Monday, February 22, 2010

USA All The Way

It wasn't the "Miracle On Ice", but it was one hellava performance by Team USA in beating Team Canada, and Marty Brodeur, 5-3 and thereby advancing to the quarterfinals. Now the Gold Medal is only three games away and team Canada must work its way through the qualifing round.

It was a sweet victory for Ranger fans also. Chris Drury, playing his best hockey of the season, scored his second goal of this tournament, giving the USA a 3-2 lead which it never relinquished. What made it sweeter was that it came aginst the "beloved" Marty Brodeur of the Devils, who played like he was bored with the whole procedings. Marty was toasted by old friends like Brian Rafalski , two goals, and Jamie Langenbrunner, a goal and an assist.

It would have been worse had the Americans been able to put more rubber on Brodeur who made all of 18 saves. How long will Team Canada stay with Marty remains to be seem. They won't go far with his indifferent play. For Team USA they are now on a collision course to meet the Swedish Team and Henrik Lundqvist. Now won't that be a dandy.

Go Lundqvist! Go Team USA!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Zaba - Valley Shuffle

Is this move being made so that Zaba gets some work during the Olympic break? So, after the games Zaba comes back up to the Rangers and Valley goes back down to Hartford. Or is the Valley comeback real?

NY Rangers:
Valiquette rejoins roster; Zaba to Hartford -- New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that goaltender Steve Valiquette has been recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL), and goaltender Matt Zaba has been assigned to Hartford...

Valiquette posted a 4-1-1 mark, with a 2.29 goals against average and a .919 save percentage in a six-game stretch from December 12 vs. Bridgeport to December 30 vs. Springfield, including back-to-back wins on December 12 vs. Bridgeport (2-1) and December 18 vs. Toronto (6-1) where he registered a 0.99 goals against average and a .960 save percentage in the two contests...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Avery Sparks Comeback Win

They just announced the three stars of the game and Avery wasn't one of them. It was Christensen, Lundqvist and Prospal in that order. Don't believe it. The Rangers were dead. They were sleep walking and Tortorella was ready to pull a Mount Vesuvius. Then Avery got pulled down going to the net. He was given a penalty shot. The Grate One faked Tampa Bay goalie Smith out of his skates and bingo the Rangers were on the board. The Rangers scored four more goals, including an empty netter by Drury, which was his 250th goal and 600 point of his career.

Lundqvist was brilliant again, allowing two goals, both on deflections. he made 27 saves and goes into the Olympics on a roll allowing only four goals against the Penguins and the Lightning. Christensen had two goals and an assist and looks like the biggest bargain since the Indians sold Manhattan to the Dutch. But it was Avery, who put the life back into the Rangers with his goal. It was the first penalty shot goal of his career and it was the first penalty shot goal for the Rangers this year. The local bars will be hopping tonight as the Grate One does Broadway.

So the Rangers end the Olympic break period with two big wins. As I mentioned to one of my readers. We always keep rooting and cheering for this team no matter how bad they play. We love the team. It's the management I hate. Enjoy the break. Enjoy the Olympics.



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olli Cannoli!

Olli Jokinen has had a somewhat baffling career. During a three year period, 2005-2008, he scored 111 goals for the Florida Panthers. However his short tour with the Calgary Flames was nothing to write home about. In his brief stay with the Rangers he is been okay until last night when he hit the jackpot. Scoring his biggest goal in three years Jokinen put the dagger into the hearts of the Penguins and their fans with a dramatic OT game winning goal, 1:02 into overtime. It was his third as a Ranger and his 13th overall.

The win snapped a ten game losing streak at Mellon Arena. It also was the Rangers first win against the Pens this year. It was a tough, gutsy win for the Rangers as they played short two players. Gaborik left after logging just 4:20 and Del Zotto who was accidently cut by Malkin's skate was done at 2:30 of the first period.

Lundqvist was his usual self, giving up two goals to Crosby, and nothing else as he made 25 saves. Crosby has now scored 17 goals in 17 games. 17 goals. That's a career for most Rangers. But the big story was Jokinen. He could be the other guy to back up Gaborik. He is only 31 years old and could be the other scorer. Could be. But let's not get carried away, it's early. I still don't think the Rangers will make the playoffs, but maybe next year with Gaborik and Jokinen we could be competitive again.

ICINGS: The Rangers picked up another enforcer when they traded for Jody Shelley of the Sharks. His claim to fame is that he decked Colton Orr. So now we have two enforcers. Too bad he wasn't here to go after Matt Cooke who continued to throw punches at Chris Drury after he was on the ice. Classless. When Rozsival pulled Cooke off of Drury, he received a ten minute misconduct. At least he reacted.

Friday, February 12, 2010

2009 - 2010: The Season is Over

The Season is Over - Rangers stooges are toastWatching this team has been very painful this year. The only person who has had to suffer more than us fans is King Henry. But now, we fans can finally rest, stop watching Ranger hockey, and enjoy the Olympics knowing that we will not make the playoffs.

Even in a year where the East is weak, it will take 90 points or more to make the playoffs. Tampa or Boston need only get 27 points in 23 games - 13-9-1. One of them will do that. We have 59 with 22 games to go. This team would have to finish with 31 more points - 15-5-1 - to make it. That is just not going to happen.

The Rangers should be shedding players, getting draft picks and making room under the cap.

One more point, it is time that the powers that be get rid of Sather and bring Don Maloney back. We have great youth, and they and Gaborik are why we were in contention for a while this year. But our top five players have three that just are not worth keeping. (Salary and Cap Hit after names.)

Chris Drury $8,050,000 $7,050,000
Wade Redden $8,000,000 $6,500,000
Marian Gaborik $7,500,000 $7,500,000
Henrik Lundqvist $6,875,000 $6,875,000
Michal Rozsival $6,000,000 $5,000,000

Drury, Redden and Rozsival are worth $9,000,000 between them all, at best.

Next year, if we add two solid defensemen and a goal scorer, we just might be dangerous.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Job At MSG

The snow that hit the city cut into the crowd big time. Too bad it didn't cut into the Rangers. They lost another game in another uninspiring performance. I think this time they got help from the coach. With the top scorer, Marian Gaborik, sidelined due to an injury, the drain trust decided to play with seven defensemen. Corey Potter was injected into the lineup leaving only eleven forwards. What sense does that make? None. Is it fitting that the game was lost because a defenseman went bonkers on a call and 'insulted' the ref? This led to a four minute penalty which resulted in the game winning goal.

So instead of going for offense, or at least trying, Torts went for more defense. I did not check but what did Potter get, 5-7 minutes? As usual, Lundqvist kept up his end of the bargain, giving up two goals and making 34 saves. Of course, giving up two goals is nothing new to Henrik. In the last 29 games, Lundqvist has held the opposition to two goals or fewer in 22 games. The Rangers record in those 22 games is 12-10.

With two games to go before the Olympic break, the Rangers are sinking fast. They have now lost eight out of their last ten and are only three points ahead of the 13th place Islanders. If you want to look ahead they are ten points ahead of the last place Maple Leafs. Now that's something to look forward to. Maybe when we meet them we can dress eight defensemen.

Remember, not playing defense is not an option. However, when you can't score it doesn't matter how tight your defense is.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hen-Reek Outduels Maaaaarrrrty!

Its hard to tell what was more enjoyable for the Garden faithful last night. The loving Hen-Reek chants or the derisive Maaaaarrrrty laments. With 41 saves, quite a few spectacular, our Prince discovered his A game and Rangerland can breath a little easier today. At least for a day, because with this team one never knows. Thanks to a 2:39 minute spurt of three goals the Rangers made sure this would not be a replica of the last time these two teams met in the Garden. That one resulted in a 1-0 shootout winner for the Devils after Brodeur made 51 saves and Lundqvist 45.

The win for Lundqvist upped his record against the Devils and Brodeur at MSG at 11-2-2. So you see there is more than Sean Avery that torments the great Marty. However, last night Avery had other plans and he turned his attention to the new super sniper Russian, Ilya Kovalchuk. Both Avery and Kovalchuk went off for a double two minute minor for roughing, with 2:16 left in the game. That kind of ended any thoughts of another late Devil comback. I think their dispute was over the fishing rights off the Alaskan coast.

But last night was all about Lundqvist. He was brilliant again and he does control the destiny of the Rangers. Too bad the Rangers can't put a solid defense in front of the young Swede. We have had that conversation too many times and I'm sure we will have it again. However, for one more night it was Hen-Reek outdueling Maaaaarrrrty.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Capital Punishment

Two teams headed in opposite directions continued on their respective courses as the Caps roared back from a 5-3 deficit to defeat the Rangers 6-5. For the Caps it was their 12th straight win, for the Rangers it was their 7th loss in the past 8 games. The Rangers aided and abetted the Caps by giving them nine power plays and the Caps cashed in on three of them. For a change the Ranger power play was potent scoring four goals on six attempts.

So how do you lose when you score 4 power play goals in 6 attempts? You lose because you have a swiss cheese defense and you have lost all sense of discipline. How else to explain nine penalties. Think of it almost one full period of hockey was shorthanded. Against the Caps, that is deadly. True, some of the penalties were bogus but quite a few were stupid, like Dubinsky's boarding penalty with two and a half minutes left in the game.

The biggest goal, the game changer, was Ovechkin's goal with nine seconds left in the second period. He completely buffaloed Rozsival (what else is new) and made Lundqvist look silly. It ended the second period at 5-4, Rangers, instead of 5-3, Rangers. The Rangers had the rare experience of scoring five goals and none were scored by Gaborik, who had two assists.

So the Rangers are tied for 9th place, two points out of 8th, 3 points away frm 13th, and 10 points ahead of Toronto. Jokinen had a goal and an assist and took three penalties. Welcome to the Rangers. One thing gets fixed, the power play, at least temporary and the penalty kill falters. What do you expect when you give up nine penalties?

ICINGS: It's amazing. The Devils gave up dirt to get one of the premier goal scorers in the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk. From the Rangers they wanted the house. Dubinsky, Girardi or Staal, a prospect plus the number 1 and number 3 draft picks. Good thing they couldn't find our Stealth GM.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

New Look — Old Result

The more things change the more they stay the same. With new guys, Jokinen and Prust, in the lineup the results were the same. Lundqvist held the opposition to two goals. Gaborik scored the only Ranger goal, his 34th. The Ranger power play was futile, and gave up a goal. The Rangers lost, 2-1. So nothing has changed there.

The power play went 0-3. In the last eight games it's 0-25. In the last fourteen games it's 3-48. It has only seven goals in the last eighty two chances. It gave up the first goal of the game, a short handed one, to Anze Kopitar on a very bad pass from Gaborik while the Rangers had five forwards on the ice. So nothing has changed there.

The second goal, scored by Ryan Smith, had a great assist from that Norris Trophy candidate, Michal Rozsival, who was absolutely invisible on the play. So nothing has changed there.

The offense was invisible also as Gaborik continues to carry the offensive load. Yes, he made a gaffe on the PP leading to a King short handed goal, but he can be excused as right now he is 24% of the Ranger offense. So nothing has changed there.

The loss was the fifth in the last six games and the latest slide has now reached 3-8-1. There are only five games left between now and the Olympics and the next game coming up is against the Caps who have won eleven straight and then the Devils. We are only three points ahead of the 13th place Islanders and only ten points ahead of the recharged Maple Leafs. So nothing has changed there.

The other new guy, Brandon Prust, got into a fight and then the refs applied the Avery rule to the fight and hence to Prust. Two for instigating, five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct. Seventeen minutes for a five minute fight. So nothing has changed there.

One game does not a season or a lasting impression make. However, as that old sage would say, it's getting late early. Addition is sometimes by subtraction and so far that seems to work, but we still need that big D man, which may have gone by the boards when Souray hurt his hand in a fight. So nothing has changed there.

In fact, in reviewing the game on Rangers in Sixty we lost again. So nothing has changed. And in the post-game news conference the coach was surly again. So truly, nothing has changed.

Brandon Prust vs Brandon Segal -- Who won?
Brandon Prust -- 93.4%
Draw -- 3.3%
Brandon Segal --3.3%

Brandon Prust 2009-2010 Fight Card (19)
Brandon Prust 2008-2009 Fight Card (16)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Gabby And The Kid And Kotalik Too

For the first time since the Rangers-Devils classic 0-0 game, the Rangers played sixty minutes of hockey last night and guess what? They won. With Marian Gaborik, a hat trick, and Chad Johnson winning his first game, the Rangers held off the Av's 3-1 and snapped a five game losing streak. Gaborik's hat trick was his first as a Ranger and the tenth of his career. His last one was the memorable 5 goal outburst against the Rangers back in December 2007.

However, the big news of the night was the trade, or no trade, of Ales Kotalik to Calgary for Ollie Jokinen, and depending on who you are listening to either Chris Higgins or Matt Gilroy. Enforcer Brandon Prust is supposedly also in the deal. Hopefully it is not Matt Gilroy. Giving up a top prospect like Gilroy for some over-the-hiller is not a good trade.

There is also some rumor that Kotalik is holding up the trade because he has a clause that says he can reject certain teams. Would you believe that the Stealth would give a player like Kotalik a no trade clause in his contract? Of course you would. In all fairness to Kotalik he never got a fair shake from Tortorella and was benched frequently. It's hard to believe that there were twelve better forwards on the Rangers than Kotalik.

Does this trade make the Rangers better? I don't know. Jokinen has been underachieving for Calgary for the last two years. Is he over the hill? Could be. The hope is that he centers for Gabolik and Gabby scores a ton of goals. Guess what? Gabby is going to score a ton of goals no matter who his center is. He already has 33 goals with a variety of centers.

Brandon Prust is a legitimate enforcer and could help the Rangers in that area. Chris Higgins has been a big disappointment. Maybe his injury last year took more out of him than we were led to believe. I would in no way shape or form give up Matt Gilroy to cement this trade. I would kill the trade if they want Gilroy. I guess, the question to ask is, at the beginning of the season would you have traded Scott Gomez for Ollie Jokinen?

A word about the play of Chad Johnson. The kid looked good. Cool, calm and composed. He is an excellent backup for Lundqvist. In fact, I would give Lundqvist one more night off against LA and play the kid again.

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