Monday, December 28, 2009

Thoughts As We Close Out the Year. . .

So far this hockey season, there've been some cool things going on, and some not so cool things. When I think back on the first part of the 2009-2010 season, these are some things that come to mind:

* Injures. Injuries to key players. Freak injuries.

* Teams like Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Colorado being among the Western elite, while perennial favorite Detroit struggles.

* Carolina going from being a super hot playoff team in May to pretty much being out of playoff contention already the following fall.

* The non-surprises among the league's leading scorers to date, like Ovechkin, Crosby, and Thornton (most points since 2005-2006 season by far), coupled with the one Rangers fans were praying would be included but didn't know for sure - in Gaborik -, and the outright surprises: can you say Tomas Plekanec?

* Players hitting milestones, like Brodeur finally (seriously finally) passing Terry Sawchuk, and as recently as Shane Doan's 1,000th game. Both players hit their milestones having played ALL games with their respective teams, which is commendable.

And on a personal level with my favorite team and one of my favorite teams to follow:

* The Rangers had one of their typical years. Start fast, get hopes up, come back down to Earth (crashing actually), and slowly pick up the pieces amid a winter doldrum. But you know what. Screw it. I like this team. I like this team better than I liked last years team. Yeah, the captain may lack some sense of captain gene (although he does have five points in his last five games!), the team is still saddled and inevitabley ruined by contracts bigger than Sather can count to, and they still throw out crap efforts against teams (*cough* Islanders) they should be psyched to play.

BUT - they've got a goalie who wears his heart on his sleeve. Win, lose, shootout - don't tell me that Hank doesn't care. They've got Marian Gaborik, a healthy Marian Gaborik, who is as advertised and more, dazzling us fans with his every move. We've got a young defense corp, the youngest being a 19-year-old Del Zotto who makes me pray to everything holy that he never leaves the red, white, and blue. And you have a mix of Avery (even if he needs to mix it up more), of Prospal (the steal of the year), and Artem Anisimov (who I am so excited to see come into his own). It's a great team - well maybe not a great team - but my team and for the most part, they are SO much more fun to watch than last year.

And as for the Coyotes, if there was ever going to be any good coming from my favorite player being traded, it was the pleasure I'd had in following my adoptive team. I miss Prucha being in New York, surely, but nothing has made me happier than seeing a once confident and happy hockey player I so loved watching AGAIN BE that confident and happy hockey player. Nothing brings me such joy.

As a bonus, I've gotten to watch a team that I have really grown to like over the last nine months have a really kick butt first half of their season. They have the right mix, the right players, and the right system for the players to buy into. Credit management, credit coaching, credit anyone - but they are incredible and they are fun to watch.

I never contemplated being a fan of two different hockey teams to such an extreme. Surely I followed many - the Stars when Pat Verbeek and Manny Malhotra were there, the Sharks when Adam Graves went West, the Maple Leafs back in the early 2000s becauase those were some fun teams to watch. But I can honestly say even though I haven't gotten to watch all the Coyotes games real time, I've Tivoed them all. And since there is no rooting interest of rivalry between the Rangers and Coyotes, I pretty much want them to win each and every night. It may have started for Prucha, but it grew into a genuine love and appreciation for this team. And it opened up a whole new group of Twitter/blog friends, who I enjoy sharing the experience with, countries apart.

Hockey is for everyone, they say.


Lastly, I haven't put much stock into this End of the Decade stuff, but...since it's floating around, I'll put in a few of my best and worst memories of hockey during this time. It's a hard task and I'll forget tons, but it's been a remarkable 10 years for the best sport in the world. So glad to be fan!

Best Memories:

- Messier returning to the Rangers in 2000. He ended up where he was supposed to be.

- The FLY Line

- The 2002 Olympic games - the most enjoyable I've ever seen.

- The game at the Garden on November 5, 2003 when Messier passed Howe in points. He needed two points to do so and ended up scoring two goals, the second being an empty netter with less than 5 seconds to go. I remember sitting there, numb, just knowing when he got the puck that he was going to do it, right then and there. That was, probably, my only moment of seeing live what was the once (and on some level always) great Messier having one of the great moments he seemed built for.

- Watching Jagr and Prucha, et al, during the 2005-2006 season, my favorite season to date.

- Jagr eclipsing Rangers records for goals 54, points 123, and Prucha getting 30 goals as a rookie, and a record 16 power play goals, that year.

- Seeing Jagr's hat trick, in Pittsburgh, at Mellon arena, in a 6-1 Rangers win over the Penguins in 2005.

- Seeing what I thought was a fantastic 7 game final between Carolina and Edmonton, led by an unsung hero in goal for Edmonton in Jussi Markkanen.

- Starting to listen to the Team990 in Montreal one boring day at work early in 2007 and being blessed with entertainment for the last almost three years.

- Roszival's OT winner at the Garden versus Buffalo in Game 3 in 2007. (The most important a game has felt in the Garden in a long time).

- Jagr's masterful performance in Game 4 versus the Penguins on Garden ice in the second round of the playoffs 2008.

- Getting to see five retirement ceremonies during the decade - Richter, Messier, Leetch, Graves, Howell and Bathgate.

- The 100 year ceremony in Montreal on December 4th. That may have just been one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

- Even though it's early, getting to watch Marian Gaborik play night in, night out. Rangers fans were blessed, BLESSED, with Jagr. We are now getting to be blessed twice.

- The pleasure of getting to watch some of my favorite non Rangers, like Trevor Linden, Mike Modano, Alex Ovechkin, Pat Kane, et al, play hockey.

Worst Memories:

- Richter's consequtive knee injuries and concussion and the inevitable end to a great career.

- The day Manny Malhotra was traded.

- The day Brian Leetch was traded.

- The day they announced they were cancelling the season on 2/16/05.

- The day the Rangers signed Chris Drury and Scott Gomez because every team needs two incredibly overpriced and very often useless centers.

- The day the Rangers let Jaromir Jagr walk even though he and Hank rebuilt this franchise from disaster.

- The day the Rangers signed Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival to the mind-numbingly stupid contracts.

- The day the Rangers traded Petr Prucha.

- The day the Penguins won the Cup.

- PJ Stock leaving the Team990. Some of my greatest days were spent listening to him, but may he enjoy the time with his family. Our loss, their gain. All the best to Peej - one of the true GOOD guys!

Again, I'm sure there is more...of course there is, but these were top of mind. Here's to TONS of wonderful new hockey memories to be shared in the new year and decade to come.

I'll be out of computer range for a few days, although I may tweet from time to time. So as much as this blog has been quiet (continued apologies for that beyond my control and the laziness which was not) it will remain quiet throughout the end of 2009. Hopefully next year, lots more chatter and lots more hockey.

Wishes for a healthy and happy 2010! Thanks for reading! ;)


Monday, December 21, 2009

Some Thoughts on the Rangers/Flyers and Rangers/Hurricanes. . .

Okay, playing some catchup. And don't feel like doing five of anything, so just some random thoughts. . .

On the Flyers:

So treked to Philly, in the snow. Treked back from Wachovia Center, in the snow. A lot of snow. ;) Arena I'd say had 9,000 about, regardless of the 19,000 announced attendance. It was emtpy, pretty quiet, and a pretty quiet game too. Two or three mini scrums, but nothing like the Rangers/Flyers games we know and love.

But the Rangers won, so that was good. And if you've never, and do have the chance to go, people at Wachovia are overall very nice. Concession people, parking lot people. And the fans. I've never felt out of place or like I was going to get my face punched in for wearing other colors. Which, for a game in Philly, is pretty good, don't you think? ;)

Shame this was the first game of the season between the two. When they were both dwelling in the bottom of the conference, amid pretty un-impressive stretches of games. Because to see the two teams firing on all cylinders and then win, that would be saying a lot more of the win. But you take the win on the road, and move on.

On the Canes:

How nice is it to have fan (read: my!) favorite Rangers back in good graces. Marc Staal has looked much more comfortable as of late. And that makes me happy. Marc - you go the way you have to go, pave your own way. You are 22! Plenty of years to live up to all the promise and, call me biased, I think he's already a very, very good defenseman. He just needs to take one thing at a time, because, for the most part, he doesn't get a ton of help on every occasion.

Important the Rangers penalty kill is making some ground, because they keep taking penalties. Although only 3 on the night.

Gaborik had 6 - count'em 6 - shots on goal and his league leading 25th goal of the season! Go Gaby Go! It was also his 15th multi-point game of the year as well for those keeping track.


The Rangers may not be good team. But on any given night, you look to find ways to win. That's what these last three games have been (although if they had lost to the worst team in the league, I'm not sure what that would have been saying...) It's important. Step by step. They have to build confidence and get some points some ways.

I'm more curious who shows up on Wednesday, at home, at a place once kind to the NYRs, but now a place they haven't won at since Columbus came to town.

Time will tell.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

HNIC Wrap-Up ~ 12/19/09. . .

If you didn't get a chance to see this (and you aren't Tavares-ed out) - watch this video of him and Dougie Weight.



Three things about Alex Ovechkin (in general) and on this night:

* He won the Caps "Hardest Working Player" Construction helmet for the first time all season tonight. Scott Oake was baffled. AO explained he missed eight games and had to get back into shape.

* It was AO-craziness in Western Canada. And Ovechkin responds by saying he loves Canada.

* We knew it before, we know it now again - He LOVES the attention. He really does.


Sam Gagner was on After Hours:

* They showed the clip from last year when they did "Cribs" when he lived with Tom Gilbert and Andrew Cogliano.

* Since then, Gilbert has kicked them out. Sam has also apparently not gotten any cleaner (he cleaned the most cause he was the messiest). He and Andrew live in separate apartments in the same complex.

* As so often on After Hours, they get questions from video. This one was from Jason (Strudwick) of Edmonton, asking about stick curves. Apparently back when Struddy was playing in Vancouver, he shot a puck clear out of the rink at practice. Then coach Marc Crawford grabbed the stick, threw it into the stands, and gave him Todd Bertuzzi's stick. Struddy liked it so much, he has used that stick curve ever since. Awe miss Struds!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Islanders Game. . .

As I wrote in the comments of the last post, I did not watch, so instead, some numbers for you:

* Callahan's two goals now give him 4 goals in the last 4 games and 6 in the last 10. It's important to everyone to contribute, yes, but this was one of the BIG guys that needed to be.

* When Cally scored his second goal (Rangers 3rd of the game) it was the first time the Rangers scored 3 goals in a game in the last 8 games.

* When they scored their 3rd goal, that was only the 5th time in 22 games they had scored more than 2.

* Gaborik's goal, his 24th of the season, was his 12th powerplay goal. That ties his career high.

* With 2 goals and 2 assists Callahan had his first 4 point game of his NHL career.

It'll be interesting to see how it carries over.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Five Questions on the Rangers/Islanders Game. . .

Okay forget things, we're going to do questions. Here goes:

* Do you blame Tortorella for the state of the current team? Are you mad that "safe is death" seems to be words, not actions?

* Who is the most detrimental to the team at present? Drury with his 7 million, or Redden with his 6.5? (And yes, both can be an acceptable answer although I have my preference).

* Who thought Avery was going to get kicked out of the game - right, wrong, or indifferent - just for looking at Roloson the wrong way, let alone taking a swing at him?

* Who is able to admit to themselves what may just be the real and honest truth? - The Islanders are, right now, a better team than the Rangers. Who thought that'd be so when the season started?

* What do the Rangers do to fix this? Do they bench someone, make a trade? Tear it up? What do they do? Because, honestly, what can they do?

I like this group a lot better than last year, but after tonight I am convinced this year's team is having worse problems than last year's team - at least on the surface. Yes, last year they were happy and they couldn't score. Last year they had no personality where this year you WANT to like them. Last year they had a fast start and tumbled, JUST like this year. What gives? I honestly am beyond baffled. Tortorella promised changes for tomorrow. I'm just as baffled as the next guy in what exactly that will be...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Thrashers Game. . .

* Johan Hedberg owns the Rangers. This is nothing new. He always has. At least in my memory. (Again, again, again, - if Bob Hartley had stuck with Hedberg in game 3 versus the Rangers in the playoffs maybe, maybe, maybe it would have been a series. Not a different result but a series and instead of a sweep). The saves he made in the first period during that sequence. Yikes. Amazing. (And for the record, I am a Hedberg fan. Who doesn't love players nicknamed Moose?!).

* The Rangers now have, I think we can say, a dreadful record at home. With the exception of the game versus Columbus, I can't even remember the last time they won at the Garden. Any much more of this, someone will have to pinch me and tell me it's not 2003-2004.

* The Rangers record last year and the year previous was decidedly better at this stage of the season. Why? In part due to getting games to OT and to the shootout where they'd steal one, and usually 2, points. Not so this year. This was the Rangers third shootout game, their first at home and first without P.A. "I went on waivers today" Parenteau. They didn't get it done. The last two years, these shootouts bulked points and jumped spots in the standings. Now, they are infrequent and apparently not a guarantee.

* Michael Del Zotto makes me smile. At least someone on this team makes me smile. Please, please, please. Let him stay here FOREVER!

* Gaborik's goal in the 3rd was his 10th of the season in that period. That leads the NHL. Once again, big round of applause for Gaby. As much as I "like" this group better than last year, and he's a big part of that, he really, on many nights, leaves you thinking - my gosh, what if he weren't here? Thankfully he is. Thank you Gaborik. Which translates to "thank you Bob Gainey for taking Scott Gomez so we could afford Gaborik." Thank you. Thank you all.

Overall, not a bad game. A good one in fact. Normally (normally the watch word here) putting 48 shots on a goalie would result in more than 2 goals (if you are not the NYRs...). Normally shooting that much would result in a win (if you are not the NYRs). Again, all props in the world to Hedberg and Atlanta. A good win. A smart road win. The Rangers looked closer than they have been and tonight may have not been their fault. It just feels worse, of course, because they've lost so many, and so many at home.

HUGE two games versus the Isles. Huge! Too early to say "must-win." I'm actually not sure it is.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Sabres Game. . .

* It's never a good thing when you feel like you are just doing the same thing over and over again is it? Well, I'm writing the same things. The Rangers are doing the same things. We're all thinking the same things. Not good. Not good at all.

* The set-up on that powerplay (wait did someone say powerplay?) goal by Ryan Callahan looked brilliant. Fantastic to see but all the more annoying because they can do it. They can. Despite their recent blechy-ness on the PP, the Rangers still hold a pretty impressive stat with the extra man on home ice.

* Loved the initial energy and movement of the line of Higgins, Prospal, and Gaborik. Even though PJ Stock thinks that Higgins is better as a complementary checker than a goal scorer...I don't really mind him playing with these boys as long as he keeps up, and shoots the puck. He doesn't have to be the flashy guy, but since his two goal outburst on the West Coast trip, Higgins has seemed a more confident player. And the Rangers need a lot of things surely, but someone with confidence is nice.

* Did my eyes mistake me or did Derek Roy help up Dan Girardi after the tumble in the far boards? I always like to see sportsmanship. And I always thought Derek Roy was a good guy.

* Since we don't want to keep saying the same things over and over, let's talk instead about Ryan Miller. I was suprised to see him give up two goals so quickly (let alone all game) because he's just been so lights as of late. While that's good things for Buffalo, surely, it's very good news for Team USA for him to be having such great numbers.

What will the Rangers do tomorrow? Will it be a different story here? I'm not sure. The Buffalo game at least kept my interest. Actually the last four games (1-3) have been better to watch than the previous handful.

I just wish they'd win a couple in a row - for themselves, for us as fans, for everyone. To prove they can may help build what I'm sure is a pretty low confidence at this point.

HNIC Wrap-Up ~ 12/12/09. . .

The biggest point I took out of HNIC Hockey Tonight was what Alex Ovechkin said. I know not eveyone loves the guy. I have had my moments of doubt in his most recent season, I won't lie, but I think overall he is good for the game. If for no other reason than this.

"I play every game as if it is my last game, because you never know what can happen on the ice."

I think the game, our game, would be a better one overall if more players played that way. Not reckless, not dangerous, not wild. But played the game with passion, love, and appreciation for how wonderful it is and how precious and short the time of playing it may be.


Some funnies:

Turco had a quite a shootout versus San Jose on Friday night. To the Christmas Goose song, they showed Turco out poke-check three of the Sharks skaters.

PJ comes on screen and said "I got to follow the Christmas goose!"

LOL at PJ!

PJ then says Kelly never gets any credit. People always pick Gretzky first overall. PJ says he's picking a team, he's going with Kelly.

Although after he asked if Kelly is buying drinks, and Kelly refuses, PJ takes it back.

Ron McLean: "On HNIC where blue eyes can be PJ, Kelly, or Frank Sinatra."


The "interrogation" of Mason Raymond on After Hours:

* Ryan Kesler said that Mason was a good dancer when he had a few. Mason says Kesler, Wellwood and O'Brien dance it up in the locker room after Canucks wins and that Kesler is one of the best dancers on the team.

* He had a border collie named Champ that used to retrieve balls/pucks that went past the net when he would shoot them. Unfortunately sounds like poor Champ stood in the net and got a few pucks as well. Ouch! See, how wonderful are dogs? Man's best friend, man's best game.

* How do you know you can marry a girl? When you take her cattle roping. Apparently worked for Mason and his wife Meg.

* Scott Oake started calling him Masie. Over and over and over. Apparently this was something new to Mason and his teammates were all over him for it. Masie. Ha!

* His name was "pulled from a hat" or so he says and his name was used in a skit on How I Met Your Mother. I didn't know they liked hockey on this show. I may have to watch. You can too here - (can't get to link properly)

* Who would be the worst hunting companion? "Hordy or Shane O'Brien" essentially because they talk too much!

Great interview. Raymond seems like one of those quiet, but funny guys.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Blackhawks Game. . .

I'll be honest, I wasn't able to watch the game closely as I was out with friends and that always proves difficult. Meanwhile...

* Higgins and Callahan are some of (the many) that need to be scoring. It was a nice goal from Higgins from a nice feed from Gaborik.

* Hank made 39 saves and had no chance at that goal mouth scramble that resulted in the tying goal for Chicago. It's a shame for him. As much as the less-than-stellar goal on Sunday night was arguably a fault of his, he's helped this team more than he's harmed them. Tonight was an example of that.

* You have to feel Hank's frustration. Staal alluded to it in his interview, saying that it was a case of Chicago having the puck all night long, chasing them, and taking untimely penalties. He said Hank deserved the 2 points. And watching Hank's interview, you can tell how upset he is. No one can ever tell me HE doesn't care. He always does.

* game poll - Which Original Six Team will win the Cup next? Results were: 49% Chicago, 30% Rangers, 10% Red Wings, 8% Bruins, 3% Montreal and 0% Toronto. I guess a lot of Rangers fans have more confidence than me. But I'd put Chicago at #1, Bruins at #2, and Detroit at #3.

* In some regard it's nice to get a point in a hard building to play in (Blackhawks are #1 in the NHL at home), but in the other it's terribly disappointing to give up another late lead. Look, I mentioned it on Twitter. The Rangers are not a 1-0 team. They really have never been, not in my fandom. Yes, Renney tried to make them that, and yes, over the last few years there have been many low scoring games versus Boston, but...that doesn't make them a 1-0 team. They don't have the collective composure to hold onto that type of lead. They just don't. It's been rare when they have. They were close this time, but...couldn't hold it.

State of the Union at NHTProductions. . .

As we bustle through the season of holiday fun, snow, and hockey, thought I'd take a few minutes out to make another clarification, if I may so bold as to do so.

Last night on my twitter feed I got a comment (we won't say complaint) that I wasn't talking enough about the Rangers and to stop spending so much time talking about the Coyotes.

First I got annoyed. It was very clear from the beginning - to me at least - that even though the Rangers logo appears and that the Rangers are #1 (in our hearts, not in the standings) that Natural Hat Trick Productions was always a hockey blog. A hockey blog with a Rangers flavor and favortism, but a hockey blog.

After the annoyance faded, I actual agreed on some level with the person who commented. I engage in A LOT of Coyote conversation. It's true. And the thought has crossed my mind that someone "following" me may be a little annoyed by it if they follow for "Ranger" or "NHL" news.

However, I can't apologize and I don't think it should have to change.

When the trade that rocked some of our worlds in March sent Petr Prucha - the like him, love him, don't care about him, but don't hate him bundle of energy - to the desert, my rooting interests changed. Or rather were added to.

I'm still a New York Rangers fan. But I had a player I cared about deeply go somewhere else. Somewhere you can't visit all the time. Somewhere that, with a BIG thanks to technology, you can only watch on TV and communicate about on the internet. Thankfully, it's still possible to root. To be a fan.

Thus I found a new team to follow. They don't replace the Rangers. Please. But I'm not one of those people that felt that you couldn't follow other teams when the Rangers weren't playing, or when they were not in the playoffs. I spent years following Dallas, San Jose, and the rest of those perennial playoff teams during the Rangers dark era. I did. And no regrets, and no apologies.

So why should there need to be apologies for spending evenings, late evenings, sometimes til 1am or beyond, chatting with people who like the Coyotes, like the Rangers and watch the Coyotes, or like both? Why? The greatest thing, besides the fact that "pepperpot" gets to play hockey (guess who was on during the last few minutes of a tie game? guess who was taking faceoffs last night?), is that it's opened up a whole new group of hockey friends to share the experience with.

If Prucha does not go to the Coyotes, I may root for them, hope well for them, but I do not watch them, I do not follow them so closely. He went, so I do. But it's really more than him. It is. I always respected Shane Doan. Don't know if it's possible not to. And I wanted well for the team. They are a fun team. A fun group of guys that, perhaps like Pete, did not get the chance to play somewhere else.

And they are doing a fantastic job there. Very enjoyable team to watch. They hustle, they support one another, they almost never back down from a game they are losing in. And I say what I am going to say next with love - they are more enjoyable to watch than the Rangers are right now.

If I'm apologizing for anything here, it's that with watching essentially every Rangers game and every Coyotes game, there has become little to no time for watching any OTHER team. And that does hurt. I have such a devoted interest to all hockey, and on a weekly basis there are many games I wish there was time to watch. I'm apologizing that the "Game of the Week" segment disappeared. I'm apologizing that the Flyers have fired their coach and I still have not seen them play a game yet this year! (Although that one may be on Versus a bit).

Before this "few minutes" gets to be more than it needs to be, the person who made the comment had a point. And while I will not stop at the late west coast hours chatting on twitter with fellow Rangers, Coyotes, and Prucha fans - my advice, btw, is to just ignore my twitter account during those late hours - I can make sure to add some more Rangers content to NHTProductions. Absolutely.

So to the random person who made the comment. Thank you. I won't apologize or change what I am doing regards the Coyotes, BUT, I'll be better about not forgetting my Rangers team either.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

HNIC Wrap-Up ~ 12/5/09. . .

Well what really else matters on Hockey Night in Canada if Jumbo Joe Thornton is going to be on After Hours~! =)

Seriously, if you like him or have no opinion on him, he's always a must-watch!

Granted, I'm assuming if you already hate him, his hilarious interviews will not change your opinion, but you never know...


This week started with a big shock - JUMBO JOE HAD A SHIRT ON! Joe Thornton NEVER wears a shirt during interviews. Shirts almost seem to repel from him. It's an odd phenomenon.

My best guess - not along PJ's lines about whether or not he worked out enough at Venice Beach topless - is that he got married. Perhaps his wife does not want him going shirtless on national TV anymore. He got married over the summer. I don't know but...


For the record, Joe and PJ played together in Boston and Joe calls him "one of his favorites of all times" as far as teammates go. Take that as you will.

PJ continues to express his disappointment that Joe is not shirtless and Joe promises next time he and Weeksie will go topless for the interview. (We'll see...)


Anyway, after PJ was done with his joking about Venice Beach and Joe's clothing or lack thereof, he asked a serious question. He listed the half dozen players Joe made a career of setting up (Setogucci, Cheechoo, Murray, Samsonov, Knuble, Guerin) and noted they were all righties, UNTIL Dany Heatley.

Joe thought it was a great question and he said he did have to change what he did and that he prefers setting up righties. Well until Dany Heatley that is.

We all know how well that is working so far for San Jose so no arguments yet.

Then After Hours sent PJ off for a "big beer" (Scott Oake: "He's got to rush because it's heading for last call at the Irish Embassy") and Joe off to...well, we're not sure.


Meanwhile in stepped Rob Blake. It was established:

* Blake scored around 2 of his career goals versus Kevin Weekes.

* He thinks the additions of guys like Manny Malhotra and Jed Ortmeyer were good ones to help fill in the puzzle in San Jose. (no argument here!)

* He made a point to sit and talk with Patrick Marleau when they knew that Blake would be taking the captain C after it was taken away from Marleau. Sounded like Marleau was ready to come and work hard and make it work, despite what obviously could have been an awkward situation.

* He's a "lousy doctor" but a "great hockey player"

* Actor James Caan is on his speed dial. And Ray Liotta trains with them sometimes.

* He can sing hip-hop lyrics when prompted.

* His son is a huge Joe Thornton fan so he was thrilled when his dad signed in San Jose!


That's it for this week. Good After Hours. Love when we get the random guests of non Canadian teams in there. San Jose is always a treat. That Thornton/Boyle one was priceless. I'll find a clip fo that one on a day I need a cheer up!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Five Things About the Rangers/Red Wings Game. . .

* How do the Rangers not score on ONE of their powerplays in the 3rd? How? The Rangers are actually VERY good on the powerplay at HOME. Detroit is LOUSY on the penalty kill on the ROAD. This does not fundamentally make sense!

* Detroit, despite not having all their players, is still Detroit. They can never be taken lightly. The Rangers played them well for most of the game. A shame, and a disappointment, they couldn't hold on.

* Word on the street (aka Twitter friends) is that Drury was so upset that he showed he has...get this - a pulse! By breaking his stick in frustration. My reaction to that. Umm - GOOD! (Well as long as you don't harm any teammates). Good. Show some emotion. Show - something! Make the team see that you, as "Captain Fun," do not think this is, (To lose that is.)

* On the way home, I heard the Detroit commentary of the Stuart hit on Anisimov. "He's a rookie. Hasn't learned yet. Ding dong." - Seriously. That's what the broadcasters say. "Ding dong." Poor Arti. Kid's been trying hard and he gets his bell rung twice in a week. Poor kid.

* I would call this, on the surface, the Rangers playing a good enough game, but not a good enough game for the full 60 minutes. Another partial effort. Howard made some saves, yes, but was he lights-out enough that the Rangers couldn't have gotten another goal, after having so many glorious powerplay opportunities? I would lean towards no.

This one is disappointing. It is. Not that all losses aren't, but this one was such an achievable win. To not get it, and to have it all fall apart, seemingly, in the end, that hurts a bit. Not going to get any easier in a very slow week as the Rangers battle Chicago on Wednesday. We'll see how they respond.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Sabres Game. . .

* Due to technical difficulties with the satellite (ie: snow), I was not able to watch the first half of the game in its entirety (although Rangers fans kick butt for being so great as to send links to watch online! Thank you!). From what I did see though, that was a complete team effort. Supporting each other. Grinding. Moving. Skating. Passing. Pretty much doing what needed to be done to win. And they did.

* How important was it that Callahan and Higgins scored? These are two guys that many Rangers fans - and me too - expected to be able to pot around 20 goals easily this year. Easily has not been the case and even though there is plenty of the season to go, the Rangers have not scored in such a manner that would make me think that original assumption is still possible. BUT - if these guys can start to contribute more in any degree on the score sheet, the Rangers will benefit from it.

* Hank looked to have one of his more solid games than in the past handful. Honestly, I love the Rangers - I do! - but I did not think the Rangers stood much of a chance going into Buffalo on a Saturday night to play the red-hot Ryan Miller. I was proven wrong. Yes, the Rangers needed two goals to do it, but Hank kept them in the game with some nice saves.

* As much as the win was important, I think the way in which they played was more so. They need to play on the same page. They need to play as a team. And they need to do the little things. They are not "good enough" to just skate through the motions. They need to work and they need to work for a full 60 minutes. Last night was a good example of it, but sadly we've seen much to little of those games from them this year.

* With his assist on the Higgins goal, Marian Gaborik has scored points in 23 of his 26 games as a Ranger. Seriously? The guy is simply unreal.

That is all. Rangers quick turnaround to play Detroit at home in just under 5 hours. Enjoy the game everyone!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yotes: From the Flames Game Day. . .

Just to please the masses:

Prucha got the Coyotes first goal of the night en route to a 2-1 win. His goal broke a recent shutout streak by the recently very impressive Kiprusoff!

We're happy for you Pru! =)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Five Things on the Rangers/Penguins Game. . .

I so should be sleeping right now, but...

* How good did Christopher Higgins, PA Parenteau and Artem Anisimov look together in their first few shifts? Now, how sad that didn't seem to last much beyond that?

* My grandmother asked me if the coach was changing lines as much as Renney was last year? I said perhaps not quite as much, but she had a point, one we've all made at one time or another. I know the Rangers do not have much to work with, but they seem to take every line that seemingly has or will ever have chemistry and tear it apart. Worse in Tortorella's case is because he has "feelings" for some players, he will pull them from the lineup, sit them on the bench, play them minimal minutes. Well that all further disrupts any chemistry that may be going on with those or other lines. Again, I'm all for accountability but I'm thinking it's something else that has to change.

* This morning Mike Ross on Hockey This Morning/XM204 and Larry Brooks in the Post both said the same thing. It's Tortorella's responsibility to get this team going in the right direction. To get them on one page, one page where they know what effort is expected of them. Where they come to play. He can't control what they do on the ice, whether they win or lose, score or don't score, but he can help control the way in which they do it. I think we'd all be a lot happier if they were playing hard and winning, but honestly, I'll take playing hard at this point. And playing hard so we all can say, damn, they got robbed. Not playing hard so they can just say that they did but we can't notice as fans.

* While I'm mentioning Tortorella, how about Captain Fun? Everyone has to take accountability for how they approach the game and individual work ethic, yes. But if we're placing blame on Torts, we have to blame some on Captain Mumbles too. We can belabour (sp?) the point over and over that he's a great 3rd line center being paid 1st line center marquee player money. BUT really what we should be concerned about - more concerned about - is that this group turned from a group of fun players into a bunch of mindless drones. Again! And this time they actually have personality to squash! The captain needs to get the players motivated. Get them angry. Get them to show - anything. Once again, I'm just not seeing enough of that.

* Lastly, as much as I love to see Gaborik score goals (#20 and #21 on the season tonight), it's becoming all the more sad to see him do so. Sad you ask, why? Because it's becoming all the more obvious that he's the only one that can, truly can score goals. And if not the only one that can, the only one that will. Worse? It's being wasted. Not to get into the Jagr/Gaborik debate, but when Jagr had his season of all seasons here, he was playing well, the team was playing well, and more than just he was contributing. With Gaborik, no one else seems to be playing the same game. Yes, part of that is blamed on youth, and bad pieces, and bad game plan, but all of it makes me sad. Gaborik came to New York for many reasons. I doubt he came to be what's turning into a one man show.

Rangers have four big days off before the next game. I do need a break from this, but I'm very scared to see what they throw out this coming weekend.