Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kool Hand Kreider

The Stealth and coach disagreeable must have kissed the Blarney Stone prior to the playoffs. How else to explain a 20 year old, less than two weeks from his last college game, leading them to the promised land. Look at it another way. If Hagelin lowers his elbow and misses Alfredsson's head he is still playing and the kid from Boston College is still sitting up in the luxury boxes 'learning' how to play the game. Or maybe the Rangers are all home watching the Senators play in the second round against the Flyers.

In the conference finals it was his key defensive play that set up Marc Staal's opening goal. Today he scored the winning goal on a blistering shot past Cap goalie Braden Holtby. Ninety seconds later Brad Richards put the nail in the Cap coffin via a clever Kreider assist. Kreider got 15:28 of ice time. He scored his second playoff goal, got an assist, launched seven shots, five were blocked. Marian Gaborik got 19:20 of ice time, one shot on goal and had an assist. In eight playoff games Gaborik has one goal. The Rangers have put out an APB on Gabby, who is definitely MIA.

The game was another fast paced hard hitting game. The players were more interested in hitting the opposing players rather then hitting the net.The Rangers out hit the Caps 35-28.The Caps outshot the Rangers 18-14, so neither goalie was overworked. The goalies could not be faulted on any of the goals.

The Rangers youngsters all played well. Artem Anisimov while only logging 11:51 scored his first playoff goal. Derek Stepan had 20:20 of ice time, a big asssist and doled out five hits. Carl Hagelin, Kreider's 'mentor', had 18:50 and Ryan McDonagh logged in with 25:04 and led all players with four shots on goal. The ever pressing Ryan Callahan meted out five hits.

But the big story is Chris Kreider. The former Boston College Eagle is soaring and he is taking the Rangers along for the ride. And a child shall lead them to the promised land.


Chris Kreider wears the Broadway Hat as game one MVP after 1 goal and 1 assist in the Rangers 3-1 win over Washington in conference semifinal series

Friday, April 27, 2012

Classic Game Seven

Before the game all the cliches came out. You have all heard them over and over. And then they hit the ice and then they treated us to a classic that probably will be run again and again on MSG. It was a big game. The seventh and final game between two desperate teams. One wins and moves on. The other loses and goes home. They shake hands and go their separate ways. Both will have the memories of a great series. Some will be bitter, some happy.

The game had the unlikeliest of heroes. The two goal scorers for the Rangers were Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, both noted for their defensive skills. They each logged over 25 minutes of ice time in a gruelling match where each team gave no quarter and took turns testing each other's mettle and resolve. They also had the unlikely spectacle of two young players, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, getting significant ice time and making two key plays.

The first goal saw Kreider force a key turnover that led to Stepan's pass to Staal for the first goal. And then Dan Girardi who missed a wide open shot with Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson nowhere near the net scored the game winner in front off a beautiful pass from Dubinsky, who played hurt most of the night. Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredssson scored the lone Sens goal on a PP to make sure we had agita until the end.

And what an end with the Senators swarming around the net like bees around honey. But we had the likiest of heroes to hold the fort and essentially the game. Henrik Lundqvist stood tall. He was brilliant. He was strong. He was resolute. He was Henrik Lundqvist. In the end he had the look of a warrior, who had been in a war, but had emerged unscathed.

So now Lundqvist and his mates rest, for a day, and then it starts all over in this grind that is the NHL's version of a World War. Its called the Stanley Cup playoffs and our heroes have taken the first in a long series of steps to bringing that silver chalice back home to New York. We are the only team of the four in the Eastern Conference that's a top seed. The other three seeded teams are all gone. What does that mean? It means we have to beat Washington in the next round. It will probably take seven games again but we will prevail.


Chris Neil (Ottawa) and Henrik Lundqvist shake hands after game seven

Rangers and Senators handshake line after game seven

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Win It For The King

The report is out that Henrik Lundqvist is one of the three finalists for the Vezina trophy. Good. Let's keep him in the spotlight by winning, starting tomorrow night. You remember, or at least heard, about that scene in Knute Rockne when George Gipp, dying and lying in a hospital bed looks up at Rockne and tells him that when things look bad tell the team to win 'one for the Gipper.' Of course Ronald Reagan played the Gipper and he used that line very effectively in the elections of 1980, 1984 and 1988.

It would not be unreasonable to expect the Rangers to win one for Henrik. How many has he won for them? How many games has he stolen? How many games has he stood tall while many Blueshirts were hard pressed to mail it in? They recognized his importance by voting him the team MVP. He should be voted the NHL MVP. More importantly he should be skating around MSG carrying the beautiful silver Stanley Cup.

Rangers! Win one for Lundqvist. Win it for the King!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

True Grit

Grit: Firmness, unyielding courage: stamina: fortitude.

Rangers forward Brandon Prust and Ottawa's Chris Neil dropped the gloves in the first period of game 6
Brandon Prust vs. Chris Neil

Yes, the Rangers were all that last night and then some. But it took the 'old warhouse' Brendon Prust to spark them. The Senators had a 1-0 lead thanks to a three player screen in front of Lundqvist and the good guys seem to be going nowhere. Chris Neil was making Scotia Bank Arena into his own personal playgound. Prust had seen enough and challenged the tough guy. If this was a ten rounder Neil would have probably won 7-3. But it didn't matter and the Ranger bench came alive, the players that is, the coach is another story.

The comeback was amazing. Stepan got his first ever in the playoffs, in front of the net no less. Richards rifled a rocket past Anderson and rookie Chris Kreider continued his climb into the Ranger future with his first NHL goal, in the playoffs no less. And the Rangers had a seemingly safe 3-1 lead and had tied the series. However, and there always is a however in the NHL, the hockey gods in Toronto did not see Chris Neil 'kick in' the puck and the score was 3-2 with 38.4 seconds remaining in the contest. In this age of diversity the NHL may be looking to combine with the World Soccer Association. Whatever.

Lundqvist was livid, as he should be, but the goal stood and the Rangers hung on for a hard fought win that tied the series at 3-3 and the finale is Thursday night at MSG.  As usual Lundqvist was magnificent and carried the team until Prust woke them up. You would think after 82 regular season games and five playoff games the team would be constantly awake, but these are the Rangers and thank God, many times, for Henrik Lundqvist, the greatest Ranger goalie.

Players Post Game 6 Comments:

Lundqvist comment:
“When it’s goalie interference and a kick and they still call it a goal, it scares me. It’s such an obvious play, I’m still upset… It looked like someone wanted them back in the game…It’s an absolute joke.”
Ranger Fan comment:
“Ottawa's the last Canadian team left in the playoffs, and the decision on that @#$% goal was made in Toronto. Just a coincidence ???”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

At The Brink

All along I've said that the Rangers will only go as far as Henrik Lundqvist will take them. He has picked up the team on many an occasion. Very rarely has the team picked up Henrik. So it is with much pain to see a journeyman goalie like Craig Anderson shut out the Rangers 2-0 in the key game five. Anderson made 41 saves in shutting down the Blueshirts. Lundqvist came up with 28 saves beaten only by Jason Spezza, the clincher an empty netter.

The Rangers did their usual, outhitting the Sens 41-22, out shooting them 41-30, out shot blocking them 19-10. They also did their usual on the power play going 0-4. After the game the coach said, "I couldn't be happier with how hard we played. We just kept banging away." Hey coach. We lost. We didn't score a goal. We have scored five goals in four games. He also praised the play of Marian Gaborik, who got all of two shots on goal and dished out two hits. Marian Gaborik was brought here to score goals. He has one goal in five playoff games. Just what the team needs, another grinder.

So you see what is wrong with this team. It is built to grind. It is built to block shots. It is built to play defense at all costs. It signs goal scorers and they are ripped if they fail to block shots at the risk to bones and limbs. You can see the difference in the coaches and how they handle their players. Ottawa coach Paul MacLean uses his entire bench. The low ice time guys were Carkner with 8:28 and rookie Mark Stone with 8:43. The Rangers had five players with less than 9 minutes each. You wonder why the team tires in the third period and are dead in OT.

In the post game analysis the discussion was how coach MacLean ia a player coach first and he allows the players to flourish. No discussion about our coach, though the implication is that we have a coach who has molded the team to his needs, his wants, his desires. So we have a shot blocking, grinding, defense at all costs team. Nothing wrong with that, but you need offense. The power play has been a disaster all year and it is now killing us in the playoffs. That will be the team's obituary.

I ache for Lundqvist, the best goalie in the game and arguably the greatest Ranger goalie ever. He is completing his seventh season and chances at the elusive Cup get slimmer and slimmer. It would be a shame if he doesn't at least get a shot at winning the Cup. With this coach his chances get slimmer.

However, we are not dead yet and we still have Lundqvist. So maybe the ghosts of Gaborik and Richards past will revive them and we will pull this one out. Yogi said, "It's not over til its over." One shift at a time. One period at a time. One game at a time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rangers 2, Ottawa 3 (OT) – Loss-apalooza

The Rangers took one big step towards elimination by losing a heartbreaking overtime game, 3-2, to the Ottawa Senators last night. Once again the Rangers could not hold a lead. Ottawa threw everything they could at Lunqvist as they worked to make the comeback from two early goals down. They took 30 shots. They had 30 shots blocked by the Rangers, and they missed 24 shots. That is a total of 84 times the Senators launched the puck towards The King with evil intent. In comparison the Rangers took 33 shots, had 8 shots blocked, and 8 misses, for a total of 49 puck launches. So, Ottawa was able to throw 71% more rubber than our heroes. You just had a feeling the Rangers doing their BS (blocked shot) rope-a-dope were going to take one on the chin. And they finally did when Hank let one in by Turris in OT.

Brian Boyle can not carry the Rangers to victory. For every game winner he scores he gives up two in overtime. Once again, Boyle was on the ice in OT when the Senators scored the game winner, just like game two. His linemates were Prust and Fedotenko. The big man, Boyle, fades late in games.

The Rangers power play was 2 for 7. Ottawa knuckle dragger, Nick Foligno, gave the Rangers two golden opportunities in the 3rd period to salt the game away with a PP. Not going to happen. Getting two PP's in the first period was found money, so they decided to take the rest of the night off.

If these teams switched goalies, and Lundqvist played for Ottawa, the series would now be over, 4-0. The quality and frequency of Lundqvist's saves have been higher than Anderson's. However, the Turris OT game winner will haunt The King should the Rangers end up losing the series.

Player GP SA Saves Save% GA GAA W L SO
Lundqvist 4 134 126 0.940 8 1.97 2 2 1
Anderson 4 116 107 0.922 9 2.24 2 2 0

All this praise by Tortorella and the Rangers about Kreider after game 3 was just blowing smoke. Chris Kreider is lost in the sauce out there, and Torts rewarded that with a grand total of 6 shifts and 3:29 of ice time. That was low for the team, Bickel (3:33), Mitchell (3:59) and Rupp (4:12) all got more time. Experiment over.

Speaking of sauce, it looks like the secret sauce for Richards and Gaborik is Hagelin. Without the speedy forechecking of Hagelin, Richards and Gaborik have become non-factors. 

The minuscule ice time that Kreider, Bickel, Mitchell and Rupp had just demonstrates now Torts has shortened his bench for this series. And that tactic is not working. Ottawa is proving that they are a better and deeper team. Jesse Winchester (5:44) had low ice time, but that was due to injury. The next lowest TOI for Ottawa was Jim O'Brien with 11:19. The Senators bench is longer and more talented. Torts doesn't look like he has any way to counter Ottawa's depth.

So maybe if the Rangers can regroup and find some scoring from the silent majority (Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Stepan, Prust, and Anisimov), and any help from the bench warmers (Kreider, Bickel, Mitchell and Rupp), they might be able to take it to game seven. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rangers 1, Senators 0, All Hail The King!

The Rangers lost the battles, but won the war, 1-0 over the Ottawa Senators. This was all due to our All-World goalie Henrik 'The King' Lundqvist. In almost every statistical category the Senators dominated the action. They won 66% of the faceoffs, 29 to 15. They had more hits, 48 to 33. The Senators, of course, had more shots on goal, 39 to 23. More missed shots, 16 to 8. The Rangers did have a slight edge in blocked shots, 21 to 17. However, during the last period the ice was severely tilted in Ottawa's favor. The Senators put 14 shot on goal in the final stanza, the Rangers had 7. The Rangers climbed up on Lundqvist's back and he carried them to victory.

The Rangers lone goal came about because of Dan Girardi's special skill of missing the net with his shots. This time the Girardi bounce off the boards gave Callahan a swipe at the puck that set up the game winner for Boyle. Better lucky than good. For a man who specializes in pounding wood with his shots, these lively Ottawa boards might become Dan Girardi's new best friend.

So how did the college boy, Chris Kreider, do? Thrown into the lion's den of a playoff game, Kreider was okay, after he got past a shaky first period. The 20-year-old, former BC winger finished the game with one shot, one hit, and one giveaway in 11:11 of ice time over 13 shifts. The fact that he got in and held his own is a positive. So for the next couple of games, while he subs for Hagelin, Kreider gets a golden opportunity to impress. I hope he pounces on it, better than that puck that slid by him at the end of the 2nd period.

It's certainly nice that Brain Boyle has elevated his game for the playoffs, but does that mean that Gaborik goes into remission? Gaborik needs to get off the schneid. He had only 1 shot in 17:36 of ice time over 20 shifts. Don't fail us now Gabby.

Anyway, the Rangers are in dog fight for sure. It would be nice if Lundqvist didn't have to do it all by himself.


Blueshirts United:
After Game Three of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against Ottawa, Rangers head coach John Tortorella raved about the play and leadership of Brian Boyle, who had scored the only goal of Monday's night's defensive struggle.

"He is playing the right way and a lot of guys on this team are following his lead," Tortorella said of Boyle, who has scored a goal in all three games of this series, so far. "That's what he's doing right now. He is leading."

Boyle turned in a monster effort Monday night helping the Rangers take a 2-1 series lead with a 1-0 victory. He scored his third playoff goal early in the third period, his second game-winner already in the post-season. He also led the team with five shots on goal, played shut-down defense, had a huge blocked shot when the Sens were pressing late in the game, and delivered a series of big hits during his 18:55 worth of ice-time to earn the Broadway Hat...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

No Luck, No Win!

There is a lot of talk this AM in the blame stream media how the Senators brought their tough guys and tough game to outplay and beat the Rangers. To a certain point that is true. The Sens coach did something the Ranger coach would never do. He put in two goons for the sole purpose of exacting revenge. You remember, the previous game the Rangers and specifically Brian Boyle used Ottawa D-man Erik Karlsson as his own private punching bag. No more, said Sens coach Paul MacLean.

He inserted tough guys Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka into the lineup with the sole purpose of getting even. What a radical thought. You know the story. Carkner beats up Boyle, Dubinsky to the rescue and game misconducts to Carkner and Dubinsky. So Ottawa wins two ways. It gets payback on Boyle, not a hard thing to do, and the Rangers lose a skilled important player while the Senators lose a nothing.

MacLean sent a messsage. Our coach did nothing. This game, Karlssson was virtually untouched and skated around like he was Bobby Orr. He got a goal, took ten shots on goal, shot another six wide and had five hits. And all that was wasted was 39 seconds of ice time by Carkner. Meanwhile the so called Ranger tough guys, Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel got 2:38 and 3:40 of ice time with a combined total of one hit.

After the game Lundqvist complained, a rarity, of bad bounces. Actually it was bad locations. Del Zaster as Scotty Hockey calls him, was in the wrong spot, again, and smartly deflected Karlsson's harmless pass past Lundqvist. The tying goal was scored when a puck 'bounced' in front of a stickless Lundqvist and was put in by Nick Foligno. The winning goal was deposited by Chris Neil after somehow making its way through Marc Staal's legs. No wonder Lundqvist complained.

So there you have it. Toughness? Yeah, to a certain extent, but it was mistakes and bad luck that did the Rangers in. Also, the "rope-a-dope' philosophy of trying to hang on to a one goal lead against a fast skating, hard charging team will not work. I hope we learned our lesson after this game because if we haven't the Rangers will be hitting the links earlier than usual and the press conferences will become shorter.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Headline Heroes

Frankly I never thought I would see it again, but there it was. Not one but two backpage headlines. My two early morning deliveries were brought to me with glaring headlines. The New York Post had, Capt. Clutch and the Newsday had, Smash Opening. Add in the fact that SI had Henrik Lundqvist on its East coast edition and suddenly the Rangers are media marvels. It is rare for hockey players and especially Rangers to make the SI cover. My boy, Andy Bathgate was the first Ranger to make SI's cover back in 1959. However, Chuck Rayner made Time's cover back in the late 40's and goalie Dave Kerr was on the cover of Time way back in 1938.

Lundqvist again dominated the game and if the Senators want to make a series of this they need better goaltending. Lundqvist didn't give up a goal until midway through the third period. By then the Rangers had a four goal lead. The Ottawa goalie, Craig Anderson, gave up a fluff goal to Callahan midway through the first period and it was all downhill for him and his team. Goals by Gaborik and Boyle had given the Rangers a 3-0 lead going into the third period. Lundqvist made 13 saves in the first and 11 in the second. Lundqvist made 30 saves. The win was his 16th playoff win against 20 losses.

The other star of last nights game was Captain Crunch, Ryan Callahan. After scoring the game opening goal he became a run-away bowling ball on a mission of total destruction knocking off players like they were bowling pins. First it was ex-teammate Matt Gilroy, then Jesse Winchester and then anyone else who stood between him and the puck. He was credited with 7 hits leading all skaters. The two teams equally split 74 hits so this was not your Saturday night social meeting.

All in all a good first start and it sets the stage for the Saturday nite social. A win for the Rangers and they will have held serve and home ice advantage, a loss and home ice advantage goes to the Sens. However, if the Rangers play follow the leader they can't go wrong and they now have two leaders to follow. If this keeps up we may get the front pages next time.


Captain Clutch

Blueshirts United:
Captain's Playoff Hat --
It wasn't just the fact that Ryan Callahan scored the Rangers first goal of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night that earned him the coveted Broadway Hat following the Blueshirts 4-2 victory over Ottawa. It was his all-around game---called a "monster performance" by teammate Brian Boyle---that landed Callahan the Broadway Hat.

"He played physical and a real good all-around game, just like usual," said Marian Gaborik. "He proved it again tonight---scored that big first goal, and that got us going. He does everything for us."...
Dave Kerr was just the second hockey player to grace the cover of Time magazine, shown here on the March 14th, 1938 issue. Kerr was the All-Star goalie for the NY Rangers where he won the Vezina Trophy and Stanley Cup in 1940... the last Cup the Rangers would win for 54 years.
Rangers center Andy Bathgate on the cover of Sport Illustrated, January 12, 1959

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Protect the King !!

At the start of the year, when other people thought this team was a marginal playoff team, I went on record as saying they would get around 105 points and finish 4th. I was off by a mere 4 points. And, if they were at 105 points they would have finished 4th. Not bad. Been pretty damn close the past few years too.

So, now, we start the playoffs. Again, time for predictions. But, not so fast.  A disclaimer first.  The playoffs are harder to predict. As Billy Bean would say, the sample size is too small. The law of small numbers creeps in to play. A hot goalie or hot scorer can swing a short series. Winning a season requires consistency. Winning four consecutive series in a row is different.  You need to be better, or lucky, or both, four times in a row.

So, my prediction is based upon this team being a very good team, but seriously flawed. However, everyone is seriously flawed. Even Pittsburgh, as seen last night, can be horrible on defense and in goal. And this means that, just as I said at the start of the year, the Rangers are among the top 8 teams in hockey, and maybe the top 4. And the top four or eight are all pretty damn equal.

My prediction? If the King gets hot, they will win it all. After this round, he needs to steal a game or two a series.

The motto for this battle for 16 wins is simple - protect the King! Keep the lanes and the crease clear and he will carry you to the promised land.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Playoff Hype

Today the journey begins. These NHL playoff 'hype' images scare the pants off me, because of their jinxiness.

Lundqvist on the cover
All the 'experts' at are picking the Rangers in the first round. #scary
Former New York Rangers player Adam Graves watches kids drink from a 21 Foot, 6,600 pound replica of the Stanley Cup in Times Square in New York City on April 11, 2012. The Stanley Cup replica also serves as a working fountain so NHL fans can drink from the famous trophy
NHL fans and pedestrians stand around the 21' replica of the Stanley Cup in Times Square in New York City on April 11, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sweet 16 to Stanley

You load sixteen tons, what do you get, Another day older and deeper in debt...

You take 16 wins and what do you get, the Stanley Cup you bet...
My sincerest apologies to the late, great Tennessee Ernie Ford for playing song games, but I just couldn't resist.

Anyhow, you get the message. Get 16 wins and you earn that coveted silver mug called Lord Stanley's Cup. Sixteen wins don't sound so tough, but when you break it up into four series it is not so easy. So pray tell me, what do our heroes have to accomplish in order to reach this goal? Can they reach this goal? I think so.

First, of all there does not seem to be a team in th NHL East that looks like a super elite team. And that speaks for the entire NHL as well. Look at the playoffs. In three cases, the lower seeded teams have won the season series against the top seeded teams. Washington beat Boston 3 games to one. The Flyers beat the Pens 4 games to 2. Our heroes lost 3 games to 1 to the 8th place Ottawa Senators. The fourth matchup between the sixth place Devils and the third place Florida Panthers was 2-2. So it seems the playoffs are wide open, which gives the Rangers an edge, because they have been the most consistent team in the conference.

The Keys to the Cup

1. Goaltending – We have the best money goalie in the NHL. Lundqvist is the team MVP, he should be the NHL's MVP. He is determined and ready. This is his seventh year and he realizes that these opportunities don't come around that often. He must stay focused and not give up that occasional soft goal. It says here that we will get an outstanding performance from Sir Henrik.

2. Forechecking – We need strong and consistent forechecking. Every line and every shift. It would be nice if the lines were stable so everyone knows their assignments and jobs. It must be sixty minutes of relentless hockey not a burst here and a burst there. Fierce forechecking puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense and thats what leads to scoring opportunities.

3. Turnovers – We have to cut down on the turnovers especially in the neutral zone. Ottawa has a lot of speed and some pretty good snipers. No cross ice passes and none of those cutsy drop passes that a lot of our 'stylists' love to do. Skate straight ahead and keep getting the puck in deep and keeping Ottawa on their heels.

4. Of course there are other facets of the game like the special teams. Our penalty kill is usually pretty good when it has to handle four or less power plays. If we get up to seven or more penalties than all bets are off. So it behooves us to stay out of the sin bin. The power play? Forget it. Any team that refuses to shoot from the point because of the fear of a blocked shot is not going to be successful.

The Rangers lost their last two games badly. Not to be outdone the Senators have lost their last three. Momentum is on our side.

The Rangers in six.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Staggering to the Finish, Rangers Lose, 4-1, to Caps

The Rangers are not inspiring any confidence with their going through the motions finish to what could have been their greatest season ever. The low intensity, unenterprising 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals, following the 5-2 shellacking by Pittsburgh, leaves a bad taste behind. It was like watching Tiger Woods bogey the last two holes of the first round at Augusta on Thursday. Certainly not a great omen for what's to come.

The Rangers were in a position to pick their poison for the playoffs. Beat Washington, play Washington in the first round. That would justly set up a chance for the Blueshirts to avenge two previous first round losses to the Capitals. But, instead of picking their poison, the Rangers will now take their poison and play Ottawa. Ottawa beat the Rangers three times in four meetings this season, shutting them out once, and out scoring them, 14 goals to 8.

The other disappointment in last night's loss, is that it took a little glow off of Henrik Lundqvist's quest for his first Vezina Trophy. Forty wins would have been a nice round number for Hank. The voices that sing the praises of Johnathan Quick overthrowing The King get a little louder. I don't think it will happen, but in the clubby insular world of NHL GM's anything is possible.

Yes, of course, you have to beat good teams to advance in the playoffs, but I think many of us were looking for some payback against Washington. However, the playoffs are a new season. The Rangers will turn it on again once it counts. The great disagreeable one, Tortorella, will push all the right buttons. That's got be your mantra if you are a Tortorella acolyte. For me this will be a day of prayer too.

So forget the recent past and focus on the near future. The team is healthy and no team in the East has been more consistent than the Rangers over the course of the season. The Senators also finished their season weakly, losing their last three. So, by all means bring on the Senators.

Happy Easter and Let's Go Rangers!

Some views from up North.

Black Aces:
Senators Get Rangers In First Round ... Torts Ready For War --
There's a lot of Senators fans thrilled at the idea of taking on the Rangers but you won't hear a hint of that coming from the players or the Senators organization. If you go by the regular season, Ottawa seems to match-up better against New York than Boston, but nobody wants to provide bulletin-board material for a team that was on the verge of winning the President's Trophy. How can you say you'd rather play the 1st place team than the 2nd? When you overthink the game, anything is plausible.

Ottawa is still the decided underdog going into this series, but like I said on Twitter, if there's one coach the referee's hate more than Paul MacLean, it's John Tortorella. That's worth at least one road victory in the first two games...
The 6th Sens:
With the conclusion of the NHL's regular season, everyone in the city of Ottawa is rejoicing over yesterday's good fortune. Thanks to a Senators loss, combined with victories by the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals, the Sens have dropped to eighth in the Eastern Conference and will avoid the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs....

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Warrior Coach

Coach disagreeable came out of his egotistical shell Thursday night and decided to become a warrior. At least a vocal warrior. He went after the Penguins, the team, the players, the organization, the Zamboni guys, the ushers, the janitors and anyone in earshot of his vocal tirade. All Penguins, past, present and in the future were dammed. Only thing, it's all bull crap. When he should have been tough he wasn't.

The Rangers haven't gotten it right lately. Forget these phony staged fights that Rupp and Prust get into. Thursday night in Pittsburgh was a reason for a fight. Right after Orpik kneed Stepan someone should have gone after him. Anyone. But no one did. You want to know why? Because they are not allowed to, that's why. Not with this coach. Don't believe me? Okay. Did you see anyone on the next line go after any Pen? Nope. It's not in the playbook of the coach or in the genes of the players.

Sean Avery was the last player to go after an opponent seriously when a teammate got cheap shoted and what happened? Christensen claimed Avery sucker punched the opponent. That's standing up for your teammate. And the coach? Indifference and annoyance at the misconduct penalty Avery took. This coach does not want retaliatory vengence. He'd rather have you turn the other cheek so the Rangers get a power play to practice their perimeter passing game.

Then he speaks of honor. Honor? Are you kidding me. He doesn't know what the word means. He has as much honor as Benedict Arnold had. Honor? He drove Avery off the Rangers that had nothing to do with hockey. He had it in for him when he was a hockey analyst and Avery made the comment about an ex-girlfriend. He claimed Avery did not belong in the NHL. So his main mission was accomplished. Avery no longer a Ranger. Honor?

Down in Hartford Avery scored three goals, as he had with the Rangers. It is ironic that his last goal was his last play in the Ranger organization. He had been hit scoring the goal and after the goal he beat up the guy who hit him. In keeping with Ranger tradition he was suspended from the team and never got another second on the ice.

Now I will not defend the Penguins. Crosby is a whiner and again this is in the genes, as Mario Lemieux was the king of the whiners. He was always working the refs for more penalties. Mario didn't like to be touched. He loved four-on-four hockey, miss a check and you are gone. That said, this is hockey and all situations should be handled on the ice.

Did you notice that the press conference was two questions and after the tirade Tortorella walked out. He learned that trick from the Russians, who did that in the UN, back in the 50's.

So now he is $20,000 poorer and and I imagine his lap dogs will do another fund raiser for him to help defray the costs of the fine because they feel he did the right thing. That's nonsense. He has distracted us from the real problems of a team that took the top spot in an over rated conference. A team that lacks depth. A team that lacks a consistent offense. A team that cannot play a 60 minute game. How can it have one with the many line changes. This team has been carried all season by Henrik Lundqvist and no bloviating by a egotistical blowhard will change that.

Honor? He can't even spell the word. Gimmee a break!

Friday, April 06, 2012

“It’s a cheap, dirty hit.” — John Tortorella

An analysis of the video of the knee-on-knee hit by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Derek Stepan late in the third period proves Orpik intended to injure Stepan.

Tort's comments were spot on.

Let's go to a link here below for a detailed review of the hit:

Click on image for hit replay
Two things are very clear from the tape.  One: Orpik throws his knee out.  Two: Orpik turns his skate toward Stepan's knee.

Orpik received a five-minute penalty for kneeing, plus a game misconduct.  The game misconduct will result in an automatic review by the league.  If you believe Shanahan's public statements about his close analysis of tapes and skate position as a sign of intent, then that review will result in a four game suspension.

If the league does not suspend Orpik, then it's time for a little old time hockey.  Regulation by the league has gotten out of hand.  If the league will not protect the players, then it's time for the players to protect themselves.
When the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, in the first round I will be rooting for the Flyers for the very first time.

Pens Knee Rangers, 5-2

The Penguins beat the Rangers 5-2 in a meaningless game in Pittsburgh.

However, with the Penguins leading the Rangers 4-1 in the 3rd period, the Pens Brooks Orpik decided to add injury to insult. He took a run at Derek Stepan and flagrantly kneed him. Orpik was given a kneeing major and game misconduct. Orpik will certainly face scrutiny from Brendan Shanahan the league's chief player disciplinarian. After the game Rangers coach John Tortorella tore into the Pittsburgh organization.

The Orpik hit job:

Tortorella's post-game comments:
It’s a cheap, dirty hit. I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen. So I’m anxious to see what happens with the league with this. (There’s) just no respect amongst players. None. It’s sickening.

(Sam Rosen question) Why do you think that happens, a play like that?

Ask the guy who did it.

It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens...

It's ridiculus. But they'll whine about something else over there, won't they? Starting with their two f***ing stars.
What I find interesting is the Pittsburgh reaction to the Orpik cheap shot and Tortorella comments:

Pens blog:
RECAP: The battle lines have been drawn. PENS WIN. --
The Pens are getting the reputation of being knee-to-knee'ers. When someone pulls that card on you, there's really nothing you can say...
Pens blog:
Orpik's hit and John Tortorella's irrational postgame comments
Hard to justify the hit. Is it a legal hit? No. Is it dirty? Yea a little...

It isn't April until the Rangers start crying...
Empty Netter:
Rangers at Penguins - 04-05-12 --
That hit looked unintentional as Orpik tried to hit Stepan high. Stepan moved away at the last minute and their knees collided...
Thank you, we will file all this away in the accounts payable drawer.
Other views:

Alan Robinson /
Tortorella rips Pens for Orpik hit on Stepan --
It was the second time in less than a week that an Atlantic Division coach assailed the Penguins for a hard hit. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette became irate when Penguins forward Joe Vitale leveled forward Danny Briere with a clean, but hard hit Sunday...

Jeff Klein / NY Times:
Tortorella Seethes After Penguin’s Hit --
Orpik was not available for comment after the game, nor was Stepan. Orpik has been suspended once in his N.H.L. career, for three games for injuring Carolina’s Erik Cole with a hit from behind in 2006...

Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 01:11 EV PIT Kunitz(25) Letang(31) Malkin(58)
2 1 04:23 EV NYR Dubinsky(10) Boyle(14) Fedotenko(11)
3 1 08:27 EV PIT Kennedy(11) Staal(22) Michalek(11)
4 2 05:11 EV PIT Park(7) Dupuis(34) Tangradi(2)
5 3 09:06 EV PIT Maklin(49) Kunikz(34) Crosby(28)
6 3 17:46 PP NYR Anisimov(16) Boyle(15) Girardi(24)
7 3 19:11 SH-EN PIT Letang(10) Staal(23)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Champions Of The East

The Rangers took a big step in their quest to win their fifth Stanley Cup by beating the Flyers for the sixth time this year and ensuring home ice advantage for all Eastern Conference games. They are in a dog fight with St. Louis and Vancouver for the top spot in the NHL. The Rangers jumped to a 4-0 lead and were never headed.

There was a little drama in the third period as Lundqvist played hurt, a 'stinger' he had trouble holding hs stick, but still made 13 saves on 14 shots. The guy is incredible and he continues to 'carry' this team to new heights. He finished the game with 37 saves as he picked up his 39th win of the season. It was a shutout of sorts for the Rangers as they went 6-0 against the Flyers. After the game some Flyers talked of how the Rangers would never go ten for ten against the Flyers, assuming they meet in the playoffs. Wanna bet guys. The Dark Ranger is one happy man right now.

The Rangers spread the goals around with five different players scoring. In their order of scoring it was McDonagh (7), Boyle (10), Anisimov (15), Callahan (29) and Gaborik (41). There were a couple of the obligatory fights that the Rangers and Flyers think they are supposed to have, which do absolutely nothing as far as the momentum of the game goes, but that is why these stiffs are on the team. In one fight, Scotty Hockey's favorite whipping boy, Mike f***ing Rupp, got his you know what kicked by Jody Shelley. Their rewards for this 'snorer' was Rupp getting all of 1:02 of ice time and Shelley got 3:56. Both spent more time in the sin bin then on the ice. And Avery sits in limbo.

But, the story was and is Henrik Lundqvist. I've said it many times before. We will only go as far as this man carries us. He is on the cusp of becoming the greatest goalie in Rangers history and that is coming from a guy that still reminiscences about Chuck and Gump and Eddie. Sorry guys, but Henrik is the new man. But, you are all in good company, so just move over a little bit and make room for another great goalie. This one may carry us to a spot you have never seen.


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Thomas Outduels Lundqvist

The Boston Bruins served notice tonight that they will be vigorous defenders of their Stanley Cup of last year with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. This one was played before a Garden crowd that seemed more interested in serenading Potvin than in cheering the home team on.

The Rangers outshot the Bruins 34-21, outhit them 31-22, but mistakes by the two most reliable Rangers cost them the game or at least a point which would have clinched first place in the East. The Rangers now need a point in their last three games to clinch first over the Pens, who could help with a loss. The Penguins lost to the Flyers and the two teams are in a dogfight for fourth and fifth place. The two teams will meet in the playoffs, the only question is who will get home ice, not that it matters.

The game was tied at one when the two big miscues took place. Gaborik, with his 40th, opened the scoring in the first on a breakaway off of a blocked Chara shot. Dennis Seidenburg put a booming slap shot by Lundqvist, his 5th, to tie the game. Then came the play that cost the Rangers the game. Girardi tried to make an ill advised pass off the side of the Ranger goal and the puck was deflected to Patrice Bergeron who slipped it under Lundqvist.

To me after Thomas, Bergeron was number two star. Besides the winning goal he won 17 of 19 faceoffs leading Boston to a 67%-33% advantage over the Rangers. The Rangers did make a strong flurry at game's end and even though they out shot the Bruins it was the Bruins who looked sharper and quicker.

The Rangers called a time out with less than a minute to play and there was assistant coach Mike Sullivan diagramming a play and over at the Boston bench there was coach Claude Julien setting up his defense. I guess our coach was saving himself for the press conference, with no Sam to feed him some softballs. Fortunately I missed it. Unfortunately I didn't miss the game which shows me that a revitalized Boston team is going to be a serious threat to repeat as Stanley Cup Champs.


Scoring Summary:
G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 04:33 EV NYR Gaborik(40) unassisted
2 2 04:00 EV BOS Seidenberg(5) Chara(40) Marchand(27)
3 2 11:52 PP BOS Bergeron(22) Seguin(38)

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