Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Prince Reigns Supreme

Henrik Lundqvist had 95 shots thrown at him, 36 were on net, and he stopped all 36, racking up a 2-0 shutout, as the Rangers posted another road win, upping their road record to 4-1-0. The Rangers would be wise to contact the Blackhawks to see if they could reschedule their Monday night home game to Chicago or maybe some neutral site. Maybe meet them halfway like Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, where Joe Paterno is celebrating his 399th win. Will this guy ever retire?

But I digress. Henrik Lundqvist's shutout was his 25th career shutout. With that shutout, Lundqvist passed one of my favorites, Chuck Rayner, and seems destined to challenge Eddie Giacomin's all time total of 49. He will make it, provided the Rangers give him some protection, and when all is said and done, Henrik Lundqvist will rank as one of the greatest goalies in the history of the New York Rangers, and also in the NHL.

The Rangers will go only as far as Lundqvist takes them and right now with this limited team it seems like a gargantuan task. However, if anyone can do it, the Swedish Prince can.

Long live the Swedish Prince, Henrik Lundqvist!

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ICINGS:
Things look good with Henrik Lundqvist in net

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Canes Ward Off Rangers

They say championship teams must do well on the road. So far the Rangers are doing that. Its at home that they are having problems and last night was another example of a poor home ice game. They fired 43 shots on Cam Ward who turned all but three aside. Lundqvist wasn't too feeble as he made 34 saves including 17 in the third period. Unfortunately, Eric Cole put in a power play goal with 3:59 left in the game and that was the killer.

The Rangers left town immediately for tonight's game against Toronto, their third meeting this year, where they hope to find their game, whatever that is. The Rangers are 3-1 on the road and are 1-3-1 at home. What's the reason for this? "Fools give you reasons, wise men never try." Maybe it's the social life of beautiful downtown Manhattan. Maybe its the charity work they all do. Maybe some of them are overpaid and under perform. Whatever it is, it better be fixed quick or it is going to be a very long season. Very long and disappointing.

ICINGS: Evgeny Grachev made his 2010 debut and what little I saw he looked fine. He only played 6:55 so its hard to judge. If he's lucky he may get all of five minutes tonight, if he even plays.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reverting To Form

There are a lot of hockey games during the season. Some think too many. There are good games and bad games. Last night was a bad game. A very bad game for the Rangers. This early in the season is not a good feeling. After three straight good games and wins the Rangers reverted to form.

They gave up six goals for the second time this early season. Their defense was sieve like. Their goalie let them down and they suffered two injuries, one minor, Rozsival, knee, and one major, Anisimov, ankle. Having Gaborik out, the loss of Anisimov would be devastating. However, the play of the Rangers last night was devastating.

They came out of the gate with a quick goal, Callahan from Anisimov at the 38 second mark. I guess they were congratulating each other for they quickly fell behind. Though they tied it at two on Avery's wraparound, they allowed Atlanta to score three unanswered goals and that basically was the game.

Its too early to get panicky over early season losses. But when old habits show up this early there should be cause for concern. The Rangers were clearly outplayed by a young Atlanta team and that should be a big cause for concern. Let's see how bad Anisimov's injury is, for that will be a huge cause for concern. Old habits die hard.

ICINGS:

Tortorella postgame remarks:



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Will Wade Redden's presence in Hartford help the Wolfpack Connecticut Whale's young defensemen?

Bruce Berlet / SportsPageMagazine:
Redden Helps Steady Pack --
Rookie defenseman Jyri Niemi said he can’t believe his good fortune to be paired with the man whom he followed closely while growing up in Hameenkyro , Finland .

“It has been amazing, just great,” said the 20-year-old Niemi, who played alongside Redden the last three games after rookie Tomas Kundratek manned the position the first two games. “I never could have dreamt playing with Wade. I grew up watching him play in the NHL and the World Cup against the Finns. Now I’m sitting next to him in the same locker room and getting to play with him. He has always just stood out, and it’s just an honor to play with him.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lundqvist Beats Brodeur (Again)

There was a time when all Marty Brodeur had to do to beat the Rangers was show up. He would make his 10-12 saves, skate off to the press room and proclaim loudly for all to hear, how great it was to beat the Rangers. He hated the Rangers. Well a funny thing happened on the way to all those great wins. A kid from Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist, showed up and Marty's life changed. In fact it became miserable.

Last night The Prince (to me he will always be The Prince) stymied Marty and the Devils again. Lundqvist made 27 saves. In the third period he stopped 11 of 12 shots and bailed out his teammates who were predictively tired after two gruelling periods and last nights win over the Bruins. But this is what Lundqvist does. He doesn't ride waves or cash in on his teams achievements. He leads them. By example and by his determination. He not only is a great goalie, he is a great leader. We maybe seeing, before our eyes, the development of the greatest goalie in Ranger history. Sorry Eddie Giacomin. Sorry Chuck Rayner.

Last nights win gave Lundqvist a 17-4-5 record against future Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur. Amazing. It also gave the revitalized Rangers a three game winning streak. Rozsival, (2) and Callahan, (1) and Dubinsky, (4) an empty netter were the goal scorers. But Lundqvist was the story and always will be the story when he goes up against Brodeur. Sorry Marty, but it is payback time.

Long live the Swedish Prince.

ICINGS:

Save of the game.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Here Come The Devils

The Rangers have proved, so far in this early season, that they can win on the road, 3-1-0. Now that have to win one at home, 0-1-1. What better motivation than facing Maaarrrty and the Devils. The key question is, will the million dollar man, Ilya Kovalchuk, be in the lineup tonight? My source has told me that coach John MacLean had the okay of GM Lou Lamoriello to bench the prolific goal scorer and there is no word on if he will play tonight.

If the Rangers follow up last night's outstanding performance with an encore tonight, they should be able to beat the Devils. It was a feisty, penalty filled game where both teams went 1-6 on the power play. Anisimov scored a PP goal to open the scoring in the first and Charo netted a 5-3 PP goal for the Bruins first goal. Lundqvist made 35 saves and Bruin goalie Rask made 27 saves.

Despite 17 minutes in penalties for going after Mark Stuart, who went after Fedotenko's head, Sean Avery played his usual rough, tough, supportive game. The coach and the team had no problem with his instigating a fight with Stuart. So far the Rangers have played very well without their star Gaborik, Drury and Prospel.

For me, this was the best game of the year. Through the years, the Bruins rivalry has always been one of the most highly contested games, usually in the Bruins favor. The replays of some old games especially the Bruins going into the stands was priceless. Hopefully this Ranger team will erase some of those memories. I still see the Kraut Line and goalie Frankie Brimsek skating and shutting us out. But those were bygone days and it is a different story now. With the arrival of our Prince, Henrik Lundqvist, things have changed in Beantown, Lundqvist is 14-4-2 up at Boston and even the ghost of Frankie Brimsek can't erase that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marty Biron Sparks Rangers

Ranger fans may have to distinguish between their Marty chants. Their derisive Maaarrrty for the anointed Brodeur and the gleeful Marty for their new backup goalie, Martin Biron. Last night he was outstanding in making 24 saves and inspiring his teammates to block 30 shots and play a stellar defense as they snapped their mini three game losing streak at three with a 2-1 win at Toronto.

The Rangers got goals from Ruslan Fedotenko, his first, and Artem Anisimov, his second. Michael Del Zotto, playing his best game of the year, blocked 7 shots and Dan Giradi blocked 6, as defense was the byword last night. While the entire team played a strong defensive game it was Biron who turned in the star of the game night.

Biron will be very important to the Rangers this year. Last year playing for the Islanders, he was outstanding, ending the season on a 7-3-1 run. If the coach doesn't panic and plays it smart Biron should get about 20 starts which will leave Lundqvist refreshed at years end and not tired and beaten down. Of course a big rough, tough defenseman would help protect Lundqvist. What's the name of that kid in Hartford?

ICINGS:

HockeyFights.com:
Derek Boogaard vs Colton Orr -- Who won?

Boogaard -- 59.3%
Orr -- 20.6%
Draw -- 20.1%
(189 votes)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Not So Special

Everyone knows that the loss of Gaborik is diastrous and one need only look at the power play to see how bad it really is. In last nights 3-1 loss to the Av's the power(less) play was 0-5 and now for the season is 2-17. In addition the penalty kill is slowly deteriorating as it gave up two PP goals and for the season is 14-20. So all aspects of their game have gone south in only four games and now stand at 1-2-1. Is it getting late early?

There are few moves that the coach can make, what with limited personnel, however, I would leave the second line, Anisimov, Dubinsky and Callahan alone and move them to the top line. Likewise I would reunite Stepan, Fedotenko and Avery and make them the number two line. After that, scratch and claw the other two lines and pray that Lundqvist elevates his game.

Of course the porous defense is another story but unless we go to the trade route we have to live with what we have and hope that the young guys grow into their jobs. It looks like a very long season and it could be longer if it develops that we are the weakest team in the New York area.

ICINGS:

Tortorella postgame remarks:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gabby, Rangers Go Down In Opener

The Rangers may have felt good about a third period comeback that earned them a point but they sure must be unhappy about the loss of Marian Gaborik for a few weeks. The Ranger star suffered a separated shoulder on a hit from Colby Armstrong, who drew a minor penalty.

There was some good in this but there was more bad. The good was Brian Boyle's two third period goals which tied the game. Lundqvist made 33 saves including 16 in the first period when he held Toronto scoreless. Also the penalty kill was outstanding in regulation going 6-6. Sean Avery picked up two assists and played a fiesty game throughout.

The bad begins with too many penalties, including Staal's interference in OT which led to Kessel's game winner, the porous defense which allowed too many shots on Lundqvist and Chris Drury reinjuring his finger.

So now is the time for all good Rangers to come to the aid of their team. Maybe they can steal a page from the Yankees where everything starts from the bottom of their order. Let's hope so otherwise it is going to be a long winter.

ICINGS: The Rangers went back to tradition by introducing each player individually. Maybe coach disagreeable learned something over the summer.

Tortorella Postgame remarks:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wisniewski Suspended 2 Games for A-very Obscene Gesture

The Isles' James Wisniewski lost his poise and did not stay classy. Sean Avery on the other hand is probably now in his happy place. The NHL suspended Wisnewski for two games for his obscene gesture towards Avery during the first period of Monday's game. Call it a small justice.

The Islanders, of course, would like to forget the whole incident. In fact, they attempt to whitewash the entire affair. Their website in announcing Wisnewski's two game suspension does not use the term "obscene gesture." Instead the Islanders vaguely report the suspension is a result of Wisnewski's "actions" due to an "altercation" with the Rangers. The Islanders decide to go with some Washington-style politically correct double talk.

Islanders.NHL.com:
Wisnewski Suspended for Two Games -- Defenseman receives two game suspension for actions in Monday’s victory over the New York Rangers... for his actions involving an altercation...

TSN.com fully reports the story:
Isles' Wisnewski Suspended Two Games For Obscene Gesture -- New York Islanders defenceman James Wisniewski has been suspended two games for making an obscene gesture during Monday's game against the New York Rangers.

In the first period of action, Wisniewski and Avery had a verbal exchange and shoved each other in front of the Isles' net. Wisniewski then made the lewd gesture in the direction of the Rangers' agitator.

"A lot of actions on the ice are regrettable," Wisniewski said in a statement. "I've been given a suspension from the league, and I'm going to accept it and move on from here." ...

related:
prosportsblogging.com:
Top 10 James Wisniewski Excuses

Toronto Sun:
Flames burn Wisniewski for gesture

In another related story, Mike Milbury, injects himself into the Wisnewski incident with gusto as he uses it as an opportunity to rip into the 'innocent' Sean Avery.

CBC Sports:
Avery no saint in latest incident: Milbury -- Mike Milbury is tired of Sean Avery.

In fact, the Hockey Night in Canada commentator would love to see the New York Rangers' agitator hang up his skates — and soon.

Avery continues to draw that type of harsh response, even when he's on the receiving end of an obscene gesture...

"Here we are we're talking about Avery again, not because he made a great backhanded pass to set up the game-winning goal, but because he's part of another unsavoury incident. It's like watching a car wreck. You know it's not going to be pretty but you can't seem to turn away from it until you've had a look." ...

Milbury wasn't amused when he learned of Avery's plea of innocence.

"Woe is me. I mean, I have no time for it and I've got no time for him. It's too bad that Wisniewski lost his composure and let Avery get to him. If you send a message to everyone in the league, it would be just to ignore him and make him go away sometime, and the sooner the better because it's no fun anymore...
Interesting, that the Car Wreck Coach/GM/player, Milbury, calls Sean Avery a "Car Wreck". Hypocrisy in action. Someone should beat Milbury with a shoe for taking a lazy, cheap shot at Avery. Oh wait a second, that's Milbury's act. Attacking someone with a shoe in the stands is assault, a felony. So we have a ex-player who behaved like a felon, telling our "Grate One" agitator to get out of the game. After you Mike.

On Dec. 23, 1979 Milbury in a game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden followed his teammates into the stands for a brawl and ended up with a shoe in hand. He used the shoe to beat a Rangers fan.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Collapse At The Coliseum

I didn't catch much of the game but I saw the collapse. The Rangers took two stupid, referee assisted penalties which resulted in two Islander power play goals that led to a Ranger defeat at the hands of the Islanders, 5-4. What I saw was more of the same from last year. Helter skelter hockey, line changes and bad defense.

Most pundits are predicting the Rangers anywhere from sixth to twelfth. I don't see the playoffs for this team as it is constructed. However, I could be wrong. It won't be the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. But struggling and losing to the Islanders is not a way to install confidence that this team has what it takes to fight their way to a playoff spot.

I know its early but the bad signs are there already.

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ICINGS:

Tortorella Postgame remarks:



Steve Zipay / Twitter:
Sean Avery on non-call on Wisniewski obscene gesture: "They (the NHL) won't do anything. Imagine if I did that? They'd send me to rehab."



Adam Gretz / NHL Fanhouse:
James Wisniewski Makes Obscene Gesture Toward Sean Avery -- Yup. So that happened. How the NHL deals with this is certainly going to be interesting. If a sex joke is worthy of six games, what will the result of this be?

UPDATE: Our Chris Botta is at Monday's game and passes along the following video of Bettman talking about the incident. In short: He didn't see it.



p.s. Happy Thanksgiving! Canada

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Star Is Born

The Rangers opened up their 85th year in style, showcasing a future star of the NHL, who in his debut had a hat trick, with a 6-3 win over the ever contending Stanley Cup also rans, the Buffalo Sabres. Derek Stepan, the twenty year old from Wisconsin, put on the best Ranger rookie performance since Donnie Murdock's five goal game. With a little luck he would have had five. He played on a line with Ruslan Fedotenko and the irrepressible Sean Avery, who had two assists.

After the game it was announced that Chris Drury will be back soon, either against the Islanders on Monday or the home opener against Toronto on Friday. What a surprise. Where will he play? Drury has played center and both wings in the past, so which of the top nine sits? Chances are we will learn that Stepan needs to get better defensively, so off he goes to Hartford to hone his skills. Or maybe Avery has a meltdown which will give coach disagreeable an excuse to bench him. For what? For a 32 point scorer last year who is making in excess of $7 mil.

But let's look at the positives. A rookie shined, Lundqvist made 33 saves and the Rangers opened the season with a convincing pasting of a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Shine up the Cup.

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Derek Stepan scores hat trick in NHL debut
Sean Avery and Derek Stepan
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ICINGS:

From Stan's twitter to God's ear.

Twitter / Stan Fischler:
Avery and Stepan will emerge as a surprisingly super duet.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Let The Games Begin

The prelims are over and the Rangers didn't do too badly. I'm not talking about the record, 4-2, but about the makeup and the future prospects for success. If what I saw in the prelims, lots of youth, continues, there is hope for the future even if we fail to make the playoffs. Now we wait for the final cuts to see if we have the guts to stick with the youth.

A source of mine has told me that there is a minor spat going on as to the direction of the team. The Stealth GM prefers keeping the older vets as oppossed to the coach going for the youth. The Stealth needs wins, a playoff and maybe some playoff wins. The coach is trying to build a team for the future. For the Stealth, the future is now, as it has been for the last ten years. His track record has been a disaster and he and he alone is to blame for the state of this team.

But you know how these fights go. If the coach wins he has to produce or he will soon seek new employment. For the Stealth, it doesn't matter, he has tenure. We got off to a good start in waiving Redden. Do we really want or need Rozsival, Drury, Prospal and White? I don't think so. You know what's the worst part of getting old? Getting old. Let youth be served.

Friday, October 01, 2010

NHL Watch Out: The 2010 -2011 Rangers Are Pretty Good

Something was different this winter. Very different. The Rangers did not trade youth for a player past their prime (Souray). The Rangers did not give a long-term, over-priced contract to a free agent (Gomez, Holik, Brashear, Drury, Redden). The Rangers admitted a mistake (Redden - nice guy, but you do not want your $6.5 million defenseman to compete for the Lady Byng). It makes you think that either Glen Sather does not have total control any more or he has wised up and is reading blogs.

The predictions of 14th and out of the playoffs appear to be way off the mark. We actually have a better hockey club than last year. If you compare our 2009 opening roster to the roster we will have, you can actually see this was done with a plan. Just compare 2009 to 2010.

NEW YORK RANGERS 2009 OPENING ROSTER (BOLD ARE GONE):

Goal (2): Henrik Lundqvist, Steve Valiquette, G
Defense (6): Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy, Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal, Wade Redden, D

Forward (13): Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal, Donald Brashear, Christopher Higgins, Ales Kotalik, Enver Lisin, Aaron Voros

PLAYERS STILL IN NEW YORK RANGERS TRAINING CAMP (BOLD ARE NEW):

Goal (2): Martin Biron, Henrik Lundqvist
Defense (9): Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michal Rozsival, Mike Sauer, Marc Staal, Pavel Valentenko

Forward (16): Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, Derek Boogaard, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Alex Frolov, Marian Gaborik, Tim Kennedy, Vinny Prospal, Brandon Prust, Derek Stepan, Todd White

REMAINING TEAM CORE:

Goal (1): Henrik Lundqvist

Defense (5): Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy, Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal

Forward (8): Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal

ANALYSIS:

Only 14 players remain from the start of last year. With 9 new quality players to be added, this is not the same team.
  1. We improved in goal by adding a legitimate second goalie. (last year we only rested the Prince nine times - and won only three of those nine)
  2. We remain the same on defense - Redden was okay, just overpriced
  3. We improved on offense by getting rid of five of our worst offensive players (Brashear 36games 0g 1a -9; Higgens 55gm 6g 8a -9; Kotalik 45gm 8g 14a -18, Lisin 57gm 6g 8a -1, Voros 41gm 3g 4a -2) Total 234 games 23 goals 35 assists -39
  4. We improve by being both younger and more experienced. Callahan, Dubby, Stahl, Del Zotto, Gilroy all should be better with age.
PREDICTION:

We add three wins by improving in goal. Frolov, Stepan, a full year of Prust, and two more to be decided will add 20 goals and four more wins.

Last year: 38-33-11 87 - 9th

This year: 45-26-11 101 - 4th

This team is not able to match up against the best in the league. We need both a legitimate first line center and a second line true scoring threat to go against the best. But, we finally have a hockey team!

POST SCRIPT: The loss of Vinny for the season is likely, and significant. We lose his 20 goals, 38 assists and 20 minutes a game of ice time. We also lose a first line center. Assuming there is no big trade coming, we should replace 50-75% of his output, but that means adding only 10-12 goals, not 20, and one or two more wins, not four. So the revised pre-season projection:

This year 42-31-9 93 - 7th