Saturday, January 31, 2009

Telling Comments [Slightly UPDATED]. . .

Okay, okay. I know it's not really fair to read a quote, any quote, and use what I know, or think I know, about a situation to put meaning behind something that isn't there. But I read this quote, given upon his arrival in Minnesota, by Dan Fritsche, a player, not by any means the world's greatest player, but a player nonetheless who used to play an every day role in Columbus, and I can't help but think what I think.

"I've been hoping and waiting - no, praying - for this day to come," Fritsche said. "I don't think excited really even describes it. I can think of a million different things in New York. Coaches have their guys. It's been a long year for me up to this point."

"I was very bummed out," when I was not claimed off waivers, he said.

The player "quickly fell out of favor with coach Tom Renney."

There's a lot in the above, but I first center on the "coaches have their guys" part.

Again, it is unfair and I feel biased in even writing this here. But you know what? This is a blog, not a newspaper held to any sort of journalistic standards. If I want to share my perhaps biased, perhaps skewed thoughts and opinions, I have every right to.

I see those words and I read them to mean it didn't matter what he did or didn't do, coaches play who they want to play. They have their favorites.

No, Fritsche didn't say "favorites," but that's how I'm taking "their guys" to mean.

And gosh, every person at some point in their lives - among friends, in professional work situations - has seen some form of favoritism going on. It's a world we live in. I am surrounded by it. I have often felt cheated by my opportunities or rather the lack of opportunities in my ownlife. But as I said the other day, in regards to Prucha, life isn't fair. I get it.

Well I'm not claiming it needed to be fair. I'm just saying if I didn't think so before, I really, really, REALLY, now think that there is nothing - NOTHING - some of the guys currently on the Rangers team could do to fall out of favor with their coach or their GM, or whomever is making those calls. Not take endless penalties, cause endless goals against, not be liabilities on the powerplay, not fail to score, not fail to make smart passes. Not anything.

I also really, really, REALLY now think that there is nothing - NOTHING - that guys like Fritsche, or Prucha, or anyone else that gets the short end of it, can do to fall INTO favor with their coach or their GM. Bring speed or energy. Score. Draw a penalty. Not give up a goal against. Check someone.

There is simply nothing they can do about it.

Try to ignore my liking Prucha. For his energy, his enthusiasm, and the excitement he brings to life and to the game we love. Ignore that for a minute.

Did he honestly do anything at all to warrant being taken out of the lineup.

On Opening Night at the Garden after he had played the first two games in Prague?

On 10/17 against Toronto, after playing 10/15 versus Buffalo?

On 10/30 against Atlanta after the 10/27 game against the Isles?

On 11/10 against Edmonton after the 11/8 game in Washington?

On 12/10 against Atlanta after the 12/7 game versus Calgary?

On 1/20 against Anaheim after the 1/18 game against Pittsburgh?

Did he really do anything that made him the WORST player on that team? The FIRST one in line to take a seat? Did he do anything to cost them the game?

Have we, as fans, seen other players do things wrong? Do things that jeopardize the team? Do things that warrant a seat on the bench?

And yet, did anyone really sit? Dawes for a handful. Voros for about 7 or 8. Fritsche for all but 16 games. Rissmiller for all but 3? And Prucha for the rest.

But it really always came down to the guy that "fell out of favor with his coach" and the other guy that Renney somehow started to dislike.

We've seen other coaches around the league call out their TOP players for not performing. In public and with the intent to embarass them and wake them up!

Not so in Rangerland. It's easier to ignore it altogether, keep the same culprits in the lineup, bench the relatively "innocent" and steal "confidence" from those that once had it and deserve to have it back.

Look. This isn't meant to be more than it is. I'm not implying that Fritsche or Prucha should have had a spot on this team automatically. On effort, I still think Prucha has deserved one and done nothing to have it taken away. Fritsche's case is harder because he was the last man in and hadn't had past experience here to draw on.

However, I'm merely trying to play with the notion that by any "favoritism" shown towards others, a guy like Fritsche never really had a chance in New York. I don't think anyone can deny that. He, like Prucha, really did nothing wrong while he was in the lineup. And perhaps, I think, if given the chance to utilize the type of player he is - speedy, a natural center, who can hit - with the right type of other players, it might have been different. (We saw it briefly with Korpikoski and Dawes for two games).

But again asking this from the coach that has refused to put the guy with the most career goals for the Rangers actively (Prucha) or the guy with the moves (Zherdev) on a line with the only true assist > goal guy on the team (Gomez).

We'll never really know what could have been, will we? In hockey, as in life.

Look, I've already gone on longer than necessary. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on it. These is merely mine.

I'm only saying this. After reading that statement, there is no way someone will convince me that the coaches have been making decisions based on performance rather than on who they wanted to have play. Who they liked. Who they favored.

Perhaps some people always thought so. Others may disagree. Many others may not care at all or say, well, the coach is the coach, he can do as he pleases.

Fine. That's all fine.

But do you still think there is no favoritism going on in New York?

Ask a guy who was "hoping and waiting - no praying" to be taken away from New York, the once number one sought after place in all of the NHL.

He just might tell you a different story.

Links to the above article:

And to Andrew Gross's Ranger Rants blog where this was brought to my attention:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Untold Story of Dan Fritsche. . .

Boy, I picked the wrong day to try to get actual "work" done at work. ;)

First, I get back to my desk and read that Sam Weinman of the Journal News, who does a great job of giving lots of Rangers updates on his Rangers Report blog, is moving to Golf Digest. Best of luck, Sam, and a sincere thanks for all the hard work these last couple years.

And secondly, I read that Dan Fritsche has not been sent to Hartford, has not been skating with New York, but rather has been traded to Minnesota for a guy I admittedly haven't heard of in Erik Reitz


So he joins the ranks of Dominic Moore and Adam Hall, both former Rangers that have had connections to the Wild in the last few years.

If you want a headache, keep reading.

*Dominic Moore, if you'll remember, was traded from the Rangers to Pittsburgh in Summer of 2006 and then traded from Pittsburgh to Minnesota in February of 2007. It was Adam Hall that was the guy traded to the Rangers from Minnesota for Moore, who went to Pittsburgh by way of Nashville in the above trade. Hall was then traded back to Minnesota in February of 2007 for Pascal Dupuis. Hall would sign with the Penguins the following fall, where he'd play alongside Dupuis. Dupuis, who had stayed with the Rangers for about two weeks before a brief stop in Atlanta, came to the Penguins at trade deadline in the Marian Hossa deal in February of 2008. Hall, by the way, was a original draft pick of Nashville. *

If you actually read and understood that, congratulations. But don't say I didn't warn you.

None of this has anything to do with Dan Fritsche. It really doesn't. I was just trying to show how some teams tend to have more connections to some teams than others. For the Rangers, Edmonton, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis should not come as surprises, but Minnesota has a few connections as well. Current Ranger Aaron Voros being another.

Anyway, I was debating posting the below blog link when Fritsche played a stint in the fall with the Rangers, scored a goal and actually looked very nice with Lauri Korpikoski and Nigel Dawes for two games. I debated posting it again this Tuesday when he was waived and again yesterday when he cleared waivers. I obviously didn't.

So instead of posting this while Dan was a current Ranger, I'm posting it now that he is no longer one. If you want to know what kind of guy Dan Fritsche is, it's worth the read. Kind of long, but even if you skim it, you'll get the general idea.

Just as Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, and yes, even Pascal Dupuis, will always have it on their career stats that they played for the New York Rangers, so will Dan Fritsche. He was a Ranger. Not a Ranger that got a real chance, but from a management/coaching staff who obviously doesn't even appreciate the plethora of talent they have and don't utilize on the ice every night, I can't say I'm really surprised.

Dan, best of luck in Minnesota. As a Manny Malhotra fan, I watched Columbus games enough to know that you were an almost every day player and certainly a stronger asset than you got the chance to show here in New York. And as the blog indicates, you appear to be a really good guy. I just want fans of the New York Rangers who didn't get the chance to see that firsthand, to at least know that much about the guy that played 16 games for the Rangers this season.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Games. . .

If there ever was a tale of two games, tonight's Rangers/Penguins game from Pittsburgh would surely be it.

The first period was great. Almost constant end to end action. Decisive puck movement. Hitting and physical play on every shift. Speed of the puck so that it became hard to follow at times. And despite not scoring powerplay goals, a powerplay where it was increasingly apparent the improved movement of the puck by the D with the man up.

That was the first tale. A one less commonly told this year for the men in blue but a welcome one to fans everywhere.

The third period was dreadful. (Disappointing. Upsetting. Disorienting. Ugly. Bad. - You choose your own adjective).

A smart and apparently clairvoiyant Steve Valiquette said in his 2nd intermission interview that he expected the next goal, the go-ahead goal, to be a bounce of some sort, a flukey goal if you will.

It's kind of scary how right he was.

The Penguins scored on one of those throw-the-puck at the net plays, and the bottom fell out. One goal turned the tides.

The Rangers who were not penalized for the first two periods(minus Orr's fighting major) lost discipline and looked to make up for it by taking a bunch of penalties at the worst time. Thirteen seconds after one Staal scored, the other Staal took the first of three consequtive Rangers penalties. Although the Penguins only scored one powerplay goal, the scene was set. They grabbed control of a game, that frankly, they were not controlling, and ran with it, right to the embarassing end.

I'm not saying not to credit the Penguins for jumping on the Rangers. They played it perfectly. An almost injured and supposedly not 100% Sydney Crosby sure looked fine as he scored once and had three assists in just over a 12 minute span.

Good teams take advantage. Bad teams let them.

My problem is not with the Penguins for how they came to play in the third. My problem is that the Rangers shouldn't have let that one goal turn the tide. And yet they did. And so very easily.

I just finished saying yesterday how this team, as it is with personnel and the defense they preach and believe, are not built to score many goals and compete with teams that do.

The Rangers could have come back from 2-1. A dominant Rangers team could have even perhaps come back from 3-1. But the dismantled group of guys that played in this second tale had no chance. When the Penguins went up 4-1 it might as well have been 20-0. The Rangers weren't coming back from that.

The better idea would have been to stop the bleeding at 2-1. But the Rangers don't seem to have that valve that turns the bad off. This is not the first game (Toronto's 5-2 blech fest in early November and Washington's 5-4 pre-Christmas present both come to mind) and I greatly fear it will not be the last in which the same thing happens.

I watched the post game interviews, where Paul Mara said it was "inexcusable," and Hank blamed himself. I'm not absolving him of all blame, because in fairness, he looked bad on some of the goals. But like the blech fest in Toronto that day where Vali was caught in net for a firestorm, I don't know if you blame the goalie when an entire team falls off the tracks. I don't.

I'm not sure what else I can say.

One team came into Mellon Arena and played an entertaining and effective first period. Another team came onto the ice in the third and worked very hard to tear apart all the good that the first team had done.

I am very disappointed that what was such an enjoyable and promising game turned so quickly into a game I'd like to very much forget.

"A Little Bit Too Good For Our Own Good". . .

Last night's Rangers game was about as middle of the road as they come for me. Perhaps a little more on the positive side - perhaps - but overall nothing horrific, nothing spectacular. Which for the Rangers coming off an All-Star break, I will gladly take.

First of all, however, Valiquette deserves props for a very solid game played. I've stated before, I always want that guy to get wins, because he deserves the time he earns and he is a very important component of this team. I personally wish he'd play more so that all the pressure of playing a defensive team game does not fall soley on Hank. Regardless, as soon as I saw Vali in net, I was again reminded how I wanted the team to have a good game behind him.

And they did. Make no mistake. You'd think I'd be more, umm, positive in my reponse here, but I'll be honest. I'm still a little annoyed/confused over the lineup decisions. I'm still very concerned about this team's lack of goal scoring. And I'm definitely not ready to say that this team is beyond the "smoke and mirrors" show I know they have been pulling the majority of the year. That's the truth. I care too much about this team to lie about it.

However. . .

The Good:

Besides Vali, a few other players had very good games. Gomez, I must say, seemed to have returned back refreshed from the break. I don't even think he was physically refreshed as much as mentally refreshed. And that can make a big difference. It was a relief to see him, and Naslund - another player with a good game - skate in synch. Finally.

Yes, time is needed for these things. Surely, I understand that. Gomez was quoted as saying it took him half a year to get on track with Gionta and Elias when he was in New Jersey.

That's, umm, . . .good. It's just not good if you are THE guy expected to generate the bulk of the offense for this team. I mean better late than never, but I'm going to continue being honest.

I love Callahan. I am just not sure he is that missing piece on the Naslund/Gomez combo that Renney so desperately wants to have together. (And again, I'll pause to say, if the two of them play like they did the last two games, for the next twenty, I'll be both surprised and thrilled. And I'll shut up about Gomez not being able to play with anyone). Of course, perhaps Callahan will be the role player he's always been and chip in on offense when he can.

I just still get the feeling the whole team is a bunch of guys "chipping in on offense" when they can.

Besides that, the team was pretty defensively responsible last night which is always a breathe of fresh air. Although, admittedly, I think they seem to like showcasing their #1 league ranked PK. Rangers took four, and Carolina took two minors.

The Bad:

It's not even bad so much as it's beginning to become a pattern. Not a half minute after the Rangers scored a BIG goal to go up 3-1, the Rangers gave up a goal to Carolina to bring the score back up to 3-2. It's happened a lot. Just like those minor-league-inspired too many men penalties the Rangers always seem keen on taking. Those are all mental things. I'm sure it's possible the Hurricanes came out angry and wanting to score after the Rangers goal...but...don't you really think it was a little more the Rangers still caught up in their own victory song?

I don't know. I really don't. I mean if months from now after a successful playoff run (the word "successful" is up for interpretation), the Rangers have not changed these things and they didn't seem to matter in the long run, then fine. I mean when I read the record for shorthanded goals in a season was last accomplished by the Colorado team that WON the Cup, I said, okay, well maybe too much is made of details.

But you'd have to be an idiot to ignore those details. You certainly don't have to fixate on them (although the coaches damn well should), but I wouldn't ignore them.

Look at this:

"There was a stretch where our third forward was leaving the zone early, looking for the breakout. That's not us. I think we went through a period where we thought we were a little bit too good for our own good, but now we've gotten our game back." - Steve Valiquette

"A little bit too good for our own good."

That's a very telling quote. Very. As much as we rip Renney for his desire to and pushing of winning games 2-1 - and trust me I do! - it's amazing how this entire team has bought into the feeling they have to be THAT team. That low scoring, win by total team defense team.

And maybe, given the group the Rangers have, that is absolutely spot on.

BUT when I see them not utilizing the offense I know they do have - or have had -that drives me crazy.

When I read things like that, it makes me nauseated, I won't lie.

Because when I think of how their 2-1 mentality is going to fly against 80% of the teams in the playoffs, I laugh to myself. (Or outloud. Depends on who is listening).

Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Montreal, New Jersey - those five teams alone who I expect to be in the playoffs and at the top in the Eastern conference in a few months from now. You think the Rangers and their 2-1 mindset will ever work in a seven game series with one of these teams?

Maybe with Buffalo or Carolina if they sneak in, but I don't think that's who the Rangers will face in the first round.

Honestly look at the Rangers team as is. Then look at the teams I listed above. The Rangers scored three goals to beat Carolina in a regular season game and that was an offensive game for them.

You think they are scoring three, four, or five goals to beat Washington when it counts?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Why Won't You Release Me". . . ?

When I got in the car and switched off from my customary Home Ice 204 this morning, the first song I heard was Duffy's Mercy.

*I'm begging please.
Stop playing games.*

I realize this is not what Duffy was going for here, but I couldn't help but think of one thing when I heard this.

*You got me begging you for mercy.
Why won't you release me?*

One particular name being bandied about a lot right now.

The name?

Petr Prucha.

Maybe it was yesterday's apparent confusion and disagreement among the Rangers beat writers on whether Prucha or Voros will dress for tonight's game (At last count, it was seemingly certain Korpikoski would return, but the beat writers were 2 to 1 in thinking Voros would remain in, and Prucha would remain out.). Maybe it's the fact that such back and forth on the page, and in my head, kept me up last night.

And last night I was tired. One of those tireds where you are too tired to do anything but sleep. And yet you can't. You walk through the motions. Simple things like washing your face and brushing your teeth take a half an hour. All the while your brain is going back and forth, back and forth, thinking about one singular thing. And you know it's all futile. All in vain. Yet you continue.

Days like yesterday make me long for the days before blogs, blogs where beat writers post line combos and scratches the day before or the day of a game. I enjoyed it for a while, and perhaps I will again, but in a year like this, it's making me long for the previous ignorance of just not knowing.

In a year like this where there are changes to lineups almost game by game, and certainly decisions made completely with the whim of reaching into a bag and pulling out a name, such knowledge makes me an anxious and paranoid person.

For it wasn't like I had to go to the Garden on a given night to find out who was playing. Instead, speculation, and very often correct speculation based on the unwritten rules of practice conduct, is posted before I go to lunch on game days. There is no secret.

Well, there's no secret, I suppose, of who is playing. There is, however, a secret of why.

I can take time - again - to ask why certain decisions are being made, why certain players are getting opportunities and others are not. But I don't know if my hours of tossing and turning last night bought any new revelation to light. Save one.

The musical chairs/roulette wheel/carousel has now become a roller coaster ride. Of a player's career and of his self confidence. No matter how much I want his time with the team to continue, for his love of the team and for my love of watching him play here, I still want the roller coaster ride to stop. There is no fair in hockey. That much has been proven again and again in countless ways. But I realized if this saga is affecting myself, and so many other fans, as much as this, how in the world is it truly affecting him. The guy we're talking about. The heart. The soul. The character. How is it affecting him? It is, after all, his life. He deserves to get to live it. And I truly believe, as much as I know he wants to stay here, that if he were traded to a team that let him play, he'd have to be happier than he is right now. Playing, not playing, and not being told why either way. No hockey player wants to be sitting on the sidelines. That's why they are hockey players. They ultimately want to play.

He might be too proud or too good a person to say so. But I'm sure Petr Prucha has got to be close to saying what I'm saying right now:

*I'm begging you for mercy.
Why won't you release me?*

Monday, January 26, 2009

Match d'Etoiles - Montreal, Quebec, Canada. . .

J'adore le hockey. C'est magnifique. La presentation de la nuit dernier - tres bien!

And we've now exhausted all the French I can possibly use to describe last night. So with that, we move onto my native tongue, where I ramble more than I do when I try to speak French, obviously. Je suis vraiment desole.

Every once in a while I open a book I own called Hooked on Hockey. It's just a mini little reader, but it's a great little representation of the best hockey players, the best hockey teams, and the game's history. A lot of it is devoted to the Original Six, and as such a successful team, the Canadiens play a big part. And more than once, it mentioned how the Forum in Montreal was hockey.

Well, with all due respect to the fabled and now-departed Forum, you might just want to drop the arena name, make it past and present tense, and say, Montreal is hockey. After last night, I'm not sure many would disagree.

From player introductions in both languages to the in-game introductions of legendary players past, it was impossible to not take in the history of Montreal and it's Canadiens. Like them or not, one has to tip their chapeau to l'histoire de la bleu, blanc, et rouge.

You can tell all the players interviewed truly enjoyed their experience in the city and surrounding the event. And the fans felt that. I know I did. Brilliant show by Montreal. 100 years. All-Star Game. Parfait.

I think Manny Legace set the bar last year with in-game microphone use. Because Marc Savard (although yes, LOVE him), was not as amusing the second time around. And Martin St. Louis, bless him, seemed more interested in the game and obviously did not want to talk during it. Which is fair enough. There seemed to be fewer interviews than last year, but again it's hard. You want the players to enjoy the game obviously. You know, it's funny, I think the perfect time for more interviews yesterday would be, oh, I don't know, say intermission.

Now, I can only speak to the presentation I got on Versus in the States, but I was annoyed with something. Did this take away from my overall enjoyment of the game. No. But it came close.

What do you think the CBC showed during the first intermission? Really. Take a guess. I'm not sure myself but I can bet it wasn't a Versus created segment on the creator of the Special Olympics. I am not commenting on the subject matter in the slightest. But you mean to tell me that Versus could have found nothing, nothing at all hockey related, to show during the middle of a hockey event. Something about the history of the game. A segment on a player in the game. A piece on the city of Montreal. Even stock footage of LAST YEAR'S All-Star Game would have been more appropriate.

Talk about interrupting the flow of the game. If someone had randomly turned on VS looking for hockey and happened to see this, they'd have assumed they'd gotten the day or the channel wrong. It was a small, small part of the overall night, but to me it was inexcusable. The night should be about the sport of hockey, the All-Star game, and the city the game is being played in. That's it.

As for the game itself, it was what it was. A 4-2 lead for the East in the first, turned into an 8-8 tie by the end of the second. The Savard-Ovechkin pairing impressed. Doan continued his scoring prowess. Kovalev proved he still had moves that would make his 21-year-old self proud. And speaking of the youth, Pat Kane finally got a goal, and a rather nice one on the breakaway. Nash scored, well, in Rick Nash fashion. Malkin had a beauty reminiscent of Marek Malik's record setting shootout goal of three and a half years ago. Sheldon Souray made his trip back to Montreal memorable.

And the goalies. Only two need be mentioned for me. One, our own Hank Lundqvist, who, according to the radio this morning, faced around 20 shots, and let in 6. At first I thought he was going to get mad, because the guy is a true competitor, but I saw him smiling a few times. My second and more prominent thought was that he should be more used to playing behind a team that offers no defensive support.


Je suis vraiment desole.

Kudos Hank though, as the radio said you made some tough saves.

BUT, the goalie of the night in downtown Montreal was not home-town favorite of spiritual proportions, Carey Price, but one unorthodox guy who plays on the other side of the long-time rivalry.

Welcome Tim Thomas. You have arrived.


That save on Jarome Iginla in the dying minutes of the game was sick. If you didn't stop at that moment, check the teams, and pinch yourself that it was not a regular season game, but indeed, the All-Star Game, I'm shocked. Cause I sure did.


When all was said and done, it wasn't all said and done. Overtime went way to the shootout, which quickly gave way to the other, other Alex.

Kovalev, that is.

A great night for the "captain" of the east, playing for the hometown team. 2 goals, both beauties, and an assist, plus the game winner in the shootout. I can't argue with him being named MVP, as he is both my grandmother's favorite player ever, and one of my favorites from the Rangers days of last decade. I'm happy to see him happy. He's a man we all like much better when he's happy, that's for sure.

For the record though, and even though it would be for the first time since Mike Richter in 1994, my vote would have been for Thomas. The guy is legit.

Overall though, I enjoyed my All-Star weekend. I LOVED the East uniforms and would seriously consider buying one if I had any use for it. The Super Skills far exceeded last year. The game itself I perhaps enjoyed better last year, but this year's was very good in its own right. And storybook the ending where the hometown sometimes hero gets the game winner by way of shootout.

Tres beau. Tres Bien.

Merci Montreal. Merci.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Live Post-Game From NHL Super Skills Competition. . .

I was going to open this up by making some reference of how for a person usually used to all the excitement in the New York Rangers games, that the excitement of a challenge like this must pale in comparison, but, well, you can use your imagination there.


What was not to like about tonight? Honestly I have enjoyed the Super Skills part of the All-Star weekend for at least the last dozen years now. It was always about showcasing talent. But now, in most recent years, it's really become even more about cutting lose and having fun. And, boy, did most of these guys look like they were having fun!

So I sat back, with my Canadian in hand, and watched the greatest in hockey put on a show. My random thoughts as the night progressed:

Fastest Skater: Kudos Cogliano. My only problem with this competition is that I think we were overly blessed to have seen guys like Mike Gartner and the like do this competition. There is no way this can compete with that. And it's not anyone's fault. It just is. But this, and in some way the hardest shot competition, would benefit from having the guys around the league (whomever they may be) that genuinely are the fastest skaters. I'd love to know the "true" fastest skater.

The Ovie Competition: Honestly, ignore whatever it's called. I know it's only two years old, but it should already be named after Ovechkin. But before I get to that, I must say, it's refreshing the competitors this year "got it." Last year, guys were a little unsure of what to do and ANYTHING Alex did would look marvelous next to that. But this year, he did have competition. Patrick Kane turning his stick around and moving the puck with the knob. Martin St. Louis had some sick moves with the stick, a la lacrosse style scoop up. Kovalev (skating to "There goes my hero" in Montreal) had some nice ideas with heading the puck, and might have very well won, if not for the other Alex. Combining skill with heart, he had a few fun moves, before teaming up with alleged feuding superstar Evgeni Malkin, to don a hat, sunglasses, take a swig of Gatorade, before taking two sticks down the ice and making a shot. Priceless Ovechkin. Priceless. And seeing the players voting in the lockerroom - hilarious!

Ovechkin: Whatever that guy is, I want to be it. He's THAT guy. He really is. I am not even going to compare him to guys nowadays, like Crosby or Malkin. Instead, take all-time superstars scorers like Gretzky, Dionne, Lemieux, Francis, or Messier. Those guys had talent. Those guys had passion. But not one of them ever had the personality of Alex Ovechkin. Not even close. So you now not only have a guy who has the potential to be one of the all time greatest scorers, and players, the game has ever seen. But that same guy just happens to be one of the funniest and most personable characters the league has ever seen. Remarkable. Box him. Bronze him. I don't care what you do with him, but embrace him. Embrace him for all he is for the game. Pure talent and pure entertainment.

On that note, glad to see Ovechkin and Malkin getting along. See, All-Star games DO bring people together.

Random Thought #1: For you Rangers fans pining for Jay Bouwmeester. Did you see his in competition interview? My first thought was that he'd fit right in with the boring personalities of half the New York Rangers team. Think about it. Perfect first intermission interview after a boring first period. (Don't take this personally Jay; just an honest opinion and a little ribbin' of my favorite team).

Sadly my notes at this point have gotten a little scrambly. Must be the Canadian. ;) Haha, kidding. Kidding.

Now onto the Young Stars Game. Sadly, during the Buffalo/Rangers game two weeks back, the Rangers announcers and MSG's John Giannone all seemed for have forgotten that Marc Staal WAS there last year with Brandon Dubinsky. So he was back for a second time. A quick shout out list:

LOVE Marc Staal!

LOVE Steven Stamkos!

LOVE Luke Schenn!

How cool was it Marc Staal scored AFTER checking someone. If he wanted to showcase what he's been doing all year - well he did. Loved it! Now if only he wasn't one of the precious few playing defense for the Rangers, he might get to score more often. Loved his post goal smile though. :)

Luke Schenn got his very "unofficial" first goal. Another guy concentrating on what got him there. Good stuff.

As for the rest of the guys, Pekka Rinne stepping in for Steve Mason. My gosh did that guy make some nice saves. Easily out-dueled home-town favorite Carey Price. Blake Wheeler, well deserved MVP honors. Does anyone on Boston not play well? Is there anyone to hate on Boston? I honestly can't find an example either way.

I do love the new format for the game though, as first showcased last year. Three on three, three short periods, plenty of ice time. Just enough to break up the skills competion and showcase new talent. Good decision by the league.

Oh and for the record,I SOOO called the Rookies were going to win. (You can look it up if you doubt me). They have too much goal scoring prowess. And for that I win...well I'm patting myself on the back right now.

Shooting Accuracy: My favorite from the hay-day, when Mark Messier went 4 for 4. Why, I ask myself, does it seem that more players nowadays are going 4 for 4. Can they truly be better players? Has anything changed? Both Dany Heatley and Evgeni Malkin went 4-4 before the tie-breaker, which Malkin inevitably won. But many were impressive. Do more guys compete?

On Malkin: I am glad they interviewed Malkin. And here's why. I do not have to like the player. And honestly, until proven otherwise, I don't. He's got talent. I'd be a moron to deny it. And I am still mad over his slew-footing of Mara in last year's playoffs. I am. BUT. There is one good thing that came of Sergei Gonchar's injury. I often attacked Malkin for (unlike Ovechkin) failing to try to learn English and using Sergei as a translator. Well, with Gonchar out, apparently Evgeni saw fit to try to learn. Good for him. And while this changes nothing about what I think of him when NY plays Pitt, I enjoyed seeing him let loose and smile a little bit. It's good for the game and good for the fans to see a once mute Russian player, now laughing and joking with an interviewer. Kudos Geno.

On Hardest Shot: I never thought I'd see the day Al Iafrate's mark of 105.2 be broken. But if anyone was going to do it, I guess we can't be surprised it was big Zdeno Chara. That guy is unreal. And what a great idea to put some charity component to the competition and kudos to the league and teams for jumping on board. The hardest shot now is held by Zdeno Chara with 105.4 miles per hour and the Right to Play charity has earned themselves $24,000 in his name.

Time for more shoutouts:

LOVE Tim Thomas!

LOVE Marc Savard!

Again, I can't hate on the Bruins. I wouldn't want to. (Although Montreal fans sure did!)

Thomas made last year's all star game with his commentary. Guy is as unique a goalie as you will see. And so deserving of being there.

And I have loved Savard since was a Ranger. I still have a sign in my room from a hundred years ago where I list current favorite players and he's on there. (Hell, Nikolai Khabibulan is on there too because I loved his name!) Anyway, Savard was just a perfect guy to stick a microphone on. Humble, yet funny. I am just so glad for his success these last few years so that FINALLY people can see how amazing a player he really is. And has been. I just cry thinking he could have been a Ranger longer. Boston fans are so lucky.

And bonus that he was able to keep his microphone duties so long in...

The Breakaway Competition: Newly re-worked and highly improved, players get one shot and are eliminated if they don't score. Eliminated parties must leave the ice and return to the locker room. (Hence Zach Parise's mic going cold early on; although I'm sorry, but anyone would have paled next to Savard on this night.) Shane Doan impressed. (One of the few remaining original guys from my fantasy team this year). Milan Hedjuk. . .who knew he still had it in him? And Alex Kovalev - boy is it good to see this guy smile or what? I know his play has improved as of late, but if there's a guy who's been up and down, up and down, especially in Montreal, it's him. And he is a really good guy. To see him smile, made me smile. I hope his moves tonight, follow him through to the regular season. He's got marvelous ones.

Overall thoughts on the night:

I was highly entertained the entire night, from the player intros, where French Candadians Vincent Lecavalier (ooo la la) and Martin St. Louis, as well as former Canadiens Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit were cheered and Boston Bruins Thomas, Savard and Chara were booed, through the final interview with our own Hank Lundqvist, complete with complementary stick throw.

I love interviews because they showcase the player behind the helmet. I was laughing at most of them, starting right with Joe Thornton's in the beginning. He's calling the West to have the best showing. Was he right? Will he be right tomorrow?

Watching the smiling faces was priceless. You have to admit almost everyone seemed to be having fun. That, and the Canadian, made me have fun too. ;) (Kidding again.) But in all seriousness, that's why you play the game. Some guys don't come to All-Star Game who are selected. For personal, for family, for injury reasons. I'm not one to judge. But I do not think ONE person that comes does not have fun. If they don't, they are missing something. They really are. Once in a lifetime type stuff. I saw Ovechkin talking with Steve Stamkos. It's not like Ovechkin is a 15 year league veteran, but can you imagine the thrill for this years #1 draft pick to be talking to someone as dynamic and well-liked as Alex.

Seeing Lucky Luc Robitaille and Pat LaFontaine again always makes me happy. Despite playing for the Rangers when the team might not have been the best, these guys were fantastic and I'm so proud they got the chance to be New York Rangers. And the segment on LaFontaine's charity work with the Montreal hospital was inspiring, as if we'd expect any less from him.

Lastly, the NHL should always have someone mic'd up for these things. Always. It adds a fun element, and Savard was a premiere choice. What, too much Savard loving in the blog tonight? :) Sorry, I apologize.

One final note. If you want more info on the charities showcased tonight, click below.

Chara and Right to Play:

LaFontaine and Companions in Courage:

I hope everyone enjoyed as much as I did. As always I'll sit down to the real game tomorrow, but tonight was really the true highlight for me.

All-Star Coverage Reminder. . .

I'll update more later, but if anyone gets the NHL Network and has nothing to do today :), for the second year in a row here in the States, they show practice coverage live from the rink. Lots of interviews and extra stuff you won't see tonight on Versus. Take a few minutes if you can.

More later...

Note, they do the same thing tomorrow for game day. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Optimist's Post Game Thoughts. . .

I would have combined the two, but after how cynical the last blog entry was turning, I thought it best to move on to a new and fresh space.

In terms of what went well last night, I'd like to take a minute to clarify something and perhaps apologize to Blair Betts.

Yes, I said apologize. I know.

Now, long before I started writing this blog, I really liked Blair Betts. I thought he was probably the most underappreciated and one of the most valuable players on the team.

And that was when this team HAD Jaromir Jagr, Sean Avery, Marty Straka, etc.

I appreciated him for the role he played. A penalty killer who does what is asked of him. A guy with no flash, but that gets the job done. A guy who doesn't say much, but doesn't need to. A true blue collar type player.

Blair Bett's game last night is a perfect example of why I once thought so highly of him. And perhaps why I should start to think highly of him again.

I attack the Rangers powerplay because, well, it's horrible. And it very much deserves to be attacked.

But I don't stop often enough to praise the Rangers penalty kill, which is spectacular.

When Betts blocked those shots last night, the Garden was louder than it's been in a long while for a PK. And, yes, at MSG they do cheer wildly for good penalty kills.

(Again, remember, not a lot of goals, they have to pick and choose their moments).

And now a moment to apologize. I was not kind to Betts earlier this year. And I know why. To me, and to many, it was a competition in training camp between Blair Betts and one of my all time favorites in Petr Nedved. And to see how truly well Petr played and then to watch him be dismissed because of Renney's apparent love of Betts, it didn't sit well with me.

I realize now, months later, I was taking it out on the wrong person. Betts does deserve a place on this team. And unlike about 75% of the players on it, he has very much earned it.

My anger over the Nedved situation should fall to Renney, Sather, and whomever else had an issue with a deserving Czech veteran having a limited but deserved role on this team. This team that can't score, let me remind you.

Secondly, I think my view of Betts this year was skewed, perhaps more than it should have been, because Betts is...well Betts. Again, not flashy, not high-scoring, not anything remarkable really. Except he is in the way he showed last night.

But I am now realizing that I was viewing Betts as just one more of the boring, non-scoring guys on this team. Another North American guy with no dazzle.

And that's true. Betts won't apologize for it. He doesn't need to.

BUT...unlike the other boring, non-scoring guys on this team, Betts actually does his job and is worth every cent they pay him.

I overlooked that, and I am sorry for my shortsidedness.

And in complete fairness to Betts - he scored 8 and 9 goals his first years here, before scoring 2 last year. While not spectacular, he chipped in. And he has done that again this year, and once again last night (empty net not-with-standing). With five goals, he does have a good chance of at least reaching his career high.

Perhaps he, too, like everyone on this team, is just trying to find a way - any way - to make anything from...well a bunch of pieces that might just not go together, but that's a story for the cynic's side of the blog.

I'll say this though. As much as I like 7-0, 5-2 scores, I'd hate to constantly be the team giving up 5 or 7 goals.

And thanks to guys like Betts, the Rangers are not one of those teams.

Kudos Blair Betts.

Other thoughts on the game:

-Anaheim does not appear as strong as I remember them to be. They are big and strong in stature, but they have not played that way against the Rangers this year, it seems. True there were two fights, but it wasn't a case of Anaheim playing smash and crash and the Rangers crumbling. I thought Anaheim would be a middle of the road playoff team, and perhaps they will be, but they have not looked the same as the team that won the Cup two years ago. Far from it, in fact.

-Pronger's legs are like freakin' tree trunks. (Sorry, that's all I have to say about that.)

- I thought Bobby Ryan would break out - last year. I may be a year behind, but I'm glad to see it.

-Voros did not have the best re-insertion into the lineup. Taking a trifecta of penalties will not look good to anyone. And he can't feel good about it. I feel almost bad for him in that, he really did seem to be a vibrant source of life to the team at the onset of the season, and that has disappeared. I'd really love to know whether it was just a natural fade, or whether at all induced by Renney's constant line juggling. We may never know. I still like to believe he's a good guy that wants to do well. The being out of shape thing drove me crazy though, I won't lie.

-Fritsche, I feel, cannot be judged. I still contend he's a better player than he is being allowed to show here. As is too often the case when Sather plays "ooo, ooo, free agent, me want" during the summers, there are just too many players and too few spots, as I've said over and over again. And if there were one, Fritsche is definitely the outside guy. But he comes in and does nothing spectacular but nothing wrong. What could anyone have expected from him - a bunch of goals? He's probably more suited to being a fourth line type player, but well, as you know the Rangers already have a plethora of those.

-Speaking of bunch of goals, I was surprised to see some last night. Namely from Naslund and Gomez. Naslund had a much better game than of late. Looked a lot more together. And gosh help me, if Renney stubbornly insists on playing Naslund and Gomez together with Callahan, I hope to goodness they start to score. Honestly.

-And that will bring me to my other point. Which is that Gomez, being the highest paid, should, on most levels, be the best player on the team, or make the guys he plays with the best players on the team. It's a simple thought I doubt many will argue with, but that has yet to happen. I think that's what bothers me the most. Maybe he's STILL not being put with the right guys. Maybe he's having a really, really off year (because honestly it's not as if last year was stellar either). I'm not sure. But any complaint of him, probably stems from that. I have to believe he's trying though, as I have to believe they all are.

-Lastly, since I've lauded Blair Betts and mentioned Petr Nedved, of course my mind goes back to thinking just how much I wanted Nedved on the team and how much I still, from time to time, think he could be useful to this team. So if he couldn't have replaced Betts on the 4th line, how nice would Nedved be centering our 3rd line of [insert names of random interchangeable parts here], while Dubinsky took the 2nd, and EITHER Gomez OR Drury centered the top line? How would that look. I mean, close your eyes and picture it. Seriously you should, because with Gomez AND Drury both on the team, it's all really a dream sequence anyway right.

Everyone keeps saying Prucha/Gomez/Zherdev, which, sure, I'd love to see, I really would. But tonight I'll think of Prucha/Nedved/Zherdev. What a pretty foreign line that would be.

My dream. And Tom Renney's European Nightmare.


Over All-Star break, I'll check in with a few thoughts from around the league, see where certain teams are at, some surprises so far this year. Seriously lots of interesting stuff happening. But I'll wait til the weekend for that. :)


A Cynic's Post-Game Thoughts. . .

Now I'm not sure what I can really say here that hasn't been said. They started horribly - again - and I feared the worst, given how Sunday's game had gone.

Thankfully, the team seemed to wake up. There were positives to draw from, namely a night where the powerplay shockingly scored two goals, and didn't give up any shorties to the other team. In fact, the Rangers scored two short handed goals of their own.

I'm just going to say one small thing.

Do not get used to this.

Maybe that's cynical or pessimistic, but I choose to think that's being a realist. This team has shown absolutely no level of being consistent this year. None. On the powerplay. In their energy come game time. In the way they approach one game to the next. None.

So as much as there was no real reason they played as poorly as they did Sunday, there, to me, was no real reason they played as seemingly well as they did yesterday.

Just another of the many questions surrounding this year's team.

Maybe this all sounds generic and like a cop-out, but it's true. True. True. True. The Rangers of this year are a team of questions. A team being led by team commaraderie, which either leads them to low-scoring, mediocre wins, or boring lifeless losses. There seems to be no in between.

And I guess that's okay. It's boring and it got old REAL quick for me, but that's okay. I guess I'm still naive enough to be waiting for the magical moment when it all clicks and they can play inspired hockey for the full 60 minutes. When they can show up to every game. When they can start as they finish. And when they can score and have it appear it was by design and not by accident, as to me most goals they score appear to be.

Still the Rangers go into the All-Star break in nice position for a bunch of guys that despite their salaries, we perhaps should not have expected too much from.

Maybe they are grossly over-achieving.


I'll ponder that for a few minutes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prucha and Korpikoski's Shared Character. . .

Voros and Fritsche in.

Korpikoski and Prucha out.

Courtesy of Sam Weinman:

"Renney said the move was more a match-up decision against the bigger, physical Ducks. Although Prucha hadn’t been told as much by Renney, we passed along what the coach told us after the morning skate.

'You know more than me,' an amused Prucha said. 'Aaron is a bigger, stronger guy than me, so he can play more physical. So if coach wants to match up against bigger players, he’s probably a better player than me for that.'

Spoken like a true good soldier.

Meanwhile, Korpikoski didn’t seem too annoyed, either, perhaps because he’s emerged from these benchings before.

'Of course it’s disappointing when you’re not playing,' Korpikoski said. 'You want to play every game. But you do what the coach tells you to do. There’s nothing you can say or do. You just keep working hard and when you get the opportunity again, be a little bit better again. I’ve been in this situation before and it doesn’t help to pout. You just have to stay positive and have a good attitude.'

Well I'm happy to know Prucha can be a good example for the other young kid Renney is abusing. At least they both have good attitudes. Better than I would under the circumstances, I'll be honest.

And you know, I don't like to do this. I don't get some sick pleasure out of it. But part of me hopes - hopes - the Rangers fall flat on their faces tonight. And the Ducks rip them apart.

At least part of me does. Which would make me sad, if I wasn't so angry.

Because, honestly, of course the two young EUROPEAN kids come out. We couldn't very well sit anyone else, now, could we Tom? Some AMERICAN centers or some CANADIAN 4th liners perhaps? No. Course not.

And just because I said I might, I'm copying my mini "rant" posted on NYR Devotion - Some Like it Blue ( further compliment how I am feeling today:


Renney should bench himself, and Drury/Gomez/Redden, and whomever else takes up the majority of the ice time they don't deserve. Because until they bench the "big" name guys that aren't producing and truly get new life in there, nothing will change.

I know we all love Pete. And Lauri is great. But they are not the reasons the team is losing when they lose. (although honestly Pete's play might have had a role in them winning when they won). But they are not the true reason either way. Therefore, it doesn't matter who Renney chooses to swap out in the 3rd line carousel/musical chairs/roulette wheel charade I've often talked about. What matters is that Gomez and Drury, both centerpieces to this team's offense, are not getting it done. They shouldn't have both been here in the first place, but since they are now, something has got to be done to fix the problem. Redden, the supposed great powerplay quarterback who was here to help aid the offense, can't play in either zone. And yet all three guys play big time minutes. As do many others who are skating by, literally.

Someone the other day (on Rangers Report blog) brought up something that was probably SO obvious I failed to see it. Gomez, even more than the everyone's favorite boring captain Drury, does not seem to have been able to play well with anyone. Do you remember him clicking with anyone, really? Cause I don't.

And that, THAT, is going to drag down this team more than who is playing on the shuffling 3rd line. Because without some major connection on this team, by the players that are getting paid and not earning their minutes, it doesn't matter who else plays or doesn't play. (And I don't mean the off-the-ice huggy-feely we love each other crap.)

What DOES matter though, is that, by thinking he can fix the whole messed up team, by swapping out a few smaller pieces, Renney is making the situation even worse. Worse because he's treating Prucha and Korpi like crap and sending the wrong message. And worse because, as we the fans know, these guys show more heart and more drive than the players that remain in the lineup, night in, night out.

And that IS his fault.


I'm so not looking forward to the game tonight. I'm glad Prucha/Korpi are taking this like character guys. Because I am not taking it so well.

Monday, January 19, 2009

And I'll Turn It Over To You Larry [UPDATED]. . .

After games like yesterday, I greatly look forward to waking up and reading Larry Brook's column in the New York Post to make some sense of the apparently non-sensical.

He did another great job of that today.

Here are the highlights:

"Somehow, the Rangers almost always look far worse in losing than they appear impressive in winning."

That statement is so damn true it hurts. When they lose, they lose ugly. When they win, they often win in such an uninspiring fashion, it feels like a loss.

There've been so few wins this season that truly felt like wins, I'm now struggling to think of an example to type here. An example of a decisive, all-around, courageous, passionate, team win.

The one early game against the Devils at the Garden came close, the game (not so long ago) against Pittsburgh at the Garden two weeks ago today was another perhaps.

But with 27 wins and more than halfway into the season, it's hard for me to accept that there hasn't been more to cheer about.

"An optical illusion" their record is according to Brooks. And he's right. I've been saying "smoke and mirrors" for a few months now. This team has been lucky at times, but they got exposed - again - in the worst way yesterday.

Unfortunately, they'll probably somehow scrape together one of their Renney-patented 2-1 victories at the Garden tomorrow, to make everyone think it's A-OK in Rangerland. And the team, as constructed, will live another day.

But as if there is anything they can really do about that? Personnel wise I mean. But that is nothing new. As I mentioned late last week, they are stuck with most of this un-tradeable lot for at least the next three seasons.

Oh, but of course, they can swap healthy scratches, right?

"Renney broke up the line late in the third, replacing Callahan with Nigel Dawes. The coach, at the same time, shifted Callahan onto the unit with Chris Drury and Petr Prucha. Why does it seem that the move was a precursor to sitting Prucha tomorrow night and replacing him with Aaron Voros, a scratch throughout the road trip?"

Even before the lines were officially switched yesterday, I figured this is the perfect type of game for Renney to say, oh, this, this isn't working, let's shake it up. And I figured, of course, it'd be Prucha taking a seat in order for him to do so. So reading this was not a surprise. It made me nauseated, but it was not a surprise at all.

I mean, surely - obviously - it was Prucha's lack of intensity and lack of scoring or his defensive liability - his soley - that caused yesterdays embarassment on ice.


It couldn't possibly be that - yet again - the entire team was exposed for the frauds they are. That they are a "rotten," uninspired team, that somehow managed to bore their way to the top of the conference.

And one of the few exciting and inspired players - the guy who started the renaissance against a flailing Islanders team on Garden ice, the guy who scored the only goal a few days later in Washington, and the guy whose gutsy play from his rear end a week later in Ottawa lead to the game winning goal - is going to take a seat because, really, who else can the coach blame?

I'd be more disturbed, if I didn't know it was coming, somewhere down the pike. Team efforts - good team efforts - were going to come to an end soon. Or, rather, this team was going to be exposed for their complete and utter lack of them.

That time came yesterday.

Oh and make no mistake. These are not your father's New York Rangers.

Hell, they are not even the New York Rangers of my youth. At least those guys weren't boring. At least they weren't as life-less as the bunch of "oh but we love each other" drones I saw yesterday and that I've seen most of this season.

And the one guy that isn't a boring drone, he'll probably take a seat tomorrow.

A shame really. Just truly a shame.

**Author's note on edit:
Please note that I read Larry's column on my own this morning before readng Sam Weinman's Rangers Report. But apparently he agrees with me. Great line by Brooks:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Was Their Anything Redeeming About Today's Rangers Game. . .?


Umm, yes.

The fact that it ended.

I might have not had a great feeling about the game to start.

Early game. Versus Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh. On NBC.

It had all the makings of the game the Rangers would have to work harder than usual at to win.

Unfortunately as it turned out, they didn't work hard or at all.

I can't say it was the worst game. Ever. Or for the season. But it has been a long, long time since I can say there was nothing - not one thing - that was redeeming on the part of the Rangers and their play. Not one thing.

And that's staggering.

Naslund failed to shoot the puck numerous times. Gomez pulled his typical dipsy-doodle without direction. Kalinin was on the ice every single second, it seemed. Hank gave up a horrible goal on the 2nd one. Their powerplay was lifeless, not at all shockingly.

No one seemed to skate. No one seemed awake. And with a few minor exceptions, no one seemed to want to take the body.

The Rangers saw, more than once this year alone, that the way to win against Pittsburgh, is to take the body, and play physically against Malkin and Crosby.

They couldn't get it done.

Or they wouldn't.

And that's what was embarassing. I don't mind going to a game and having them lose. I don't. I've been a Rangers fan long enough to know they don't always win.

But my gosh, at least show up.

What I'd assume was the Penguins newly constructed 4th line, the one with Menard, skated like pros around the Rangers. And we're all fully aware they were just in Wilkes-Barre last week.

Tell me how that's acceptable?

Everytime Orr tried to get Godard to fight, I just kept saying, do it already. Get it over with. Anything to add some life to the mess that was occurring.

Even better? When the Orr, Crosby scuffle was going on, a guy a few rows behind me said, "oh sure Renney. play it that way. You go after our best guys. we'll go after yours. Gomez."

I rolled my eyes. I know he's the highest paid and I know he's our #1 line center - for what both of those two things are worth I have no idea - but seriously. Gomez. I laughed. And I laughed too that this guy thought Renney had any responsiblity for that.

I almost WISH Renney would have told Orr to go and level Crosby or Malkin. It worked last time. Crosby was on his butt, on MSG ice, and boo-ed with out mercy just less than two weeks ago. And today, all Penguins skated freely.

The Rangers legs were gone. They were life-less. Truly life-less. I sincerely hope I don't see this again on Tuesday against the Ducks at the Garden. I'm not sure I can take it again. But with these players constructed on this team, I am not sure what can be done to change it. I don't think anything can. At least not now. Not for a while.

The Rangers needed a game changer today. Someone to go out there and SHOW their team that such a lackluster effort was unacceptable.

The Rangers do not have such a player. They don't. They have guys that play well at times, and perhaps for stretches. But they do not have someone that could have pulled them from the funk that was today's game. When Pen went up 3-0, it was over. There was no one to turn it around. It was that obvious.

A shame. A shame. A shame. Just an out and out game where I have nothing positive to say.

Except that it ended, of course.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I So Wish I Was Watching This. . .

I'm in Pittsburgh listening to the 3rd period online, and Kenny/Dave just said the Blackhawks got their fifth 5-3 powerplay of the game!


Then Dave Maloney, who I love by the way, goes into the refs hardcore saying they are jokes. Referees are jokes in the NHL. Think a great league like this could get some guys that know the game! He was really animated. Wow.

Hardcore stuff. I love that he has the guts to say things how they are. Too few people do.

Now, again, I wish I could see this. Apparently Coach Renney showed a pulse on the bench? He's capable of that? I have only seen that once or twice before, and barely to the magnitude this sounds like it was.

Good thing I tivoed the game, although apparently the broadcast is rather crappy on MSG alternate.

In looking at the game summary:

Girardi fought - again?

Staal got a 10 minute misconduct - for what?

Prucha got time on the PP - did Renney confuse the 3 and the 5 on the jerseys?


And now there are pigeons in United Center? Oh boy.

Now to OT...

And Drury scores...

In OT....

On the Powerplay?

Dave Maloney: "Grittiest game of the season for the Rangers."

I repeat. Yikes.

I won't be able to give any real opinion on this game until I see it, if I even get a chance to watch the game on Tivo sometime next week, so this is the best I'm going to do. Random stream of consciousness in-game.

I should listen to games on radio more often. Kenny/Dave are an enjoyable combo and an interesting change of pace for sure.

Oh but before I go, watched the Pens/Ducks game because, well, that's the game of choice out here. Both teams moved the puck well. Some scrappy stuff. And a hilarious wrestling match involving Corey Perry and Evgeni Malkin at the end of the game. I can't wait to see Bobby Ryan on Tuesday for Anaheim.

Okay wait. . . Kenny/Dave just said that Drury had two goals tonight and now leads the team in goals.

I am going to take an Advil and go to bed after hearding that.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boudreau's Son, Jumbo Joe, and Mats With Hair. . .

So I finally got around to watching last weeks After Hours on HNIC. Only five days late, but I was so tired after the Rangers/Ottawa game I didn't stay up as late as I usually do. I know, excuses, excuses.

The highlights:

Bruce Boudreau's son - Brady - is adorable. He interviewed Brooks Laich, Dave Steckel, and Mike Green on a segment shown on Hockey Tonight. For those of you keeping track, Green's new nickname is Lambor-greenie, for his new vehicle. Good stuff.

Mats Sundin was the guest on After Hours after the Sharks/Canucks game. Shocking I know. Scott Oake said, it only took Mats sitting out six months and signing with a western Canadian club for him finally to appear on After Hours. He then asked if he regretted the decision now that he was here. On the show. Ouch. They did tell him he boosted their ratings though.

Mats was given a test to see which Sedin twin was which. I, by the way, think I've finally figured it out. But, sorry Mats, I'm not telling.

Mats fielded a phone call of questions from Glen Healy, former teammate with the Leafs and a genuinely good guy. Mats responded not so much in answers, but with a "fact" that the reason Scottish people, like Glen, wear kilts, was because the Vikings came downt to Scotland and made them.

He said he's still waiting for a response from Healy.

The best part, though, was watching clips of Mats from Draft Day - with hair. People think he's unattractive or menacing, and while I've never agreed with them on either front, he was an adorable little blond kid. He really was.

Like him or not, and I honestly always did, he's had a great career in this league.


Jumbo Joe Thornton gave another good interview, pre-Mats, with a few laughs. First he takes off his shirt pre-interview so appears with only a towel draped around his neck.

Not far into the interview, a voice heard in the background says, "Joe, put your shirt on. You are going to scare the kids!"

The voice?

Jeremy Roenick.


At the close of interview Scott Oake asks Thornton to say something to PJ Stock who is coming on to do score updates. Joe says, "how am I looking buddy," or something along those lines. [Joe joked weeks earlier that there was an over 30 (or 40) league PJ could join in San Jose].

When we finally get to PJ after McClean, Hrudey, and Milbury joke about how cold Joe must be in that hallway, he jokes about how he looks and why aren't they getting on him because he looks like:

"A milk bag."

You can't make this stuff up.

On PJ's list of those snubbed for the All Star game - Patrick Marleau, Mike Green, Brian Rafalski, David Kreiji.

To which McClean said, "I"m working the game and I might not even watch it."

Gotta love it.

A Statement Of Some Sort. . .

The Rangers made a statement alright. Just not sure it was a good one though.

I'll be honest and then blunt.

I had a lot to do last night so I really only watched the second half of the game. I listened and looked up at the TV from time to time, but I did not watch.

(Notice a pattern with me and the Isles/Rangers games. First I fall asleep for the first game on the Island, then I miss the Prucha game of the year, and then I choose last night's game to house-keep my file cabinet. Although necessary. *Sigh* Only game I watched on the full was the Rangers/Islanders game where they scored two shorties against us. Yep. And no idea why.)

Now back to reality and back to being blunt. I don't think a Rangers/Islanders game is true analysis for anything. I really don't.

It's a rivalry game. True, the one side of the rivalry is falling slowly (quickly) into oblivion this season (and for the better part of the last decade). The one that isn't, used to be almost as much a laughing stock. But yet, the teams come together and they usually play.

Now, in my opinion, the Islanders always play the Rangers well. Always. The Rangers do not seem to match that intensity, and that might be a symptom of the above.

Thus, I don't think you can take credit away from the Isles last night. They play like this is all they have...and well with a franchise goalie two years into a 15-year contract who rarely sees the inside of an arena (in uniform), a team whose managment staff has two goalies who have played hockey in THIS decade, and an arena no one outside of Long Island can easily get to. . .well that is all they have right now.

You know what you should really credit them for though. Their powerplay. One of the worst teams in the entire league and a good powerplay. (#17; the Rangers, btw, are at #27). Mark Streit leads the team in points (33) and power play goals (7). I would have given my eye teeth for this guy over Redden. He made the Montreal powerplay good. And he was even able to do it on Long Island. Look at that.

As for the Rangers, Tom Renney must have been thrilled. A 2-1 win. Which would be great. Against Montreal, San Jose, Detroit. Impractical, but great.

Against the Islanders, they should be able to score more. They really should. And yet, they can't. Or they won't.

Even if this team is, as described over and over again, merely a low scoring team, destined to win by 1-0, and 2-1, that's great. But if they had a powerplay that worked, they could potentially win games 4-2, 3-1, even. Anything has got to be an improvement over 2-1. And the powerplay is the easiest way to start without wrecking whatever master plan of boredom the coach is trying so desperately to employ.

Is this team a team of goal scorers? No. Sadly no. But even the Islanders can score on the powerplay (at present 32 goals to the Rangers 27 on the man advantage).

Think about that.

Think about that and tell me that if this team makes the playoffs (still a question at this, the just-over-half-way-point of the season), they will ever make any mark of success there.

I just don't see it. 1-0 games happen in the playoffs. Sure. To teams that are capable of playing perfect defense for 60 minutes.

I do not trust the Rangers defense to do that. I'm not sure who would.

So 2-1 wins versus the Islanders are nice, and the two points are important.

But that's two more points leading to a promised land where the Rangers have little to no promise of succeeding.

Honest. Then blunt. That's how I feel today.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Petr Prucha, Nik Zherdev, and The Everly Brothers. . .

First of all, thanks to Sam Weinman over at The Journal News for writing an article on Prucha and his unbelievable character.

There hasn't been a ton of press devoted to Prucha - minus Larry Brooks who's been arguing on his behalf all year now - so any is appreciated.

Pete is now playing with confidence. He always played with heart, but confidence makes a big difference. It is a pleasure to watch. I'm sure - scratch that, positive -there will be a time for me to delve deeper and again into the enigma that is Prucha's time with the New York Rangers. But I think I'm going to take a pass on that for today.

Instead, word has come out courtesy of Larry Brooks, saying that contract talks have begun with Nikolai Zherdev.

Yes, pick yourself up now.

I am not saying that for the reason I don't want him on the team.

I absolutely do.

As one of the few - oh precious few - that can dazzle and make things happen offensively, I'd love to have him.

Just one teensie little problem.




The Rangers, thanks to Skipper Slats, are handicapped for the foreseeable future. How long is forseeable?

Well they are a half year into Redden's 6 year deal. They are one and a half years into Gomez's seven year deal. One and a half years into Drury's five year deal. Half year into Lundqvist's six year deal.

As I highlighted in one of my personal favorites: "Does it Really All Add Up Rangers Fans... ( . . these four players make approximately 49% of the Rangers entire team salary allotment.


And out of the lot, only Hank deserves what he's getting.

Therefore, the foreseeable future becomes anywhere from 3.5-5.5 years from now.

That's 3.5 years where other "significant" players cannot be signed unless these "insignificant" players are moved. Comparitively speaking.

And do you really think anyone is going to bite at Redden at his $6.5 million per year? Drury at his $7.050? Gomez at his $7.357?


I just don't see it happening. It would be a gift - a rare gift - if someone would take any of these players at THOSE salaries. A gift!

And frankly I just don't see the other GMs in this league playing Santa Claus to Mr. "If I had the payroll of the New York Rangers, I'd win the Stanley Cup every year" Sather.

So Zherdev wants to stay in New York for the long term. He loves it here. (Face it, of course he loves it here.)

But unless someone owns a time machine to go back and erase July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008 from everyone's memories, I don't see how it happens.

And if it does - if it does - that's going to be that much less money they are going to have available to sign anyone else to play with those five players. (Well ten players actually if you include Naslund, Staal, Girardi, Voros, and Rozival as well who are also under contract for next year.)

And you want to presumably keep Staal, Mara, Girardi or someone that can actually PLAY defense beyond this/next year?

I'd now like to quote the Everly Brother's hit song:

Dre-ea-ea-ea-eam. Dream. Dream. Dream. Dre-ea-ea-ea-eam.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gotta Love the Kings All-Star Commercial. . .

Seriously, no, you really do. I only saw a snip-et of this Commerical during HNIC two weeks ago, but it's worth posting the whole thing. Courtesy of

I'm sure some may think it's not the greatest acting, but I find it freakin' hilarious. Check out Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Matt Greene, and Co. Greener kills me. Enjoy!

Tampa Headed for Tragedy. . .

I am listening to the Team990 in Montreal, where Mike Brophy is speaking with Tony Marinaro, and I can hardly believe my ears.

I knew - knew - the situation in Tampa Bay was not good. I mean from the random flagrant signing of almost every player during the off-season (many with no rhyme or reason), to the Barry Melrose worst-kept-secret-ever of replacing John Torterella as coach, to the early mis-treatment of superstars St. Louis and Lecavalier, to Melrose's early firing, the benching of Steven Stamkos, and now to the unbelievable financial woes.

I could have written a blog a week on the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. I knew they wouldn't be great. Ironically though, their offense suffered, which most people would not think on a team that boasts such offensive talent. Their goaltending, for a while, shone, actually. But make no mistake, the pieces never fit together. Not all that surprisingly.

And now, on January 12th, Mike Brophy is saying he very much expects Vincent Lecavalier to be traded by trade deadline. (March 4th for those of you that haven't already got it circled on your calendar.)

Vincent Lecavalier? The man I thought was untouchable? The man I've many times lauded for what he means to the area of Tampa Bay?

Want more?

Lecavalier, St. Louis, and - - Steven Stamkos!

"Stamkos?" asked Marinaro.

"They are heading for a complete firesale," said Brophy.

Wow. I'm shocked and stunned on this Monday morning.

It wasn't too long ago HNIC's Ron McClean had one of the owners from Tampa on the show (Oren Koules?) - you know, the one who did those SAW movies. He didn't go too far into details, but he must have hid the horrifically inevitable well. Tampa is not as sunny as we all thought.

New coach - gone coach. New ownership - gone ownership?

And in my opinion, if Vincent Lecavalier is traded. . .

Bye bye to hockey in Tampa Bay. Done and done.

And it will be very sad.

Around the League/Columbus:

In other notes, while I'm on it, Mike Brophy went onto say that if the Columbus Blue Jackets make the playoffs, rookie goalie Steve Mason might be in line for:

The Calder.

The Vezina.


The Hart.

Honestly, ignoring the hardware, what a GREAT story that would be. A long time finger-crosser for those other guys in blue, I would be thrilled if they made the playoffs. Thrilled. The league needs Rick Nash to be on a bigger stage. And as for Mason...any doubt the Rookies will beat the Sophomores in the Young Stars game in 2 weeks? right....

More to come, I guess. A shame. A true shame.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rangers/Senators Post-Game Thoughts. . .

Actually a pretty complete game all around for NY. The first and third periods, especially, had the Rangers skating hard and quicker to the puck. Rather refreshing, I must say.

Hank looked much improved over Wednesday's diabacle against Montreal. 19th career and 2nd shutout of the season. You can tell by his facial expressions and body language in the post game interview just how comfortable he felt.

Prucha was - again - a man possessed. Hitting, skating, shooting, doing all the good things he needed to do. When Dubinsky scored that first goal, I said immediately:

"That was all Pete."

Not that Dubinsky and Korpikoski didn't finish it, but none of that happens if Pete doesn't keep the play alive with two guys on him and playing from the ice.

If Pete can do it - why can't some of the other guys on the team show such effort, huh? He always does. Always has.

So Prucha had another great game. Dubinsky looked much improved. And who woke up Niki Zherdev?? Wow.

Korpikoski, who had a goal and an assist, said in the post game, "Z? He was just doing his thing. Dipsy-doodling." Although he said it more like his 'ding, dipzshe doodling. So cute!

Korpi played well, for sure. I didn't even see his goal. Even on the replay. It was that fast.

But Zherdev. Wish we could see more of that from him. Not that he hasn't been one of the Rangers best players this year. He has. But he's still inconsistent in it. Games like this though, we all get to see something very special. Another man possessed, if you will.

Only other thing I have to point out is I loved how after Chris Neil went after Staal - again - the whole team seemed to try to stick up for one another. I love Pete taking Schubert and ?? into the boards. He has ALWAYS been the first to jump into a scrum for a teammate. Others may cower, but him? Nah.

And who's not able to love Marc Staal? Neil is a pest. Staal stood his ground. Great stuff.

Really, though, about Neil. I mean I'd be fine if it was just shoves or talking crap at the faceoff or whatnot. But he's been elbowing Prucha in the face for years unpunished (except that one time that Prucha was able to nail him back :) and Neil was all like, look what he did to me). It's just a little dirty to me. Going for a guys face all the time. That's just my two cents. I'm sure I'm not alone. And Neil is not the only one, I'm sure.

As for Ottawa, I think they didn't play that badly but knowing how good they "should" be, it wasn't a great game. It's disappointing watching once great players like Spezza and Heatley not be effective. It's been rumored for a while, but if Spezza can get out of town, I think it would be a good thing for both sides. Let him jumpstart and shake up the existing team. Otherwise, for his part, goalie Brian Elliot played well for the Sens.

Bottom line. Rangers won. Pretty complete game. If you combine last game and the start of this game and that the Rangers went that long without a penalty - let alone a stupid penalty - that's news in itself. And a big win, I think given that it was a lot of games for the Rangers this past week. Important going forward. Nice to see them end on a good note.

Rangers, Young Stars, Brendan Shanahan and Jaromir Jagr. . .?


Okay, this will be short and sweet. I was at a bar watching the game last night, and as so often happens when I'm at a bar watching a game, I cannot pay full attention. Too much noise, no sound on the TV, and someone's head always in the way. ;)

That being said, it apparently was as much the goalie's duel as it appeared from my vantage point. Credit Valiquette with what seemed to be a good game and for getting his team a point. Ryan Miller might have been spot on, but the Rangers seem to have this problem with scoring, if you haven't noticed.

I looked at Prucha's numbers today and he played 17:23, which is not only a season high, but a very high number for him in general. I only saw that he was on the ice for the goal against, although I didn't really see how it transpired. I figured though, as I lamented with a friend at the bar, that might be enough to anger Renney. You know how it works. No goals or assists to speak of, and you never know what will happen.

That's pretty much all I can say on the game. Looks like Rozsival took a face to the boards and might not play tonight. I will have to go back and take a look at that. If he can't go, Bobby Sanguinetti will make his NHL debut in Ottawa.

Game starts in just over an hour. Have fun guys.

Young Stars:

Congrats to Dubinsky and Marc Staal for making the squad. Staal is very much deserving, and Dubinsky had a great year there last year. I think the new format will prove interesting. But my first thought upon looking at the rosters was - -

Rookies are going to clean up!

Maybe that's not fair, and maybe it's going to prove very wrong, but as much as I like sophomores Staal, Nicklas Backstrom, Devin Setoguchi, Bryan Little, and Milan Lucic, I have to think that in that open ice setting, guys like Michael Frolik, Steven Stamkos, Kris Versteeg, and Blake Wheeler will score more goals.

And even if they don't, they have Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, and goalie Steve Mason on the backend.

Either way, that will be fun!

Brendan Shanahan a Devil. . .?

TSN says - almost? maybe? I'm not sure if we can trust completely, without a contract or agreement, believe this is 100% going to happen. But, face it, if he were going to play, he'd play as near to NY as possible. So NJ does not surprise me. I DO NOT like the Devils, but I hope the perennial good guy does well if this is how it shakes down. More when it becomes official.

The Man Known As Jaromir Jagr:

I miss Jaromir, badly. So badly. Especially when this team is not scoring and their current captain lacks anything resembling a pulse.

Turns out, he might consider returning to where it all began for him, in Pittsburgh. If Mario wanted him to. Apparently all is not rosy in Russia.


I have so many opinions that I can't even express. I did not want Jagr to leave the Rangers. This man transformed a team that was going and had been going nowhere for almost a decade. He believed, he guaranteed, he made it happen. A historic run for him on Broadway.

People may disagree and argue over whether the Rangers are better or worse without their departed leader. I think we can all agree they are different though. And in my mind, certainly more vanilla. (Again, Stamkos, not the good kind).

If Jagr decides to come back to the NHL, and to Pittsburgh, it will be weird for a dozen reasons. I won't want him to play badly because I care for him and respect him so much. But the Penguins are a now very much hated rival for me. Then there's the whole quasi-hatred for #68 from those fans in Pittsburgh. I wonder how it would all pan out. With a year and a half more on Jagr's contract in Omsk, perhaps it isn't even worth it to think that far ahead. So much can happen.

But would I like to see Jagr return to the NHL and have a full-out farewell tour...? Absolutely. He deserves it, he really does.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Well Deserved. . .

In spite of his play last night and at times, Hank Lundqvist has kept the Rangers IN more gmaes than he's knocked them OUT of. That's a fact that cannot be denied.

And he's done it, again, with a sort of humble grace that makes him the unlikely superstar. He's intense, committed, and hates to lose, which means he's taken to New York and it's pressures well. He's also pretty too look at, which hasn't hurt in the popularity department.

The King reigns in New York and now will deservedly make his first All-Star appearance in a few weeks.

I say deservedly and I mean it. I still hold true that he and Marc Staal are the best Rangers this year.

However, I am starting to wonder whether the every team must send a representative really makes sense any more. I mean I used to be a huge, HUGE, proponent of this. But this year I am not sure.

Now this could all be because of how frustrated I've been with the Rangers this year and the fact that, at times in that frustration I've said, they suck, they all suck, and thought, thus, that no one from NY should go.

But then I always go back to thinking that if I were a young fan, which I once was, I'd feel sad watching the All-Star game and not seeing someone from "my" team. Even during teh dreadful years, and Rangers fans, we know there were plenty, they always picked the best of ht eworst and sent them. And as a young fan I was happy.

So, thankfully, I can remember that. And not to sound sappy but it really is all about the fans, no? I mean it's an honor and Hank feels so. He deserves to be recognized, alone, for his having been so good for the last four years now. But it's really more about the fans enjoying the game and the presentation than the actual game.

It always was. And I hope that continues.

Marc Savard gets elected on his own, and not as an injury replacement like last year. Thomas, well deserved. Jeff Carter. All good.

And for anyone gripping about Mike Modano out west. Please. Richards, Ribeiro, and Eriksson might have more points, but on a team that had a dismal start, how can you not reward a guy that has been in the league as long as Modano, done as much as he has for the game, and who is such a genuinely good person.

Right decision. Argue all you want. Unless one of those other players was miles above him, on a team of no real bright lights, Modano deserves to go.


Surprising and Yet Not SO Surprising. . .

Despite the outcome and the big handful of negatives from last night, I actually was still quite entertained for the majority of it.

I am not sure what that is saying about me that something like last night was entertaining, but. . .

The Good/Suprising:

Drury/Dawes/Prucha line impresses for the second game in a row. I just did not (repeat DID NOT) think this would work. I'm not going to credit Renney for it. Instead I'm going to say that Prucha's coming back into the lineup with spunk and creativity - both sorely lacking on this team - possibly made it easier on whoever he played with. And he's been highly impressive. If he's not scoring, he's making assists now. Got one last night, and came close to two others, making nice passes to Drury and Dawes in the slot. Very good stuff from that line.

The Bad/Surprising:

After a great game on Monday, Hank looked very, very bad last night. No way around that. He should, at times, be tethered to the net for his own protection. See Montreal's first goal as an example. I just do not understand how a goalie who is stellar in shootouts, looks embarassingly human on almost any odd man rush. Don't get it. Just don't get it. Rebounds aplenty, Montreal capitalized, not surprisingly. Whether it was IceCap last night or Hockey This Morning, this morning, someone said that Hank was not having a good year. And numerically that's probably spot on. But I guess in my mind, he's been playing well overall considering being over worked and over tested. But maybe that has faded since the earliest part of the season. I don't know. I'm usually the first to admit when Hank doesn't have it. Is the rest of the team's follys making me blind to our own goalie's hardships?

Marc Staal, who has been in my opinion the single best player all season, looked bad last night. Not just once or twice, but for much of the night overall. And that is going to happen. Off night's happen. It's just he's played so well, it was hard to not notice how he was struggling.

The Rest of It All:

Jaroslav Halak had some masterful saves, and played very well for Montreal. Robert Lang shocked me, honestly, with his performance. Roman Hamrlikand young guy Max Patioretty played well too.

The Habs were 27th on the PP heading into last night's game. And yet they still managed to score two on the Rangers when the Rangers were stupid and vulnerable. It's amazing. I kept telling people, no, the Habs are not a powerplay machine THIS YEAR, it's just when they play NEW YORK that they wake up. And credit them for it. Definitely. The penalties killed the Rangers. End of story.

I do not understand completely the boo-ing of Alex Kovalev. I mean yes he was up/down/here/gone, and while his last tenure was anything but perfect, he got shipped out in the firesale like everyone else. No?

The Not Surprising:

Aaron Voros did not look good. His linemates Dubinsky and Zherdev didn't really look too great either, but I only saw one of them laboring to get back to the bench. More than once. Embarassing. It really is. I like him and I liked him a hell of a lot back in the days of the PS3 line, but come on. He cannot be in the lineup when he can't finish a shift or skate back to the bench without laboring, when you have Lauri Korpikoski, and even Dan Fritsche sitting out. Inexcusable!!!

My favorite part of the game:

Prucha standing up for himself - again - to Maxime Lapierre, who is just after him for some reason. Love the fiesty-ness. I really do. And Prucha becoming - wait for it - a playmaker, and not just a goal scorer. It's really refreshing stuff.

Larry Brooks quote of the day on Pete: "As he has been since brought out of witness protection, Petr Prucha was the Rangers' most creative and best offensive player, not that he gave up anything on the other side of the puck."

Not only has he done nothing remotely defensively liable, if you will, he's been one of the best players since he's coming back to the lineup (not that he did anything wrong before mind you), but he has a four game point scoring streak (2G, 2A). And he's a playmaker now, if you are paying attention Coach Renney!

The Rangers have a big test coming up on Friday. Should be interesting to see which team shows up in Buffalo.

Around the League:

Because I was without access to internet yesterday :( I'm a day behind. But, if you missed it, super annoyance Jarkko Ruutu was suspended for two games for biting Andrew Peters earlier this week. I am not sure what to think about this. Apparently, it happens. It used to happen more frequently. But I just can't wrap my head around it. As for Ruutu trying to deny it? Please. What does this really mean besides yet another example of how Ruutu really does physically and not just verbally dance over the line, - - he will be out against the Rangers on Saturday. Last time the Rangers played in Ottawa he was a big reason Ottawa won. Maybe this is the difference maker, if the team comes to play that is.

Mats Sundin made his debut for Vancouver last night to no real fanfare, but a lot of booing from Edmonton. He didn't know why. Did he look unnatural, in blue, white and green? Considering he spent so long in various colors of blue and white, this is not a stretch. Now if he had actually signed with Philly or the Blackhawks, that'd look odd. As is, he looked fine. In uniform at least.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Rare All Around Effort. . .

Where to begin?

No, honestly, where do I begin?

The team actually played well. Captain Drury's self-described best all around team effort so far this year. I am not going to start agreeing with The Boring One, but there is actually not much to complain about. And I won't.

The Rangers scored 2 goals on the powerplay. 2!

The Rangers scored AND didn't give up a short-handed goal!

Hank's first period was outstanding! No other word but - outstanding.

Drury did not pull down Prucha. In fact, for whatever random illogical reason, The Boring One's line actually played better than the other lines. He even scored. Set up with a nice behind the net pass from Prucha, I might add.

Gomez, shockingly, used his speed more effectively.

Orr had a nice fight with Godard. I just wondered to myself why that took so long to start. Jeeze!

Roszival and Mara had pretty complete games.

It was an all-around good effort.


And even better, the NHL's favorite son, was rendered useless, being boo-ed without mercy from the 400s, and spending much of the game on his rear-end.


Things might not be great in Rangerland, but things are BADDDD in Pitt right now. And you know, for one day, things were better in NY. Not great, but better.

Now, I say that to keep the Rangers win in perspective. They beat a very dismantled team who's captain is going, well, nutso.

So a win, yes. An important win, yes. But, not anything that can't be erased with a crappy effort tomorrow night versus Montreal.

And while I actually really enjoyed the game, I must say, that I hated, slightly that Renney's line changes didn't completely blow up in his face.

That being said, I didn't notice three players last night. Voros, Dubinsky, and Zherdev. At all.

Dubinsky is slumping, that's a fact. Zherdev - again - has moments. One game great, the next - bad. (But tell me that I didn't predict something of this sort happening with him, the Alex Kovalev clone).

So Voros for Korpikoski? Not sure that panned. But because there was a win, I expect they'll all last another game in the lineup.

And that goes for Prucha, who despite an errant four minute double minor for high sticking, had another effective game.

But Montreal, although not at the top of their game right now, has got to be a more formidable opponent than Pitt was. I'd think.

I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Wait, this just in courtesy of the Team990. Jaroslav Halak to start. And apparently half the Habs might be fighting mono??

This just got interesting.

Around the League:

I listened to parts of the Edmonton/Islanders game yesterday on the way home from the Garden. And I found something I heard from Edmonton announcer Rod Phillips very disturbing.

When the Oilers had a powerplay, Denis Grebeshkov missed the puck at the point and it went out of the zone.

Phillips then said "a North American player would have kept that puck in the zone."

Sit on that for a minute.

I don't know if I've heard such a sweeping generalization in a long, long time.

I appreciate that Canadians love their own, certainly. But this type of blantant anti-European thought is counter productive.

These are the people that (sorry again Joe) will vote Thornton over Jagr, just because Jaromir is from Czech Republic. They are the people that might have cringed that a Russian knocked Crosby from the Hart Trophy throne last year. They are the people that attacked the Russians the Cold War ended and they joined the NHL freely for the first time.

Am I generalizing now to make a point? Absolutely.

But while I cannot truly comment on whether this is a continuing trend with Phillips, I can honestly say it did not sit well with me.

His point, for those who didn't listen, was that a North American would put his glove down, or his knee - do anything to stop the puck from going out of the zone.

Obviously he hasn't seen the plethora of bad point men to play for the Rangers in the last decade. I'm sure many were European, but not all of them.

Point taken, Rod. But I simply don't agree with it at all. In theory or in actuality.