The Rangers played a whale of a hockey game this evening beating Tampa Bay 4-3 at Tampa. Well they played a heck of two periods and then turned it over to Lundqvist to save the day. They scored three power play goals, took a 4-2 lead into the third period and then it was vintage Lundqvist who made 15 of his 37 saves in the third period.
Rick Nash ended his slump with his 7th to put the Rangers on top, but Tampa Bay fought back with two goals. The Rangers then scored three power play goals in a row, Zuccarello, (9), Kreider, (10), and Pouliot, (7) to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. Flippula, flipped one over Lundqvist in the third to make it 4-3 and it was nail biting time. But the King, with 15 big saves kept the lead safe 'til the end.
This was no cup cake win. The Rangers beat a team that was 12 games over .500. The Rangers are 19-19-2, a solid .500 team, one game shy of the halfway mark. Zuccarello. Brassard and McDonagh all had two assists. The 'diminutive hobbit' may well lead these Rangers to the promised land.
But the big story is that the King returned and rebounded and led the Rangers to a win. There was one sequence in the third where the Lightning poured shot after shot, but Henrik stood tall and weathered the onslaught. Great win, Now let's go to Florida and get over that dreaded .500 mark. It would be a great end to 2013, a year to forget.
Nash scores. Three power play goals. Lundqvist makes 37 saves, 15 in the third period. What more could you ask for? Good night folks!
Sunday, December 29, 2013
The Rangers played a whale of a hockey game this evening beating Tampa Bay 4-3 at Tampa. Well they played a heck of two periods and then turned it over to Lundqvist to save the day. They scored three power play goals, took a 4-2 lead into the third period and then it was vintage Lundqvist who made 15 of his 37 saves in the third period.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
You have seen this before. It is written in Ranger lore. It happens too often. A Ranger skates in on the opposing goalie and takes the shot that could be the game winner. The shot eludes the goalie, but one of the pipes, either the post or the crossbar, gets it and it goes out. No goal. No game winner. The other team picks up the puck comes down the ice, shoots at our goalie and scores. Game winner, game over.
Of course their was still 5:09 left when Eric Fehr scored his game winner after Dan Girardi had hit the post about thirty seconds earlier. But it didn't matter. The Rangers always lose in these scenarios. It's in the books of the hockey gods. It's in the genes. It started in 1951 with Raleigh off the crossbar and Babano with the game and Cup winner. There is not a thing anyone can do about it because it's in the books. This is what happens to the Rangers.
Now maybe some things will change when Staal and Callahan get back, especially Staal. It's amazing watching Del Zotto fighting the puck, giving it up and being out of position. The Rangers have been dangling him as trade bait. Who wants him? Nobody. But he'll be around for a while as Stralman went out early with an injury and the Rangers played most of the game with five defenders.
So it's on to Tampa Bay and maybe Lundqvist, the guy the coach would rather have on the bench than in front of the nets will get a game. Truly amazing. The guy just signed a seven year extension and he is in the fight of his life to keep his job. BTW, the Rangers are under .500, 18-19-2 and have a goaltending controversy compliments of the new coach. Wonderful!
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The Pundit has been AWOL the last few games, however, the combinations of the season, family, birthday, dialysis and such kept me too busy to post. I believe that the Rangers hit rock bottom with their 5-3 loss to the Islanders. It doesn't get any worse than that.
However, the Rangers have rebounded from that debacle with two big wins over the Wild and the Maple Leafs behind rookie goaltender Cam Talbot, who allowed one goal per game. The Maple Leaf game went into a shootout, which never should have occurred, due to a no whistle by the ref on a puck lying under Talbot, that was eventually tucked in by Nazem Kadri to send the game into OT. Talbot righted the wrong and got revenge by stopping Kadri in the shootout to win the game.
The Rangers only goal in the game was scored by J.T. Miller off of a beautiful feed by Chris Kreider. Zuccarello and Stepan scored in the shootout. The Rangers ended the nine game home stand at 3-4-2 and now are at 18-18-2, back to that .500 number again. They hit the road for five games starting with Washington on Friday and then go to Tampa Bay, Florida, Pittsburgh and Toronto. We should see if the comeback is serious or make believe.
Lundqvist should be back in the nets and hopefully the rest has cleared his head. Of course it would help if the Rangers play in front of him the way they play in front of Talbot. As I have stated many times before, the Rangers will only go as far as Lundqvist takes them. Talbot is good, but unless he is the second coming of Ken Dryden, the Rangers are dead without a prime time Henrik Lundqvist.
But that's hockey and today is Christmas Eve. It's family time. Whether you are a believer or not, it's time for family and friends. So enjoy it. From the Ranger Pundit and jb we wish all out there in Rangerland a very Merry Christmas.
ICINGS: With another loss Friday the T/Birds closed out the first half with a 6-7 record. The second half starts 1/15/14. Hopefully the team will be at 100%. My grandson also plays in a house league at The Rinx and last Sunday he gave Granpa a big birthday present. He scored three goals in a 6-2 win. Thanks Nicholas, you made my year.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Well let's give this team some credit today. After all Christmas is coming. Down 2-0 after fifteen minutes of play, the Rangers could of folded and continued the disaster that had taken hold of them. Instead they rallied, rather quickly, to get back into the game. Derek Stepan scored 25 seconds after Calgary had taken a 2-0 lead. The goal, Stepan's 6th, put life into the team. When Carl Hagelin put in a wrap around the Rangers were back, at least for a while.
Monahan's goal gave the Flames a one goal lead which held up until Kreider's backhand tied it at three with about 8 minutes to play in the game. The Rangers had 1:21 of 5 on 3, but blew it and then gave Calgary 4 on 3 on a Kreider double minor in OT. But the Christmas Gods were on our side and it went to the shootout.
Neither goalie, Ramo for the Flames or Lundqvist distinguished themselves in the shootout. Both seemed to try to out guess the shooters. The Rangers won the contest 4-3. Colborne, Stempniak and Byron scored or the Flames. For the Rangers it was Zuccarello, Richards, Moore and the much maligned Benoit Pouliot with the game winner.
When the ordeal was over and after he had stopped Backlund to win the shootout and the game Lundqvist looked up to the heavens not in triumph but more of a sigh of relief. It was a much needed win, an early Christmas gift. The skid had ended. Finalmente!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Rangers lost again last night, their third straight at home, to the Nashville Predators, 4-1, but more importantly they lost their fireplug Captain, Ryan Callahan for at least 4-6 weeks. The injury came in the first period as Cally was finishing a check on Victor Bartley he fell to the ice and sprained his knee. Add in Marc Staal, who is still recovering from a concussion and the Rangers road back to respectability becomes even more difficult. These are two of the grittiest players the Rangers have. Also, rumors have it that Ryan McDonagh is playing with a bad back, which if true, casts a pall on this season.
After Sunday's debacle the Rangers needed to make some changes. Honestly, sending JT Miller back to Hartford and bringing back Aaron Asham and giving him all of 6:33 of ice time is hardly the answer. But, there are no answers for the Rangers with their rosters in New York and Hartford and they must go outside to fix the problems. And they must do it fast otherwise after the Yankee Stadium games the season will become irrelevant.
For the second night in a row the Rangers lost to a third string goalie. One goal games against guys named Philipp Grubauer, Washington, and Carter Hutton, Nashville, is not going to do it. The coach who was known for his offensive tactics now has the team betwixt and between offense and defense. Right now nothing is working and even Lundqvist seems confused.
Does someone has an answer? Hey, isn't that what GM's are for. "If I had the money the Rangers have, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah!
Monday, December 09, 2013
Those of you that read this blog know that I have little respect for the Stealth GM as far as his job goes. He has been here for fourteen years and has done absolutely nothing to bring us a competitive hockey team. It goes without saying, that he is the worst GM in sports in the New York area. Any other New York area team would have fired him years ago. He is protected by the Absentee Owner, whose only concern is the bottom line of his vast empire. Yesterday must have been one of the darkest in his empire's history. His Knicks lost by 41 points to the Celtics and his Rangers didn't show up against the Caps. All at his sacred palace, Madison Square Garden.
It is time for the Stealth to sit down with his coach, Alain Vigneault, and have a serious discussion on the makeup of this team. Where is it going? Off of last night's performance and the season as a whole, 15-15-1, it looks like it's heading to the pits of the degraded Metropolitan Division. The coach, for some reason, was given a five year contract. A five year contract? Are we going to have to wait that long to see results?
Now, I am not blaming the coach totally for this team's record. But I am blaming him for how they are approaching these games and the effort they are putting into them. Last night they were awful. However, this is not new, look at their overall record. One would be hard pressed to find the last game where we had a full sixty minute effort. The team has too many passengers and that takes a toll on the few who have been going all out. Lately the all-outers have dwindled and the passengers are increasing in numbers.
I asked my grandson last night what he thought was wrong with the team. The response came quickly, no offense, no defense and we are not physical. Dan Girardi, considered our best D-man has all of 4 minutes in penalties. You may marvel at that, but I wonder if that is an indication of his softness as a defenseman. Do we want a D-man as a candidate for the Lady Byng Award? But Giardi is not alone. When was the last time you saw a Ranger go out of his way to protect a Ranger in distress. I think it's in the genes. Take the power play and we get even later. Unfortunately later never comes. It's the Frankie Boucher curse. Seven consecutive Lady Byng awards from 1928-1935. Is this the main problem? No. But it is one of many that identifies the team. Bring back Sean Avery!!!
The untold story for years is that the Rangers are the softest touch in the NHL and never more so than when they are on Garden ice. Look at this year's record. 10-8-0 on the road and 5-7-1 at home. The crowd last night was docile. A few stupid "Potvin sucks," the usual photos on the big screens of the celebs who show up, the dumb video games. There were a couple of Hen-reeks, a few Let's Go Rangers but overall, boring. The Rangers took the crowd out of the game. BTW, where was Dancin' Larry?
But the cash registers rang up huge profits and so what if we have another stinking team. Buy your tickets, your beers, your dogs and shut up. It's the holidays and what better way to spend your money and holidays but by seeing the Rangers get pushed all over the ice. AAh, I long for the days when Sonya Heine would skate during the intermissions. That was skating!
ICINGS: We ran into a problem at the Manhasset train station as the trains were delayed. It seems a flake or two fell on the tracks and all trains were stopped, on the Pt. Washington line. A guy named Greg came to the rescue and drove us into the Garden. Pleasant trip along with his nephew and we talked hockey and the Rangers. Despite that, it was a pleasant trip. Thanks guys.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Much is being made in the lame stream media about Callahan's foolish high sticking penalty costing the Rangers an OT loss to the Devils. It was bad, but the big call that was missed was the kick goal by Cam Janssen which stopped the Ranger mo and put the Devils on the scoreboard. It came at the 6:02 mark of the second period and completely changed the game around. It was the third kicked in goal that the snoozers in Toronto have allowed against Lundqvist this year. Amazing!
But, just to blame that goal won't be fair. The Rangers were awful again and Lundqvist was okay, making some beauties, but allowing a softie. D-man John Moore was torched by Michael Ryder on the third Devil goal. I guess with all the schooling our defensemen get from super hit man Ulf Samuelsson, he forgot to tell them to use the body and not the stick to defend. Speaking of using the bodies, did anyone touch Jagr all night? He skated around like he had the no contact shirt on. Especially in the second period when his play making resulted in Travis Zajac's tying 2-2 goal.
The Rangers got it to OT because of Chris Kreiders rebound, his 7th, on a power play with Lundqvist pulled. To no avail, Eric Gelinas slapper, in OT, while the Rangers were killing Callahan's boo-boo, was the winner. So the Devils (12-13-6) moved to within a point of the Rangers (15-14-1), who are tied for third with Carolina and a point behind Washington in the Metro Division. Under the old setup the Rangers would be tied for 8th and 9th in the Eastern Conference. Sounds familiar? Have been there before. A .500 team, lacking offense, toughness and now suspect goaltending. Not a good omen for a successful season.
Friday, December 06, 2013
However, the story was the return of the King, Henrik Lundqvist, the squire of Rangerland, the Lord of the Nets. He made 27 saves and a few of them were quite acrobatic. He lost his shutout with 2:06 left in the game when Ennis beat him. Nash (5), continued his fine play when he tucked one in on a faked out goalie, Ryan Miller, who was good again, 28 saves, but has a hapless crew in front of him. Brad Richards (8), scored a power play goal after a pair of stellar saves from Lundqvist and Zuccarello (5), closed out the Rangers scoring.
The Rangers now are 15-14 with a big weekend coming up against the Devils, Saturday, and the Caps, Sunday. Let's hope the King is in the nets for both games. I hope so as I will be there, Sunday, with number two son and granddaughter and grandson. The Rangers have to pick up their game as I'm sure Jaromir Jagr and Alex Ovechkin will be at the top of theirs so it should be two lively shows. A sweep would put the Rangers in second place in the weak Metro Conference.
Hail to the King! Long live the King! Let's Go Rangers!
ICINGS: The T/Birds lost their fourth straight, a tough 3-1 loss to Sachem. It was a penalty filled game with the T/Birds unable to cash in on a five minute power play, which included over a minute of 5 on 3 time. Nicholas was on the ice for the lone T/Bird goal and missed a golden opportunity when the goalie made a glove save on his shot. The T/Birds played with only eleven players due to injuries and suspensions.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Coaches are quick to criticize players. Slow to react, not skating hard. Missed assignment. Yada, yada, yada. But they pull many a boner and usually skate free. So there was our coach proclaiming that Lundqvist is, "definitely our number one goaltender," as he played the number two goaltender.
Now I have nothing against our number two goaltender, Cam Talbot. He is good and has even better potential but to sit your goaltender, one of the best big game goalies in the NHL for two straight games is not the thing to do.
Something is going on here between the coach and the most important player on the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist. It started a few games ago when he criticized Lundqvist for letting in a goal he should have stopped. The Rangers needed a win. Yes, Talbot has been going good but when you need a win you go to The King. Talbot is that once in a couple of weeks goalie. He is that two out of ten goalie.
I'm of a suspicious nature. Does this have to do with free agency for Lundqvist? If so the coach is pressing the wrong buttons. Do the Rangers want to annoy The King so that he jumps to a legitimate contender at year's end. Let's face it, the Rangers are a .500 team, 14-14. Without Lundqvist they are mediocre and probably wallowing at 10-18.
But maybe I'm wrong and the coach is using a motivational tool. Maybe. Meanwhile Winnipeg came to the New York Area and got whole again by sweeping the three New York teams and are now 13-12-4. So they were hot coming in and when a team's hot you go with your best. We didn't. We lost.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Aah, how sweet it is. Vindication. Retribution and most of all a taste of extreme satisfaction. Chris Kreider put on quite a show at the Garden last night. It was put on before an adoring packed house and a not so adoring visiting coach. No frowning, no grimacing, just a stoic look watching his former whipping boy light up the Canuck goalies for a hat trick, three goals.
So the twenty-two year old rookie, who spent last year on the bus or the pines, spent yesterday afternoon having his own personal scrimmage. In 14:31 of ice time he had three goals on six shots and belted out three hits. No, he didn't toss any of the pucks to his former mentor, or is it tormentor, but he did it with class, something the other guy lacks.
Yes, he had help. Cam Talbot was brilliant again. He made 35 saves, improved to 6-1 with a 1.49 GAA and a save % of .944. He is the first goaltender in Ranger history to hold opponents to two or fewer goals in each of his first seven career starts. He is also the first Ranger goalie since Jim Henry, (1941-42) to win six straight in their rookie year. Continuing, the last goalie to hold opponents to two or fewer goals in their first seven games was the Great Mr. Zero, Frankie Brimsek, with Boston, (1938-39). He has just two fewer wins than Lundqvist. The coach didn't announce Monday's goalie. Hmmm!
The other goal scorers for the Rangers were Rick Nash (4), and Michael Del Zotto (2). Nash also had two assists as he continued his fine play. Should be an interesting game tomorrow night in terms of who is in goal and whether Del Zotto gets another turn or sits. I remember when hockey was such a simple game. BTW. We are back over .500, 14-13.
ICINGS: The T/Birds continued their slide, losing their third straight to Kings Park/Commack, 8-3. They are now 5-4 after a fast 3-0 start. Injuries are hurting the team.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The Rangers brought their 'B' game to Boston against the B's and it just wasn't good enough to beat the Bruins. The Bruins brought Chara and he was more than good enough, getting a Gordie Howe hat trick, the winning goal, an assist and winning a fight, if you could call it that, over Brian Boyle.
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead into the third period, overcoming a Marchand goal, with goals by Rick Nash, (3), and Ryan McDonagh, (6). But then Bergeron banked one in off Girardi to tie the game and Chara over powered Lundqvist, on a shot The King misread. And it was all over. Chara won the fight against Boyle but seriously, how can you call, tangling with Boyle, a fight. This guy ought to join Del Zotto on the pines. Better still, out of town.
So today is the big matinee at the Garden as the most disagreeable one makes his return. Hopefully the Rangers will bring their 'A' game. A loss to the most disagreeable one will be one great embarrassment. Cam Talbot will be in the nets as our coach is starting to play head games with The King. Stay tuned.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
First of all, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you on this beautiful cold day in New York. To those who don't have this holiday, a great day to you also and you don't know what you are missing.
The Rangers prepped for their holiday feast by using the hapless Florida Panthers as their appetizers. Continuing the pattern of "sometimes you win and sometimes you lose", the Rangers climbed back over .500, 13-12, with a 5-2 win in southern Florida. The win enhanced this road trip to 3-1 with a game tomorrow afternoon with the big, bad Bruins before they return to the Garden with a Saturday matinee against the most disagreeable one.
This was a good comeback win, though the Panthers are one of the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference. Henrik Lundqvist, was back in form, though he gave up a questionable goal. He made 31 saves, as the Rangers were out shot, 33-22. The Panthers out hit the Rangers, 24-22 and won 61% of the face offs so they were not a docile foe. But the Rangers had a balanced attack in which five players scored and nine different players had points.
Rick Nash continued to show signs of returning to form with a goal and he had help from Derek Brassard, Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello and an empty netter from Carl Hagelin. The Rangers are now in second place in the Metro division and the game against the Bruins will be a strong test. These games are usually decided by one goal and Lundqvist has been strong against the Bruins.
So once again, a Happy Thanksgiving to all. Enjoy the day with family and friends because that is what it is about. God Bless!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In hindsight I should have switched to the Christmas movie right after the pre-game ceremony honoring Martin St. Louis for playing in his 1000th game. The Rangers, Brad Richards, participated in the ceremony and the rest of the team participated in honoring St. Louis the rest of the game. He scored two goals, 9,10 and assisted on another. How bad was it? Let's quote our coach, "a big no-hitter, obviously, it was sort of a Martin St. Louis lovefest out there. Nobody touched a soul, and especially not him."
The loss ended a six game road winning streak by the Rangers. Cam Talbot also lost his scoreless streak when he gave up a goal to Teddy Purcell with just over a minute left in the game. Talbot replaced Lundqvist in the third. The misquote of the game goes to Lundqvist, "We didn't play that bad." Huh! Meaningless stat. The Rangers out shot the Lightning 37-25. But the Rangers ran into a new nemesis, goalie Ben Bishop, who is now 4-0 against the Rangers.
A note here to Derek Dorsett. Please give up fighting. He tangled and was mangled by Pierre-Cedric Labrie and was decked. It's his second decking in as many games. Maybe he should have tangled with Martin St. Louis, but then the whole house would have gotten after him.
The Rangers are now back to .500. Stealing that great line from Lou Costello to Bud Abbot in the movie Buck Privates. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose." So we are 12-12 on a treadmill. Seven points out of first and five points out of last in the Metropolitan Division. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose." Is it our turn in Florida?
Sunday, November 24, 2013
The Rangers have come up with a winning formula. Let The Kid and not The King start every Saturday night. Well it worked, again. Cam Talbot, that 'old' 26 year old pitched his second straight Saturday night special, a 2-0 win over Nashville, his second straight shutout, making sure they were singing the blues at the Grand Ole Oprey last night.
Talbot is now 5-1-0 and the Rangers helped him by holding Nashville to just 17 shots. Of course, Nashville didn't need that much help to reach 17 shots. They rank last in scoring among the fourteen teams in the NHL Western Conference. The Rangers are 13th in the sixteen team Eastern Conference. So it wasn't one of those rock 'em sock 'em games. In fact I texted one of my sons with the message, "this sure is a thriller" with tongue firmly in cheek.
The Rangers got goals from McDonagh, (5), and Stepan, (5) to 'power' the win. Zuccarello picked up two assists. The capacity crowd included about twenty of the Ranger players Dads in attendance. This program, of bringing Dads to road games was reinstated by coach Vigneault after it was discontinued by coach disagreeable. Disagreeable found the program as 'disruptive'. Who was more disruptive than the most disagreeable one.
So now the Rangers are one game over .500 as they continue their tour of the South. Next stop Tampa Bay and then Florida and on to Boston before they return to the Garden to meet the anointed one, Sir Disagreeable. One time, away back in the early 1900's a baseball team, Chicago White Sox, won the World Series with a team batting average around .200. They were aptley named "The Hitless Wonders." If the Rangers do somehow make it all the way they may be called "The Scoreless Wonders." I'll buy that anytime.
Friday, November 22, 2013
The arena that the Dallas Stars play in is called the American Airlines Center. No American Airline plane soared as high as Henrik Lundqvist soared last night in defeating the Dallas Stars 3-2. Lundqvist had 91 shots fired at him, 43 were true and he stopped 41 of them. Even more remarkable he made 23 saves in the first period, as the Rangers left the ice leading 1-0, on only six shots. That goal was a power play goal by Rick Nash, his first, on a beautiful assist by Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers broke open the game in the third on goals by Chris Kreider (3), and D-man John Moore (2). The goals were 37 seconds apart. Stéphane Robidas had tied the game in the second and Alex Chiasson brought the Stars within one in the third. But Lundqvist closed down the game after that and the Rangers are now back to .500 at 11-11. The Rangers didn't beat a bottom feeder. The Stars are 11-8-2 and were on a 7-2-1 run coming into the game.
So now there is hope going into Nashville, for the second game, in a five game road trip that will also take the Rangers to Tampa Bay, Florida and Boston. It's no secret that as the King goes so go the Rangers. The supporting cast has to show up and be productive also. Last night, they were nowhere to be found in the first period. When you are outshot 23-6, parts are missing. Del Zotto is a too often missing piece. Seems to be caught pinching too much. It was his first game back after being sat for three. Are we showcasing him?
Dominic Moore continues to play well and deserves more ice time. He logged in at 14:27 and those numbers are going higher. Brian Boyle, also logged 14:10 and that is too much. He is a non-entity on the ice. But hey, its only 22 games, basically a quarter of the season and the whole idea is a playoff spot and a playoff run. But right now we need to break away from the .500 syndrome and start a run. A run on the road would be nice.
All Hail King Henrik!!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Let's face it folks we are a .500 hockey team, win one, lose one, and it wasn't more evident than it was last night. With Rick Nash back, the Rangers were at full tilt, so to speak. And they did an adequate job, firing 44 shots at Bruin goalie, Tuukka Rask. The guy, who beat the Rangers in last year's playoff by allowing 10 goals in 5 games, was very good making 43 saves, none bigger than his save on Chris Kreider's penalty shot. Rask has a 1.61 GAA and a save percentage of .946. So Rask is no fluke.
However, it doesn't matter who the goalie is. The Rangers have scored 43 goals in 21 games. They have given up 52 goals. That's a losing proposition. We started 3-7 and looked like we were headed for the dumps. Then it was 7-2 and we looked like contenders. Now we have lost two straight, by one goal, and are now 10-11, and look like pretenders. In fact, we have scored just one goal per game in the last three games. We are fifth in scoring in the anemic Metropolitan Division. Add in the Atlantic Division and out of the sixteen teams we rank 12th in scoring. In points, which decide the playoffs we are tied for third, with Carolina, in the Metro and tied for 8th with two other teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers need action from their GM, The Stealth. Rumors have Del Zotto on the block. Dump him, and take along Boyle. Maybe also Zuccarello, who has a penchant for passing up shots to make backward passes. We did an admirable job last night pouring 44 shots at Rask, but admirable is not going to do it. We need results. We need goals and unless we get some soon it will be win one, lose one or two the rest of the season. Not good. Not good enough.
Monday, November 18, 2013
I never heard of Ben Scrivens before last night. Fact is, I never heard of a hockey player with the first name of Ben. After last night we all, especially the Rangers, now know him. Subbing for the injured Jonathan Quick, Scrivens is 4-1-1 with a 1.24 GAA and a save % of .966. It seems now everyone knows him. The win gave the Kings a three game sweep of the Metro Area teams. Last night Scrivens made 37 saves, for his 3rd shutout in five games. Lundqvist wasn't too bad either, making 29 saves, but the one that got by him, deflected, cost the Rangers the game.
Of course the Rangers offense, an oxymoron, continues to have problems finding the back of the net. The power play is now back in last years mid-season form. Nada. They were 0-5 plus a pair of botched 5 on 3's. I know they miss Nash but c'mon guys, can't anyone else score goals. Dominic Moore scored a goal but it was disallowed for kicking it in with his skate. Good call.
Dominic Moore continues to play well and his return has seen improved play from JT Miller and Benoit Pouliot. Justin Falk has also impressed playing for Michael Del Zotto, who continues to sit and seems destined to be traded. Edmonton seems to be the likely port for a winger.
Now it is Boston on Tuesday and hopefully Nash will be back and it will be interesting to see who sits. I vote for Boyle but odds are it will be Miller or Pouliot.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
In front of a sold out crowd, at Bell Centre, including number two son, the Rangers picked up their first win at The House Of Horrors since 2009. Since February 19, 2008 the record here was 1-8-2. Please don't ask for further recall, its too painful. The score was 1-0, Callahan scored the only goal and rookie Cam Talbot, wearing a mask, depicting "Ghostbusters", pitched a 22 save shutout. The shutout was the first Ranger shut out at Montreal since February 25, 1967 when Eddie Giacomin shut out the Canadiens, 5-0.
There was no Richard, no Beliveau, no Harvey, no Boom Boom and no Plante. However, there was a young Ranger goalie, named Cam Talbot, who admired ex Canadien goalie Patrick Roy, who earned the first shutout of his career and now sports a glittering record of 3-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA and a save percentage of .933. If he is not the Ranger goalie of the future he must surely be the goalie that the Ranger management will wave in the face of Henrik Lundqvist, in this his free agency year.
The Rangers out shot Les Habs 34-22 and received strong efforts, again, from Hagelin, 4 shots, 3 hits and Kreider, 3 shots and six hits. But the biggest improvement and effort came from the fourth line. With Dominic Moore back at center both JT Miller and Benoit Pouliot played their best hockey of the year in the limited ice time they got. Miller racked up three shots in 8:11 of ice time, the lowest of any forward. Carey Price was excellent in the nets for Montreal with 33 saves and was voted the number three star. Talbot was two and Callahan one.
Justin Falk, subbing for Del Zotto, played 12;11 of active, tough hockey. Del Zotto seems to be heading elsewhere. Edmonton? Rick Nash is ready to return and that should draw interest on who would be odd man out. The Rangers are back to .500, (9-9), and only four points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
ICINGS: The T/Birtds dropped their second in a row getting beaten by Smithtown, 7-1. Smithtown is unbeaten and the T/Birds have fallen to 5-3.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I may be tooting the wrong horn, but is it just me or since old number 16 of the Rangers left real old number 30 of the Devils is shining again. Martin Brodeur, 41 years young, turned back the clock last night as he beat Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers, 3-2. Brodeur made 33 saves in leading the Devils to a 3-0-1 record for the last four games. This was no minor feat as the previous games has seen Lundqvist rack up a 24-7-5 record against Marty in 36 regular season games.
But it's easy for Marty now as there is no number 16 to taunt him, harass him and bait him. It's easy now. he plays his game in his net and their are no big harassers. Oh, an occasional flea or fly that goes by and a swipe of the stick usually dispenses them. It wasn't that way always. There were actual physical encounters and what better way to draw a goalie off his game. It says here that quite a few of Henriks 24 wins were a result of #16's aggressiveness.
You know you didn't have a good game when the three stars of the game are all wearing visitors sweaters. In the order of importance it was Ryan Carter, two goals on three shots, Martin Brodeur, thirty three saves and Dainius Zubrus, the game winning goal. Marc Staal and Dan Girardi scored the Ranger goals as most of the forwards were sleep walking. JT Miller got all of 5:04 and what is going on with that?
One of the constant criticizing I get here is that I look back too much. Well you look back for reflection and things you learned and help how to do things better. Right now we are a very vanilla team. We have no identity. We have no smaltz. We have very little fire. Old number 16 gave us a little of each and also assured us that no game would be boring. Last night we were boring and old number 30 took the measure of us.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Sorry for the delay in writing up last nights game, but this Veterans Day was a special one for me and took precedent over everything else. It started out with an early morning blood test and quickly escalated to a most enjoyable day. Actually, Veterans Day is usually not a specially enjoyable day because it brings back memories of all the conflicts and all the lost service men and women and the many disabilities that affect too many servicemen and women. And this year we have the tragic storm in the Philippines where I spent 22 months of my four year tour of duty.
But, there was much generosity in the US this year toward veterans. After the blood test we, my wife and I, went to Friendly's where I was treated to a free breakfast. After a long morning of shopping for the holidays it was off to Chilli's for a free lunch. Then some more shopping and then home. I did not have the stamina or the stomach to visit Applebees or the Golden Corral for a free dinner.
The Rangers won their sixth game in the last seven and moved one game over .500 and moved within four points of first place Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division. It wasn't a very crisp game but again, it was a win, 4-3 over the lowly Florida Panthers. Florida has only ten points and sits seventh in the Atlantic and 15th overall in the Eastern Conference.
So the Panthers are a bottom feeder and it wasn't too long ago that the Rangers were once a bottom feeder. But the makeup of the NHL says to me that there is going to be a lot of highs and a lot of lows for a lot of teams. The goal scorers for the Rangers were Miller (1), Dorsett (2), Richards (6), and Zuccarello (2). But while Miller scored his first goal and played aggressively he was "awarded' only 2:06 in the third period. Benoit Pouliot was also sparsely played, as coach Vigneault takes up more of a micro manager type style.
The Panthers, led by D-man Campbell, scoring his first two goals of the season made the game closer than it should have been. But the Rangers seem to be playing to the level of their opponents and so far it seems to be working. Let's just hope that the coach don't revert to the style of his predecessor and start to over coach the team. The benching of Miller in the third was a surprise to me.
ICINGS: The T/Birds were walloped by West Islip, 9-3, for their second loss of the season. They are now 5-2.
Friday, November 08, 2013
The Rangers got back to .500 last night, (8-8), by beating their 'cousins' in Columbus, 4-2, behind the stellar goal tending of surprise rookie Cam Talbot. The kid, who took over from vet Martin Biron is now 3-1 and has allowed two or fewer goals in all four games. He is the comfort zone for the Kings backup and if necessary in an emergency the kid looks up to the task.
This was not one of the Rangers better games, but it's a win, and that is what counts the most. The Rangers were erratic and inconsistent. The Rangers poured 34 shots on goal, 10 in the first period, 21 in the second and only 3 in the third period when the Rangers reverted to their rope-a-dope. One of the shots was a goal by Ryan McDonagh (4), which gave the Rangers a two goal cushion. Callahan scored his 5th and Carl Hagelin netted two, 3rd and 4th, though his 2nd was actually put in by Columbus center Mark Letestu trying to clear the puck.
The old Rangers had a mixed night. Dubinsky was strong with an assist, three shots and three hits. Gaborik had an assist, but only got one shot on goal. Anisimov, a minus two, had four shots on goal. Fedor Tyutin scored his first goal of the season. The Blue Jackets are struggling, 5-10, and don't look like they have the personal to make a playoff run.
Taylor Pyatt played only 4:45, after being elbowed by Tyutin, two for elbowing, and his status is unclear. The elbows to the head never stop and never will until the punishment meets the crime. Nash is still out with no timetable on his return. I said many years ago that the penalty for concussing players should be the same amount of time the player hit is out. Example: If Pyatt is out three weeks than Tyutin should be out three weeks. Simple. Make the punishment fit the crime. If not, this insanity will never end.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
The high flying Sid Crosby led Penguins came into the new Garden, but it was the hosts who put on a show before a nationally televised audience, ripping the Pens 5-1. Wow! Two five goal games in three games. This one was more of a complete team win. Five different players scored the goals. In order they were McDonagh (3rd), Stepan (4th), Boyle (1st), Callahan (4th) and Brassard (3rd). Eleven players had points and to make things sweeter Crosby had nary a point.
Henrik Lundqvist had 28 saves, the lone goal scored by Kris Letang. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury came in on a roll, 10 wins and a 1.83 gaa but the Rangers treated him like he was the warmup goalie. He made 20 saves and the Garden crowd serenaded him often. The win moved the Rangers to within 8 points of Metro leading Pens with a big game tonight at the JV Columbus Blue Jackets.
Before the game, Ranger coach Alain Vigneault downplayed he Rangers getting scoring help and opined that "I think we need to get the pieces that we have here to play better." For one night the coach and the team did just that. Now to Columbus and hopefully the 7-8 Rangers will hit the ,500 mark. It looks like the rookie Cam Talbot will be in the nets tonight. Hopefully that will inspire the kids to run, er skate, wild tonight.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Well it was better this time around with the Ducks. Last time it was 6-0 in Anaheim as part of a disastrous western swing. This time it was a 2-1 loss and it could be blamed on two bad giveaways. Tell me, is there such a thing as a good giveaway. Probably all those Federal Gov't programs. And they are questionable. But I digress.
Both Derek Brassard and Brad Richards assisted on two Duck goals in the first period and that was all the Ducks and their young Danish goalie, Frederik Anderson, any relation to Hans Christian Anderson, needed as the Ducks moved to 12-3-1 atop the Pacific Division. The Rangers fell to 6-8 with back to back games against Pittsburgh and Columbus coming up tomorrow night. Del Zotto scored the only Ranger goal.
The Rangers didn't play that badly, but when up against a team like the Ducks they almost have to be perfect. Why? Because the Rangers, despite their three game winning streak, lack the firepower to compete with the top teams. The five goal outburst against the Canes was a two player explosion. The Rangers need Rick Nash back and they need him back quickly and be the old Rick Nash. If he's finished for the year then the Stealth must work a trade to get some big gun.
The Oilers who had their brass at the game, Mark Messier also, are dangling a couple of players who might help. Veteran winger Alex Hemsky and second year winger Nail Yakupov. May not be the right guys and the price may be too high, but the Rangers do need offensive help, otherwise a lot of tough losses to the contenders.
BTW, isn't it a shame that Mark Messier is now part of the Edmonton Oiler organization and not part of the Rangers? Is the Stealth afraid of his presence. So now I know why the snub at the opening game night. Shame on you Stealth.
Sunday, November 03, 2013
It was a couple of days late but the Rangers delivered a sweet victory to the home fans with a convincing 5-1 win over the struggling Carolina Hurricanes, who suffered their fifth straight loss. The winds are blowing the wrong way for the injury plagued Canes. The much ballyhooed match up of the three Staal brothers never materialized as all three were held scoreless.
Derek Stepan delivered the tricks with a natural hat trick and Henrik Lundqvist the treats with a 27 save, one goal allowed, performance. And the treats were across the board with Carl Hagelin, two goals on five shots, Kreider and Zuccarello three assists each and Brad Richards with an assist and five shots. Eight Rangers had points. The Rangers were 1-4 on the power play, Stepan, and the Canes were 1-3, Sekera. The Rangers outshot the Canes 38-28.
The Rangers won their third straight and the pattern emerging is a team that is on the offense keeping their opponents pinned in their own zone. Gone are the days of "not playing defense is not an option" and "defense, first, last and always." Yes, defense is important but in hockey the best defense is a good offense. With Stepan and Kreider hitting their strides and the speed guys like Hagelin and Zuccarello the Rangers seem to be meshing early on.
The Rangers are now 6-7 after a bad start and sit in 4th place in the Metropolitan Division, three out of second place, held by the Islanders. Big test is Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks, first placers in the Pacific and the team that put a big hurt on us during the West Coast trip. Keep those kids skating and things will be okay. As I tell my grandson, Nicholas, skate hard and have fun. The Rangers seem to be doing that very nicely.
ICINGS: Update on the T/Birds JV. They won their fifth game of the year, a 6-1 win over St. John. They are now 5-1. Nicholas was on the ice for two goals and was stoned by the St' John goalie with a shot off of his mask. Go T/Birds! Go Rangers!
Friday, November 01, 2013
It was a good game from a goalie standpoint. A 2-0, 29 save shutout from the King, Henrik Lundqvist and a 44 save effort from the losing goalie, Ryan Miller. I was surprised that after the game Miller wasn't voted one of the stars of the game. He kept his team in the game so that their last ten minute flurry had to be stopped by excellent goaltending from Lundqvist.
Actually this game should have been a breeze but it wasn't due to the Rangers offensive deficiencies. The Ranger line of Stepan, Zuccarello and Kreider was the Rangers best line with 18 shots and a goal by Kreider who continued his fine play. The other goal was a power play goal by Derek Brassard.
The Sabres, a young team, have the worst record in the NHL, 2-12-1 so this was a win that the Rangers had to win. However, it was a big confidence booster for Lundqvist who was great in the last ten minutes. So the defense, giving up 12 goals, in the last seven games, seems to have righted itself. Now it's up to the offense to get going.
To paraphrase, "A win is a win, is a win."
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Well maybe all the young Rangers needed was a change of scenery. After all most of the Rangers are not big city kids. So away from all that glitz and ceremonial stuff and big new building the Rangers returned to their hockey roots. They played a game at a broken down excuse for a hockey rink but it was a hockey rink. Good solid ice in front of fans and not celebrities they played a good old fashion rock 'em and sock 'em hockey game.
And a good game it was, and a win it was, which made the game better. Coach Alain Vigneault's bold decision to start rookie Cam Talbot and not Lundqvist in a back-to-back game was daring, open to question, but it was bold. And it worked. The kid was good, stopping 22 shots and improving to 2-1-0 with a 2.0 GAA. One goal, went off Islander center Peter Regin's face, off of Talbot's glove and off of Dan Girardi's back into the net. Minnesota Fats would have been proud of that shot. So the kid, Talbot, is ready for the backup role to Lundqvist and more important ready to take over in an emergency.
But it was a breakout for other Rangers also. They were relentless and held the Islander's top line of Tavares, newly acquired Vanek and Okposo to a total of only 5 shots, three by Tavares. How could they shoot? They spent most of the night defending against the Rangers young wings. Chris Kreider got his first goal of the year, a PP goal and who along with JT Miller and McDonagh led the team with three shots on goal. Ryan McDonagh tied the game on another PP goal. The Rangers were 2-4 on the power play and shut out the Islanders, 0-3. The winning goal was scored by Benoit Pouliot, who has become something of a revelation with his late game dramatics.
The only sour note was an injury to Dominic Moore. He has an upper body injuy. Carl Hagelin returned and was aggressive in 17:15 of ice time, assisting on the winning goal. Stepan with two assists, team leading seven, won ten of sixteen face offs, is starting to pick up his game. Brad Richards continued his fine play with an assist, two shots and winning seven of twelve face offs.
So now its back to the Garden Thursday against the Sabres. Hopefully the regular fans will be back, the celebrities will be gone and Viggy's kids will run over the Sabres. Lundqvist will be back in the nets and that's good. The Rangers need the King to return to form and lead them back into the race.
Good game last night. Good bounce back. Let's keep it going.
ICINGS: My wife constantly asks me, how is Jagr doing? She remembers him from his Ranger days. She always liked him. Well dear, Jagr is doing fine. Last night he led the Devil's to a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay. The goal was his third of the year and the 119th game winner of his career and the most by any player in the history of the NHL. She smiled and said, the Rangers never should have gotten rid of him. A hug and a kiss from the missus to Jagr.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Maybe I expected too much after the Red Wing game. In hindsight that game was an aberration and last night's game was more telling of what kind of a season we are going to get if Nash and Callahan don't get back soon. BTW, what is the status on Nash? It's like he fell into a hole. Remember, this is his second concussion. Hopefully, he will fully recover.
Last night it was all about glitz. The new Garden and all the celebs and big shots showed up. The biggest 'big shots' were my two sons and all the other long suffering fans who have watched so much mediocrity over the years. They had two hall-of-famers, Corneyer, of the Canadiens and Rod Gilbert of the Rangers drop the ceremonial first puck. One, won a ton of Cups and the other nada. They introduced certain members of the 1994 Stanley Cup team and notably forget, or maybe on purpose, left out Mark Messier. As for me, enough already with 1994. To me it's as distant a memory as 1940. Out on LI the other team's GM is working hard to better the team as our GM remains in hiding.
The game was awful and boring. Nothing has changed. Our power play was 0-5 and Montreal was 1-6. Canadien goalie, Budaj had a 27 save shutout and Lundqvist had 25 saves. The offense was non-existant with Kreider's shot off of Budaj's glove and crossbar being the highlight film. Of course Kreider's interference penalty on watching two Canadiens collide was also a thing of beauty that must of had the suits in Toronto cringing.
So it is on to the Island to face the revamped Islanders. While Islander GM Snow works, Ranger GM Stealth fiddles. Sounds familiar?
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Last night was surely a night of firsts for the young struggling Rangers. It was the first win at Detroit since January 30, 1999, encompassing six losses. It was rookie, backup goalie, Cam Talbot's first NHL win. It was the first goals of the season for Benoit Pouliot, (1-1-2) plus 1, Mats Zuccarello, (1-0-1), and Derick Brassard, (1-0-1) plus 1. Assists were also racked up by Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal. It was by far the best all around game of the season for the team.
Ice time was spread liberally with the fourth liners getting the least with Jesper Fast at 9:38, Zuccarello at 10:24 and Dominic Moore at 12:02. There were no 3 and 4 minute guys. Of the six Dmen Del Zotto had the least ice time with 17:02 and McDonagh the most with 26:52. JT Miller got 14:27, Chris Kreider 18:23 and Taylor Pyatt 15:21. Brian Boyle played his best game of the season, logging 18:14 with three hits and winning 13 of 20 face offs. So far his season, despite the record, it looks like we have a coach coaching the game and not each line change that is going on.
What looks certain is that Cam Talbot is the real McCoy as a big league goalie. He made 32 saves, some spectacular. He should handle 20-25 games without any trouble. The team, minus Nash, Callahan and Hagelin poured 40 shots on goal led by Dman Anton Stralman with six, followed by Derek Stepan with four. So coach AV's approach not to panic and stay with the plan seems to be working. He is giving people the ice time to see if they can come around. Last night the team came around especially the goalie and the three scorers. The winning goal was a beauty with Pouliot hustling the puck to Brassard, who did not miss.
Now, does that mean its all uphill. Hell no! It means that there is progress and maybe this short hand the GM gave the coach may not be so bad after all if these youngsters continue to perform. Tomorrow at the Garden should be a doozy against Le Habs. Another original six team and game two in a row just like the old days. It should be a wild and crazy crowd rooting for the Blueshirts. I'm jealous, my two sons will be there.
They say patience is a virtue and more of it will be needed to turn this season around. I'm betting that AV will do just that as long as he stays with the plan and keeps these kids in the lineup and playing.
Wow! Beating the Red Wings in OT in Detroit. It shoulda happened 63 years ago. Oh well, dream on!
ICINGS; RIP to Allan Stanley who played for the Rangers in the late forties and fifties. He was 87. The Dman made the NHL Hall Of Fame and won four Cups with the Maple Leafs. He also played for Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. Our prayers and condolences to the Stanley family. God Bless!
The T/Birds JV won their fourth game beating Ward Melville 6-2. Nicholas was on the ice for three of the goals.
Friday, October 25, 2013
That's what we need folks because it's going to be a long year. Vigneault has been dealt a bad hand which got worse with the injuries to Nash and Callahan and the mystic, cryptic injury to Lundqvist. Amazing. Your star, franchise player has an injury and no one knows what it is. And the lame stream media goes along and doesn't probe. The Stealth GM rules and the media folds. Absolutely amazing.
The team, by its past history and coaching is not built to score goals. With Nash and Callahan and Hagelin all out that problem is compounded. So we are relying on Stepan, Kreider and Miller to pick up the pace. And that's where the patience comes in. Its not going to happen overnight. Stepan is still not in game shape and Kreider and Miller need a lot of ice time.
Nash's concussion could be a serious matter which could lead to a long layoff. Callahan's broken hand is a symptom of the way he plays the game and many more injuries are potentially there. Lundqvist? Who knows? Hopefully it's as minor as they say. otherwise kiss the season goodbye.
So have patience. We are noted for it. After all 54 years of waiting tested it very strongly. Please don't ask me to do another 54. I can't take it.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Tighten your seat belts folks, it's going to be a long, tough, gut wrenching year. The Rangers followed up their best game of the year, against the Caps, to their worst game against a Devil team that won its first game of the year. The Devils actually passed the Rangers in the standings as the convoluted point system has the Devils, 1-4-3, one point ahead of the Rangers, 2-5-0.
Henrik Lundqvist didn't have to face an old nemesis, Marty Brodeur, instead it was Cory Schneider, who posted his 5th career shutout in beating the Rangers 4-0. Lundqvist, to be perfectly honest was awful. He surrendered the four goals on the first 12 shots of the game. To be fair, the King didn't have much of a team in front of him.
It's time for the Stealth, the GM, to awaken from his slumber and restructure this team. Granted Callahan and Nash are hurt and Hagelin still isn't ready this is still a poor excuse for a hockey team. It would be hard pressed to beat a good AHL team. The coach made a good start with the benching of Del Zotto, but more needs to be done. Last night's lineup was a collection of 3rd and 4th liners playing down to their reputations. Taylor Pyatt on the first line? Gimmee a break.
What is equally puzzling is the poor play of Girardi and McDonagh. Did they burn themselves out last year? Some of last year's habits are still prevalent, like going out of their way to block shots. Callahan may be out over a month with a broken hand blocking a shot. Why block a shot with your hand when you have a $7 million dollar goalie in the nets?
It is no easy job Vigneault has in trying to fix this team. To me the biggest job he has is to get the Stealth GM out of hibernation to do his job, which is basically to revamp this team before it's too late. However, any more performances like last night might make it a moot point. There is time and let's start it now. The Ranger fans deserve better and the sooner we start the better. Don't let us down.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
The Rangers did it the old fashioned way last night against the Caps. They returned to basics. They returned to solid in your face hockey and more important Henrik Lundqvist returned to form with a 22 save shutout of his personal patsies, the Washington Caps. It is the third game in a row that Lundqvist has shutout the Caps, including games six and seven of last years playoffs. Coach Alain Vigneault can breath a little easier.
The Rangers won it in all aspects. They outshot the Caps, 36-22. They outhit the Caps, 35-21 and the Rangers blocked more shots by a 32-13 margin. The great Ovechkin launched 13 shots at the net, 8 were stopped by Lundqvist. However, he was outmatched by the Rangers Brad Richards, who fired 12, 5 on net and racked up two assists and was a plus 2. He was voted number three star for the night by the NHL while Lundqvist was the number star of the night in the NHL.
Ice time was fairly even with only three Rangers getting less than ten minutes. D-man Justin Falk had 8:57 and two forwards, Jesper Fast, 8:08 and Derrick Brassard, a plus 2, with 9:33. All in all a fine team performance. After the debacle out west this game was a welcome outcome. Hopefully they will keep it going as they tour the East now. But it is the same as last year. The Rangers will only go as far as Lundqvist will take them. If last night was any indication the Rangers may go quite far this year.
ICINGS: T/Birds JV lost their first game of the year, a 6-5 OT loss to Northport/Huntington. They are now 3-0-1.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
I read a report where the GM, the Stealth GM, is traveling with the team. You think he sees what we see? You think he sees how small and slow and meek we are? Is the main goal to pile up frequent flier miles? Or is he evaluating his coach, the one he gave the five year deal to? I give AV a lot of credit. He's keeping his cool through all this. Either that or he is in a cosmic shock. To his credit, he knows it's a long season and he could turn it around. The question is. Can he do it with this team?
But if I were AV it would be the GM I would be evaluating. Look at the record so far. One win and four losses in five games. Outscored 25-9. The St. Louis game looked close, 5-3 but it really wasn't. The best part of the game was the third period. We were out shot 17-5 in that period and only by the heroics of our old reliable goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, the Blues only scored one goal. It was vintage Lundqvist. So maybe he is back.
But it is time for a reevaluation. As that short stubby guy likes to say, "It's getting late early." It looks like the coach is taking another look at the backup goalie position. Can Biron handle twenty games? Maybe bring up a younger goalie. Young goalies have good track records in the NHL. Also need to evaluation the usefulness of players like Asham, Boyle, Moore. And maybe Jesper Fast should go to Hartford and JT Miller and Kreider should be brought up. Maybe.
But coach Vigneault thinks its simple. "It's not complicated. It's a matter of us going out and executing better, and this group can do that." Sounds good. Sounds positive. I'm not sure we have the players to do it, but I could be wrong and it won't be the first time. The good news is we are heading east. The bad news is we are still on the road.
Katie Strang / ESPN / Twitter:
- Asham also notified after practice. Said his impression was that decision made both because of his play and his contract. No hard feelings
- Marty Biron learned of being placed on waivers after practice. Unsure of what will happen next, wants to discuss options w/ family
- Should note that Biron was asked about retirement as possibility. Didn't deny that as an option
Friday, October 11, 2013
Before last night's game, debacle, MSG replayed the greatest Ranger game ever, the 1994 6th game against the Devils. You remember the night? Rangers down 3-2 in games and Messier predicts a win. Messier scores a hat trick and ensures the win. During the game, Ranger coach Mike Keenan, calls a timeout and says absolutely nothing. The team goes out and comes back from a 2-0 hole and wins 4-2 to force a seventh game and as they say the rest is history.
Now I don't know Ranger coach Alain Vigneault, nor much about his abilities. He has coached some good teams and some bad teams. Right now he has a bad team that is in danger of spiraling out of control. They are 1-3 with five more road games. They go to St. Louis to play a very good Blues team, who are young, big and fast. The Rangers have none of those features right now. So if Vigneault has any tricks, or magic, or ideas now is the time.
In four games, 1-3, we have scored all of six goals and given up twenty goals. The team has been a step behind in all four games. Mistakes? Last night there were two fights and in both fights we picked up extra penalties. Two minutes in the first fight and four minutes in the second. The defense looks awfully confused. Now these are guys that have been on the ice with each other many times. So what is going on here?
The blowhards keep talking about the system. What system? It's hockey. How about the old reliable, "Let's go back to basics." You remember. Shoot when you have a shot. Hit your man when he has the puck. Protect your goalie and most important, remember, "Skate hard, shoot hard and pass hard " and like I tell my grandson, whose team is now 3-0, have fun. So far this season has not been fun.
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Was that a freight train that ran over the Rangers last night in San Jose? Or was that the ultimate Shark attack in the San Jose shark tank. One of my readers was quite prophetic. Savedoctor predicted that if the Rangers play Pittsburgh the way they played Phoenix they would be blown out 10-1. Well it wasn't Pittsburgh, it was San Jose and they were blown out 9-2. Good call Savedoctor.
A young stud named Tomas Hertl, from the Czech Republic no less, looked and played like a young Jaromir Jagr and scored four goals. His last goal was out of the Marek Malik book and was a beauty, though a little showoffish. He got seven shots on goal in all of 11:12 of ice time.
To add salt to the wounds there is no official word on the condition of Rick Nash. Reports have it he has headaches after taking an elbow to the head by Brad Stuart. Stuart got a two minute penalty. He should get a suspension. Knowing the NHL it's maybe a game and a promise not to do it again.
San Jose lost only two home games last year. The way they played against the Rangers they might not lose one this year. Hopefully the other teams will put up more resistance. But the Captain summed it up best, "It was embarrassing." Enough said.
Tomas Hertl's between the legs goal:
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
It only took one game, actually one man, Captain Ryan Callahan, to snap the Rangers funk and lead them to a 3-1 victory over the LA Kings. Following the stinker in Phoenix the Rangers were in need of something. That something turned into Ryan Callahan. You won't find his name in the score sheet, but he was there. His presence was felt by the Rangers and the Kings. Heck his presence was felt by Kings Dman, Robyn Regehr on Callahan's first shift when he nailed Regehr into the boards. Early in the second period he collided with Kings center Anze Kopitar and cut his chin in the process. He sat out the rest of the period but returned in the third. He only logged 11:16 but did get 4 hits, 2 blocked shots and missed the net on 4 attempts. The Captain is back.
The big game highlight, besides Brad Richard's two goals was King goalie Jonathan Quick fanning on Ryan McDonagh clearing pass and putting it into his own net. Quick did make 25 saves, but Ludqvist bested him with 28 saves. However, the story of the game was Callahan's return. With seven more road games it was imperative the Rangers picked up an early win.
I watched the post game show again, I must be a gluten for punishment. There was Ron Duguay, one of my reader's favorite analyst, and he said that this was a great outing by the Rangers after Thursday's, 4-1 Rangers loss, which he called, "totally disorganized." He also said that he didn't like what he saw from the Rangers versus Phoenix. Is this the same Ron Duguay who, for days ago, after that game said: "I liked a lot of what I saw." You can't keep doing that Ron, you will confuse my readers. At least you confuse the portion of my readers, who don't believe what they see, but rely on 'experts.'
This writer posts what he sees whether the readers like it or not. If you are looking for what you want to see go to one of the many 'homer' posts that exist other blogs. There are many of them. The tell it like it is bloggers are three fewer this year. Also, be careful who you set up as the criteria. Changing your analysis game to game is not the way to go. Unless you are a politician.
Friday, October 04, 2013
The Rangers opened their season the same way they played their preseason. Losing. While there were some good moments they were too few and they were overwhelmed by the bad stuff. Certainly there weren't as many good moments as Ron Dugay would have us believe in his wrap-up on TV.
Our one goal was scored by Marc Staal, a power play goal. However, the Rangers were 1-4 on the PP. The Yotes were 1-3 on the power play but they scored two goals after the expiration of their PPs. So the special teams killed the Rangers again.
So what has changed? Not much. The D couldn't keep the puck away from Lundqvist, hence the Radim Vrbata hat trick. The offense was the same. Lots of movement and rushes but just one goal and that by a defenseman, Marc Staal, who looked fine. Meanwhile at times the D looked confused and there was a time during the third period where Lundqvist kept the score reasonable. Mike Smith, the Coyotes goalie was very good. Then there was the spectacle of Rick Nash squaring off with Martin Hanzal after Hanzal decked Stepan. Good for sticking up for a teammate, but do we really want Nash fighting?
So maybe Monday we turn it around. Maybe Monday Callahan comes back and lights a fire against the LA Kings. Maybe Monday we see more of Ryan McDonagh and less of Michael Del Zotto. Maybe Monday we see more of JT Miller and Jesper Fast and less of Brian Boyle. Maybe Monday the brass rethinks and brings back Chris Kreider.
But let's not panic. It's only one game. See what happens Monday and we may rethink panic. This was the first of a nine game opening road trip. We can't make the hole so deep it becomes a chasm. Anyhow, hockey is officially back and that's good news.
The JV T/Birds of Connetquot/Sayville have opened the season 2-0 with wins over Sachem, 1-0, and Half Hollow Hills, 2-1. Grandson Nicholas has been moved from defense to left wing and is getting familiar to the nuances of playing offense. He was a +1 in the HHH game and his line was on ice for the game winning goal. Go T/Birds and Go Rangers!!
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A very interesting preseason game coming up tonight as the Rangers play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena at 10pm ET.
So how is our old friend Johnny Drama doing in his new theater of operations? Reports are that the old thesbian still lives by the adage that all the world is his stage.
NHL.com / Sept 26th, 2013:
Canucks still learning Tortorella's style --
That voice has come as advertised, with [John] Tortorella making threats if cell phones ring in press sessions, bluntly calling out the fitness levels of Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito, and saying "he couldn't find" top defenseman Alexander Edler in the tape he watched from last season. As promised, he also has delivered those messages bluntly and directly in a locker room Vigneault had left to the players.A smile crossed my face while reading this, especially the part that said, "forwards collapsing" and "there is more of an emphasis on blocking shots." Will your rope-a-dope strategy find a happy home out west? We shall see Johnny Drama, we shall see...
"We haven't got one of his classic rants the media talks about, but he is definitely a presence in the room," veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "And you definitely know if you do something stupid you will get called out on it."
But the bigger adjustment to Tortorella has been on the ice. Training camp started as more of a conditioning camp, with players skated so hard that fatigue was cited as a problem after losing the first three preseason games. So, too, was a lack of understanding of system changes initiated under Tortorella, who didn't switch the focus to tactics until Friday.
The differences include forwards collapsing deeper into the defensive zone and the defensemen playing more of a zone down low instead of picking a man. The breakouts and forecheck also have been altered, and there is more of an emphasis on blocking shots. But the biggest challenge for Tortorella is trying to get his new team to be more aggressive and assertive all over the ice...
Friday, September 20, 2013
I have been debating with myself, no comments, please, about whether I should hang it up as a blogger. Basically, mothball The Ranger Pundit. And the peasants cheered! Really, the last five or six years have been exhausting and frustrating. Then the other day I heard the new coach, AV, for simplicity, news conference and I was impressed.
He told a reporter, that his question, was a good question. Imagine that? A Ranger coach actually acknowledging a question from a reporter and saying, "that's a good question". Wow! No growls, frowns or nasty retorts. No, "that's a stupid question", no, "what kind of a question is that" and no, "I'm not going to answer that question." What a novel thought. "That's a good question".
So speaking of questions, what kind of team are the Rangers going to be this year? Don't know and neither does the coach. However, what seems to be the M.O. is that it is going to be an open training camp where some young guys might actually have a shot at making the team. There are three key missing ingredients so far. Derek Stepan is holding out and what I have been able to gather its for about 1 mil a year difference. I know there is a cap problem, but we should get around it. Dumping Boyle and Del Zotto should more than close the cap issue.
The other missing pieces are Callahan and Hagelin. Both are key players, but hey, who knows, some young ones may come along and fill in nicely. So well see. However, early signs are encouraging. AV, has assigned his assistants to cover the power play and the penalty kill. But he was emphatic that the power play was on him to fix. Wow!
A coach who answers questions and takes responsibility. I gotta hang around to see this. Is Emile Francis back, reincarnated? So we are off to a good start. Don't know about you but I am going to keep my eye on the young guys, the coach looks like he can handle things. Isn't it a shame that youth has to be wasted on the young. Go get 'em AV.
ICINGS: High fashion ad agency Lipman, whose roots go back to 1927, has folded and closed its doors. So why is this news on a hockey blog? It's news because one of Lipman's partners is a person named Sean Avery. Do you think those skates can be fished out of the Hudson River and are usable? Stay tuned.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Everybody's got a clean slate. Everybody's gonna' get a chance, an opportunity, and it's up to them to grab it. — Alain Vigneault, Sept. 11, 2013
What a strange pleasure to hear a coach giving thoughtful, honest, and straightforward answers to questions about the NY Rangers without any drama.
So, here we go.
This will be the Ranger Pundit's 77th season as a NY Rangers fan. Hope it's a winner.
Jim Cerny / BlueshirtsUnited.com:
Clean Slate...Grab It! Rangers Open Camp Under Vigneault
Katie Strang / ESPN:
Rangers prepare for 'clean slate'
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Guest Post: A Red, White & Blue Blueshirt
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Nice job out of Jess Rubenstein (Prospect Park) and friends as they put together a new online hockey magazine: Hock.ly, that previews the 2013 NHL draft in their first issue.
Go full screen mode to get the full effect.
Molson Canadian | The Beer Fridge
Molson revisits iconic commercial for Canada Day --
We created a beer fridge and took it to Europe. There was only one way to open it -- a Canadian passport #IAMCANADIAN
Friday, June 21, 2013
For those of us, me, waiting for the Stealth GM to make a dramatic choice, go outside the box, we were disappointed as the move was predictable. He passed up bold, by not going after Mike Keenan. He will be back in the NHL within two years after his Russian stint. He passed up dramatic, by passing on an anxious and ready Mark Messier, who surely will soon leave the Ranger organization. New Jersey anyone?
Make no mistake Alain Vigneault was the safe choice. Among the pretenders for all the coaching jobs he had the highest winning percentage. He was coach of the year in 2006-07. Two times his Vancouver Canucks team won the President's Trophy, 2010-11 and 2011-12. His 2010-11 team lost to the Bruins in seven for the Stanley Cup. The seventh game was lost at home. So Vigneault has a resume. This year's team was swept in the first round by the sixth seeded Sharks, which means that Vigneault comes to the Big Apple on a downer. So why five years?
He is the Stealth's fifth coach and the previous one lasted four and a half years. What are the odds he makes the end of his term? Win the Cup and he gets a Broadway Parade. Don't win the Cup and he still makes a lot of money, $10 million, and goes on to another job. So we have a safe choice from the man who really is the one that should be fired. Fourteen years and counting on a dismal performance. No other New York team GM would have survived this mediocrity. What is it about the Ranger franchise that tolerates this ineptness? It's called money. The dough is rolling in with the Garden tenants and that is all that matters.
Good luck Alain Vigneault!
Today, Alain Vigneault was introduced as the 35th head coach of the New York Rangers.
The press conference:
Vigneault on his style:
"I will use my offensive players more in the offensive zone...it's the right place for them to start and gives them more opportunities for them to have success, and then those other players are put in the right situation, too," Vigneault explained. "My job is to win games, get the most out of our players, so I need to put them in positions to succeed."Clearly this was all music to Sather's ears because as the Rangers GM spoke with reporters on Friday he consistently mentioned that a change in playing style was critical to move the Blueshirts forward as a team.
"I think we needed a change in style," stated Sather. "If you look at the injuries we have had over the years, the number of guys who really were getting the crap kicked out of them in our end because we constantly had to defend our own end...that style was perfect here for a number of years, but I think it started to wear our team out. There's nothing wrong with that style, but it was taking a toll on our hockey club. So it was time to do something to change the style so that we could go further and compete longer."
It has been pointed out that the Stanley Cup looks like the Hubble Space Telescope. Whoever wins it will be flying high.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
So the Rangers drain trust are meeting in sunny California, far from the New York lame stream media. As if it would matter if they were there to question the all knowing one. Who else is there? Who knows? Could any other New York team GM survive fourteen years of ineptitude? No way! Could any other non-visible GM get away with what this clown has gotten away with? No way!
Do you need any more proof that hockey is not considered to be a major sport by many of the major sport outlets? So now the guessing game, on who will be the next coach. Names like Lindy Ruff and Alain Vigneault are considered main attractions. Dan Blysma, the Pens coach, is rumored to be in the crosshairs of owner Mario Lemieux and is a candidate. Only Dan Blysma has won a Cup.
I think that the Rangers are set up for greatness by making two big moves. Well, actually three. The first is to fire the Stealth GM, Glen Sather. Of course, that will never happen. The owner is a problem. The fish stinks from the head. The big decision is to hire Iron Mike Keenan as head coach and Mark Messier as his assistant. This combination worked well when the Rangers last won the Cup. Keenan drove the team and Messier was the buffer between the coach and the players. The Rangers this year had no buffer between the coach and the players. Ryan Callahan, a great competitor and player, was not a buffer but an extension of the coach. He was the coach's boy.
So there is the solution and it's an easy one. Keenan is a winner. Messier is a winner. They have done it before. The team will love it. The fans will love it and even the lame stream media will love it. It's a no-brainer and therein may lie the problem The Stealth GM is a no-brainer if there was ever one and he may opt for one of the perennial losers fearing that Keenan may go after his job. Have no fear Stealth, the Absentee Owner has your back. Il pesce puzza dalla testa.
Male e bene a fine viene.
Katie Strang / ESPN New York:
Mark Messier in the mix --
Despite reports that Tortorella was heading into the last year of his contract in 2013-14, ESPNNewYork.com confirmed via a source close to the coach on Wednesday that he signed an extension during the season. That means that the Rangers will still be on his hook for his salary for the remainder of the contract -- believed to be three years -- even once they name a new coach.
Saturday, June 01, 2013
Glen Sather is now conducting a job hunt for his 6th head coach. What is the record for most head coaches hired and fired under a GM anyway? When is this GM going to be held accountable for the failures of his many coaches?
Michael Kay of ESPN New York radio, FM 98.7, is one of the few media personalities, who has consistently been an outspoken critic of New York Rangers GM, Glen Sather. Here at the start of the podcast of his May 29th, ESPN radio show Kay tears into the "Teflon" GM, and asks why hasn't Glen Sather been fired. His sidekick and MSG radio guy, Don La Greca, does his job in carrying water for the MSG organization.
Later on (at the 35:40 mark) they discuss the coaching candidates with Barry Melrose.
The Michael Kay Show: 5/29 --
Did John Tortorella deserve to be fired? How has Sather lasted?
You could make points on why this guy (Tortorella) should be fired... His system doesn't seem like it's a smart system, when you have a great goalie. The power play was abysmal this year. They (the Rangers) can't score. They just can't. So I get it...
But when you have a GM, who seems to be Teflon, for lack of a better word. And then he has the gall, the unmitigated gall to pretty much say Stanley Cup or bust when you haven't won anything in your 13 years running the Rangers. Many of those years without the restraints of a salary cap, when you could have got any player you wanted, spent any money you wanted and still didn't go to the playoffs. I think you have to be held accountable as well. That's my problem with his firing... not so much that Tortorella is gone, but that Sather is still there saying what he is saying. And this is a very experienced guy. He's been in hockey forever. He played for the Rangers so he knows what New York is about. For him to use that phraseology about well, you know, we're in it to win the Stanley Cup. And, you know, he (Tortorella) didn't get it done. Well, neither did you and you still have your job. Obviously he can't speak to himself being fired. And Jim Dolan doesn't talk, publicly. I'd like to ask Jim Dolan, why does Glen Sather still have his job?
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Was Henrik Lundqvist's statement about having to talk to his agent before making a committal the cause? Well, er, no.
Was the benching of Richards the cause? Well, er, no.
Was criticizing management for not enough roll players the cause? Well, er, no.
Was the abrasive press conferences the cause? Well, er, maybe, could be, but no.
There was not one question directed at the GM that would have implicated him in this debacle. After all it's been fourteen years and every three or four years when we change the coach, having this GM still around is not going to cut it. This guy has got to go too. We need a complete revamping. The owner is safe. He owns the team. However, this guy, the Stealth GM, is as much of a problem as the bad coaches he keeps hiring. As I told the Stealth that bleak February night at the Garden over four years ago, after a terrible OT loss to the lowly Maple Leafs, "you should fire yourself, you don't belong here." The next day he fired Tom Renney.
My definite opinionated opinion is that this coach was fired for two main reasons above all.
First. Henrik Lundqvist's comment that the team went backward while the coach claimed it went sideways. Then in a response to a possible extension of his contract he preferred to state that he would have to talk to his agent. Wow! Lundqvist not jumping at the chance to resign with the vaunted Rangers. That's earth shaking. Pack up the team and the fans for all those empty seats on the horizon. Now that's a hit in the old pocketbook, a depression in the bank account and forget playoffs without Lundqvist. In fact, forget season.
The other reason, according to this Pundit was a poll taken by the NY Daily News (see below). In that poll seventy-one percent of the readers said that the coach must go. And Sixty-two percent said, "Sather should get the ax" too. Ah, what do these stupid fans know? How can that be? After all the press, even though disrespected, had not blasted the coach on a regular basis. Maybe they were afraid to, for fear of being chewed on in the press conferences. Ah, the press conferences. Don't you think the fans know that when a coach rips the press and ignores them regularly that he is really ripping and ignoring the fans. Get the fan base annoyed and you are in big trouble. Many a player and a coach have been booed out of the Garden. Some good and some bad. However, once you alienate the fan base you are done. And coach disagreeable did alienate the fan base on more than one occasion.
So here we are once again. The talk is that Lindy Ruff has the inside track. I hope not. Lindy's a good guy, but what has he won? Want a retread with a record? We had him in the booth: 'Iron Mike' Keenan. Unfortunately Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL snapped him up a couple of weeks ago. Mike is a real SOB, who really knows hockey. He would have given us a third and fourth line that do what third and fourth lines are supposed to do. He'd have raised hell, on the ice, in the locker room, in corporate, and he'd have given us a winner.
We can't get "Iron Mike." So then I would go with the legends: Messier, Graves and Leetch. Make Messier the coach with Graves and Leetch as assistants. They may not win a Cup, but we will have a lot of friends behind the bench. But, the Stealth will probably go with some experience, no rookie coaching experiments. But for now, I'll savor that disagreeable is gone. Where he goes, I could care less.
NY Daily News:
NY Rangers fans have say: John Tortorella must go --
Seventy-one percent of readers voted on The News’ interactive online 'Keep ’Em, Dump ’Em' page to jettison Tortorella after the Rangers failed to return to the Eastern Conference finals.
Daily News readers want John Tortorella to stop coaching, Glen Sather to stop general managing and James Dolan to stop owning, which means there will be plenty of disgruntled fans at the Garden at the start of the 2013-14 season.
Sixty-two percent said Sather should get the ax, and 83% told Dolan to take a hike...
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Yes, fourteen years. That's how long its been since the Savior from the West came to New York to lead the Rangers to the Cup, after Cup after Cup. You remember the quote. Hopefully I get it right, it's from memory: 'If I had the money the Rangers have I would win the Cup every year.'* So here he is, the Stealth GM, fourteen years later. Not only no Cup but it seems we went backward this year. If the goalie on the Bruins doesn't trip over his own laces, the Bruins sweep us. So add the six years from 1994-2000 and we are now in a twenty year draught for the richest team in the NHL.
But the Stealth isn't the only culprit. He is abetted by the Absentee Owner and aided by the most disagreeable of all people, the Ranger coach. The coach declared after the game that he bears some responsibility for not making his best players play better. Play better? He makes them worse. He destroys them. Marian Gaborik, two time forty goal scorer, derided, humiliated. Criticized while hurt, shortened ice time and eventually traded to Columbus.
Brad Richards, all star player. The coach's buddy, good friend. With friends like this you don't need enemies. Relegated to the third and fourth line and then the ultimate indignity. Benched during the last two playoff games. Richards is gone next year and that is his good fortune. Probably sign with Pittsburgh and haunt us all year long.
Rick Nash, the ultimate power forward. One goal in thirteen playoff games. Torey Krug, the Boston rookie, scored four goals against us. You know how coach disagreeable could have made Nash and Richards and Gaborik better? Leave them alone. Who saw this game yesterday and didn't think that Rick Nash was more concerned about not being torched or not blocking a shot than he was scoring a goal. I believe he got two shots on goal.
So we have the Stealth GM going out and spending all that money to get powerhouse players like Gaborik and Richards and Nash to build a contender. Most coaches would have licked their chops in delight with a potential of 100 additional goals per season from this dynamic trio. Not disagreeable. He had to teach them how to play hockey. He had to teach them how to muck it up. He had to teach them how to play defense. He had to teach them how to block shots. But he loves 'hands of stone' Boyle. He adores 'give it away' Del Zotto. And we are going to have him as long as we have the Stealth.
And then there is the Absentee Owner. You realize the Garden had eleven playoff games, six by the Knicks and five by the Rangers this spring. It is estimated playoff games bring in around $2-3 million a game all belonging to the owners. The players get no share of the money. So the Absentee Owner pocketed anywhere from $22-33 million and that may be conservative.
So here we are. The Stealth GM and the disagreeable coach going in opposite directions and the Absentee Owner is smiling all the way to the bank. Did you go to any of the playoff games? I didn't. Did you see the prices for the tickets? Do you think that with this coach any free agent worth his salt will sign with the Rangers? Do you think we are heading forward or backward? As long as the Stealth GM remains so will the disagreeable coach. No thanks guys. I'll stick with my Grandson who now has made the JV. Go T/Birds.
* There are many variations of Glen Sather's arrogant quote that are bouncing around the web. The exact wording of that braggadocious quip is unclear. But, take your pick, they all meant the same thing.
"If I had the Rangers payroll, I'd never lose a game"Puck Daddy:
"If I had the Rangers' budget, I wouldn't lose a game."Blue Line Station:
“If I had the Rangers’ budget, I’d never lose a game”Hotstove NY:
"If we had the Rangers payroll, we'd win every year"Bleacher Report:
"If I had the [Rangers] payroll, my team would never lose a game."Bleacher Report:
"If I had their payroll, my team would never lose."