Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If Only I Were There. . .

I rarely miss a game at the Garden. And tonight is the one I miss.

Is the cosmic universe trying to tell me something.

I choose to think not. After all, I was there when Petr Prucha scored his game tying goal 26 days ago versus Pitt at MSG. So I can't be all bad luck for him.

When I heard he'd get into the lineup, I was thrilled. Sad that I'd not be there, but thrilled.

Ira Podell wrote up a nice piece for the AP post game.


Gomez's words on Prucha's character make me want to cry. Not only have the Rangers been under-utilizing and mis-handling a good player. They've been doing this to a guy with unparallelled character. I may be biased, but the guy is something else.

Gomez on his teammate:

“I have played with a lot of guys, and that guy is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. For whatever reason he hasn’t been in the lineup, but he never says a word. He is one of the guys that always has a smile on his face and works the hardest in practice. Not only was it a huge goal, but to see him get it even means more."

I do not mean to get over dramatic, but that's a testament to the people that raised him and to he himself.

I don't know many people that would not crumble under such circumstances. But he keeps coming back, - harder, better, faster, stronger.

Pete hopes that's enough to keep him in the lineup another game. Me, I personally hope he's in for well, forever, but at least through Monday and Wednesday's games at MSG. He deserves it.

But as Ira Podell asks, what exactly does he have to do?

Tom Renney, with what might be the his moronic statement of the millennium, said:

“If he would get three or four goals a night he’ll be fine,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said with a laugh. “Pete’s a battler. That’s exactly what you have to do when you get those opportunities.”

If I wasn't so far away, I'd punch him. Kidding or not, he's half the reason (Slats might be the other half) why Pete has not played consistently this season. He's also the guy that - BS - said he'd be given a real role and real time this year.

So he doesn't have the right to kid.

I have the right to smile though, even if I wasn't there.

And so does the one that always does. Even when things get tough. His smile never fades.

Happy New Year, Petr Prucha. May this be the 2nd of many more goals for New York this season.

:) *peace*

Author's note: I only saw "game clips" so I am not sure about how the game rolled. The Orr/Fritz fight looked nasty. But the Isles got a whopping 20 shots and the Rangers still allowed 4 goals. Defensive effectiveness my butt. The Isles lost, what, 10 or 11 straight. And still the Rangers just scraped by? Something has got to give.

In other news:

*3000 wins in Montreal history tonight.

*News comes out that Alexei Cherepanov was using performance enhancing drugs in the months before his death.

To me, at this point, after two and a half months, it only means the situation was even sadder than I thought it was. A young man died, for what seems to be many unexplainable reasons. Now add an explainable one to the list.

It's sad he felt he had to take anything to improve his game. He was already amazing.

Regardless. It was sad, it remains sad. Rest in Peace, Alexei. We all wish it ended much differently.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greatness Appreciated. . .

I do not have time to comment on this, but I've said it at least eight times so far this year and probably much more.

Alex Ovechkin is the guy.

THE guy.

The guy the NHL should be drooling over.

THe guy they should be using in marketing campaigns.

He's their guy.

THE guy.

I cannot help but love his love for the game and you feel it - each and every time he takes the ice.

As Brooks said, he is probably not more talented that Crosby.

He's probably not the best skater.

The best passer.

The best goal scorer.

But he is - in my mind - the best.

No question.


The NHL is lucky to have a GREAT group of young talented players that will own this league for the next 15 or so years.

Embrace it. Enjoy it.

I know I do.

Is This Rock Bottom. . .?

And I'm not talking about the Rangers team, when I ask that. I'm talking about me and my love/hate relationship with this team. Has that hit an all time low? Is it possible for me to compare my thoughts now to my thoughts the last time I was so indifferent to my team (1997 post-Messier, for those of you keeping track). I guess it would be near impossible to do so.

But I must be honest in that last night, for the second time in the month of December, I watched the Rangers play the team I am supposed to hate the MOST, and I couldn't really care less that my team was losing to them.


I'd be hard pressed to say they were even skating!

Credit the Devils. They scored a short-handed goal - the Rangers league-leading 11th allowed on the year. Frankly, they walked all over the Rangers. And the Rangers let them.

I love the "concern" and "uproar" from the locker room after this most recent collapse - 3 straight losses and not a sign in hope of the ship being righted. But now the team is like, yeah, well this most recent game, that was unacceptable.


As if the Washington collapse less than a week ago was any less cause for concern?

The 4-0 loss at home to Florida (yes, Florida) on Kid's Day?

The Florida trip where two tying goals were allowed late in the game to force OT and then the shootout?

The trip to Montreal on the Habs 100th anniversary night where they were embarassed?

The 8-5 diabacle at the Rock earlier this month?

The countless games where the Rangers either failed to score more than two goals, or went down two goals early and had to scramble to tie and win in a shootout?

No. No. None of these were causes for concern.

But all of a sudden, people are thinking, jee, am I safe? Are their going to be changes in personnel?

No, it would seem, the political king of playing favorites coach, - he thinks it will magically be fixed from within.



We're waiting.

And have been since the happy team returned from Prague.

I'm sorry. This is more a rant that I intended it to be.

I am just confused about a few things.

Paul Mara, who I like a lot and has certainly been one of the best defensemen this year, said he'd hate for their to be changes, only because this is the "best group of guys he's ever worked with."

Larry Brooks made me crack up reading the NY Post today, with his response which is:

"They are a vanilla team three months away from the handholding club that sang Kumbaya in Bern and Prague. It's nice that the team has bonded and that everyone does everything together off the ice. Why, they can put that right in their high school yearbooks."

And later, after rattling off stat after stat for why this team has little to be proud of says:

"But they like each other! They really like each other! "

Sarcastic? - yes. But damn, damn true.


This team is vanilla, and even though young Steve Stamkos and I both like vanilla ice cream, for our hockey teams - we expect much more.

Brooks talked about how Avery got to NY, and joined a team very familiar to this one - although I do not and cannot think that the team even though lackluster and losing when Sean arrived, was anywhere near as boring and hard to tolerate as these mediocre group of best friends. And then how Sean turned it around.

I will not - yet - make a comment on this. Avery. Returning. Avery anything. Yet.

But the point is made.

This team needs something.

I love that they love each other. I really do. But there is something drastically wrong with the team when they:

Play so horribly.

Play so horrifically boring that their long time fans don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Skate like they are at Rockefeller Center or the Ice Capades.

Their fans hope the head coach gets knocked unconscious on the bench (again) by an errant puck or stick.

Causes for concern?

They are for me, guys. They are for me.

**Authors Note: The Rangers "political king of playing favorites" coach. More on this another day, I promise; but I'll give you a day or two to think about what type of mediocre/overpaid North American players get breaks from our Western Canadian coach and what European players do not get breaks from our Western Canadian coach. And if anytihng had anything to do with anything."

Also, as for those of you wondering why Prucha didn't play. It probably had nothing to do with the maybe-Orr-has-the-flu or not. Renney had the flu Friday when he used Prucha for more than dummy defense at practice, went to bed, woke up better, realized he hated him, and, well, you get the picture. Because, again, Prucha is obviously - from the locker room - the reason this team is one loss closer to complete and utter disarray. A fancy win to fix it? No. No. All wins do is hide what is so fundamentally wrong here. That's why I'm not going to cry that they lose.

Lastly, I will be a way for a few days. I will probably miss the game tomorrow. I will probably not be disappointed.

Everyone, Happy Happy and Healthy New Year!! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Plea For Petr Prucha. . .

And this time, not even from me.

Larry Brooks, for a second time this season, devoted an entire article in the NY Post to Petr Prucha and the mystery that surrounds his not playing for the Rangers.

When he should be.


Face it. There is no reason - hockey related - why this player is not in the lineup. He can be no worse than at least half the players currently in it. And when given the chance to be in it, he has proven to be much more useful than more than half of those players currently taking up roster spots.

Brooks chooses to take Aaron Voros and Fredrick Sjostrom as examples. Now I like them both, to a degree, but I see his points.

Voros, the guy who was happily celebrating with Dubinsky and Zherdev to start the season, has disappeared. Now whether or not that is a natural dip in production or the fact that Renney tinkered with his linemates at the wrong moments, not sure. But he's hardly been effective in the last, well, couple months now.

Sjostrom, Brooks argues, is in the lineup more for his PK ability, which is important, no doubt, and his shootout abilities. Do not get me started, however, on the fact that when Dawes is in the lineup, more often than not, he is also a 3rd threat on the shootout. Naslund, Zherdev - those are your best guys, along with Sjostrom. But Dawes and even Drury have been effective. So that can't be the only reason. In Renney's case, I absolutely believe it is his lame excuse ,but it shouldn't be.

You know, funny thing, but a certain guy back 3 years ago was a great shoot-out performer for the Rangers. Shortish, skinny Czech guy with a great fake out and a brilliant smile. Yeah, that guy. He won more than a handful of games for the Rangers in the 5th period.

Regardless of who you pin it on - Sjostrom, Voros, or others - there are numerous players not earning their ice time for NY. That's a fact. There are certain ones that, thanks to Glennie baby, the Rangers are rather stuck with, or rather choose to continue to stick themselves with. But ther are other guys, like those mentioned above or some others, that certainly can take a seat in favor of Prucha coming into the lineup.

Have you seen what has happened so far this season - low scoring, no energy, boring one way hockey? Have you seen the play of the team that was not stellar, somehow get even less so?

Tell me how Prucha can possibly make the situation worse?

He can't. He simply can't.

The only way he shouldn't be playing is if he is inserted into the lineup and his gaffs, his personal gaffs, cost the Rangers to lose every game.

I just don't see how that's possible.

Thank you, Larry, for trying just one more time to stir up the Prucha debate in hopes of getting this kid playing. Whether in NY, in the Western Conference, or for Marty Straka's team in Plizen, he should play.

If he went to play with Marty, I would cry, because he would become just one more Rangers player of Czech origin to shine here and then be cast back out to his home country, but at least I know he'd be taken care of and cared for.

Most ironically in this, I spent a few days before viewing the games in Prague that I missed earlier this season - again for reasons beyond my control. And I watched, and I listened.

Despite the hurtful ignorance that originally had Prucha the odd man out, he did play, both games. And repeatedly it was mentioned how GREAT the line of Prucha, Korpikoski, and Callahan played.

Prucha and Callahan saw success with Dubinsky before - the line was great in January of 2008, so I was not suprised by that.

Even better. Prucha, a left wing, played in Prague - you guessed it - left wing. I'm sure he felt more natural. And the line was fast, forechecked like madmen and consistently kept the puck in Tampa Bay's zone.

They even got consistent time on the, wait for it.

Power play.

Yep. Both games. Not the first unit, but the second. And while they did not score, damn the so many times came close. (Miles closer than the Rangers moronic power play has come since).

When Dubinsky was asked after the first game in Prague what he thought, his first words were "the Korpikoski line played great."

Everyone said so.

Everyone saw it.

Yet they came back from Europe and Sjostrom went in (never to come out again, right?) and Prucha became odd man out.

Callahan continued his tempo, although not really scoring.

Korpikoski, with the exception of the two games he played with Dawes and Dan Fristche, has not looked as sharp as he did in Prague. At all.

Hell, the team has not looked as sharp as they did in Prague.

They were fast. Up-tempo. Forechecking. And fun.

Wanna get angrier?

Plenty of people lied to start the season. I don't know what upsets me more. Renney on how he'd look at and treat Petr Prucha. Redden on how he was looking forward to playing in NYC and continuing to be effective. Gomez on what the NY Rangers team would do.

Renney said Prucha would get every time and opportunity to play real minute and have a real role on this team because he's "very important" to the team and "such a good solider."


Wade Redden looked comfortable and poised in his post-game interview after game one, saying how he couldn't wait to continue the same in NY, after a goal and an assist.

Haven't seen him look anything close to comfortable or poised since then.


As for Gomez, you might have missed that one. What, you don't remember? Well allow me to refresh your memory.

After the second consequtive 2-1 win over Tampa Bay in Prague, Gomez said:

"Fans of New York should get used to this effort every night." We are going to be a "hard working" team, rolling "four lines." This is "how we are going to win" and this is "how we are going to play."

I heard that last week and said, wow, that is such:


I love this team. I'll always love them. But right now, they are hard to love.

There are a bunch of nice guys in the NY media, I'm sure, but only one is really willing to step up and say what everyone else is afraid to challenge and that's been Larry Brooks.

This team has been lucky. Their record is not a fair reflection of how they played.

Games like those against Toronto, against Montreal, against New Jersey, at home against Florida, and at home most recently against Washington, are clear reflections of this team not being capable of holding down a lead, playing with conviction, or being held responsible for their actions - GOOD or BAD.

It's embarassing, and it's disgusting.

And for the coach and the GM to not take the very able and very ready option they have literally wasting away in the locker room every game, says volumes about what brilliant hockey minds they are not.

One more plea for the young #25, who deserves to smile once more. Trade him, waive him, play him.

And if you are asking those 18,200 that stood and cheered on December 3rd, and those countless others that support him and want what's best for him -

We vote he should PLAY.

Play in New York, on LEFT WING, with what few players in the lineup do skate, do show effort, do come to play. And see what happens.

You might just be pleasantly surprised.

Will I be?

No. I know better. I know the good they have, the good they are apparently either too blind or too stubborn to see.

Note Brook's article from Wednesday:


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Let Me Share My Coping Mechanism. . .

So I finally have my answer.

It is not outright hatred for my own team. It's not indifference. It's merely something someone could have picked up in Psych 101. (Note, again, I did not pay attention in Psych 101, but my friend was kind enough to share this theory with me on my way home from the game last night).

A coping mechanism.

My laughing when the Capitals team came back and beat the Rangers last night after being down 4-0 at MSG (for the first time in 30 years), wasn't a fluke. It was nothing more than a coping mechanism. I'm laughing because I wish I could be crying, but it's easier to laugh than to allow myself to be as angry, upset, and frustrated as I honestly truly expect to be as a fan that loves and supports her team. So I laugh, because really, sometimes, what else can you do.

So glad that's been cleared up.

Now, do not get me wrong. When the Rangers went up 4-0, I shook my head. Every goal that was scored, I kept saying, who are these guys? I mean good for Ryan Callahan, who looked remarkably better. And Chris Drury had 3 points on the night? Everyone, for the first 10-20 minutes, looked fast, they looked together. In fact, they looked very much like the team that played the final glorious 10 minutes in San Jose Saturday night.

Then the rug was pulled out from under them. Washington, interestingly enough, although it worked, put back in Jose Theodore after having pulled him in the first. The Capitals gained speed, momentum, and scored goals one and two so fast, it really did seem probable they could come back. And of course, they did. The whole way.

I think of Washington as one of those teams. That can never be counted out. Some may think of the Rangers that way. I think the Rangers have proven they are capable of the step by step, small goal comebacks, like 2-0, tie the game, win in a shootout. I just don't know if I can imagine the Rangers coming back from four goals down to win.

Is that a coping mechanism, or is that reality, I don't know.

Coping mechanism to blame, or not, I felt horrible for Hank. Irregardless of whether the goals were his fault or not, I hate for the one guy who has really been there for his team to be embarassed by this utter team collapse. Again.

But for the rest, it should have served as a lesson. That if you play that amazingly to start, and you sit back, you are going to get your butts handed to you by a team like Washington. Did the Rangers lose all their energy? Are they truly physically incapable of playing for 60 minutes one way? Or did they not even play that well in the first place?

Back to Washington though. It never should have been allowed to happen if the team was being responsible. Even without Federov, Semin, and Green, they are a dangerous, dangerous team. And exciting.

And very exciting.

I obviously like Alex Ovechkin a great deal. So seeing him score some goals was fun, I'm not going to apologize for saying that.

And do you know why?

I started thinking. Ovechkin is the greatest example of it right now in hockey. A foreign, a specifically European player, with moves that can dazzle. That can surprise. Be it finesse, be it grace, or in his case, be it pure strength and a King-Midas-Touch - - those type of players enthrall me.

Bure did that. Jagr did that. Malkin does that.

The Rangers own Zherdev certainly at times does that.

I'm not including Americans or Canadians in this comparision, so you can automatically cross off 95% of the Rangers team. And goalies, because they dazzle in a different way than skaters. And defensemen because, well our defensemen at least, cannot dazzle in the way I'm talking about.

So the Rangers have on a regular basis, of European blood, Korpikoski, Sjostrom, Naslund, Zherdev on their team.

Shootouts not-with-standing, I've only seen Zherdev be that type of player. And I don't think he'll be given (or take) the opportunity with this team to be that kind of player I truly enjoy.

He's had sparks. He's had moments. But, because of the way this team is constructed, and the type of game they play, it probably won't happen. And that's a shame.

My point is, Alex Ovechkin is worth the price of admission. The Capitals were down 4-0! He scores a flukey goal, no denying it, but a goal that he got, frankly, because he is that great. The great players are lucky sometimes. And the Rangers game went down like a house of cards.

We'll never have Ovechkin. I'm going to continue to admire him from afar.

My regret is not that, though. It's that we had those type of dynamic, take control, dazzle-me type European skaters before. Where did they all go?

With that, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays to all.

P.S. Another thought struck me. When the Capitals scored to tie it and when they scored to win it in overtime, the team showed such life. Such life and exhuberance. I was happy to see them be happy, frankly. Happy to see players being happy, showing they are alive, happy, and playing a game they love.

I've seen the Rangers look that happy, that exhuberant, exactly twice this year. When Zherdev scored with 8 seconds left to tie the game versus Pittsburgh. And then Prucha scored with 6 minutes left to tie the game versus Pittsburgh.

Everyone keeps saying this team is "on one page" and "together" and "supportive" and they "get along perfectly." That all might be true. But they apparently are on one page, together, and supportive in their attempt to be complacent, get by with half efforts, and bore those fans that adore them.

If the team thinks they need to take a long look at themselves this holiday break, fine. I think they need to take a long look at San Jose, at Chicago, at Washington. Those are the dynamic teams in the league that look like they are truly having fun. Those are the dynamic teams in the leagues that their fans must really enjoy watching.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So They CAN Play Like That. . . !

Just a few quick post-game thoughts on last night's Rangers/Sharks game.

This was the first of the three on the west coast trip I actually fully watched, and I'm glad I did.

When the Rangers went down early on 2 power play goals within the first five minutes (and within 25 seconds of each other), I said, well, see, that's a power play. That's a team.

The rest of the game actually showed a lot of resolve from the Rangers, coming back each time San Jose scored.

Now on a regular basis, night in, night out, San Jose is a pleasure to watch. They play a great puck-possession game, with a lot of passion. I'm sure I'm borrowing this from some movie somewhere, but they look like a team, they act like a team, they play like a team. The way they skate proves it. Their stellar record is a testament to it.

On most night's the Rangers are not a pleasure to watch. They consistently dump, chase, and then subsequently lose the puck. They are not present on defensive assignments and opposing players constantly get great looks in front and multiple chances to score on, which they most of the time manage to do - when Hank or Vali do not stand on their heads. They do not make crisp passes. Their powerplay does not cycle in a manner that would be effective, or press in a manner that would be effective. The way they skate proves it. Their record is. . .in direct contradition to it.

But for the last 10 minutes of the third period last night, the Rangers played with passion. They had consistent pressure in the Sharks zone, were hungry, fast, and smart, in their attempts to tie the game. They looked passionate, and for those 10 minutes, they were a great pleasure to watch.

I'm glad I stayed up because I'm glad I saw it. Those were arguably the 10 best minutes of hockey I've seen them play (in a row) all year long.

However, as happy as I was to see it, it surely makes me even more angry that what this team is obviously capable of, - - they do not exhibit on a nightly basis. Or ever it seems.

If they can play - and boy, last night it looked like they could indeed even outskate the best team in the entire league - then why do they not do it every night?

Why must we, as fans, endure on a nightly basis the boredom and monotony of the quite possibly the most lackluster hockey played by some of the most seemingly unenergenic and unmotivated players in the league, when those same players and that same team can very well be more entertaining. And dare I say productive. If only they committed themselves to it.

Or were allowed to commit themselves to it.

Evgeni Nabokov made 17 saves in the 3rd period, a period owned by the road team. If he were any less the perennial Vezina candidate that he is, maybe a shot would have gone in. It's possible. It's possible the Rangers could have beat, or at least tied up, the best team in the league in their own rink last night.

But you know, last night's game does not bother me. To see them play with that type of heart, it doesn't matter if they didn't get the equalizer in the end.

What matters is, as a fan, I don't know when, or even if, I'll ever see them play with that passion again this season.

If they can do it, if they can actually be more entertaining and productive than the sum of their boring and at times self-destructive parts, then why don't they?

Ask yourselves - why was this the first time we've seen that type of play since the Rangers opened the season in Europe?

I may be alone in this, but I'm kinda thinking I'm not. I'll take competitive and passionate play that comes up short every once in a while, rather than stale and boring play that may win on a semi-regular basis, but accomplishes nothing in the end.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why The Blackhawks Pat Kane Has It All. . .

He won last year's rookie of the year, even over the more highly touted Jonathan Toews, his teammate on the Blackhawks (although yes, Toews leg injury might have had something to do with it).

He is currently among the league leaders in points at this stage in the NHL season.

He's a great ambassador of the game, and at a young age, has proven to be both a great athlete and a great person.

Not long ago, there was yet another example of this fact.

This story, while no longer new, and thankfully still being shared, I think deserves one more roll.

The NHL, to me, and I may be biased, certainly has the best athletes. The guys who grew up living in small Canadian, U.S., or European towns. Guys that took buses for hours in the cold, unforgiving landscape. Guys whose parents made sacrifices few of us will ever understand.

These guys - most I would say, perhaps not all, but most - remember where they came from. Remember how they go to where they are, and most importantly, who helped to get them there.

Many go back home in the summers and some go back to the life style they previously knew. Humble, charitable. They are special people.

I'm not denying hockey players don't want to play for the money. I'm sure they do. It's a tough game, and I've watched many a player not be able to continue with it, and struggle to get that regular life back after their playing careers are over. So to have the money to not worry about the little things, is important.

I hear the salaries players still make in the NBA and MLB and I shake my head. Then and only then does the $7 million for certain players in our league not seem so outrageous.

But it's the stories like these that put everything into perspective. The "Blackhawks Go To McDonalds" story, if you haven't heard it. This is a slightly different writeup than the one I first read. Even if you know the story, it's worth another look:


And the original, in case you are curious:


Just take a minute at this time of year and think about it.

Was it a huge sacrifice for them, probably not. But was it meaningful for Dale Tallon? Absolutely.
All sorts of people make sacrifices along the way - parents, coaches, friends, loved ones - to see these players play the game they love. This is just one more example of giving back.

The McDonalds part. That's the cheese on the Big Mac, if you will.

Guys who can afford to eat at the best restaurants in every city they visit, but it's McDonalds they choose go to.

When I was growing up, I ate more McDonalds cheeseburgers than any one person should have. Those Golden Arches were a beacon on long stretches of highway, both in faraway places and close to home.

Perhaps it felt that way for those guys, especially young Toews and Kane, not far removed from their own youths. Or still very much in them, depending on how you look at it.

But getting back to Pat Kane for a moment. I've said before, he might never be a better player than his captain and teammate Toews, but I like him better. I like the way he speaks, the way he plays, the way he thinks. He is going to be great for Chicago and great for the United States.

Earlier this week, I watched a Blackhawks game. The announcing team mentioned that Kane's mantra, if you will, comprises three things:

-Be a good person.

-Take care of your family.

-Have fun.

If those are not the words and thoughts of a great role model, I am not sure what are.

The league is truly blessed with so many great people, and even more young, great players on the rise.

In reading that, you are perhaps less surprised that the Blackhawks chose to do what they did for Tallon. Perhaps you realize it's being a good person above being the best player that many NHL players want to be remembered for.

In Kane's case, again last year's Rookie of the Year, and currently tied for 5th in league scoring with Boston's Marc Savard and Calgary's Jarome Iginla (15G-23A-38pts), I think there will be much more he is remembered for than just being a good person.

Just another reason I like hockey, folks. Just one of the, oh, 47-million.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Summer of Sundin Finally Ends December 18th [UPDATED]. . .

Wow. Umm, so Mats Sundin is not going to play in New York this year. At all this year.

I guess it's about time there was an answer. Any answer.

The "Summer of Sundin" and all it's deadlines, quickly gave way from July 1st, to sometime in August, and before anyone could have expected it, 3 months of the season have been played, and everyone was then hearing deadlines of December 1st, December 15th, Christmas, after Christmas.

I think so many people were just sick of hearing about it. I obviously haven't written much about it (except my angry mention of it in tangent the other day earlier this week), since before the season started.

Am I happy or unhappy with Mats inevitable decison to play for Vancouver instead of New York?

Actually neither.

What I am is shocked.

A friend of mine got a text from her friend and told me the news last night. I was like, what? It actually was hard to believe. It almost still is. Almost six months of what if, and in what seems like a second, we have our answer.

I guess only Mats himself can know what was in his head and how much it was a 2-team race, or whatnot. But I can only go on what I know, which is very little and mostly hearsay, probably.

I was of the opinion that he was going to Montreal, back this summer. When summer faded, Montreal signed Robert Lang, and said, we're done, I still thought there would maybe be an outside chance.

I thought, like so many others, that if it were truly the money that mattered, he'd have been in Vancouver to start the season.

Perhaps none of it really mattered as much as his not being sure. And really needing extra time to figure it out. Not anyone's favorite thing, because a player like Mats held up a lot of other plans for a lot of teams, but it is his right and I can't fault him for that.

Perhaps after all of this time, the bad travel schedule for the Canucks didn't seem so bad to him if it was only going to be for half a season. I mean, yeah, I'm sure the money didn't hurt either. But the timing is funny.

Perhaps he saw part of the Trevor Linden ceremony and said, these guys can use a leader more than New York can and thought he could fit in there better. Maybe Mattias Ohlund, Alexander Edler, and the Sedin twins were more appealing than Markus Naslund, Hank, and Freddy Sjostrom were.

Perhaps it really was just the fact that the Rangers realized they needed to shed more than just a player or two, and were not prepared to do so at all, or certainly so quickly. And once Mats said, I want to play, he wanted to play as soon as possible.

Perhaps, we'll never truly know. There are just too many eventualities.

So to recap, I am not disappointed. I bare no ill will. I rather enjoy Vancouver and think they are a good organization. I hope Mats and the team have a better season than I thought they would, as remember, I picked them to miss the playoffs this year.

But let's face it, Rangers fans, Vancouver will have nothing directly to do with us unless there is a very, very, very unlikely repeat of the teams in the 1994 Finals. So live, let live, and let's all move on as best as we can.

And I say, as best as we can, because surely, a lot of Rangers players - those that play, like Rozsival, Kalinin, and perhaps even Gomez, and those that don't, like Prucha and Fritsche, surely wondered if they'd be around to spend Christmas in New York. As it stands, they will. For how long? I'm not sure.

I guess the only part of me that sees this as bittersweet is the part that thought, gee, Mats Sundin on Broadway, how cool would that be. Cool because I have always liked the guy, the way he played, the way he skated, and the leader he was in Toronto through good and bad times.

And Mats coming to New York would have been satisfying only more so in that it would finally answer some questions for the players on this team. Make the perhaps needed shakeup. Get guys like Prucha or Fritsche - who I still contend can be full time players on other teams in this league - out of New York so that they can do what they love to do, which is play hockey. [Even if #25's departure would cause me to burst into tears, which I won't try to deny].

Instead, they stand pat. Two surprising wins into their 3 game West Coast swing [where I was betting they'd maybe win one], and going into San Jose tomorrow night, where the Sharks will be coming off a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Detroit. I'll be curious. Tomorrow. Next week. For the next little while. On a given night, what team shows up? And even if they do show up, will they be exciting enough to watch...?

Anyway. Mats, good luck in Vancouver. Seriously, there are no hard feelings, at least not from this fan. Just a lot of questions, a lot of questions with perhaps no chance of ever being answered.

**Update Dec 20th, 11:31 am:

Great line by Larry Brooks in yesterday's NY Post online. And what I've been saying - not necessarily in regards to Mats Sundin but the team in general - all year long:

"Let's face it, though. The Rangers didn't lose Sundin yesterday. They lost Sundin on July 1 when Sather had perhaps the worst day on the market since people were jumping out of windows on Black Friday of Oct. 25, 1929."


This team is handicapped not only for this year, but perhaps for as many as 3-4 more. For those of you that wanted or like Gomez, Drury (2007's blunders), Redden, Rozsival, and Kalinin (2008's crop of the overpaid) on this team, you have to take a deep long look and realize those moves - one, two, or all of them - will hurt the Rangers in the end.

If they haven't already.**

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rozsival. . .?

Okay, I feel a little better. Some of the doom and gloom from yesterday's blog entry as dissipated. With it, a new game, a new day. And wondering what the Rangers would do.

I'll be honest though, I didn't watch the game. Really. Again. It's almost funny to me. If I didn't have to go to work the next day, I would have been watching with popcorn and bells on, you know. But of course last night there was another reason I ignored the Kings/Rangers tilt (which I'll get to in the next entry), which is disappointing only on the level that the Kings are great fun to watch. Their young guys, the speed, the way a 19-year-old can quarterback a powerplay better than the guy the Rangers paid $6.5 over 6 years to do. Sigh. LA is fun.

And those jerseys (over the holiday I promise to do a blog reviewing each of the new 3rd ones), are fantastic. I want a shirt of it. In fact, if they make a shirt with that sheild, I'm buying one.With Kopitar on the back.

Anyway, since I didn't watch the game, didn't find out the score until the highlights package on Hockey This Morning (XM204), I can't really comment.

The one thing I can comment on is that Roszival's shootout goal proves two things: He can be a good player when he wants to be and that if I had to take a guess, playing under the NY spotlight gets to him. I've seen him do good things and bad things in his time with the team. A soft-spoken prideful man (tell me one Czech who isn't prideful, I dare you) and I knew immedidately that he'd be one player that wouldn't respond well to booing. Not really that those that came before him - Nedved, Poti, Malik - did, but Roszival seemed to take it a little extra personally. He came back and played much better around Thanksgiving, but I'm thinking he's played far better on the road, than at home. Just a hunch. Which is a connundrum to say the least. The guy can have a game like last night - when I heard Roszival in Overtime, I almost drove out of my lane - and pot a goal like that, he's not all bad. I'm just not sure it was the right mix. And I'm sure that 4
years at that price was too long for such a question mark.

That goal, one of the few moments I did watch in the game, was gorgeous though. No denying that. Beautiful goal.

Thank You Captain Canuck. . .

So the real reason I did not watch the Kings/Rangers game, was because I was, at the last minute, scrambling to watch the Trevor Linden Night ceremony.

I thought, mistakenly, it was starting at 10 for the 10:30 game time start. Nope. So I happen to flick around the channels and find that they are, indeed, showing the ceremony. I missed a large part of it, but I got to hear Trevor's speech and see his banner raised, which is always my favorite part.

Because I didn't see it all (hopefully I can catch some on youtube this weekend), I can't really comment on the details. Except what I did see was beautiful. And I must ask, is there a more humble athlete in all of sports?

Trevor said to the fans:

"It's hard for me to express my gratitude to you. I often have people come up to me and thank me. It should be the other way around. Thank you for letting me into your lives."

In a sports world of so many selfish people, Trevor shines as an example of the way athletes should be. Accessible, grateful, and kind. For him to be so humble is simply a rarity. No one will argue that Linden is the greatest player ever. He wasn't. But was he an incredible player and an even more incredible person. And that combination is both rare and special, and he was honored in the perfect way last night by the city, team, and province that so loves him.

When I think of Trevor Linden, I think of his shy smile, and those eyes that show a mirror to the passion and compassion of a man who knew his role was more important than just what he did on the ice. As a Rangers fan, if one small part of my heart is sad for the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994, it is only because of how much I admire and respect the guy that captained the other side.

He didn't get another chance, but I think he's okay with that. He realizes it was the journey and all the people he met along the way. How amazing to be such an important person to so many. I'm sorry, Trevor, you may disagree, but I think we should definitely be thanking you.

I'll close with this. Trevor said, that when fans come, with their sons, daughters, friends, and they looked upon his #16 jersey hanging in the rafters, they should be sure to express that he had a great family supporting him and great teammates beside him, that it was not just his accomplishment but the collective accomplishments of many that got him where he is.

"Please tell them he had the time of his life playing the game that he loved for the most incredible fans."

Thank you, Trevor. Thank you so much.

**There are dozens, but here are just a couple great write-ups:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Utter Confusion and an Argument for Mats Sundin. . .

Utter confusion, from me, apparently. Not the team. The Rangers team said they played well, and all indications would show, they did. Hank said it was one of the team's most complete games all year.

Then why do I feel the way I do?

To start, I'll be honest. I watched maybe 25 minutes of last night's game. And by 25, I don't mean just under half of the 60 minutes they play, I mean about 25 minutes out of the 2 and a half hours it takes a spectator to watch a game.

And trust me, it was my intention to. I had a giant soda on my way home around 8:30 or so, so I could stay up. But somewhere in between that and the start of the game, I just lost interest.

You understand my utter confusion now?

I wanted to see how they would play, I did. But I guess I didn't know how much I wanted to. And truth be told, a lot of other stuff, outside of hockey, has been going on this week. Maybe it's just a bad week overall for a West Coast trip to coincide with my busy life. It is weeks like this I wish I was still in college, because I'd be able to stay up as late as I wanted and at some point today, make it up. But in this world, I don't see it happening.

Feeling Guilty:

Here's the part I hate to say and almost didn't want to. But I've tried to be honest with my feelings regardless of how they make me look, so I will continue to go with that honest.

I didn't care that they won. Again. I said it. For the second time in about a week, I didn't care if my team, a team I am very loyal to, won.

What's worse. When I walked back into the room and heard it was Nigel Dawes who scored, I was like, oh great. More fuel for Renney's stupid "he rocks" argument. And before anyone starts to think this is a biased opinion against someone for reasons other than the fact that I don't necessarily like him as a player. Oh forget it. All honesty aside. I do dislike people like him. I do. I really do.

People from Manitoba!

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest.

Really, and this is the part I must apologize for. Dawes is well liked. Seems to be an overall good guy. One of the few guys whose name I heard five years ago as the next best thing. And whether or not he lives up to that - ever - at the NHL level doesnt matter right now. What matters, sadly, is that he will, always, be the guy Renney chose instead of Prucha. And I can't shake that. I mean I know searching for logic in the actions of an illogical man is futile, and that there really IS no on-ice reason for that action. But, it still stings. And I can throw all of the anger at Renney, surely. But somehow some of it ends up going back at Nigel, and that's probably unfair.

I don't think I am the only one, at all, to suggest that he, of all the players in that 3rd line roullette, carousel, musical chairs charade, was probably the least deserving of a spot on the team. [Except, probably poor Patrick Rissmiller who never should have been there anyway].

But, lest we forget, wonder boy Dawes, Renney has to stick with his slumping playmakers. Even if they are boring and invisible. Damn illogical maddening moronic thought process!!

Okay, I'm done with that. Nigel, I'm sorry. I hope, sincerely if you are going to be in the lineup, that you produce. I really do. The Prucha debate is essentially over for now. I have to let it go. I just hope the Rangers let Prucha go - somewhere, anywhere - so he can play. I think we'd all be happier, as long as we know that with Renney here the story will be no different for him.
Now if Renney weren't here??

Back to the game. I heard on the radio that the Ducks only got 19 shots, so it certainly wasn't an intense attack the Rangers faced. Other than that, I really can't comment on the game. It would seem silly for me to do so. If it hasn't already seemed so.

In other Rangers news, Mats Sundin will make his decision tomorrow, supposedly. I have not spoken much about this in a long while. Perhaps for reason. But I now have a much more concise thought process on the whole Sundin matter.

I was not a proponent of getting Shanahan back because I thought - oh how stupid of me - that to get him would mean guys like Prucha, Fritsche, or whomever, would be sitting on the bench and not getting opportunities. Well thanks to Renney or Glenn or whoever the frack is making those decisions, young guys that were told they'd get a chance, they never did.

So, my argument meant nothing. It's Renney, not Shanahan {see blog, "With Apologize in Advance to One of Hockey's Greats} that should be apologizing to those guys for favoritism. Not Shanny.

Considering that was my only argument for not wanting Shanahan, that would have been my same argument against getting Sundin.

But if Renney will not play the young kids anyway or use them properly when he does [ I'm thinking of you Lauri Korpikoski], then I see no reason for that to, well, be a reason.

With that said, bring on Sundin!


The team is already in financial shambles for the better part of the next decade [see blog "Do the Math Rangers fans].

The team is without leadership and stuck behind the gloriously mismatched and innefective bobsie twin pairing of Gomez and Drury for the next four years - at least!!

The team lacks any sort of heart or spark that apparently makes me remotely intersted in watching them.

If Sundin comes - I will watch for him, I will root for him, because he, unlike half the guys on this team - I actually like. I always did. [Guy gave his heart to Toronto and they practically threw him out the door].

If he comes to the team, you can add him to the small, very small list, of players I actually like on this team {Staal, Mara, Vali, Hank, Naslund, Sjostrom, Zherdev, and Callahan]. I'll root for him to succeed.

Whether or not this team will be better or worse? I beg to ask, can they truly be any worse if a fan as diehard as me, who cleared her evening of all prior committments, and looked forward to the West Coast swing for months, chose willlingly to not watch the game.

Something is not good guys. If Sundin can provide some entertainment value- do it. The team is already screwed financially and screwing with their young guys already. To deny either, is to not be able to see the full picture that is, the New York Rangers.

**{Authors's note. About the whole Manitoba thing. If you haven't realized, I was kidding by now, get over it. I was.} **

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Great Captain, A Great Guy, and other HNIC Thoughts. . .

For those of you who know me, I like to watch Hockey Night in Canada when I'm home and Tivo it when I'm not. They do such a fantastic game presentation and you really learn so much about players and teams you might not get to see every day. From beginning to end, it's a worthwhile experience, and one I wholeheartedly recommend to all hockey fans.

Last week (not yesterday) HNIC's After Hours interviewed the Sharks Joe Thornton.

Now I, perhaps a little biased in my opinion, thought Jaromir Jagr should have won the Hart Trophy in 2006, because I saw, first hand, what he did for the Rangers team. But to deny the impact that Joe has had and continues to have on the Sharks would be an injustice.

I already had an opinion that Joe Thornton was a good guy. But his interview really cemented it. It's rare and wonderful to see someone with as great a talent as Joe, be such a genuinely nice and humble guy. He's funny, self-depricating, and actually seems quite an interesting guy. The league should have more of them. For it is the players that make our game great, and great players/personalities like Joe that make good stories.

So, Joe, I will try to be less bitter about the Hart Trophy. A great, stand up guy, and a fantastic hockey player, I'm glad I got the opportunity to hear more about him in his own words. Great stuff.

In other Sharks news, on my way home from the city last night, around 12:30, I was able to catch the last 12 minutes of the Sharks/Blues game on XM. The announcing team said something that really struck home with me.

They said the San Jose team has responded so well to coach Todd McLellan, in part, because he has made it inevitably clear how much he likes and respects each and every one of them. They feel that, they respond. And they are a better team for it.

And their practices sound a hell of a lot more productive than the Rangers ones do, I won't lie.

I mean something has to be going right with them. They have not been defeated in regulation at home all year at HP. Amazing stuff.

And it continued last night. Patrick Marleau, the Sharks rejuvinated captain, scored a late goal to pull the team ahead of the Blues. The announcing team ooo-ed and aa-hhed and said, goal of the year.

As it happens, I got home just in time to see them replaying highlights of the game on NHL Network's On the Fly and I saw the goal. Pretty. Certainly a goal of the year candidate for sure.

From one good guy and a great team, to perhaps the greatest of them all.

In anticipation of Trevor's #16 jersey being raised to the rafters Wednesday [which I hope I get to see], HNIC's Inside Hockey aired an interview with the longtime captain of the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night. It brought tears to my eyes to realize, yet again, how much he has done and continues to do for the game we all love.

He's touched countless lives. Mine included, and I am not even a Cancucks fan or a citizen of British Columbia. But on the other coast and in another country, I feel what he has done and continues to mean for those people.

Our game is blessed to have so many wonderful ambassadors, but there is perhaps none greater than Trevor Linden. One look into his eyes shows you a snapshot of wisdom, talent, grace, and humility. We as hockey fans, owe him a lifetime of gratitude for what he has done for the game we all love.

Trevor Linden has a great, great talent, and is truly one of the most graciously humble guys. To see a less than five minutes snapshot of this truly great man, please click here:


**Author's note. I had written the above post originally and it failed to save. I wish I could have remembered it all verbatim, because I was pleased with it, but this second go is as best as I can do.**

Rangers/Canes Post Game Thoughts. . .

Well to say the Rangers got back on track, is accurate, I guess, if you are not looking at the whole picture. They got another win, yes. Another win in a shootout. Tell me you're surprised.

The game didn't have a bad pace at all. It was actually pretty good. The second was kind of boring, with not much action. But the first and third were not bad.

Hard to tell what was more surprising however - the Rangers powerplay goal they got or the shorthanded goal they didn't give up? Heck the Rangers even got a shortie of their own, with what was actually a really pretty play from Sjostrom and Betts (who got his 4th on the season).

What might have gotten lost in yet another typical Rangers shootout win [well typical in that they were having it, tied 2-2, but I guess a-typical in that it took five rounds for anyone to score], was the poor discpline from both teams, the Rangers especially. They took a bunch of penalties, many in the third, that they were just lucky to kill off. If the Rangers penalty kill wasn't so damn good, the whole game could have played out a lot differently.

As it was the Hurricanes went 0-8 on the man advantage. The Rangers 1-5. On a side note, Philadelphia (I believe) went 4-6 in their game versus Pitt today. See, Rangers, it is possible!!

I am not going to knock them too much, but I'm not going to pat them on the back either. It was an important win. Especially for Lundqvist. And this team will only go as far as he can carry them, that is for sure.

But it was not pretty or convincing. Too many things need to be shored up before that's the case.

Two other things real quickly.

One - Chris Drury shocked many when he gave a post game interview and did not put everyone to sleep. Good job on that. And it is good for him to get the unofficial game winning goal in the shootout. Bad he didn't seem to do much before that, but good for him.

Two - I actually really love Carolina's 3rd jerseys. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think when they wear all black, it makes me think Ottawa. But I like the logo, no matter what Al Trautwig says about gale force winds. And the numbers on the back, with the white outline, pop and you can see them perfectly.

In other news, there is no news on Mats Sundin, except that he was there at the Garden. Is he the magic piece? I . . .all I can say is I can't imagine he'd make the team any worse.

But will they let him play the powerplay??

Absurdity and Insanity from NJ. . .[two days late]. . .

I apologize for being a couple days late in post-game blogging (at least for Friday's game) but I think I needed a little break after that game. I mean seriously, didn't you?

Friday versus New Jersey. I don't often watch games in bars. I'm usually home or at the arena. But I think it's a practice I might start employing more often, especially with the way the Rangers have been playing this year.

I certainly did not want the Rangers to lose against NJ. Those losses are harder for me to take than losses to Philly or even the Islanders. But...if they were going to lose to them, let it be in a way that was so absurd and insane as what we saw Friday night. And it was certainly both - absurd and insane.

I didn't make it to the bar on time because, well traffic sucks, but I had looked down at my XM Radio to see the Devils got the first goal, and that the Rangers team was trailing 2-1, end of 1. I turned on the radio to hear it was a short-handed goal the Devils got, and just shook my head. #9 for those of you keeping track at home.

I got to the bar and my friends and I got primo position in front of a nice big screen. I got my beer, got my food, and watched what can only be described as hilarity ensue. Honestly.

The Rangers would go on to give up another shorthanded goal (for a total of 10 on the year), and 8 goals to their cross river rivals.

Ask yourself this, what was most shocking: Hank Lundqvist giving up 8 goals or the New Jersey Devils scoring 8 goals?

A tossup, for sure.

So I' m not positive whether it was after the Devils 4th or 5th goal, but I just started laughing at every goal being scored. Rangers or Devils. My two friends were unsure of why, but we made the best of it. Let me say, while not an advocate for it, it was certainly a game that I was happy to be drinking during. A little buzz helped to not take what was happening so seriously.

My one friend bet me a beer the Rangers would come back - to win. I said, no way.

The Rangers kept scoring. My two friends kept celebrating. I kept laughing. I think most fans thought it would at least be a low scoring game. The fact that the Rangers and Devils were scoring so much was baffling to me. And, again, somewhat funny.

My favorite moment came when a very inebriated older woman came over after the Rangers 4th or 5th goal and said with an excited look "who scored? New Jersey?" and my friends and I just looked at her and shook our heads and saying "NO" with such honest conviction, the look on her face as it fell and she walked away was priceless.

Buzzed escapades aside, this game brought a few career numbers to the surface.

-It was the first time since October of 1993 that the Devils scored two short handed goals in o.ne game.

-Zach Parise's 4 assists were a career high.

-Brian Gionta's 4 points tied his career best.

-13 goals combined between the two teams was the most since 1986.

-Lundqvist gave up 4+ goals to NJ for the first ever time, and tied his career high for goals against with 8. [and gave up 17 in his last three games combined].

I had a chance, just earlier today, to review the goals in the comfort of my living room. I do not think, as I didn't in the bar, that Hank should be considered solely responsible for them all. No way. The first shorthanded goal, he should have had, but Hank - for all his amazement in shootouts - is kinda lousy at one on one breakaways. That was a weak goal, to me.

The 2nd one was okay. The 3rd, 6th, and 7th, certainly, were poor defensive zone coverage. On the 7th, it appeared the entire team was flatfooted and standing around. Defensive marks were missed all over the place. The 8th and final goal, well it was just an absurd and insane mess. End of story.

Look, I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said. The two short handed goals cannot happen. The all time NHL record is 22. The Rangers, with 10 as of December 12th, have a VERY good chance of beating that record. And the only consolation to that stat is the last team to do it was the 95-96 Avalanche, who won the Cup that year. So...stranger things. But it's still nothing to be proud of!

Their powerplay went 0-9 on Friday against NJ. That brought it to 0-14 in their last three games. I'm pretty sure going into Saturday's game that made them around 26th in the league.

Again, I'm shocked at the score, the game, everything. While you can credit the Rangers for coming back and not lying down after getting so far behind, that's not really addressing the problems. They are not going to win by having such a horrible horrible horrible powerplay.

And kudos to NJ. I mean they looked sharp. On every puck. Moving quickly. Getting into lanes. Not giving up. They have played so well since Brodeur went down with is elbow injury, I am quite frankly shocked.

I'm of course naueseated beyond belief that even NJ can score more goals than us. . .but that is neither here nor there.

Absurdity and insanity disguised as a hockey game. There is not much else to say.

Friday, December 12, 2008

To Those of Us [Myself Included] Who Have Been Consciously Naive. . .

Well...I have now seen and heard everything I need to.

Hockey Rodent, a long time supporter of Petr Prucha, sums it all up. Very nicely I might add.


Click on "Requiem"

Pretty much, once there were no more Prucha advocates, Renney saw it fit to tell the kid what he really thought of him, while lying to his face.

I will never say I hate Tom Renney. But I hate every single thing about what he did and is doing to Petr Prucha.

I will now hope for one of two things, Rangers hockey related.

One: Tom Renney to get fired and Prucha to get a regular spot in the Rangers lineup.

Two: Petr Prucha to get traded away from this team, and go on to score 30 goals every year for the next 12+.

He's too good a person to be treated this way. And the Rangers and their fans, owe #25 a lot for what he has brought to the team: spunk, attitude, and heart.

That Tom Renney can't see that, probably tells you more about the coach than you wanted to know. I am sitting here almost wishing I didn't know. That I could continue being naive. But I can't.

Lastly. As for the rest of Hockey Rodents rant, I agree. I am so bored with this team and their stupid defensive style of hockey, if you could call it that. I love the team. But I hope for the sake of all Rangers fans that want it, we get to see hockey the way it can and should be played again soon.

I miss Jaromir Jagr. I miss Sean Avery. I miss Petr Prucha. I miss the passion. I miss the heart.

New York Rangers hockey should be better than this.

Two Days Late. . .

Okay, there was a two day delay between the time the Rangers won the game, in overtime, versus Atlanta, but I didn't really know what to say yesterday.

I guess I still don't, exactly, but I'm going to give it a try.

I didn't want the Rangers to lose, necessarily, because surely I love the team and I would have hated to see Valiquette lose especially in an embarrassing way. (People must wonder why I have this adoration for backup-goalies, but it's really just a sense of wanting them to be successful when they really get so few chances to shine. They put in hard work people, and Vali is a standup guy. I mean imagine training your whole life to be a goalie and when they make it, they only get to play 5% or so of the time. It's what it is and they play a very important role, but I guess I just have some extra sympathy for that in life).

But admittedly, on some level, I wanted the Rangers to get burnt by Atlanta. I know. Travesty for a fan, especially one as committed as I am. (And I am). But I really only wanted them to lose so as to raise a few red flags that something is very wrong. And even if not very wrong, wrong enough that I am not the only one that feels this way. And I'm not.

The team might not be much better than they are playing, that can be argued. Maybe this is a good as they can get and as fans, we should be overjoyed that they started so well and still have such a nice record and might make the playoffs despite playing way better than they are.
But that isn't enough. And not because I'm accustomed to them winning or following winning teams. Repeat with me - New York Rangers. Not the most winningest of franchises. That's a fact.

I know that and I'm fine with it.

It's not enough because they actually, on most occasions, appear lazy. Whether mentally or in action. And that is unacceptable. I just don't see how all these players (who I do respect, surely) and their coach (a person I like but whose ability to control and motivate his team I am starting to question) can keep giving these answers that they think they are seeing improvement (to which I ask, um, where) and that they have worked very hard in all their games.

So that is what working hard looks like?

They are boring. I don't know how hard work translates to the most boring hockey I've seen in a long time. The 03-04 team that won 14 games all year at home was more exciting than these guys.

They don't hit as much as they could. They don't skate as fast as I know they can (because come on, we all saw them play in Europe). They don't play disciplined (which isn't a new story at all). And they don't make crisp passes to or seem at all connected to their other teammates on the ice.

These are all causes for concern!

Their lack of goal scoring (unless their wooo-hooo three goal output on Wednesday pushed them up a spot) is 29th in the league. Close to dead last. For guys being paid that much money to help scoring, that's unacceptable. I mean I can't say I'm surprised because while many discounted the pre-season, this is a team that did not score more than 2 goals once, unless you count the Swiss escapades against SC Bern in the mix. It was bad in September, it is bad now.

The Rangers should have lit up Johan Hedberg (another good guy I respect but they should have). They should have won, like Pittsburgh won over the Islanders last night, 9-2. They should have had one of those random 7-0 games, where Callahan pots two, Drury gets one, Naslund and Zherdev each a pair. That should have been their game.

Instead, they got a smart goal from Colton Orr, another one from Ryan Callahan, and gave Atlanta a point because they could not wrap them up in regulation.

But there's no problem is there?

I wasn't even glad when Gomez won it. I mean maybe a little because, again, Valiquette. But I was not joyous. I said, well that's different (any game that the Rangers aren't fully embarrassed or win in a shootout is something different, let's face it) and I went upstairs.

I don't think there was a highlight of the night, but the lowlight for me, was Drury's interview in the intermission. I am not saying he's a bad guy. He has to be a heck of a nice guy. But he is also one of the most boring human beings I've ever heard speak. Ever.

And that is their captain. Their captain!

I started to wonder earlier this week if one Mr. Renney, who made it clear he hand picked the captain himself, chose Drury because he has the most boring, bland personality of anyone on the entire team, and therefore, would not question anything or go against anything Renney was saying. This guy could have his foot stomped off by a giant and there he'd be, in the lowest voice imaginable, saying, ooo, I'm so sorry.


He makes $7 million to be captain, to not really be a captain, and $7 to score, but to not really score, $7 to win faceoffs, but to not really win faceoffs. They only thing the guy does, is penalty kill and bore reporters and media to death.

I'm sorry, but it is true.

What makes it worse. The Rangers got rid of guys that apparently, can score. And I don't just mean Jagr and Straka and Nedved and well, anyway. What about last night's Pitt/Isles game. Granted a 9-2 game is the every day. But Petr Sykora, a last minute Rangers edition 3 years ago, scored his first career hat-trick (congratulations to him by the way), but he had 38 (39?) two goal games in his career. Another good player the Rangers didn't want to have stick around.

For the record, Pascal Dupuis, who was a Ranger for less than 2 weeks, scored a hat trick for Pitt in the same game as well.

But the Rangers do not have problems scoring. Nope. Not at all. 29th in the league. An average of just over 2 goals a game. And a very good chance they lose if Hank doesn't stand on his head.

Don't think that's a problem?

Hank is too good a goalie and too prideful a man to not wear himself out trying to make up for this team. Trying to have them win and be successful. No, he's not perfect. He looks lousy on one on 0-s that are not part of the shootout, he sometimes appears massively out of position, and there are times he should be teethered to his net.

But he is the best thing to happen to this team in a long time. If the Rangers continue riding him like they are, he won't make it to 30. So much for the team's future.

And that's not cause for concern?


**Note: Rangers will play the Devils in NJ tonight. I am expecting one of two things. The Rangers to win because that's what they've done against the Devils the last two years. Or the Rangers to look sloppy and have a Devils team, without Brodeur, embarrass them. I am not sure which is winning in the polls.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Joe. . .?

The utter insanity of this year's NHL injuries among big name players just keeps getting more and more headline worthy. Let's recap.

Erik Johnson - golf cart - September 2008
Marian Gaborik - hacky sack - October 2008
Manny Legace - red carpet - October 2008

And the most recent:
Joe Sakic - snow blower - December 2008


The above might seem chuckle worthy, especially when you look at them together like they are written above. But seriously, these are not funny injuries.
Now the Johnson one was just one of those random things. Imagine how he must have fallen stepping off the golf cart to cause a ACL tear. That's a freak accident.
Marian Gaborik is so often injured, I actually had to have someone tell me it was an injury by hacky sack and not just normal every day walking that did that to him.
Legace's incident on Sarah Palin's red carpet was the one that could have been easily prevented, and quite unfortunate.
But the one that makes me more sad is the most recent incident that happened to Avalanche Joe Sakic. A snow blower accident where he broke three fingers and damaged a tendon. Seriously? Can this guy not catch a break? If anyone deserves a break it's Sakic, a perennial good guy and someone who was aleady out of the lineup significantly for herniated disks in his back.
I'm not saying players of less class and respectability than Joe Sakic should deserve to get injured in any of the above ways. No one does. Truly. But it was extra disappointing for me to read that this happened to Joe. He's one of the few players in this league that I think fans of any team look to and say, good player, good guy. He's always been that for me.
Get well soon.

Rangers News:
I was going to spend the day writing a few random thoughts about the Rangers, but I thought better of it. I think at this point it'll just come out a mess. I'm frustrated with them and their way of playing, but more so that Tom Renney just keeps giving generic answers, there seem to be no effective practices, and no one seems to really care why things are the way they are and no one appears to be looking to see how they can change them. Except the fans of course.
And it looks like Renney is blaming Prucha. I mean, honestly, he WAS the reason they lost in Montreal last week and against Calgary on Sunday. Obvioiusly. I mean, no contest. He failed to score a power play goal (from the bench) and he pinched on the blue line and caused a handful of two on 0s against (from the bench). Yep, all PP's fault. All his fault.
Pete out, Dawes in.
Hank out, Vali in.
The fun continues.
Lastly, due to my poor record during my in-game blogs 1-2, I am going to take time during the intermissions to write some Christmas cards out. I'll recap after the game or tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Skating at Rockefeller Center". . .

Yesterday night was not the best of games at Madison Square Garden.

It actually had the makings to be. Another Hank versus a good goalie from a Western-Canadian hockey team duel. Another chance for the Rangers to prove they can actually beat a Canadian team. The team came out fast (well fast-ish), and they were hitting, skating, and then....


That was the text I received from my father at the game around the beginning of the 2nd period.

To which I wrote back something along the lines of, "yes, but they are leading 22 to 9 in shots!"

Which, in essence meant very little, if you didn't watch. The Flames failed to register a shot until with about five minutes to go in the 2nd period. Then on their second shot of the period, they scored their first goal. On one of their next two shots, they scored their second goal.

The Garden went flat. The energy was lost. The team that was skating for a few minutes, well, they didn't really do that anymore.

I talked to my grandmother after I got back from the game last night and she said to me:

"You know what the Rangers skaters look like. They look like the people who skate at Rockefeller Center. Just slowly skating about. Not really caring what's going on."

To which I said after catching my breath, "You know, Grandma, that's actually a really good analogy."


Credit Calgary. That's for one. They came to play, obviously.

The Rangers, however. Well watching the Rangers play has now become a game of trying to guess which team will show up on any given night.

The Rangers team that played the Pittsburgh Penguins last Wednesday night. The team that hit and skated and made two of the best players in the league (Malkin and Crosby) both ineffective and frustrated. The team that got the clutch tying goal. The game that dominated in the shootout.

Or the Rangers team that didn't hit. Didn't skate. Didn't look like they want to be there. Didn't commit to the fore-check. Didn't play with any sense of urgency. Didn't score any pretty goals, or any goals period!

Unfortunately, it was the latter that showed up last night.

I listened to Ice Cap on XM204 last night on the way home and those guys really nailed a few things. Hank Lundqvist has been good, but there is something wrong with the system they are playing under (or the lack thereof) when at this point last year, Hank had four shutouts - on way to a league leading 10. This year he has zero. He gets little help on most nights.
And what I didn't get to above, was that after the two goals at even strength, the Rangers let up another short handed goal. Yet another short handed goal!! That's 8 so far. And that was as of the 7th of December!!!! And there are four months left to the season! I cannot express enough how fundamentally inexcusable that is. That's something that you'd expect from a bad team. A very bad team. And the Rangers cannot be THAT bad. Or can they?

I'll tell you what - - If they aren't scoring on it and they are giving up that many shorthanded goals then. . . .their powerplay is!!Embarrassing. And it cost them any chance of gaining momentum and trying to come back to tie. Awful. I'm sorry. It's true. It's absolutely and utterly true.

And yet - yet - I still so often see the game irresponsible culprits climbing over the boards to start another powerplay. Pretty much every night. Why? If they were that good at it, I could say, sure, fine, keep it going. But they are horrible at it!! Or the system is so horrible it makes otherwise decent hockey players look like morons!

Seriously where's Prucha on the powerplay to pot the goals? I mean he has to have more powerplay goals in the last three years than anyone else out there. And as for the rest of them, where's the best defensemen on our team (I know, I know, a very difficult question right there) who can stand at the point. and NOT pinch at the wrong moments, and hopefully prevent some 2-0 rushes for the other team? Where's that guy?

What can be done? I honestly have no idea.

But to do nothing and to fail to admit there is a serious problem, is horrible.

I don't really know what else there is to say. I could get on some rant about how the line changes were flawed too (like how Prucha and Drury do not play well together. It's been tried. Unless there is some magical third piece that will make the above untrue, please stop putting them together!!!). Or how the only time in recent memory that I've actually seen Drury and Gomez play well together was on the penalty kill last night, or how even Ryan Callahan has looked so tired and ineffective lately, but I won't. I won't say anything else about it.

Important to note, that on a night where not much else went right, however, there was a bright spot. Corey Potter, making his NHL debut, looked very solid. A little hesitant at first, he actually grew as the game went on and made some nice think-first passes. And he was not a liability. I thought he did all he could in his position. And did you see him skate into the offensive zone, and towards the net at that one point. At it, applying pressure from the D. I quite honestly didn't know it was possible.

What Rangers team will show up in Atlanta on Wednesday night, I'm quite honestly scared to find out.


Larry Brook's in today's NY Post. Oh so they don't think there is a problem? Ut-oh!


Spectrum Farewell. . .

So Saturday night I made my way to the Philadelphia Spectrum for the first and probably last time. It was just one of those things I felt I should try to do, because it's not too far and why would I, as a hockey fan, not want to see where the Flyers had played for so long. Just to say I had been there.

Well let me say - it must have been wildly different all those years ago.

The facilities are, not surprisingly, very dated. Having to walk down a few levels of stairs to use the rest-room is not something I would enjoy doing on a regular basis. In fact the way the levels of the arena are built is interesting in it's own right. You can easily walk around the arena outside, but you have to walk down to enter the bar or go to the will call area and walk back upstairs to enter the actual arena.

The arena looked very small. Very. But that was probably due in large part to them covering the upper seats of the upper level in a black tarp. Just imagine! I walked in and I was like, damn, is this place small! And it really was just an optical illusion.

The funniest part, however, was the very dated graphics on the center scoreboard. A graphic of a baby crying, some random dude that was unidentifiable, and Yoda, I'm assuming from when Star Wars first re-released its movies, were the highlights. Kind of creepy, I won't lie.

But I'm saying none of this in jest. Rather in admiration. After being to new and shiny arenas, that are so big and open, it was actually nice to see a game in such a quaint setting. The arena was not crowded. We had seats about 12 rows up. I could see the players on the benches, their mannerisms, their exchanges with other players. It felt easier to make a connection. I can imagine for a young fan, this type of setting would be extremely worthwhile. Seeing their team's players so close, where you can actually see what they look like.

Now I've never been to an AHL game. Ever. So that was a first as well. Everything seems slightly slower, and less crisp (but then again if you've been watching the New York Rangers play lately it doesn't actually seem that much different, I'll be honest. . .). But it was good for what it was. Honestly, I wish there was a minor league hockey team closer to where I live. I'd definitely go more often.

The best part, actually, is the fan interaction. What you can't and won't see in arenas like MSG, they do things like food giveaways. It was Scout Night (Girl and Boy Scouts, not professional scouts as I first thought) and they let all the scouts in uniform take a lap during intermission on the ice. At the end of the game, the player of the game (Patrick Maroon - hat trick) did his on-ice interview (with the same guy who was giving away food earlier - the do-all-guy of the arena), before the players personally tossed Phantoms shirts to the fans. Nice stuff.

I've been to a healthy enough number of minor league baseball and professional lacrosse (which is not popular enough to truly escape the minor league feel) games to know this is not unusual stuff. But hockey has always been the NHL to me. It was nice to see nice fan interaction and connection in such a controlled setting.

Lastly, the Spectrum had one final rare surprise. Between the 2nd and 3rd I took a lap around the arena. It had been snowing when we entered the game, and at every turn, I could see the snow still falling through the windows on the upper sides of the roof. Perhaps other arenas do have this and I didn't notice because there wasn't something outside to look at, but I know for a fact that arenas like MSG, with the exception of the area where you go up and down the escalators, does not have the ability to see outside.

Now it was probably just the cold weather on a Saturday night, in combination with the quaint closeness of the game, but seeing snow fall while at a hockey game just added to the feel of a magical evening for me. Perhaps a little more of the way it used to be, rather that what it now and so often is.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Unprecedented". . .

A have a few more minutes so I wanted to write a little more on Sean Avery in light of the recent six game suspension for the winger for his off-ice activities.


Obviously the NHL immediately made it obvious they were going to suspend him for his actions. That much was clear. I still don't agree with the logic there. It's been five days and I still am not sure how his "off-ice" remarks which have nothing to do with the game of hockey can get him suspended for six games. I don't.

And I'm not defending him. It may sound like it. But trust me, I think if Avery and I were ever friends, he would have found a way to anger me or insult me personally. I feel that is in his nature. But that just means that I wouldn't want to be friends with the guy.

So the NHL because they do not get a warm and fuzzy feeling from Sean, because he doesn't send the NHL commissioner a Hannukah card, that gives them the feeling it's okay to saddle him with a six game suspension.

I repeat that if Sean were to have made actual "threats" with his words. Something of the "Dion Phaneuf stole my girlfriend. I hate him and I'm going to -ill him" variety, I can actually understand this.

Instead all he did was make the crude, insensitive remarks of someone that apparently is a crude and insensitive man. In all my defending Avery - again of this which I am not currently - I've never said he's a warm, teddy bear, or a genuinely good person. Never. Look back. I've said I genuinely enjoy him and I like him. There is a big difference.

Think about it. If he didn't say "sloppy seconds" Tuesday morning, the game would have been played and we'd be talking about something else. Perhaps who won the battle of Calgary versus Dallas, Phaneuf (a guy the league likes) versus Avery (a guy the league hates).

Instead, all throughout Canada and even the US, hockey is being talked about for this. For it's "unprecedented" suspension of the winger.

I still think that if his actions in Dallas have been so horrific, that he Stars should have sat him down a long time ago. Brett Hull convinced the organization he was worth the 4-year contract. If he was not behaving. If he was becoming a distraction, that is the team's responsibility. I truly believe that. If he became literally "impossible" they could have taken actions to get further help.

But instead, the league stepped in. And that is what it is. They should have fined him. Personally. Not suspended him. And as for the anger management, that's actually fine with me. He might very well need counselling of various types. I've never said he wasn't a unique and different human being. Perhaps the character I like and enjoy is really someone who is crying for help and dealing with something that NONE of us know about. I'm not sure.

Bottom line, I am thrilled with the NHLPA stepping in and saying they are going to make sure this situation does not get further out of the "unprecedented" realm it has stepped into. Sean, like it or not, is a player under contract by the Stars to play hockey. If anything else stands in the way of that, it'll be an injustice.

I'm not saying he's an angel. I'm just saying he's not a criminal.

Which brings me to any comparisons of Avery to Plaxico Burress. They are two incomparable situations.

One guy brought a loaded gun (illegal) that he did not have registered (illegal) into a night club (illegal) and shot himself (stupid).

One guy called over the press (amusing), took the stage (typical), said a crude, insensitive, and unnecessary comment about his ex-girlfriend's relationship with another NHL player (stupid), and got suspended for six games (unprecedented).

Plaxico Burress is being made example of because he broke numerous laws and could have KILLED somebody with his stupidity. He might go to JAIL.

Sean Avery is being made an example of because the league has made it clear they don't like him, don't like dealing with his off-color and slightly demented sense of humor. But his actions did nothing more than make people think he was an idiot - which most already knew - and maybe hurt Elisha Cuthbert's feelings.

There is a BIG difference here. Sean's actions were, by comparision, very innocent. If anyone thinks differently, they are thinking with a biased brain. End of story.

Lastly, I am posting a link that I got from Rangers Report, and saying, two things:


One, this lady, while she certainly did not deserve the harsh words Sean Avery tossed at her, most definitely has herself to blame for provoking him. Actions have concequences. By taking the time to repeatedly bring signs that distastefully depict Sean and displaying them at a a game, you are drawing attention to yourself. You are saying, look at me. And you are also telling the world you have way too much time on your hands. I'm sorry if her feelings were hurt by his remarks, but, lady, you are not innocent. Since you probably think so little of Sean (or again, you think too much of him because you took the time to do what you did), think of him as a zoo animal. It is cruel and wrong to poke at zoo animals while they are in their cages. Sean in the penalty box is a zoo animal in a cage. He is responsible for his actions absolutely. But when provoked repeatedly, he's going to lash out. He didn't hit her or threaten her. He just called her some bad, distasteful things.

Which, brings me to the thought that perhaps anger management is only the tip of the iceberg. I think he can benefit from that counselling, absolutely. What's more. I think it's somewhat curious that in these two incidents, his "anger," his "comments" are of a less-than-romantic sexual nature. They are crude, sexual references. I am not a fan of that. But, I think, perhaps, maybe, there is a root to why Sean is doing that. Making sexual references when he didn't need to (in terms of the Calgary/Dallas incident) and when they were completely unnecessary and even more crude (with the lady in Nashville). Honestly, and excuse my language, but he could have just called her an ----ing --tch or a ---ce of --it and it would not be as disturbing. I'm not a psychologist (barely paid attention in college psych 101 in fact) but to me, that is more telling than people are realizing.

I really and truthfully hope - in any way - that Sean is able to get back to the league and be productive. I want him to be able to do that. Half because I've seen him be a really effective player in New York and I believe he can be again. And half because I want the people who don't like him (most of Canada, let's face it) to be forced to realize, he is more than just a side show. Because I really think he can be. Am I stupid or naive? Maybe. But I'll take that risk.

Other links:

Courtesy of PJ Stock/Team 990:


Around the league:

I am going to be unable to watch the NHL games or HNIC tonight. Everyone enjoy. I will check back in before Calgary/NY tomorrow, a game I am looking forward to.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Les Habitants - Les Rangers - Round One. . . [UPDATED]

It's actually a shame that I was and will be so busy today and tomorrow at work, because there was so much more I could have written about the game yesterday and so much I could write about the constant chatter about Sean Avery, among other things. But, that's life. Perhaps sometime this weekend I'll do a quick catch-up and catch-all.

For the meantime.

8:09 pm - end of 1.

So I didn't see the ceremony before the game. I listened to it on XM radio. Thank goodness for that. It sounded really nice. Just a classy thing. And Montreal, as I've said, knows how to do ceremonies with class. It's their 100th season. And yet they want to, in some small way, include the other teams that have been there along the way with them. Kudos. A really nice show. I read once years ago that "Montreal was hockey." I have seen or heard nothing that would ever prove that statement wrong.

As for the game. I am usually on Hank if I think he's not playing well. But it can be argued none of those goals, and especially the first two, were his fault. The team stopped playing D in front of him. Dmitri Kalinin, both on the goal allowed when he was caught pinching and on the other goal when he and someone else both went to cover the same side of the net as Hank, has not looked good recently. And I've noticed Marc Staal, for all his greatest (and the kid will be great), has looked less confident in playing with Rozsival, than he has with Paul Mara. I wonder why.

Just overall, not a great start. And while we all have no doubt that Montreal can come back and score 4 or more goals, I am not sure the Rangers can. I'd love to see it. I really would.

8:57 - end of 2.

Halfway there. {oh oh, livin' on a prayer.} Again where does that come from?

So yeah, very interesting. I didn't think the Montreal fourth goal was as blatant goalie interference as some, but I can see an argument for it. Regardless, they were the only team really skating, until...

Petr Prucha and Maxime Lapierre.

You heard me. It honestly just looked like Maxime took offense to Prucha hitting him. There was nothing else I saw. And big kudos to Prucha for taking him. I mean you are not a fighter, a guy comes at you with his gloves off, you can skate away. But he didn't. Kid has guts. One of my favorite Renney phrases from years and years ago, "more guts than a slaughterhouse." And you know. He didn't win the fight or really "fight" him at all, but Prucha got quite a hold on Lapierre, no joke. He's strong as anything, that kid. And the biggest heart of them all. At least someone came to play.

And then the Rangers scored, on the power play, to which my father said,

"Well that's a unique [expletive deleted] experience."

First PP goal in four games. Naslund gets it. Rangers show life and build on that life when...

Scott Gomez and Saku Koivu.

You heard me. Although not technically a fight, gloves were dropping and a few punches were thrown. Go figure. I didn't think Gomez had it in him, but perhaps, he's like, if Prucha can act bigger than he is, so can I. And not many people I respect more than Saku Koivu. [HNIC's interview with him and his family a few weeks back was a real treat]. Just not what I'd expect to see.

But I guess with Mike Komisarek unable to play - and dressed so dapper behind the bench - someone else has to take the role.

I just figured it'd be Georges Laraques.

Anyway - the "fights" served a purpose, as the Rangers somehow gain some momentum back. They score again when Dawes pots a nice feed from Zherdev. To which I said, fine, Dawes, you can stay in the lineup.

I did say if the Rangers scored before the end of the period (in the net behind Carey Price, that is) that I'd feel pretty good about the 3rd being a good ending.

Meanwhile, Wade Redden was in the locker room most of the 2nd. Why?

My father: "he's probably crying."

Not exactly. Apparently a lower body injury. I hate those.

Rangers will play with five defensemen the rest of the way. Does someone from Hartford get the callup for the Calgary game on Sunday?

Hoping for a good third.

9:38 - end of game.

Well proof positive you don't always get what you hope for. [Truer in more ways than one tonight.]

Rangers fall 6-2 to the Canadiens. Even before Matt D'Agostini ripped that shot past Lundqvist, I was going to say to the fans of Guillaume Latendresse that they should not expect D'Agostini to come out any time soon. He's played very well in these last two games.

Now I thought, perhaps, the Rangers had a chance, because Montreal was up 3-0 on Atlanta (who PJ Stock called an AHL team + Kovalchuk) and gave up three quick ones and ended up having a sticky ending before coming away with the win on Tuesday.

The Rangers, however, could not do the same. It had moments. And I'm not going to really complain because at least it had speed. But it was not a good game for NY. Credit Montreal though. All over them.

I am not sure if the Rangers will practice both days, or just one, but the power play is still an issue and needs to be addressed. Perhaps the Rangers were tired after last night, but there can't be excuses like that. The speed was there - the consistency and the mental thoughts were not.

Perhaps more thoughts tomorrow. I'm turning in early tonight.

I just am left with one thought. I hope Renney doesn't somehow find a way to blame Prucha for this loss.

Boost of Confidence. . .

I do not have time to write much, so I'm just going to say last night was more of a complete game than I've seen in a while.

Guys were hitting. They appeared hungry. The massive defensive breakdowns were not present at the Garden last night. And it made a difference. Sharp game against a strong division rival.

Of course, the real story for me, and yes for many, was the highly publicized return of one Petr Prucha. After ten games as a healthy scratch, he refused his conditioning assignment to Hartford earlier this week. When I heard Renney was going to play him last night, I was relieved it wasn't with Drury, for one. Give him a chance with someone else. And I was just hoping he would be given ice time to do something. Double shifted at times, skating on his starting line of Dubinsky and Voros, and then at times with Betts and Sjostrom, it was on the latter, and in a situation where Scott Gomez was on the ice, where he got his big chance.

Down by one, less than six minutes to go. Gomez, having a monster game, shot the puck and the rebound came to - Petr Prucha. He smacked it home and if the celebration seemed to last for an even longer time than usual, well it's because it did. Joy. Relief. And a chance in a game that might have been over. A chance in a career that many had thought might have been over.

One goal does not change the world. But everyone - fans, teammates, media - felt how important that goal was, for countless reasons. I personally hope it's the beginning of many, and I know I am not alone.

Only ironic in that the goal came off a Gomez shot - Gomez who Prucha has not played with since the Swiss pre-season games, and who many think would make a good linemate for him. Gomez had this to say about Prucha. For not the most eloquent of guys, this really says it all:

"I think if you look at the reaction on the bench, we probably all cried," Gomez said. "For what the guy has gone through, that's a true professional. Not once has he ever complained. He skates every day after (practice). He's a great teammate. He doesn't say a word. If there are parents out there that want their kids to be a hockey player and a great guy, you've got to look at Petr Prucha."