Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bounce Back Win!

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

All Glit, No Grit

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

Patience Pays Off-At Least For A Game!

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

Patience!

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

BeDeviled!

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

Back To Basics!

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

What Now Stealth?

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.

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Update:  Big change are afoot this afternoon (10/14), as both Arron Asham and Marty Biron were place on waivers just after the Rangers finished their practice.

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

What's Going On Here?

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

What Happened?

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.

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ICINGS:

Tomas Hertl's between the legs goal:

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Captain's Return Rights Ship

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

Not a Good Start!

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.

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ICINGS: More bad news on the blog front. Scotty Hockey has decided to take a hiatus from blogging and believe me its getting lonely out there. First the Dark Ranger, then Hockey Rodent and now Scotty Hockey. All the fun blogs are gone.

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!!