Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Are Truly A 2-1 Hockey Team

Funny season. We started with two 2-1 wins against Tampa Bay in the Czech Republic and ended up losing 2-1 in the first round championship playoff game. In between we had a clueless coach who publicly stated, "We are a 2-1 hockey team." The team lived up, or was it down, to that doomed prophecy until it got another coach; a fiery one, who self destructed and in the process he brought his team down with him. He thus became the first coach in Ranger history to blow a 3-1 games lead in a playoff series and lose the series.

Make no mistake though, this was not a very good hockey team from the start and if not for their goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, they would never had made the playoffs. The Ranger fans kept waiting for the "big guns" to step up. But there were no big guns, only big contracts. The wrong guys were brought in for the wrong reasons at exorbitant wages. There is no better example of this than Wade Redden. Signed for six years at $6.5 Mil per year, he waltzed his way through the season. In this game, the biggest game of the year, he played over 22 minutes, got no shots, dished out no hits, coughed up the puck four times and was useless on Federov's winning shot. He kept backing up until Lundqvist was completely screened. $6.5 million down the toilet.

The fault lies with the Stealth GM and his inability to recognize talent. I heard that Michael Kay blasted the Ranger GM as the Stealth GM on the radio today. Really. Welcome to the club. This arrogant out of towner has turned this franchise into a joke. He often bragged while in Edmonton that if he had the money to spend that the Rangers have he would win the Cup every year. Well, here he is nine years later and he is batting all zeros. As long as he remains in charge the Rangers will continue to flounder, tease but never make the big game.

The Rangers lack overall team toughness. They don't have one D man that any opposing forward fears. They have no big scorer. While other teams have 40 goal scorers the Rangers have trouble getting to the 25 goal mark. They were built as a defense first and foremost team. "Not playing defense is not an option." This was ingrained into their brains. The new coach tried to go to a pure attack, fierce forecheck type of game and soon discovered they lacked the stamina and some lacked the will to play that type of game. How do you explain one shot on goal in the third period of a first-round championship game?

There will be big changes next year. The trick will be to maneuver their way around the big contracts with the long term commitments such as Redden and others. However, how do you accomplish this with an incompetent GM running the Rangers? In the meantime Ranger fans can rest assured that the Bettman doctrine of ensuring the top teams with the star players continue to advance. How else can the NBC game of the week survive?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Underdog Is Here

NY Rangers are a huge underdog against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their playoff series
NYRangerscast:

When discussing the Rangers chances in Game 7, a phrase you’ll hear often are: “The odds aren’t good!” I myself have said that seemingly six-dozen times since yesterday’s debacle at the Garden. So it got me thinking…what exactly are the odds that the Rangers win this series? What are the experts putting the number at?

Well, as of now Vegas has them at +230 to go down to the Verizon Center tomorrow and win. For those unfamiliar with the betting process, that means that if you lay out $100 and the Rangers win, you get $230...
NY Daily News:
John Tortorella asked for a show of hands near the end of an occasionally contentious session with the media Monday.

Tortorella, who earlier had testily declined to comment on his bottle-tossing suspension served in Sunday's equalizing Game 6, wanted to poll the roughly 30 media members if any believe the Rangers will recover from two straight blowouts and win Tuesday's seventh game against the Capitals in Washington in their first-round series.

Zero hands went up, which was precisely the reaction Tortorella expected - and probably wanted...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tortorella's Waterloo

Make no mistake about this travesty that is unfolding before our very eyes. The Rangers are floundering and with the exception of a couple of players they are doing nothing but acquiescing to a Washington Capital team that was there for the taking. John Tortorella is the biggest culprit and the architect of this monstrous collapse. He started it when he caved to the drive by media's demand that he do something about Avery's antics. So he pulled him from the lineup for Thursday's game and you saw the results. Avery was doing his job and then some and Tortorella yanked him and the Caps came alive.

Then Tortorella got into it with some fans, lost his cool and lo and behold he sat out todays game. In two days the Rangers lost their spine and their coach and the Caps responded. So now the series is even and the seventh and deciding game will be played in Washington, D.C. Unless Lundqvist replaces his Ranger sweater with one with a big S on it, the Rangers are cooked. Their offense is pathetic and with Blair Betts possibly out the penalty kill becomes suspect.

Speaking of Betts, are the on ice officials blind? Did they not see Brashear's elbow to Bett's head. Avery would have gotten a five minute and possibly a gamer for that. Also, did they not see Brashear's antics prior to the game when he shoved Orr at the red line? I thought that was supposed to be a game misconduct penalty. Oh, wait a minute, that is not the Avery rule, is it? What have we accomplished the last two games? We have made a rookie goalie look like the second coming of Ken Dryden and worst of all we have turned Tom Poti into Larry Robinson.

As ye sow so shall ye reap. John Tortorella has sown an awful mess and it has to be up to him to rally the troops. But what troops? Zehrdev, who has absolutely no confidence. Antropov, who has no legs. Naslund, who has no game. Is it really necessary to go on with this? The prize was there for the taking and an egotistical coach put himself above his team, above his players and above the Ranger fans to prove his point, whatever that point was. He has one game to save his reputation and this season. He may have one game left to save his job.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tortorella Blinks; Rangers Sink

John Tortorella violated one of the basic tenets in sports, and it came back to bite him and the Rangers. "Don't fix it, if it ain't broke". Tortorella figured he had to send Avery and the rest of the Rangers a message for a lack of discipline. Some message. The Rangers blew a chance to eliminate the Caps and then went out and committed nine penalties. Also, Tortorella should practice what he preaches as supposedly he tossed a water bottle at a fan. I say supposedly because I did not see it. The irony would be if he is suspended for game six at the Garden. Then maybe Avery will coach the team.

It should be noted that Tortorella is well noted for dishing out tough discipline but what is not too well advertised is that he has always been selective in who he dishes out the punishment to. So on this Ranger team besides Avery the usual suspects are Zherdev and Naslund, who usually get their ice time cut. When was the last time the lazy over paid Redden or the inept, puck mishandler Rozsival were punished? Never. So John Tortorella is a selective hard nose coach, who would bite off his nose to spite his face. He maybe the first Ranger coach in history to lose a playoff series after being up three games to one.

All day long prior to the game the drive by sports media and the so called analysts were crying for the head of Avery and it seemed that Tortorella caved to their wishes. Would it have made a difference had Avery played? I don't know, but there were certain signs that indicated things might have gone a little differently. The Rangers started out as ragged and sloppy as they have been all year and defenseman Erskine was smiling a lot something that was missing the previous game. Mike Green also seemed to move around a lot less hindered by Avery's absence. The Ranger attack was woeful and therein lies another story that may signal even more trouble for the Rangers.

Rookie goalie Varlamov continues to sparkle and has shutout the Rangers twice while giving up three goals in four games. He has not faced the amount of rubber that the Caps have shot at Lundqvist, but he is doing the job. The Rangers cannot maintain a serious attack. Its usually one and done. So Lundqvist must rise to the occasion one more time and that time has to be tomorrow at the Garden. The Rangers cannot go back to Washington for game seven. John Tortorella made sure of that when he put discipline above winning.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Prince Who Would Be A King

Number one son stated it so well this morning over coffee: "Pundit, I think it's time you upgraded the Prince to a King." I've been holding out, while the mainstream media and most of the blogs have anointed him, due to a couple of reasons. One, he is still quite young, and two, and most important, Lundqvist hasn't won anything yet. As a start, the Rangers have not advanced past the second round in the previous three years of the Prince's reign. However, last night and so far throughout this series, Henrik Lundqvist has been absolutely outstanding and I doubt if there has been any other player in this year's playoffs who have approached his performance.

Whether you call him Prince or King doesn't matter as long as you recognize that the performance that Lundqvist is showing the hockey and sports world has been nothing short of sensational. Last night, 38 saves; Lundqvist was solid, scintillating, sensational and unbelievable. He finally cracked in his personal war with the Great Ovechkin, but he stopped him ten other times and his glove save on Alex Semin was out of this world. The understatement of the year award goes to John Tortorella who claimed that Lundqvist is a pretty good goaltender. Pretty good?

While Ovechkin was blistering the goalposts, cracking a glass pane and causing havoc all over the ice, it was a soft shot mishandled by Caps rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov, off the stick of Chris Drury that turned the game around. Drury's soft shot could not be handled by Varlamov as Korpikoski drove to the net leaving the puck for Drury, whose wrister beat Varlamov for the game winner. What was of major significence was at the end of the game Tortorella was relying on the likes of Betts, Dubinsky, Callahan, Korpikoski, Sjostrom, Girardi and Staal, and the Prince, er the King to preserve the win. Now it's on to Washington to attempt to close out this series and crown a King.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When Empires Collide

Is this series now a saga of when empires collide, because the Caps now have "the Czar" (Simeon Varlamov) versus "the King" (Lundqvist)? The good guys will need a white knight, or at least a few foot soldiers to smite the Czar, the Cossack, and other assorted Huns.

Did Stan 'The Maven' Fischler's trash talking after the game one win make it on to the Caps Bulletin Board?

Bragging is not The Maven's forte...

the Capitals may very well be a paper tiger and not necessarily a playoff scoring machine...

the Caps are so weak in goal and so deficient on defense that all the Ovechkins and Semins and Greens cannot compensate...

Al Ovechkin is a multi-talented player. That's a given. But even he has limitations. He is not as good as the press clipping tonnage given to him. Nor can he play defense or goal. Nor did he score even one goal...

I said it before and I'll conclude with it now: John Tortorella is a better playoff coach than Bruce Boudreau...
So, was Ovechkin visiting the Rangers during their practice on Monday no big deal? Yes.

Will we have a 100% Captain Clutch tonight? I'll take 85%

ICINGS:

Not many outside the Garden State are shedding a tear for Marty Brodeur letting a game winner in with 0.2 seconds remaining. Some reactions to Mmaarrtty's hissy fit after the Canes score and even their series.

Scotty Hockey:
Mmmaaaaarrrrrrtttttyyyyyyyyy --
What a stunningly awesome scene in NASCAR nation. Mmmmaaarrrtttyyy comes out of his crease too far, gets bumped, doesn't get back into position quickly, punches the guy who bumped him and the game-winning goal sails into the net with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. Carolina wins 4-3 to tie the series at two. He chases down the ref and throws a tantrum, slamming his stick at the ice as souvenir towels rain down around him. Check it out...


The Manic Ranger:
Maaaarrrrrttttyyy Throws A Temper Tantrum --
The Devils lost with 0.02 seconds left in the game on a deflection by Jussi Jokinen. Aside from the fact that gaining satisfaction from a Devil's loss is embedded in every Ranger fan's DNA...
Puck Daddy:
Major penalty: Who does Martin Brodeur think he is? Dwayne Roloson? Dan Cloutier? Ron Hextall? Talk about losing your … well, you know what we mean if you saw his reaction on the way to his ungracious exit from the ice, complete with stick toss and pirouette after nearly screwing himself into the ice. So much for Masterton consideration...
Bangin Panger:
Jussi Jokinen Evokes His Inner Drury --
.2 seconds left? To tie up the series? Against the be-all-end-all Marty Brodeur? That's the stuff that makes up Little League World Series Champions, not shootout specialists...

[Rule] 69.4 Contact Outside the Goal Crease - If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for goalkeeper interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent

Update: Oh this warrants a post from the "Situation Room" (what a joke) and they, imagine that, agreed with the ruling on the ice.

Interpretation of goalie interference rule: New Jersey at Carolina - 19:59 of the third period

The NHL's goalie interference rule sets a mandate to protect the goalie in the blue ice – to let the goalie do his job. In the white ice, it is a more delicate matter, including who moved into whom. The referee has one split-second look at it and it is a judgment call. NHL Hockey Operations has no video review capacity in this instance. Hockey Operations officials agreed with the call on the ice, that it looked like the goalie, Martin Brodeur, moved out toward the skater...
----

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kelly Sutherland #11

NHL referee Kelly Sutherland #11 explains a no goal call to Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings against the Dallas Stars during game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 14, 2008Sean Avery never had a chance. The game was determined before the puck was even dropped. And the reason was #11 Referee Kelly Sutherland.

His last victim was Tomas Holmstrom. The last scene was May 14, 2008 in the Western Conference Finals. Referee Kelly Sutherland saw the number 96 on a player's back, determined that he was in the crease, and disallowed the critical Detroit goal. Sutherland, positioned somewhere on or behind the goal-line, could not have seen Holmstrom through the goalie's body. Holmstrom was not in the crease. Yes, he usually is. This time, he was not. Sutherland called Holmstrom based upon his reputation.

Sutherland even admits that he makes calls based on reputation. He wrote in ESPN: "WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO - Before each game, we study lineups and history to see if there was a fight or a big hit in the last meeting. And when a guy like Sidney Crosby is playing, the other team will do just about anything to stop him."

The second period at the Garden was a joke to watch. Five penalties against the Rangers were called in circumstances that were inconsequential -- just simply should not be penalties during a playoff game. Blatant holding and interference by Cap players - in situations where scoring chances were either created or deprived - were ignored.

So, welcome to the NHL of Gary Bettman, where the league picks the Refs who will call penalties so that its stars are on NBC for weekend games. You think this is not on purpose? Gary recalls when he worked for the NBA, and how that league made it big by riding on high scoring Jordan verses Magic Johnson dream matches. Gary wants Ovi verses the Kid trading goals and rushes up and down the ice. That is why #11 was at the Garden even though he blew it last year big time.

Avery was guilty before he even laced up. Welcome to the new NHL.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lundqvist, Rangers Block Caps

The Rangers took one more step toward an improbable first round upset with a stirring 1-0 win over the Caps at the Verizon and now head home to MSG with a chance to close out the Caps in four games. Unbelievable. Lundqvist and the Rangers blocked the Caps from tying the series at 1-1, literally. Lundqvist, who was the Prince again, made 35 saves and the Rangers blocked 29 shots with an early first period goal by Callahan, on assists from Naslund and Dubinsky. That was all the Prince needed to post his third career post season shutout.

The mighty Ovechkin had 6 shots on goal and 7 blocked shots. The vaunted Caps power play was 0-3. Washington seemed a bit more anxious than the Rangers and it showed up in the giveaways. The Caps coughed up the puck 24 times and the Rangers gave it away only 7 times. Mike Green was guilty 7 times and Ovechkin 5 times. Ovechkin seemed ready to come out of his skin a few times as he was frustrated by Lundqvist and the close checking Rangers. The Rangers actually out hit the Caps 23-20. He will be one uncaged tiger ready to prowl on Monday night at the Garden.

The young Varlamov was a surprise choice over Theodore and he played quite well stopping 23 Ranger shots. He was not at fault on the Callahan goal and I wouldn't be surprised if he is back in the nets Monday night. The Rangers have now won three straight on the road, counting the season finale, and have won five straight overall. However, the big news is that they have a 2-0 games lead over the Caps and Henrik Lundqvist is our Prince again. Long live the Prince. While the Prince was the number one star and Callahan and Naslund were two and three the case could be made for any number of Rangers including Rozsival and Redden, huh, Dubinsky, Sjostrom, Betts, Gomez and of course Avery, who continues to be Avery. In fact, there was not one non-performer on the ice for the Rangers today and let's hope its the same for Monday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Capitalists!

In my last report I stated that the seeds are there for a Ranger upset of the Caps. Yesterday the Rangers nurtured those seeds with some timely scoring, great goaltending and lots of grit in a 4-3 win over the Caps before a stunned crowd at the Verizon Center. It was only the third time in the past fifteen playoff series that the Rangers have won the opening game. Henrik Lundqvist with 32 saves was the star of the night, but he had a lot of company, a lot of company. On the other side the Rangers scored four goals on twenty one shots against Jose Theodore, who was no match for Lundqvist, but in all fairness to Theodore his defense was less than stellar.

Meanwhile the Great Ovechkin was 'held' to just two assists, if you want to call 13 shots on goal, 10 blocked shots, and 5 missed shots being held. He also dished out 6 hits in over 26 minutes of ice time. He was without a doubt the most overpowering presence on the ice. To the Rangers credit they stayed with him most of the night. And surprise of all surprises it was the veteran duo of Rozsival and Redden who did most of the work against him, especially in the third period when he was 'held' to just three shots on goal.

The Rangers outhit the Caps 35-27 with Ryan Callahan leading the pack with 7 hits. Colton Orr who played a little over 3 minutes dished out 3 hits and made a couple of key defensive plays. The young kiddies, Korpikoski, Callahan and Dubinsky were fearless with Dubinsky scoring the winning goal after faking defenseman Schultz out of his skates. Sean Avery was, well, Sean Avery. His highlight was checking Mike Green into the Ranger bench in the third period. It was a highlight performance by the Rangers and it has to be duplicated every night as this is one tough team with a lot of firepower.

How do you stop this firepower? Henrik Lundqvist. He must be even better than he was last night and he has to be if the Rangers want to win this series. But let's enjoy and savor this one and relish in the thought that for now, after one game, the Rangers have taken away the home ice advantage from the Caps in what is shaping up as a long hard series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grand Finale

The Rangers finished the regular season with a flourish, if you can call a three game winning streak a flourish. They accomplished quite a few things in their 4-3 win Sunday. Things they have to accomplish if they want to beat the Caps. They won on the road. They won a game they were losing after two periods. They outscored their opponent, 2-0, in the third period. Dubinsky scored the first short handed goal against the Flyers this year. Dubinsky also scored a power play goal and it was the first time this year that he scored two goals in a a game. Oh, did I mention that the Rangers win knocked the Flyers out of fourth place and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It also gave the Rangers the season series over the Flyers. All in all a great tuneup for the big show, the playoffs.

John Tortorella's Rangers will be playing the Caps for the first time this year. Washington has not played the Tortorella coached Rangers and it will be a different game from the four regular season games. The Rangers tentative, defensive game is a thing of the past and it remains to be seen if the new uptempo attack game can change the tone and the mind set of the Rangers. It will be different and hopefully so will the outcome.

Lundqvist is on top of his game. Gomez and Drury have stepped up in leadership roles and the dynamic duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi are establishing themselves as two of the steadiest defensemen in the NHL. The additions of Antropov, Morris and Avery have added toughness and scoring to the team. Will it be enough to slow and stop the Ovechkin Express? Only time will tell, but the seeds are there for a first round upset.

Let's Go Rangers!

Monday, April 13, 2009

This Could Be Fun!!

This Could Be Fun!! ... playoff series with Washington CapsHmmmm .... Most are predicting that once the puck is dropped, the Rangers will be run out of town by the Caps. I actually think this series is going to be a big surprise to those people. Yes, I know I can be wrong, but I will tell you why I think I see a long series and an upset.

Let's look at Tort's Rangers. Who are they? They are the team that took the ice in March after a few days with Torts and his new system. How did they do? Well, they played 18 games and went 11-7 (I count an OT loss as a loss). But, even more important - they were 11-5 with Lundquist between the pipes and 7-4 with Lunquist against Eastern Playoff teams. They scored 4 goals or more 8 times. In January and February under Renney, Lundquist was 9-12 and 2-5 against Eastern Playoff teams. They scored 4 goals or more only 3 times. Do you see a difference? This is actually a good team.

Let's look at O's Caps. Who are they? They are a team that has has a very soft March and April. They are just 10-9, and only 1-3 against Eastern Playoff teams.

Alexander SeminWhat is the key to this series? Obviously for the Rangers the Prince has to play like the King. But, that is not all. The Rangers must not fall into the trap of trying to key in on Ovechkin. When the Caps have beaten playoff teams, more times than not the key to their victory has been Semin. Stop Semin, and we move on to the next round.

Let's Go Rangers!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Playoffs

Now we can say that word. Playoffs. Of course, let's be honest. Most teams in the NHL say that word and get there. Thirty teams and sixteen make the playoffs, so that reads like most to me. So now what? What are the Rangers prospect of making some noise, as they say, of advancing to the next round? Based on the season performance and how most of the players fared right now it looks like it's one and done. But who knows? Remember when we won the Cup in 1994? We beat the eight seed out of the West, Vancouver, and it took all of seven games. So who knows?

Last night it was The Prince who rose royally to the occasion. Thirty-seven saves, some out of this world , as he reestablished his reputation as a big game goalie. The last three home games he has given up a total of just two goals against the Devils, a shutout, and one apiece to the Canadiens and Flyers. At home the Rangers are tough and can go with anyone. It is on the road where they have a losing record. How many teams with a losing road record win Stanley Cups?

Goalies have been known to get hot and carry teams through the playoffs and right now Henrik Lundqvist is one hot goalie. Can he carry this team? We'll see. The Rangers either will face the Big Bad Bruins and their stifling defense and great goaltending or the high powered offensive minded Caps and the explosive Ovechkin. In our house there is the debate going who would be "easier." I think the Rangers would have a better shot at "out defensing" Boston than they would in trying to "outscore Washington". It's six of one and half a dozen of the other. Any way, it's on to the playoffs and as they say, its starts at 0-0 and anything can and probably will happen.

So congratulations to John Tortorella for instilling some fire into the team and making the playoffs. Heck, I was happy with the fire. The playoffs are a bonus. Let's Go Rangers!

ICINGS:

Some random observations from Rangerland about the clincher and making the playoffs:

The Dark Ranger:

Last night we were exposed to our 'Sybil Blueshirts', the hockey personality disorder (a.k.a. MSG OMG!) when the squad looks like a team, the forwards play defense, the defense plays offense, the coach plays lines to shutdown opposing studs and the entire team communicates across all lines. This unfamiliar NY Rangers entity finally solidified their going to the playoffs for the fourth season in a row...
Ranger Rants:
Lundqvist's personal goal for the game at Philadelphia is to win his career-high 38th game. He has won 37 the past two seasons.
Scotty Hockey:
Stat of the night - 21 blocked shots for the Rangers with Morris and Girardi each recording four...
Blueshirt Banter:
I'm not sure I've seen Michal Roszival play a better game this season than he did last night, making several great defensive plays, and absolutely leveled Joffrey Lupul at the blue line...
Rangers Review:
we did not play a good game, not at all... I bet you if they actually kept track of zone coverage, I’d say the puck was beyond our red line for at least 70% of the game, that’s how dominating the Flyers were. But we won...
Chris Kotsopoulos:
I was in attendance to witness the game up close and I really have to say it as I saw it, the Flyers took it to the Rangers for most of the 60 minutes. If not for two early goals by the Rangers, the Rangers played on their heels for most of the night...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

One Step Closer

The Rangers moved to within one win of clinching a playoff berth after a big win against the Canadiens last night. Henrik Lundqvist was on top of his game and Chris Drury, playing the Captain Clutch role, scored two goals en route to a 3-1 win. The Rangers need just to win one of the two against the Flyers as the Flyers beat Florida last night, 2-1. The Rangers and Flyers are tied at two games apiece in their series so far.

The play of the game was made by Sean Avery, harassing goalie Price of the Canadiens behind the net, and getting the puck out in front of the net where Nik Antropov did his Derek Jeter impersonating of sliding into third base, and poked the puck in with his stick. It was quite a goal from the big forward who played despite hurting his knee in the last game. It was also quite a play from Avery who never stops skating and chases every puck like it is his prized possession.

The other ferocious puck chaser, Ryan Callahan, picked up two assists and prior to the game was awarded the prestigious Steven McDonald Award, for actions above and beyond. Well deserved and he responded with another gritty game. So it's Thursday night at MSG and that should be the night. The Rangers don't want to have to clinch it in Philadelphia. It could get scary. Of course making the playoffs could be scary because the big bad Bruins will be awaiting them. But one scary moment at a time.

ICINGS:

Washington is worrying about everything these days: banks, car companies, and now MSG advertising.

Capitals Kremlin:
Subway Sponsors Rangers' Glass Boards -- One step closer to ads on jerseys, or "the Rangers presented by Geico!" ...

Subway Advertisement on NY Rangers Glass sideboards at MSG----
The furry one is flustered.
HockeyRodent -- Boycott Jared:
What is that obnoxious thing on the glass behind Henrik Lundqvist? And why did that logo force the camera to repeatedly swing too wide right for me to see the action between the dots? ...

Monday, April 06, 2009

No Margin For Error

In today's New York Post, Larry Brooks commented that the Rangers have no soul or identity. He was mirroring the Ranger Pundit who yesterday said the Rangers have neither the fortitude nor the talent for the playoffs. This dismal Ranger season has now come down to the last three games and they are against hated, desperate and hot teams. The Canadiens come into the Garden tomorrow night, followed by The Flyers on Thursday and then the finale against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Sunday. It will be the red hot Ranger nemisis, Alex Kovalev tomorrow night and the quintet of 20 plus goal scorers of the Flyers.

Who will step up for the Rangers? Let's face it. If Henrik Lundqvist doesn't step up and stand on his head the Rangers are doomed. John Tortorella's attempt to turn this defensive oriented, obsessed team into an uptempo fierce forechecking, high scoring unit has hit the wall of time. Time is running out on a team that has no killer instinct, has one of the worst power plays in the NHL, collapses in the third period and doesn't have one skater who can take over a tough game and turn it around. We have no one, except our goalie, who can carry a team.

We have 8th place because we have one more win than Florida. Florida has the Flyers and the Thrashers on the road and then finishes up with Washington at home. So there doesn't seem to be any favorite and its quite possible that both teams might blow all three and the Sabres could sneak in. But let's hope for the best and maybe someone else plus Lundqvist will step up. If not, I am sure we will have some repercussions maybe in the front office and maybe the Stealth GM. Is that too much to hope for? But for now, let's stay positive and maybe we can sweep the last three games or at least take two out of three, which I think should do it. Let's hope!

ICINGS:

Rangers Report:

Simply enough the staff that Glen Sather has fielded has not gotten the job done. Examples:

Redden: Salary: 6.5 million Stats: 78 Games played with 3G 22A- 25 points. (I don’t need to say anything more)...

Gomez: Salary: 7.1 million Stats: 74 Games played with 16G 41A- 57 points. (For 7 million a year I need a lot more than 57 points and 16 goals...
Rangers = Mr. October?
Hockey Rodent:
Fact: On October 30, 2008, the Rangers were 10-2-1.

Fact: Since October 30, 2008, the Rangers are 30-28-8.

Do not be misled.

I'm saying that since October 30, 2008, the Rangers have lost six more games than they have won...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hanging On For Dear Life

The Rangers got a break last night when Florida lost to the Atlanta Thrashers thereby protecting their two point lead for the final playoff spot. They got no breaks today as they were again shutout by the Bruins in Boston, 1-0. They remain two points ahead of Florida and the Panthers have a game in hand. To make matters worse the Rangers are only four points ahead of a resurgent Buffalo Sabre team, while Buffalo has two games in hand. The Rangers must rely on their hated rivals, the Devils and the Penguins, to secure a playoff spot. The Devils play Buffalo tonight and the Penguins play Florida tomorrow night. Gone is any pretense of the Rangers making a run for a higher playoff position. They proved today that they have neither the talent or fortitude for that run.

The best chance the Rangers had was a four on three power play late in the third period. This was set up totally by Avery when, during a stoppage, he tapped goalie Tim Thomas on the head, which almost started a brawl. The Rangers came out of the scrum with the four on three advantage and did nothing. What seemed weird about the penalty call against Avery, and yes it was a penalty, is that none of the four officials saw it and they called it after the video board showed it. But, it was Avery so no matter whether you see it or you didn't. Whether he actually commits a penalty or not, if there is some kind of event on the ice, and Avery is on the ice he must be the sinner.

To make matters much worse Nik Antropov was clipped on a knee to knee hit by Milan Lucic and had to leave the game. There was no word on his injury and it is quite possible that he is finished for the rest of the year. So with three games to go the Rangers are hanging on for dear life. But as our Captain, Chris Drury stated, we have to forget this one and look forward to the next game. Or, something like that. Our Captain seems to be saying that quite often these days. I remember when we had a Captain who used to predict victories. Oh well, let's be happy for the little things. In the meantime, let's go Devils. Let's go Penguins.

ICINGS:

Avery's 'accidential' hit on Tim Thomas.



discussion:
Greg Wyshynski / Puck Daddy:
Sean Avery drops Zen robot act, hits Thomas with stick --
Was it an accident? Another case of Sean Avery: Victim of Circumstance? Another chapter in the "poor, misunderstood, well-dressed me against the world" book Avery's been writing for the last two seasons in the NHL? ...
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update:

Again, this is the main point we are emphasizing. When Sean Avery is involved the rule book gets re-written on the fly.

Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Review:
Avery Rule 2 --
So apparently referees and linesmen can call penalties from video replay. Actually, they can’t by rule or bylaw. But it appears that is exactly what they did when Sean Avery tapped Tim Thomas in the back of the hat Saturday in Boston.

And apparently, rules apply to Avery, but when they don’t, the NHL can just change them...

2nd update: One final take on this newly applied Avery Rule from The Gray Lady.

Stu Hackel / NY Times:
Rangers Not Dead Yet --
Sam Rosen has it right. The officials didn’t see it [the Avery tap] live, saw it only on the center ice scoreboard and called the penalty from that.

Once upon a time (and probably even now) there was an N.H.L. regulation prohibiting arena personnel from showing replays like that for just that reason. On one hand, the officials ending up making the right call — matching minors to both Avery for unsportsmanlike conduct and to goalie Tim Thomas for roughing on the punches he threw at Fredrik Sjöström. But unless the league wants to move to reviewing everything up in the video booth or in the “War Room” in Toronto, the calls should remain on the ice with the officials, unaided by anything except video of goal/no goal calls as prescribed in the rule book...
This new Avery precedent begs the question: can the home team now control what penalties are called based on what it chooses to display on the center ice scoreboard?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Two Period Hockey Team

The Rangers outplayed the Carolina Hurricanes for 59 minutes and 32 seconds, but those 28 seconds where they didn't cost them the game. Chad LaRose and that old Ranger nemesis, Rod Brind'Amour, scored in those 28 seconds to put the Rangers on the brink of failing to make the playoffs. With four games on their schedule the Rangers are two points ahead of Florida, who have five games to play. The Panthers play the Thrashers in Florida tonight and a Florida win will tie them with the Rangers at 89 points apiece. The Rangers get eighth by virtue of one more win than Florida.

The Rangers are 9-6-1 with four games to play, but it doesn't look like it will help them cross the finish line as their power play continues to be pathetic, 1-7, and only 3 for the last 35. Also, the third period seems to be a big bugaboo for them. In addition, the road record is 16-18-5, and when was the last time a team with a losing road record made noise in the playoffs, much less made the playoffs?

The Rangers have to prove their mettle starting with Saturday's game at Boston, then the Canadiens at home and then the final home and home against the Flyers. While the Rangers are only three points behind the fifth place Flyers it's the ninth place Panthers that the Rangers are concerned about. What was that famed Satchel Paige quote? "Don't look back, someone may be gaining on you."

ICINGS:

Brett Gelman is Little Bit of LuckThe Blueshirt Banter blog now has the tag line: "Covering the Rangers from Avery to Zherdev." So what about the big guy, Nik Antropov? Is he not covered?

Just kidding, we know Sean Avery is good for business. The beat writers should take Avery out to dinner, he's a draw. Our web traffic here at the Ranger Pundit spikes whenever that little devil on Avery's shoulder strikes. Maybe the writers and NY publishers should really take the little guy out to dinner, or put him on retainer? He's sort of like a Little Bit of Bad Luck for Avery, but really good for the rest of us who follow the Grate One. The Rangers now also need the little guy to the right.

Speaking of Avery, of course, you can now go to the house that Avery built. Actually, it's a bar in Manhattan. Here's the link for the story that came out earlier this week.

Chris Shott / NY Observer:
Cheap Shots! Fashionable Hockey Star Sean Avery Gets Into the Bar Business --

Pesky New York Rangers forward and former Vogue intern Sean Avery is getting into the bar business—and no, the new nightspot will not be called "Sloppy Seconds."

The popular, if somewhat controversial, 28-year-old Broadway Blueshirt is partnering with Beatrice Inn proprietor Matt Abramcyk in opening an intimate bar and restaurant called Warren 77, located at 77 Warren Street in Tribeca...
Update:

Aside from our Sean there's this other fellow down in DC who gets a fair amount of attention. No, we're not talking about Barrack.

Alex Ovechkin meets LeBron JamesDan Steinberg / DC Sports Blog:
When LeBron Met Ovechkin --
I was getting ready to go into the Wizards locker room when I was told Alex Ovechkin would meet LeBron James in the other direction, and so I switched directions too. Because the Wizards will win more games and have more feel-good moments, but it's a pretty rare thing to watch two of the greatest athletes in the world meet for the first time...

The entire Cavs team came through, with some, like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, stopping to chat with Ovechkin. The hockey star and LeBron's manager, Maverick Carter, talked about cars (LeBron has 12), and speed limits, and training regimens, and Verizon Center food (Ovechkin had two orders of nachos). Carter praised Ovechkin's hot stick celebration; "I do like NBA," Ovechkin joked...
related:
Alex Ovechkin gives LeBron James an autographed jerseyRosen / NHL.com:
Ovechkin, Backstrom meet up with LeBron James --
Washington Post blogger Dan Steinberg made the right move Thursday night...

He turned around, headed to the visitor's dressing room, and to his starry eyes witnessed Alex Ovechkin and LeBron James -- two of the sporting world's biggest stars in their prime right now -- shake hands and have a conversation...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rangers April Fools Prank?

Is this Rick Carpiniello story really an April Fools prank? Scoring help from a '20-year-old kid', 2nd round of the playoffs or a 'housecleaning', and the owner will speak to the media? No, I won't fall for this stuff again.

Rick Carpiniello / Rangers Report:
Scoring help is on the way! --

It pays to go to the rink early. When I got here I ran into a scout I know, who told me there’s this 20-year-old kid in Germany who somehow snuck under the radar and went undrafted and thus is a complete free agent. His name is Bernhard Holden.

Anyway, this kid is like Malkin, some say he might be just as good, and only five NHL teams even know about him, and my source told me that the Rangers will announce they have won the sweepstakes (a cash payment to his German team for his release) and they will sign him today...
This next part has to be a put-on, right?
Also, the owner is here today and the rumor is he’s going to speak with the media for his annual late-season state-of-the-Rangers. And the word is that he’s going to lay it out on the table: Second round of the playoffs or there will be a housecleaning.

Wow! Big, big stuff in Ranger-land today.
Well, we're all living in the house that Slats re-built, but will he ever get kicked out of the house? Maybe if it's demolished or foreclosed.

update
: It worked. The NY Rangers blog was played -- ...Second Round or Bust:
...and how in the world is he going to clean house? Unless he's going to be buying players out or putting them on waivers, there is no chance he can move Drury, Gomez, Rozsival or Redden's contracts.
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ICINGS: Next NHL Goon?