Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Uncanny Similarities Between John Tortorella And Muammar Qaddafi

John Tortorella and the younger Muammar Qaddafi (K-daffy) share a slight resemblance. Qaddafi reportedly had plastic surgery in the 1990's (click to enlarge)

If you think about it there are many similarities between our Rangers head coach, John Tortorella, and Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Now, of course one is worse than the other: one is a murdering tinpot tyrant, the other just a tyrannical and disagreeable coach with a god complex. But if you take a look closer, you’ll see that there’s a few eerie similarities between the two.


  • Both have attempted to grow facial hair in order to prove their manliness and look more fierce
  • After years ensconced in a mediocre 8th-9th place team / dictatorial third-world country that everyone knew was terrible, is finally being called to account for their bizarre actions
  • Will brook no perfidious or scurrilous words against him / complete and utter obedience
  • Only doing what is best for the team / only doing what is best for the country, as they destroy it.
  • Both refuse to believe that their time on top will come to an end, declaring - Torts: “failure is not an option” / “Muammar is not a president to leave his post.”
  • Both are willing to sacrifice anyone for the good of the regime
  • Both hold fiery press conferences
  • When finally confronted with his malfeasances, dispatches a series of rambling, disjointed communiques, each one crazier than the last
help provided courtesy MovieLine

Friday, April 29, 2011

Three More Years

The final buzzer at game five of the Caps-Rangers series not only ended the Rangers season it also woke up our Stealth GM from his Rip Van Winkle year long sleep. He woke up, saw his shadow and signed coach disagreeable to a new three year deal. But we are used to great things from our beloved Stealth.

After all we have won all of two first-round series in what, thirteen years. He has made so many great trades that have enabled us to put up a great fight for 8th place every year. So he gave us this extra bonus of signing coach disagreeable immediately after our elimination. Don't know what clinched the deal? Maybe it was the power play that was consistent in its inability to put the puck into the net.

Maybe it was the way he played players who were too fatigued in the third period to have any impact. Maybe it was the way he constantly changed lines, during the game and sometimes during shifts. Maybe he liked the fact that he was always throwing a player under the bus. It probably was the fact that he was great with the local press after the game. I hear he is a finalist for the Larry Brooks Mr. Congeniality award.

Whatever it is we have our coach disagreeable back. And I'm thrilled. The last time I was that thrilled was when I was in the hospital and they did an endoscopy and colonoscopy back to back. So yes I am picky. The good news is that The Stealth has gone back to sleep. The bad news is that we have coach disagreeable for three more years.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Firsthand Callahan

Some thoughts by Ryan Callahan as the Rangers off-season begins. We will count on him, to do as he says, to "put pucks in the net and pick up points" next year. Someone has to do that, right?


NHL.com / BlueShirtsUnited.com:

Leaning on a pair of crutches before finally taking a seat in a locker at the MSG Training Center, Rangers alternate captain Ryan Callahan said that the cast should be coming off his broken ankle in a "couple" of weeks and that his normal off-season workouts would not be hampered in any way. Here's what else Cally told reporters at break-up day.
I know me, personally, and guys like Staalsie, Danny, and Dubi, don't look at ourselves as the young kids any more. We are not the future, the prospects or anything like that. We're a huge part of this team, and kind of the core of this team. Coming into the year we knew that and we wanted to lead the team the best we could and I think we have more responsibility to do that next year, too. Speaking for myself, I am ready to do that and am excited for that challenge and opportunity.
— Ryan Callahan

I think this year I took a pretty big step forward production-wise, and I think that came with more responsibility and more minutes. Right from the start me, Dubi, and Artie found a chemistry together and worked off each other pretty well. Looking forward I have to continue to do that, come in next year pick up where I left off and continue to put pucks in the net and pick up points.
— Ryan Callahan

It was pretty tough (missing the playoffs due to injury), especially because you battle with these guys all year. You work so hard and then get to the best part of the year, the most fun, and you're sitting and have to watch. It's a tough thing to do and something I didn't really enjoy.
— Ryan Callahan

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's All Over!

The Rangers have lost the last game of the season, again. A lot of teams lose the last game of the season. Only one team wins the last game of the season. However, the Rangers seem to lose the last game of the season sooner than most teams. Some teams win a bunch of games before they lose their last game of the season.

The last time the Rangers won a bunch of games before losing their last game was in the 1997 playoffs. That year the Rangers lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Flyers 4-1. They had eliminated the Panthers and the Devils racking up a total of nine wins. That kind of playoff run I can live with. These one and dones are a waste and better they don't make the playoffs then go bye-bye in the first round.

The season and the evaluation of the future will be done at another time. Suffice to say that the Rangers are done. The season is over. Once again, we lost the last game of the season.

----
ICINGS:

Since there were no "highlights" in the Rangers game to speak of, we will look elsewhere.

The Ducks' Bobby Ryan on his highlight reel goal -- Bobby Ryan put several moves on Nashville's David Legwand before putting the puck past Pekka Rinne for one of the best goals of the playoffs...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Epic Collapse: Capitals 4, Rangers 3 (2OT)

Rangerland is in utter devastation this morning. The pain and agony of a bitter defeat casts a gloomy pall over every action and thought today. I must be in the first circle of hell. In this circle of hell there is a smiling Bruce Boudreau sitting next to me, enjoying himself as I am forced to listen to his color commentary as we watch the game highlights. "Boo-dreau, Boo-dreau, Boo-dreau," he mockingly chants and then chuckles as we listen to the replay of the MSG crowd chanting his name. "They love me, they really, really love me," he cackles as spittle flies off his mouth in my general direction. And it just gets worse from there...

Capitals coach, Bruce Boudreau, relaxes as he watches the highlights of his Caps 4-3 double overtime comeback win over the New York Rangers.
Sadly our heroes were not heroic, but human. They failed to protect a 3rd period lead for the first time all year. The Blueshirts gave up three third period goals to let Boudreau's boys back into the contest. After that you knew something wicked this way comes.

The Rangers now have the fifth-largest blown lead in the Stanley Cup record book. The dreaded "choke" word has to be dusted off and brought out. The Rangers choked last night. It hurts to use that word with this tough and hard working team. But, yes they choked. Anyway, so how was the play Mrs. Lincoln? The play, especially the second act was great, it was the third act and second encore that stunk.

Redemption is now climbing a three game mountain that seems as tall as the Himalayas. Tortorella says they can't look at the mountain, only at taking one step at a time. It's hard to have faith that they can win three straight against this very talented Caps team. I'll just watch and hope our heroes can rise yet again and be heroic.
----
ICINGS:

New York Post:


Daily News:


New York Times:


Wall Street Journal:


Bergen Record:


Journal News:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pregame: Rangers vs. Caps, Game 4

They are all big games now. But, this one tonight has so many subplots and it's one we're really looking forward to. Some items that caught our eye:

update: No Knuble...
Katie Carrera / Washington Post / Capitals Insider:
Jason Chimera expected to replace Mike Knuble on Capitals’ top line --

All indications point to Mike Knuble missing at least tonight’s contest, possibly because of an injury sustained when he was hit in the right hand by a puck on Game 3. Chimera has skated with Ovechkin and Backstrom in practice for the past two days...
Capitals Insider:
Capitals’ Eric Fehr looking forward to making playoff debut
----
The power play needs to start working.

NY Rangers:
Pregame Notes: Rangers vs. Washington --
  • Over the last two seasons, the Blueshirts have tallied 10 power play goals in 30 opportunities (33.3%) in their last eight regular season games vs. Washington, including six goals in 17 power play attempts (35.3%) in four games in 2009-10.
  • Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 4-6 record with a 2.61 GAA and one shutout in 10 career playoff contests vs. Washington.
  • Vinny Prospal leads the Rangers with seven goals, eight assists and 15 points in 17 career playoff contests vs. Washington.
----
One big key to the game: put Caps rookie goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, on tilt.

NY Post:
Rangers' goal: Get inside Capitals rookie goalie's head -- 
The Rangers are finally trying everything, belatedly, to plant a little doubt in the mind of Michal Neuvirth, the Capitals' rookie goaltender. That shocking, bad-angle goal by Erik Christensen Sunday in Game 3 might prove the most fruitful seed...
----
Will the Avery-Boyle-Prust line again provide our spark?

Dave Lozo / NHL.com:
Avery-Boyle-Prust line proving productive for Rangers --
It's certainly not a line loaded with superstars, but it's been the Rangers' most consistent line entering Wednesday night's Game 4 (7 p.m., Versus, TSN) at Madison Square Garden...
----
Will Grit win out over Great?
Stan Fischler:
GRIT OVER GREAT: Tortorella's shock troops won the forechecking contests on Sunday and could extend -- maybe even win -- the series if they keep pounding the artsy Caps such as Alex Semin and Nik Backstrom, not to mention Ovechkin. During Boudreau's post-gamer in which he beefed about officials allowing Neuwirth to be pounded post-whistle, the coach betrayed concern about grittiness winning over greatness...
----
The view from down south.

Jaspers' Rink:
Wednesday Caps Clips: Round 1, Game 4 Game Day --

More on the targeting of Mike Green and his reaction to it. [CW (Whyno), CI (Schimmel), DCEx (McNally), CSN Washington (Zuckerman), Skate Skate SHOOT, SB Nation DC, and check out a good read on previously concussed players being targeted, generally, at SI.com (Hackel)] ...
----
Andrew Gross's three keys to the game.
  1. Build on momentum...
  2. Stay disciplined...
  3. Contain Ovechkin...
----
And another 3 things to watch for.

Rock the Red:
Playoff Pregame #4: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers -- ... Three Things To Watch For:

  1. "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." - General George S. Patton, Jr.
  2. "If you want money, go to the bank. If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net." - Brooks Laich
  3. "Take the shortest route to the puck carrier, and arrive in ill humor." - Fred Shero
----
There will not be any puny playoff 'stache' for "The King".

Henrik Lundqvist blog:
Henrik Lundqvist to Stick With Playoff Beard

Lundqvist: Dubinsky’s mustache is “So bad, it’s good,” ...  
it was one of the “uglier” mustaches he’d ever seen

----
Torts Mode: Tortorella is not going with a 'stache'

Andrew Gross / Twitter:
Tortorella says he will not go with the 'stache. Fake angrily asks questioner, "You say I'm going gray?"
----
Torts also says Butterball Boudreau's "whining" won't be a factor.

NorthJersey.com:
John Tortorella offers soft rebuttal --
Rangers coach John Tortorella, asked about Boudreau’s accusation that the Rangers were targeting Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who missed the final 20 games of the regular season with a concussion, took a verbal jab at his counterpart.

"Our mind-set is just focusing on what we need to do, how we play, play the right way and get ready for Game 4," Tortorella said. "We have confidence in the league, we have confidence in the officials that they won’t be influenced by all the whining going on."
----
ICINGS:

Ovechkin is dating a "Spy" he met online.

Apparently the Russian version of Facebook is a website called "Odnoklassniki", it translates to "Classmates." That is where Ovechkin met his girlfried, Katja, who used the name "Spy" on the website.

Alex Ovetjkin blog:
Alex Ovechkin's love story --
Meet Alex Ovechkin's new girlfriend, Katja (nickname for Ekaterina). She is a senior at Moscow Pedagogical University with major in English. She met Alex over the internet. The virtual romance turned into a real one. They met for the first time in real life on February 7, 2008 in Washington, D.C...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

100 Hockey Sites

Thanks for the shoutout Pixelpuck. A great list, it has many hockey websites that we didn't know about.

title="PixelPuck:

PixelPuck blog:
100 Hockey Sites --
... A list of 100 hockey sites every fan should bookmark or at least visit once. After spending time organizing my bookmarks it dawned on me that there really isn’t a place (besides other peoples blog rolls) where someone can find a compendium of hockey sites and blogs. I’ll share the ones that I’ve accumulated over time, most of them I still visit regularly. There’s a brief description of every site so you have an idea of where you’re about to go...

Rangers Notes - 4/19

Will the Washington Caps flip-flopping from an offensively minded team to a defensively focused team end up working? Some thoughts on the Caps' baptism in the "Church of Defensive Hockey" ...


Steven Ovadia / PuckUpdate:
Washington Capitals Need Ovechkin to Find Offense in Transition --
Much has been made of Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau’s sudden conversion into the Church of Defensive Hockey.

When the Capitals struggled during the regular season, Boudreau moved the team into a more defensive system and found consistency and success. And Boudreau hasn’t looked back, maintaining a defensive posture into the playoffs.

So far it’s paid off, as Washington is up two games to one over the New York Rangers. But is Boudreau’s new defensive system sustainable?...

discussion:
Alex Ovetjkin blog:
Lost in transition? --
Now back to Ovi. For the most part Alex looks like a fish out of the water, he is even using oxygen. He does not look like a guy he used to be, a guy who could stay on ice forever. Why is he still a superstar? Because superstars can adjust and this is what Ovi does. He now scores "ugly goals", he is more discipline on line changes because he knows his limitations and this is what great players do, they adjust...
The Suit / Blue Seat Blogs:
Capitals New Defensive System Could Cost Them --
Everyone in the media has been quick to praise Bruce “Mr. Haagan-Dazs” Boudreau lately about his ability to get Ovechkin and company to buy into a more “defensive system.” In case you missed the love fest, color analysts have been pouring over film of recent Capitals games to highlight how ridiculously skilled players like Backstrom and Ovie are no longer trying to outgun opponents, but are instead hanging back and plugging up the neutral zone in 1-2-2 and 2-3 formations...

If you ask me, I’m more than happy to see Alexander Ovechkin, the greatest hockey player in the world, stationed further away from Henrik Lundqvist...
----
Torts talk [more coherence and decorum than usual]

ESPN Radio 1050AM / Michael Kay Show
[audio, Monday April 18th, 5:04 pm, 17:33 min]:
Rangers coach John Tortorella joins "The Michael Kay Show" to discuss last Sunday's must-win game, winning a cup this year and Caps coach Bruce Boudreau's comments about MSG.
Torts: The Prust-Boyle-Avery line gave us a huge shift in the first period that got the crowd in the game... they are a really good line for playoff hockey...
via NYR Blog
----
Bruce Boudreau quote, regarding MSG, on Washington radio station 105.9:
“Well, the one thing, its reputation is far better than the actual building,” Boudreau said. “I mean, it’s nothing. The locker rooms are horrible. The benches are horrible. There’s no room for anything. But the reputation of being in Madison Square Garden is what makes it famous. Also, our building’s a lot louder, too. So I mean, they can say what they want, but it’s not that loud in there.”
----
Thoughts on the Bruce Boudreau Whine Festival...

----
Zuccy goes back to the Whale.

NY Rangers:
Zuccarello returned to Connecticut -- Forward had appeared in one playoff game vs. Washington...
----
Jaspers' Rink:
The Noon Number --
1.000 - Michal Neuvirth's save percentage through three games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals when playing with the lead or trailing...
----
ICINGS:

Deal of the Decade? NHL TV deal worth reported $2Billion.

NBC.com:
NHL and NBC Sports Group sign 10-year broadcast deal --
Today, the NHL signed a 10-year pact with NBC Sports Group to carry games on NBC and Versus and a deal that sees new and unprecedented coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Also, expect to see a lot more hockey on your television sets in the next ten years through the 2020-2021 season...
SportsBusinessDaily:
NBC, Versus Ink 10-Year, $2B Deal To Retain NHL TV Rights

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hanging Tough!

It looked like heartbreak matinee at the Garden. Ovechkin ties the game with a minute left in the second period. The Rangers have a goal overturned at the buzzer. The NBC clock showed .01, but the clock that counts said .00. With about five minutes to go in the game Knuble ties it up and it looked like a long night. Then Brandon Dubinsky, who was a monster all game with seven hits, spins away from the boards and puts in the winner with a little over a minute to win it for the Rangers.

Dubinsky's goal was aided by Fedotenko going at it with a Cap defensemen, I think it was Hannan, basically getting him out of the play. The Rangers were relentless. They outshot the Caps, 35-25, out hit them, 41-29, won more faceoffs, 56-44. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau complained that the Rangers were hitting his goalie and getting away with it. I wonder what he thought his guys have been doing to Lundqvist?

The one negative continues to be the power play. It was 1-7 with Christensen scoring the PP goal on a shot that seemed stoppable by Cap goalie Michal Neuvirth. The Caps were 1-3 on the PP. Chris Drury, who got only 7:56 of ice time won 15 of 19 faceoffs which was huge. Fedotenko, Dubinsky, Gaborik, Staal and Girardi all played more than 20 minutes each.

So now the Rangers have an opportunity to tie the series Wednesday. They will need to be more forceful and aggressive than today as the Caps will be charging and their coach has already sent a warning message to the refs.

----
ICINGS:

One view of things from D.C.

Stephen Whyno / Washington Times:
Rangers' strategy of running Michal Neuvirth pays off --
Michal Neuvirth’s poise under pressure is obvious to everyone who watches. So when the Rangers couldn’t rattle the Capitals’ young goalie with shots directed his way, they turned to playing their own game after the whistles.

Sean Avery chirped Neuvirth. Brian Boyle and others kept running into him in an attempt to throw him off his game. It worked – not because the 23-year-old faltered in the 3-2 loss but because the Caps got frustrated by the extracurricular activity...
----
Dubinsky's game winner:


----
Game highlights:

----
update:

Blue Line Station:
Let’s Watch Sean Avery… Act Like Sean Avery -- [Avery "snaps his twig" to buy time after an icing]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nothing Doing!

As reader Luke put it so aptly: "you can't win, if you can't score." The Rangers can't score. Marian Gaborik got 23:18 of ice time. Played with Christensen and Prospal and then with Anisimov and Avery and got all of 4 shots on goal, none of high quality. Meanwhile Avery got all of 10:22, begrudgingly by coach disagreeable, and got 3 shots on goal. Maybe the wrong guy is getting all the ice time? Dubinsky got 21:05 of ice time and got all of 2 shots on goal. So maybe the coach is not only disagreeable, he may be stupid.

The Caps have stolen a page from the Rangers by clamping down on defense. They blocked 21 shots to the Rangers 15 and were outhit by the Rangers 28-35. The Rangers out shot the Caps 22-18, but the Caps basically kept the Rangers away from young goalie Michal Neuvirth, who is looking like the second coming of Ken Dryden.

So it's back to the Garden for game three. Looking at it logical the Rangers can get back in it if they hold serve at MSG. After all that is all the Caps have done in winning the two home games. Unfortunately the Rangers are not that good at home and they can't score goals.

Maybe another tinker is in order. How about coach disagreeable swallowing his pride and brain and coming up with a line of Dubinsky centering Gaborik and Avery? Gaborik has had some of his biggest games with Avery on his other wing. Got nothing to lose coach, let's try it. Who knows. We may even score a goal and maybe win a game.

ICINGS:

The view from the other side is very upbeat.

On Frozen Blog:
A Bad Matchup Indeed — for New York --

This Rangers club was supposed to be a bad matchup for these Capitals. Big up front, rascally around the net, opportunistic offensively, a good defensive club backstopped by a premiere netminder. Turns out, the Capitals are a very bad matchup for New York. Through two games in this opening round series it’s the Capitals playing suffocating defense, getting elite goaltending, rolling difficult-to-match-up-with lines, and playing smart, disciplined hockey. The Capitals in fact are playing the Rangers’ game, and for added measure, attack with elite skill and difference-making depth.

This Rangers club doesn’t possess the skill level up front to threaten the Caps...
----

Friday, April 15, 2011

Playing the Wild Card: Sean Avery

So Torts said that Sean Avery will play tonight. Tortorella: "Hopefully Sean can add some energy to lineup." He's our crazy #16 wild card, for sure. Who knows what we get: three penalties and six minutes of ice time or three assists and sixteen minutes of ice time??

Sean Avery is Rangers Wild Card
Sean Fitz-Gerald of Canada's National Post ask the big question:
Do the Rangers need Sean Avery?
John Tortorella enlivens the Internet. It is filled with images of his gritted teeth, his scowl and even of his Stanley Cup win. There are videos of his profanity, and there is also proof the New York Rangers coach is not much different from the fans watching at home.

Even the most casual search, for example, reveals that he, like many, dislikes Sean Avery.

“Send him home,” he said. “He doesn’t belong in the league.” ...

Avery led the Rangers in penalty minutes this year (174), but only scored three goals with wildly different workloads. He averaged 11 minutes of ice time, but spent plenty of time at both ends of the scale, playing 15 minutes one night, and about eight the next.

The trouble for Tortorella has always been the penalties, which happen often when Avery falls from the tightrope he walks between agitation and illegality...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Knee-Capped

The Washington Capitals won a tense 2-1 overtime victory over the NY Rangers. The game winning goal came at 18:24 of the overtime, when a Marc Staal turnover led to Jason Arnott setting-up Alexander Semin in the slot for a one-timer that he ripped by Lundqvist.

You certainly can't blame Staal alone for the loss, he'd been a workhorse all night, playing a bruising 33:48 mostly against Alexander Ovechkin. Drury's failure to clear the puck before Staal's flub was equally fatal.

Ovechkin's goal with only 6:16 remaining in the game was a knee-capping of the first order. Ovechkin got to the front of the Rangers net and then gets to bang away at Lundqvist's kneecaps for a couple of minutes until the puck trickles in. You would think Dubinsky, Stepan or Fedotenko might have had a notion to lay a body on the rampaging Russian? I guess not.

Ovechkin said: “I just try to hit something. It goes in.” The Ovie goal spoiled a splendid game from the King.

Marian Gaborik, our would-be goal scorer, did some peppering of Neuvirth, but the seasoning was not baked in.  So yet again, Gaborik serves us some more cold gruel.

When the Rangers lose the shot-blocking battle, 28-32, to the Caps you know they are going to have a tough night.

Jaspers' Rink:

32 - blocked shots for the Caps in Game 1 of their Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers, the most they've had in any playoff game under Bruce Boudreau. During the 2010-11 season, the Caps had the seventh-highest shot block total in the League with 1257; the Rangers were fourth with 1301...
Some other thoughts that I want to echo:

Carp / Rangers Report Blog:
I think Sean Avery has to find his way back into the lineup. Don’t know if he’d go in for Erik Christensen, who was on the perimeter again, or for Mats Zuccarello, who took the early penalty and barely played thereafter...
Scotty Hockey:
Brandon Prust won't make it into the three stars but he did put forth a very Prustian effort. Gilroy's goal was all because of his forecheck and he helped the Rangers match the Caps physicality.
Hockey Rodent:
I saw a lot of poise out of youngsters with precious little postseason experience once they got those butterflies out of their systems in the first intermission.
And some stuff that makes me worry...

Homer McFanboy:
Semin now has six goals in eight postseason games against Lundqvist, so maybe this is the psychological edge the Caps’ offense needs to get rolling in the playoffs.
----
All in all, a painful loss that feels like it should have been a win.

ICINGS:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Deja Vu!

Well, we are back to the spring of 2009. It's the Rangers vs. the Caps. It's Ovechkin vs. Lundqvist. It's Tortorella vs. the fans. It's coach disagreeable vs. Avery. Well, no Avery, since the coach has dispatched Avery to the upper deck in favor of Zuccy, who got less than 4 minutes of ice time the last game. You remember Rangers-Caps 2009, first round?

The Rangers were up 3-1 and lost the next three games thanks to coach disagreeable. Why bring this up now? Because the ingredients are there for a repeat. The Rangers were winning game four to go up three to one, when Avery was called for a high sticking penalty in the last minute of the game. Everyone went bonkers. Announcers, reporters and especially the coach. He caved and suspended Avery the next game. This must have been the worst penalty in the history of the NHL.

Well, the Rangers lost the next game and guess what? Coach disagreeable got suspended a game for fighting with fans. He put Avery back in game seven, but to no avail as Wade Redden was too much for Lundqvist to overcome. So thanks to our coach the Rangers blew a 3-1 series lead and were eliminated by a sorry Cap team.

Can we do it this time? Of course we can. First of all we have Henik Lundqvist. I don't care if Cap coach Bruce Boudreau puts both Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov in the nets at the same time, Lundqvist is our man, our Prince, our King. After that, it's our forechecking vs. the Caps high powered offense.

The question is can we keep up a relentless forecheck period after period. More important, shift after shift. Which begs the question? What will the shifts look like? Will we get the same lines shift after shift? In between shifts? Boudreau may not be the brightest bulb in the gallery, but coach disagreeable has been outcoached on more than one occasion. He is a tinkerer and the game is one big chess match to him, and he must be in complete control.

The game is won by players. It will come down to whether Staal and Giradi can stop the Great O and his linemates. It will come down to the relentless forecheckers. It will come down to a big goalie stop. It will not come down to the endless line changes or to mid game benchings. Over coaching has lost more than a game, it has lost a series. We can win this series, but our coach is a real roadblock.

----
ICINGS:
Torts talks to the hand

Show Me the Goals, Gabby!

I want to jump up like Jerry Mcguire and start yelling, show me the goals, at Marian Gaborik. It's simple Gabby, just show me the goals. You wanted to come to New York for a reason. Sure a nice contract was part of it, but not the only reason. You wanted to be on the big stage. Well, the stage is set and the lights are turned on, baby. Here we are at round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A position the Rangers have not been in for two years, and three years since your last playoff appearance with the Minnesota Wild.

We will forget that six game, 0 goals, 1 assist, stinker of a series you had in 2008 against the Colorado Avalanche. That was then. Now, you are not getting goose egged by the Washington Capitals. Not these, "we just happened to find our defense on the way to the Smithsonian," Caps. No way, no how. Because you will kindly, just show them the goals.

Gabby, you will grab this moment, just like you said: “It’s big, not just for myself but for the organization... I’m very excited for the opportunity at hand, we just want to grab it…" 

You have Henrik Lundqvist and a rock steady, shot-blocking monster defense behind you. So please, there should be no need for you to go out of your way to block shots. We want you to take shots, lots of shots. Lots of those quick strike wristers that are your calling card. You will pepper the Caps goalie like a prime piece of tuna steak. You will fillet, fry and serve him up to all us Rangers fans.

When you are done, you will own Caps rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth (27-12-4, 2.45 goals-against), who is starting game one, like New York owns Central Park. After you chase Neuvirth from the crease you will destroy back-up goalie Semyon Varlamov (11-9-5. 2.23 goals-against), just like Luke destroyed the Death Star. You are Shiva, the god of goalie destruction.

So the mission statement is simple: Show Me the Goals, Gabby!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rangers Round-up – 4/12

Here are some items that caught our eye:

Mark Hale of the NY Post calls him "The Great" Larry Brooks. That's a bit of hyperbole, we will just call him Brooksie. Brooksie's take on the Caps series: it's all about Lundqvist. A great insight Brooksie...

----
Brooksie also recaps the season series, Rangers blasted Caps during regular season:
  • Nov. 9 at MSG: Capitals 5, Rangers 3
  • Dec. 12 at MSG: Rangers 7, Capitals 0
  • Jan. 24 at Washington: Rangers 2, Capitals 1 (shootout)
  • Feb. 25 at Washington: Rangers 6, Capitals 0
----
ESPN:
Video: Linda Cohn takes on Rangers-Caps --
Lundqvist (27 straight starts), Powerplay (1 for last 27 chances), pucks to the net, pressure, and Marian Gaborik...
----
Henrik Lundqvist's thoughts on playing the Caps, from an interview yesterday with Rick Carpiniello, Rangers Report Blog:
Does he have to “stand on his head” to win this series?

“We’ll see. Hopefully we’re just going to play a really good team game and I do my job and that will be enough. But we’ll see. …. I know I have to play well for us to beat them, but that’s no secret. You know as a goalie, you have to be on top of your game.”

“It meant a lot personally to make the playoffs. I take a lot of pride in that. And, I mean, it’s a team game. But I took it very personal last year when we didn’t make it. I should be better to help the team to make it. It was a big goal we had going into this year, to bounce back and be back in the playoffs. I think everybody should be proud and feel good about themselves and what we accomplished.”

On the young kids on the team not having playoff experience:

“Well, I bet they had played playoffs before, growing up in different, junior hockey or whatever it’s been. It’s similar. It’s just more now. It’s bigger. It’s more intense. But you still learn from every playoffs no matter where you play it. You have to learn to move on from each game, and have a very short memory.” ...
----
The view from Washington. Some Caps' blogs look at the series:

Jaspers' Rink:
Capitals/Rangers: Breaking Down the Match-Up --
One of the biggest stories in Washington this year has been the evolution of the team from a once-potent offense dynamo (that often neglected its own end) into a defensively responsible, tight-checking group...
Jaspers' Rink:
Tuesday Caps Clips: Green Ready, Knuble Inked --

 More predictions:

Jaspers' Rink:
Get to Know a Ranger: Artem Anisimov --
How the Caps can stop him - With just a 44.5% success rate on faceoffs, Anisimov is a bit of a liability in the dot, and he can be a streaky scorer - prior to his hot March, he had just ten points in 26 games in January and February, four of which came in one game against the Leafs. Gaborik will be the one to watch on that line, but the Caps can't afford to lose Anisimov, or he's likely make them pay.
----
On Frozen Blog:
Another Rematch with Another Old Rival --
This is a one-versus-eight matchup wherein the difference in talent is marginal, and the MoJo might just be with the underdogs on Broadway: An intangible to this series is that the Rags administered two of the worst beatings the Caps endured this season, 7-0 in Madison Square Garden December 12 and 6-0 at Verizon Center on February 25. But both of those blowouts occurred prior to the dramatic roster alterations made by general manager George McPhee at the NHL trade deadline on February 28, when he secured a difference-making second line center in Jason Arnott and an impact two-way rearguard in Dennis Wideman. Wideman, like Callahan, is out for the entire series with injury.

McPhee’s moves not only addressed glaring vulnerabilities on his roster, but they seem to have ushered in a dramatic change in the atmosphere enveloping the team. The Capitals played their best hockey of the season subsequent to the change in personnel...
----
Rock the Red:
Faceoff Comparison: New York-Washington --
As a team, the Rangers have not fared well in the faceoff circle this season, and the Capitals have fared well against them in the four games...
----
ICINGS:
Stick this in your ear ESPN.

SportsJournalism.org:
What Two Owners Didn’t Say --
“In the year 2011, I’m not sure I have a need for beat writers from ESPN.com, Yahoo, or any website for that matter to ever be in our locker room before or after a game,” [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban wrote. “I think we have finally reached a point where not only can we communicate any and all factual information from our players and team directly to our fans and customers as effectively as any big sports website, but I think we have also reached a point where our interests are no longer aligned. I think those websites have become the equivalent of paparazzi rather than reporters.” ....

Cuban wrote, “unpaid writers typically [write] as a labor of love and IMHO far exceed the influence or impact of their paid counterparts.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Glory Be!

So the Rangers get into the playoffs with the help of the Tampa Bay Lightning coming up big and beating the Carolina Hurricanes 6-2.

Did Tampa hear all those Rangers fans at the Garden yesterday chanting "Let's Go Lightning!" at the end of the third period? Or maybe Tampa just had Carolina's number this year, winning four out of their six meetings. Or perhaps a key injury was also a factor. Note this item that Canes Country disclosed:

Coach Paul Maurice mentioned that Eric Staal was playing with a bad groin for the past three weeks, and it was just getting worse and worse. I'm sure more inside info will be released in the coming days about hidden ailments and injuries.
So the Canes' captain was hobbled, and our captain, Chris "Captain America" Drury returned. The Force had therefore shifted to the Blueshirts. Once Obi-Wan Kenobi works his magic nothing can stop you.

However you slice it, we do owe the Bolts. The cruel irony might be that we "payback" their help by beating them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Fate is a cruel mistress. In the meantime a sincere "good luck" against Pittsburgh you sons of the Bolt.

The most impressive statistic that came out yesterday was that the Rangers had not lost a game this year when taking a lead into the third period (29-0-0). Wow! So the moral of that story is get a lead in the first two periods and then turn the game over to Lundqvist and the defense. Simple.

Let's Go Rangers. Bring on the Caps.

ICINGS:

Congratulations Ranger Pundit contributor, Section 335. You exactly predicted the Rangers final points total for this season at 93 points back in October 2010. One more reason to heed what you read hear at the Ranger Pundit.
----
Mike Milbury says Boston's Tim Thomas is a lock for the Vezina Trophy with his record .938 save percentage. That beats Dominik Hašek's .937 save percentage in the 1998-99 season, when Hašek won his 5th Vezina. Mike Milbury can kiss my you know what. But it's sad, if Lundqvist doesn't win this year will he ever win the Vezina?


----
King Henrik will save it his way ----
Update:

Rangers News:
NHL announces Rangers-Caps schedule --

The NHL announced the schedules for all eight first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series on Sunday night, as the Rangers learned they will open the postseason on Wednesday night in Washington.

Here is a look at the complete schedule:

..
Date                  Time        Location                   TV
Wednesday, April 13   7:30 p.m.   NY Rangers at Washington   TBD
Friday, April 15      7:30 p.m.   NY Rangers at Washington   TBD
Sunday, April 17      3 p.m.      Washington at NY Rangers   TBD
Wednesday, April 20   7 p.m.      Washington at NY Rangers   TBD
*Saturday, April 23   3 p.m.      NY Rangers at Washington   TBD
*Monday, April 25     TBD         Washington at NY Rangers   TBD
*Wenesday, April 27   TBD         NY Rangers at Washington   TBD
* -- if necessary

Playoff Tickets On-Sale Monday at Noon ET
Complete Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Barely Breathing

One more time the Rangers go into the last game of the season with their playoff hopes on the line. Only this time its not their game to win or lose. This time they must hope that Tampa Bay can beat Carolina. In the convaluted NHL the Hurricanes will make the playoffs, with a win, over the Rangers even though the Rangers will have three more wins than Carolina. Only in Bettman's NHL folks.

The Rangers fell behind twice and came back to tie it both times. The first tie was caused in dramatic fashion by Chris Drury getting back in the lineup and scoring his first goal of the year. The second tie was by Wolski and after McDonagh got the game winner, his first, the Rangers put it away with goals by Prust and Prospal.

I watched most of the game on the Ranger channel until the homer boys, Sam and Joe, got to me. Their endless cheerleading for coach disagreeable finally got to me when they mentioned that he told the team to 'have fun'. Coach disagreeable who has thrown more players under the bus than any coach I can ever remember, was telling his players to 'have fun'. I wonder how much fun he would have had if the Rangers had lost and he had to answer difficult questions in the news conference?

----
ICINGS:

Ryan McDonagh's first goal and the game winner, Prospal with the assist played a very strong game:

----
Rangers captain Chris Drury scores his first goal of the season in his first shift:

----
Stats wrap-up:
The Rangers won the faceoff battle: 49 (61%) to 30 for NJ
Had more hits: 40 to 22 for NJ
More blocked shots: 14 to 6 for NJ

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Rangers Go Limp: Thrashers 3, Rangers 0

A stunningly pitiful performance by our heroes. The slow, sloppy, lackluster Rangers suffered a devastating 3-0 shutout by the vacation bound Atlanta Thrashers.

The Rangers have now been shutout six times this year. That's 7.4% of all Rangers games end up with them laying a goose egg. The Thrashers, on the other hand, a team far out of the playoffs have just been shutout one time this year. So who is really the more consistent team? It is just more proof to us that without Henrik Lundqvist and his 11 shutouts and stellar shootout performances (9 SO wins) the Rangers are total bottom feeders.

Since the Rangers "are not a terribly gifted team," as Tortorella has said, they have to bring their defense and other intangibles to every game. That didn't happen tonight. Avery, Girardi and Gaborik made critical defensive mistakes that led to goals. The entire team looked spent. Even the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winner, Brandon Prust, was gassed.

Gaborik's laziness on getting back on defense to cover the 34-year-old, fourth liner, Eric Boulton, led to the Thrashers third goal. Torts benched Gaborik for the final 15:41 of the game for that web gem. Gabby has been a ghost, no goals in his last eight games. His dismal performance down the home stretch just leaves you scratching your head. What happened to him? If something good doesn't happen this weekend the boo-birds will be aiming to drop some business on Gabby next year. Just like they did for that other Czech featherweight, Marek Malik.


Thrashers 3rd goal


The key measure of the Rangers defensive effort and intensity the blocked shot (BS) was also weak. The Rangers had only 11 blocked shots (BS). Girardi led with four.

So it comes down to the last game again. A Devils Saturday Matinee and Marty Brodeur, "Satan's Spawn," is sharpening his pitchfork. Payback time for Marty. Queasy time for Rangers fans.

ICINGS:

Ban on Shot Blocking??

Some talk about banning or limiting shot blocking. How many player games have been lost this year due to shot blocking? Blocked shots (BS) have certainly changed the game compared to past decades. Is the sprawling shot block in the NHL like the flying wedge of football in in the 1890's: dangerous and an impediment to fair play?

Ottawa Citizen / Canada.com:
Gainey doesn't want full-body slides on shot blocking --
One of the best shot-blockers in NHL history is suggesting the league make alterations to the craft in an effort to increase offence.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey is proposing the NHL eliminate full-body sliding in the defensive zone to block a shot.

It was one of a number of proposals at the first general managers' meeting of the season yesterday in Chicago...
HockeyRodent Message Board:
Ban On Blocking Shots --
I just caught the between period interview of the Devil game with Stan Fischler and he proposed a ban on blocking shots in light of the Callahan injury. Which was specifically brought up and led to his comments.

Now he's forgotten more abooot hockey than I can hope to know...but time to hang up the skates Stan. He compared it to obstruction...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Buckling on the Rally Helmet

Ryan Callahan's broken ankle is a terrible blow to the Rangers playoff chances. But is it a death blow? The Rangers have shown that they can win without Callahan.

Cally broke his hand on December 15th, and missed 19 games. He came back from that injury on February 1st. The Rangers went 10-9 during his absence. They defeated Vancouver (1-0), Washington (2-1 SO), Dallas (3-2 SO), and Carolina (2-1 OT) during the month of January. Please note the low scores in those victories.

Many are asking who will step-up their game to fill Cally's void. Can Gaborik get hot? I think it all comes back to Lundqvist and the defense locking down opponents. If they can hold opponents to a goal or two, and then grind for their dirty goal or two, they give themselves a chance. They can win if they get their 18 or more blocked shots (BS) per game, and if Lundqvist is sharp. Every game will be tight, and it would be a bonus if Gabby or someone pots a pretty one, that will clinch it.

Adding Gilroy as a forward certainly firms up the defensive focus of the team for the final run. He provides more fresh meat to block shots. The "not playing defense is not an option" mindset is here for the duration, like it or not.

Here is a brief round-up of some other views on Callahan's injury and the Rangers' outlook.

The Rangers Tribune:
Rangers Must Find a Way Without Callahan --

Every Cinderella story consists of an underdog finding success by overcoming a critical loss of some sort, doesn't it? A loss that, when overcome, makes for an even more dramatic story in the end? If so, then the Rangers have a tremendous opportunity to make 2010-11 into a Cinderella season.
Carp / Ranger Report Blog:
Bad day, bad night for the Rangers --
I was talking to Sean Mayer—who, by the way, I want to thank for pinch-hitting on the Ryan Callahan news yesterday while I was unavailable—and came to the realization that losing a key player isn’t necessarily fatal in the playoffs. In fact, teams often rally around the adversity. Some quick examples ....
Bleeding All Blue:
Rangers Way Forward Without Callahan Is As A Unit --
It will take a collective effort to rise to this challenge and there is nothing the Rangers have done better this season than play collectively. They will need more from the Boyle, Prust, Fedotenko, Stepan, Anisimov for sure, but the four guys who really need to rise to the offensive challenge are Gaborik, Dubinsky, Prospal and Wolski. Wolski might be the most surprising player in that group, but he is also one of the most offensively talented forwards on the team and his skill level was critical to the comeback win against Boston. Dubinsky and Prospal are crucial both for their production but also for their ability to lead the team in their own ways. Each has a very good feel for the emotional pulse of this team and have the ability to lift this team with that energy and fire when they play at the top of their game. ...
Will Chris Drury be a factor? I'm not holding my breath.

Blue Seat Blogs:
Drury’s Chance --
With the news Ryan Callahan is out long term a unique opportunity at redemption(?) may have come about for the current captain Chris Drury...
Hockey Suit:
...Drury One Last Chance At Glory --
Yes folks, that leaves Captain America himself...

The Aaron Boone moments of sports happen because of a coach's trust. And in sports, as in the real world, people can succeed when they are put in a position to do so. When you have a coach's trust, that moment is there for the taking.
----
ICINGS:

Nice shot blocking clinic.

Chris Botta / Slap Shot blog:
Blocking Chara Shots, Rangers Boost Playoff Chances --
Coach John Tortorella: “It goes back to September in training camp. If you look at teams that go far in the playoffs, shot-blocking is a must. I haven’t talked about the need to block shots since…

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Pyrrhic Victory: Ryan Callahan is out with a broken ankle

The joy of a sweet comeback victory last night has turned very bitter with the confirmation by Tortorella on Twitter that Ryan Callahan will be "out indefinitely" with a broken ankle.

Twitter / @TheNYRangers:

Torts confirms a broken ankle for Ryan Callahan "long term injury...out indefinitely"
also:
Torts: "Don't get me wrong, there is nothing good that comes out of this, but it can galvanize the team even more"

Torts says that first plan of action will be 2 dress Matt Gilroy as RW on Thursday "gives us some flexibility with having a 7th D in there"

Torts also mentions that "Chris Drury will be joining us in practice here" but would not elaborate as to a timetable for return

Marian Gaborik on Cally's injury: "Obviously he is one of the best players on the team, and it's a huge loss"
----
So the "wounded Goliath" delivered one last devastating blow to our fearless band of brothers. Reports say that Callahan broke his ankle stopping a Zdeno Chara slap shot with 1:48 remaining in the third period.

Oh sweet, oh terrible thou blocked shot (BS).



via BleedingAllBlue

Epic Comeback! Rangers 5, Boston 3

What a great game! A biblical comeback from three goals down to beat the Boston Bruins 5-3. It doesn't get any better than that. Praise the Lord, he must have had a hand in this. Three goals in less than three minutes to send the Bruins home, a wounded Goliath struck down by the Blueshirted Davids of Broadway.

Don't forget that blocked shots (BS) are the key tell for this team. The Rangers had 18 blocked shots (BS) against the Bruins. A win is virtually guaranteed when the Rangers BS number gets up to that 18-20 level. Eleven different Rangers had blocks. Sauer had the most with 5 BS. Girardi added 3 BS. Even 36-year-old Vinny Prospal, the oldest man on the team, got into the BS action with 1 BS. When Vinny Prospal is taking one for the team, plus kicking in a couple of goals you have got to be impressed.

After the game Vinny was still a little bewildered by the Garden's lack of faith:

“Just an hour and a half ago, they booed us! It’s great that they cheer, but holy smokes, give us the help when we’re down, you know? Nothing against them! (Laughs) It’s easy to say right now, because there are times when they have the right to express their opinion, but we’re fighting for big points right now, and this is karma.”
Vinny please forgive them. There are just a bunch of Nervous Nellies at the Garden. We never doubted you and the team for one minute. I swear. Now just keep doing what you did in the 3rd period.

ICINGS:

Jesse Spector / NY Daily News:
New York Rangers roar back, Vinny Prospal ignites 5-3 comeback win over Boston Bruins at Garden

Andrew Gross / The Record:
Rangers score three times in third to best Bruins

Larry Brooks/ NY Post:
View to Thrill: Rangers eye clinch after comeback

Dave Caldwell / NY Times:
Late Rally Solidifies Rangers’ Hold on Playoff Spot
----
Jesse Spector of the NY Daily News said, "John Tortorella spoke with downright tenderness about his team." A tender Torts? No way he misses this postgame presser. Who wouldn't want to be the "father" of this victory? Tortorella's postgame "emo" remarks:


Torts speaking the truth: "We are not a terribly gifted hockey club..."
----
Sauer's game winning goal.


----
Dave Maloney goes primal.

Kenny Albert came back and said, "and that high pitched primal scream you heard was from my colleague Dave Maloney" ...



via HFBoards
----
p.s. thank you Hockey Rodent for the shout out.

Monday, April 04, 2011

It's All About the BS

The twenty-mule team pulled out a 3-2 shootout win Sunday in Philadelphia. You get the feeling that nothing comes easy for our blueshirted burros, but they do maintain control of their playoff destiny. However, they controlled their destiny last year too.

On Saturday it was hard to stay confident when you heard that Coach Disagreeable was mess'n with the lines again. If someone uses the word "Chemistry" with any line combination that the Rangers throw out on the ice, they should be beaten with a hockey stick. The Rangers have no "Chemisty". None. Zilch. Gaborik said:

"We have to drive more to the net. We have to take more shots, even if they are from bad angles. We have to do whatever we can to create scoring opportunities. We have to score dirtier goals.”
When your flashiest scorer is talking like that and about scoring "dirtier goals" you know that all the chemistry has been leeched out of this lineup.

Defense, shot blocking, and Lundqvist - that is the Rangers holy trinity. Goals are like mini miracles.

Who was it on the NBC broadcast who kept referring to the Rangers as "selling out" when they went down for one of their patented shot blocks? I guess that means "selling out" a healthy body for one that is not so healthy.

The blocked shot (BS) stat will have to be our new metric for Rangers success. The Rangers had 23 BS (blocked shots) against the Flyers, here is the breakdown:
Girardi - 7 BS (228 BS for the year)
Gaborik - 1 BS
Staal - 3 BS
Fedotenko - 1 BS
Stephan - 1 BS
Callahan - 3 BS
McDonagh - 4 BS
Sauer - 3 BS
    Twenty-three BS is very good, a winning number. On Thursday against the Islanders Girardi had only 2 BS's and the team a total of 14. That BS number doesn't seem to be high enough and sure enough the Rangers lost that one to the Islanders. Wednesday in Buffalo Girardi again only had 2 BS and the team had a measly 8 BS's. The Rangers, of course, lost to Buffalo with that terrible BS number.

    If we are setting the new benchmark for Rangers success it looks to be something north of 18 or 20 BS per game.

    So forget goals, it's all about the BS number for this Rangers team.
    ----
    ICINGS:

    What do you do when your namesake gets demoted? The Abdelkader to Zuccarello daily hockey column will keep their name:
    The New York Rangers may have sent Mats Zuccarello back to the Whale in the AHL but the morning column here at THW will maintain our name.
    ----
    Comcast is a 63% owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and a 51% owner of NBC Universal. So is there any conflict of interest? Will the Flyers get their fair share of NBC's hockey coverage?

    NBC Sports / Pro Hockey Talk:
    NHL on NBC Game of the Week 2011 schedule -- For those of you keeping track (and I know you will) the teams break down this way for the maximum number of times they could appear on NBC’s Game of the Week.
    • Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and N.Y. Rangers – 5 times
    • Detroit and Minnesota – 4 times
    • Washington, Buffalo, and New Jersey – 3 times
    • Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles , and Tampa Bay – 2 times
    • Atlanta, Florida, N.Y. Islanders, Columbus, and St. Louis – 1 time
    ----
    Did you know Theo Fleury was on Twitter? We do now.

    Jas Faulkner / The Hockey Writers:
    The Bad Mojo Behind The Taunting Of Theo Fleury
    ----
    update: Latest on the PHWA/Chris Botta/Islanders flap.

    Terry Frei / DenverPost.com:
    Professional Hockey Writers Association statement on award voting, Islanders’ credential revocation -- I’m chairman of the Colorado chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and also finishing up a term as a PHWA vice president, representing the Northwest Division. Our president is Kevin Allen of USA Today. Other vice presidents are Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun and Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune.

    We conducted a conference call of chapter chairs on Sunday, and I was asked to compose a statement summing up the sentiments on the call and the motion passed.

    Here it is: ...

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Speaking Truth to Power

    This PHWA/Islanders dust-up looks like it's going to become a bigger story.

    As of today three local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) have voted to boycott the vote for the year-end hockey awards. The Rangers chapter, the Islander chapter, and the Devils chapter will all abstain from voting as a protest. The writers are protesting that the NY Islanders revoked the press credentials for blogger Chris Botta back on November 16th.

    Chris Botta is a writer for the NY Times blog Slap Shot and editor of the blog islanderspointblank.com. He was senior NHL writer for AOL FanHouse. He is also a former PR executive of 20 years with the NY Islanders.

    Chris Botta with Islanders center John Tavares

    Back on November 18, 2010, the NY Times reported on the pulling of Botta's credentials as follows:
    Botta said the only reason that Auerbach [Islander's manager of communications] cited was management’s increasing concern that he had gone from “reporting the news to making the news.” ...
    The Islanders never gave a public reason for their decision on Botta. Botta like most NHL bloggers had written some criticism of the Islanders organization that he covered.

    Andrew Gross writer for the The Record and Ranger Rants blog described the the Rangers' chapter decision as follows:
    Despite requests, the Islanders would not reverse their decision. The Rangers’ chapter of the PHWA, of which Botta is a member, made a preliminary in-season decision to withhold its awards votes if the Islanders did not reverse course. It was discussed, to some extent, at a national level, but the PHWA decided not to support the protest. Earlier this week, the Rangers’ chapter took a final vote to boycott the awards voting. The vote was 7-3. I was among the seven. Earlier today, the Islanders’ chapter, by a 5-0 vote, decided to join the boycott...
    Joe McDonald of the Rangers' chapter, who originally voted against the boycott, now thinks the PHWA Voting Ban Is Worth It:
    So last week, Chapter President Larry Brooks put it to a formal vote, where the Rangers chapter decided 7-3 not to participate in the voting.

    For the record, I was a member of the three. I voted that way at the time, because I perceived it as an Islander issue and why should the Rangers be punished for something that happened in Uniondale...

    My opinion has changed in the past 36 hours...

    It seems to me the PHWA is more concerned about voting rights than protecting its members. The first and foremost mission for any writing organization is advocacy of its members. By not looking out for its own, the PHWA exposes its writers to the whims of the various organizations it covers. Teams want positive news, but our readership demands fair and accurate reporting. The association is supposed to protect writers and allow them to do their jobs...
    McDonald was referring to the PHWA president Kevin Allen's statement on Friday, in which Allen said:
    Although the Rangers’ chapter doesn’t reflect the sentiment of the other 30 chapters, I’m respectful of its decision. In America, the idea of using one’s vote as a means of protest is as old as the country itself. And the issue here is important. The PHWA doesn’t believe that an NHL team should be able to deny access to one of our members. Chris Botta is one of our members. And he was denied access by the New York Islanders....

    I’m confident the integrity of the voting procedure will not be compromised by the loss of one chapter.
    Well, things have escalated since Friday, now all three New York area chapters are boycotting the vote.

    Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger reported on the story behind the NJ Devils' chapter joining the protest:
    After traditionally having one chapter chairperson, the New Jersey chapter of the PHWA is currently run as collective group. The consensus on Friday was that the primary issue is NHL teams should not be able to revoke credentials for legitimate members of the media without having an acceptable reason. Disagreeing with a correspondent's opinions, whether that was the case here or not, is not an acceptable reason...
    Matt Reitz of NBC Pro Hockey Talk summarizes the situation and looks at both sides:
    There are two sides to this story. On one hand, the PHWA is standing up for one of its respected members. One of the few weapons in their arsenal is for the writers to boycott the year-end awards. They disagree with the Islanders’ move earlier in the year; the Islanders never reinstated Botta’s access, so the PHWA is making their statement for everyone to see.

    On the other hand, the Islanders believe (and the NHL agrees) that issuing credentials falls under their jurisdiction, and theirs alone...
    PHWA ballots were sent out this past week. The writers vote on the Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy, Calder Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy, Masterton Trophy, Selke Trophy and All-Star teams. The fallout from this feud will now impact those votes.

    The Islanders PR department says the local PHWA decision will hurt individual players:
    This unprecedented action taken by the New York chapter members of the PHWA, is not hurting the Islanders organization or changing our stance on the past matter. Instead it is directly affecting the various players that rely on these votes to earn nominations. Players such as Michael Grabner, who is considered as one of the frontrunners for the Rookie of the Year award, or Frans Nielsen who is considered a possible nominee for the Selke Trophy, will not receive votes from New York media members who watch these players every game...

    It is unfair to punish the players that had no direct impact on the decision made by the Islanders organization.
    Hockey Buzz blogger Dee Karl does not like the boycott for that reason:
    I’ll tell you who that will hurt the most – Frans Nielsen, the League leader in short handed goals and new daddy, Michael Grabner. Thanks. That really helps the cause.

    What I don’t understand is why these writers would choose this route when it will hurt them in the long run. If the Islanders do not have enough votes, they will not be represented at the awards and no one outside of the media will really care about the catalyst of the protest. The fans only care about the players they watch and spend money on. Right now the Islanders fans care; really care, about Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen. THAT’S who they care about...
    IslesBlogger Michael Schuerlein agrees and thinks the voting boycott is a wasted effort:
    What will this prove? It’s only going to hurt several players in the Tri-State market in the long run – including three players spread over the two teams these writers cover. Michael Grabner has continued to make his case for the Rookie of the Year award with 31 goals, Frans Nielsen and the Rangers Brandon Prust could each be Selke Trophy candidates. As individuals who watch those players on a daily basis, their vote is all the more important as out of market writers may not see, or appreciate what they have done this season.

    What’s more, these same writers could also vote for players from teams LEAGUE WIDE – so in their attempt to protest a decision of a local team, their reach has a much further impact then they may have anticipated. Protesting rarely ever has the intended outcome, and I do not foresee a favorable outcome for the PHWA in this situation.
    Patrick Williams of the Hockey News/AHL Report disagrees and tweets:
    In a sport of full of asinine thinking, the argument that PHWA writers boycotting the NHL awards will "hurt" players might take the title.
    So the lines are being drawn and sides are being picked. Knowing Gary Bettman's love of consolidating power at NHL Headquarters, I would not be surprised if he uses this boycott as an excuse to strip the PHWA of its voting privilege and turn these awards into some sort of fan vote.

    However, I still think the local PHWA chapters are doing the right thing. Hockey writers and bloggers need to speak truth to power and we can't back down when the power wants to arbitrarily silence or obstruct us.

    update - April 4, 2011:

    Terry Frei / DenverPost.com:
    Professional Hockey Writers Association statement on award voting, Islanders’ credential revocation -- I’m chairman of the Colorado chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and also finishing up a term as a PHWA vice president, representing the Northwest Division. Our president is Kevin Allen of USA Today. Other vice presidents are Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun and Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune.

    We conducted a conference call of chapter chairs on Sunday, and I was asked to compose a statement summing up the sentiments on the call and the motion passed.

    Here it is: ...