Monday, September 27, 2010

Help Me Out Here / Pre-Season Edition. . .

Alright, going to throw some stuff down here and see where we net out. I'm confused, Rangers fans. See if you can help me make sense of it all....

So, say our defense are among:
Del Zotto


And our centers are among:


And therefore our wingers are among:

Not. Really. Fine.

In the case of wingers, am I the only one not seeing how one of the above, except Boogaard, should not be every day player on the team?

I'm taking it Boogaard, despite the contract - (but, well, who agreed with that besides Glennie boy?) - will not play every night. A thought I've always had, but I could be wrong, of course. But when a guy like Prust can fight, and skate, and score more than a goal a year - to me, Boogaard is not needed versus every team.

Therefore, my question is when Drury comes back, and Boogaard needs to play because it's Philly...just who sits for him??

I starred the players I don't think will be sitting. That leaves Prospal, Prust, and Avery.

Take 'em one by one:

Prospal, even though older and perhaps more prone to injury, was the team's alternate captain last year and their second leading scorer. This guy was vital to the team moral and frankly to the score sheet. Unless he resorts to the one year great, next year not so great pattern he has been known for in the past, I don't see how you bench him.

Prust was one of my favorite players since he came to New York. Spunky, hard-working, a good team guy, and deeply underrated as a player. He was not just a fighter - he skated, played, and scored better than many during the final month of the season. Above all, he worked hard and exhibited an enthusiasm and work ethic too few Rangers have shown in the last decade, so I don't know what message it sends if you bench him.

Avery. What can you say about Avery. If Avery is Avery, true AVERY - electric, cunning, quick, and smart - he is as vital to this team as almost anyone. We've seen it since he came to New York. We saw it on Saturday versus New Jersey. If he's not that guy, yes, then he should be on the bench. But if he is THAT guy that Rangers fans embrace and need and want, I don't see how you bench someone with such heart.

So, Rangers fans, - just what the heck does this team do???

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thoughts on Pre-Season Games 2 and 3. . .

How wonderful has it been having some hockey to watch? Two games, one weekend. I was a pretty happy hockey fan, I won't lie.

Some thoughts:

*Am I the only one VERY excited for every NJ/NY matchup, even beyond normal excitement, because I think Avery/Kovalchuk is going to be worth the price of admission every time. He may have a $100 million dollar contract, but something tells me that Ilya has not quite gotten over Playoffs 2007.

*I'm excited having watched these new players the last few games: Frolov and Stepan. And these returning players: Del Zotto, Anisimov, and Boyle, who looks much improved. (Gaborik and Staal are always on my excited to see them play list). Overall, I think having levels of competition for spots is playing into the Rangers favor. I like what I've seen. These guys look ready to play.

*Without repeating everything I wrote about two entries ago, let me just say this. The Rangers finally have that depth at center. They are going to be turning centers away. I know Drury hasn't been playing center. (Yes, I know, the $7 million penalty killer who is not even able to play his natural position...) But it seems a shame to me, even now, three games into camp, to send down another winger in favor of Drury. Did you see Frolov and Anisimov on the penalty kill today versus Detroit? I think he's a nice guy, but tell me the team REALLY needs him?

*Tell me that Roszival didn't suddenly jump to the most useful of the three horifically overpriced salaries the Rangers haven't gotten rid of yet? (Au revoir Scotty Gomez and Bon Voyage Wade Redden). This may seem wrong and it may be wrong, but if Rozsival plays the way he did for half of last season - he is more useful to the team, even at $5 million, than Drury, if what he did last year is what we are to expect from him. Clean slate, notwithstanding.

Okay, before I get further into the bash-Captain Mumbles mode, I'll leave off. Not a bad guy, but now that Gomez AND Redden are gone, without a doubt, the guy that - to me - has to do the most to justify his being there. (There, I said it; don't hate me.)

More later in the week. Go Rangers! =)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Belated Thoughts on 1st Pre-season Game and...Redden...

Before we get to the news of today, let's get to the news of Thursday night.

I didn't get to see as much of the game as I wanted to - would have liked to spend more time studying the new guys like Zuccarello and Stepan - but what I saw, I liked. I liked the way the team looked, even if it was just pre-season. Even if it wasn't a Hall of Fame goalie the Rangers faced in net for NJ.

Oh wait, that was future Hall of Famer Brodeur?

Then just how nice were those goals by Frolov and Boyle huh? I loved that!!

Overall though, Stepan played with poise and looked quite comfortable in his role with top players - Frolov and Gaborik. In my mind, if he's good enough and almost close enough - let him do it. We may just be lucky enough to have that good a talent that young. (Makes me all the more mad we have to make room for Drury when he comes back - see last post - but it makes me all the more happy we have a guy like Stepan on the way).

Boyle had a good game, and showed two sides of his game: ability to step in and fight, and ability to use his body to gain position. His goal was actually pretty sweet. Brodeur wasn't given a ton of help from defense - it seemed at times - but, he was beaten by Boyle here, and Frolov, and both were very nice goals.

Frolov made a nice first impression, Gaborik (2 goals including Game Winner) picked up right where he left off. Prust had a very nice fight. Staal played almost 30 minutes in the game - what else is new?

Very happy, and very excited hockey is back!!


It'll be said a hundred times today about Redden:

Well deserved!
About time!
Thank goodness!

Redden needed to go to Hartford, this year, if not last year. It was too much money to tie up in one player that was certainly not worth it now, was maybe never worth it. We expected it would happen, but we weren't sure it would. Although given the math, we didn't see how it could possibly not happen. This morning, it finally did.

And many such variations.

However, I don't think many people will be saying this, so I will:

While it is Wade Reddens' responsibility that he's not playing up to his contract, - it is NOT his responsibility that it was given to him. He didn't ask for the $39 million Sather threw at him, undeservingly though it may be. No one would ever have expected him not to take it.

So while everyone is happy today that he has finally been waived, the NYRs can finally move on, a small part of me feels bad for Redden the person. He did what almost every human being would do - took what was given to him. And now, his life will change because of something he never really had control of.

I know that's business, and I know that's life, but a small part of me feels for the guy beyond the athlete and beyond the Ranger.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drury on the PK = Ouch!. . .

Hello Rangers Fans!

Like many of you, I've been eagerly grabbing up tweets from training camp. Anything written is proof that the season is, thankfully, upon us.



So today, among the tweets was that the captain, Captain Drury that is, had broken his finger blocking a shot.


No, and I don't mean seriously as in no way!, how? - How In The World Could That Ever Happen!? - because, well, let's face it; I know better.

Chris Drury, the Rangers overpriced captain and penalty-killer extraordinaire, - too much? Well, what am I supposed to put here... - well, he tends to do this often. If it's not breaking something, it's getting hit, falling, wincing in pain, and hobbling/stumbling/crawling to the bench.

And we applaud because, well, he's a good guy, and that's what he gets paid to do.

Not the hurting himself part, but the penalty killing part.

Blair Betts, Lauri Korpikoski, Jed Ortmeyer, Brian Leetch, Jeff Beukaboom and every other Rangers penalty killer from present day back through history - they never seemed to have a problem with this.

And yet, on an almost regular basis, Drury does.

Silly, isn't it?

I'm not stupid enough to wonder why he still penalty kills - okay, seriously, maybe I am. Really now, I know he has to because, well, what else is he going to do.

He's not going to skate fast.
He's not going to be effective on the powerplay.
He's not going to score 70, 60...or if last year is any indication...even 40 points.

He's going to block shots.

And probably with his hand.



Look, Drury is a good guy, a good team guy, and many would argue a good captain. I'm not his biggest fan. If you've been reading here, that's no secret.

So for one minute when I read he got hurt, I wasn't upset. (Please note, I really don't like players getting hurt, so that's not what I'm getting at here).

But for that one minute I thought, gee, well, someone else will get a chance. Someone that may score goals, may set up teammates, may - gasp - justify his existence on the ice with more than just a once-a-year emotional outburst and a nightly insomnia-worthy in-game interview.

Yeah, and then I woke up and realized no matter who takes his place, no matter how good they may be, no matter how they fit with their linesmates, no matter how many points they score - when Drury's ouchie gets better, he'll be back and they'll get the bench, the press box, or Hartford.

Because you:

a) can't bench your captain.
b) can't bench a guy making the over $7 million a year. (Unless you have a really, REALLY good reason for it).

Which, yes, is part of the game, and part of the business. But it's still kind of a shame though, isn't it?

So with that, Captain Mumbles, get well soon. Because, honestly - it probably doesn't make that much of a difference anyway...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Last Staaling...The Boy Has Signed!...

Marc Staal has officially signed with the New York Rangers - a nice, 5-year contract! Very happy day here at Natural Hat Trick Productions.

With that, here is one final video - Marc Staal's Greatest Hits:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Late Holiday Staaling Edition. . .

I've been a bit awol from Staaling and the computer in general. But in the meantime, to make up for the last five days, all four Staal brothers again - from Thunder Bay. Enjoy and hope everyone had a good Labor/Labour Day! #SignStaal!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Staaling - Bauer Profile. . .

And for something a little different:

It's September already Sign Staal!!