Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pen Fried

Don't let the score fool you, 3-1, this was as one sided as a game can get. The Pens who are excellent on the road, 9-3-1, and overall 16-8-2, had no trouble with the Rangers who are now 5-7-1 at the Garden Of Screams. Can't blame the refs either, even if they missed a Crosby slew foot. The Pens were 0-1 on the power play and the Rangers 0-3. Just say the Blueshirts were out manned, out played and out matched.

The Rangers were outshot 27-26, but I would be hard pressed to remember how many difficult saves Fleury made while Lundqvist kept the score respectable with some key stops. Gaborik tallied the only Ranger goal.

This was a game between a contender and a pretender. If the Rangers are going to actually make a serious run they need consistency. They also need a bona fide first line center man instead of the revolving door we now have. Put one guy there, Stepan, and let him work with the wingers without getting changed every third shift. Of course that goes with the rest of the team. Lines seem to get changed without rhyme or reason. The game plan seems to depend on the performance of the goalie. If he's on, we have a chance, otherwise its what we used to call in the old neighborhood, a cops grab.

If this home ice debacle continues we may have to call in the cops or the fire department to rescue this season. It's obvious the coaches don't know how to do it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Nice Weekend

Growing up in the city, as I did, everything was nice. Make a nice sandwich, have a nice drink, she's a nice girl (sometimes). So the Rangers road trip and weekend were nice. They rebounded nicely from the debacle at Tampa Bay. Actually the rebound started at Tampa Bay with a three goal third period. This led to weekend wins over Florida and Nashville.

The big part of the rebound is Henrik Lundqvist who has rebounded very nicely. In two games he stopped 69 of 70 shots and stopped all three shootout shots against the Predators. Erik Christensen scored the lone shootout goal, thereby becoming an unlikely hero.

The bounce back is impressive. The Rangers have played six straight games in six different cities and all things considered they did quite well, or nicely. They were 4-2 in those games, losing two blowouts. They are now 9-4-0 on the road and if they can bring some of that magic to their home ice we might have a surprising season.

Michal Rozsival returned to action (?) thereby limiting Matt Gilroy's ice time so not all the news was good. Rozsival got over 22 minutes of ice time and if any of you who saw the game and saw him do anything positive, please write me with the details. With Gaborik and Boogaard out the Rangers played seven defensemen. Gilroy got a little over 5 minutes. Why bother? I guess we should be thankful they didn't recall Redden.

Red hot Pittsburgh pays a visit to the Garden on Tuesday and we will get a chance to see if the rebound continues. Then its at the Islanders Thursday night and no matter how bad those guys are they always give us fits. Maybe we will have a nice week.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkeys

In honor of Thanksgiving the Rangers played the part of the turkey and they were carved up by an aggressive Tampa Bay Lightning team that pounced on them for five goals in two periods. They left Lundqvist out to dry and he was pummeled, physically and mentally, but came back with a strong third period to restore his self respect.

The refs didn't help either as they called a ridiculous diving call on Lundqvist after being run into by Ryan Malone, who set up camp at Lundqvist's doorstep and was never bothered. The coach was annoyed after the game especially with Gaborik, who again failed to show up. However, where was the defense? Where was the muscle? Where was the grit? Where was the effort? Where was the coaching?

Happy Thanksging Day folks. Enjoy your turkeys. Tampa Bay did last night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Biron Rocks The Garden

Henrik Lundqvist is surely the number one goalie, as proclaimed by the Ranger coach, but right now Marty Biron is at least 1A. The stand-in was brilliant last night in a 31 save performance, 15 in the third period, as the Rangers out hustled the Calgary Flames, 2-1. Biron, now 5-2-0, has won two straight and the coach just might play this hot hand for a while, giving Lundqvist a long rest. It was the sixth time that Biron has allowed two goals or fewer this year.

The game was an old fashioned rock em, sock em, with Callahan leading the hit parade with 11 hits. Staal had the highlight hit on Matt Stajan and Mike Sauer played a bruising game and was a target of the Flames. Sauer has really blossomed and isn't it a shame that Rozsival will be back and that will probably reduce Sauer's ice time.

Despite the hard hitting there were only four penalties called. The Flames were 0-2, and the Ranger were 1-2, Dan Girardi's PP goal on a great faceoff win by Derek Stepan, was the winning goal. A great goal, a great win and as a bonus it was at home.

ICINGS:

It's perfectly logical that four young guys from Canada would have #38 on their bucket list.

Facebook / TheBuriedLife:

Bucket list/100 things to do before I die: #38 Kiss the Stanley Cup - The Buried Life

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blueshirts Go Wild In Minnesota

Strange people Minnesotans. They give out a bobblehead doll of Marian Gaborik, select him as one of the top ten players in franchise history, then spend the rest of the night booing him. No matter the Rangers were in cruise control and stomped the Wild 5-2, getting back their road magic.

Marty Biron was good, again, and upped his record to 4-2, and is now on target for about 20 games. The second period again proved big, only this time in the Rangers favor. A three goal outburst put the game away. There were five goal scorers and twelve diferent players got points. Just the way the coaches draw it up on the chalkboard.

Now its back to the dreaded Garden for a Monday night game against Calgary. Maybe instead of cheering the team when they hit the ice the fans should boo them and make them think they are on the road. Hey that's it. The Rangers should wear the road whites and change benches with Calgary. Lundqvist should be back after his game and a half benching. Look for a big game from the Prince.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Colorado Crusher

With number two daughter and number two son in attendance the Rangers failed to show up last night and were literally crushed by the Avalanche, 5-1. It was probably one of their worst performances of the year, and how many more times will I be saying that this year? How bad was it? Lundqvist got pulled halfway through the second and that in itself is a cause for major worry.

Trust me he had major assistance. Michael Del Zotto, a minus four, was horrible but what is new about that. In all fairness he had plenty of help. The Rangers were at least a step, or skate, behind every Colorado player. When it was way too late Avery fought Cody McLeod. Sean hustled all night, but why do I get the sense that coach disagreeable would love to see Avery playing somewhere else. Why?

The good news is that the Rangers get back into action tonight against the Minnesota Wild. The bad news is that the Wild are moving up and unless Lundqvist reverts to form another pasting is likely. Stay tuned.

ICINGS: Saddened by the news of the passing of Pat Burns, due to cancer. Burns was a warrior on and off the ice. He battled colon and liver cancer and the latest was when the cancer spread to the lungs. Burns led the Devils to a Stanley Cup in 2002 and also reached the finals with the Canadiens. He won the Jack Adams Award, coach of the year, three times and is surely a future Hall Of Famer. Condolences and prayers to his wife and family. God Bless you Pat Burns.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bruins Bop Blueshirts

To avoid that last minute, game, drive for a playoff spot and to avoid SI"s prediction of 12th place, the Rangers must be more consistent at home, and must win more games at home. Right now they are not doing the job at home. For whatever reasons, noisy home crowd, heritage jerseys, too much night life, too many charities, ad nauseum ......It's not working.

The Rangers seem unable to pick up the momentum from a previous win. After a stirring OT win in Pittsburgh and riding a three game streak the Rangers bombed at home, again, last night. There is always something. A cheap goal, powerless on a 5-3 power play, back to the perimeter game, too much passing, you name it.

Maybe the mini road trip, Colorado and Minnesota, will straighten them out. But these are road games. Gotta win at home.

ICINGS:

Tortorella postgame remarks...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What A Win

There are times during the season when there are forgetable losses and times when there are unforgetable wins. Last nights 3-2 OT win against Pittsburgh at the new Consol Energy Center was a classic. For 57:29 Henrik Lundqvist was pitching a shutout and preserving a 1-0 lead. Then in the space of 38 seconds the Pens scored two goals to take what seemed like victory from the jaws of defeat. Then Lundqvist snapped. Actually it was his stick that snapped after he smashed his stick and screamed at the officials. And rightly so.

The Rangers were getting their usual jobbing in Pittsburgh with the Pens getting six power plays and the Rangers none. The two minute penalty against Lundqvist drove the Rangers, especially Dubinsky, to new heights. Staal, shorthanded, with an assist from Dubinsky tied the game with a little over a minute and as half left in the game. In OT, Callahan scored the winner on a beautiful feed from Dubinsky who truley rose to the occasion.

Eric Christensen had scored the first goal of the game midway through the second period. Of course Erik had distinguished himself earlier by telling an Edmonton TV audience that Sean Avery had suckered punched Oiler Ladislav Smid in Sundays game. Let's hope that Erik never needs Sean to stand up for him in a game. Remember Erik, blood is thicker than water.

ICINGS:

The key highlights of a great win.

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HockeyFights.com:
Ryan Callahan vs Mike Comrie, 2010 1pd 12:55 -- Callahan wins the fight and chalks up a Gordie Howe hat trick.
Ryan Callahan -- 81.4%
Draw -- 12.9%
Mike Comrie -- 5.7%

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kids Day At The Garden

It was kids day at the Garden and it was hard to fathom who had more fun, the kids in the stands or the kids on the ice. For a while the kids from Edmonton were looking good and took a one goal lead as Ranger goalie Marty Biron fanned on Shawn Horcoff's rising shot. However, it seems that the Oilers never subscribed to coach clueless's sacred mantra, "Not playing defense is not an option." The Rangers led 5-2 going into the third period. Then all hell broke loose.

In the space of 2:08 the Rangers scored three goals to break the game open. The Pundit missed all that as he had to make a pit stop, but did hear the crowd and the song. However, the big fun started about a minute or two before the scoring as it became fight night at the Garden. It was probably the best boxing card the Garden has had since the days of Ali-Frazer. The main event was Avery-Smid with conflicting stories about who suckered whom. After it was over there seemed to be more players ejected than still in the game. Matt Gilroy wound up playing a forward position in the final minutes.

Marian Gaborik returning to form, had a hat trick plus an assist, Frolov had a pair of goals and a pair of assists and Eric Christensen had three assists. Marty Biron made 19 saves in picking up his third win. He also had the best seat in the house while Prust and Zack Stortini were duking it out. It was crazy. As the great Bill Chadwick would say, "It was boys being boys."

What it did for the kids in the stands, I don't know. The reaction seemed mixed where I sat as quite a few parents were concerned about the violence going on before their eyes. I've been to boxing matches where the crowds were more subdued than yesterdays crowd. "I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out."

ICINGS: There were stirring renditions of the Canadien and US National Anthems performed by Steve Murphy and his daughter Madelyn. They were outstanding receiving a huge ovation from the fans. Of course the jerks who love to interrupt the anthem with lets go Ranger chants contined their rude outbursts. It would be nice if the PA system would address this prior to the anthems.

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HockeyFights.com:
Ladislav Smid vs Sean Avery, 3pd 11:18 -- the catalyst...
Sean Avery -- 73.4%
Ladislav Smid -- 15.2%
Draw -- 11.4%
average rating 4.0, 158 votes
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HockeyFights.com:
Zack Stortini vs Brandon Prust, 3pd 11:18 --
Zack Stortini -- 47.1%
Draw -- 30.0%
Brandon Prust -- 22.9%
avg. rating of 5.2 / 70 votes
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HockeyFights.com:
Theo Peckham vs Brian Boyle, 3pd 11:18 --
Draw -- 60.0%
Brian Boyle -- 33.3%
Theo Peckham -- 6.7%
avg. rating 3.7 / 30 votes
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HockeyFights.com:
Steve MacIntyre vs Derek Boogaard, Nov 14, 2010 3pd 02:28
Derek Boogaard -- 95.6%
Draw -- 2.9%
Steve MacIntyre -- 1.5%
avg. rating of 6.9 / 136 votes
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HockeyFights.com:
Steve MacIntyre vs Derek Boogaard, Nov 14, 2010 3pd 08:46 --
Draw -- 44.9%
Steve MacIntyre -- 38.0%
Derek Boogaard -- 17.1%
avg. rating of 5.2 / 158 votes
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Finalmente

The Rangers won a home game! The Rangers won a home game! The Rangers won a home game! Okay, it's not The Giants win the pennant but its a start. It took overtime but the Rangers are now 3-5-1 at the Garden and hope to improve on that on Sunday against coach clueless and his Edmonton Oilers. At least the pressure is off me to produce a win when I go to my first game in almost two years. Physically I feel up to it and emotionally seeing coach clueless again may be too much to bear.

The win over the Sabres was no big deal as this year the Buffalo team is one of the bottom feeders in the NHL east. Edmonton, along with the Islanders and the Devils are the bottom feeders of the entire NHL with all of ten points each. However, to take liberties with Gertrude Stein, A win is a win is a win.

Artem Anisimov and Marty Biron were the stars for the Rangers. Anisimov with two goals and Biron with 29 saves. Lundqvist was out with flu like symptoms. Michal Rozsival was out with a shoulder injury which led to some curious comments from the coach. He said it was unfair for the fans to boo Rozsival because he was playing hurt and couldn't shoot because of the shoulder injury. So pray tell me all wise coach. If Rozsival had a shoulder injury and couldn't shoot the puck why did you continue to play him on the power play?

The Rangers won a home game!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home Woes Continue

For two periods last night the Rangers seem to have it going. They took three one goal leads. They fought and stuck up for each other. Between periods something went wrong. They played their cycle game. Rozsival and Del Zotto returned to their giveaway selves and even the usually flawless Lundqvist faltered.

So what else is new? This team, as constructed, just cannot do it. I fail to believe that Marian Gaborik returning is going to solve our problems. A shakeup of the defense is a must. Rozsival should be put on waivers. Del Zotto should take some shifts in Hartford. Eminger should be cut. Gilroy should get more ice time and we should get a better look at McDonagh and Valentenko.

You may say that is too much inexperience on the blue line? I say, so what? Let's stop fooling ourselves. We are not going anywhere. SI's 12th place pick right now looks solid. Book it. Take it to the bank. Are we ever going to win a home game? I'm booked for Sunday's matinee against Edmonton. Should I stay home?

ICINGS:

Highest rated fight of the month, so far, Eric Boulton (Atl) vs Matt Carkner (Ott).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hot Blues: Cold Blueshirts

Two trends continued last night at the Garden. One was uplifting, the other depressing. Unfortunately the uplifting belonged to the visitors, the St. Louis Blues, who won their seventh straight and are 9-1-2. The Rangers lost another game at home and are now 2-4-1 at MSG.

For the second time in two games the Rangers squandered a five minute power play, getting only two real opportunities to score. So the up and down early season continues as the Rangers prove they are a solid .500 hockey team, 7-6-1.

Marty Biron rebounded nicely from his debacle against Atlanta with a strong game, 20 saves, and seems to be the right backup for Lundqvist. Unfortunately the Rangers need to find some scoring punch as they await the return of Marian Gaborik. How bad is the scoring situation? Last night they scored, Frolov, but it was waived off on an incorrect call of highsticking. If it wasn't for bad luck, the Rangers would have no luck at all.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dubi And The Prince

Some things never change. It seems destined that Henrik Lundqvist will constantly beat the Devils, without Brodeur and with Brodeur. Lundqvist made 33 saves in racking up his 2nd shutout this season, his 5th career wise against the Devils and his 26th career shutout. Brodeur's bruised elbow probably doesn't hurt as much as Brodeur's bruised ego.

Brandon Dubinsky continued his exciting early season run. His two goals gave him ten for the season and tied him with Tampa Bay's Stamkos and Chicago's Sharp for the lead in goals scored. The Devil's 100 million dollar man, Ilya Kovalchuk, continues to be a huge disappointment. If the Devils continue their shoddy play, especially at home, John MacLean may be seeking employment somewhere else.

Both teams played without key players. The Rangers added Callahan to Gaborik, Drury and Prospal. The Devils were without Brodeur and Parise. The game was a pond hockey game compared to the Rangers previous game against the Flyers.

Nonetheless, it was a win and Lundqvist continues his dominance over the Devils and Dubinsky continues to come of age.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Outcasts Cast Out Rangers

Blair Betts and Nikolai Zherdev are two different kind of players. One is a grind it out, all out 100% and then some. The other is a pure sniper, lackadaisical, a sometimes mail it in kind of player. Both played for the Rangers. Both were discarded by the Rangers. One unjustifiably so and the other justified. They both play for the Flyers and they both scored last night against their former team. Vengence is sweet.

Of course they weren't the only story last night. As usual, when they lose the Rangers are the story. How bad were they? Listen to Henrik Lundqvist. "It was a frustrating game because I don't think they had to work that hard to get their goals." Both teams got 21 shots on goal, so this was no offensive game. It was a physical dirty game.

There were a couple of "fights", if you want to call them that. Daniel Carcillo tried to decapitate Ruslan Fedeotenko and went unpunished. Prust fought him. Derek Boogaard and Jody Shelley got into a wrestling match. Overall the game stunk.

The Ranger coach was his usual impatient self. Derek Stepan playing time was limited. Sean Avery, who game in and game out is one of the top six forwards wasted his time on the third line. Imagine when Gaborik and Drury come back. That will make Avery a fourth liner. SI prediction of 12th place doesn't look that outlandish.

There is a flicker of hope. Lundqvist goes against Brodeur tonight at The Rock.

ICINGS:

Despite losing the game the Rangers won both fights.

HockeyFights.com:
Derek Boogaard vs Jody Shelley -- Who won?

Derek Boogaard -- 93.6%
Jody Shelley -- 4.3%
Draw -- 2.1%
94 votes / 4.7 rating

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HockeyFights.com:
Brandon Prust vs Daniel Carcillo -- Who won?
Brandon Prust -- 96.0%
Draw -- 3.0%
Daniel Carcillo -- 1.0%
99 votes / 6.6 rating

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

There's No Place Like Home, Auntie Em!

The Rangers finally got it right. They won a home game, only their second, and beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2. Henrik Lundqvist, who allowed a cheapie to Patrick Kane, more than atoned on a great save on Tomas Kopecky with a little over a minute to go in the game. Lundqvist made 33 saves and the Ranger team blocked 33 shots.

Brandon Dubinsky scored a late goal in the first period, an early goal in the third period and Erik Christensen got the game winner at the 6:36 mark of the third period. Ryan Callahan played a forceful game. All in all it was the second great game in a row and truly a team performance.

The Blackhawks have always been one of my favorite visiting teams. My first Ranger game was against the Blackhawks. My first game away from the Garden was at Chicago Stadium in 1957 when rookie Bobby Hull faced off against the Montreal Canadiens. I believe it was a 6-5 Blackhawk win with Hull scoring a couple of goals. And who can forget Pete Stemkowski's OT game winner in the playoffs against the Blackhawks. All in all a great rivalry. Too bad the Rangers don't play them more often.