Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gaborik Guns Down the King

They say if you are going to shoot at the king, you better not miss, and Marian Gaborik did that on Saturday at the NHL All-Star Game. Gaborik scored a hat trick and added an assist to earn the All-Star Game MVP honors. His two first period goals were scored against Henrik Lunqvist. After his first goal, which was set up by Pavel Datsyuk, Gabby pulled out his “Anisimov” rifle and shot Lundqvist between the eyes.

Gaborik's Team Chara won the game 12-9 over Lundqvist's Team Alfredsson.

Marian Gaborik Guns Down Henrik Lundqvist
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NHL.com:
Gaborik burns Lundqvist, earns MVP honors --
KANATA, Ont. -- Henrik Lundqvist can take solace in the fact that Marian Gaborik will be his teammate through 2013-14.

A case can be made that Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the world, but he has yet to solve Gaborik, his New York Rangers teammate. With the pair on opposite sides for Sunday's 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place, Gaborik once again got the best of Lundqvist. Gaborik beat Lundqvist twice during the first period and added another goal and assist to capture MVP honors in Team Chara's 12-9 victory against Team Alfredsson.

Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) and Gaborik (@MGaborik10) talked trash throughout All-Star weekend over Twitter, but it was the Slovak sniper who backed it up during the culmination of a spectacular weekend.

"It's been a buildup, so he definitely won this one. No question," Lundqvist said. "I have to give it to him. It was a great performance, even though his players set him up for some wide-open nets there. He's always in the right place at the right time. It was still a lot of fun out there, event though I wanted to shut the door against him.

"I'm happy for him, but I'm not happy for him." ...
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ICINGS:

After the game John Tortorella, coach of Team Alfredsson, stormed out of the press conference with a snarl saying, he didn't want to talk about the loss.

Hagelin is Fastest Skater

Carl Hagelin proved to the world what Rangers' fans have suspected for months, he is the NHL's fastest skater. He won the finals of the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater event by defeating Colin Greening of the Ottawa Senators.


NHL.com:
Rookies steal show in Fastest Skater competition --
KANATA, Ont. -- The rookies stole the show in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater event Saturday night at Scotiabank Place.

Carl Hagelin of Team Alfredsson and Colin Greening of Team Chara blew away the field in the first event of the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Hagelin, the Rangers' rookie speedster, emerged as the overall winner in the final heat by edging the Senators' Greening with a time of 13.218 seconds. Greening was clocked at 13.303 seconds...

One of Team Chara's winning heats came from Greening, who edged Hagelin in their first rookie heat with an event-best time of 12.963 seconds. However, part of the reason Greening earned the victory is he stuck out his stick to beat Hagelin, who finished the first heat in 12.993 seconds.

"He knew about that trick there," Hagelin said. "I didn't know about that one."

"Oh, it was on purpose," Greening told NHL.com. "I knew he had me beat in terms of body position, so when I could I tried to reach my stick out as much as I could. He's a good skater."

Hagelin was better in the second heat, so he took home the trophy as the NHL's Fastest Skater this season.

"We came here to win," Hagelin joked...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Continue Down Memory Lane

For some reason my recollection of the early years is far more concise than the seasons in the 70's and 80's. The loss of Andy Bathgate was devastating to me. Why get rid of the top gun for a load of garbage? In my mind, anything short of  Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, would have been garbage for Bathgate. Go get the role players that would have helped Andy and the team. Instead Andy immediately helped Toronto to a Stanley Cup championship in 1964. He had 5 goals and 4 assists in Toronto's 14 game Cup run that year. Andy won the Hart Trophy in 1958-59 and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.

The 1970's, The Almost Years.

Emile Francis was in full control and there was optimism in the air for Ranger fans. Francis was fiery and a shrewd tactician. The team was loaded with the GAG line, goal-a-game, led by Ratelle, Gilbert and Hatfield. They had strong goaltending in Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure. They had a Hall Of Famer D-man in Brad Park. Both the Bruins and the Flyers were too tough for this team and there was the shameful incident of the Flyers' Dave Schultz beating up the Rangers' Dale Rolfe without a single Ranger jumping in. Amazing how that trait has prevailed since the 40's. Midway through the decade, Francis started to change the team. He traded Villemure to Chicago for Doug Jarrett. They lost their heart when Eddie Giacomin was claimed off waivers by Detroit. It set up the spectacle of Giacomin returning to New York, with the fans chanting "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie" and rooting for the Red Wings to beat the Rangers. They did. With the heart gone the Rangers then traded their soul when they sent Brad Park along with Jean Ratelle to Boston for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais. Along with new coach Fred Shero and acquired goalie John Davidson the Rangers made it to the Cup finals in 1979 only to lose to Montreal, 4 games to 1. The 70's were also the turbulent years.

The 1980's, The Spectator Years.

The Rangers were spectators in the 80's as the Islanders with four straight Cups and Edmonton with four out of five Cups vied for supremacy. The Rangers vied to stay relevant. They went through six coaches in eight years. The Rangers were doing nothing while two teams, the Isles and Oilers, controlled the decade. One 1986-87 highlight was coach Phil Esposito, yes I said coach, decked out in a tuxedo for a New Year's Eve game. Yes, the Rangers were spectators in the 1980's, but dressed to the nines.

The 1990's, The Messiah Arrives and the Drought Ends.

Roger Neilson took over the reins and with the addition, first of Bernie Nicholls and then of the great Messiah, Mark Messier, who was obtained in a trade for Nichols, the Rangers soared and actual won the President's Cup. Messier didn't like the team's performance in the playoffs and he demanded that GM Neil Smith replace coach Neilson. Smith did with the abrasive, obnoxious Mike Keenan who had been ridden out of every city he had coached in. He finally won a Cup, actually Mark Messier won it and Keenan promptly left for greener pastures, which never developed. Keenan was and is an opportunist. Mark Messier was and is a leader. In my opinion Mark Messier is the greatest team captain in the history of all sports. So the drought was over and the Rangers moved on.

The 2000's, Back To The Past.

The Rangers sank back to the past with the arrival of the Stealth GM who ensured the failure of the team with a succession of bad trades and free agent signings. Lindros, Bure, Fluerry, Robitalle, Nedved, Kaminsky, Gomez, Redden, and ad nausem... If once they were great then the Rangers wanted them. There were four playoff appearances in the 2000's with two first round wins. We progressed from a clueless coach to a disagreeable coach with very little progress.
The Present.

Right now we are riding high. However, the tough part is still ahead. We currently look like the 70's teams. Talented, gritty, but just not tough enough. Tough is what you need to make a playoff run. The good news is that there is still time to get the role players needed to make that run. That's what is needed to make a strong run. Let's see if the Stealth and disagreeable are up to it.

So I (we) will move on. The beauty of this blog is that friendships are still developing. Since I've been blogging I have touched, and been touched, by the likes of Section 335, Scotty Hockey, the Dark Ranger, the Hockey Rodent, My Blue Heaven, Garden Ice, Hockey Talk, and Inside Hockey. Also, I must thank Down By The Seaside, Wes, jb, the many anonymous commenters, and the thousands of others who have stopped by and partook of the pundit. Again my sincere thanks.

But, it won't end soon. There is another 1,000 posts still to be published. There are a thousand more faceoffs, shots on goal, hits, saves, losses, wins, and testy news conferences to "enjoy." And we, here at the Pundit and the other Rangers blogs will keep all the participants honest, something the blame stream media won't do, or refuses to follow up on.

So thanks for the memories people, sorry Bob. It's a fun thing to do and it is more fun to exchange barbs with each other. The Rangers are not my life, but they have been a big part of it. Exasperating at times, but always entertaining and interesting. Keep those cards and letters coming and Let's Go Rangers!

Down Memory Lane (Part 1)

Down Memory Lane

Reaching the 1,000th post milestone kind of jogged my memory, no old age jokes please, to take a stroll down memory lane and revisit a few highlights and many more disappointments. It's hard to imagine a day in my life without a thought, a smile or a frown about the New York Rangers. It's a voyage that is not a solo trip. It involved family, my wife, my children and now my three grandchildren. It also involved in-laws and especially jb. This Rangers' journey included many friends and co-workers, who I have dragged along, some almost willingly. To all of them, especially my grandkids, I offer my deepest apologies for fostering this malady upon them. While there have been smiles and successes, there have been more frowns, disappointments and failures over the years.

And don't forget the fans. The many, many fans who suffered through the same misadventures that this franchisee, however lovable, has foisted on us. They say that to truly enjoy the fruits of after life that one must first go through trials and tribulations. If this be true then the Rangers are our Purgatory, so all Ranger fans have a one way ticket to Paradise. I think of Larry and Sal, who sit behind us in section 337. My Italian friend across the aisle and his wonderful family and the many other fans who I have crossed paths over the years, but due to some circumstances beyond my control I may have forgotten their names, but not their faces.

And then the players. I have been very fortunate to have met some players over the years and all of them have been beyond gracious. And some of them in the most curious places. Like meeting Gump Worsley in a Minnesota hotel bar many years ago and sharing a libation or two together. Hot Rod Gilbert, who zipped by me many times in the LIRR station and shouting out, "Hi buddy" almost every time and finally meeting him and talking with him in a luxury box on a night they raised Mike Richter's number to the rafters. The phone call from Adam Graves when he called to inquire about my health and wished me well. God bless you Adam. There was Jeff Beukeboom, during an intermission, sheepishly denying my claim that he would be better on defense than the comics parading as D-men on the Rangers. Then there was Sean Avery, taking the time to crash my 80th birthday party despite a busy charity events schedule. And of course, the Stealth GM. We had met a few times before, always pleasant I might add, until that ill fated night when neither one of us was in the mood to be civil.

The 1930's, the formative years.

I became a Ranger fan by way of radio station WHN 1050 on the dial. Now ESPN radio. The Ranger games were done by Bert Lee and the station had the legendary Marty Glickman as one of its sportscasters. Marty was a great basketball announcer. The station also had big band music so it was a natural for me. The Rangers were loaded with historic names: Phil Watson, Lynn and Muzz Patrick, Alfie Pike and the fabulous Dave Kerr in goal. They would form the nucleus for the Cup in 1940.

The 1940's, the War Years.

Little did I realize that winning the Cup would lead to one of the most frustrating droughts in the history of sports. We had won in 1938, came back in 1940 and it looked like a dynasty was forming. Then came World War II. Players were being drafted into the Canadian armed forces. Almost all the players were Canadians. But they had curious rules. Phil Watson was drafted and assigned to Montreal. In its wisdom the NHL allowed Watson to play for the Canadiens. He played the 43-44 season with the Canadiens before returning to the Rangers. Toward the end of the decade the Rangers rebuilt with Edgar Laprade, Buddy O'Connor, Bones Raleigh and future Hall Of Famer, goalie Chuck Rayner. It was the team that made the spirited run in 1950.

The 1950's, that dreaded crossbar. Who is Peter Babando?

A magnificent run almost brought Cup number four home. Game seven in OT Bones Raleigh hits the crossbar and the Red Wings come down and Peter Babando scores the goal that gives the Red Wings the Cup. All seven games were on the road. The Rangers played two 'home games' in Toronto. The Rangers were evicted from the Garden because the circus was in town. To some fans, considering the performance after this disappointment, the circus never left. Two big events in this decade. I spent four years in the USAF 1951-1955 and Andy Bathgate arrived in the '52-'53 season. Starting with 1955-56 he led the Rangers in scoring for eight straight seasons. No other Ranger before or since has ever done that.

The 1960's, Bathgate goes North.

In the 1963-64 season the Rangers traded Andy Bathgate to Toronto and the Ranger drought hit epic proportions. They raised the white flag and surrender. In four playoff appearances they won four games. They had players like Worsley, Doug Harvey, Harry Howell and Bathgate, but no cigar. Emile Francis would start his coaching run which almost produced results in the 1970's. Almost.

To be continued...

Continue Down Memory Lane (Part 2)

And It Goes Like This...

There are more than a dozen version of "Moves Like Jagr" on YouTube. Most of them just take old video clips of Jaromir Jagr and overlay the Maroon 5/Adam Levine/Christina Aguilera hit Moves Like Jagger.

However, this very recent version of "Moves Like Jagr" by Broken Ride and King Dylan is the most original and funny Jagr/Jagger parody that we have come across.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Another Lundqvist Yawner

Henrik Lundqvist is getting boring. Boringly great! Last night he racked up his 5th shutout of the season and the 40th of his career. That leaves Lundqvist only nine shutouts behind the great Eddie Giacomin for most shutouts by a Ranger goalie. He 'only' had to make 22 saves, albeit some were spectacular. When you are as good as Lundqvist it only takes a few great saves to pitch a shutout. Right now Lundqvist ranks third among all goalies in both GAA's and save percentage. His GAA is 1.87 and his save percentage is .937.

The game was your typical Ranger game. Low scoring. Hard hitting. The teams doled out a total of 66 hits. Strong, maniacal defense by the Rangers and the obligatory Mike Rupp staged fights. Rupp had two last night both with Chris Thorburn. Mike spent 10 minutes in the penalty box, 6:42 on the ice and 43:18 on the bench. And Sean Avery sits in Hartford. Set him free Stealth!

The goal scorers were Mitchell, Callahan and Richards. The impotent power play was 0-4 and is now 1-21 in the last nine games. It gets worse as we go further back but why belabor the point. If there is anyone in the Ranger organization that knows anything about a power play they should speak now or forever hold their peace.

ICINGS: Yesterday's post was the 1,000th for the Ranger Pundit. Our first post was way back in April 2004 and who dreamed that we would still be plugging away almost eight years later. Of course not much has improved in Rangerland as we have gone through many players and coaches, but one constant GM. Our playoff record has been mostly non-existant, but as they say hope springs eternal. So we continue to hope. For those of us who have been frustrated through the years we always turn optimistic when we turn the page of the new year. This year has been brighter than most so the spark has been brighter a little longer than usual. Hopefully it will continue and the end result will be the hoisting of the much talked about and coveted Stanley Cup! Let's Go Rangers!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bruins visit White House minus MVP Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas decided not to attend a White House ceremony honoring the Boston Bruins as 2011 Stanley Cup champs. He released a statement (see below) explaining his absence from the meeting with President Obama.


USA Today:
Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins visit White House --
WASHINGTON – First the New England Patriots in 2005, then the Boston Red Sox in 2007 and the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Then the 2011 Bruins brought a championship to the city of Boston.

"Enough already, Boston," President Obama said with a laugh.

Obama welcomed the Stanley Cup champion Bruins at the White House on Monday. However, goaltender Tim Thomas, who became the second U.S.-born player to be named playoff MVP, didn't attend the ceremony.

Thomas, a staunch conservative, refused the invite due to "political reasons," according to Sports Illustrated...
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Tim Thomas / NHL.com:
Thomas statement on White House absence --  
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas released the following statement Monday evening regarding his absence from the Bruins' visit to the White House this afternoon:

"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT"
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discussion:
Huffington Post:
Tim Thomas Skips Obama, White House Ceremony Honoring Bruins

Washington Post:  
Bruins visit White House minus MVP Tim Thomas
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ICINGS:


Huffington Post:
John Kerry Appears At The White House Sporting A Broken Nose, 2 Black Eyes --
Sen. John Kerry made quite an impression on Monday when he appeared at a White House event honoring the Stanley Cup champs, the Boston Bruins, sporting a broken nose and two black eyes.

The 68-year-old senior Democrat from Massachusetts suffered the injuries during a pickup hockey game over the holidays. According to the Political Intelligence blog, Kerry was hit in the face with a hockey stick...

The Whale are Sinking

New York is riding high today. A big Giants victory, plus a huge Rangers win, put a spring in the step of every New York sports fan. However, just up the road in Hartford the Rangers minor league team, the Whale, have turned belly up and appear to be sinking. Things look pretty grim in Hartford for the team and for our anti-hero, the Grate One, Sean Avery. This report from the local Hartford hockey blog sets the scene.

Paul Doyle / Whale Tales:
Another Lost Weekend --

We begin Week 4 of 2012 and the Connecticut Whale are still looking for their first victory of the year.

The winless streak reached nine with losses at the XL Center over the week. It started with an overtime loss to St. John's Friday night and continued with a shootout loss to Norfolk Saturday...

Wade Redden has been out since mid-December with a lower body injury and he probably won't be back until after the Jan. 29-30 all-star break. Mats Zuccarello has been out with a leg injury and it's unclear when he'll be back...

Will we see Sean Avery on the XL Center ice this weekend? He was a healthy scratch Friday and Saturday, after playing sparingly the previous few games. Seems like it's time for the Rangers to do something with Avery. He doesn't want to be in Hartford, so why leave him on a struggling team?

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gabby Strikes Again

Bubba wasn't in the house and neither were there any other dignitaries but Marian "The Great Gabby" struck again. He put the winner in with 3 seconds left in OT and gave the Rangers a 3-2 win in a thrilling match between two original six teams. I love these original six games, except when the Rangers play at Montreal. The goal was Gabby's second of the game. Ryan Callahan scored the other goal for the Rangers. Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid were the goal scorers for the Bruins.

With the win the Rangers opened up a three point lead over the Bruins. In my previous post I had predicted a 0-0 game with the Rangers winning in a shootout. I was close, it was 2-2 and 3.6 seconds short of a shootout.I begged for 80 shots and we got 67, not bad for an old man. Both goalies were better than good. Lundqvist stopped 32 snots and Rask stopped 30.

The two rocks on defense, Girardi and Chara, logged the most ice time of any of the players. Dandy Dan, the shutdown man, logged 33:31 and Zdeno Charo got 32:19. Ironically, both were a minus one. The other end of the spectrum saw Mike Rupp with 3:24. Why bother to dress him? Is he in there to have his obligatory fight and than sit? My good buddy, Scotty Hockey, refers to him as Mike 'f-ing' Rupp. How about Mike 'sitting' Rupp? Stu Bickel was the other short timer getting all of 4:27, six shifts. Why?

But we move on with a great win, in a great atmosphere. Keep going Rangers!

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ICINGS:

Gabby hat

Blueshirts United
:
In arguably the Ramgers biggest test of the season, the Blueshirts rose up to the challenge Saturday afternoon at TD Garden and found a way to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champs 3-2 in overtime.

And leading the way was the guy who wore the Broadway Hat following the game, winger Marian Gaborik, who not only scored the game-winning goal with 3.6 seconds left in OT, but who also scored earlier in the contest to give the Rangers, at the time, a 2-1 lead.
"It certainly is nice to help the team this way," said Gaborik, who had gone seven games without a goal coming into play Saturday. "These slumps happen, but I am happy to come up with a couple of goals, and most importantly to help the team to win. Everybody contributed. Hank, again, was stellar in net, and I think everyone left everything out there."
Gaborik now has 25 goals on the season, tied for third most in the NHL, and he also now has six game-winning goals, which is tied for second most in the league...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Showdown In Beantown

The Rangers are headed for a defining game, a matinee affair in Boston, against the big bad Bruins who trail the Rangers by a point for the NHL's top spot in the NHL. It could not have come at a worse time because the Blueshirts are in their first bad blip of the year having lost three of the past five. But just maybe it could be a great time to upright the ship. After all this Ranger ship is no Costa Concordia, and while our leader may be disagreeable he is not irresponsible.

But there are some concerns going into the showdown. The big guys are not clicking. The Rangers have scored eight goals in the last five games and the trio of Gaborik, Richards and Callahan are playing like the Three Blind Mice and are purely non-productive. To top it off, the power play, an oxymoron if there ever was one, is pitiful. How about these numbers. They are 0-14 in the last seven games, 1-27 in the last 12 games and 3-45 in the last 18 games. However, remember that the Ranger power play has been non-existent for three years now and that stat falls right in the lap of disagreeable, who is clueless when it comes to the power play.

In addition, Henrik Lundqvist is probably in the worst stretch of the year. But it would be grossly unfair to put any blame, however minimal, on Lundqvist. He has carried the Rangers too long to be blamed for any drought they suffer through. Coach disagreeable's plan of suicidal defenses would collapse without the rock that stands in front of our nets barring entrance to all.

What about the Bruins? When it comes to defense, they are the best. In 44 games they have given up 89 goals, an average of 2.02 per game. They have top goalies in Tuukka Rask, GAA 1.61, save percentage of .946%. That's 1st and 4th in the NHL. Tim Thomas, GAA 2.02, save percentage  .936%. That is 7th and 9th. Lundqvist compares favorably with a GAA of 1.93, 4th in the NHL and a save percentage of .936%, 10th best in the NHL. The Rangers have given up 94 goals in 45 games, an average of 2.09.

It looks like a wash. We are heading into a shootout of a 0-0 game. It's an unstoppable force versus an immovable object. It will be an original six classic. Hopefully we will get an 80 shot game and see the goalies at their best. We will also hope the coaches do not screw it up.

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ICINGS:

Other takes on the Bruins' game:

Matt Kalman / Boston.com:
Bruins Ready For ‘Intense’ Matchup With Rangers --
Even Bruins head coach Claude Julien sounded like he had a fan’s curiosity about how his team would match up with the Rangers after the Bruins practiced at Ristuccia Arena Friday...
Sean Hartnett / CBS NY:
Bruins Matchup Most Important Test Of Rangers’ Season --
Rangers Must Limit Mistakes And Get Struggling Power Play Going... Wherever Tortorella puts Carl Hagelin, he tends to ignite his linemates...
Stan Fischler / MSG:
The Colossal Battle on the Eastern Front -- NY vs. Boston --
For starters remember that the Bruins are an edgy, chippy bunch. Torts' Troops must avoid falling into the trap and retaliate with cheap shots... I'm calling for a New York victory on Saturday...
Betting Hockey:
Rangers vs. Bruins: Preview --
Prediction: Bruins win 2-1

Boston always comes out with a ton of energy and intensity against the best teams in the NHL, which is typical of a veteran team that may feel bored at times with the regular season...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Treading on the Predators: Rangers Win 3-0

The Rangers went back to their winning formula last night and shutout the Nashville Predators 3-0 at the Garden. It was a royal, vintage Henrik Lundqvist performance in net, helped by a swarming Rangers defense that limited the Predators' opportunities.

I found the game boring, but that is now part of the grand game plan. Keep the puck along the boards in both ends and tenaciously fighting for possession is the tactical mission statement. The longer it stays in the offensive zone the better, if shot opportunities happen to come along, take them. In the defensive end keep the puck away from Lundqvist and at worst limit the other team to one bad angle shot on the King. Simple. And last night the Blueshirts executed their Tortorella "ground and pound" game plan to perfection.

If Torts could have his way, I bet every Rangers game would look like last night. And if Boyle and Prust could sit on the puck their entire shift Torts would be giving them 35 minutes a night. It was an almost flawless execution of a prevent defense and a three yards and a cloud of dust offense. Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes would have loved last night's game. Woody's philosophy was, "I will pound you and pound you until you quit."

The fact, that the scoring all came from unexpected sources (Girardi and Mitchell) makes the win even sweeter in the Tortorella playbook. Keeping your top-lines hungry and humble, yet still winning, means you'll get even more out of them the next game. Is this genius or evil genius?

If one thing, John Tortorella is also consistent in his disagreeability. His zinger back at his ultimate boss, MSG Chairman James Dolan, after the game was a classic from the grump-meister. After the game Dolan had said the Rangers were “pretty close” to winning a Stanley Cup. So afer Dolan had left the room Torts quickly had to nip that kind of talk in the bud:

“Like I have my owner up here talking about a Stanley Cup. That’s a bunch of bull----. We need to take one game at a time.”
Perfect. We like nothing better than seeing the invisible one getting slapped down by his hired help. Tortorella knows that the life expectancy of an NHL coach is slightly longer than a Monarch Butterfly. So part of the job description is keeping team expectations low and the employment status on affirmative. Mr. One-Round and Out knows that he better deliver at least two rounds this year or he sleeps with the butterflies.

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 06:15 EV NYR Girardi(4) Gaborik(13) Hagelin(7)
2 2 10:42 EV NYR Mitchell(4) unassisted
3 3 19:09 EV-EN NYR Callahan(15) unassisted
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ICINGS:

Girardi Hat

Blueshirts United:

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi has received a string of accolades for his stellar play so far this season, not the least of which was his selection to play in the NHL All Star Game next week in Ottawa. However, one accolade had eluded him: the Broadway Hat.
Well check that one off the list as Girardi received the Broadway Hat following the Rangers 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

"I think the difference between this year's team and years past is that our resilience this year has been unbelievable," said Girardi following the game. "We have a bad game here or there, but we come right back with a huge win. Obviously Montreal (Sunday night) was not good, but it was a blip on our schedule, that's how we look at that game because of how we answered that tonight. It says a lot about our team."

Girardi logged 25:48 worth of ice-time Tuesday night and finished a +3, on ice for all three Rangers' goals...

Monday, January 16, 2012

One Night in Montreal Makes a Rangers Fan Humble

A Special Report from Montreal:
The House of Horrors, in the Mecca of Hockey, by the Junior most Pundit

As the Senior Pundit appropriately predicted in his House of Horrors rant, the Rangers again fell flat on their faces, as Le Habs physically outplayed and outskated our Blueshirts. If the Habs could only play the Rangers 40 times a year, they would be Presidents' Trophy Champs hands down. As my buddy pointed out, maybe that's why they won so many darn cups back in the day, playing most of their games against the Rangers and the Leafs was easy pickings!

I had the pleasure or disgust (depending on your point of view) of attending the game on Sunday night. First, if any hockey fan has not seen a game in Montreal, you are truly missing an experience of a lifetime. I give our neighbors and friends to the north credit, it's all about hockey. They know hockey, live hockey, it's their other religion. The Bell Centre is a fabulous place to see a game, and I was blessed to be granted access to the private dining/bar at the Bell Center, La Mise au Jeu. First class would be an understatement. The people treated the two of us (the only Ranger fans there) with the utmost respect and attention that they treat their own. They even put the Giants game on the TV for us, which turned out to be the highlight of our sports Sunday.

Now game time. First, kudos to the Montreal organization, the American national anthem is played with glorious photos of the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the White House, Abe Lincoln, etc being shown on the scoreboard, with fans standing quiet in respect of our flag. Sad to say, as a long time season ticket, that's far from the case at MSG, and you are definitely not getting any panorama photos of O'Canada either! Also it was nice to watch a game, where we weren't constantly prompted to make noise, bombarded with advertising and having some buffoon get up and down 12 times a period. But we still love MSG, even with its $12 watered down beers and $10 hot dogs. But the highlight of the evening came when the game ended. Seriously, it was for many reasons, but at the time, we were just happy to leave the House of Horrors.

Post game, my buddy and I decided to go to Garde Manager in the old city. For those food channel junkies like me, it's a Chuck Hughes restaurant. We were fortunate with the help of some locals to get a reservation here, most would say you have a better chance of Torts answering questions after a loss, then snagging a table here. Food was great, waitress and bar service outstanding. So at around 10:30pm, in walks most of the Canadiens team. Let me say, meeting players at charity events or team organized social events, most athletes all are "arms wide open folks," but hardly do we see them in this manner, the opposing team out on their home turf. I must admit, the class and professionalism they showed with not only the patrons, but with us as admitted Ranger fans, was truly amazing.

Rene Borque was very gracious. His comments to CBC the day prior were quite amusing: "I have the most French name on the team, and I don't speak French either." The 'either' referring to the much maligned non bi-lingual coach Randy Cunneyworth. Also, I had a brief chit chat with P.K. Subban, very well spoken and polite guy. I told him next year he might look good on the Ranger blue line when his contract comes due. He had a big smile, reached out to shake my hand, and said great meeting you. Maybe a trade deadline target? End of the day, these guys weren't our team, not our players, and they showed themselves to be a class act.

"Girls want diamonds, not more flowers."

Girls want diamonds, not more flowers

Now before everyone goes crazy here, I'll explain, although the female bloggers would probably provide no argument with that saying. The fact that we played like Pansies on Sunday Night, is another story. But digging deeper at our team, the saying may be quite appropriate. Every Ranger fan is very excited with the start of this season, huge expectations. We built slowly, very, very slowly as it has already been almost 18 years since our victory over Vancouver. In 2008-09 we lost to the Caps in the first round, after being up 3-1, coach disagreeable was suspending for the water bottle incident in Washington. Hey coach, practice what you preach! 2009-10 we played golf early, and in 2010-11 the Caps manhandled us 4-1. So basically this coach hasn't won a playoff round yet. So making the playoffs to some may seem like some great accomplishment, but to me, kind of seems like from a women's perspective getting flowers on your 4th anniversary of dating. Ranger fans want more and expect more this year. We want the diamond, or for those saying what is he talking about, the Cup.

In my opinion, this coach can not get us to the next level. I know, I know, he won before, yada yada yada. You need four productive lines, getting somewhat fair ice time over the course of 82 games. He juggles lines, there is very little chemistry with these lines. Watching Hockey Night in Canada, they said it best, typical Torts, team loses, doesn't take questions. Be a man, be a leader and step up to the podium and answer questions like Tom Coughlin, Joe Giradi, or Rex Ryan do, win or lose. It's not just about wearing a suit, it's about acting professional. He is not a leader in my book, and has yet to show it. The Montreal fans said it best, "this coach wouldn't last 5 games up here; the media wouldn't tolerate his nonsense like the media does in NY." Just as the New York media gives our Stealth GM a pass, I guess it's not surprising the coach gets away with his antics.

Finally, about Sean Avery. After watching that game if anyone remotely thinks he isn't a top 12 forward on this team, I am not sure what hockey skills you are evaluating. Players on the opposing team even seemed dumbfounded about his demotion. He is fast, has great puck skill, and can score when given Dubinsky minutes. He has 3 goals in limited ice time and games. Look at the rest of the team stat sheet. I know some will say others add intangibles right? We pay guys 5-7 million a year for intangibles, come on! Newbury and Rupp, minus 3 versus the Habs. They are slow and not intimidating anyone in my book. It was a common theme, not only on Hockey Night in Canada but around the arena, how can I guy with that much skill and annoyance ability on the ice be in Hartford? It's plain and simple, the coach is more concerned about not having him on the team, than putting the best product on the ice. At the end of the day, in my humble opinion that's why Ranger fans will be disappointed come April, when those flowers start blooming.

Also, special thanks to our Quebecois friends pictured above at Garde Manager... providing a little inspiration to my story.

What Did You Expect?

The usual lines rang out last night after the usual loss in Montreal. Do you realize that in the history of the NHL the Rangers have won less than one game a year in Montreal? "We had no structure." "We lose ourselves here." "Don't seem able to play the way we want to play." They don't understand. It's Montreal. We always lose at Montreal. It's in the genes.

Of course it doesn't help when you have a genius coach who thinks that guys like Rupp, 10:26, minus 2; Wolski, 6:20, minus 3; and Newbury, 6:19, minus 3, all on the same line no less, are better players than Sean Avery. I thought that the coaches job was to put the best team on ice not his own personal agenda. And if the coach and his protector, The Stealth, don't want Sean at least they should have the decency to make him available to a team who would want him. BTW, where is the Players Union in this squabble?

The game was a disaster. All the ghosts of the great Canadien team pasts come back to haunt the Rangers every time they visit Montreal. All the ghosts of the worse Ranger teams of the past also make their appearance. Its a match made in Montreal heaven.

So the season and the Rangers move on. The Stealth has to come out of his cocoon and ask the questions. "Is this the best possible team we can put on the ice?" "Can any one of the afore mentioned trio skate faster than Avery?" Can anyone of the afore mentioned trio forecheck better than Avery?" "Can any one of the afore mentioned trio ignite a spark to pick up the team better than Avery?" These are hockey and team related problems, not personal vendetta causes. The Rangers have a potential for a great season. Don't ruin it by playing minor leaguers while a player who could help sits in limbo.

Stealth. Let Avery go!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

House Of Horrors-Is It Time?

The Ranger are headed for their bi-annual trek into that infamous den of inequity, aka, The House Of Horrors, The Bell Centre in Montreal. Imagine, they have played 301 games in Montreal and have won all of 64 games. That's about as impressive as the Republicans record in Massachusettes.

But times are a changing and maybe we can steal one tonight. The Rangers are first in the Eastern Conference with 60 points and the Canadiens are 12th with a total of 40 points. Plus for Rangers. Our hot goalie Henrik Lundqvist will be back tonight and the Canadiens will be using their backup goalie, Peter Budaj, so thats a plus for us. Scotty Gomez will be back in the lineup for Montreal and that's a big plus for us.

Their coach, Randy Cunnyworth is in big do do because he doesn't speak French. The natives want a French speaking coach. Hell, Cunnyworth should come to our country where you can speak any language you want, anytime you want and you can act dumb when someone asks you a tough question. Or Cunnyworth could take a page out of our coach's book. Speak only when you want. Answer only the questions you want, and pick up your marbles and go home anytime you want.

So it looks like we will break the curse tonight. But who knows, some of our "top liners" may start acting like our "grinders." Lundqvist may be stale after the day off and let in a couple of softies. Gomez may decide that his team mates are really The Devils and go nuts. Their backup goalie, Badaj, may do his Ken Dryden impersonation and stone us. Or, the curse of The House Of Horrors will be too great to overcome and we will succumb once more.

Whatever, if you get tired or don't want to watch the game tune into the press conference and you will tell who won the game. If coach disagreeable has tight jaws, the Rangers lost. If there is a haughty smirk on his face, chalk one up for the good guys. Cunnyworth? He better stop worrying about that French speaking course he has to take and start winning some games. Start winning games and the fans wouldn't care what language you are talking. Look out our coach. He is an insufferable dolt, but the Rangers are winning, the press corps are wimps and the fans could care less. Just win baby, win.

ICINGS: My little friend, Jake Feldman, had a little bit of a setback. His donor for the bone marrow transplant backed out and now Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will undergo a risky procedure on January 24th to eradicate the cancer. Please take a moment to say a prayer for Jake and God will bless you. Thanks!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rangers Blanked

The Rangers met a team even hotter than them and the inevitable happened. They lost. However, it's how they lost. They were never in this game and coach disagreeable playing musical lines from the second period on didn't help the situation. He praised the grinders and bashed the top lines. Yet, Rupp got 6:54, Mitchell 7:09, Prust 9:44 and the big guys, Gabby 18:26, Richards 15:39, Stepan 18:56, Callahan 18:34, Fedotenko 17:47, Wolski 14:50 and get this one, Boyle 19:56. It was as useless a 19:56 as I have seen. I guess Boyle is now a top liner. And Avery sits in Hartford waiting to be rescued by the Chicago Blackhawks.

So are the grinders now the top guys and the top guys now the grinders? Get it right coach. BTW, could we please get a sub in for the coach's press conferences when the Rangers lose. I'm tired of seeing tight jaws, snarls and one word answers when we lose. Is disagreeable the reincarnation of Richard Nixon?

The Rangers poured 34 shots at Craig Anderson, and Dryden, oops Anderson stopped them all. We make light of these 'no name goalies' who regularly stone us but let's face it, shut down Gaborik and Richards and we are done. Meanwhile Ottawa has built a nice team and if the goaltending holds up they will be a strong contender for the Cup.

Meanwhile our heroes head north to 'the friendly confines' of Toronto, which we haven't beaten this year in two shots, and The House Of Horrors in Montreal where a Ranger win is treated like an unusual event something akin to Christmas in July. But to keep yourself from getting bored see if you can keep track of how many different line changes the coach makes. Scotty Hockey is the only guy I know who keeps track of these things. Oh to be young.

Meanwhile we implore the Stealth to wake from his slumber, cash his retirement check, and set Sean Avery free.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Freeing the Carbonite Man?

Will Sean Avery be freed?

The idea of the New York Rangers making a possible move with Sean Avery is getting a lot of attention today. It was sparked by a Larry Brooks story in the NY Post.

Yesterday's comment that Sean Avery has been treated like Hans Solo in The Empire Strikes Back seems very appropriate today.

Avery was frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader (John Tortorella), put in limbo (waivered to the AHL), and sent to a far off land (CT) with Jabba the Hutt (Jim Schoenfeld) as his owner and master.

Today, there are rumors that Princess Leia Organa (Glen Sather) might be able to free Avery from his entombment.

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Rangers keeping Avery from other NHL teams -- 
Sather’s willingness to acquire AHL players on one-way contracts who would then be assigned to the Whale creates the possibility of a cash-poor club with ample salary-cap space making such an exchange with the Rangers, knowing that Avery would be claimed on re-entry.
discussion:
Puck Daddy: Free Sean Avery! But not before he plays on pink ice this weekend in AHL
Eye On Hockey / CBSsports.com: Report: Interest in Avery goes up, but no waivers
FanNation.com: Sather keeping Avery in limbo
Blueline Station: Mystery NHL Teams Want Sean Avery On Re-Entry Waivers
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ICINGS:

NY Rangers:
Three Blueshirts going to All-Star Game -- Rangers sending Gaborik, Lundqvist, and first-timer Girardi to Ottawa

GM Talk

Since we have no clue what the Rangers' Stealth GM, Glen Sather, does we have to go elsewhere to look behind the curtain and see what NHL GM's really do.

Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Brian Burke, was interviewed by Sophia Jurksztowicz, of TheScore.com and during their conversation he provides a fascinating look at the life of an NHL GM.

The topics they discuss include the barn fight in Lake Placid that he was going to have with with then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe. They also talk about officiating, trades, ice time for players, off-ice activities, his son, and his take on gay rights and homophobic slurs in hockey.

Burke is a strong supporter of gay rights and he attended the 2009 Toronto Gay Pride Parade with his son Brendan Burke, who was gay. On February 5, 2010, Brendan died, at age 21, from injuries suffered in a car accident in Indiana. Brian Burke also participated in the 2010 and 2011 Toronto Gay Pride Parades.

By the way, Glen Sather gets mentioned a couple of times during the conversation.



via TheScore.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rangers Win Shootout Yawner

For sixty minutes they bored the hell out of me. Except for the goaltending, this wasn't a well played game, for sixty minutes. The OT and the shootout raised the game to another level. The Rangers won the shootout as Stepan and Gaborik outgunned Vrbata for a 2-1 victory. Vrbata had tied the game with 8:23 left.

The OT brought some dramatics as Gaborik was awarded a dubious penalty shot, no histrionics by the anointed coach. Gaborik made some beautiful moves but goalie Mike Smith made a sensational stick save to send the game into the shootout. Lundqvist was good with 18 saves including 5 out of 6 in the shootout. Mike Smith was outstanding with 31 saves even though he blew two of six shootout shots.

So now would you believe the Rangers are atop the NHL with 58 points, one ahead of Vancouver and we have four games in hand on the Canucks. More significant is the three point lead over the big bad Bruins of Boston. We haven't played the Bruins yet and they have a game in hand on us.

There was one power play in the game and the Rangers got it and blew it. There was a nonsensical fight between Rupp and Bissonnette, the type that gives the NHL a bad name. It was contrived. Sam said it went back to the previous meeting of the two teams. That was eons ago. Rupp further distinguished himself by igniting the 'Yotes tying goal with a 'beautiful' drop pass that led to Vrbata's tying goal. Rupp got all of 7:39 of ice time. And Sean Avery sits in Hartford.

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ICINGS:
Feds Hat


Blueshirts United:
There were plenty of heroes wearing the Rangers sweater Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, not the least of which were shootout stars Henrik Lundqvist, Derek Stepan, and Marian Gaborik. However the team's Broadway Hat ended up on the head of a player who played an extremely strong two-way game Tuesday, but who did not take part in the shootout.

Veteran winger Ruslan Fedotenko was presented the Broadway Hat following the game after scoring his sixth goal of the season---the only goal scored by the Blueshirts through 65 minutes against Mike Smith---while playing a very effective game on the forecheck along with linemates Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NHL as 'No Hit League' Marchand's Forward

Has the suspension of Boston forward Brad Marchand for five games for 'clipping' Sami Salo of Vancouver put the NHL firmly on the path to full Euro style, 'no hit' hockey?

Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent. (see the full rule below)

Many Boston fans see the Marchand hit not as a clip, but as a clean hip check. For example, they say:

Johnny Bucyk was a master of the hip check, and also a two-time Lady Bing winner, but if his hip checks were judged by this standard he'd be considered a goon.
Brendon Shanahan explains in the following NHL video why Marchand was suspended for five games because of the hit.
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Brad Marchand's hit on Sami Salo and Mason Raymond's hit on Brad Marchand side by side. Referee Dan O'Rourke was involved in both of these games.


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Stanley Cup of Chowder:
Marchand Suspended 5 Games: Did the NHL Hurt Itself With This Decision? --
This week started off in rough fashion for the Bruins as disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan announced that Marchand’s hit on Sami Salo during Saturday's game warranted a five-game suspension for the young winger. Shanahan reasoned that because the shot was a dangerous, avoidable, predatory, from a repeat offender, and, at the end of the day, clipping. While others claim Marchand deserves the punishment and that the ruling is just, the call is still gutless. Beyond that, this ruling is the setup for horrible precedent. And as we all know, the league's actions going forward are to be performed in a manner that is set by the precedent it has made with prior cases...

This precedent leads us to two saddening conclusions:

1. We're seeing the transition of the NHL game from a North American style of hockey to a European style of hockey. No longer will hitting, fighting or being hard-nosed describe the sport; they are to be replaced by working the referees, finesse games and the really thin guy from the original Nintendo Ice Hockey game...
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Big Bad Blog:
Suspended Brad Marchand responds to Alain Vigneault’s ‘threatening’ comments, Kevin Bieksa --
As for the rule that the hit was “clipping” — which is the act of taking a player out across or below the knees — Marchand still disagrees with both the officials and Shanahan, who called it such in the video explaining the situation.

“We brought it up,” Marchand said of letting the disciplinarian know his stance on the hit. “Clipping is what I believe it says when you hit the guy at the knee point, around the knee. We felt it was very clear in the video I got him right on the buttocks and it seemed very clear on the video that was the case. Maybe he viewed it differently and at the end of the day he makes the call.”
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Boston Herald:
Brad Marchand frustrated by sentence --
What was frustrating for Marchand was that he felt he had clearance to do what he did, not just because there were numerous other instances of similar hits in previous seasons that were not penalized, but because he made a point of asking NHL director of safety Brendan Shanahan about those type of instances when Shanahan was in town last month.

“I’m a small guy, I play low to the ice and that’s a way that I’ve protected myself in the past and I just felt it was better safe than sorry,” Marchand said. “I brought it up to him and when I walked away from the conversation, he told me protecting yourself is OK in that situation. When that situation arose, I felt I was protecting myself and I was allowed to do it. That’s why I did it.” ...
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NHL.com:
Rule 44 - Clipping --
44.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent.

A player may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s knees.

An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player or goalkeeper who may or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees.

44.2 Minor Penalty - A player who commits these fouls will be assessed a minor penalty for “clipping.”

44.3 Major Penalty - If an injury occurs as a result of this “clipping” check, the player must be assessed a major penalty (see 44.5).

44.4 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by clipping.

44.5 Game Misconduct Penalty - A game misconduct penalty must be assessed anytime a major penalty is applied for injuring an opponent by clipping.

44.6 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for clipping, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Beantown Brawl

Boston played Vancouver yesterday at TD Garden in Boston and things got heated. The hard feelings from last year's tight seven game Stanley Cup finals quickly surfaced. When it was all done, 107 penalty minutes were assessed during the game, including 48 minutes in the first four minutes of the game. Vancouver ended up scoring 4 power play goals out of 11 opportunities and won the game 4 to 3. Boston went 0-for-7 on their power play opportunities.

Many observers believe that Vancover lost the Stanley Cup to Boston last year because of their woeful power play performance. Going into last year's Cup series, Vancouver was considered the superior squad on special teams, especially on power plays. But that wasn't the case in the Cup finals, Boston scored five power play goals to Vancouver only getting two power play goals in 30+ opportunities.

So the Canucks ended up scoring twice as many power play goals yesterday than they did in all of last season's seven game Stanley Cup finals.

The moral of this story is that the Rangers will need their power play to at least keep pace with their opponents if the want to go very far in the playoffs. Also, Boston will be a very difficult opponent to get past.

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Hockey Fights.com:
Dale Weise vs Nathan Horton --
Results:
Dale Weise   38.8%
Nathan Horton   38.3%
Draw           23.0%
From 196 votes with an average rating of 7.2
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Related stories:

NHL.com:
NHL rescinds game misconduct to Lucic --
The Game Misconduct penalty assessed to Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic during NHL Game #598 this afternoon in Boston has been rescinded, National Hockey League Senior Vice President and Director of Officiating Terry Gregson announced today.

Lucic was assessed a Game Misconduct 3:54 into the first period for violating National Hockey League Rule 70.1 – Leaving the Bench. However, a video review of the incident revealed that Lucic did not leave the bench to join or start an altercation but rather had entered the ice legally over the boards and was about to step back onto the bench through the door when he changed course and joined a scrum...
Canucks Hockey Blog:
Did Lucic leave the bench to join in a line brawl? --
 I’m confused about the NHL quickly rescinding Milan Lucic’s game misconduct after the Canucks’ 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins.

The league is apparently saying that Lucic was on a legal line change, and thus was allowed to be on the ice while the line brawl was happening. But I have a couple of issues with this...
Puck Daddy:
Bruins, Canucks get chippy; suspensions coming for Lucic, Marchand? --
There was no love lost between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks this afternoon in their rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final that ended in a 4-3 win for the visitors. The opening four minutes of the game featured 40 minutes in penalties, a line brawl and a potential suspension coming for Milan Lucic...
Kuklas Korner:
Canucks Battle Bruins to a 4-3 Win --
Within the first four minutes of the start of the game, we had an old-fashion line brawl...
Bruins Blog: Analyzing Bruins-Canucks showdown
Boston Herald: Marchand’s in trouble

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Talk to the Royal Glove

The Pittsburgh Pens are were only able to talk to the King's glove hand last night and not much else. Henrik Lundqvist slapped a very good Pens team with his royal goalie glove and stopped 37 of 38 shots to lead a sporadic Rangers team to a 3-1 win.

The Rangers picked their spots to be good. Tortorella to his credit called an early time-out to wake up the team from their sluggish start for this back-to-back game.

I will have to get used to and enjoy the "finding a way to win" cliche that we hear every almost every night now. At least for 9 of the last 10 games. It's not such a bad thing to hear and who's going to complain? Certainly not me.

Henrik, we are not worthy. Have a great day!

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 05:43 EV PIT B.Lovejoy(1) C.Adams(5) J.Vitale(7)
2 1 18:17 EV NYR Richards(15) Dubinsky(16) McDonagh(13)
3 2 03:09 SH NYR Dubinsky(5) Callahan(17) Girardi(12)
4 3 01:20 EV NYR D.Stepan(9) unassisted

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ICINGS:

Blueshirts United:
The Rangers don't plan on retiring the Broadway Hat any time soon because they plan to win quite a few more games the rest of this season. But the team may want to place that hat permanently on the head of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who earned the Broadway Hat yet again following friday night's 3-1 win in Pittsburgh.

Lundqvist not only made 36 saves on Friday, including 13 each in thes econd and third periods, he steadied his weary team that was playing on back-to-back night against a better rested opponent. When the Rangers uncharacteristically faltered defensively during the game, Lundqvist was extremely sharp in holding a gifted Penguins team at bay. As a result Lundqvist earned his sixth straight victory, and he has now held the opposition to two goals or fewer in nine of his last ten starts.

"If you want to be a top team in this league you have to expect a lot from everybody," Lundqvist explained after the game. "You have to challenge each other. And that's what we are doing here. We are building a winning identity, just like Boston and Detroit, teams that have been solid for years. And with me, it starts with my battle level. I want to compete hard out there."

Lundqvist shared after the game that he was using new equipment on Friday, and that he wa sparticularly pleased with his positioning and the play of his glove hand, which was tested often by the Pens.
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Things are not all well in Pens land regarding Sid Crosby. Win or lose reading the Pens blog is always fun. I don't know another blog that puts as much energy and emotion into their posts.

Pens Blog:
RECAP: Tighten your buttcheeks. PENS LOSE.
We really don't know what to say. As we have all learned over the past year, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. During the day Friday, some disheartening Crosby rumors started filtering out. People associated with the Pens came out and peed on the rumors. But it's disheartening to everyone that Crosby is in the position where a rumor stating he won't return this season is even entertained.

Then came the third period Friday night. Satan sat down on his couch and spun the Pens Injury Wheel. And it landed on Jordan Staal....

Then came the Pens goal that got called back. A clear case of interference. Henrik Lundqvist was stopping everything. If Kunitz doesn't interfere with him, King Henrik makes that save. Flip the situation, and never in a million years would you think that goal should count if MAF is the one getting interfered with. There's nothing at all wrong with being a homer, but objectivity has to be brought into the equation somewhere or else you'll go insane. Objectivity is in our blood. That rule is one of the most consistently correct calls made on a nightly basis.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Gabby Lights Up Bubba


Marian Gaborik had just scored the game winning goal, his 23rd so it was no big deal as the sniper has lit the lamp 329 times in his NHL career. However, tell me how many goal scorers have lit up an ex-President? You saw it in living color, an exuberant Gabby and an equally excited Bubba. Bill Clinton hasn't been this happy or excited since his White House days, or was it nights?

The Rangers continue to roll, amazing us fans and probably themselves. They have won eight of nine, and are 25-9-4 and sit 4 points over the Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division. Would you believe that the Rangers are the top team in the NHL with 54 points, one point ahead of the steamrollers from Boston? Only an epic collapse could stop this team from having a truly successful season.

Another key player who should not be overlooked is Marty Biron. Yes, he gave up a soft goal to Santorelli, which led to a camera shot of coach disagreeable in a contorted facial expression, but overall he was solid, with 19 saves. He improved his record to 8-2, a GAA of 2.06 and a save % of .921. Not bad for a backup.

Another big one tonight against the Penguins, but the Rangers have risen to meet every challenge and whatever the results tonight the team seems to be heading in the right direction and barring some unforeseen injury should finish among the top teams. Looking forward to the first encounter against the big bad Bruins. Notice that three of the division leaders are original six teams.

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 04:16 EV FLA M.Goc(3) Samuelsson(6) Bradley(4)
2 1 17:44 EV NYR Stralman(1) Fedotenko(7)
3 3 04:24 PP NYR Callahan(14) Richards(16) Girardi(11)
4 3 05:00 EV FLA Santorelli(5) Campbell(29) Samuelsson(7)
5 OT 03:29 EV NYR Gaborik(23) Stephan(18) Del Zotto(18)

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ICINGS:

I erred last time in talking about my little friend Jake Feldman. His bone marrow transplant is scheduled for January 24th. So please if you get a chance say a prayer for Jake and hope that this procedure gives him a chance at a normal life.
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The Straw Hat:

Anton Stralman wears the Broadway Hat after scoring his first goal as a New York Ranger

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I'm truly amazed that my good friend and wonderful blogger, the Hockey Rodent, has started a fund to pay coach disagreeable's fine. The man has slandered the integrity of the refs, the NHL and a broadcasting network, NBC, and is lucky he wasn't suspended. It isn't the first time. It's the third time he has been slapped for inappropiate comments.

Sean Avery made a foolish comment about one of his girlfriends and the political correctness police jumped for his throat. One of his biggest critics was said coach disagreeable, who claimed that Avery didn't belong in the NHL. Well, mission accomplished, he doesn't.

So now we have this arrogant, egomanical coach who decides how long press conferences run. Who decides what is discussed and has the press acting like puppy dogs at his feet. I've seen many a hockey game in my lifetime. Perhaps too many. I have seen some of the most atrocious calls made. I have never believed that the refs were biased one way or another though I do admit that at times Kerry Fraser tried my patience. Are some incompetent? Yes. Crooked? I doubt it. So my good friend Rodent, no money from this guy, my family's too big. I'll still read you and enjoy your articles, but on this issue we part ways.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

“That Third Period was Disgusting.”

You may love John Tortorella or hate him, as a person or as a coach, but you cannot for one moment ever say that he is dishonest. From his comments on Sean Avery to HBO to the Winter Classic, he speaks his mind. You may not agree with him, but you know where he stands. To John’s credit, knowing he faced a fine or suspension, he questioned the integrity of the officiating at the end of the Winter Classic. In raising the issue, he spoke for many of us who saw exactly what he saw – officials trying to create overtime.

Tortorella pointed to four key moments in the critical last few minutes of the game.  The first was the non-call on the blatant spearing of Gaborik in the stomach (taking away a good scoring opportunity), followed by the delay of game against McDonagh, the holding the stick against Callahan, and the penalty shot of covering the puck with the hand against McDonagh.

No one has questioned that Tortorella was right that Gaborik was pitch-forked and a penalty was warranted. No one has questioned that McDonagh did not delay the game; that he was pushed into the net. All one can say in defense of the Refs is that non-calls at the end of a close game happen and that mistakes occur.

If the "mistakes" ended here, we could have a nice debate about how to be consistent the Refs should have made two non-calls or how dumb they were. But it did not end here.

Let’s go to the video tape.

First, let’s look at the Callahan call. At 0:08 he plays the puck against the wall with the intent to avoid a sweep check and recover the puck. At 0:12 Timonen is hooking Callahan with the stick firmly above the forearm at the elbow. At 0:13 the forearm is lowered by Callahan to avoid the hook and he is clearly leaning forward – he is past the defender. He is not grabbing the stick to embellish. At 0:14 his forearm is raised as his body is pulled backwards because he is being hooked to the ice. At 0:16 his body is being twisted by the hook – he is not holding anything as the stick blade is at his throat.


There is no question that at 0:13 Callahan had an unobstructed path to the net. This should have been a Ranger’s penalty shot.   It was not an awarded goal because Callahan did not have possession.
Rule 25.1 Awarded Goal – A goal will be awarded to the attacking team when the opposing team has taken their goalkeeper off the ice and an attacking player has possession and control of the puck in the neutral or attacking zone on, without a defending player between himself and the opposing goal, and he is prevented from scoring as a result of an infraction committed by the defending team.” It was a penalty shot as he clearly would have obtained possession. Rule 24.8 (iii) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (the fact that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and he was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded).

Second, let’s look at the penalty shot call.


You can plainly see in slow motion at 0:25-0:27 that McDonagh’s hands go over the puck and never touch it. He does not fall on the puck, or direct it with his hands. His leg slides the puck away from the crease. This is not a Penalty Shot.
67.4 Penalty Shot - If a defending player, except a goalkeeper, while play is in progress, falls on the puck, holds the puck, picks up the puck, or gathers the puck into his body or hands from the ice in the goal crease area, the play shall be stopped immediately and a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team.
Any one of these “errors” by the Refs alone is understandable. Two might be coincidence. Four is a pattern.

The NHL should be ashamed. As long as this blatant type of manipulation of the “game” is allowed, Hockey will continue to be viewed by the general public as “entertainment” much like the World Wresting Federation and not a sport like the NFL. If Tortorella is fined, then the Refs should be suspended. Of course, he will be fined - he will apologize and the Refs will not be suspended. And, we fans know why.
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ICINGS:

John Tortorella's official apology, issued today:
“I just want to get it straightened out. Regarding after the Winter Classic, the game and my press conference, first of all using the word ‘disgusting’ I don’t think was the proper way to go about it as far as talking about Dennis and Ian so I was wrong there. I was wrong there. Second of all, my tongue-in-cheek comments regarding NBC, the league, the refs as far as what’s come about here, people thinking was it fixed, are you trying to get it to overtime or that type of thinking, that was not even in my mind. They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time. It’s frustration on my part as far as the referees were concerned and how it was done at the end of the game. So please, I want to get that straight. Not for second, no way, time, shape or form, did I think anything like that goes on with our league, or ever will. For me to question the integrity of the league, the integrity of NBC, the integrity of Dennis and Ian, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers, go right down through all the people here, there’s not a chance I’m thinking that way. It was wrong with my sarcasm, with my frustration and I apologize to everybody involved. I want to make sure that’s straight that that was not my intent. I was unemotional during that press conference, I was frustrated with what went on and I certainly handled it the wrong way. Especially to the two refs, to Dennis and Ian, I’ve known them for a long time, they do a great job, it’s one of the toughest jobs in the game. For me to put them under a microscope in that type of setting, at the Classic, was wrong. I tainted the Classic with my mouth and I shouldn’t have so I apologize to everybody involved.

“I’ve had conversations with Colie on a number of things regarding this, yes. But have I talked to Dennis or Ian? I’m not going to do it on the phone, I’m going to do it face to face.

“Colie and I have had conversations yesterday and will continue today.

“Because I knew it was tongue in cheek in my mind, and the people that were there, at least, I thought they felt the same thing, no, I regret it but I don’t think it was going to turn into something like this. But it bothers me that I’m using the word ‘disgusting’ with the two guys because I really thought they reffed a good game. I had frustrations at the end and that’s what came out there. I’ve talked to everybody I can, including Paul Holmgren with the Flyers. That was a first-class operation, that Winter Classic and I screwed up with my mouth at the end and I regret and I apologized to the people all involved with that.”

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Winter Classic 2012 Photos

The 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers was held at Citizens Bank Park on January 2, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Henrik Lundqvist #30 stands alone during pre-game ceremonies
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Brayden Schenn #10 of the Flyers shoots the puck at Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the Rangers
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Danny Briere #48 tries to score on Henrik Lundqvist #30

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Marc Staal #18 of the NY Rangers skates against Maxime Talbot #27 and Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers

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Ryan Callahan #24 of the NY Rangers fights for the puck against Kimmo Timonen #44 of the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2012 NHL Winter Classic
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Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers raises his stick after scoring a goal in the third period against Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers
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Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates with Brandon Dubinsky #17 and Ryan Callahan #24 after scoring the Rangers' 3rd goal in the the third period against the Flyers
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The New York Rangers at Winter Classic practice on January 1st at Citizens Bank Park
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New York Rangers in dugout checking out the scene at Citizens Bank Park