Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 'Meatheads' Update

George Richards, a Miami Herald sportswriter, and On Frozen Pond blogger provides an updated Florida perspective on the Del Zotto/Kopecky/Rupp kerfuffle from last night's game.

The NHL announced this afternoon that both both Tomas Kopecky and Del Zotto would be fined the maximum $2,500.

Did Panthers Coach, Kevin Dineen, really say that Del Zotto got exactly what he deserved? He also called the Rangers on the ice at the end of the game "meatheads."

The Panther website concluded their game wrap-up by saying: "Should make for an interesting match-up come January 5th in New York when the two teams meet for a fourth time this season."


George Richards / On Frozen Blog:
Florida Panthers Tomas Kopecky NOT SUSPENDED for Punching Rangers Del Zotto, Fighting with Rupp ...

Tomas Kopecky got a match penalty for punching Michael Del Zotto in the face after taking a stick to the head late in Florida's 4-1 loss to the Rangers.

Rangers coach John Tortorella said it was ''a cheap shot. With no honor.''

Kevin Dineen said Del Zotto got exactly what he deserved.

Looks like Del Zotto knew a fight was coming and Kopecky's punch connected. If there's a real cheapie in there, how about Mike Rupp punching Kopecky as he's getting off the ice? ...

Kopecky spoke with NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan early Saturday and will not be suspended for his actions Friday...
George Richards / On Frozen Blog:
Extra Special Florida Panthers... Talking Kopecky, Rangers 'Meatheads,' Theodore, Clemmensen, Goc and Much, Much More!
“I was really irritated last night and that was very upsetting,'' Dineen said. “I give the powers that be a lot of credit because they analyzed the situation, looked at a lot of video.

"I was chomping at the bit at the whole situation, especially [Mike] Rupp working his way around to jump [Kopecky] and get him. At the end of it, there will be fines handed down to both Tomas and some of their players. There is still some evaluation as far as their actions.

“There is no suspension.''

-- Krys Barch got a game misconduct when he came out for the face off following the scrap. Why was Barch on the ice at that time?

“All of a sudden [the Rangers] threw out some more meatheads at the end of the game,'' Dineen said, “and when they do that, you don't have a choice but to .-.-. there were only seven seconds left in the game.

"If they're going to put those kind of guys on the ice, we're going to come with the best response for us. The officials did a good job of controlling the situation, although there wasn't much to it.''

Guess who is really looking forward to the rematch next week at the Garden? ..

Game time temperature in Philadelphia for the Rangers-Flyers Alumni game is expected to be 53°F

Travis Hughes / SB Nation:
Winter Classic Alumni Game: 4
The sun tried its best to dampen the mood at the Winter Classic, burning its way onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and turning the ice as soft as cookie dough. As a result, everybody has an extra two hours of drinking ahead of them before the puck drops on the sold out Alumni Game contest between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers...
2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic by the numbers --
39 -- Average temperature in Fahrenheit at puck drop for the four NHL Winter Classics (2008 -- 31.1, 2009 -- 31.9, 2010 -- 39.6, 2011 -- 51.7)

69 -- A total of 69 players have played for both the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. (see the list)

350 -- Gallons of paint used to make Citizens Bank Park™ ice white ...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rangers Rout Panthers, 4-1

The Hagelin-Richards-Callahan line launched a three goal first period onslaught that put the game away early for the NY Rangers. Richards and Hagelin were both a minus 3 in the prior Washington game. So it looks like the bad taste from that game motivated them to bring it tonight, and they did. A great demonstration of professionalism and determination by Richards and crew. Do we want to call them the Haggard Hand line? Anyway, after Brandon Dubinsky scored the Rangers' fourth goal in the second period the team was basically done for the night.

The second half of the game was a showcase for Henrik Lundqvist and the defense. The cats came hard and took the momentum back from the Rangers. Their shots per period reflected their effort: 7, 12, 9. A Panthers score by Matt Bradley midway through the second period gave them some life. But the defense and royally good goaltending held the day. The King stopped 27 shots and was again given the Broadway Hat for his superior play.

The Rangers went 0-for-1 on their powerplay, and stopped all 4 of Florida's powerplays. Numbers like that are now standard operating procedure. If the Rangers didn't practice their powerplay could they be any worse?

The game end sucker punch of Del Zotto by Tomas Kopecky stirred things up. Rupp made himself useful by pummeling the Slovakian. That will perk up the intensity for next Thursday's game at the Garden with the cats. Something to look forward to now, following the Winter Classic let down.

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 00:35 EV NYR Hagelin (7) Callahan (15) McDonagh(11)
2 1 05:10 EV NYR Richards(13) Woywitka (5)
3 1 15:37 EV NYR Del Zotto(5) Richards (15) Hagelin (4)
4 2 07:41 EV NYR Dubinsky(4) McDonagh(12)
5 2 09:28 EV FLA Bradley (2) Gudbranson(2)

Time to wrap ourselves in blue for a big long weekend. Cheers.

Blueshirt United:
Henrik Lundqvist was extremely sharp, finishing with 27 saves in Friday night's 4-1 victory over the Panthers, earning the Broadway Hat in the process.
Kopecky Sucker Punches Del Zotto, Turtles When Rupp Fights Him

via Blueshirts Brotherhood

more discussion: Michael Rupp vs Tomas Kopecky
In a move that we could all see coming Sean Avery was waived by the NY Rangers and sent to the Hartford Whale today. Reaction: Disappointed, but not surprised. #AveryArmy loses its commanding general.

Sean Avery: I’m hungry to prove people wrong.

Larry Brooks / NY Post:
Avery vows to play again after waived by Rangers --
Sean Avery, placed on waivers by the Rangers at noon Friday, told The Post this afternoon that he “guarantee[s]” that a club claiming him “won’t ever be sorry.”

“I have a lot to prove, and I have a lot of game left after not being allowed to play my game for the last four years,” Avery told The Post before returning to New York from Florida, where he was given notice of the move this morning.

“I guarantee that I’ll play my a-- off and give everything I have for the team that will give me the chance I wasn’t getting [by coach John Tortorella]. That team will be getting a guy who has a lot to prove.

“The GM and coach willing to look past some of the things that are out there about me, I can guarantee that they won’t ever be sorry, and neither would my teammates.\

“I’m hungry to prove people wrong"...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Beastly Loss: Capitals 4, Rangers 1

Just when the 'Beast of the East' Bandwagon was about to pull out of the old barn and start charging down Broadway the New York Rangers lay down and take a nap in Washington. They played like a beast with the least and lost a no-contest game, 4-1, to the Capitals. The Rangers 5 game winning streak ended with a muted whimper. By the way, thank you Puck Daddy for putting the hex on us.

All the flaws that handicap this team were exposed by the Capitals. The GAS line (Gaborik-Anisimov-Stepan) was bottled up and put in check. The strategy to defeat New York is becoming painfully clear. Simply turn off the GAS, and the Rangers' offense disappears.  They do not have a plan B. The only offensive spark was a lone Brandon Dubinsky goal late in the first period to tie the game at 1-1. It was all Capitals after that, they scored 2 goals in the second period, and one late in the third to seal the deal. Alexander Semin had two of the goals to earn the game's first star.

The power play went 0-for-5. It was especially frustrating watching the Rangers flounder in two back-to-back PP's late in the third period, when the score was still 3-1. Callahan kicking in a shot gave us a moment of hope, until it was ruled no goal. A real Rangers' score would have made the the final eight minutes a little more interesting.

The Rangers' power play still needs that big slap shot from the point to lay a hurt on defenders and punish them for standing in the shooting lanes. But, I don't see that happening. Instead the Rangers seem content to try and thread the needle and sneak a shot on goal. I would love to see some other teams take high velocity slap shots to their vital organs and then limp painfully back to the bench. That is a skill set the Rangers have become very proficient at. If the Rangers can't score on the PP, they should at least make other teams pay a price.

Brad Richards played an especially poor game. He was on the ice with Carl Hagelin during three Caps' scores (1,3,4). Torts did not use Richards on the PP's in the third period. If Brad is going to show the young speedster the ropes he needs shake this stinker off quick and figure out how to mesh with Squire Carl. Boyle (15:58) got more ice time than Hagelin (12:40). A stat that will need Richards' help to turn around. Mike Rupp got a token 5:15 of TOI, why bother?

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 08:18 EV WSH Johnsson(7) Halpern(7)
2 1 17:16 EV NYR Dubinsky(3) Callahan(14)
3 2 10:24 EV WSH Brouwer(10) Carlson(17)
4 2 13:02 EV WSH Semin(8) Backstrom(24) Ovechkin(14)
5 3 17:25 EV WSH Semin(9) Ovechkin(15) Kalzner(10)

Next, on to Florida.

Some HBO 24/7 Rangers-Flyers items:

Full Episode 3 (video)
Classic preview highlights Episode 3 of '24/7'

Puck Daddy:
Video: New York Rangers’ HBO 24/7 ugly holiday sweater party

24/7: Episode 3 winners and losers 10 memorable phrases from HBO 24/7 episode three

Are the Rangers Really an Elite Team?

Are you dreaming of Torts dancing on the ice at MSG with another Stanley Cup?  You might be if you believe what you are now reading in the press, typified by Barry Melrose and ESPN, who have proclaimed that the Rangers are a championship caliber team.  Blogs started the year critical of the Rangers, questioning the wisdom of the acquisition of Brad Richards, and suggesting more of the same mediocrity was coming.  Now, they praise Richards and the team. (See for example: Why The New York Rangers Are In First Place In The Eastern Conference)

Even Puck Daddy raves about the Rangers, and now claims to have never picked the Rangers' lower than third (failing to mention, of course, that the prediction was in third in the Atlantic, not the conference).  See: Puck Daddy - How the NY Rangers became the beasts of the East.

If you are dreaming, it's time to wake up.  The press and the blogs were wrong to be overly critical at the start of the year, and they are wrong to consider the Rangers an elite team now.  The Rangers are a good, hard working team.  They have several skilled players, a good system that matches their skill level, an elite goalie and an honest work ethic.  But, they are flawed and the flaws will be exploited by elite teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs unless addressed.

The first flaw is a lack of balanced scoring. The first line has 26 even strength goals: Gaborik G22 PP5 EN1; Stephan G8 PP2; Anisimov G7 PP2 SHG1 The second line only has 13 even strength goals: Richards G12 PP3 EN1; Callahan G13 PP6 SHG 1 EN1; Hagelin G6 The third line has a pathetic 5 even strength goals: Dubinsky G2; Mitchell G2 EN1; Boyle G2; Christensen G1 PPG1

The second flaw is scoring off of the left wing – on the power play or at even strength.  The top two right wingers, Gaborik and Callahan have 35 goals.  The top four left wingers have 13: Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Wolski and Hagelin.

The third flaw is the power play.  At 15.9 percent efficiency, the team ranks a solid 20th.   The power play was a horrible 12.9% after 17 games.  It has been a respectable 19% over the past 17 games. It is on the right path, but not where it needs to be.  For example, 27th on the road 7-62, 11.3%, will not win playoff away games.

Boston, San Jose, Detroit, and Vancouver are each highly likely to be able to shut down a one-line opponent. Chicago and St. Louis would likely be able to as well.  And, even if you have two scoring lines, since scoring in the playoffs at even strength is difficult, the lack of a good power play would likely be fatal anyway.  It is easy to take liberties against a Rangers' forward when you do not fear being burned on the power play.

The Rangers' problems are routed in the play of Dubinsky and the injury to Wolski.  Dubinsky was paid $16.8 million for four years at left wing because he led the Rangers with 24 goals and 30 assists last year.  Wojtek Wolski is getting $4 million ($3.8 cap hit) because he projected to be a 20 goal scorer off left wing – and a threat on the power play.   If either Dubinsky or Wolski were producing on the second line at a 20 goal a year clip, that line would be dominant.  And, the ripple effect would be significant too.  Hagelin, who has chemistry with Mitchell, would remain a real threat, giving us a real third line.  Then, even elite teams would have real issues matching up against the Rangers.

If Dubinsky and Wolski, who are paid to perform as top six forwards (4th and 5th in salary of all Rangers forwards), start to perform, the Rangers get healthy on defense and remain healthy overall, then the Rangers might actually belong among the elite teams.  If not, then that is why the GM makes the big bucks – and it is time to put the $8 million in cap space to better use.  (Ryan Smyth would look really good on the second line and on the PP.  Edmonton would be really smart to get a young defender, like Valentenko, which they need, and a third round pick for him. R.J. Umberger would look really good too - even if the cost were Dubinsky, Valentenko, Zuccarello and a third rounder.) This Rangers team is close to being Cup worthy, but not there yet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lundqvist Shuts Out Islanders, Rangers Win 3-0

King Henrik the First of Sweden now has a young squire who is working hard to earn full knighthood. Carl Hagelin of Södertälje has been wielding his hockey stick like the mighty Skyward Sword of Zelda. His skating has been as if the power boost button has been jammed on. Last night young Squire Carl used his skills to help dispatch and then carve up a lessor dragon from the island. A dragon that these days has lost most of the fire in its belly. Our young squire recorded two well played goals in the victory.

Could that be our Squire Carl above or is it someone else? (Bonus points if you know who the character is, and no he is not Zelda.)

But, let's go back and heap some worship on the King. We take for granted sometimes how good Henrik Lundqvist is. Last night he admitted he got a little lucky earning the 38th shut out of his career over the Islanders. But the King had to get down and dirty in the castle crease to keep the peasants out of his house.

Michael Del Zotto played the part of the once vanquished knight returning to the Rangerland Kingdom to redeem himself in front its noble citizens. He had two assists. Well done, Sir Michael. We bestow the magical Hat of Broadway on thee, a very valuable game token.

Gabby the Earl of Goals also chipped in with an empty netter to retain his title. The reliable Duke of Callahan also contributed two assists to aid in the vanquishing.

Together all our heroes have contributed to take this team to the top level in the game. First, in the Eastern Conference.

The wizard behind this remarkable climb to first place, the disagreeable one, has cast all the right spells so far. Our wizard is an ambiguous character. Could he be an evil wizard, or just a surly disagreeable one who is only on good terms with the mice in his lair?

Anyway, here is the scoring summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 2 05:14 EV NYR Hagelin (5) Callahan (12) Del Zotto (16)
2 3 06:32 EV NYR Hagelin (6) Del Zotto (17) Callahan (13)
3 3 17:32 EV-EN NYR Gaborik (22) Stralman (5)

Now our heroes next play the Caps in Washington on Wednesday. Sally forth our Rangerland warriors and build your legend.

Blueshirt United:
As his repsonsibilties have increased over the course of the season, Michael Del Zotto's play at both ends of the ice has improved, as well, to the point where he is now one of the most consistent and successful performers on the New York Rangers. Monday night at The Garden Del Zotto continued his stellar play---picking up two assists, posting a +3 rating, firing three shots on goal, and logging 21:25 worth of solid ice-time---and in the process earned his second Broadway Hat of the season.

"Every day I am just getting more and more confident and feeling better about my game," Del Zotto said in the post-game locker room...
This is the latest point in a regular season that the Rangers have led the Eastern Conference standings since the 1995-96 season. During that season, the Blueshirts held the top position through their games played on Mar. 15, 1996 (Game No. 68)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Flyers Grounded, Rangers Soar Into First with 4-2 Win

The NY Rangers eventually wore down and prevailed over a tough Philadelphia Flyers team, 4-2, at the Garden. It was an important victory that moved the Rangers into first place ahead of the Flyers atop the Atlantic division. The Rangers with a record of 21-8-4 and 46 points are now only one point behind Eastern Conference leader Boston. The team heads off to a well deserved Christmas break riding a four game winning streak that has been pulled along on a one Gaborik open sleigh.

Gaborik has been goal scoring horse. He scored his 21st goal of the season on another beautiful set play following a faceoff win early in the third period. We all held our breath when he got wacked on the shoulder by a stick and slid hard into the boards. Visions of a separated shoulder, like Steve Eminger, and 8 to 10 weeks on the shelf danced in our heads. But a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread (I hope). Gaborik came back to play six more shifts.

Stu Bickel has been a splendid stocking stuffer. Four assists in his first three NHL games. Bickel was traded by Anaheim to the Rangers in exchange for Nigel Williams on Nov. 23, 2010. Who the hell is Nigel Williams you might ask? Well, keep asking, I have no clue. Anyway, Stu is like that little something you stuff in the youngin's stocking hoping to fill it out and make it look respectable. But, the little stocking stuffer turns out to be the hit of the holiday season and the kids go nuts for Stu, Stu, Stu... That reminds me I need to get over to the dollar store tomorrow morning.

The Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 2 10:18 EV NYR Stephan(8) Stu Bickel(3)
2 2 15:29 EV NYR Fedotenko(5) Stu Bickel(4) Dubinsky(14)
3 3 01:48 EV NYR Gaborik(21) Stralman(4) Del Zotto(14)
4 3 10:21 PP PHI Meszaros(5) Carle(15) Hartnell(16)
5 3 14:04 PP NYR Calllahan(13) Girardi(10) Del Zotto(15)
6 3 17:50 EV PHI V.Riemsdyk(9) Meszaros(7) Read(10)

So a great win and good tidings of joy send us Rangers fans off to the holiday festivities with a bounce in our step and smile on our face. The Rangers are in first and coach disagreeable has found it easy to stashed his Grinch costume for the time being. Merry Christmas!

The Hank Hat

Blueshirts United:
There were a string of heroes wearing the Rangers' sweater Friday night at Madison Square Garden. From Brandon Dubinsky and his dynamic two-way game, to Stu Bickel and his two-assists, to Marian Gaborik and his 21st goal, to Michael Del Zotto and another two-point night. But in the end, Henrik Lundqvist was selected to wear the team's Broadway Hat following the game due to his rock-solid play in goal that featured 28 saves. Lundqvist has now won the Broadway Hat honor a team-high three times this season, including twice this week.

Following the game Lundqvist chose to speak about his team's success so far this season, and not his own personal play. "It just feels like we are more mature this year," explained Lundqvist...
Our Prayers Go Out:

Jake Feldman will undergo a bone marrow transplant tomorrow, Christmas Eve. Please put Jake in your prayers this holiday season.

Rangers 4, Isles 2 — Dubinsky, Gaborik, & Biron Star

It has taken awhile, but we finally get to see our second Dubi Hat of the year after the Rangers defeated the woeful Islanders 4-2.

Blueshirts United:
Brandon Dubinsky drilled his second goal of the season---and first in 17 games---past Isles netminder Evgeni Nabokov late in the first period Thursday, the start to a very strong all-around game which culminated in the popular Blueshirt being awarded the Broadway Hat in the post-game locker room. Dubinsky also added an assist on John Mitchell's empty-net goal in the third period, was a +2, delivered four hits, and logged 16:53 worth of ice-time Thursday, playing on an effective line alongside Mitchell and Brian Boyle.

"The biggest thing is just my legs because there was a period of time where my legs weren't moving the way they needed to be, and I think it showed," Dubinsky said of his stronger play of late.
Chants of Dubi, Dubi filled the Garden after his score. If Dubinsky can supply more of this deja vu from last season the Rangers Universe will again be in order.

Marian Gaborik scored his 20th goal on a beautiful move to the net after a face-off. Was it really a set play like Al Trautwig insisted or just good instincts?  Gaborik has caught fire. Just keep it burning all year, Gabby.

Marty Biron made 24 saves, and recorded 2 assists in upping his record to 7-1 this season. We will ignore the couple of rebounds that led to Islander scores. So his save percentage for the game was only a .923 (24/26), which actually hurt his season average, which stands at .933. His goals against average this season of 1.84 is a career best. His career average is 2.60. So the Ranger defense should look to be getting something under their Christmas tree or at least a card from Marty.

The Rangers now have bookend goalies in Marty Biron and Henrik Lundqvist. I can't remember when they had this luxury. Maybe Mike can compare them to the great Rangers combo of Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure from the 1970-71 season, when they shared the Vezina Trophy.

Rangers 1970-71 Season:

Goalie GP W L T SO Min GAA SA GA Sv%
Giacomin 45  27 10 7 8 2641 2.16 na 95 na
Villemure 34 22 8 4 4 2039 2.3 na 78 na

Compared to Henrik Lundqvist and Marty Biron from this season:

Goalie GP W L OT SO Min GAA SA GA Sv%
Lundqvist 24 13 7 4 2 1450 2.03 737 49 0.934
Biron 9 7 1 0 1 489 1.84 224 15 0.933

Boston fans, on the other hand, would say that Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask are the best goalie tandem in the NHL this season.

Goalie GP W L OT SO Min GAA SA GA Sv%
Thomas 23 16 5 0 4 1304 1.84 698 40 0.943
T. Rask 11 6 4 1 1 626 1.82 312 19 0.939

Anyway you slice it Lundqvist and Biron have some work to do in order to match Giacomin and Villemure, or even keep pace with Thomas and Rask. But, it is still shaping up as a great goaltending year for the Rangers.


Scotty Hockey asks the intriguing question:
"no love for the President's winning Beezer/Richter platoon of 91-92??"
Well, here are the numbers for Mike Richter and John Vanbiesbrouck from their 80 game 1991-92 season.

Goalie GP W L T SO Min GAA SA GA Sv%
Vanbiesbrouck 45 27 13 3 2 2526 2.85 na 120 0.910
Richter 41 23 12 2 3 2298 3.11 na 119 0.901

Looks to me like Beezer and Richter let in considerably more goals. They even had a Hall-of-Fame defenseman, Brian Leetch, playing in front of them. Their total of 239 goals against yields a combined GAA of 2.9875 or almost 3 per game. I think that is a little too high to be counted in the tandems above.

However, the sacrifice the body, shot blocking mentality that the modern game brings us certainly distorts the numbers in favor of modern tandems. Also, the players today are bigger and take up more space than the players from two decades ago. Monster d-man, Zdeno Chára, for example patrols in front of Thomas and Rask. So it is really an apples to big apples comparison.


Matt Martin vs Stu Bickel --
Stu Bickel     43.1%
Matt Martin    36.9%
Draw           20.0%
From 65 votes with an average rating of 6.2

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HBO 24/7 Rangers-Flyers Episode 2 Roundup

Here's a roundup about the second episode of HBO's 24/7 show from last night.

John McEnroe and Henrik Lundqvist rehearse for a benefit concert in February
Puck Daddy:
HBO 24/7 Flyers Rangers Ep. 2 review: Typical Montreal --
The theme for Episode 2 of "HBO 24/7 Flyers Rangers: Road To NHL Winter Classic": relationships.

Like the one between a father and a son; between a coach and his players; between teammates on the road; between referees and the coaches and players; between professionals and their fans.

Oh, and between a goalie and a tennis superstar; and another goalie and his Siberian Husky, whom he considers to be like a hot blonde woman...
The full second episode in case you missed it.


Pat Leonard / NY Daily News / Blueshirts Blog:
HBO 24/7 Episode 2 provides inside look at Flyers coach Peter Laviolette & Rangers coach John Tortorella, turns focus to hockey --
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette inadvertently upstaged HBO Wednesday night.

Hours before the network aired its second episode of “24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic,” Laviolette got into a brief shoving match with Stars forward Steve Ott, who was yapping at the Flyers coach in the tunnel between periods in Dallas.

It was Laviolette live and raw, just as we saw later on HBO, when he blew up at an official over a missed call on a trip of Jaromir Jagr, yelling: “What a disgrace! Typical Montreal.” ...

Paul Cuthbert / Hockey this Week:
From The Outside – E2 | HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers --
HBO comes back again with great ice level footage of the Rangers and Coyotes beating the heck out of each other in a game that was very chippy. They take us back inside the Rangers locker room which turns into a medical ward for Fedotenko and Eminger. Rangers win on a last second goal by Richards in front of a pretty good crowd in Glendale. Rangers players celebrate not only the win but a happy coach Tortorella after the game...

Andrew Gross / Ranger Rants:
Thoughts on 24/7’s second episode --
Late-night viewing off the second episode of “24/7” after the monthly poker game and I have to be totally honest here, I was a little underwhelmed by the episode as a whole. Sure, there were good, behind-the-scenes moments...

Kevin Power / Blueshirt Banter:
HBO 24/7 Flyers Rangers Episode 2 Recap --
Episode two of HBO's hit 24/7 aired tonight and it delivered on and topped last weeks episode with two new stars shining through and very interesting side of John Tortorella that one would not expect...
Coach John Tortorella and Liam Trainer

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Third Stanley Cup for Mike (and a fifth for the Rangers?)

It’s Mike’s Birthday. (Happy Birthday!!) 81 years, many Ranger seasons filled with disappointments and two Stanley Cups. Could this year bring Mike Cup number three?

With a record of 19-8-4, or 42 points, after 31 games, making the playoffs seems likely; almost certain. So, risking bad luck, let’s look at road to the Cup. Especially since we are now 3/8's of the way towards being spot-on with our pre-season prediction of a breakout year for the Rangers. Let’s start with three likely assumptions. If we do, we can make a few very important observations.

First, we need assume that Boston, at 22-9-1, will take first place. They may not, but they have the inside track with a weak division, a strong team and a solid start. They certainly look like the class act of the Eastern Conference and they did win it all last year. A reasonable assumption.

Second, we need further assume that either Florida, Winnipeg or Washington will take third position – with the odds strongly in Florida’s favor – but that only one, at most, will emerge as a very strong team. If one Southeast team rises from the pack, then they would be second, and the analysis would not change. Why wouldn’t it change? Because the winner of the Atlantic would finish in the top three, it’s just a question of second or third, if we accept Boston will take first.

Third, while Toronto, Ottawa, the Devils, Montreal and Buffalo are playoff contenders, we need assume that they do not suddenly become red hot. This, of course, is a wild card. A dark horse could appear out of nowhere. Montreal could catch fire, for example. But, the odds are slim.

If these assumptions prove to be true, then the Rangers are actually in a three team race for the second, fourth and fifth playoff spots with the Flyers and Pittsburgh.

So, what does this mean for the Rangers? It means that finishing first in the Atlantic is critical to playoff success. It is a three team race, with the losers playing each other in the first round and likely Boston in the second round. Not a great path to the Cup.

However, finish first in the Atlantic, and your path to the Conference Finals might be as simple as beating Toronto and Florida.

All of this means that every Flyer and Penguin game is critical, every point counts more than ever and one losing streak or additional injury really hurts. We need pray that Erixon, Bickel, Woywitka and Stralman are able to play at the level of NHL defensemen for ten minutes or so a game until Sauer, Staal and Eminger return, that Girardi, Del Zotto and McDonagh can be ridden like horses for 25 minutes or so a night without dropping in their tracks, and that we do not have further key injuries (meaning Hankie, Gabby and Callie keep on playing or Dubi steps up should one fall).

Winning the Stanley Cup this year will likely take beating Boston and either Detroit or Vancouver. That is not easy nor likely – but not impossible with a trade or two near the deadline, a Ranger team in good health and two relatively easier prior rounds. However, beating Boston and Detroit or Vancouver after surviving the Flyers and Penguins – much less likely. Okay, very unlikely.

There are 30 games to play before the NHL trading deadline. Four of those against the Flyers. Three of those against the Penguins. Two of those against Boston. The next 30 games will determine if we are contenders or pretenders; determine if we are short-term buyers of extra parts for a Cup run or waiting till next year.

The Flyers without Pronger are vulnerable.  The Penguins without the Kid are vulnerable.  Sports Club Stats gives the Rangers a 49% chance of winning the Atlantic – the Flyers 36% and Pittsburgh 14%. Maybe, just maybe, the stars are in alignment for a serious Cup run.  Come February, we will know. And, if we are lucky, Mike might just get another, albeit belated, 81st Birthday present. Would sure beat another sweater!

81 and Counting!

Getting on in years and celebrating birthdays you accumulate a lot of gifts. I have enough sweaters that if I wore a new one every day it would be over a month before I wore the same sweater again. Books? I'm about five back now and the chances of catching up are nil. CD's and DVDs? I have a ton that are still in the cellophane wrappers, including four of the greatest Westerns ever made.

This morning I opened up my first gift. A package of three beautiful bottles of wine from Peachy Canyon Winery, Paso Robles, California. Needless to say I never tire of the grape. It was from my friend Ken from beautiful Mountain View, California. Everything in California is beautiful except the politicians. Also this morning my first birthday greeting from an old friend Paul from Shirley, Long Island.

However, there is one gift I never tire of and it's when the Rangers beat the Devils and Marty Brodeur. Marty is not as vocal as he once was before Lundqvist came on the scene. Marty is not as vocal or as great as he once was since the departure of the twin rocks, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko. Marty, who once said that Lundqvist was weird, should not show up when the Devils play the Rangers and Lundqvist is in the nets.

Marty would be further served by sitting in the luxury boxes. Lifetime Lundqvist has a 21-5-5 record against Marty. Such indignations. Lundqvist is 'only' 23-9-5 against the rest of the Devils. Ah well such is life when you are on the downside.

Another Ranger of note is Marian Gaborik who lit the lamp twice last night and now has 19 goals, one behind leader Steven Stamkos. Gaborik has an excellent year going for him and if he stays clear of buses it may be a record setter. Of course, those buses have been known to get out of hand. What was that old Greyhound slogan? "Take the bus, and leave the driving to us." The Rangers are best served by staying clear of all buses. Now Marty? That's another story.


The Hank Hat

Henrik Lundqvist wears the Broadway Hat after 4-1 win over NJ Devils on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

Blueshirt United:
Henrik Lundqvist admitted that the team's Broadway Hat is looking a bit beaten up, and "it seems to have gotten smaller" since he first wore it following the Rangers first win of the season on October 18th out in Vancouver, but it most certainly had to feel good wearing the chapeau Tuesday night in Newark. Lundqvist turned aside 30 of 31 shots in the 4-1 victory over the Devils, and looked to be as sharp as he has been all season---reading the play, anticipating shots, and, when needed, making the sparkling save, as well.

"The boys gave him that ugly hat, and he deserves it because he was the key guy for us in tonight's win," said head coach John Tortorella.

Following the game Lundqvist said that he likes knowing his teammates feed off of his solid play, and play a bit more confident themselves when he is as sharp as he was Tuesday night. "That's what you want to do as a goalie, you want to give your team confidence and let them play their game," explained Lundqvist, who entered play with a 2.07 goals against average and .932 save percentage, impressive numbers that will improve with Tuesday's results.
FYI: The Rangers Power Rankings from Mon/Tues. Their mini-slump brought them down a bit.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

00.1 Winner

Brad Richards' game winner versus Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith at 00.1 mark: in the net
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.
Brad Richards' game winner versus Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith at 00.2 mark
Great shot! Didn't that shot have some zip on it? Anyone seen a better backhand? What more can you say about the Brad Richards' last tenth-of-a-second game-winning shot against the Phoenix Coyotes last night?

The Rangers win 3-2, and send us all off to bed with a smile on our faces. Isn't hockey a great sport!

Isn't it also funny how if Gaborik gets room to skate good things seem to happen. As Gaborik goes, so go the Rangers.

Richards and Gaborik are intent on making coach disagreeable a winner. So if those two guys are sold on Torts then it looks like a very good season is in the making.

Gotta scoot, have a great day!

Full Replay Review:

The Brad Hat

Blueshirts United:
For the second time this season Brad Richards earned the team's Broadway Hat, as he was proudly wearing the chapeau Saturday night in Phoenix following his last-second game-winning goal beat the Coyotes 3-2. "This is a first for me, that's for sure," a smiling Richards saif of his buzzer-beating heroics. "It was fun the way it ended, but it was a struggle at times. We really wanted to get a win on this road trip, and not lose three in a row, and we nipped it. As for the goal, we had the TV between the benches and on the TV it showed there was 0.1 left and the puck was over (the goal line), but you never know. It's never a good feeling to wait because it's not in your control, but it worked out, and it's a big win."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blues Beat Up Rangers 4-1

The St. Louis Blues beat the NY Rangers 4-1 on Thursday night in a stifling display of grinding and defense. The refs let the Blues play a physical game without calling a single penalty on them. The Rangers only had one holding penalty by Eminger in the second. The Blues used the Zebra slumber party to pretty much have their way with a lifeless Rangers team.

None of coach disagreeable's mix and match line combos did bupkis. Only Del Zotto joining a Callahan led rush was able to get a goal late in the second period, assisted by Cally and Dubinsky. That got the Rangers back to within a goal. But, the slumber party continued and the Blues salted the game away with Alexander Steen’s goal just 1:01 into the third period.

Some other thoughts about the loss:
Scotty Hockey:
This season we have seen the Rangers grow an identity of a hard working, forechecking, tough young team. On Thursday night they played a hard working, forechecking, tough young team that worked harder, forchecked more and were grittier then they were.
Hockey Rodent:
The pawing, the elbowing, the after-the-whistle gratuitous pokes we witnessed are par for the course come the conference finals. Clearly, the Blues were considerably better prepared for that type of battle than were their guests who failed to match intensity, snarl and dedication for substantial portions of the telecast.
Tortorella after the game:
This was a game, with the way they play, it’s about battles and they beat us at that game tonight... It was fed to us tonight. We didn’t win enough battles. It was a game that was going to be played against the walls and they beat us at that game.

Is the strategy of how to beat the Rangers simply to stop Marian Gaborik? You could say that Gaborik is the tip of spear for the Rangers offense. When he's finding room to skate and shoot the team seems to feed off of that. When he's roughed up, checked, and not given room to roam the offense grinds to a halt. Blunt Gaborik, blunt the spear.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HBO 24/7 Rangers-Flyers Round-up

Update: Here is the full first episode


Here are some various reviews of the HBO 24/7 premier featuring the Rangers and Phillys from last night.

The best recap with multiple video highlights was from Puck Daddy.

Greg Wyshynski / Puck Daddy:
HBO 24/7 Flyers Rangers Ep. 1 review: Grandma Callahan rules --
Back to the Rangers, playing at the Buffalo Sabres. The focus is on Ryan Callahan; we see his family again — and a 95-year-old star is born: His grandmother

OK, got a little choked up on that one. When does Grandma Callahan drop the first puck at MSG?...
Nick Montemagno / The Rangers Tribune:
HBO 24/7 Review: Episode 1 of 4
"Just reloading my weapon, you know?"

That was just one of the many golden moments from last night's premiere episode of HBO's Rangers/Flyers 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. As the cameras took us behind-the-scenes with both clubs, we witnessed different personalities, how each group deals with adversity, and we got a whole lot of insight as to how each coaching staff runs their team...
Pat Leonard / NY Daily News:
HBO breaks ice with first episode of '24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic' on Wednesday night -- Rangers carry Episode 1 with great one-liners and quality storylines
The unquestionable stars of the first episode of HBO’s “24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic” both hail from Russia, and their personalities and raw emotion made a positive impression for both clubs.

One was Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, 31, waxing on everything from the universe, to Chinese laws governing tiger hunting, to the extreme perception of fans in the City of Brotherly Love, which friends told him was “hell” for goalies.

The other was Rangers forward Artem Anisimov, 23, whose true colors shone through during an inside look at his controversial rifle goal celebration last week against Tampa Bay...
Bryan Winters / Blueshirt Banter:
Complete Recap Of HBO's 24/7 First Episode --
Tonight's episode started off with a bang, showing the most recent list to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It highlighted both the injuries to Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto. It's also worth noting that it only took just under a minute for the first F-bomb to drop this year...
Andrew Gross / Ranger Rants:
So I watched the first episode of “24/7…” --
Here in St. Louis and just finished watching the first episode of HBO’s “24/7.” My first thought: it’s hysterical that the second word uttered in the series was, “process.” Guess John Tortorella was writing the script.

Kidding, of course...
Cris Cohen / The Hockey Independent:
24/7, Episode 1 – The Rangers Recap --
What would 24/7 be if Sean Avery didn’t get into the mix? On his off time, Avery went on a photo shoot, modeling clothes. He was surprisingly subdued and level-headed when discussing his demotion and subsequent recall...
High Heels and Hockey:
HBO 24/7: Flyers and Rangers Episode 1 --
Tonight’s episode proved how fantastic this series is. It doesn’t matter what teams you are watching. Liev Schrieber is the perfect voice for this show. His tone and the way he articulates draw you in. The script writers for the narration, especially the prologue are phenomenal. Adding an almost literary element to the sport enhances the beauty of the game...
Sean Leahy / Puck Daddy:
Puck Daddy’s Unofficial HBO 24/7 Flyers-Rangers Drinking Game --
And ... here ... we ... go.
• The New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers rivalry is referenced using the following words: "Intense," "historic," "hate," "hatred," "don't like those guys." ...
A Philly Perspective

Marc Narducci / Flyers Report - Broad Street Bull:
Reviewing HBO's 24/7 --
In the battle of interesting quotes, Tortorella probably outdid Laviolette, although neither said anything earth-shattering.

Tortortella has no room for anybody who doesn’t measure up to the toughness meter.

“I have trouble seeing players in training room getting rubbed down all the time,” he said...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rangers Lose Lackluster 1-0 Game to Stars

The Rangers had a no offense, no goals, no highlights, no hats, and no hat tricks kind of night. So it is no surprise that they lost a thoroughly lackluster game to the Dallas Stars, 1-0. The best thing you could say is that Lundqvist and the defense looked good, minus the one defense lapse by Jeff Woywitka. Woywitka sent a softee into the neutral zone that Brendan Morrow scooped up, and passed to Mike Ribeiro, who set-up defenseman Trevor Daley, for the game winner. That is it, one mistake late in the 3rd period, and the Rangers go home with a loss.

The Dallas rookie goaltender, Richard Bachman, played a strong game and fully earned his second NHL win and first career shutout in just his third NHL game. The Rangers themselves have earned enough positive equity to get a pass on this little stink bomb.

Fortunately, there is not much more to say. If you hang around coach disagreeable long enough you eventually learn how to make a disagreeable sound and walk away after a poor performance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rangers Drub Panthers 6-1

The Rangers unleashed a second period, four goal storm on the Florida Panthers that put the game away early. The only reason to watch the third period was to see if Derek Stepan could complete the hat trick. The spayed cats knew they were being out skated and totally embarrassed, so Krystofer Barch (6'1", 237lbs) took on Brandon Prust (6'0", 192lb) after the Rangers 4th goal. Barch used his extra 45 pounds to keep Prusty off balance and throw him around like a rag doll. The fight was the only highlight for the Panthers. They have to wonder if their Central Park skate on Saturday some how took their legs away. You have to go back to the Rangers' 7-0 drubbing of Philly last March, when Callahan scored 4 goals, to find a game where the Rangers looked so totally dominant.

The Rangers' power play went 2 for 3, which is incredibly outstanding, given their PP history. Gabby got the Broadway hat, which was more a recognition of his overall body of work for the last month. Stepan certainly deserved the first star and his one man end-to-end rush at the end of a 2nd period penalty kill was a thing of beauty. 

The victory keeps the Rangers near the top of the conference and puts some more meat on the bone (points) to withstand their typical late winter hibernation.

Christensen got a total of 12:54 in ice time, spread over 16 shifts. That's mainly due to Torts rolling the fourth line more in the 3rd period after the win was in the bag. Christenson along with Anton Stralman also got assists on Anisimov’s power play goal. So it certainly looks like Avery will be spending more time on the shelf, or even worse, unless injuries bring him back into the mix.

Knock on wood, the team is running on all cylinders and Dallas on Tuesday looks like a target of opportunity.


Derek Stepan's end-to-end rush.

Blueshirts United:
With the season Marian Gaborik is already putting together it is quite conceivable that he could have won the club's Broadway Hat honor any number of times. Yet when the hat was bestowed on him following Sunday's 6-1 victory over the Panthers at The Garden, it marked the first time this season that the Rangers' leading goal scorer donned the Broadway Hat. "It's kind of cool," said a smiling Gaborik following the game, while wearing the Broadway Hat. "It's cool to get this kind of thing going around the room, where one guy gets it and hands it to another guy after a win. It's really nice." Gaborik netted his 15th goal---a slick putback off a rebound in front of Jose Theodore at 16:53 of the second period---and also added an assist to raise his points total to 25 in 27 games played so far this season. His 15 goals now rank Gaborik tied for seventh in the NHL, just three behind league-leaders Milan Michalek and Phil Kessel, who each have scored 18.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Biron Baffles Buffalo

Yes, the Rangers won their 2,500th game, leaving only the Black Hawks of the original six who have failed to meet that number. And yes, Ryan Callahan scored a shorthanded goal that truly was a highlight film goal. And of course, rookie Carl Hagelin scored two goals. However, it was the old pro Martin Biron, who had 32 saves and moved his record to 5-1, with a GAA of under 2.0, and a save percentage in excess of .930. Not bad for a backup.

It was no small feat. Buffalo averages almost three goals a game and the beauty of it was that Biron made it look easy. He was perfectly positioned all night He was only beaten by Thomas Vanek, his 14th. Marian Gaborik was the other Ranger scorer, his 14th also. Gaborik, believe it or not, got only 16 minutes of ice time because he was punished for being on the ice on Vanek's goal. Meanwhile Gabby played a whale of a game while he was on ice.

Speaking of ice time, Sean Avery got all of 3:48 of ice time. That amounted to five shifts. The homer boys, Sam and Joe, freely announced that Gaborik was getting reduced time because of his gaffe, but not a word about Sean's ice time. So the announcers don't talk about Avery's ice time. The coach don't talk about it. The blame stream media don't talk about it at their news conference. Is there a person named Sean Avery? Is there a hockey player named Sean Avery?

But soon all this will be resolved. Mike Rupp or Wolski will soon return and that will end Avery's stint with the Rangers. Will he clear waivers again? What will coach disagreeable say for the release? What are his reasons for not playing him now? Will the Stealth GM, see his shadow, come out of his cocoon and step in to stop this outrage? Will the blame stream media finally step up and ask the hard boiled questions a press corps should ask of a coach who sees himself above the team, above the press and more importantly above the fans?

Meantime, a big game tonight against a resurgent Florida Panther team. It should be a good early test of two upcoming teams looking to move up into the upper echelons.

Let's Go Rangers!

Here is the breakdown of total wins and losses for the original six. Note that the Canadiens and Maple Leafs played for an extra 9 years. / Team Index:

Franchise          From-To  Yrs  GP    W      L     T   OL
Boston Bruins      1925-2012 87 5,906  2,825  2,187 791 103
Chicago Blackhawks 1927-2012 85 5,841  2,432  2,510 814 85
Detroit Red Wings  1927-2012 85 5,840  2,681  2,265 815 79
Montreal Canadiens 1918-2012 94 6,068  3,116  2,028 837 87
New York Rangers   1927-2012 85 5,838  2,500  2,446 808 84
Toronto MapleLeafs 1918-2012 94 6,067  2,651  2,544 783 89

Friday, December 09, 2011

Shoot 'Em Up!

There is an old adage in sports, "Let sleeping dogs lie." The Rangers and Lightning were playing a slumbering game that was briefly interrupted by fans chanting for their team, and also giving out high praise for former players. Of course, if you watch the Sam and Joe show you only get to know the Ranger chants. The taunts are not for viewers or listeners.

Anyway, everyone was minding their own business in a 1-1 game when the Rangers' Anisimov scored a beautiful shorthanded goal and immediately went berserk. He had a problem deciding whether he was the King of the Khyber Rifles or the Rifleman himself. He posed and aimed and shot Vinnie Lecavalier in his ego. Vinnie, who was mailing it in all night, decided to charge at poor old Artem whose gun was now empty.

Watching their Captain take leave of himself the rest of the team on the ice also attacked Anisimov with the intent of disarming him and possibly dismembering him. In fact, the Lightning got so excited that Steve Downie jumped off the bench to join in. The last time the Garden saw anything like this was a tag team wrestling match. The previous event of note was the storming of the Bastille.

Before I forget, the Rangers lost in a shootout because Dominic Moore scored a tying, shorthanded goal with less than two minutes to play in regulation. Ryan McDonagh was torched on the play and that completed a bad night for the kid as he set up the Lightning's first goal with a beautiful pass out to Malone. Moore also scored the only goal in the shootout. So Moore or less Dominic was the difference.

The other reason the Rangers lost was that they were pooped at the end. The posse style that the disagreeable one has adopted gave ice time almost exclusively to four players. Gaborik was the low man with 19:39, Stepan had 21:31, Richards was at 26:02, and Callahan was on the ice for 28:11. Sean Avery got all of seven shifts for a grand total of 4:13. One of my readers suggested that coach disagreeable coaches like a little league coach. I object, Number one son is a little league coach and he doesn't coach like that.

It was interesting that after the game Sean Avery was one of the few players who stood up for Anisimov and defended his actions. I wonder how many Rangers would have stood up for Avery if he had acted as Anisimov did? Not coach disagreeable, who was all forgiving of Anisimov at his news conference.

Teachers sell Leafs.

Toronto Star:
Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors sold to Rogers and BCE --
Two telecommunications giants will soon control the Toronto Maple Leafs, the biggest prize in Canadian sport.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will announce Friday that it has reached a draft agreement to sell its 79.53 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owners of the iconic Leafs, to Rogers Communications and BCE for more than $1.2 billion...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Leafs End Rangers Streak

For a while last night it looked like the Leafs were going to skate the Rangers out of the Garden, jumping off to a 3-0 lead. But the line of Dubinsky, Prust and Avery sparked them with a great shift in the second period and the Rangers rallied back to make it 3-2 and an exciting third period. Alas the rally died and an empty netter by Cody Franson sealed it for the Leafs.

Of course, the loss may have been averted if the coach had seen the big picture rather than looking short range as he usually does. This coach can't see beyond his nose. The Dubi, Prust, Avery line averaged about seven minutes even strength. It was posse hockey. The usual suspects were rounded up over and over again. For a moment there was a brief, bright spot. Sean Avery got 14 seconds of PP time. Actually, I thought the Rangers would win when Prust tangled with Jay Rosehill a little over two minutes into the game. The previous Prust early bouts resulted in Ranger wins, 7-0.

However, I always get a little nostalgic when we play an original six team. I think back to two dates with Toronto. The first was 1940 and us beating the Leafs 4 games to two to win the Cup. The second was the now infamous 1963-64 season when we traded Andy Bathgate to Toronto for a load of nothings, and where he immediately helped Toronto win the Stanley Cup. Aah memories.

Speaking of original six, the NHL has proposed some new conference setups. I propose one that will revolutionize the NHL and all sports. How about an original six conference? Imagine, the Rangers, Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Black Hawks all in one conference. It will never happen. But imagine it.


Proof that the internet is a value added service.

Old Jews Telling 

Monday, December 05, 2011

Monday Musings

Before tonight's game against the Leafs here are few things that caught my eye.
Rangers, Flyers on pace for prolific Classic matchup--

If the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers maintain their current form, the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic could be more special and historic than any of the outdoor games that have preceded it.

Giving or taking a fraction of a point, the Rangers are on pace to arrive at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with 52 points in 36 games, while the Flyers are on pace for 48 points in 36 games. It could be the best Winter Classic matchup in terms of point totals of the two teams in the game's five-year history...
Realignment tops Board of Governors agenda --
Realignment is a necessity because off the off-season move of the Atlanta franchise to Winnipeg after the Thrashers were sold and relocated from Georgia to Manitoba. The geographic disparity between those two locations precludes the Jets from playing another season, after this one, in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference.

So, it is a given that the Jets will be moved to the Western Conference. As a result, several other teams -- motivated by their own geographic concerns -- have made proposals to take the place of Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings have been among the most vocal clubs in lobbying for a move to the Eastern Conference, believing that such a move will alleviate the hardship of being an Eastern-based team playing in the Western Conference...
USA Today:
NHL realignment needs Eastern OK --
The proposal has been tweaked clearly with an eye toward attracting more Eastern support. Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night that the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning are now being lumped with the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins. That would seem like it would be attractive to the Florida teams because of the number of Canadians who spend winters in Florida. The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals now would be with the New York Islanders and Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins and Flyers. It's a logical approach...
Did you notice that Henrik Lundqvist has started using Twitter recently?

Twitter / HLundqvist30:
The mask arrived last week, my winter classic pads from @BauerHockey should be here any day now... Getting closer.. #Ibetterdresswarm
Success is the result of psychologically preparing yourself for it, prior to achieving it!!!!!!!
The NY Times has an extremely interesting profile of the 'Boogyman', Derek Boogard. Being an NHL enforcer is the most difficult and dangerous job in sports. Read this story and try and argue otherwise.

NY Times:
Derek Boogaard: Blood on the Ice --
When Boogaard closed his right hand, though, it was a weapon, the most feared in the N.H.L. The thought of Boogaard’s right fist kept rival enforcers awake at night. It made them alter their strategy and doubt their fighting acumen. And, in the case of Todd Fedoruk, that fist shattered his face and dropped him to the ice, all while officials and teammates watched, an arena full of hockey fans cheered and Boogaard’s Minnesota Wild teammates banged their sticks against the boards in appreciation.

No single punch announced the arrival of a heavyweight enforcer the way it did on Oct. 27, 2006. Fedoruk, 6 feet 2 and 235 pounds, had built a career as a nuisance and willing combatant. Trying to avenge a hit that the 6-8 Boogaard had laid on an Anaheim Ducks teammate, Fedoruk chased Boogaard down the ice. He baited him with tugs on his jersey.

Seven seconds after their gloves dropped, the damage was done. Surgeons inserted metal plates and a swath of mesh to rebuild the right side of Fedoruk’s face. His career was never the same.

Message sent. Players around the league took notice of the Boogeyman...
Boogaard played 1,411 minutes in six N.H.L. seasons and spent 589 minutes in the penalty box

Parts 1 and 3:
Just wanted to add this photo from Saturday to our growing collection of Rangers wearing hats.

Blueshirts United:
Rangers forward Derek Stepan, who scored the game-winning goal to beat the Lightning with only 3:19 remaining in regulation at Tampa, was the recipient of the postgame Broadway Hat on Saturday. Stepan, who was still suffering from a sore ankle after blocking a shot in Thursday's win at Carolina, also assisted on the game-tying goal by Artem Anisimov. He is the first Rangers player to win the Broadway Hat twice, having also claimed it on Nov 6.

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