Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chara Shows How(e)

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Bolts Jolt Blueshirts

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

Saturday Night Hero

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

Lundqvist Soars In Dallas!!

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. St├ęphane 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

We Are A 500 Club!

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

Big Bad Ben!!

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

Ghostbuster!!!

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

No #16, Brodeur Shines!

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

Happy Veterans Day!

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

Rookie Saves The Night!

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

Rangers Rip Sid, Pens!

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

Not There Yet!

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

Tricks Are Treats!

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

Lundqvist Outduels Miller!

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."