like Avery, who has been sitting out most of the year seems to have the most life. Anyhow, this is no time for the weary. They go to Nashville, Thursday, and they are fighting for a playoff spot and then it's away and home against the Flyers and then up to Montreal on Tuesday. So, no rest for the weary.

The good news. They are only four points out of fourth place. They have two days off before facing Nashville on Thursday and this weekend's games against the Flyers should be doozies. Also, the goaltending remains the strength of the team. Valiquette was very good last night, 33 saves, and Lundqvist had an extra day off and should be well rested for Nashville. Rather than look further ahead, the team must take it one day at a time, one game at a time, two points at a time. Time will tell. No more stinkers, please.

ICINGS:

It's great to see the Hockey Rodent unleash a 'clueless' carpet bombing on the Stealth GM, Glen Sather, and the Absentee Owner, James Dolan. That's been the best adjective to use for the leadership at MSG. Polite, but to the point. We all live on, not a Yellow Submarine, but on the USS Clueless. And we're all just waiting for this sad ship to sink.

Hockey Rodent:
'Til Death Do Us Part --

Glen's impulsive decisions are responsible for more harm than good. Has he made some sound decisions/acquisitions since arriving in the summer of 2000?

Fersure.

Has he also negated, nullified and otherwise voided those bennies with bountiful blunders?

Ayuppp. If Bryan Trottier didn't confirm your worst fears way back when, there are a couple dozen more names (cough) Hugh Jessiman (cough) I could throw out to buttress and bolster my premise.

And even when Glen does the right thing... he often does it at the very worst moment. And so many of these mistakes are ones we will be living with long after he's history.

There's only one thing worse than a fool. It's a fool who fails to realize he is a fool.

No. I take that back. There is one thing worse. And that's a fool who has no clue that he's clueless who has a boss named James Dolan who also is clueless about the subordinate being clueless such that we are saddled with all this cluelessness for...

... I don't know how long for... because I'm clueless to know how this story ends or when it ends.

If it's a case of 'til death do us part, then I want a divorce...
Update:
Is there any irony that the Grateful Dead reunion will be hitting MSG on April 25th? So will the Rangers be gone by then, finished after a "Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride"? via Todd Harrison

He's Gone:
Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb, you know better but I know him.
Like I told you, what I said, Steal your face right off your head.

Now he's gone, now he's gone, Lord he's gone, he's gone.
Like a steam locomotive, rollin' down the track
He's gone, gone, nothin's gonna bring him back...He's gone.

Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride, hot as a pistol but cool inside.
Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile,
Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile!!!!...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A-Very Big Win

Two of the Original Six put on quite a show at the Garden today and if this was a playoff preview we will be in for one heck of a playoff series. It was an old fashioned rock 'em-sock 'em kind of game where the Bruins out hit the Rangers 49-40, out shot the Rangers 39-30 but fell short in the goals department as the Rangers won it on Nikolai Zherdev's goal (19) with less than seven minutes left in the game, 4-3. The Z-Man has been on a roll since Tortorella became the head coach. In fact, this was the Rangers third straight win and it is amazing how the team has responded to the new coach. It's a difference between night and day. It's a difference between life and death, because that is what the Rangers were - death on ice. How long can it last? Who knows. All I know there is life back in the team and there is life with the fans. The Garden is alive and when it is, so are the Rangers.

What is also encouraging is the fact that the "big guys" are starting to put the puck into the net. Nik Antropov scored his 22nd and first as a Ranger and also had an assist. Gomez got his 15th as did Callahan. Avery got an assist on Callahan's goal and also had three hits. He was also whistled for two minutes on a so called interference with about a minute and a half left to play giving the Bruins one more chance to tie the score. It's doubtful any other player on the ice but Avery would have been called for that infraction. Needless to say he was greeted with ovations when he hit the ice, threw a hit and his name announced for the assist. Nowhere were the boobirds who 'greeted' him in October when he played for Dallas.

The writers picked the stars of the game in the following order: 1. Antropov, 2. Chara and 3. Dubinsky. To me the three Ranger stars were: 1. Lundqvist, 36 saves, 2. Staal, 5 hits and one huge assist, 3. Antropov, 1 goal and 1 assist. Of course one could make a case for Gomez, Callahan, Zherdev or Avery who seems to fire up everybody. No matter, it's now three in a row and at Carolina tomorrow night on Versus.

ICINGS: Sad to hear about Alfie Pike's death. He played on the 1940 Stanley Cup team and later became a coach for the team. He was 91 years old and condolences out to the Pike family. God Bless Alfie Pike.

NY Times:
Alf Pike, Member of Rangers’ 1940 Stanley Cup Team, Dies at 91 --

Nicknamed the Embalmer for his off-season job at a funeral home, Pike played six seasons in the National Hockey League, all with the Rangers. In 234 regular-season games, he scored 42 goals and had 77 assists. He missed two seasons during World War II while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

His death leaves Clint Smith, 95, as the last living member of the 1940 Rangers.

Alfred George Pike was born in Winnipeg and as a boy attended the hockey school run there by Lester Patrick, the Rangers’ longtime coach and general manager. The Rangers signed Pike in 1937, when he was 19. He played for two seasons with the New York Rovers, the minor league team whose games preceded Rangers games at the old Madison Square Garden.

After his N.H.L. career ended in 1947, Pike coached a Rangers affiliate in Ontario.

Harry Howell, the Hall of Fame defenseman, who played for Pike both in Ontario and in New York, said Pike was a demanding coach...

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Prodigal Son Returneth

The prodigal son returneth and the Islanders were the fatted calf. Sean Avery reintroduced himself to the NHL as a Ranger on his very first shift when he sent Islander defender Bruno Gervais to the ice with one of his patented checks and sent the signal that "the spine" of the Rangers had returned. The Islanders then spent the rest of the game trying to decapitate Avery in any way, shape, or form. The Rangers with goals from their four top scorers, a first for them, beat the Islanders 4-2 and now have scored ten goals in two games albeit against the two worse teams in the NHL.

Nikolai Zherdev looks like he is returning to early season form under Tortorella. Both his goal and assist on Gomez's goal were highlight films of the future. Despite the fact that the Rangers played sloppy and ugly at times, they continued to play with the new fervor and passion that the new coach is instilling in them. For now, the tentativeness and defensive mentality seems to be a thing of the past. However, the Boston Bruins at MSG on Sunday should be a big test. Of course the introduction of three new key players, forward Nik Antropov, defenseman Derek Morris, and chief mischief maker Sean Avery, I believe contributed a little bit to some of the sloppy play.

Henrik Lundqvist was Henrik Lundqvist. He made 28 saves and stopped a couple of breakaways in the first period. He was solid so nothing has changed there and that is good. The power play was 2-5, one on a blistering slap shot by Drury off of a feed by Antropov, and that was encouraging. The team rallied against the Isles when Blake Comeau ran Avery into the boards and Zherdev of all people was sent off for roughing. That also was good.

All in all a good win on the road, or was it, against a team they should beat. They ended the season series at 5-1 against the Isles. A little sloppy, a lot ugly, but Sean Avery summed it up best after the game when the reporters asked for an assessment on his play. "I'll assess it by the two points," replied the Grate One. Well said.

----
ICINGS:

Tweaking the Lou Lamoriello Way

Rich Chere / NJ.com:
New Jersey Devils are happy to remain intact at trade deadline --
A blockbuster deal at Wednesday's trade deadline was never really in the cards for the Devils and Thursday a team that believes it already has what it takes to win applauded general manager Lou Lamoriello's restraint.

With three rings, Brendan Shanahan knows about winning the Stanley Cup, and it doesn't always hinge on a deadline deal.

''It's an old expression, but it's true. I've heard some general managers after we won the Cup say, 'The best trades I made were the ones I didn't.' You never know until the last team is standing and all the ones that don't win will be second-guessed, regardless of whether they were very active or inactive," Shanahan said...

Lamoriello said there are three kinds of GMs this time of the year. There are buyers, sellers and tweakers. He considers himself a tweaker, and he made his moves before the rush.

''One can argue that Lou did make the moves. He just didn't wait until the day of competition," Shanahan said. "I think if you're making all of your personnel decisions at the trade deadline or on July 1 (the start of free agency), you're dealing with a lot of competition...
----
Rembrandt and the fatted calfP. Galle (after Maarten van Heemskerck), the killing of the fatted calf, parable of the prodigal son, sixteenth century.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More reactions to the transactions, subtractions and coming attractions

No doubt, opinions regarding the Petr Prucha trade are divided. A mix of shock and Ahhh! in Rangerland.

Sam Borden / FaceOff / LoHud.com:
Question #165: How much better are the Rangers today than yesterday? --

I like what the Rangers did yesterday. I like the moves, specifically adding Antropov. Anyone who might score a goal is absolutely welcomed on this team as far as I’m concerned. On a personal note, I was sad to see Prucha go though – not only did I like him, but he was my wife’s favorite Ranger and she even had one of those Prucha t-shirt jerseys which she wore to games. She liked him because he was “little” and “always fell down” on what seemed like every shift, while still being scrappy. Kinda hard to argue with that assessment, no?
Jim / Rangerland.net:
News Roundup, I Hate Glen Sather Edition --

It’s true. I hate Glen Sather with every drop of blood in my body. I pray for the day when he finally decides that he needs to hand over the team to someone younger who has a clue how to operate a hockey club.

As far as the last week goes, though, the old man gets an A+.

Let me be clear on this - I don’t believe that the Rangers got themselves a Stanley Cup with the moves. Far from it, probably. But they are significantly closer than they were two weeks ago...
Dubi / Blueshirt Bulletin:
Slats Completes His Spring Housecleaning --
The Rangers also shed a pair of wingers who lack size in acquiring defenseman Derek Morris from Phoenix. Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes, both tagged as smallish players but who on the other hand do have scoring touch, plus disposable Dmitri Kalinin, were a hefty sum for the Rangers to pay for a player about to become a free agent. As we noted this morning, the Rangers are in a weak salary cap position that made it likely that they would trade at least two of their impending RFAs, and have done so in moving Dawes and Prucha -- while that appears to be a necessary move at the moment, it does represent a mismanagement of the salary cap...
Two Line Pass
Trade deadline winners and losers (hint: you are the latter) --

Winners
The Phoenix Coyotes. They got rid of Derek Morris (awful), Olli Jokinen (ugly) and Dan Carcillo (stupid) and got a boatload of guys and picks back, including a first-round pick (good!), Matt Lombardi (handsome!), Scottie Upshall (smart!). They almost certainly had the best day of anyone...

Losers
The New York Rangers. They gave up a lot to get Derek Morris, and probably think Nik Antropov is going to help them. He isn’t...

NY Rangers Blog:
Antropov & Morris Rentals? --
Not only are the Rangers better today, they're not locked into either one of these guys long term. So if one or both of them don't work out, they're free agents at the end of the year and the Rangers now have some cap space to re-sign other players and look elsewhere.

...as far as the two players go. I really do think they will help.

..less excited about Morris, especially since the Rangers had to give up Prucha to get him, but he has a nice shot from the point...
Hockey Rodent:
The Healthiest Scratch --
I'm going to call it "Black Wednesday". It ranks up there with Eddie Giacomin in terms of personal sadness. I always wondered whether Petr Prucha would outlast nemesis Tom Renney on Broadway. Kid Kourageous won... but by the merest technicality...

Antropov is a rent-a-mercenary as is Morris. It leaves a bitter taste.

As for my evaluations of the new arrivals and how they position the Blueshirts for the stretch run. . . . You'll have to pardon me. This is petrprucha.com you're visiting. I've got other things on my mind tonight. I'm in mourning...
----
We were the lucky ones to have Petr Prucha on our teamNatural Hat Trick has a great Petr Prucha tribute.

Kels / Natural Hat Trick:
We Were The Ones That Were Lucky. . . --
When I heard that Nik Antropov - a right wing - was coming to New York, my heart started to pound. When I heard Derek Morris's name, and they ticked off the names of the Rangers going back. . .Dmitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes. . .I thought he was safe. But then there it was. Petr Prucha. My heart sank. I had a very unprofessional reaction for a person listening at work. I immediately stood up and went to take a walk.

So, I said to myself, it seems the "heart" of the Rangers would be a Ranger no more...

... we get the memories. Memories of a guy [Prucha] who along with the greatest European scorer ever and one of the brightest young goaltenders in the game - in Jagr and Lundqvist - played a big role in bringing back pride to a Rangers organization sorely lacking something to cheer about.

He gave us hundreds of reasons to cheer. Right up until his last moment on Garden ice.

Pru-cha!

Pru-cha!

Pru-cha! . . .
----
ICINGS:

Did Gary Bettman help bring Sean of the Dead back to Broadway?

FauxRumors:
Was The Fix In? --
1) We have received many E-mails (and we thank all of you for your interest) concerning the apparent 'about face'; with regard to the Sean Avery situation. We went very on the record relating what we heard about his reinstatement. We were told as recently as last week that Dallas would/may let sean-to-rot-in-minors. So what happened? We simply had to know why Dallas would make this move.

2) One source, who we regrettably didn't ask for input prior to the report we published last week, was quite direct in his assessment based upon what league sources have told him. That in essence Gary Bettman and the league office intervened on Avery's behalf. Not quite forcing, but being quite persistent in urging the Stars, and specifically owner Tom Hicks to release Avery from his banishment. Interestingly also this source went on to admonish us at Fauxrumors. "Guys, this has been a done deal since late January". We guess it was a great secret if many other folks who we respect apparently didn't get the same memo! LOL ...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Stealthy Sather Goes All-In, Looking for an Inside Straight

Rangers acquire Nik Antropov and Derek MorrisRangers acquire Nik Antropov and Derek Morris

A big news day in Rangerland with ripples that will be felt for a long time. Say it ain't so. Petr Prucha has been traded.

Here are the transactions, subtractions, reactions and coming attractions.

The NY Rangers PR machine:

  • Rangers add power in a hurry at deadline -- Antropov, Morris should play key roles in drive to postseason

    With the additions of Nik Antropov and Derek Morris just before the NHL’s trading deadline on Wednesday, as well as the acquisition of Sean Avery on Tuesday, Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather believes that the Blueshirts are now better equipped to secure a playoff spot and make a run in the postseason than they were even just a couple of days ago.

    “I wanted to get some scoring, some size, some grit, and some speed; and I think we’ve done that,” stated Sather. “We’ll just see how the cards play out here in the future.”

  • Rangers obtain Morris from Coyotes -- Defenseman comes to New York in exchange for Dawes, Kalinin and Prucha...

  • Rangers get Antropov in deal with Toronto -- Blueshirts send draft picks to Maple Leafs for 6-foot-6 forward. . . the club has acquired forward Nik Antropov from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a second round draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional draft pick...

  • Avery delighted to be back with Rangers -- Except for a lost bet with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at the end of practice, Sean Avery’s first day back on the ice with the Rangers was a rousing success on Wednesday morning.

    With most of the players already having exited the ice, Avery challenged Lundqvist to a shootout, with a side bet to spice up the one-on-one. If Avery scored at least twice on his five shots, then Lundqvist would owe Avery dinner on the next road trip. If Lundqvist limited Avery to one goal or less, then Avery would pick up the check...

  • Avery could provide spark down stretch -- “Glen (Sather) believes in giving second chances,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “Sean was an effective player here before. And this is about trying to make the team better. Sean Avery is a player coming to the New York Rangers organization, and we want him to fit in and play under a team concept. If he does that, we feel he can be effective.” ...
----
Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
So what happened? --
Here’s what I think about the Rangers’ trade deadline day:

In simple terms, they got better for this year, didn’t give up much of the future, and as long as they don’t re-sign either Nik Antropov or Derek Morris, they will have a little more salary cap space this summer for signing Dubinsky, Callahan, Mara and whomever else they really want to keep...
Steve Zipay / Blue Notes:
The Sather Files --
SATHER:
"What we were really trying to do was get some scoring, size, grit and and speed. I think we did that. We'll see how the cards play out in the future. (John Tortorella) likes them. He thinks we've helped our team immensely."

"Antropov is a big winger, center-ice man. He'll help us in the goal scoring department. Morris is a good, solid defenseman, he'll give us a little more bite in the back end. He can play a little bit of everything, offense, defense." ...
Slap Shot / New York Times
A 6-Year-Old Reacts to the Rangers’ Big Trade --
A Times colleague writes:
My 6-year-old’s favorite players are Lundqvist, Prucha and Dawes. When he got home I was curious what his reaction to the NYR/PHX trade would be. Tears? Rage? He asked why they were traded and I explained how the Rangers got a pretty good defenseman in Morris. His response: “At least they got rid of Kalinin.”
Scotty Hockey:
Well, That Wasn't Fun ... --
And I am not talking about my doctor's appointment. That went alright - I'll be fine - but I emerged from the office to find out about Glen Sather's continuing quest to cover his own rear end.

Ranger fans called for help on defense so Sather went out and got Derek Morris. John Tortorella called for size up front so Sather went out and got Nik Antropov.

So now, no matter how poorly the Rangers fare, Sather can certainly say he did his job. Unfortunately, he didn't do it very well...
The Dark Ranger:
Breaking (My Heart) News -- Taking Lady Liberty a Little Too Literally --
Apparently, GM Glen Sather recently took one of those Circle Line tours to the Statue of Liberty where he misconstrued Lady Liberty's welcome to immigrants by deciding to welcome the outcasts and underachievers of other teams to MSG's shores in favor of expelling players that actually played like they enjoyed wearing the Rangers' sweater...
Jess Rubenstein / Prospect Park:
Cmon It Is Sather --
...the Sather Karma tells you that higher paid players tend to fail in the Sather reign of error. We are supposed to accept that giving up 3 players and 1 sure (possibly a second) draft pick is the way to fix the flaws in the Ranger roster...

Once again The Sather does not think that Ranger fans have a brain, and can not think for themselves. Then again The Sather really does not care what you the Ranger fan thinks anway; just shut up and give him your money has been his attitude...
Marc / 5-hole.com:
Rangers trade Prucha, Dawes, and Kalinin for D-man Derek Morris --
The move is a clear salary dump for the struggling Phoenix franchise. Kalinin is a UFA at the end of the season, so his expiring contract is actually an asset for the Coyotes. Prucha and Dawes are RFA’s, so that’s even better for Phoenix.
The Manic Ranger:
Glen Sather S***s The Bed And Acquires Derek Morris For Petr Prucha, Nigel Dawes and Dimitri Kalinen --
My initial reaction to this trade was uncontrollable anger and absolute bewilderment. Why does Glen Sather have a love affair with past their prime defensemen. Everyone knew that Derek Morris was a real possibility, especially because Sather has a tendency for dealing with his old buddies (Don Maloney is the 'Yotes GM). I'm not a big fan of Morris and Sather absolutely did not need to add him. Again he's acting as though this team is suddenly going to make a march on Lord Stanley's Cup...
J. Ragus / Ranger Nation:
Rangers acquire Antropov, Morris --
How did the Rangers do? Not too bad if you ask me although I am heart broken to see a player leave that I wish could have stayed...

Take care Prucha, you will be missed by the fans.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Arrogant Stealth GM

First of all my sincere thanks to all for your warm thoughts. It was greatly appreciated. Now on to the business of getting well and arresting Crohn's disease which is suspect in causing my anemia. Thanks to all again.

The first time I met the Stealth GM was in the elevator in MSG on my way, with my wife, to the blue seats. He was on his way to who knows where. I introduced myself and my wife and remarked to her that he had a very difficult job ahead. He replied that in fact the job was easy and got off the elevator. That was a telling moment, now that I relive it. He said the job was easy. The Rangers had missed the playoffs again, for the past six years, and the new GM said the job was easy. It was so easy that it would take him another five years to get the Rangers into the playoffs.

The next time was at the Ranger summer camp in Tarrytown prior to the 2005-06 season, the year after the lockout, with Renney introduced as the new coach. It was a pleasant day and was more like a picnic than anything of hockey substance. Yes, Renney had a staged news conference and was given a bunch of softballs to answer. The one or two toughies from the audience were handled by the Stealth. I said the day was pleasant. I even have a picture of me and the Stealth taken, which has caused more comments from my family especially in light of the latest encounter.

I am still amazed when I think of the encounter. Here I was, an ordinary fan, that is if you consider being a fan for 71 years ordinary and I was screamed out by a GM of an NHL team. Think about it. Joe fan being dissed by a powerful GM. It could have been any fan. It could have been any one of you. Perhaps the sight of an ordinary fan questioning the great man's authority unhinged him. Perhaps my statement that he should fire everyone including himself, inflamed him. It's no wonder he is the least available to the public and press of all the GM's in the area.

Finally, the mainstream drive-by-media is on to him and starting to expose him. How dare a mere mortal question the great god? I will say it one more time Mr. Stealth: "Go back to Edmonton. You don't belong here."

A-Very Big Day -- New Sean On Broadway

Sean Avery: Parable of the Prodigal SonSean Avery, The Grate One, is returning to the NY Rangers. The Rangers claimed Avery off re-entry waivers. Aaron Voros and Erik Reitz were waived to make room. Mike, Glen Sather's prodigal son has returned. Let the games begin.

The story of the Prodigal Son is found in Luke 15:11-32. Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger demands his share of his inheritance while his father is still living, and goes off to a distant country where he "waste[s] his substance with riotous living", and eventually has to take work as a swineherd (clearly a low point, as swine are unclean in Judaism). There he comes to his senses, and decides to return home and throw himself on his father's mercy, thinking that even if his father does disown him, that being one of his servants is still far better than feeding pigs. But when he returns home, his father greets him with open arms, and hardly gives him a chance to express his repentance; he kills a fatted calf to celebrate his return...
----
Larry Brooks / NY Post:
RANGERS CLAIM AVERY OFF WAIVERS --

Page Six Sean is back home again.

Completing the process outlined and reported exclusively by The Post on Feb. 6, the Rangers today claimed Sean Avery off re-entry waivers, thus bringing the controversial winger back to New York eight tumultuous months after he signed a four-year free agent...
Michael Obernauer / The Blueshirts Blog:
Avery is a Ranger --
Avery should start practicing with the team tomorrow and be back in uniform for a second stint with the Blueshirts at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

The Rangers take on half of the remainder of the four-year, $15.5 million contract Avery signed with the Dallas Stars in July; the Stars are on the hook for the other half...

Lynn Zinser / NY Times:
Rangers Acquire Avery Off Waivers --
The Rangers have successfully claimed forward Sean Avery off re-entry waivers from Dallas, bringing their notorious agitator back to Broadway...

He will be at his first practice on Wednesday. Rangers Coach John Tortorella said he had no idea whether he would be ready to play in the team’s next game, Thursday at the Islanders...
Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
Drury and Dubinsky on Avery --
DRURY: "I think it will be great. . . I think he’s going be positive" ...

DUBINSKY: "Sean was good to me. He was always good to me. I can’t speak for everyone when I say that and I don’t know if he rubbed guys the wrong way or what-not. But for me, he was good." ...
----
TSN:
SATAN, MORRISON, ROBERTS AMONG THOSE PLACED ON WAIVERS --
Other names of interest include the New York Rangers' Aaron Voros and Erik Reitz, Eric Perrin of the Thrashers, the Blackhawks' Craig Adams and Jon Sim of the Islanders...
Scotty Hockey:
Watch Out World --
Sean should help kick Zherdev, Drury and Gomez in the ass so perhaps they will start playing somewhere near their potential ... perhaps...
M. Hurley / My Blueshirt Heaven
Side Show Sean --
Tortorella was brought in by Schoenfeld. He’s Schoenfeld’s guy. Perhaps Sather sees Avery as his quid pro quo. In Avery, Sather has a thorn that he can bring up or send down at will. No other team in the NHL will touch Avery. Is Avery Sather’s scale tipper in the balance of power? ...
Hockey Rodent:
Whataver yt Takes --
Look at the flyer (pun intended) [Sather] took on Eric Lindros. What were Glen's words at the time? They went something like "If you don't do this deal, you're a mouse for life."

There are other examples. But this one alone is sufficient to expose the wiring inside Sather's brainium. This is his M/O. As long as he's at the helm, this is the kind of move we're going to witness. He's a gambler...
Rocha / Rangerland.net:
SEASON SAVED! --
Good news everyone! Here I was worried that the worst offensive team in the National Hockey League might use their remaining cap space on a goal scorer, but surely what has been missing from the sagging Rangers this season is yapping at other players after the whistle...
Inferno / Rangers Review:
YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAWWWWWWWWW!!!! --
Today, a gross injustice was righted. Sean Avery…is once again where he belongs…in Rangers blue. I’m so happy I could cry...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Oh, that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it....

That is the way I like my Rangers hockeyOh, that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh,
I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.
That's the way, uh-huh uh-huh,
I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.
That's the way, uh-huh uh-huh,
I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.
That's the way, uh-huh uh-huh,
I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh...
-- KC & The Sunshine Band

We don't need no stink'n 2-1 hockey games. Win or lose the Rangers play a much better brand of hockey under new coach John Tortorella.

Last night the Torts era arrived at MSG and boy is it a sight for sore eyes. Goals in bunches, hitting, scrums, and multiple fights. The Rangers buried the Colorado Avalanche, 6-1, in game that had the Garden rocking. Ryan Callahan and Nikolai Zherdev scored in the first 68 seconds and the Rangers scored twice more in the period to jump on top of a flat Avs team.

Lundqvist played strong down the stretch to hold the Colorado team to one goal. That lone goal was scored on a Ryan Smyth breakaway after a giveaway by Dmitri Kalinin at 13:05 of the second, when the Rangers were leading 5-0. Markus Naslund finished the Rangers scoring with a wrister at 14:49 of the third. In between, Drury, Gomez, and Prucha also got in on the scoring festivities.

After all the scoring the Avs got mad and the fistycuffs began. I don't want to use the word ugly for the latter part of this game, because I sure didn't turn away from the bedlam. I wanted to see who was going to stand up.

What got into Petr Prucha? The new Rangers tough guy was mixing it up, while Wade Redden was looking around for his contact lens. If Prucha does get traded he's certainly going out on a high note.

Here's a roundup of some various thoughts (mostly positive) from Rangerland:

Steve Zipay / Newsday:
RANGERS 6, AVALANCHE 1: That is just what they needed --

While the relief was palpable in the locker room, the Rangers cannot get too giddy. Colorado, now 11-20-1 on the road and planning to be sellers at Wednesday's trade deadline, is dead last in the Western Conference...
Hockey Rodent:
The Beast Of MSG --
Three encounters under new management and there's a pronounced paradigm shift. The puck is spending a lot more time in the enemy end of the rink than it is spending near The Swede. That alone should be cause for rejoicification.

From an entertainment perspective, the product has improved substantially. Heck, even those break-ins on Hank which Tortorella promised us... well... even those bring drama to a formerly mundane display...
Bring the Cup ton NY:
A Spark of Life? --
Since Tortorella took over behind the bench, we've seen the blueshirts become a more offensively aggressive team, pursuing the fore check and having defensemen pinch in to help out on the play. At the same time while implementing this new system, they haven't given up much defensively so far it seems.
Scotty Hockey:
32-24-8: Is This What Happiness Feels Like? --
Several hours after walking out of Madison Square Garden, I find myself wrestling with a strange emotion. I am sure I have felt it before, but my memory is failing me as to when. It certainly has been a long time since I felt this particular emotion but I can't pin it down. Time certainly takes it's toll. Hmm, what could it be?

Could it be ... joy?? ...
Kerri / Some Like It Blue:
And the Goals Come in an Avalanche --
Well… that was fun.

Fun!

Hockey is… FUN! What a concept!

But since I have no time to do anything anymore, never-the-less blog about the greatest hockey team on ice (what, too soon? :-P), I want to go back to Monday morning to start. Of course, that was the day that Tom “I like backchecking” Renney and Perry “I’m in the charge of the powerplay” Pearn were let go by the Rangers organization. It was change that was desperately, desperately needed, on several accounts...
The Manic Ranger:
Torts Get First Win As Rangers Coach, An Old Fashioned Ass Kicking --
Could this be the start of a new beginning for this team? I F'ing Hope So!

- First off all, while I'm on the topic of Old Time Hockey, great move by Torts to send Colton Orr on the ice towards the end of the game. It sent a clear message to his players that he will not allow them to be pushed around. Orr beat the living hell out of Chris Stewart. That first right hook he landed was a monster...
Natural Hat Trick:
A Fun Game Long Overdue. . . --
You will not find me complaining about one thing in last night's game. Not one thing.

It had goals - a season high 6 of them! It had fights and rough stuff - plenty to go around!

It had spunk. It had fire. It had heart.

And man, it was FUN! ...
ICINGS:

HockeyFights.com:
Chris Stewart vs Colton Orr -- Who won?

Colton Orr -- 92.2%
Draw -- 6.5%
Chris Stewart -- 1.3% (friends & family?)

Colton Orr vs. Chris Stewart

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