Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Really Big Win

Maybe, just maybe, the Rangers are ready to make a serious run for the Eastern Conference top spot. The way they blitzed the Pens in the second period they looked like world beaters. Of course there were the so so periods, the too many penalties, the dismal 5-on-3 PP, and finally hanging on for dear life at the end. But all in all a very satisfying evening.

The stars were there last night on both teams and it seemed like the Ranger stars did a little better than the Penguin stars. Brad Richards, a goal and two assists. Marian Gaborik, a goal and an assist. The ever pressing Callahan a goal, an assist and six hits. The Rangers out hit the Pens 43-24. The Pens stars were kind of quiet. Crosby two assists and Malkin a goal. Of course the Rangers had the biggest stars, the fans. They weren't quiet.

The fans had help getting into the game. Fan favorite Sean Avery went after Tyler Kennedy 16 seconds (there is that number again) into the game. The refs stopped it immediately and gave the two of them two minutes each for overacting. At the end of their penalty the two reemerged from their sin bins and greeted each other more formally. They then suffered 5 minute fighting penalties. For his efforts to stir up the team and the fans Sean was given all of 5:03 of ice time. He got 7 minutes of penalty box time. Good ratio. Well that's one way off keeping out of the glare of coach disagreeable.

Speaking of which, every time the MSG cameras scanned the benches coach Dan Bylsma of Pittsburgh was expressionless, rather stone faced. The Ranger coach, that's another story. With his many grimaces, scowls, frowns I didn't know if he had eaten something before the game that disagreed with him or they wanted him as a replacement for Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street.

Anyhow, I digress. To paraphrase the late Ed Sullivan, last night was a really, really big win. The Rangers are only three points behind the Pens and have four games in hand. They have now won 10 of the last 12. Maybe those scowls are scaring away the evil guys. Maybe.

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ICINGS:



Blueshirts United:
Tuesday night John Mitchell turned in his third straight strong outing since being recalled from the Connecticut Whale---logging 11:54 worth of ice time and rifling a snap shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for his first goal as a Ranger 14:09 into the second period. As a result, Mitchell not only extended his points streak to three games (1-2-3), but he also earned the Broadway Hat. "It's kinda' neat," Mitchell said of the hat. "It's kind of small actually, I don't know if they are washing it and it is shrinking or what. But it's pretty neat to be able to put it on, that's for sure."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quarterly Report - Just as we predicted!

Shockingly, hockey standings are completely misunderstood and little notice is paid to the importance of a fast start to the season.  With a proper understanding, one would see just how amazingly well the Rangers have performed so far and the implications for the season.  It's all good.

Let's start with the standings.  The newspapers put standings in terms of points and most fans blindly follow them.  However, in baseball, standings are kept by the papers in games in or out of first, by counting the wins and subtracting the losses (and only secondarily by using winning percentages).  That is actually a better way of understanding hockey too.  And, hockey insiders look at performance in terms of games over .500 (ignoring ties) just as baseball managers do.

For example, the Rangers are now listed in the papers as being in 6th place.  However, they are seven games ahead of the loss column at 12-5-3.  In fact, looking at things the right way, the Rangers are tied for second place with Boston at seven games over, and Pittsburgh is in first at eight games over .500.

So, why is this important?  Stay with me please.  Depending upon the particular season, making the playoffs requires that a team is somewhere between 11 games over .500 (93 points, such as 44-33-5) and 15 games over .500 (97 points, such as 46-31-5).  At 100 points, a team is usually in 4th place (18 games over), and almost always 4th or better at 105 points (23 games over).  There are complex reasons why this is so - such as the distribution of wins among a closed group, the number of ties, and divisions v. conferences - but it is so and you can look at the last few years to confirm this is so.

Okay, so what does this mean for the Rangers?  It means the Rangers do not have to do particularly well to make the playoffs from this point out.  With 62 games remaining, a mere 29-25-8 will do it.  If this were chess, with a goalie as good in the shoot out as the King, you need only play for ties.

It also means that 4th place is a realistic goal.  Going 34-21-7 from this point out should do it.  Maintaining the current pace (37-16-9) is not necessary unless winning the Conference were the objective.  (Last year it took 107 to win the Conference, the years before 121, 116, and 104.)

Counting chickens too early is a serious risk.  The Rangers could have a losing streak, or suffer a few more serious injuries.  But, with Dubinsky due for a huge break out (playing with Sean would do that if the idiot Coach would keep the pair together long enough), Hagelin ready for a great rookie year, and Staal coming back sometime in the next few months, this team is just as likely to get better.

It would take a major collapse for this team to finish out of the money.

This does not surprise us.  For the past few years, this blog has contained predictions for the coming season.  Shockingly, we have been right for several years in a row.  When the Rangers were playoff bound in 2009-10, we predicted they would just miss.  When the Rangers were predicted to be 13th of 15 in the East, we predicted they would make the playoffs.  In fact, for the past two years we have been dead right - almost to the exact point total.

So, what about this year?  At the moment, the team is ahead of schedule.  We predicted 105 points and a record of 49-26-7.  With 20 games played, the record is 12-5-3 - which projects to 111 points.

Do we think this team is playing that well?  No.  But, 4th or 5th is still likely.  And, since this is the Rangers after all, the ride is not going to be all smooth sailing either.  But, it is a fun year isn't it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jagrless Flyers Fall to Rangers

It was just what the Doctor, or is it the schedule maker, ordered. The Flyers were without Jagr and Pronger and that was okay for Henrik Lundqvist who posted a 2-0 shutout of the Flyers stopping all 29 shots. It was a very physical game between two teams who dislike one another. While the Flyers outhit the Rangers it was the Ranger rock, Brandan Prust who did most of the physical damage.

Prust waited all of 4 seconds into the game before going after Zac Rinaldo and then again at the five minute mark he went at it with Wayne Simmonds. There is no love lost with these two teams and the Winter Classic promises to be a slam bang, two fisted brawl, er hockey game between these two long time protagonists.

Carl Hagelin scored his first NHL goal and Brad Richards was the other goal scorer for the Rangers. The Flyers without the big guy, Jagr, were not up to the task of scoring. They might not have scored with Jagr in the lineup, but at least it would have been fun and entertaining to see the Giradi-Jagr battle.

So now the Rangers have battled back from their two game mini slump with two impressive victories. A few more of these and we would not have to worry about shortened news conferences or one word answers. Gentlemen drop your gloves!

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ICINGS:

Carl Hagelin wears the Broadway Hat after 2-0 win over Flyers
Blueshirts United:
It took rookie forward Carl Hagelin only two games into his NHL career before he earned the right to wear the Broadway Hat. Saturday afternoon Hagelin proudly wore the hat following the Rangers 2-0 win over the Flyers, a game in which he scored his first National Hockey League goal---a crucial tally off his own rebound 5:06 into the third period which provided the Blueshirts a two-goal cushion. "It's a great hat," Hagelin said with a smile after the game. "I saw it in Gothenburg when we were there, just for fun, though, that time. It's a great feeling now. Hank deserves it, but he probably gets it so often (Ruslan) Fedotenko decided to give it to me."
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Katie Strang / ESPN:
Prust adds punch to Rangers-Flyers --
But it was Prust’s two fights in the first period that gave the game extra juice. After squaring off against Rinaldo -- whose preseason hit on Michael Sauer left the Rangers defenseman with a sprained right shoulder -- Prust knuckled up with Simmonds.

The two were sent to the box while verbally sparring at 9:20 of the first period and made arrangements to reconvene after the penalty expired.

“We just had a little chat,” Prust said. “We made eye contact when we got out and it wasn’t too hard.”...
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HockeyFights.com:
Zac Rinaldo vs Brandon Prust --
Results
Brandon Prust           56.2%
Draw                    28.8%
Zac Rinaldo             15.1%
From 73 votes with an average rating of 6.0

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HockeyFights.com:
Wayne Simmonds vs Brandon Prust --
Results
Brandon Prust              86.1%
Draw                        8.3%
Wayne Simmonds              5.6%
From 36 votes with an average rating of 7.2

Ranger Veto Caps

Maybe it was the post holiday, or maybe it was the infusion of two kids from Connecticut, Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell. Whatever, the Rangers led by two goals from Ruslin Fedotenko completely dominated the Caps last night in a 6-3 win that erased some of the bad memories of the two previous games.

So today the Rangers face off against the big, bad Flyers who are four points ahead of the Blueshirts. It will give the fans a chance to see Jaromir Jagr again and it will be interesting to see what kind of reception the big guy gets. He should get a good reception as he gave his all when he played here. I hope its not that mindless booing he received in some places where he never played.

Anyhow, it will be also interesting see how long the new lines stay together the first time adversity strikes. Maybe Sean Avery will crack the eight minute mark. I'm running late so I will see you guys tonight.

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ICINGS:

Ruslan Fedotenko wears the Broadway Hat after the Rangers veto the Caps 6-3
Blueshirts United:
Ruslan Fedotenko netted the Rangers' third and sixth scores of the game as the Blueshirts recorded a season-best six goals en-route to a 6-3 win over the Capitals Friday afternoon. As a result, Fedotenko earned the honor of being named recipient of the Broadway Hat. "Hats are not my thing, not sure I look so great," laughed Fedotenko, who now has three goals this year, following the game.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

The Rangers will spend Thanksgiving Day in Washington as they get ready to get stuffed and eaten by the Caps tomorrow. Last night they played like turkeys. If you want to soar like an Eagle you have to stop playing like a Turkey. The Rangers who ran off a streak of seven straight wins have now lost two straight and with the Caps, Flyers and Pens as the next three opponents they are looking at a long losing streak unless they can get their horrible puck possesion and offense in order.

Supposedly they practiced all day on the power play with the new PP specialist and saviour, Anton Stralman, who got 10:20 of ice time, 3:25 on the PP and no shots. The PP? It was 0-4 and 3-35 in the last 8 games. When coach disagreeable was asked to pinpoint the problem he replied in his usual Dale Carnegie style, "Nope". So some things have improved. We have gone from a sixteen second news conference to a "Nope". Nope rhymes with dope and that's what we have for a coach. Rope a dope.

The Rangers were outshot 38-20 and in the last two periods it was 31-12. But the coach has no answers. No ideas. For three years he hasn't figured out the power play and how to get it to work. As a starter, Del Zotto and Dubinsky get too much ice time and guys like Avery and Prust don't get enough. Avery got all of 7:07 of ice time. Why even bother.

Lundqvist was magnificent. he was like a robot out there making 36 saves. By the time we get this team where we want it to be Lundqvist will be past his prime. Then he will be part of the group of Giacomin, Francis, Worsley and Rayner and other great Ranger goalies who toiled valiantly for losing teams. But it doesn't matter because we have a turkey for a coach whose motivational style is intimidation. All aboard for the Tortorella Travel Service.

Happy Thanksgiving.

ICINGS: On this special Thanksgiving Day please say a special prayer for my friend Jake Feldman as there is a strong possibility that a bone marrow donor may have been found. Thank you and God Bless you all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Horrific House!

They say there is no such thing as a sure thing in sports. I disagree. The Rangers losing at Montreal is a sure thing. In 86 years of NHL hockey the Rangers have won all of 64 games in Montreal. Old rink, new rink, their frozen river, the Great Lakes, whatever the Rangers will lose. The coach put Biron in the nets as the sacrificial lamb, it didn't matter. He could have put Lundqvist along side Biron and the Rangers still would have lost. It's called Montreal. They say that Montreal is circulating a petition to have the Rangers moved to the Northeast division.

The Rangers got all of fifteen shots on goal. They probably had more shots in the local pub the night before. How bad was it? Scotty Gomez was the number two star. For Gomez to be the star of anything is a joke. But that is what happens when you enter the House Of Horrors.The Christians had a better chance with the Lions in the Coliseum than the Rangers have against the Canadiens in Montreal.

The good news is that we don't get back to Montreal until January. The bad news is that some real good teams are waiting for us next week. Wednesday we are at Florida and then Friday and Saturday we are at the Caps and the Flyers come to the Garden. But at least our Christmas won't be ruined by a holiday trip to Montreal.

Oooooh Canada!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Morning Skate

Here are a few notes that caught my eye this morning:

Larry Brook / NY Post:
Another small step for Rangers’ Staal

Marc Staal has been given approval to begin light physical activity following his examination by concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu in Boston on Tuesday, an individual familiar with the case told The Post.

It remains unclear whether the Rangers’ alternate captain, who had been shut down completely for a month following a previous visit to Dr. Cantu during the week of Oct. 16, will be able to play this season.

The Rangers refused to confirm or deny the report. Moreover, The Post was told that the club will not be issuing updates on the status of Staal’s health during the recovery process from the concussion...

While the approval to begin light activity implies that Staal was symptom-free while sedentary, there is obviously no guarantee he will remain so as he exercises.

There is no timetable whatsoever attached to this recovery period...
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Remember the big Broadway Bonanza and Free-Agent Feast back on July 1, 2007?

NY Post headline: B'way Bonanza, Rangers land Gomez & Drury
Well Scotty Gomez's game has completely gone south. He has not scored a goal in 44 games. That begs the following question.

TSN.com:
NHL on TSN Quiz: What Should Canadiens Do With Gomez?

Question No. 1: What should the Canadiens do with Scott Gomez and a contract that pays him $7.4 million for two more seasons?
Aaron Ward: Buy him out at season's end. Last goal scored was February 5; that's last season. 44 games, zero goals. You buy him out, recoup some of that money. You ought to be able to find someone for those millions to score goals over that period of time. I think he's almost worn out his welcome at this point in Montreal.

Bob McKenzie: I would demote him to the minors, not necessarily this second, but if the Montreal Canadiens can go out and find a big centre or use the cap space - it's almost $7.4 million cap hit - more effectively than with Scott Gomez (the Montreal Canadiens have lots of something - and that's money). They've got a place in Hamilton and if they can make their team better by moving him down at the appropriate time, why not do it? The buyout can still be expensive in terms of the actual cap hit for the next four years. There would still be a cap hit for Gomez - not at the full value - but still enough that it might be a detriment. You want him out and pay the extra money...
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The Gomez and Drury fiasco just highlights something we all know about our Stealth GM. He overpays for talent. But, it must be a New York disease.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek had a special Sports Section recently. One of the articles pointed out just how bad New York sports teams were at purchasing athletic talent. The Rangers, of course, are one of the bottom feeders at 114th place out of 122 teams ranked.

BusinessWeek:
The Smartest Spenders in Sports:
A general manager’s job is to turn payroll dollars into wins. We’ve run the numbers on the last five NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL seasons to see who’s done it best—by winning often, spending little, or (sometimes) both.

Our method: By culling player payroll data from reported sources and pairing them with wins and losses over the last five completed seasons, we calculated an average cost per win in each league. Based on that number, we measured (by standard deviation) how far each team varied above or below the league norm. The result is a cross-sport rating of how every U.S. franchise compares to its peers in squeezing wins from money. We call it the Efficiency Index.

#1 Nashville Predators -- Stayed an average of $10 million below the NHL salary cap while having the fifth-best record in the league.

#10 New York Islanders -- At 33 wins per season, the Islanders were second-worst in the NHL but had the lowest average payroll.
click to enlarge
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So how much does that dream job of driving the Zamboni pay? Not too bad.

BusinessWeek:
A photo gallary of professionals who work outside the lines
Kristine “Rosie” DeRosa: Manager of Building Operations
New York Rangers Practice Rink, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Age: 30
Pay: Around $50,000

“My job entails more than just driving a ­Zamboni everyday, but everyone is drawn to that part of it. Everyone asks, ‘Can I get a ride? Is it fun?’ And I always say it’s as fun as it looks.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hats Rich

I must admit that I was a little skeptical when the Rangers signed Brad Richards this year. We had some other high profile signings, you know the names, and most bombed. Now I know it's early but right now Brad Richards looks like the real deal. There is no denying his past performances, but there was also no denying the accomplishments of the other stars who came here and failed. However most of them seemed to be over the hill or disinterested but the result was always the same. Failure.

Richards opened up centering Fedotenko and Avery (wow) but then switched with Boyle and centered Dubinsky and Callahan. He logged 19:33, put four shots on goal and registered two hits. His game winner was the 6th of the season. Unlike some of his predecessors he seems completely at home here and looks like the leader we needed. Remember, he was brought in to help Gaborik but Gabby seems at ease playing with Stepan and Anisimov. Of course if you follow the Rangers closely you know that the lines are always subject to change. Always.

It was a feisty game, the teams dished out a total of 54 hits, there were two fights, numerous scrums and a raucous crowd that exchanged chants and one time it sounded like Let's Go Ranlanders. Lundqvist made 31 saves, 27 in the 2nd and 3rd periods. He was given the number two star. Richards was number one. Isle goalie Nabokov was number three.

The unheralded star was Sean Avery. He again scored the first goal of the game logged 11:57 of ice time, got two shots and two hits. BTW did I mention that the Rangers are 5-0 with The Grate One in the lineup. The crowd chanted his name repeatedly but you would never know it listening to the homer boys on MSG who are just waiting for the moment that Avery screws up and then spout the party line.

Anyhow, it's on to The House of Horrors in Montreal. In 302 regular season games in Montreal the Rangers have won all of 64 games. I know number two son visits Montreal often to see the games. Why?

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ICINGS:


Blueshirts United:
Brad Richards originally came up with the idea of the Broadway Hat while the team was in Europe, and Tuesday night he earned the honor of wearing the chapeau for the first time this season after scoring the clutch game-winning goal with 4:55 to play in regulation. Following the game, Henrik Lundqvist said about Richards, "That's exactly why we signed him for nine years! Some guys during their career they'll be good here and there, but a guy like that has the tendency to always step up at the right time. It's not a coincidence."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rangers Chomp on Canes 5-1

The faithful of the #AveryArmy were justly rewarded when our hero, the one, the only, Sean Avery, stormed the Carolina net in the first period in a virtuoso display of skating prowess and determination to score the Rangers first goal. It was the like the parting of the Red Sea by Moses. It was like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It was like Dorothy coming home to Kansas after melting the wicked witch. It was great.

At his post game press conference the prickly one, coach disagreeable, even sounded like a reasonable and thoughtful human being. Has the wicked witch been melted? Even the wicked witch could be gracious after the four goal third period. The goal scoring and shot taking in the third was like a feeding frenzy by the zombies, who have been locked in the basement. The zombies being all the other lines besides the Gaborik-Anisimov-Stepan, GAS line. They all smelled blood. 17 shots on goal by the Rangers in the third period is their season high.

Here is a summary of the third period outburst:

  • NYR 10:47 (PPG) - Dan Girardi (3) Snap - ASST: B. Richards (7) and R. McDonagh (4)
  • NYR 10:56 - Brandon Dubinsky (1) Snap - ASST: R. Callahan (2) and B. Boyle (2)
  • NYR 13:47 - Ryan Callahan (7) Backhand - ASST: M. Sauer (1) and B. Dubinsky (7)
  • NYR 18:26 - Brad Richards (5) Wrap-around - ASST: none

If Avery scoring was like Dorothy coming home, then Dubinsky getting his first goal of the season was like Toto coming out of Dorothy's basket with his tail wagging, a very happy boy. Dubi's goal and assist earned him the Broadway Hat. All is well in Rangerland at the moment.

Lundqvist was at his wizardly best. He stopped 34 of the 35 shots on goal. The win was Henrik's 4th in a row and the Rangers 6th in a row. When was the last time the Rangers won six in a row?

Carolina was in this game until the midway point of the third, then Eric Staal's high stick on Dan Girardi completely changed the tone. Has Staal been adversely affected by medical problems of his brother Marc? Canes fans are wondering when their $8M man will show up. The Canes 4th loss in a row sends them sinking towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 13th place. The Rangers (21 points) are now 4th, just technically behind division leaders Toronto (21 pts) and Washington (20 pts).

This is when the next game can't come soon enough.
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ICINGS:

Fans of the New York Rangers welcome Sean Avery #16 of the Rangers prior to the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2011 in New York City.
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Sean Avery of the New York Rangers holds off Jamie McBain #4 of the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden

#AveryArmy can savor this headline:

NY Daily News:
Avery's goal sparks Rangers win over 'Canes

Sean Avery celebrates his first-period goal in the Rangers' 5-1 win over Carolina.

via Twitter:
It was top shelf cheddar baby! #averyarmy
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Blueshirts United:
Friday night was finally the night for Brandon Dubinsky as the popular Ranger, who scored 24 goals a year ago, netted his first goal of 2011-12. And in the process Dubi was awarded the Broadway Hat for his two-point (1-1-2) performance. "It was a huge relief, obviously," Dubinsky said of finally scoring in the team's 15th game of the season. "The weight of the world comes off your shoulders."
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Update: Andrew Gross writing for NorthJersey.com and The Record answers the questions I asked above, Rangers score four in third to blow away Hurricanes --
The Rangers (9-3-3), who next face the Islanders Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum, last won seven in a row from Oct. 3-17, 2009.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The 1-3-1 Trap: Evil or Evil Genius?

The fallout from the Flyers-Lightning stalemate-riddled game on Wednesday is still dropping all over the place. Tampa ended up winning the game 2-1 in overtime, but the repercussions of Tampa's nouveau trapping defense are being felt league wide.

The Tampa hockey writers have naturally risen to the defense of Guy Boucher and his 1-3-1 trapping defense. Winning certainly improves one's outlook on life. Tampa is currently on a 3 game winning streak and 7-3 over their last ten. The Rangers play at Tampa on December 3rd.

The Tampa defensive strategy ticked the Flyers off so much that they stayed back in their defensive zone daring Tampa to make the first move. The Versus commentators, Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Pierre McGuire also got worked up over the trap. Damian Cristodero of TampaBay.com and the St. Petersburg Times said:

Milbury, Jones and McGuire were merciless on the Lightning, saying the team and Boucher should be embarrassed at the way they played. Jones even went as far as to say the Lightning should be "punished" in some way.
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Cristodero in his story, then gets trap-meister Jacque Lemaire to strike back at all the trap detractors, Jacques Lemaire zings Versus commentators who criticized the Lightning, and Guy Boucher --
-- "I think (Boucher) has to coach the way he feels is going to win games, and that's it. The rest, you want to play a certain style that maybe doesn't fit your team and lose and then in a month you're looking for a job? What's that?"

-- "We (the Devils) played against them last year. We beat them. We played, we beat them. They are entitled to play the way they want. There's no rule to say you can't do this or can't do that."
John Fontana at Raw Charge also takes issue with painting Boucher as the bad guy, So, Tampa Bay is supposed to be the bad guy... --
So Comcast has set the media narrative, as we've seen it on Versus since the 2011 NHL Playoffs when the Tampa Bay Lightning kept surprising the big-shots of the NHL: Guy Boucher is the villain, the 1-3-1 system is evil and bad for the game of hockey. Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers "stood up" for the NHL by avoiding playing hockey at times in order to make a statement against the 1-3-1. The Flyers are heroes! ...
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On the other side of this issue you have the Philly people, who see things in a very different light.

Eugene Markman / Broad Street Buzz:
Guy Boucher Is Bad For Hockey --
I don’t care if it’s effective or not, but the way Guy Boucher coaches his team is bad for hockey. He ruins the game, pure and simple. The trap nearly ruined the game a decade ago, and now he’s brought along an even slower and more boring version of it. I HATE it.

Sure, we all want our team to do whatever is necessary to win games. So if some teams use more of a defensive approach, more power to them. But there’s a right way and a wrong way. And something that makes the game of hockey slow and boring is absolutely the wrong way. Hockey’s appeal is it’s speed. Yeah, we like fighting and goals and wicked saves, but those are all secondary. The most exciting part of a game, for me, is simply when players make plays at high speeds. Whether it’s a one on one move, or some nice passing, or simply end to end rushes, that’s what makes this game so different. It’s all about flow. And Guy Boucher is simply killing it...
Travis Hughes / Broad Street Hockey:
Flyers vs. Lightning: Why the 1-3-1 trap sucks, and why it doesn't --
Tampa Bay Lightning fans are getting awfully defensive defending the boring-as-rocks defensive strategy their team employs...

For now, though? Eh, a little boring hockey every once in a while isn't the worst thing in the world. Actually good for a laugh or two.
Former NHL Ref Kerry Fraser blogging for TSN provided his view:
The Correct Assessment of the Lightning-Flyers Situation -- This is how you and I must handle this situation on the ice in that game.
i) The first time that a player abstains from advancing the puck you or I would shout at that player to move/advance the puck and if no movement results blow the whistle to conduct a face-off on the spot nearest to where play was stopped! (Rule reference: 72.1 - This would take place after no longer than 10 seconds of inactivity NOT 30 seconds.) ...
Puck Daddy also joined the discussion today:
Kerry Fraser’s problematic take on Flyers/Lightning stalemate -- Everyone and their mother has had a take on the Philadelphia Flyers' stall tactics against Guy Boucher and the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-3-1 system, but there were two recent reactions that deserve a little more attention: Those of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHL referee/hair model/lightning rod of angst Kerry Fraser.

Bettman's take on his XM Home Ice radio show on Thursday, via NHL.com:
"Did I like it? No. Is it the most horrible thing I've ever seen on the ice? No. But I do think it has now added another agenda item to the general managers (meetings) next week. The officials whistled down play when there was no puck movement and it was appropriate."
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Bettmen even worked Sean Avery into the conversation.
"I think under the circumstances they reacted appropriately," Bettman said. "It reminded me of when Sean Avery was waving his stick in front of Marty Brodeur, and they said, 'OK, we think that's unsportsmanlike conduct. We haven't seen that before, so it is unsportsmanlike but we're going to warn you and tell you if you keep it up, that's the penalty that we're going to call.' And that's what they did, and I think that's kind of what we're dealing with now.
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Update:
The NY Times chimes in on the subject:
Should N.H.L. Stand Still for This? --
the impasse in the Flyers-Lightning game consumed about 6.5 percent of the game’s 62 ½ minutes, nothing like the full-game trapfests of the prelockout N.H.L.

Certainly fans don’t pay to watch teams stand still. But if the league’s managers start devising new rules, they would risk destroying the current balance between offense and defense, which has made for entertaining hockey the last six seasons...
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So what do you think? Is the 1-3-1 Trap evil? Comments are invited.

Best NHL Bounce-Backers

Stan Fischler was teasing on Twitter about his Saturday night MSG story on the "5 Best Bounce-Back Players in the NHL." And he asked for any guesses.

Well, here's a list of 5 Best NHL Bounce-Backers, in no special order, from a moldy mayonnaise jar left on the Ranger Pundit's back porch:

Nikolai Khabibulin (EDM) – The 38-year-old goalie was arrested in February 2010 and convicted of excessive speeding and drunk driving in August of 2010. He then had a very poor 2010-11 season, going 10-32-3, in 46 games for the Edmonton Oilers. So far this year he is 7-0-2 in 9 starts for the Oilers. He's at the top of the NHL with a .988 GAA, and 2nd with a .964 SV%, not a bad bounce-back. And he owes it all to Tom Renney, right?

Jaromir Jagr (PHI) – You probably know his backstory already. Jags exiled himself to Russia and the KHL for three full seasons. His previous last appearance in the NHL was for the NY Rangers in a playoff game against the Penguins back on May 4th, 2008. The Rangers lost that game 3-2 in overtime and were eliminated. In his last year with the Rangers he was known around here as "Captain Perimeter". This season the big 6'3", 240 lb, Czech right winger has 6 goals, 9 assists, in 15 games for the Flyers. That puts him back in the top 20 offensive players in the NHL. Jags is also averaging almost 19 minutes of ice time during his last 5 games. Pretty good for a 39-year-old (40 in February) bounced-Czech. Feel free to use that one Stan.

Sheldon Souray (DAL) – The 35-year-old Canadian was a top-tier defenseman back in 2006-07, with 26 goals and 64 points for the Canadiens. He scored 19 of those goals on the powerplay, which was a league record for a defenseman. He signed with the Edmonton Oilers in July 2007 for a 5-year, $27M contract. At a 2009 team Skills Competition his slap shot was clocked at 106.7 mph, an unofficial NHL record. He suffered a concussion in 2009 and was subsequently waived by Edmonton, loaned to the Caps, and sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL for all of last season. Souray was signed by the Dallas Stars on July 1, 2011, to a 1-year. $1.65M contract. So far this season Souray is playing big minutes (20+/game) and he has 4 goals, 13 points in 14 games for the Stars. Not a bad bounce back from the bus league for a guy with a lethal point shot.

Zach Parise (NJD) – Parise missed most of last season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. He signed a new 1-year contract worth $6M with the Devils in July. He was named Devils Captain on October 5th. This season in 13 games for the Devils Parise has 5G-3A-8pts, and is averaging +23TOI his last 5 games. So it looks like the 27-year-old Minnesota native is on his way back to being a lethal weapon, hopefully not so much against the Rangers.

Marc-Andre Bergeron (TAM) – Talk about bouncing, this 31-year-old Canadian defenseman has bounced back and forth between the NHL and the AHL more times than you can count. He was out of a job last fall after being released by Montreal on July 1, 2010. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning as a free agent on January 4th and assigned to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL. While there he had 2 goals, 8 points, and was a -3 in 13 games. He was called up in February and played 23 games for the Lightning, recording a stats line of 2G-6A-8pts, and -10 in 23 games. This season for some reason he's caught fire. He has 3G-13A-16pts in 15 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning with a +5 rating, and averaging over 20 TOI. Rise up all ye faithful.

Honorable mention: Mike Smith (PHO)

update: Fishler's 5 were Jagr, Tyler Seguin, James Neal, Khabibulin, and Souray.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cooking with GAS

Okay, going with this GAS theme is too easy. But hey, this is a blog, and you get what you pay for here. So Gaborik-Anisimov-Stepan, or the GAS line, has ignited and is cooking up goals like gnocchi at an Italian dinner. Sounds like a great meal, doesn't it?

Anyway, they scored all of the goals in the Rangers 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. They also have all of the team's six goals in the last two games. That's the good news, the bad news is that the other three lines are giving us diddly squat. And what exactly does Marian Gaborik (2 goals, +3, 19:23 TOI) have to do to earn the Broadway Hat? Crank out a hat trick?

Brad Richards has gone into gridlock since getting teamed up in various combinations with Dubinsky and Callahan. Dubinsky's total of only six assists this season is puzzling. He's been teamed up with Callahan, his compadre from last year, but mucho de-zero. The nickname "Stone Cold" Brandon Dubinsky is going to get hung on Dubi until he breaks out of his funk.

The defense has settled back into its shot blocking wet blanket. The Rangers had 23 blocked shots led by Michael Del Zotto and Ruslan Fedotenko. They each tied for the game-high with four blocks. Henrik was in typical lock-down Lundqvist mode. He recorded 29 saves on 31 shots and earned his fifth win.

Scotty Hockey lands a clean hit with his take on Sean Avery's play:

You can dislike Sean Avery all you like but you really should respect the lengths he is going to prove he belongs in the NHL. Avery took on Zenon Konopka in the first period, answering the bell for the Wolski/Alfredsson collision (I still think it wasn't an elbow). Was it a good fight? No. Did Avery win? No. But he stepped up for his teammates against the most prolific fighter in the NHL. Because Torts is Torts Avery ended up with nearly as many minutes in the penalty box as he did on the ice but it doesn't matter. Avery answered the bell...
You have to figure that other teams will come up with schemes to slow down our GAS. The question is can we cook with anything else, like butane or propane? Even a little sterno would be nice. Or will it be a long cold winter if the gas gets turned off? We'll have to wait and see what answer coach disagreeable comes up with. In the meantime we'll let him spin the line combo wheel, just please don't touch the GAS meter for a few games.
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ICINGS:


Blueshirts United:
Artem Anisimov displayed a broad smile in the locker-room following Wednesday's 3-2 victory in Ottawa. And why not? The talented young Russian had just contributed mightily to the win with a pair of assists and numerous other scoring chances, while upping his point total to six in the last three games alone. He also was the recipient of the Broadway Hat following the game. "It looks a little weird on me, but it feels good," said Anisimov...
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Game highlights:


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Here's something I did not know.

Bruce Berlet / SportsPage Mag:
Boyhood Buddies Together Again with Rangers --
Two decades ago, Dan Girardi and Andre Deveaux lived five minutes apart in Welland, Ontario, Canada, and spent many a day shooting at targets in a net that Girardi’s father had set up at the end of the driveway.

“We played games for candy or chocolate bars,” a smiling Girardi said after the New York Rangers’ 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. “When my parents sold their house, the shed about 50 yards behind it was covered in holes, absolutely mangled, from us missing the net after keeping the fence open where we placed the net. They didn’t fix the shed, just sold it as is. There were a lot of good memories there for sure.” ...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Roaming the Rangerland

A couple of weeks ago coach disagreeable was accusing forward Wojtek Wolski of being a malingerer. Regarding Wolski, Torts made the comment, "I can't even get him out of the tub," after a practice in Vancouver on Oct. 19th. Wolski had, in fact, gotten out of the tub for that practice. Now it turns out that Wolski had a sports hernia and the Rangers reported yesterday that he will have surgery. Thank you very much for your support coach.

The Mouth at the Ranger Crisis has been pretty quiet, so I missed his beauty of an anti-Torts rant that had some audio/video, Need Not Apply: Offensively Skilled Forwards

Tortorella is so obsessed with being teacher and disciplinarian of what he calls Jam and Juice that he has forgotten that not every player is blessed with the cerebral mentality of a coach...

Not only does he discipline his players by giving them minutes they can count on one hand but he will at times publicly and on purpose ostracize them.

Recently he has insinuated that injured forward Wojtek Wolski is milking his injury status by saying "I can't even get him out of the tub." ...
NY Rangers:
Wolski to have surgery, out four weeks -- Forward will undergo operation to correct sports hernia
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that forward Wojtek Wolski will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a sports hernia, and is expected to be sidelined four weeks.

The procedure will be performed by Dr. William Meyers at Core Performance Physicians in Philadelphia...
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Did you go to the opening night game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, October 27th?

If you did or you know someone who was there you can probably find their face in the crowd using the Gigapixel Rangers FanCam. Many fans, who were there, have already identified themselves. The FanCam, which they say is the largest interactive photo in Rangers history, lets you zoom in to see virtually everyone in the building, very excellent.


This FanCam thing has some interesting features, like allowing video to be embedded in an image.

It also looks like the Rangers erased a banner from the picture which said: "16 AVERY Send Torts to the Whale," according to the 5-Hole blog.
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Giving your own brother a concussion and jeopardizing his career has to be a difficult situation for Eric Staal.

NHL.com:
Eric Staal speaks about hit on brother Marc --
Carolina captain Eric Staal talks to his brother Marc a couple of times each week, hoping one day soon the New York Rangers defenseman will tell him the headaches are gone and his hockey career can resume.

The concern is more than just brotherly compassion. It was Eric's hit on Marc during a game at RBC Center in Raleigh on Feb. 22 that is the reason why the Rangers' No. 1 defenseman remains out indefinitely. Marc still is suffering from concussion symptoms believed to be a result of Eric's hit that day...
Replay of Staal-on-Staal hit:


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Stan Fischler / MSG:
Bluelines: Rangers & Devils Injury Concerns, Tavares' Favorite Food & a Sabres' Goalie Controversy
The concern about the loss of Marc Staal from the Rangers defense for an undetermined amount of time is perfectly natural. But there have been no migraines on Seventh Avenue because of the manner in which Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer have improved their game. As for Dan Girardi -- arguably the most underrated of NHL backliners -- he's a legit Norris-Trophy candidate at this time. Trouble is, the only ones who notice Dangerous Dan are his opponents and 29 other NHL coaches...
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Eddie and Jim are pumped after a great weekend for New York sports teams, especially since there was no basketball.
Blueshirt Underground Radio: New York Rangers Talk
On Blueshirt Underground Radio, you won't hear any MSG fluff from a panel of bald boring old men who drone on about the same thing night after night after night. We dish out tough love on this show. You want to hear everything is sunshine and rainbows in Ranger Land? Turn on MSG, because we shoot straight and everyone knows you cant b.s a Ranger fan

For two hours we take your calls, and there is a live chat that goes on throughout the show, where anything and everything goes...
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Now this is how you get fired up to play a game. New Zealand's national rugby team All Blacks traditional Haka, war chant:


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Twitter Updates:

Andrew Gross / Twitter:
Anton Stralman could be sent to Connecticut (AHL) for conditioning but he would have to agree to the assignment. Not there yet
NY Rangers / Twitter:
Torts says Anton Stralman will not travel to Ottawa, will finish medical tests in New York
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Monday, November 07, 2011

On a Roll...

The New York Rangers are on a roll with four straight wins. Is it a jelly roll with a quick sugar buzz or something a little more sustainable? The only question I had coming down the 3rd period stretch, of their 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets, was who deserved the Broadway hat more? Was it Derek Stepan or Marion Gaborik? Gaborik has clearly been the best Ranger forward since the start of the season, but Stepan is showing off a remarkable ability to make the no-look pass to set-up teammates for spectacular goals. So Stepan rightly got the hat last night, but please throw Gabby a derby too.

The Rangers really don't have enough hats to go around during this winning streak. So you can put these observations in the category of  "victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."

Because Dan Girardi certainly deserves a feather in the cap. Hopefully they can hand a real hat over to old Dan'o before they carry the poor fellow out on a stretcher. The sum total of the massive ice time and being a shot blocking punching bag has to catch up with Girardi sometime, doesn't it?

Plus, Marty Biron (3 games, 3 wins, 3 GA, 0.95 GAA) has to be the best back-up goalie in the league right now, no doubt. So Rangerland is very sanguine this morning.

However, there are cracks in the good ship Tortorella. The power play is still a disaster.

The Hockey Rodent nicely summarized the problem:

Whereas your heroes solved the two-man advantage Sunday night, they have not fixed the tendency to shun the shot through traffic from the point in favor of a down-low finesse and misdirection attack, hoping for the back-door put-home.

The problem with NYR's approach is that they've establishing a pattern which will encourage opposition killers to pay lip service to the threat above the circle tops...
Sean Avery continues to get squat for ice time, as Scotty Hockey noted:
Avery was given just 5:21 of ice time, skating alongside Slow Deveaux and Mr. Softie Christensen. Talk about putting a player in a position to fail. Not that I am hating on Deveaux - he is actually a decent replacement for Rupp - but his lack of speed and skill set just doesn't compliment Avery's game at all...
The #AveryArmy wants to launch a bayonet charge on Torts, while noting that the Rangers are undefeated since Sean was called up.

Brian Boyle is not playing at all like last year. Is he hurt, or was last year a fluke? And Brandon Dubinsky is still on the schnide. So the good news about breaking into the upper echelon (5th place, 7-3-3, 17 pts.) is tempered with some caution.

Anyway, on to Ottawa on Wednesday.
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ICINGS:

The new MSG = sound and energy flows to the open food concourses

Has the redesign and renovation of MSG sucked the life out of the old building? Mike made the observation that during Saturday's game the only sounds that could be heard at times were the skates on the ice. During last night's game broadcast there also seemed to be noticeable spells of quiet. Was that due to a dull game or has opening up the arena via these open concourses behind the nets and up around the 10th floor allowed the sound and energy to leak out of the place? Has MSG been sterilized by this redesign, just like Torts wants to neuter the team by banishing Avery?

Will the crowd energy stay in the the arena or is it now in the food courts along with the ten buck beers?

And by the way, since they are renovating MSG don't you think it's time to retire the tired old 'Potvin S**ks' chant and put Dancing Larry out to pasture?
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BlueshirtsUnited: The Rangers won their fourth straight game Sunday night, and as a result it was the fourth consecutive game that the Broadway Hat was presented to the star of the victory. Sunday's recipient was Derek Stepan, who notched a power play goal---his second of the season---to open the scoring in the second period, and added a pretty assist on Marian Gaborik's goal later in the third period, while logging 19:24 of ice-time.

Al Trautwig wants to call the hat the Broadway Fedora. Fedora may be an accurate description of the hat for now, but put that hat on enough sweaty MVP heads and the distinctive fedora crease will soon disappear. Anybody still clean and reshape hats in the Big Apple?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Le Non Habs

Watching the Canadiens from my rarefied view between the Mike Richter banner on the left and the Mark Messier on the right, it was hard to believe that these were the high flying, smooth skating Le Habs who had terrorized us so much in the past and were riding a four game winning streak. This had to be the worst skating Montreal team I have ever seen.

Aided and abetted by some atrocious penalty calling the Rangers jumped out to a three goal lead before the ghosts of Rocket Richard and Boom Boom Geoffrion had a chance to turn over in their graves. But remember, these are the Rangers and it was narrowed to 3-2 and had the many Canadien fans jumping before a strange turn of events buried the Canadiens and their ghosts.

A Canadien had hit the post and the Rangers came down and Brad Richards salted the game away by blistering one past Carey Price to give the Rangers an insurmountable 4-2 lead. Montreal would close it to 4-3 in the third, but Ryan Callahan's empty netter gave the Blueshirts their third straight victory and solidified coach disagreeable's position behind the bench.

From where I was sitting the crowd didn't sound very active or loud. In fact, their were times during the game when the skates on the ice were all you heard. The skates and the stupid Garden videos begging us to make noise. I thought I was back in Minnesota where they implored the crowd to clap, stomp and cheer. Even the Potvin s***s chant lacked conviction. The loudest chant was the USA chant. Are we at war with Canada?

The big event of Avery returning was a non-event. He got all of 4:46 of ice time and there was one shift when he got all of 23 seconds. Heck that is about the same amount of time that coach disagreeable spends in front of the blame stream media. The crowd chanted his name every time he hit the ice. They also chanted for Lundqvist. I didn't hear any chants for Christensen, Boyle, Anisimov or any other player. I didn't see the news conference, I had enough mediocrity for one night but I suppose he would blame the light ice time on the power plays.

That should pass for now but if it continues I submit that Avery be put back on waivers and given his release to hook up with another team. There is no need to embarrass a proud player that has an a-hole for a coach. This coach will look for any reason to give Sean limited ice time.

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ICINGS:

Once again Joseph Kaiser, of the Metropolitan Opera, who sang both the Canadian and USA National Anthems, did a fabulous and knocked them both out of the park effortlessly. Great job Joseph.

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Blueshirts United: Michael Del Zotto logged over 27 minutes of ice-time Saturday, and scored his second goal of the season late in the opening period on a pretty backhand finish, earning the Broadway Hat after the Rangers 5-3 victory over the Canadiens at The Garden...

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's The Big One Elizabeth

Saturday's game should be a big event at the Garden. Here's why:
  1. We are playing Montreal, an original Six team.
  2. Sean Avery should be playing his first game.
  3. I will be attending my first game of the year.
It's appropriate that my first game should be against Montreal. It was either a Christmas or Christmas Eve in the 50's where I saw a 2-0 Ranger win. It was also in the 50's when I saw a stick swinging contest between Ranger Ron Murphy and Boom Boom Geoffrion. It was sometime I think during the 40's when a balloon, filled with water, just missed Doug Harvey. Of course I saw many games in the 40's where the Canadiens completely destroyed us.

So the stage is set for tomorrow's game. I promise if I meet the Stealth GM again I will be more cordial and respectful. I have a motive. I want the Stealth to fire coach disagreeable and turn the team over to Gernander, the Whale coach, or Messier, the all time saviour. I promise that if the Stealth fires coach disagreeable I will give him a pass for a whole year. I will not mock him or rip him. In fact, I will not mention him except in a positive way. But fire the coach he must.

It will be interesting to see how much ice time Sean gets. Also look for facial expressions everytime Sean has the puck. And if he gives it up or gets a penalty, then look out Elizabeth, this is the big one. But who knows? this may be another 1-1 tie with a boring shootout and completely lacking in any fire, both on and off the ice.

Last night's game won by the Rangers in a shootout was pretty much a carbon copy of all the nondescript games we have seen this year. The NHL should pray that the Rangers and Ducks don't make the finals. They will put everyone to sleep. Nonetheless, tomorrow night is the night. The Pundit will show up. Will he meet the Stealth again? Will Sean Avery get off the bench? Will Sean Avery get more than 10 minutes of ice time? For the answer to these and other earth shaking questions don't miss any exciting posts of The Ranger Pundit.

Let's Go Rangers and #AveryArmy!
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ICINGS:
Jeff Woywitka wears the Broadway Hat after 2-1 shootout win over Ducks

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Henrik Lundqvist graces the cover of the Nov. 14th issue of The Hockey News

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Welcome back Sean!!!!


Something happened to Slats over the past year.  Not sure what it is, but he got his touch back.  He made a huge trade, he got rid of three mistakes (Drury, Gomez and Redden) and he developed talent from the draft and then resisted the temptation to trade them. Now, on a roll, he has told his arrogant head coach to take his petty personal issues and shove them where the sun does not shine.  Slats has always appreciated Sean, and when he saw the type of team he had on the ice, he knew they were missing his spark, his energy, his willingness to give it all for his team attitude.

Welcome back Sean.  Time to show every one of your detractors what you got. Remember what Vince Lombardi said:
"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
Coach Clueless, and his revolving lines, knocked you down. Now it's time to get up and prove him wrong. Oh, by the way, Joe Thornton, would you care to come back and call the Rangers soft now?

Trick or Treat?

Was it a trick the way the Rangers played most of the game last night? I say most because there was still too many gaffes. Or was it a treat that will now become part of the team's mojo? Or was it the fact that Sean Avery's comeback is imminent and forced all these players like Stepan, Anisimov and Christensen just to name a few, who supposedly are so much better players than Sean, to play much better than they have? This according to the all knowing, all wise, all obnoxious, coach disagreeable.

Anyhow, one player who needs no puffing and buildup, Ryan Callahan, kept up his outstanding play with two goals, the last one definitely being a highlight film goal. Ryan McDonagh also continued his fine play and opened the scoring in the game. The other two goals were scored by the aforementioned Stepan and Anisimov, who hit the back of the net for the first time.

It was a big win against a good team, on a long road trip, and who looked tired after the first period. Marty Biron, in his backup role, won his second game and was sharp throughout.

So now we are set for Thursday's drama. Will Sean Avery clear waivers? Will he be able to crack this tough lineup? Will coach disagreeable risk a showdown and shout down with the fans by relegating Sean to the bench? Stay tuned for these and other results relating to your favorite team coached by a most disagreeable one.

ICINGS:


We are collecting the pictures of all the 'Broadway Hat' wearers. Ryan Callahan deservedly wears the chapeau as the game MVP.