Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rough Trade in a Nice Tux

Brandon Prust at NY Rangers Casino Night

FYI: The Tuxedo got its name from Tuxedo Park, New York.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rangers Bedevil Devils, Win 2-0

What goes around comes around. The NY Rangers out deviled the New Jersey Devils and won a yawner last night, 2-0. That was some painful hockey to watch. I had to force myself to hang in there and see if Hank could get his 8th shutout. That looked like the team's motive too. Just hang in there and no matter what, they were going to preserve the shutout for Henke. Pack it in, close it up, up tight, no shots for you.

Guess what the Rangers have become? The are now officially Shot Nazis. No shots for you, or for you too, or for us. Only 13 shots for the Devils, 15 for the Rangers in 60 minutes of professional NHL hockey. Jeez. Peewee hockey has more action than this.

The silver lining in this constipated ice jam fest is that it locks Lundqvist in for the Vezina Trophy. Put in those terms I think I can handle the truth. The Rangers are built around their best player. Protect the King at all costs and good things (wins) will come to thee.

NBC Sports executives are probably on the phone this morning complaining to Gary Bettman that about that game. Mike Milbury and his NBC commentating crew were clearly not too gaga over it. Welcome to late season Rangers' hockey NBC. We expect you will learn to appreciate the subtle points of Torts Torture if the Rangers go deep in the playoffs.

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1. Prust did not look like he was an eager combatant in his fight with Eric Boulton. I saw speculation that he might be injured. And that the Stealth brought in big defenseman John Scott,  6-8, 270-pounds, to add some toughness if Prust needs to go on the shelf. Giving up a fifth round pick in the 2012 draft isn't a very high price if Scott can contribute.

2. Captain Cally continues to impress. Super effort on both goals: the assist to Hagelin and then the hustle for the empty netter.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rangers Stand Pat, No Nash

No Rick Nash trade for Rangers

The Stealth GM stayed in stealth mode and decided not to make any big deals before the trade deadline. Tortorella said, "I like our team," and that belief certainly played a factor in the Rangers' decision not to spring for Nash.

Cross Checks blog / ESPN:
Nash stays with Blue Jackets --
With the Rangers bowing out of the Rick Nash sweepstakes on Sunday night, it was a pretty underwhelming trade deadline day for New York...

It now appears likely that Nash will be shopped again leading up to the draft this June by Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson...

The Rangers were one of a few teams on Nash’s approved list.

The potential acquisition of Nash was a polarizing one. Some feared that adding Nash at the cost of valuable young assets could disrupt an already-strong team chemistry. Others felt it could be the piece that could boost the Rangers to be Stanley Cup contenders.

Brandon Dubinsky, whose name surfaced in recent weeks as a potential trading chip to acquire Nash, said he didn't think he’d be dealt during the team’s morning skate at Madison Square Garden Monday.

"I know this team wants me. I know how much I want to be here. I’m pretty confident that at 3:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time that I’ll be a New York Ranger,” Dubinsky said Monday morning, about 4.5 hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Coach John Tortorella also expressed confidence in his team as currently comprised.

“I like our team,” Tortorella said...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cally Rally

Ryan Callahan showed up big last night scoring the 100th goal of his blooming Ranger career to give the Blueshirts a big 3-2 win in OT over the surging Sabres who are making a desperate run for a playoff birth. Marian Gaborik had tied the game with his team leading 29th of the year. The other so called biggies, Richards, Dubinsky and Boyle basically slept their way through the game. Trade bait anyone?

The Rangers cannot give a total team effort. While much is made of the outstanding defense, let's face it, Henrik Lundqvist is 90% of the Ranger defense. The win maintained the Rangers seven point lead and the one point brought Buffalo closer to 8th place. These three point games make everybody a playoff contender. So while you have a weak league you have a bunched up race where everyone looks like a contender. "I coulda been a contender."

Naturally all the news revolves around tomorrow's trade deadline. Also unless traded, Sean Avery seems doomed to a life on the bench at Hartford no less. This conspiracy started by coach disagreeable and abetted by The Stealth and the coaches in Hartford is unconscionable. Where is the players union in this? Where is the blame stream media in this? A player is being denied of a chance to ply his trade and no one speaks up. However, don't expect an uproar of sorts. Sean Avery is an easy mark and no one will champion his cause.

The Rangers are a lifeless, faceless team save for Henrik Lundqvist. Avery brings life, grit, talent and character something very lacking in this team especially behind the bench. Wake up Stealth and do the right thing. Free Avery. Let him go.

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via HockeyFights.com

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Islanders 'Out Shoot' Rangers

After last night's debacle it might be more difficult for The Stealth to pull off a trade for Rick Nash. It was a game where no Ranger was particularly impressive. The game did prove that the Rangers need Nash and maybe a tougher more surer defenseman. It was a game where one team, the Islanders, needed the game and the other, the Rangers, wanted the game. The needy team beat the greedy team.

Fortunately, the Rangers are still seven points up on their closest rival and the Islanders moved to within six points of the last playoff spot. Hmmm. The Islanders in eighth place playing the first place Rangers. The Pundit does not like that matchup. For the second game in a row Marty Biron put the Rangers behind the eight ball giving up two questionable goals. He has given up three goals in each of his last four starts. With 23 games to go is it time to let Lundqvist carry the load the rest of the way?

The Rangers are 1-2-1 in their last four and look like a tired team. Their offense is, well it's offensive. Staal scored the first goal on a cheating Nabokov. Gaborik was sprung for a breakaway goal and Stepan scored on as beautiful a cue shot you will ever see, the puck bouncing off of three Islander players. So there is no systematic offense. Its all helter skelter.

The all knowing, all wise coach says the team is sloppy right now. What a surprise. A team that has relied on a kamikazi defense in front of a rock solid goalie is now tired and sloppy. The warts are starting to show. Girardi recorded 30:04. McDonagh was right behind at 29:14. You think they are just as efficient in the later minutes of the game? Boyle and Dubinsky got over 17 minutes each. What did either accomplish? On the other end of the spectrum Rupp got his 6 plus minutes and no fight tonight. Why is he on the team? He is on the team so that Sean sits in Hartford. Fatso is happy that Sean is in Hartford.

So now the pressure is on The Stealth to revive this team with a blockbuster trade or two. You think we have as many indispensables today that we had three weeks ago? I don't think so. Remember when we traded guys like Mike Gartner and Tony Amonte to get the role players to win the Cup? However, we don't need role players. We need a big tough forward and a big tough defenseman so that when one of our guys get cheap shoted we retaliate, on the ice, at that time. It's time some things changed in Rangerland. Now is the time. Strike Stealth, strike.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Penned Out

The Rangers played their third poor game in a row and maybe it's time for the flags to go up. It's definitely time to revisit acquiring Rick Nash. The offense is awful. There is no sustained attack and the power play which had shown some life is now 0-12 after going 0-3 last night. The Rangers have scored five goals in the last three games. They mustered 27 shots on goal against Marc-Andre Fleury, who with the shutout tied all time great Pens goalie Tom Barasso for the most franchise shutouts, twenty-two.

After the game the big topic of discussion was the big giveaway by Michael Del Zotto, which was duly expounded on by coach disagreeable. Yes, it lead to the first goal by Evgeni Malkin, but the Rangers never scored and Fleury didn't have to make any big saves. The shots were all pedestrian, nothings, nada, zilch. You get the point. But this is what you get with a philosophy that says play for the shootout and Lundqvist will get the W. What happens in the playoffs coach?

So now the Rangers are seven points ahead of the hard charging Devils. A trap game against the Islanders is on deck on the Island Friday. Then it's Buffalo at home Saturday night and the Devils at MSG on Monday. Monday is also the trade deadline. Nash would sure look good right now and Nash for Dubinsky and Del Zotto looks reasonable. Also, Sean Avery back in the lineup against the Islanders and especially the Devils would look awfully good to put some life into this lifeless team.

The pressure is starting to build, especially on Lundqvist. He has been wonderful all year. Can he hold up? Can the defense hold up? Can Girardi and McDonagh keep pushing the 30 minute ice time without their game suffering? We have a one dimensional coach, defense. He has no clue how the offense works and his style of play, block shots at all costs, while effective at times, takes great risks for the players. The next five days should be interesting.

Go get Nash or stand pat? Bring up Avery or trade him?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rangers Beat Columbus 3-2 in OT, and 10 Things I Learned on Hockey Weekend

Anyone watch all the 9+ hours of hockey that was on the tube Sunday as part of Hockey Weekend Across America (HWAA)? I watched more than I should have. Here are some things that I learned yesterday.

1. The NHL does not have its act together.

Who would have guessed? Come on dimwits, sync your damn clocks correctly. Michael Del Zotto's goal at the end of the second period should have been good with 0.01 seconds remaining. I don't know where the NHL knuckleheads get their time outsourced from, but the MSG television feed that is synced with the official scoreboard clock seems like a good place to start. That MSG video and time stamp was perfectly acceptable and accurate in Phoenix for the Brad Richards 0.01 game winner, but not last night?

New NHL Headquarters: has back-up war room

Inside look at the NHL war room in Toronto

2. Michael Del Zotto is playing much better hockey in 2012. His assist to Derek Stephan for the OT game winner was a beautiful coup de gra from the Stouffville d-man.



3. Tim Thomas has cracks in his armor this season. Rau's goal against Thomas in Minnesota's 2-0 win over the Bruins was a beauty.

4. Jed Ortmeyer has made it back to the NHL. He's dishing out hits for Minnesota. Go Jed.

5. Brooks Orpik the Pens defenseman is named after hockey coach Herb Brooks. Orpik's mom said okay to the Brooks, no to Herb.

6. The Shattuck-Saint Mary's School in Minnesota is a hockey factory. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Derek Stephan are all alumni.

7. The Long Island Royals Under-16 Midget team has a pretty good coach.

8. There have been something like 170+ NHL coaching changes since Lindy Ruff become head coach of the Sabres in 1997 and he isn't going down without a fight. Sabres beat Pens, 6-2.

9.  Players looking for big contracts play their best hockey in New York. I think I already knew that.

10. Hockey is a great sport, and only getting better.


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Also learned that Kate Upton has become very popular on the internet for good reason.

click pic for the Kate Upton dancing gif

YouTube: more Kate Upton dancing

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blackhawks 4, Rangers 2: Sloppy Loss

"Don't blame Marty," was John Tortorella's statement after the Rangers lost a sloppy 4-2 game to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. Tortorella is the proverbial bus driver, and he gets to pick and choose, who gets thrown under the Rangers' bus. It's a skill set that he has refined, but has not had to use too frequently during this winning streak. Last night the mini-Machiavelli decided that throwing the team's backup goaltender under the bus, would not be a wise thing to do.

Torts read in this situation is correct. You don't want to shatter the confidence of a key player by saying or doing anything that jeopardizes his future performances. Perhaps Torts remembers how quickly 'Big Bird' backup goalie, Steve Valiquette, fell apart in November 2009. Valiquette was gone shortly after letting in 8 goals against Pittsburgh on November 28th, 2009. His record at the time was 2-3-1. It's hard to remember what Torts did or said when Big Bird broke bad, but Valiquette lost his confidence and his game very quickly. A few bad periods and he was gone to Hartford. It's a tad worrisome that Biron's play the last few games has been eerily Valiquette-shaky.

The good news, I guess, is that Biron shook off a horrible first period, where couldn't stop a volley ball. The last two periods are a welcome positive and reflect on a mental toughness this team has. They have not let bad play snowball into something worse. Confidence is a precious commodity, especially for a backup goalie, who sees infrequent action. So, we will give Marty a mulligan, and go with the party line. It was the defense that was sloppy and put Marty in the soup.

You can't argue with the fact, that the fate of this team depends heavily the play of the defense. Last night they had one of their few bad games. However, both Rangers goals also were directly due to defensive players doing the heavy lifting. Eminger set up Staal for the Rangers' first goal in the 2nd period. And McDonagh's nifty move up the left sets up Hagelin's score in the 3rd period. So the defense taketh away and then giveth.

In fact, Ryan McDonagh has been more of an offensive force than Brad Richards in the last three games. McDonagh has two goals and an assist, Richards has been shut out. That leads to the question, what's up with Brad Richards? Some games he just disappears and looks lost in the sauce. Last night, he almost coughed up a break away, while on a late power play.

Anyway, last night was very forgettable, and that is what we will do. That is our skill set, forgetting stuff.

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Our favorite fashionista, Sean Avery, is still out and about despite working in Connecticut. He hates wedges (women's shoes). He also day dreams about being a TriBeCa housewife? I guess playing in Hartford will do that to a man.

Matthew Lynch / Women's Wear Daily:
Sean Avery in the Neutral Zone --
Sean Avery, once and perhaps future National Hockey League agitator without equal, was in the big airy loft he rents in a SoHo walk-up one recent morning just back from spin class and considering its clientele.

“I would really like to come back as a TriBeCa housewife,” Avery says, halfway into a neatly tailored chalk-striped gray wool suit...
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Shinan Govani / National Post:
Sean Avery is cutting wedge --
Sean Avery has pretty strong feelings about women’s shoes. Very strong feelings...

A fatwa! On wedges! He ain’t kidding. The own-drum-marching hockey dude, turning his attention to flats, then opined, “The flat is a great thing, it actually does the opposite of the wedge...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Henrik The Great!

It's hard for the Rangers to get press in New York what with all that Linsanity that is going on with the other team that plays in MSG. In fact, the New York Post has superman on both the front page and the back page of its paper this morning. But it is truly deserving. Lin has energized the Knick fans and in fact has energized pro basketball.

However, the Rangers have their own super star. Henrik Lundqvist right now sits on top of the hockey world. His stats are amazing. Last night he stoned the Bruins with 42 saves in recording his 7th shutout of the season in a 3-0 win that put the Bruins nine points behind the Rangers for first place in the Eastern Conference. Lundqvist leads all goalies in shutouts (7), save % (.941), is second in GAA (1.77) and fourth in wins, (27). The analysts on NHL Network have already proclaimed him the winner of the Vezina Trophy.

However, NHL Network's biggest news last night was the fact that the Red Wings won their 21st consecutive home game. The Red Wings are leading the NHL in total points. They have 80 points to the Rangers 79. So we are heading on a collision course for a rematch for the Stanley Cup for the two original six teams. Rematch? Yes. Rematch from the infamous 1950 Cup Finals when the Red Wings beat us 4 games to 3. I, 'er we, have to avenge that and the only way to do it is to win the seventh game at Joe Louis arena. I'll even take coach disagreeable skating around with the Cup.

The Bruins poured 79 shots at Lundqvist, 42 on net. The Rangers had one power play and they scored on it. Callahan got it. McDonagh and Anisimov scored the other two goals. If the Rangers keep it up maybe they yet may make the back page of the NY Post. Just maybe. Just keep linning guys, just keep linning!

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update:

Looking closely at the sheet music in the YouTube video from the 1992 pre-game show indicates that the lyrics on the Rangers' website are the correct ones. John Amirante definitely sang the third line of the Rangers' Victory Song incorrectly. He sang, "It's plain as they could be," instead of the correct, "It's plain as day to see." I think we need a do over.

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Rangers.NHL.com:
The Rangers' Victory Song --
The "Rangers Victory Song" was written in 1940 by J. Fred Coots in tribute to the team that finished the 1939-40 season as Stanley Cup champions. He officially dedicated the song to "Lester Patrick and the New York Rangers."
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Lyrics:
Listen to the cheering of the people in the stands
Twenty Thousand hockey bugs and each a Ranger fan!
It's plain as day to see*
They want a victory!
All together now strike up the band!

Chorus
Just keep your stick on that puck
And don't lay down on your luck;
That's the Rangers' Victory Song!
Get through the enemy's goal
With all your heart and your soul;
That's the Rangers' Victory Song!

You've got to fight, Rangers fight
With a grin on your chin!
Tonight is the night
So get in there and win!

This game is worth any price;
Go out and put it on ice
That's the Rangers' Victory Song!
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* note: I noticed that the 3rd line of the song on the Rangers' website is different from the one John Amirante sings. Amirante sings: "It's plain as they could be," instead of "It's plain as day to see." Did Amirante make a mistake? The written lyrics sound more appropriate.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Predators Beat Bruins for PeeWee & Bantam Title

I missed Sunday's matinee against the Caps for a good reason. I was at The Rinx in Hauppauge, Long Island, New York watching my grandson, Nicholas, and his team, the Predators, face off against the Bruins for the PeeWee and Bantam Championship. Before a big and noisy crowd the Predators shutout the Bruins 6-0 to win the championship game.

The Predators were dominant throughout against a feisty Bruins team. Is this a portend of what's to come with the Rangers against the Bruins? The five Predator forwards were relentless with their forechecking and swarming around the net. All five racked up points with the goal scorers being Charlie, Tommy and Mike. The other two forwards Tony and Alex were constantly around the net.

The defense was rock solid. The pairings were Sam and Nick and the other pair was John and Dan. They were rock solid in front of goalie Heather, who recorded the shutout with a multitude of saves. The defense was also solid on offense working the points to perfection, keeping the puck in the Bruins' zone.

The third period was chippy with numerous penalties called. There were two, four minute, penalties called, one against each team. Both for excessive boarding. Nicholas was nailed with a hard charging hit while skating with his head down. A two minute PP was given the Predators and Nicholas bounced right back up. The Predators scored on the ensuing PP. The penalties were so frequent that at one time the Predators had a four on three.

Number one son, Michael, was the coach ably assisted by Bill. All in all a very satisfactory and fun day watching these young kids on both the Predators and Bruins put on a lively contest. Well done guys.

Buildup to Bruins


Tonight's game looms big. The Rangers travel to Beantown to face the big bad Bruins. This will be the second of four games this year. The Blueshirts want to keep the momentum going and build on their 3-2 overtime win over the B's back on January 21st. The Bruins are simply looking for revenge.

Should be a good one. Let's ruin the Bruins.

A round-up of some pre-game stuff.

Brian Monzo / CBS New York:
Get Ready For An Epic Rangers-Bruins Part 2 --
Call me crazy, but for once I am expecting the Rangers to go into a game and kick the living heck out of their opponent.

The Rangers and Bruins, the two top teams in the Eastern Conference, are headed toward a head-on collision — and tonight is going to be epic. The Rangers are coming off a weekend sweep of the Flyers and Capitals, and I think we may be looking at the Blueshirts finding a chance to really put a pounding on a team...
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Douglas Flynn / NESN:
B's Look for Revenge in Rematch with Rangers After Bitter Overtime Defeat in New York's Last Visit --
But on Tuesday [the Bruins] will face an even bigger challenge in trying to proving that they are truly back on track as East-leading New York pays a visit to TD Garden before the Bruins hit the road for a season-high six-game road trip...
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Stan Fischler / MSG.com:
Claude Julien’s Bruins are playing at a non-champion’s pace but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Unlike the defending champion Blackhawks last season – scary at this time last year – there’s no fear in Boston about making the playoffs. But there’s still concern about the fallout from the Tim Thomas’ White House boycott and the manner in which it has affected the Bs on-ice play. From time to time, statements must be made about team quality and on Tuesday such a statement game will be played in Beantown. It’s the supercharged Rangers visiting Boston and if ever there was a clash-of-the-season, this is it. New York is playing as if hellbent for the Stanley Cup Finals and another win will merely underline that point. By contrast, the match will be an occasion for Thomas & Co. to once and for all demonstrate that the Champs still have the goods
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ESPN:
Rangers-Bruins: Mind the Net --
Two of the top goaltenders in the NHL face off at TD Garden on Valentine's Day when the Bruins host the Rangers...
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Steve Zipay / Newsday:
Rangers visit Boston in Eastern Conference showdown --
Brandon Prust, whose shorthanded goal was the difference Sunday against the Capitals, expects the Bruins to battle. "When you win a couple of big games, and we've been rolling pretty good, it's always good momentum," he said. "But it's a whole new start going up against one of the best teams in the league."
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A clip from the Washington Capitals vs San Jose Sharks game last night. Dan Boyle's shot from the red line is tipped by Joe Pavelski, and the Caps goalie, Braden Holtby fumbles the puck as it slips in. The Caps ended up losing the game 5-3.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rangers Toe Down Caps

It was ”just a tweak” had to be one of the best pieces of news coming out of today's 3-2 win over the Capitals. Seeing Ryan McDonagh go down very awkwardly after his beautiful toe drag and goal, followed by getting helped off the ice was a stomach churning minute. Then learning later after the game that McDonagh said about the tweak, “I’m trying to not make a big deal of it. I’m O.K,” was a sweet cherry on top of a great matinee win.

Captain Cally, who scored his fifth goal in 3 games, is coming up huge in this strong mid-winter stretch. This has been when our Rangers have shown an uncanny ability in the recent past to go into hibernation. But not this year. It helps that Cally is getting a little help from his friends.

Did you notice that once again the offensive secret sauce was the defense, which was a part of every Rangers' goal. Besides McDonagh's goal, Staal and Stralman each had an assist.

Lundqvist as usual brought his super solid, steady, Vezina-caliber game. He stopped 26 of 28 shots. He is now 6-1-0 in his last seven games. He leads the league in save percentage, at .939, and is second in GAA, at 1.81, etc, etc.

Dubinsky with a couple of assists, shows that he still wants to be part of the Rangers mix. Do you think he's heard any of the trade talk?

Seeing Brandon Prust get a his first goal since October 20th was a fun jump out of your seat moment. Tortorella's comments after the game echoed that Rangerland feeling:

“Did he [Prust] get the Broadway Hat?” Coach John Tortorella asked after the game. Told that the player-awarded honor for hustle and guts went to Ryan McDonagh, who also scored, Tortorella replied, “Pruster should’ve gotten the hat.” He also called Prust “a real easy guy to root for.” 
Plus, Boyle and Richards contributing assists rounded out a very balanced offensive attack by our Bluehirts.

Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 11:01 EV NYR Callahan(22) Stralman(8) Richards(22)
2 2 06:31 EV WSH Semin(15) Chimera(11) Carlson(20)
3 2 13:21 EV NYR McDonagh(5) Boyle(10) Dubinsky(17)
4 3 06:26 SH NYR Prust(3) Dubinsky(18) Staal(1)
5 3 17:32 EV WSH Carlson(7) Ovechkin(21) Hamrlik(7)

The Blueshirt playoff express is rolling down the tracks and woe to anyone who is standing in the way. Coming through.
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Mac Hat


BlueShirts United: Mac's First Broadway Hat --
It was quite the eventful afternoon Sunday at The Garden for Ryan McDonagh. He scored his first goal since December 1st---a span of 32 games, logged a team-high 25:23 worth of ice-time, blocked a team-high 5 shots, and seemingly suffered a bad knee injury after scoring his goal 13:21 into the second period.

Fortunately McDonagh just "tweaked" the knee after shifting his weight and blasting his shot past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, and was able to quickly return to action after a visit to the trainer's room.

When all was said and done, McDonagh also had earned his first Broadway Hat of the season...
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McDonagh toe drag



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How to toe drag:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yep. You Really Can't Beat Us!

I used to think that the Flyers couldn't beat us because they had weak goaltending. Judging by the last couple of games I think it is their defense that sucks! The Rangers put up another five spot on the Flyers and would you believe our PP did a Lazerus and scored three PP goals in seven attempts. Ryan Callahan got a hat trick , Gaborik a goal and three assists and Brad Richards continued his fine play with three big assists.

There was the usually feistiness when these two teams meet. Fights, there were a few, plus a ton of misconducts. I don't know why the Flyers bother to dress Tom Sestito. He had 24 minutes in penalties and was on the ice for all of 4:24. He had no shots, got two hits as the Rangers outhit the Flyers 37-33. The Flyers outshot us 33-26 but Lundqvist was brilliant, again, with 31 saves and was spectacular in the second period stopping 17 of 18 shots.

So with one more game against each other the Rangers are up 5 games to zero. I just hope we don't meet them in the playoffs. Remember 1994 when we swept the board against the Devils and then went to seven in the playoffs. So this Ranger team continues to move forward and we may be in the process of developing the special players we will need to make a strong playoff push. Stranger things have happened.

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I think we need a new Ranger hat. This one is really worn.


Blueshirts United: One Hat Deserves Another
It certainly seemed quite appropriate that one type of hat deserved another kind of hat Saturday in Philadelphia. And that is exactly what happened as Ryan Callahan scored three goals in the Blueshirts 5-2 win over the Flyers, picking up his second career Hat Trick, as well as the post-game Broadway Hat for his clutch performance.
"Obviously any time you get three goals you're excited, especially coming against a team that is so close to you in the standings" said Callahan after the game. "I had some pretty easy tap-in goals there, so it wasn't all me today."
Callahan now has 21 goals---reaching the 20-goal plateau for the second straight season, and third time in his career. Two of his goals Saturday came on the power play, where he has scored a team-best ten times already this season...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rangers Strike Lightning in OT, Win 4-3

Last night the Rangers finally got their grinding forecheck going in the 3rd period after seeing the brutal Dominic Moore headshot on Ruslan Fedotenko. That fired them up. They then managed to eke out a 3-3 tie in regulation off a Brian Boyle, blind squirrel finds an acorn goal. Brad Richards won the game in overtime on very nice feed from the sometimes squirrely Russian, Artem Anismov. It was a stirring 4-3 overtime victory for our heroes. The blind squirrel ended up getting charity first star honors, it was only his fifth acorn of the season.

Speaking of finding acorns, the powerplay also found one in the 2nd period. But, it took some wicked hops off wood to get there.

The squirrels, or our lesser lights, we hope are sleeping giants. Moore's cheapshot woke them up. They were also playing before real giants. The NY Giants offensive line was at the game, and they know something about pushing back against an opponent. That's when this Rangers team is at their finest, when they bring some serious push back.

The secret sauce to the Rangers offense is the defense. Rangers defensemen recorded four assists, one on each goal: Del Zotto (2), Girardi (1), Stralman (1). Del Zotto for all his defensive flaws is the fifth leading scored on the team with 7G, and 21A.

You can't complain about Richards' goal scoring. He's ahead of the pace he had the last two years at Dallas, when averaging 26 goals a season. It's his assists that are way down.

The next three games are a murderer's row, with Philly (Sat), Washington (Sun), and Boston (Tues). This stretch will be a very interesting test for our heroes, who have had a remarkable ability to comeback after a loss. I can't wait.

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 18:56 EV T.B. Stamkos(36) Connolly(5) Wyman(4)
2 2 04:33 PP NYR Callahan(18) Del Zotto(20) Stepan(24)
3 2 05:27 EV NYR Stepan(11) Girardi(15) Gaborik(18)
4 2 05:48 EV T.B. Lecavalier(21) Purcell(17) Gilroy(14)
5 2 12:26 PP T.B. Gervais(4) Stamkos(24) St Louis(34)
6 3 10:13 EV NYR Boyle(5) Hagelin(12) Stralman(7)
7 OT 02:37 EV NYR Richards(17) Anisimov(18) Del Zotto(21)
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Another Brad Hat


Blueshirt United
:
Brad Richards is making a habit of scoring huge goals for the Rangers this season. His overtime tally Thursday against his former club, the Tampa Bay Lightning, was the seventh game-winner among his 17 goal scored so far this season. And it was an extra sweet one, too, coming against his ex-mates while he was battling through a bit of a dry spell offensively.

Deservedly, the Broadway Hat ended up on Brad's head following the victory...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

I was dreaming I was Glen Sather ...

which you might normally consider to be a serious nightmare, but it wasn't.  Why?  Because, I knew I was not Glen Sather and I enjoyed figuring out how I would make serious run for the Cup this year without hurting the team either this year or in the future.  So, this was my dream.

First, I looked at my greatest need.  Second, my underachieving assets and available assets.  Then, how I might fill my needs from trading partners who might want my assets and be able to address my needs.



What is the Rangers' biggest need?  That is pretty simple.  Fixing the power play.  What is wrong with it?  Too simple.  At the moment, goalies know that if they focus on our right wingers - Callie and Gabbi - they can stop the power play.  Until the Rangers have either a real threat from the point or a left wing threat the power play is easy to stop.  Teams know they can collapse the box and cut off all passes to our right wing.

Who are my underachieving assets?  My left wingers, Dubinsky and Wolski are my greatest underachieving assets.  They are the fourth and fifth largest contracts - getting a total of $7,000,000.  Combined, they have six goals. That is absurd.  And, it is amazing we are doing so well while getting so little.

What are my available assets?  Obviously my left wingers Dubbi and Wolski.  And, while you cannot have too many defensemen - you can have more than you need.  Stahl, Girardi, McDonagh, Sauer, Del Z, McIlrath and Erixon are the future core seven.  Every other defender is available to trade.  Zuccarello-Aasen is available. Anisimov is available. And, John Mitchell has made himself into a trade-able asset too.

How might I fill my needs?  First, I look at left wing.  Ray Whitney comes to mind, but Phoenix is in the hunt for a playoff spot so he is too expensive if even available.  Two other players come to mind on left wing who might be available: Tuomo Ruutu and Ryan Smyth. Ruutu would be a great long term asset. However, Carolina will not take either Dubbi or Wolski for Ruutu. 

However, there is a way to get Ruutu.  Who is the logical taker of Dubbi's contract?  The answer is my old friend Brian Burke in Toronto.  Toronto is on the edge of making the playoffs, and could use Dubbi to make it over the top.  Burke loves Dubbi and should be willing to give up Nazem Kadri and if I am lucky a third round pick for him.  Carolina should be willing to to give Ruutu for for Kadri, Wolski, Zuccarello, and a non-core defenseman.

Smyth should be available for cheap, and if so, is a worthwhile rental.  Should not cost too much - maybe Toronto's third round pick and John Mitchell? 

Then, before I woke up, I traded Anisimov and Sauer or Erixon for Ryan Suter.

Dubbi, Anisimov, and Mitchel off of the current lineup, for Suter, Ruutu and Smyth.

But, it was only a dream.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Special Team Failures

Maybe coach disagreeable is correct when he says that talking Cup is premature. The Rangers lost for the second straight time to the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, last night in a game that showed that the special teams were not so special. The pk gave up the game winning goal and the power play, boy that's an oxymoron, went 0-3. In the last 24 games the Ranger power play is 4-67, and the coach refuses to discuss it.

Actually, in all fairness, the cowered blame stream media, refuses to bring it up at the press conferences. You blame them? The last time someone brought it up was the last question that scribe ever brought up again. Just looking at the coach's scowl last night you knew no one would have the guts to ask that question. I still think we need a coach to come out for the winning games and a coach to come out for the losing games.

The game. The Rangers shot blanks all night. Yeah, I know Artie put one in with about 3.5 seconds on the clock, which was disallowed by Gaborik being gently shoved into Brodeur. But these things could go either way. The coach fumed and stormed and glared into the press conference. No fuming and growling about the inept power play. No. I won't talk about that.

Needless to say a game like this requires many changes from our coach. Line changes happen faster than politicians changing positions. Brad Richards, in a slump, was relegated to the fourth line in the third period. Now that makes sense, doesn't it? How does a guy get out of a slump by playing with non-offensive players? Is it supposed to be punishment for not scoring?

Even Lundqvist gave a mild rebuke to the teams PP, he said "one goal and it's the difference." That one goal may yet come back to haunt us, 4-67 and counting. Wow! That hurts. But if I know things in Rangerland, the practice session will be devoted to working on the penalty kill. Got to shore up that defense. That's what wins Cups. Providing you score a goal.

ICINGS: Now I am all for parades to honor teams. But in less than a day we put together a huge parade for a bunch of millionaire players, calling them heroes, and basically giving them the city, two cities if you count New Jersey's love fest and we can't come up with the dime and the time to honor our real heroes, the men and women of our Armed Forces. Amazing. Our fearless Mayor is waiting on the Pentagon for instructions. Instructions for what? He's already banned salt, sugar, cigarettes and fresh air and now he needs instructions. It didn't stop the city of St. Louis from having their parade. Congratulations to the Giants. God Bless our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

You Can't Beat Us!

The Rangers and Flyers played an old style knock 'em, sock 'em hockey game and when it was over the Rangers had out shot the Flyers, 38-23, out hit the Flyers, 30-24, and out scored them 5-2. The win was the fourth in four games against the Flyers and the sixth in a row overall for the Rangers. It had the sellout crowd, it actually was, chanting, "You can't beat us." And they can't.

They can't with Danny Briere out of the lineup. They can't when Jaromir Jagr gets a pedestrian 14:43 and winds up with a minus three. And they surely can't with "Buzzer Bryzgalov" in goal. Add in the hair raising antics of Tom Sestito who had 25 minutes in penalties and spent all of 3:48 on the ice and you see how difficult it is for these Flyers to beat these Rangers.

But the Rangers were good today. They gave no quarter to the Flyers and Stu Bickel showed some of the toughness the Rangers are looking for despite the fact that he got 5 penalties, including two fighting ones, for a total of 16 minutes. The Rangers had five different goal scorers and only Gaborik among the elite scored. The rest were distributed among Del Zotto, Anisimov, Fedotenko and Dubinsly. And Lundqvist? It's getting boring, but Lundqvist was, well he was Lundqvist. He had only 23 saves but he put on a clinic in the third period and was awarded the number two star. Dubinsky with a goal and a fight, was number three and Gaborik with a goal, an assist, eight shots on goal and a plus three was awarded number one star.

The win moved the Rangers five points up on the Flyers. They are also five points up on the Bruins and trail the Red Wings by a point. Of course all these are predicated on today's other games. The Rangers are 10-2-1 in Atlantic Division play and have outscored their Atlantic Division opponents 42-27. So now the Rangers face the Devils who are hot and are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference race, ten points behind the Rangers. However, our Rangers are hot too and they are not the underdogs any more.

ICINGS: A most wonderful rendition of the National Anthem by the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem. Kudos to linesman Brad Kovachik, who upon spotting us, number two son and two of my grandkids, tossed us a game puck prior to a faceoff deep in our end. Thanks Brad.

I was also impressed with the great work done in the area called Delta Sky 360*Club. The food was great and the varieties were endless. What other restaurant gives free Snow Balls, Twinkies, etc? A great day capped by a great Ranger win.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Lundqvist Seizes Shutout/Shootout Win Over Sabres

Henrik Lundqvist and his loyal courtier a Little Luck carried the Rangers to a shutout, shootout, 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. His royal eminence, King Hanke, called a halt to all scoring and for three periods the Rangers' defenders battled, blocked and batted away a multitude of Sabres' scoring chances. Captain Callahan finally scored the game winner in the fifth round of the shootout to hand the King his 22nd win of the season, and put the Rangers in first place atop the entire NHL.

The Sabres and their goalie Ryan Miller were equally up for the grindhouse party the Rangers were throwing. They even came away with more scoring changes, 34 shots to 29 for the Rangers. Miller looked like he's back in top form. Both goalies were superb in banishing all pucks from their respective domains through three periods, plus a five minute overtime.  Both were credited with a shutout. The NBC announcers were pointing out that the stingy defenses were just leaving "no room" for the attackers. There was also not much room for excitement, until the end. The Buffalo crowd was in a stupor until the 3rd period when the Rangers had lost momentum and were just hanging on for the point.

Indeed, the third period was pure Rangers hang time. Hanging on through a couple of penalties, including a bone-headed delay of game/puck over glass penalty by Michael Del Zotto with 1:38 remaining. The ice looked drastically tilted in Buffalo's favor. Both teams had played the night before, but the Rangers were clearly the lazy laggard in the third.

Tortorella is riding his A-team until they drop. That could explain the lack of 3rd period gas. For example, Rupp saw only one shift for 32 seconds in the third period, no ice in the OT, for a total of 6:03 of ice time. Dubinsky has fallen off the map. Duby had only 3 shifts for 1:18 of ice time in the 3rd period, no OT time, and a measly total of 8:37 TOI. Stu Bickel was in the doghouse after two periods and saw no time in the 3rd or OT. Bickel ended with only 6:31 TOI. John Mitchell was also riding pine. He took only two shifts in the 3rd (1:30), and had a total of 7:35 TOI. So these Rangers backups were all virtually on the shelf. Also, someone please remind me why Brian Boyle (19:36 TOI) is an A-teamer?

Watching Brad Richards take his shootout attempt was painful. It looks like Richards is now over thinking things and is clueless after suffering through a long shootout slump.

If the Rangers are now engineered by Torts to play low scoring grind feasts it begs the question why isn't a shootout specialist like Erik Christensen or Zuccarello on the bench for the inevitable shootouts? The Tortorella strategy of putting little used John Mitchell in the 3rd round of the shootout was bewildering. Why Mitchell?

Tortorella is guessing on shootouts now, just like he's still guessing on what to do with the power play. The Rangers' power play went 0-3, and especially frustrating was the blown 4-on-3 chance in OT.  Special teams will be the Achilles' heel that brings down our mighty Blueshirt heroes.

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ICINGS:

Shootout Order / Result
# Team Pos Shooter Goaltender Result Shot Type Score(V-H)
1 BUF C N.GERBE H.LUNDQVIST S Wrist 0-0
2 NYR R M.GABORIK R.MILLER G Snap 1-0
3 BUF R B.BOYES H.LUNDQVIST S Wrist 1-0
4 NYR C J.MITCHELL R.MILLER S Deflected 1-0
5 BUF R J.POMINVILLE H.LUNDQVIST G Wrist 1-1
6 NYR C B.RICHARDS R.MILLER S Wrist 1-1
7 BUF C T.ENNIS H.LUNDQVIST M Goalpost Wrist 1-1
8 NYR C D.STEPAN R.MILLER S Wrist 1-1
9 BUF L V.LEINO H.LUNDQVIST S Wrist 1-1
10 NYR R R.CALLAHAN R.MILLER G Wrist 2-1

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Lucky Brodeur Bounce

Marty Brodeur got lucky last night. He was lucky the Rangers got only 26 shots on goal. He was lucky that the Devils got a curious bouncing puck on a clearing shot by Andy Greene which landed about 10 feet in front of Ranger goalie Marty Biron, where David Clarkson put it past the Ranger goalie with 47.6 seconds left to tie the game. Finally, he was lucky that coach disagreeable decided to sit Henrik Lundqvist against the Devils.

Sit Lundqvist against the Devils? Sit Lundqvist against Brodeur? Talk about pissing away two points, that did it. The coach who never talks about big moments and is only interested in the two points, gave one away last night. How do you sit the force against the whiner? How do you sit a guy who has a 21-5-5 record, with a GAA of 1.62 against the greatest goalie who ever lived playing in front of the greatest defensive team ever put together? Naturally no one brought that up at the news conference. Sam did ask about the power play, 0-3, 1-24 and ad nauseam. The answer. "I don't want to talk about it." Sorry Sire!

The game was actually a very good game. The Devils scored the only shootout goal when million dollar man Ilya Kovalchuk put one through the wickets of Marty Biron as Stepan, Richards and Gaborik all failed. This post is not a knock on Marty Biron, who has been terrific for the Rangers this year and is now 9-2-1. But when you have the opportunity to pick up the two points, go for it. The point will look big in April.

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ICINGS:

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