Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Lost Weekend

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

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

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rangers Gut One Out

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving to all you out in Rangerland.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Are These Imposters?

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

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

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going Backwards

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

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

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

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

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ICINGS:
1944-1945 Rangers Team Photo

Final standings 1944-1945 Season:

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not Enough Gabbies

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

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

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

One Great Love

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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Rookie And The Prince

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

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Hi. This is Adam Graves."

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

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

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