Friday, November 28, 2008

Live - Rangers @ Florida. . .[UPDATED]

8:23pm...Break in game action. So I moseyed downstairs a few minutes late to the game and low and behold, the Rangers had a 2-0 lead. Which was surprising on many counts. 1) The Rangers already had their total amount of goals per game on average and less than 4 minutes in. And 2) They scored in the first, not once, but twice.

A thought. So maybe it wasn't Aaron Voros that was making the Zherdev/Dubinsky/PS3 line click. Maybe it was the Dubinsky/Zherdev combo after all. Because those guys have looked very sharp once again and for the last handful of games. I'm not sure what happened during the Dubinsky "lost" phase and the Zherdev "benched" phase, but you know what, as long as the two of them look that good together, keep it that way. I hope they do. Now Naslund. I was never down on Naslund. I thought a player like him, who was switching conferences and teams to come to NY, should be given a fair amount of time to judge his play. And I did, and about 1/2 way through the Rangers games, I started being relatively impressed with him. His talking to the refs, his being a leader. And the way he began playing. He is a good puck mover. And I think playing with young guys (a la Dubinsky and Zherdev) complements his style more than playing with Gomez and Drury. I'm still holding to the fact that that combo was doomed from the start. I think Naslund needs speedy young guys and I like this line a lot right now.

As for Gomez and Drury. I don't really care how much they like playing with one another. Unless they can start to show consistent results together, it's a waste of Gomez. I'm sorry. The Rangers already have two lines that aren't scoring. They need another one that does!

I was just going to say that Aaron Voros has been invisible recently - another case of a player playing with the wrong type of linemates perhaps or just a player gone dry? - when he drew that penalty. I'm not sure.

So Renney did not put Prucha in the lineup after all. He can still do so against Florida on Sunday at the Garden. If not, he must, must, send him to Hartford for conditioning. In the pre-game, Renney said his "good solider" might not be "game ready" after being out of the lineup for 8 straight games. Excuse my language, but no $hit, Tom, really? Honestly...

Florida is not as bad a team as their record. And no, this isn't my trying to justify making Florida playoff team. They have good goaltending from time to time. They have the strength of guys who should be playing better, but aren't. I think it's yet another case of one or two missing pieces or just something that needs to be jumpstarted. But they are better than their record, much like the Rangers are perhaps not as good as their record indicates.

Off to watch the 2nd. . .

9:05pm - end of 2.

Ah, now those late period penalties. Team being undisciplined. That's the Rangers I know and love. Honestly, Florida did not look bad to start the game. One had to assume if the Rangers gave them the opportunities, they could come back in this game. A powerplay goal late in the 3rd (after the Rangers took 3 penalties in a row) and the game is now tied. Credit Florida for taking advantage of the Rangers mental lapses.

Of note: Dubinsky is 8-0 on faceoffs through 2 periods.

Curious to see how the 3rd plays out.

10:32pm - end of game.

Okay so is it wrong I actually chuckled to myself when the Rangers took that many penalties and gave up the tying goal? Probably. But I'm sorry, this team does not play 60 minutes. If they do, it's a rarity. Betts and Sjostrom did not have good games this time around. And their minutes were actually less than usual I think. Fritsche and Voros both scored, and both they and Korpikoski had no more than 7 minutes each. In that sense, they made the most of their time on the ice. Although Korpedo did not seem to be very visible to be honest.

Chalk this game up to another typical one for the red, white, and blue. Play glimpses of smart hockey, mixed in with undisciplined or indifferent play. Allow a team to catch up (if they themselves are not the team playing catchup) and get the game to OT, then a shootout, use the secret weapon (re: Hank) and go home with 2 points. Reverse the early quick 2 goals in this one with the coming from behind late which they've done so often, and that's been a good percentage of the Rangers games this year. Different night, same story.

And it will not work forever. So I guess enjoy it while you can. I enjoy the 2 points, yes. But the team is not exactly playing inspired hockey. Something is missing, guys. What? Again, I'm glad I'm not the coach.

Credit Hank though, for keeping them in it. And credit Florida for taking advantage. Their goalie Anderson made 43 saves. Well deserved point for them.

Random mention. I love Devo, but that was a lousy non-thinking move by Dvorak slew-footing Sjostrom. Not a typical move by him. Now, according to rules, he should get a suspension for it, no? But we all know how Evgeni Malkin got one for the 2 times he slew footed Paul Mara in last year's playoffs, so I'm guessing Radek will play on Sunday. Good guy - bad move.

All in all, a game I'd like to just forget. And perhaps they would like to as well.

One more little funny thing (although not really funny at all, if you get me). As per Andrew Gross's of the Record on his blog [] Tom Renney had a few more interesting things to say about Prucha:

"He's still a Ranger," Renney said. "He's a very helpful player. What we have is a guy that hasn't had an opportunity yet. Because of that, he's had no base on which to develop any level of confidence. He might need a jump start. That's why I contemplated in a game like tonight or the next one or maybe it is the other option we have available to us. It's very important this kid knows he's very well thought of by this organization, coaches, and his teammates. We want to get him playing at a level he can play at."

So this is what it means to be "very well thought of" by an organization? Oh COME ON now.

It's been bandied about on the blogs that the Rangers organization doesn't want to let Prucha go outright because they feel he'd be a good player for another team. So they don't play him, waive him, or send him to Hartford for that reason. Which is great. As the situation stands he benefits no one. To me, it's selfish to not let him play somewhere. If it's Hartford on a conditioning assignment, that's fine. If it's on another team, that's fine. But to let him have "no opportunity", no "level of confidence" and no opportunity to "get him[self] playing at the level he can play at" not only wrecks a player, it wrecks a human.

Unless Prucha has more heart and more loyalty and more inner strength than any of us have.

And you know what - he just may have that. Because for him to still be smiling and still wants to Be A Ranger!, takes a lot more heart, loyalty, and inner strength than I think I'd have right now if I were him.

Just How Valuable Is Loyalty. . .?

Before I get to the point of this particular blog entry, let me admit that I did not see all of Wednesday's Rangers game versus Tampa Bay. I made it to a bar that had the game on with about 8 minutes to go in the 3rd. Hoped actually for reasons that can't exactly be mentioned here that Tampa Bay would tie it and the game would go longer (I know, how can I not be more clear? sorry!) and got my wish. The game went to a shootout and shock of shocks, the Rangers won. But I was glad for it. And Naslund (goals 8 and 9 and the first goal in the shootout) looked on the surface to have had a strong night. Zherdev potted the other deciding shootout goal.

My question on that, though, remains - is this or is this not, still the case of one line producing? If it wasn't Zherdev and Dubinsky on Monday, and now Naslund on Wednesday, what other line is scoring goals? Don't get me wrong. I think it is great these guys are producing. Almost nothing would make me happier than seeing these three play consistently and well - because so far this season, when Dubinsky and Zherdev are playing well, so is the team - and having Naslund play well is an added bonus to that. BUT...that means the Rangers still have a Betts/Sjo/Orr tandem of solidity, a ever-changing third line of inconsistency, and a "1st? line" of Gomez/Drury/Callahan that combines the two 7-million dollar centers in what I feel is a doomed relationship.

Am I alone? I'm not sure. The Rangers on Monday obviously garnered some sort of boost from having Gomez back. But he or his line, minus the empty netter, did not appear on the final game sheet for goals or assists. Callahan's energy alone makes him a key part of the Rangers team. But, didn't we already realize the Gomez and Drury pairing left something to be desired. I ...have no idea what else to think on that.

Except. [And now after a little rambling], we get to the point of the blog. Larry Brooks, again, brought attention to the Petr Prucha "situation." I am applauding him for seemingly being the only one to give full page time to this "situation" and I'm grateful for it. There is either something more to it than meets the eye or nothing to it - which means Renney is lying through is teeth. I'd like to pull a few quotes from the article:

After saying he's been giving the Prucha "situation" a lot of thought recently and might play him tonight against Florida, Tom Renney says:

"If not, though, then Hartford will become a consideration . . . We've got to get Petr playing, for his good and the good of the organization. A conditioning assignment has helped to jump-start other players, so I see no reason why it wouldn't have the same impact for Petr."

To which I ask, and why not at ANY early point than now. . . after he's been sitting since November 8th and has NOT played in more than THREE consecutive games this year, does this ONLY NOW cross the coach's mind?

He goes on to say that Nigel Dawes is more of a playmaker than Prucha, and that he has played Dan Fritsche 8 consecutive games (count 'em - 8) so he can wrap his head around what Dan has to offer. And then:

"I know what Petr can do. I know that he can score and has scored in this league, 52 goals his first two seasons. I don't care who he was on the ice with, that tells me something. Now he needs the opportunity. I know that."

"It would be easy for me to say that when he plays, he needs to score, but considering the circumstances, I don't know that he can. So it's B.S. for me to say that he's been given a shot and can't do it. He needs playing time."

Hallelluja! The coach has woken up. Someone has shown him the light. Hallelluja!

Here we have Renney saying it's all B.S. to imply Prucha has been given the opportunity to succeed (an opportunity in training camp that Renney himself said he most definitely would be giving the young forward to start this year) when quite obviously he's been a) shuffled in and out of the lineup and not in it for more than 3 games in a row, b) been playing with the worst possible combinations when he is in the lineup, and c) given about 45 seconds of powerplay time all year. I've been saying the above all year now.

So I'm applauding Tom for saying the above. But...I'm just not sure whether he's actually hearing what he himself is saying. Whether it will sink in. Whether if Prucha does get the opportunity to play tonight, whether or not he'll get the opportunity to play eight straight games in a good situation so it can be determined whether or not his "situation" is worthy of further consideration. I don't know.

My personal fear is that if he plays tonight he'll be on a the line with whoever does not come out of the lineup - Korpikoski, Fritsche, Voros - and be stuck in a similar line of disillusionment. That's my fear. My hope is that he plays with Callahan and Gomez so we the fans, the team, the coaches, can actually see what he plays like when he's on a line with a true set-up guy. And on the power play, having someone dish him the puck. See if he can't pot a goal and build his confidence.

Of course the most bittersweet part of all of this remains that despite his "situation" Prucha has not asked for a trade, does not want a trade, and wants to play and remain loyal to the Rangers. An organization that, this year at least, has not appeared to be looking to act in his own best interest.

Prucha said: "Tom told me to stay positive and patient and that I am still a valuable player for the Rangers. It's been very difficult, but I love the Rangers, and this is the place I want to play."

Larry said" "Still, somehow, it remains impossible to wipe the smile off the irrepressible winger's face. He remains optimistic. He remains committed to the Rangers. He just wants to play."

That says miles about his character. A loyal, want-only-the-best-for-the-team type guy. There are probably too few.

I guess a few of us still have some faith.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Step In A Direction. . .

I'm not going to necessarily say it was the "right" direction, but it was a step nonetheless.
Is having Scott Gomez in the lineup a mental thing? Is he like their lucky rabbit's foot or something? Because credit the guy for having a monster night on faceoffs (19-4) and actually looking VERY speedy, especially in light of his being off for the last five games with a stress fracture. But ironically, it was not really his line - Callahan, Drury, and himself - who played the best for the Rangers on the night.

It was actually other lines stepping up. Dubinsky/Naslund/Zherdev looked sharp and Zherdev had a great night, getting primary assists on the first three Rangers goals. Dubinsky finally looked back in stride, after appearing lost in the last bunch of games. A loud shot rung off the post behind Ilya Bryzgalov in the first by Dubinsky, but he would later bury a shot for his first goal since October 24th in Columbus. Big time to step up. Even if the kid is not a fighter. In case there was any doubt, he has not much improved since Luke Richardson knocked him out last season.

And Betts - yes Blair Betts - had a nice looking goal. I had to look down, look at the replay, before saying, Betts? Seriously? But, it was a nice one. And it helped the Rangers re-gain the momentum in the game.

Overall, though, without trying to burst bubbles, it has to be taken into consideration that this victory was against a Phoenix team, who was ranked 14th in the West coming into last night.

Does that mean it doesn't count? No. It counts and because it was a "much needed" win, it counts for more than just two points. But the point remains, I'm not sure they'd have been able to get away with some of their early (and characteristically) sloppy play in the first, if they were playing a stronger team.

It should also be noted that specialty teams were not really a factor last night, but not even for the reason you may think. Phoenix took only 2 minor penalties. Therefore, with Girardi's powerplay goal, the Rangers were 1-2 on the PP. 50%. Amazing.

Almost more importantly, the Rangers did not take stupid penalties. In fact, the Rangers took only one minor all night. When was the last time that happened? Anyone?

Now, the question for this Thanksgiving week is - will the Rangers be able to build on this and beat the very beatable Tampa Bay (1) and Florida (2) teams they face in their next three games? I sure hope so. But, at the same time, the Rangers sometimes confuse trips to Florida for early summer vacations. Let's hope that's not the case when the Rangers face Tampa Bay tomorrow at 7:30. I'm probably missing the game live, but I'll catch up at some point. Enjoy!

p.s. was that Sweet Caroline I heard playing in the Garden? Hasn't that been on a hiatus, win or lose? I wonder why it came back, but I wonder even more why it went away in the first place.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some More Thoughts Before the Rangers Play the Coyotes Tonight. . .

To those of you who are finally realizing the Rangers organization totally, utterly, and completely handicapped themselves for the better part of the next decade by signing 5 guys to contracts that when grouped together equal more than half of their total team allotment and that only one of them - ONE - is worth it. . . let me just say: Welcome to reality. Seriously. Put your feet up, grab a beer, and get comfy for the ride. Unless a lot of "what ifs" or "well maybes" or "lighting in beer bottles" happen...this team is going nowhere fast.

And no, this not a rant from a person that is sore their team has dropped two in a row. This is a person who is shocked they were able to win AT ALL so far this season with their messy mish-mosh of expensive parts that don't fill well together. Seriously. This is a team of players some of which I find it hard to even like at certain moments. Gone are the days of me looking at the team and saying, gee, they might have lost, but damn they put in a strong effort. Seriously. Has any one game been a true team, a true 60 minute effort? Anyone? The closest, perhaps, came against NJ, in one of the Rangers games against them. But that still probably wasn't a 60 minute complete effort. So I'm going to go with no. No.

And has any player for the entire season thus far played with heart and determination night in and night out? One. Lundqvist. You might be able to make a case for Callahan, and the truth is, that kid does show up every single night. The only thing he is not doing that Hank is, is living up to his full capacity. He's not. But on a team that can't score at all, I can't fault a guy for hustling, hitting, and getting a PP goal or two, when he's actually given the time to do so. Alright. So we have Hank. Callahan. And I'll add Marc Staal to that as well. Kid has had maybe one bad game. Kid came to play this year. Thank goodness for him. But if I were him, I'd want to be out of town really quick.

This team - and I did the math on this already so feel free to go back to July 31st "Does It Really All Add Up Rangers Fans" and play catchup - is fundamentally flawed. They have too many potential scorers and too few potential set up men. They have small guys that try to hit and big guys that won't hit. They have a serious lack of defensive defensemen. They have absolutely no physical precense. They can't skate, or if they can, they apparently won't. They take a lot of penalties. And they can't generate much, if any, offense on the powerplays they receive. Fundamentally screwed.

The only thing this team has truly seemed to master is the penalty kill. And yes, credit them all for that. But stopping goals against will only do so much if they are invisible 5-5 and ineffective 5-4. You have to score to win. I haven't seen a game yet where you can do it any other way.
Want to get a quick update on how those "big name/big numbers" players are doing for the Rangers thus far this season? Sure. Let's go.

Rozsival ($5 for 4 years)
23 games, 2 goals, 7 assists, 9 points, -9 (PP: 2G, 4A)

Redden ($6.5 for 6 years)
23 games, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points, 0 (PP: 1G 4A)

Drury ($7.05 for 5 years)
23 games, 8 goals, 5 assists, 13 points, -5 (PP: 4G, 3A)

Gomez ($7.357 for 7 years)
18 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 points, -4 (PP: 0G, 5A)

Lundqvist ($6.875 for __ years)
19 games, 12 wins, 5 losses, 2 OTL, .923 Sav%, 2.15GAA

How many of those guys do you think are earning their money? Again, one. Hank.

The Rangers two best defensemen this year have been Paul Mara ($1.95) and Marc Staal ($0.827) - also two of their least expensive. Their best offensive defenseman is Dan Girardi ($1.55). Those are the only defensemen that are in the plus in the plus/minus category. Dmitri Kalinin is -10, Rozsival is -9. Yikes!

The Rangers best offensvie players, period, are

Nik Zherdev ($2.5)
23 games, 7 goals, 10 assists, 17 points, +7 (PP: 2G, 2A)

Markus Naslund ($4 for 2 years)
23 games, 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points, -2 (PP: 2G 3A)

Dan Girardi ($1.55)
23 games, 2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points, +1 (PP: 0G, 5A)

Brandon Dubinsky ($0.633)
23 games, 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points, 0 (PP: 2G, 3A)

What did they pay Gomez and Drury for? No, I know. Gomez was payed $7 for 7 because Sather likes the #7? And Drury was paid $7 for 5 because Sather knew he liked the team and would be...umm, loyal?

Different month, same argument. This team is not going to sustain itself on mediocrity. They proved that against Vancouver and in Ottawa this weekend. They were flat. And there is not one person on this team that can pull them out of it. Nor should there be one person. {which is why I don't buy the Gomez is playing tonight and he'll fix the team argument]. This should be a team effort. BUT....when the team is handicapped by what I would bet are pretty untradeable salaries for many years to come, how do they make a move to try to make it better? If you were a competing GM, would you want Redden, Roszival, Drury, or Gomez in return? I don't think I would!.

And Larry Brooks again reminds us of the salary just being wasted at this point. Poor Petr Prucha's $1.6 and Patrick Rissmiller's $1.0

It's disgusting that nothing is being done with Prucha and that a 26-year-old kid with potential is being allowed to rot in the locker room. It really is disgusting. And as for Rissmiller. That was Sather's mistake in the first place. But the guy was down in Hartford for six games on conditioning and scored 7 points. Think these are bad players? Or players that have not at all been given a TRUE and honest chance to succeed in this environment? Call me crazy, but I'm sure if Prucha went down on a conditioning assignment, he'd score some points too.

As per Sam Weinman ( "As for Prucha, Renney acknowledged that the player’s extended absence from the lineup has been a concern."

Well that's refreshing. I mean at least he knows he exists.

And yes, true, these are presumably all Glen Sather's mistakes, and the poeple calling for Tom Renney's head recently, are after the wrong guy. [History would prove there is little that any Rangers coach can do without being subject to Sather's wills and wims. Walkie talkies to the coach on the bench, anyone?] Maybe there is nothing Renney can do. But I am still not sure he is handling it the right way. Benching Dubinsky and Zherdev and Voros, but not benching the guys who actually are paid to be the teams best players? Unless he has no choice. And if that's the case, I have a plan. It'll never, ever happen, but oh how I'd love to see it.

Get Slats behind the bench again. Remove Renney, temporarily, permanently, whatever, and have Slats manage the mess he's created. Brilliant, no? It'll either come together perfectly in his the way the visionary designed it to, or it'll come crashing down to Earth. Either way, we'll know the answer. Whether this team, as is, can ever truly be a team. A hardworking, consistent, result-producing team. Or whether the Rangers are going to just be bad. Bad, ineffective, uninspiring, and boring. I mean at least we'd know.

Who's with me?

Jersey Retirement Ceremonies and Saturday Wrapup. . .

In the years I've had Centre Ice, I've not had the chance to see all the retirement ceremonies that I've wanted to. Sometimes the coverage I get doesn't begin until after the ceremonies are over.

That being said, Saturday was especially nice. The chance to see not one, but two, retirement ceremonies. Patrick Roy's #33 in Montreal and Wendel Clark's #17 in Toronto. Two different people. Two different ceremonies. But one great Saturday night for all of us that had the pleasure.

I'll start with saying how different the ceremonies were, for two of hockey's greatest cities. I've seen Montreal Canadiens retirement ceremonies before. Most recently the ceremony for Boom Boom Geoffrion before the Rangers and Habs game in March of 2006. Montreal does hockey. Montreal is hockey. There is no denying they can put on some great ceremonies. Historic class.
Add Patrck Roy to the list of French Canadians that I love to hear speak. I greatly enjoy the opportunity to hear the French language spoken, especially in regards to hockey, and this was no different. Patrick's departure from Montreal might not have been under the best of circumstances. But, his return, undoubtedly, was done well.

Wendel Clark's ceremony was different from any I have seen. And I will note, I do not think I've seen a Maple Leafs one before. But from all indications, Clark would have wanted no different than a simple ceremony. Both teams lined up - the Maple Leafs each wearing a "C" and #17 jersey - which to me, gives a sense of passing the torch to new generations. They showed a video montage. Clark spoke. It was just he, his wife, two daughter and son on the ice. He dropped the ceremonial faceoff puck between Jonathan Toews and Tomas Kaberle, which I thought was pretty cool. My favorite part, without fail, was the banner raising itself. Toronto has always had the perfect music for great moments. And this was no different. Clark's ceremony was simplistic class. And I'm sorry, but there may not be prettier banners than those raised for the honored Maple Leafs.

To me retirement ceremonies are nice. Sometimes long and overdone. But it's a special night for the player, his family, and his teammates. And you have to respect that. I've had the incredibly fortunate opportunity to see three such ceremonies in person so far, Mike Richter, Mark Messier, and Brian Leetch. Regardless of whose number is getting retired, my favorite moment is not the speeches or the tribute videos, or the tears, although all those are all special. It's the moment the arena goes dark, and the banner makes its ascent. That always gives me chills. It's a true sense of permanency in the world of sports where sometimes it appears so little stays the same.

Congratulations to #33 and #17.

HNIC recap:

*Watching PJ Stock with his Wendel Clark moustache on Scoreboard Saturday was worth the price of admission. You cannot fake his facial reaction as the moustache began to slip. And the laughing. You try not cracking up when watching that. It's just classic.

*Enjoyed the interview with Mike Cammalleri on After Hours. He told a great story of how Tommy Kostopolos "got" former coach Marc Crawford with shampoo. And how he got traded on Draft Day this year and found out by watching TV. Also, how he is a true fan of Joe Sakic. There are few better than Joe. Good stuff.

*On that note, I am not sure I love Marc Crawford. I don't love his voice. Perhaps at this point it's his hesitancy to ask good questions or questions at all. He seems unsure. And maybe that's natural for a guy who isn't accustomed to doing this. But Scott Oake is carrying the After Hours team. And poor Kelly Hrudey is stuck with coach Millbury. *sigh*

*I couldn't include this above but I had to mention it. Patrick Roy's son is hot. (Actually all of his children are incredibly good looking). But even though his son has his father's temper, Jonathan is pretty to look at. Apparently he's a rap artist now too. His music is on myspace under J.O.E. Daking. Seriously folks, you can't make this stuff up. I'll add a link when I can.

Random Around the League:

*Watched the end of the Habs/Bruins game and the shootout. Amazing announcing team. A true pleasure. And Boston is legit. No question about it.

*Watched the late game - Sharks/Capitals. Didn't quite live up to all the hype (in my head that is), as the Caps were less than stellar. But still a heck of a game. Nice little fight between Brashear and Jody Shelley. Just how fast is Milan Michalek? Jeeze. And just how fast is that whole San Jose team? [Makes me almost shed a tear to think about how slow the Rangers looked against, well, against anyone so far this year.] Rob Blake, Christian Ehrhoff among the league leaders in defensive scoring. A nice feature on how Devon Setogucci stays in shape in the off-season. Badminton. You heard it here first. Badminton. Although I must say it was one of my favorite gym class activities, although nothing beat floor hockey - am I right? And lastly, Joe Thornton got called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, for icing. Not that icing. But for icing Brent Johnson, the Caps goalie. I heard the announcers say it was in the rule book, but I have never seen that called in my memory. [also, did you know there was comcast out west? I turned from the caps feed to the sharks feed and BOTH were comcast which really threw me off. Good deal though when you get the choice of announcing teams, although no complaints of either on Saturday night.]


Rangers play the Coyotes tonight as Wayne Gretzky returns to the Garden for the 2nd time in two seasons. Last I heard Scott Gomez might be more than 50% to play, and if so Nigel Dawes will take a seat to make room for him. But will anybody skate, shoot, or score? That plays for the Rangers? Yeah, I'm not sure what to think about tonight. I'm not trying to get down on them. I'm really trying to be realistic. And the realistic honesty about this is the Rangers stole a lot of points when they were not playing complete games. They are now losing points because they can't seem to stop the bleeding. Big game tonight. Big game.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Musings From DURING the Sens/Rangers game. . .[UPDATED]

3:56pm - End of 1st. That's right. For the first time, I'm blogging in-game. Wow. Seriously. Stop the presses. Or stop the Rangers lackluster efforts. One or the other!

*I don't love the new Senators 3rd jerseys. I like what they were doing with "Sens" but I don't like the way it's printed. Something looks a little off. Maybe I'll change my mind in the 2nd.

*Random question. And I'm sorry, but I have to ask. The Rangers are quasi-concerned about Gomez's conditioning because he's been out of the lineup with injury. But the "most conditioned" guy in training camp, has been benched for most of the season and, thusly, must be now one of the "least conditioned" players on the team. And yet he can't go on a conditioning stint and gets to skate around with Gomez for an hour on game days? Sure. That makes sense.

*Joe and Sam were all defending Nigel Wonderboy Dawes when he missed the empty net. But if that were someone else, would they be? Surely if his "hands" were so great, he'd have more than 2 goals, no?

*The Rangers reaction to Ruutu when he re-shot the puck at Hank in the shootout Monday night was understandable because they didn't know what he did was within the rules. But now that they know, do they care? Look, he's a pain in the @ss. Nothing denying that. But as Joe and Sam pointed out, he actually is a hockey "nut" and more knowledgeable than many coaches in the league (as per his coach). In that way, he's the anti-Avery. Always watching hockey. I think that's hilarious. He's still a coward. But at least I can respect that he likes hockey so much. Cause, honestly, then, he did know what he was doing was legal in the shootout. You can hate him but you can't hate him for that.

Period 2 awaits. Maybe the Rangers will get a few shots ON GOAL!


*Not much to say on that period. Rangers look lackluster. I'm shocked. [Not really.]

*The only thing I can say is, while not defending the Rangers, Ottawa's 3rd goal should not have counted. What Ruutu did in lifting Valiquette's stick and preventing him from making the play - that clip should be on a tape sent to the league labeled "goaltender interference." And they should show that to other teams when asked to describe what goaltender interference really is. He not only interfered, he lifted the goalie's stick. hello! bad non-call.

6:27pm - after game and before HNIC.

*In wrapping up the Rangers loss. Well, same story. Different day. I'm not sure I know how to fix it. But this team is not cohesive. They do not skate fast. They are getting pushed around. And because they are not scoring, they are not going to win. Simple as that. I don't know how you can take a bunch of guys that were not scoring in training camp and early on, and all of a sudden expect them to breakout. Thus we are left with a scenario where the team will win if it's a 2-1 game and they can hold them. Or if they are lucky and can come back and tie a game (low scoring) and win in OT or a shootout. Or they'll lose because they can't score. There you have it.

*Feel sorry for Valiquette tho. I always want him to win because I respect the guy and he doesn't get to play too often. He deserved better in front of him.

*Will we see the same people Monday? Sam/Joe seem to think Gomez will make all the difference? Really? Cause he was really piling on the points before his injury? And the powerplay was better before? And what? Come off it. If the Rangers are struggling and they think it's in any way because Scott Gomez "their best player" is out of the lineup, the team has bigger problems. One guy being injured (unless it is your goalie) should not make or break a season. No way. And Gomez is not the BEST player on the team. No way.

I am jogging back upstairs to watch the rest of Patrick Roy retirement ceremony. Wish I knew it started at 6pm. Thought it was at 6:30. Then I'll watch the Wendel Clark coverage. And finish my night with what should hopefully be a fast, uptempo, glorious game in Washington/San Jose.

Good stuff.

Congrats to #33 Patrick Roy and #17 Wendel Clark.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to Boredomsville, NY. . .

Apologies for this post-game wrap up coming two days after the game ended. I was not in front of a computer yesterday. No, no. I didn't have to do with the fact that I had no words. I, actually, have plenty of words. They just might not mean very much. Or if I get angry, the might start to ramble and won't make much sense anyway. The risks we take.

To start: Rangers fan or not, I actually enjoyed the 2nd period of Wednesday's game versus the Canucks. Why? Because someone was scoring. There was some life. Who cares if it was mostly from the other team! Either way it saved me from having to watch - yet another - boring 1-1, 2-2 game and ready myself for the shootout. When the team went down 5-1, a girl sitting a few seats away from me said, 'well at least there will be no shootout tonight.'


I love my team. I do. But - and I said this back two or three weeks ago - this team has yet to show a cohesive 60 minute effort where they look awake, play crisp, and look like they have a pulse. And I am still struggling to think of any example to the contrary. Help me if you can.

The fact that they have given up 7 shorthanded goals in just over 20 games is embarassing. It's unacceptable. This team that is priding itself on defense first, is coming up way short on that end. And I'm not talking about the 5 goals they gave up on Wednesday. I'm not. Doesn't matter to me. Any given night a team can come in and have "a" night. It happens. Hank looked a little weaker than usual, but that only brings me to the fact that this guy cannot and should not be expected to stand on his head every night. That's how you get worn out or injured or ineffective. And he's been forced to do that on many nights. Our penalty kill is fantastic and should be applauded. But the defensive play that gets them to be 2nd or 3rd in the league in that category, does not affect 5-5 or 5-4 play. It doesn't. At that point, throw the defensive nature out the window. The Rangers powerplay has been abismal. Or worse. When they score, I get the feeling it's more by accident. I watch other teams play and I see their power plays. Almost every team, except the Rangers, seems to have a life to it during the man advantage. A confidence in moving the puck. A speed and a sense of positive urgency. The Rangers look stale, they look timid, and they look a mess. And that has not changed in years. That alone is embarassing. It's unacceptable. And to not only not score on your powerplay, but give up that many goals - that's just dreadful. Quite honestly, there's just no way to defend that.

Whether is is - the coach's responsibility? The captain's? Each player's individiual responsibility? - someone has got to do something to get this team up to play. They've got to. They start slow, fall behind, and look indifferent unless they are mounting a late game comeback. That got boring after the first time they did it. They are boring. Whether they were designed to be boring or they've just accidentally arrived there, welcome to boredomsville. And that's sad. That's really sad. And, you know what, it's not going to win hockey games.

And hockey should be anything but boring!

And if the Rangers play the way they have the last, umm, well honestly most of this season, and Hank does not stand on his head at all moments, then they are not going to win much more at all. Let's not kid ourselves.

Random thoughts:

**I like the Canucks uniforms. This is not a new thought. I mean I guess it is because they change them every other year. :) But I like them. Clean colors. Sharp. Maybe they looked better because they were the only team I actually saw skating two nights ago, but. ...well, you get me here, right?

**Valiquette came in for Hank after the 5th goal. It remains for debate whether Hank took himself our or Renney pulled him. I have yet to see the tape and I, like Hank, had my head down after the puck went in the net too. So...? But point remains that Vali played essentially flawlessly. Glad for him to get back in there, despite the circumstances.

**Rangers didn't practice yesterday after what many will say was their worst and least inspired came this season. Interesting. What's better? The practices - apparently - we're being told, don't really have to do with skills or fundamentals or, hell, even the power play. They are for conditioning and flow. Flow. They might be the most conditioned team in the NHL for all their practice at it, but what the hell does practicing "flow" mean? Anyone?

**And just think? 95% of all people were probably expecting a goaltending duel between two of the league's best. Oh that possibility lasted reallllllll long.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

But Where Can He Go. . .?

In taking a look at, (which is a pretty freakin' cool site, might I add), I tried to take a look at what teams had the most cap space and what teams might want to take the once great, but now ignored and unconfident Petr Prucha from the Rangers. It is now my hope (if he wants to be) that he gets traded and starts playing somewhere immediately. To that end.

We have the teams with the most cap space. They are Nashville, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Columbus, Phoenix, Toronto, and Vancouver. Slightly less but still enough for his $1.6 salary for this year would be Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Islanders, Ottawa, and Tampa Bay.

Now, for his sanity, I hope he doesn't go to the Islanders, so I am not including them in any further discussion. Sorry, I have to look out for the kid. ;) But some of the other teams on there could be potential matches. I'm going to try to put my thinking cap on.

Teams that need goals: Carolina, Atlanta, Buffalo, Colorado. Teams that desparately need goals: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Tampa Bay.

Laugh all you want, but in the right situation and with the right players, Prucha can help score goals.

Atlanta and Los Angeles kinda fall into the category of young guys, trying to make a go. Tampa Bay, well Tampa Bay is a mess right now and once that gets figured out (well if it does), they should score more goals. Buffalo and Colorado are actually doing pretty well. Carolina, Ottawa, and/or Phoenix are teams that need a jump start of sorts. Carolina is missing some goal scorers. Ottawa needs a shake up. Phoenix can use an extra young guy perhaps.

Avoiding Atlanta and LA for a moment, let's say that hypothetically Carolina, Ottawa, and Phoenix might be potential destinations for him. Again a lot would have to be considered. If it were a one for one trade, then salary, cap hit, length of contract. If a deal involving multiple players, that would be a little unclear. Or perhaps the Rangers would trade him to one of these teams for a draft pick.

Where would I like to see him go? Again, I'm actually okay with the five teams - ATL, LAK, CAR, OTT, or PHO. I think if given a chance to skate, he can make a difference. I'm too lazy (or perhaps uneducated enough at this point in the season) to see which of these teams could actually use a 3rd or 4th liner. So I'll leave it at that. Rangers brass - take a look. Make a trade. Let the kid play.

Now that my rant is over, I will say I am greatly looking forward to tonight's goaltending duel at MSG. Vancouver's Luongo. The Rangers Lundqvist. One stage. One goal. Well, literally, perhaps one goal. Should be a close one.

Til tomorrow. . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be Impressed But Don't Be THAT Impressed. . .

Honestly, I have nothing much different to say than what I have been saying all along here. It wasn't like the Rangers went down 2-0 and came back - again. Being down 1-0 is a lot less of a comeback to mount at any point, although yes a comeback it still is. And I was slightly surprised, but yet not entirely, that the game ended up going into OT and ending with a shootout, the Rangers second in a row, the third in their last four games.

Let me say though, that the shootout, now in its fourth year of existence has been veryyyy kind to the Rangers. They've hardly ever been embarrassed in it, and most of the time, they come away with the extra point. And Hank Lundqvist has a lot to do with it, yes.

So, I wasn't disappointed with the game. Actually I thought the first two periods showed a little more energy from the Rangers than their last few starts. Mind you, I said a little. But they still couldn't mount anything with that extra energy though. It's getting a little old, no? The coming from behind. The lack of goal scoring. The same old song and dance.

But it must be stated that while there were different players on these teams that played together twice in the pre-season that both of those games ended 2-1 as well (and both teams won on home ice). Alex Auld played well against the Rangers back then as well. So while I hesitate to say it was a solid game, but it wasn't as boring as they have been recently. (Sorry, I'm being blunt).

None of this stopped Coach Renney from doing some third period benching however. Nik Zherdev and Aaron Voros, both pretty invisible on the scoresheet as of late, sat most of the 3rd. (It is noted that Zherdev, who scored the lone goal in the shootout, did not take his skate as a star of the game, presumably upset about his benching. He did stay out for the stick raise, but I noticed he waited a long, long time before doing so himself). And that's fine, I guess. I mean it's just funny how it's so easy to bench Zherdev and Voros, but not the multitude of other players who have had periods of inconsistency and/or invisibility. But Dubinsky, Prucha, Zherdev, and Voros, that's . . . clear as mud.

And speaking of invisibility, Ottawa's big boys were very invisible. The splash and sparkle is gone from them. It can only be a matter of time before a big shakeup, one would assume. But what can I say about that that hasn't already been said.

Instead, the real highlight of the game, the Rangers segment on Garden Vision where the players act out movie clips. I love this segment. Let it be said, it is not shown often enough. (And for those that haven't seen it, they have done this infrequently throughout the last few seasons and with different movies and players of course). Last night they had Dubinsky doing Super Bad, Gomez doing some movie with Will Ferrell (Ron Burgundy?), Hank and I believe Voros doing "help me, help you" from Jerry Maguire, and lastly Hank and Valiquette doing "I feel the need, the need for speed" from Top Gun. True, they didn't get the volleyball celebratory high five just right, but it still made me laugh. Great stuff. They should really post these on Do they? I can't find anything on these new nhl sites, I'll be honest.

And while I'm on it, it's not as easy to get radio feeds as it once was. Which is crap. I tried to get the Rangers feed the other day when they were in NJ, and you click, "listen now," and get whatever is being aired on 1050 ESPN. Alright? Seriously?

Back on topic. Credit the Rangers team for winning. Because winning they are. 14-5-2. There is nothing not impressive about that. No matter how they do it. But as I've said and the Rangers players have alluded to - what happens when they can't score enough to come back? What happens when they don't score at all? Oh what I wouldn't give for a nice 6-4 game. With the Rangers winning, of course.

Tomorrow, Vancouver comes into the Garden after dropping a 2-1 game on the Island last night in a shootout. I'm sure I'll have something more to say on that tomorrow.

Around the League:

Shanny update from

"Shanahan update
The Flyers are still awaiting word from free-agent LW Brendan Shanahan after offering him what is believed to be a one-year deal worth $1 million. "We're still waiting to hear from him," assistant general manager Barry Hanrahan said Sunday night. "We haven't heard anything." General manager Paul Holmgren returned Sunday from a college scouting trip to Minnesota. Shanahan's agent, Rick Curran, was also out of town Sunday and did not return a message. Shanahan is also believed to be negotiating with the New Jersey Devils. He was expected to come to a decision by the end of last week but apparently did not receive a contract offer that met his demands, presumably in the $1.5 million range."

Can't say I'm surprised there. No way Shanahan was going to go from close to $6 mill with incentives to $1 million. Even if he does want to play. I'm curious. Very curious. What other offers, if any, are there out there?

And now a random thought here.

A lot of people are surprised Boston is doing so well this year. Well, I'm not. I thought they'd be better last year. They were. I thought they'd be even better this year. And now they are looking great. A great mix of guys. Two good goalies. Toughness. Goal scoring. They really are suprising a lot of people. Not me, though. I picked them to finish above the Rangers, if I'm not mistaken. Good for them.

Now this prompted me to look up just how the other lesser successful Original 6 teams have fared over their history. And it was very educational. I didn't look up Montreal, Toronto, or Detroit. I'll do that another day. Tomorrow? Sure, why not.

But I looked up Boston, Chicago, and New York. Boston has won 5 Cups (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972) and has 21 Division championships. Chicago has won 3 Cups (1934, 1938, 1961) and has 13 Division Championships.

New York has won 4 Cups (1928, 1933, 1940, 1994) and has 5 division championships. Five! Five!! In 80 years! That shocked me. Really, really shocked me. I mean, if I think back, I haven't seen more than the division win in the year they most recently won the Stanley Cup. The other four were in 1927, 1932, 1990, 1992. That's a massive break of - what almost 60 years. Baffling. Now I'm sure it would behoove me to do some research on what exactly a division meant in 1933, and I will, but that is still a lot of well...NOT a lot of success.

And don't confuse me. It's not as if I thought my team was massively successful. 54 years between championships alone would say that.

[Random side bar. I used to get so annoyed when the Devils fans after they won the Cup in 1995, I saw them with bumper stickers saying "It didn't take the Devils 54 years." Which is ignorant and silly. It took the Rangers 2 years, count em, 2, to win their first Cup. It took the Devils 20 years from the time they were in Kansas City and 13 years from their inception in NJ, to win their first. Chew on that. Now of course, I can't justify the 1/2 century and change they took off between 1940 and 1994. No one really can. But they won a Cup in year 2 and had won their second Cup 5 years later, their third 7 years after that. So the Devils won their 3rd Cup quicker than the Rangers. (1995, 2000, 2003). Yes. Yes, they really got us there. The future, my friends, is all TBD. ]

But back the relative lack of success in NY. And this is why, above all else, despite how much some Rangers fans annoy me when they boo or say stupid things or get on their players for the wrong reason and not on others for the reasons they should be, how I still love them because they are loyal. Come on, you have GOT TO BE loyal to like a team that since 1926-27 has won 4 championships and 5 division titles. Sure Boston should have won more Cups, presumably, and Chicago has been in depression from the 1960s until just recently, but the Rangers - they do have tradition. Quite obviously a tradition more centered around class, attitude, loyalty, character, and pride, than centered around actual success.

But, you know, I'll be honest. I hope they are more successful over the next 80 years, but I signed on for pride, passion, and tradition. And I remain loyal to that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Are the Rangers Anti-Czech. . . ?

The whole Prucha to Ottawa speculation that Larry Brooks posed in today's Post gave me ammunition to write what I started thinking about on Friday.

On Friday, I was re-reading some quotes that Larry Brooks wrote from Rangers training camp (9/28):

"Because after five games in the past six days and six games in eight days beginning last Saturday - two goals in each one of them - the Rangers are nowhere. No line has developed chemistry. No defense pairing has looked good. And none of the players still competing for spots on the third or fourth lines deserves a uniform more than Petr Nedved, who was dismissed from the squad on Friday.
It turns out Nedved wasn't competing against Blair Betts or Laurie Korpikoski - or anyone else - as much as he was competing against Renney's loyalty to Betts and resistance to the concept of No. 93 wearing the Blueshirt. A shame. "

And I thought about the mass exodus of Czechs to and from the Rangers team since 2005 - Jagr, Straka, Sykora, Rucinsky, Malik. And the two remaining, Roszival and Prucha.

And I said to myself, hmm. And I thought about the other Petr, as in Prucha, and said, maybe, maybe, for the first time, I'm seeing sarcasm, when Renney refers to him as a good "soldier." Maybe he just sees a body. A blind follower. I have never, ever, in my hearing him say that before, thought he meant that. But now, perhaps, I do.

Think about it, maybe it's not what he is doing. It's what he's not doing. I'm sure the kid isn't happy, but with the exception of storming off in Prague when he thought he wasn't going to be playing (which again would have been a humiliating and unacceptable thing for the team to do to him), he's kept a smile. I'm sure he's been a good teammate. I haven't heard anything differently. But perhaps if he were more vocal, more North American, perhaps? Maybe that would make a difference?

I'm not truly suggesting Tom Renney has a thing against Czechs. I'm not. But maybe someone in the Rangers organization does. The Rangers had a multitude of men from that country, all relatively soft-spoken and prideful men. And that was not that long ago. They are now down to two. One who plays. One who doesn't.

The Rangers on Saturday had: 8 Canadians, 6 Americans, 3 Swedes, 2 Czechs, 1 Russian, 1 Fin, and 1 Ukranian on their active roster.

For the 2005-2006 season, the Rangers had 7 Czechs (Jags, Straks, Rucinsky, Prucha, Sykora, Rozsival, Malik), 2 Swedes (Nylander and Lundqvist), 7 Canadians (Rucchin, J. Ward, Dom Moore, Blair Betts, Jason Strudwick, Colton Orr, Kevin Weekes), 3 Americans (Ryan Hollweg, Jed Ortmeyer, Tom Poti), 2 Latvians (Darius Kasparaitus, Sandis Ozolinsh), 2 Russians (Fedor Tyutin, Max Kondratiev), and 1 Slovak (Marcel Hossa) who had the bulk of the time (I counted anyone playing 15 games or more).

And out of their top five scorers that year, 4 were from Czech Republic. (Jagr, Straka, Rucinsky, Prucha; Nylander was the lone Swede). Expand to 8, you can add two more Czechs, Rozsival and Petr Sykora. Rucchin was 6th in scoring for the team.

In 2005-2006, Czechs Petr Prucha and Petr Sykora were shootout weapons. (And yes, one memorable goal for Marek Malik too).
In 2006-2007, it was a surprise Slovak Marcel Hossa.
In 2007-2008, it was Canadians Nigel Dawes and Brendan Shanahan.
In 2008-2009, thus far, it has been Swede Fredrik Sjostrom.

Granted, the team today has recieved a major facelift from 2005-2006, and some of it was very necessary. And honestly, some of those players are not in the league anymore. The 2008-2009 team has had a better start than expected, but they are undoubtably quite more a North American heavy team than they were just three years ago.

I'm not saying I don't hope for the best for whatever team the Rangers brass puts on the ice. But, honestly, that 2005-2006 team did something marvelous. Something amazing. And if not for an ill-timed Olympic break, I still feel that team had Stanley Cup Final written all over it.

In Czech of course.

Honestly, just something to think about. Cause quite frankly, I now know I am.

The Rangers Bonnie and Clyde It Again. . .

This time from a very good Boston team. For the most part, it was a rather lackluster game to start. Not bad, by any means. But slow. And especially after all the hype surrounding it. Saturday night, two best teams in the East, from the World's Most Famous.

The Rangers led in shots 5-0 to open the game and when Boston woke up in the 2nd half, they quickly tied up. Again, a very back and forth game. The difference? Boston came on in the 2nd to score 2 goals, taking the life out of the Garden and out of the Rangers team.

And then the thiefs came in and stole some points - again.

Late in the 3rd.


First at 13:55, Nigel Dawes struck. And then at 19:07, Naslund pulled it even for the tie. I was, for one, shocked.

As a Rangers fan I can't help but be happy that they did pull it off. Of course I am. But there has got to be some major concerns about a team that if now becoming accustomed to playing catch up, come from behind hockey. The Rangers of this year actually have a better record when they give up the first goal. Rather than get it themselves. Something backwards there.

That being said, it is character that helps teams to win games like they did Saturday night. And credit them for that. I'm just wondering what happens when they fall more than 2 goals behind or they run into a team they can't push aside.

Some random thoughts. The line of Dan Fritsche, Nigel Dawes, and Lauri Korpikoski looked strong again. So strong, in fact, that they were utilized extensively in the 3rd and for all over 1:30 min on the powerplay. Take that as you will. I'm not judging. But credit them.
However, Scott Gomez, who looks to be unavailable for tonight's game because of his ankle situation, well, when he comes back, who else but Dan Fritsche leaves? Can't pull Dawes, because, well he's Dawes. And you can't pull Korpikoski unless you are going to send him back down to Hartford. So that leaves #49. And it actually is a shame. I think Saturday (and Thursday as well) showcased the type of player the Rangers got. He can play stronger on the puck than the Rangers smaller guys. And as everyone was ooo-ing and ahh-ing Korpi's pass to set up Dawes for the first Rangers goal, it was Fritsche who carried the puck all the way in the zone and behind Thomas' net. I've seen too little of that this year. End to end. By one guy. Without loosing the puck. It'll be a shame when that goes away.

More a shame really considering the way Korpikoski and Fritsche fight along the boards and pass the puck, they seem to be working in great tandem. More so even than Dawes.
But you're not going to not bring Scott Gomez to the lineup in favor of Dan Fritsche. So it goes in NY.

I made a few notes, but I'm going to ignore them since two days have passed. Nothing was as important as the two points in the end, it seems.

Of note though, is Tom Renney's defense of Michal Rozsival, which I agree with to an extent. He's trying to convince a group of unconvincible fans, who have been booing him mercilisly, to not do so. Because he's here. And he'd like to see the fans do what Rozsival can do. And I agree there. Too many that boo have no idea how hard playing NHL hockey is.

My problem with the booing, is that it's counter productive. Booing him BEFORE he even has a chance to screw up, is messing with his head. And it's not fair. Not fair when it was Petr Nedved, not fair when it was Tom Poti, not fair when it was Marek Malik, and now not fair when it is his countryman, Rozsival. It will do nothing to boo him, except make his confidence take an even further nosedive. And although slightly rejuvinated, thanks to some other guys getting a chance on it, is the Rangers absysmal powerplay, really something you wnat to see nosedive further?
Rozsival is not worth his $5 a year. True. But he wanted to stay, they gave him the contract. End of story. Unless my short-sided and ill conceived theory is true (see next blog entry), they wanted Rozsival on this team.

Now, I'm not sure if I were Renney that I'd keep putting him out on the PP, but that's just me.

So tonight in come the Ottawa Senators, who managed to lose not once, but twice to the Islanders. Yes, those Islanders. Word on the XM radio circuit is Jason Spezza could be headed out of town in a blockbuster trade, perhaps with Edmonton.

I've said for years, I don't bet against a team that has Spezza, Dany Heatley, and Daniel Alfredsson. But I've also said that when that line does not produce, they have little else to compensate and it gets ugly quick. It's geting ugly folks. And I didn't pick Ottawa to make the playoffs. So I'm not entirely surprised with their start. But I have to believe there was more than just Ray Emery going on in that lockerroom. Perhaps a chance of scenery for Spezza will help re-focus the team. We'll see.

Of course, Larry Brooks in the NY Post today, proposed that maybe the Sens, to get a defenseman, would trade Vermette or Neil. And the Rangers can ship Prucha, presumably Rozsival, to Ottawa for one of them. If I'm the Rangers, I'm not sure I'd need Neil when I have Orr. But they'd shed salary, that's for sure. And for the sake of Prucha, I hope the kid would have a renaissance in the other nation's capital. I really would. Of course, this is all massive speculation.

Please see next blog for more thoughts on this.

In other Larry news, in Sunday's paper he asked:

"Finally, from Page Six. Which marquee player who is all about the team in the newspapers has been bringing his wife on road trips without the knowledge of his coach or GM?"
Now, at first I was torn, but I'm pretty sure I figured it out. Players that are marquee (in salary or in well actual marqueness): Hank, Drury, Gomez, Redden, Naslund. Cross out Hank and Gomez because they aren't married. Now cross of Drury and Naslund because presumably their wives would be home with their young children. Mystery solved. It's one Wade Redden.
Sure newlyweds can't keep their hands off each other, but is there more to this than meets the eye? hmmm.

Brook's 11/17/08

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sure It Feels Nice To Beat Them But. . .

I cannot, until I see how the Rangers play against Boston on Saturday, be sure whether it was Rangers utterly dominating the Devils last night, or a partial byproduct of the fact that the Devils were without not only their marquee goaltender, but half their team. I'm not sure. Don't get me wrong. After years, like seven or more years, of the Devils stomping all over the Rangers, I am more than ready to admit that the Rangers have the Devils number now. And I love it. Of course I do. But to assume they'd get five goals and look so (again) utterly dominant for the majority of last night's game against say Detroit or Montreal, I am not ready to make that claim.

That being said, it was a good win that showed some things. I'll be more apt to say, wow, okay, great, if on Saturday they are able to do the same against a very good Boston team. [Although if pattern stays the same, it'll be a 2-1, 1-0 game with those boys; unless we want to bring up the St. Patricks Day Massacre of 2007?]

The good things were that playing together Lauri Korpikoski, Dan Fristche, and Nigel Dawes all looked much improved. I've been the one saying that I think Fristche, being a bigger body, will do well if given a chance, especially on a team of mostly smaller people. And add a big guy in Korpikoski, and that's exactly what happened. Am I sure that Dawes and Fritsche would collect two assists every night? No. But they did last night for a reason. Again, to go back a day or two, to my comments, Prucha/Dawes/Drury are too similar and too small of players to be working on one line. But stick a small guy (be it Dawes, be it Prucha, or honestly even Drury) with two bigger guys who can win those battles more cleanly and I think that's why you'll see better results. As evidenced last night.

Now Korpikoski had gone into the lineup to replace Dawes on Monday. Fristche went in to replace Prucha. With Gomez unable to go last night, Dawes was reinserted into the lineup (honestly on some really flakey answer by Renney of how he'd be going back into the lineup anyway because the Rangers shootout didn't look good the other night against Edmonton and how Dawes plays well against the Devils - - all true mind you, but I think Renney has permanently forgotten who scored a ton of shootout goals for the Rangers back in the day and who had one on Brodeur last November 3rd of last season. #25. Look him up). Anyway, all that aside, my question is, so when Gomez, who frankly I'm very glad sat if he wasn't at least 90%, comes back, then who goes out? I'd find it hard to believe Dawes would sit, given Renney's undying faith in him. You're not probably not taking anyone else out. Or you shouldn't be. If Gomez goes back to the Naslund/Callahan line, (and gotta love Ryan Callahan. I keep saying, that guy plays every game every night), Drury presumably will drop down to play with Korpikoski and _____. I would hesitate to want to remove Fritsche from a situation where he looked very comfortable, on a team where they are struggling for size on a nightly basis. But again, I can't imagine Dawes will be pulled for Fritsche to get his own chance to play consistently. It's a shame for him really.

In the other 3rd line roulette/carousel/musical chairs news, yesterday Patrick Rissmiller was sent to Hartford on a conditioning assignment. So he is not subject to waivers, either way. My question. Can Prucha be given the same opportunity if he does not play consistently? What are the parameters for this? I'm sure Petr doesn't want to be playing in Hartford ideally, but, I think since he's the "good soldier" Tom Renney keeps saying he is, he'd at least rather go down and be playing somewhere. I know they need to have one healthy body, for I guess that is all he really appears to be to the team, sitting around, but when Rissmiller comes back up, can Prucha go down? I'm doing some research on this.

And we're going to get me to eat some humble pie here. Wait. Wait for it. Yes, Chris Drury is on a goal scoring streak. Yes I said it. A scoring streak. Goals in two consequtive games. And 5 in his last 4 games. Not bad, honestly. And all kidding aside, I'd be a horrible fan to want the captain of my team to not succeed. So of course, depite kicking, er, gently ribbin him when he was down, I have wanted him to succeed. Again, that $7+ million a year is not going anywhere. Why not have him be the guy getting goals and being, umm, clutch. Which so I heard, he once was. Again, this coming from the girl that was happy to get Drury and nauseated to get Gomez on Free Agent Frenzy Day 2007.

Even if Dubinsky isn't scoring, at least he's sticking up for his team. Again, if there is one major complaint I have about the team - - not including lack of goal scoring, lack of mental toughness, lack of cohesiveness, lack of consistency - - it's lack of personality. And maybe that's not fair. But I think it might be true. I asked my father, who on the team he thought had personality. And he said, besides Orr and Gomez? [For the record, I asked him the other night who was the Rangers most consistent players all year and we agreed on Hank and Callahan]. But really, some of the guys have a little spunk and that's great. But I need some character. And the Rangers have decisively less of it than before. Now, if they are winning, and playing well, I guess they can all be mindless statues and no one will care. But I'd like the whole package. A winning team, with a little heart and character. A little spunk. Dubinsky, has been, and can hopefully get back to, being like that.

Good for Niki Zherdev pocketing two goals. If he can get back on track, I'd feel better about the 2 goal pattern the Rangers had been getting into.

Oh but speaking of 2-goals. Apparently, and thanks to Home Ice XM204 and Hockey This Morning for this - - Hank Lundqvist's streak of 18 games against the Devils where he's given up 2 goals or less, is the second longest streak of its kind in the modern era. The other, Dominik Hasek against Ottawa has gone 23 games. Very interesting stuff.

On a side note, I was not happy with two things yesterday. One, that despite paying for Centre Ice and living in the Rangers home region, I was forced to endure Chico Resch and Doc Emerick on four channels. Sam and Joe were no where to be found. I missed the majority of the 1st period on the phone with DirecTV who told me that either it was blacked out entirely (which is false) or that the Devils, being the home team, had the right to say where and how the game was broadcast. I find that suspect. But I'll check into it, be assured of that.

And secondly, I would have been thrilled if the Rangers won 5-2 against anyone, but I had to feel a little for Kevin Weekes. His team did little to support. And he is a good, good guy. So with that, Marty, please hurry and get well soon. So the Rangers can beat you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sundin and Shanahan. . .

I'm not commenting on either really. Just posting for the sake of posting.

So December 1st is D Day, huh? Just five months later than the first day we all thought was decision day, July 1st, 2008. Alas.

And according to the article, somehow the Rangers and Flyers make the most sense. Hmm. Well honestly, considering the Rangers need scoring and that two of their "centers" seem to play better on wing. Perhaps.

As for Shanahan, Philly does make sense because Shanny's family is in NYC and he's not pulling the twins out of school, etc. But, for less than $1 million. Didn't he, somehow, with bonuses and such, end up costing close to $6 million last year. I personally think if it were less than a million he was asking, or willing to accept, he'd be still playing for the Rangers night now.

Just a thought.

**Updated as of 11/11/08 - 5:15pm

I listened to the Isles game earlier on the radio. After the Flyers 2nd goal, the Flyers announcers said it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop in the arena. Which, considering how few fans come to games, I'm not surprised.

But what I am suprised at is the fact they had the game at 2pm at all. It's Veteran's Day. And yes they are Nassau Veteran's War Memorial Colliseum. It is a fact. But how many people actually get off work for Veterans Day? Enough to justify a day game? Enough to justify a day game for a team that can't draw very well anyway? And they did this on Columbus Day too, didn't they?

I'm stumped.

Note: Attendance was announced at 13,447**

Rangers Grab 1 Point While Big Bad Oilers Take 2. . .

Now, seriously, are the Oilers big or are the Rangers just small? Umm. Both. First of all, Edmonton is full of players that appear much bigger than their listed heights and weights. No less than three times did I look down and be like, who is that giant guy, and realize each time it was Dustin Penner. So were Tom Gilbert, Sheldon Souray, Zach Stortini, Kyle Brodziak (how cool are those names, btw?), and even Jason Strudwick, the departed Ranger. These guys have size. Even their smaller guys like Sam Gagner, don't play all that small to be honest.

The Rangers on the other hand, well, they are small. I will continue to list our small guys as Prucha, Dawes, Callahan, Drury, Sjostrom, etc. And what's laughable, Sjostrom is listed as the 2nd heaviest guy on the team. Sjostrom. 218 lbs, 6'1". Colton Orr, the heaviest, is 222 and 6'3".

I'm sorry, and I know they pad these things both ways, but does anyone believe that Sjostrom weighs more than Voros or Mara? Honestly. If he is believably, or in actuality, the Rangers second heaviest player, - they do have size issues.

Back to the game at hand. It was, slightly more energized than the tilt in Washington over the weekend. Slightly and at times.

There was a shift 12 minutes into the first by the Naslund/Gomez/Callahan line that made me go, yes, that's how hockey should be played. they had another one 14 minutes into the 2nd that drew a penalty against Edmonton. They, collectively, are looking much better. Callahan has been flying all year. But Naslund looks so much sharper. And Gomez, for the time being, seems to be paired well with them. And that's great. They click. They work. That was good to see.

Because, the rest of the team did not seem to have that strong a step. Lauri Korpikoski, at center, and being called up for the first time this year, tried hard, but got just about 8 minutes of ice time. Dan Fritsche, if nothing else, is a bigger threat right now to create offense because he is one of the bigger, stronger players the Rangers have. I have no problem trying to generate more offense this way.

But yet again, it was a case of too little, too late. Credit Paul Mara (and Callahan for a nice pass) on the Rangers first goal. And I guess credit the 400s because not a minute before Mara scored and throughout the actual goal, they began hum/singing the Rangers goal song. Power of positive thinking, people. For that moment only, it appeared to work.

And i think that's better than the booing, whether it's Michal Rozsival or whomever is on our pathetic powerplay. I'm pretty sure the Rangers know how bad their PP is. To remind them in such loud ways might be counter productive. Boo, and they give up the puck. Be encouraging, and they might just score. Might. No guarantees. But it's been getting worse and worse, the fans, and it's getting to be too much.

Coach Renney jumbled the lines temporarily. I looked down and saw Betts with Korpikoski and Fristche, meaning, yes, the 4th line was dismantled for, well around a minute I guess. I didn't see it again the rest of the night. And that left Orr with Sjostrom and Dubinsky. Interesting.

And speaking of Orr. He had a nice fight with Zach Stortini. And it was refreshing to see Colton not smash Zach's head in from behind, as late in the fight Stortini somehow got spun around so that he was stuck with his back to Orr. Was Orr tired and ready to quit? Perhaps. Do I think it was a slight class move? I choose to see it that way, yes.

Dan Fristche, in for the first time since 11/1 in Toronto, didn't have a bad game. He was on the ice for 8:05. His best moment was getting a shot off with two minutes left in the 2nd from right in front, and being stopped by Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.

JDD had a pretty great night. He made that save, and about 39 more (he had 40 on the night). Undefeated so far this year, maybe the Oil have found their guy just yet. We'll see. But he did good in the shootout as well, stopping Zherdev, Sjostrom, and Naslund. Hemsky got the lone goal for Edmonton.

Overall, it's good and fine the Rangers were able to scrape a second goal to tie this time around and to pull the game to the shootout, where they were 2--0 on the season before last night. But. . . offense continues to remain a problem. As does team cohesiveness. As does playing a full 60 minutes. As does speed, crisp passes, and tough defensive zone play. And of course the power play.

We'll see who plays, and how they do, tomorrow from The Rock. I'm curious to see.

In randomness, and from, "Edmonton's previous win at Madison Square Garden, came exactly five years earlier on Nov. 10, 2003 - a 5-4 victory." Well there you have it. I'm putting money on the Oilers on November 10th, 2013.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Saturday's Cap Wrap and Oil Pre-game Thoughts. . . [updated]

So I actually saw Saturdays Rangers/Capitals game live from DC on Saturday. I'd never been to Verizon Center before and have to report, it's very nice. Very easy to drive to, parking right across the street, and in a good, safe area. And a really beautiful arena at only about 10 or so years old. The people I ran into were nice, both fans and employees. No complaints and I would happiliy go again and tell others to do the same.

The game on the other hand left something to be desired.

The Capitals most definitely came ready to play. Undefeated at home so far this season, they used it to their advantage. The Rangers, on the other hand, looked hungover from Thursday's wild victory over Tampa Bay. They were not awake, pretty flat, and it was kinda hard to watch at times. Thankfully the speed of the game was at least a little improved over the Rangers other lackluster games.

I don't know what I thought about the two goals the Capitals scored. I still have yet to see a replay of the net off the mooring goal. Perhaps that can be argued. As for the second goal, where Hank was nudged in the crease, I don't know how much an argument there is there either.
So while I don't have complaints on the goals scored, I do have to complain that the Rangers, again, weren't willing to stick up for themselves or for Henrik. If there was even a bit of traffic in front of him, which there most definitely was, and he got bumped a few times, there should be some reprocussions. On this team, however, they don't seem to have that rough and tumble mindset. And that's a shame. A little tussle would have done something to make the game more exciting, perhaps.

Overall, I have the following to say. I don't think one person, with maybe the exception of Hank, has been consistent this year. Usually, in my experience, you often have at least one player clicking constantly. They might go dry for a short while, but then they come back. Who has been that player? I mean with the exception of Mara and perhaps Callahan, not many of these guys seem to be "in the game" night in and night out. Correct me if I'm wrong.

On that note, these have been my observations of the Drury/Prucha/Dawes line the last 3 games. (Note, Prucha played 10/25 and 10/27, DNP 10/30 and 11/1, and has played the last three games). They are not a good line. I think whoever thought they would be to start the season was sadly mistaken (I am willing to admit that BEFORE the season, I thought they'd be a good, solid, and permanent line. Oh how little I knew back then!). But whoever thought they would be a good combo at this juncture of the season , I certainly think that's an even worse prediction. They are simply not effective. They are, in all honesty and to a lay-man observer, quite the same players. All of them. They shuffle around and try to get in good position to - - get the puck. Not to pass it, but to receive it. I am not calling them selfish players because they appear to be trying to play as a unit. I am just saying they are all in similar mold. They are not working. I often see all three in the same exact position on the ice. Whether digging in the corners, or standing in front of thet net for a deflection. They are all doing the same exact thing. Dawes, presumably and if he didn't appear slower and still unready to start the season, and Prucha, again, based on when he was most successful, need to have people dishing them the puck in prime locations. That isn't happening. And this isn't even a knock on Drury. It's just that he too, seems to have no clue what is going on this season, for the most part. Was his game against Tampa Bay on last Thursday a good one? Definitely. But over 90% of this season, he has looked lost and been ineffective on anything except the PK. If he has a good night on faceoffs, it's still not really helping the situation. Drury was 60% on the night on faceoffs Saturday. The team was a dreadful 38%. And win or lose, the Rangers faceoffs do not seem to end up generating goals. Quite obviously not good.

I guess what I am saying is this. Drury is Drury and the Rangers are stuck with him, good, bad,or indifferent, and I, personally, hope there are more games like Thusday versus Tampa in him. Dawes, in my mind and I don't think I'm alone, has probably been one of the least effective on the team, but yet somehow seems immune to benching. Prucha, who I have defended, has looked more flat in his last two, than he did in the 3 previous games he played. (Note, it was he and not Dawes that got the bench in favor of Sjostrom for the last few shifts Saturday). I am not sure of much, but if Prucha's going to be successful at all, I am sure it cannot be with Drury. It has to be with Gomez or Dubinsky. And I don't think that will happen because . . .

This team, and myself included at this point, seem to have hung the world on Scott Gomez's shoulders. He's been yielded as being a great passer. And that may be. And he might just be this team's only true set up guy. Because apparently our defense are not at all good at the breakout passes they were so touted for. (Wade *cough* Redden). The Rangers are a team of guys that are a) too small to make things happen themselves (except draw penalties, and well, you know how well getting the man advantage has worked for them so far) or b) not capable of playing give and go. Just looking to do the 'go' part. And that doesn't add up. To take a quick look at some numbers, I went to (necessary and awesome site, btw) and took a look at the Rangers team to get a look at how many goals versus assists they have.

It breaks down as:

more G > A
Prucha (59G/45A)
Betts (24G/17A)

More A > G
Gomez (135G/397A)
Naslund (376G 459A)
Zherdev (81G/114A)
Drury (223G/307A)
Sjostrom (35G/42A)
Dubinsky (18G/35A)

G =/~ A (essentially equal)
Dawes (16G/16A)
Voros (13G/12A)
Orr (3G/4A)

For the record, Korpikoski, has one playoff goal in the NHL. His AHL numbers slightly favor scoring over setting up, but it's rather soon to tell.

And, honestly, can you really look at guys like Betts and Orr given their roles on the team? No. (Note Betts, in 05-06 and 06-07, had 8-9 goals each year. That dropped to 2 in 07-08 as his role changed). Can you say that Sjostrom, Dubinsky, Dawes, Prucha, Voros, or Callahan have had long enough careers to make any true speculation? No.

But what it comes down to is that Naslund, Drury, and even Zherdev have very similar rations of goals to assists. And Gomez is the only one that has a clear and distinct advantage of Assists to Goals - about a 3 assists for every 1 goal ratio. That's a set up guy. (Side note: currently, just a year and change into his careers, Dubinsky is operating at 2-1 for assists to goals).

But the numbers don't lie.

And that's a shame, because with seemingly untradable salaries like Gomez, Drury, Redden, and Rozsival, how do you go and get a guy that can be another set up guy? You probably don't. And until then, whatever line Gomez is on is going to be expected to shoulder the brunt of the scoring. And the lines with Drury and Betts will be around for defensive roles only, and as a result, the guys like Sjostrom, Orr, Prucha, Dawes, or who-ever are with them, will not be put in prime position to score. And consequently, the Rangers will lose game 2-1 like they did on Saturday because while they will be able to hold the opposition to 2 goals, they will not able to find the net at least 2 times to pull the game to overtime.

I said it the other day; I'm glad I'm not the coach. Because what can you possibly do? Continue switching lines to try and gain chemistry. And run the risk of switching too soon, too much, and too often. Or leave lines that like Drury/Dawes/Prucha out there that really will have little chance of succeeding as is.

The only thing I can say is that one Lauri Korpikoski, fresh off a Hartford hat trick, has been recalled and will, persumably, skate with the big club tonight. Who comes out - don't know. (I'd vote Dawes, but again, I don't get a vote and I certainly think it will be Prucha taking a seat). What will that do to the lines - no idea. Will any of this affect the dismal powerplay or general lackluster attitude? I can't imagine so.

But, as a fan, I'll hope. Considering they have the Oilers coming in fresh off a win in NJ last night, riding a new goaltender: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers (Dru-enn-DeLaurien / think the car from Back to the Future!) and have been known to score more than two goals when given the chance, the Rangers have to be smart tonight.

Lastly, congratulations to Glenn Anderson, Igor Larionov, Ray Scapinello, and Ed Chymoweth who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this evening.

P.S. In doing some looking at all time assist leaders and the like, I had some wow moments. Doug Weight - has 2.6% more assists than goals per his career (268G/714A). Chelios, a guy who I never liked and, yes, it is noted his is a defenseman, has a ridiculous amount of career assists (185G/763A). And out of the active leaders and assist leaders for their career, Mike Modano, Mats Sundin and Joe Sakic are worth every penny. As if that were in question.

**Authors Edit: 11/10/08 - 1:05pm
According to the blogs, Nigel Dawes will sit so Korpikoski can play. Prucha will also sit, to make room for Dan Fritsche, who yes, is due a turn in at this point in the roulette/carousel/musical chairs game. I'm fine with this. Ideally would have liked to see Drury with Korpikoski and Prucha. But Fristche is due and I think it's more than time for Dawes to sit in favor of fresh blood. Game on! 6 hrs and counting til the opening faceoff. **

Friday, November 7, 2008

And There Was a Hat Trick. . .?

And three power play goals? And a shorthanded goal? FOR them?

What team was I watching last night?

All kidding aside, I promise this will be a very short wrapup.

-So last night, not last monday night on the Island, was Chris Drury's coming out party, it seemed. If so, great. Don't mistake my saracasm here. I think every Rangers fan wants him to do well. If not because he appears to be a good guy, and if not because he is the captain of this team, but because there is really no way he's going anywhere. So while he and his $7+ salary are here, I do want him to succeed, obviously. Yesterday was a good step in the right direction. Good for him.

-The power play was tweaked huh? And that worked, huh? I was laughing when it was "power play goal" time and Callahan, Zherdev, and Dubinsky were out with Mara and Girardi. And Callahan scored. I was like, well duh. This was before the Chris Drury show, but still, the point stands. Move, shoot, and good things will happen.

-This isn't meant as a negative, merely a fact. The Rangers, a few players aside (Mara, Voros, Zherdev, etc) are not a big team. Not at all really. Callahan, Drury, Dawes, Prucha, Sjostrom, Gomez. None of these players are big. And I noticed it on Tuesday as well. There is nothing wrong with small speedy guys. They complement a team. But that many small guys - some of which are not speedy. I do wonder.

-Which means a guy like Aaron Voros, who is not a great fighter, but yes, has heart, has to take on the big boys on the other team. And last night, that included goalie Mike Smith. I admittedly missed some of the pre-antics. I saw now Smith was not happy earlier in the night that Voros fell over him. And it escalated from there. Kudos to Voros for not taking it. I think Smith should just stick to being as good a goalie as he recently has been. It might be Tampa Bay's only shot. They looked better tho.

-As did the Rangers. And I don't mean necessarily Drury scoring, or the power play clicking, although those things are big steps. I just mean cohesiveness. They seemed faster, the passes were crisper. All those things I have been saying. Again it's one game against a marginal team in Tampa Bay, but it's a step.

Tomorrow in Washington will be a test. I will be out of computer realm for the next two days, so I'll catch up Sunday. Enjoy.

p.s. Drury's hat trick, was the first by a New York Rangers since Marty Straka in January of 2007.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Are There Words. . .?

Let me start by saying I'm not an NHL coach. And let me follow immediately with - thank goodness I'm not an NHL coach.

I really wouldn't know where to begin. Quite honestly, I don't know how to begin now.

Was that the Rangers worst game of the season? No. Was it one of the most sickening? Yeah, it kinda was.

I just don't get it.

The game was not pretty, by any means. Those pleas for end to end rushes or at least some form of cohesive and fast skating, fell on dead ears. Despite all that, the Rangers, numerically, seemed to have an advantage, outshooting the Islanders 29-12 after 2 periods. hmm.

And then the roof caved in.

And let me say. I don't like or dislike Michal Rozsival. I think he's overpaid. Absolutely. And I would not have based my team defense around him, that is for damn sure. I appreciate that he thinks it was all his fault and took blame for the two shorthanded goals (YES, 2 SH goals) allowed last night in the 3rd period.

But I'm going to argue it's not his fault.

The system, oh yes the system, that Tom Renney alluded to post-game, is flawed. He said, why does our PK work? We have a system there. We have a system for our PP too. But we don't stick to it. Hmm. Really. Is this the same "system" that has been in place for the last few years? Well at what point do you stop blaming the players and start blaming the system?


Was Rozsival at fault? Sure. Fine. But wasn't it equally the fault of all the other overpriced PP participants as well? I think so. And if it's them, fine. If it's the system, fine. But something has GOT TO CHANGE.

I was sickened that, after the first shorthanded goal, that on the next powerplay, who should stumble over the boards but - oh look - Redden, Rozsival, Drury, Gomez, and Naslund.

I noticed Fredrick Sjostrom and Petr Prucha talking on the bench on the powerplay. On can only speculate but:

Sjo: Why don't they put you out there? You scored a ton of PP goals two years ago. What 15?
Pru: 16.
Sjo: Right 16.
Pru: Rangers rookie record too.
Pru: Why don't they put you out there? You are faster than any of them.
Sjo: I am aren't I?
Pru: And you have moves.
Sjo: I know. I know. 2 game winners in the shootout, but, they don't count now, do they?

Although I think it was a little more in Czech--Swesh language and a little nastier. But that's just me.

The point remains. . . the downright refusal 15 games into the season to not change, not even remotely change, the worst part of their game, night in and night out, is unexplainable.

Their PK, thank goodness, has only allowed 5 goals in 57 attempts (before last night). 2nd in the league.

Their PP, gosh help me, has allowed 5 goals TO THE OTHER TEAM! 1st in the league.

Their PP, which I really think they should deny next time if given the option, scored 10 of 70 times (before last night). 25th in the league.

Someone explain that to me!


It's too early for it to be some not-funny April Fools' Day joke, right?

Think, honestly, think maybe they all hate Perry Pearn and this has all just been a 2-year ill-fated effort to get the gray-haired one fired?


In other game notes. . .

-Joey MacDonald should be credited. He made 35 saves. Any way you slice it. And he made a monster save in the 2nd off Rozsival I believe. A thing of beauty really.

- Renney, as posted on yesterday [11/4/08]

' If we’re in agreement that neither Dan Fritsche nor Petr Prucha have exactly distinguished themselves so far this season, it’s fair to ask if the two players have been given the opportunity to do so. With Prucha’s reinsertion into the lineup, neither player has played more than two games in a row so far, but Tom Renney said that’s because neither player has made enough of a mark.

"If somebody’s locked in, they’ve nailed it and I’m happy with that," Renney said. "In the meantime that hasn’t been the case."
Curiously, Renney reintroduced Patrick Rissmiller into the conversation about possible lineup selections. The winger was put through waivers nearly two weeks ago, but is eligible to be put back in at the coach’s discretion.

"It certainly has crossed my mind of late," Renney said. "He’s a good player and he can skate. I think there will be a time when we’re fortunate we have him." '

Okay, so wonderboy Dawes here, drops a glove or two, and gets a four minute double minor for roughing last night. Because he showed a pulse, he'll never leave now, right? Never be benched? And Prucha, who finally looked a little less energized last night (but come on, they ALL did) will be back on the bench for Patrick Rissmiller? Pete, offer to pack your bags still stands buddy. I can't take this back and forth BS. Because that's simply what it is. BS. Favoritism. Hypocritical. BS.

I guess that's why the highest paid players are on the PP no matter what they do or do not do. Is this written somewhere in small writing on the bottom of their contracts or something??

- Markus Naslund apparently told the media they'd like a few more minutes to talk together as a team after last night's game. As most of the media were already there, his request was denied. But it begs to ask, why does it seem Naslund is much more captain material. And I don't just mean because he was one in Vancouver. He is as quiet as Drury, surely. But not when it counts. He says that. He talks to the referees. He looked animated after the refs called Zherdev for knocking down Boulton on the faceoff the other night. He seems to be caring a little more, no? Again, all speculation. I have no reason to assume anything. And kudos to Naslund because he looks better and more comfortable as the games go on. And at least he's scoring.

-Lastly I heard that All Star ballots came out for the NHL. And it's always this way but why, why, do they do this so far in advance? So many players are injured and, even if elected, will have to be replaced. And it's really a game of popularity or top $$ makers. Because the fact that Drury and Redden are on it for the Rangers is crap, of course. I'd honestly, if they were the only two, take back my long time plea that there should be a representative from every team on the roster. I really would. Thankfully I looked and saw Hank and, well, he can go. He probably deserves to go. And in a year where DiP, and Brodeur are injured, he just might finally get that chance. Three time consequtive Vezina nominee. But he's no All-Star? Please.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brodeur, Modano, Semin, Crosby, and Other Random Around the League Rumblings . . . [updated]

As I've already beaten the Rangers talk to death yesterday. . . sigh. . . I will keep my chatter to talk around the rest of the league.

- Rumors are going around that Martin Brodeur is going to be out for four months. I have nothing to confirm this (will update when I hear more). But I am going to say a few things. One, I read somewhere Kevin Weekes said it looked like something he did once. And he was out for a lengthy time. Two, that Brodeur wouldn't talk to the media after that game. Three, he never seems to get injuried or leave a game. He must have really been hurting.

Now that being said, I am not a fan of Brodeur by any means. I credit him when it's due, and more often than not, I do credit him. He's arguably the best of all time. More importantly though, I don't like to see players go down to injury like this. I never do. Is he due, perhaps, after years and years and years and years of healthy seasons where he played 78 games? Maybe so. Did I want this to happen or am I happy it happened? No. I really am not. As a Rangers fan, I want to beat the Devils when they are playing their best. And they are their best with Brodeur in nets. For years the Rangers got their butts handed to them (7 years I think) and it was sad for me. It was sad to not have a rivalry be competitive. It was one sided. Last year definitley (and perhaps even for most of Hank Lundqvist's tenure in NY) the shoe was on the other foot. Did I think that was awesome? You bet I did! Because the Rangers were due. Their fans were due. That was the universe righting itself.

But. . .ideally, I'd like there to be some competitive balance. Not have one team win ALL THE TIME. Even if it's my team. It's boring. Again, I'm saying, last year, from regular season to playoffs was nothing short of sweet. Because it hadn't been that way in so oo oo long. But if that were every year, it would get boring. I'm sorry.

Whether he's out or not, let's explore something. I think most people would say, done, season over. But, maybe not. Their biggest problem - always - has been their greatest strength. Marty hides flaws. He does. He keeps them in games they shouldn't be. And sometimes if he lets in one goal, that might be one too many if their team can't score. Zach Parise is the only guy I hear scoring over there right now.

But their defensive consistency is in jeopardy. They haven't had to be tested with out Marty. Now, I'm a huge Kevin Weekes fan. And I'm arguing he's NOT going to be the problem here. His team was shellacked last night. Outshot 20-3 in the first period. They left Kevin Weekes out to dry. And he stood up. He stood up and only let in 2 and got 3rd star of the game honors. Will he be able to every single night? No. But he's a better goalie than almost anyone gives him credit for. (After all, he's the guy who beat Brodeur & Co in 2002 when was with Carolina).

Do not get me wrong. I am not a Devils fan and will not be rooting for them. But, I'm a Kevin Weekes fan. And I hope he does himself proud.

- Mike Modano apparently said a bunch of stuff after the Boston/Dallas game this weekend. Highlights were:

"Tonight, it was idiotic and stupid, it was one of the most embarassing things I've seen. If that's what we're going for, then they need to find me an off-ice job."

"It was dumb penalties, dumb situations, that's kind of been the trend all season," Modano said. "There's no mental toughness. We're allowing the refs to get involved in the game with and spending more energy on them than the details of winning the game."

As per ( later came to talk to them about it and re-clarify what he was talking about. Credit Modano for being a man. But, you have to wonder, just how bad was it? Is it just not being used to Avery yet? I mean yapping to the fans? That is part of the package. Just ask Buffalo! I just wonder what he said to make Modano so...mad. Or is this just not in Modano's nature. And I'm sure it's not. I have long respected Mike modano and will continue to do so. I still hold true that it's early in Dallas. For Avery versus his team maybe. For the team itself - shambles right now. Damn me and thinking Turco was going to have a good year. ehhhhhhh. [note, I saw some of the scrums, but I didn't see the game, unfortunately].

- Speaking of the Sabres, I don't pick Ryan Miller for my fantasy team this year for the first time in probably 2 or 3 years. And Buffalo starts like mad! And Ryan Miller is playing awesome. I should really give up thinking I know how to play this stuff. There is no way to predict.

- Alex Ovechkin has returned from Russia and feels thankful he got the chance to go home and see his family. He feels re-energized and ready to go. Alright, go! Start piling up points now. :) I give you permission.

- A little dated but Alexander Semin took a shot at Sidney Crosby the other day:

"What's so special about (Crosby)? I don't see anything special there," Semin, who leads the NHL with 16 points, said in an interview with "Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... (Kane) is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb."

I think it's funny. Immediate reaction. Funny. [And we know I love Pat Kane!] But seriously. Let them fight it out. The Capitals/Penguins have no lack of animosity in their games. Ovechkin v. Crosby. Ovechkin v. Malkin. Add this one to the list. Semin v. Crosby. It's interesting. Do I agree? I mean, I don't know. I think I am apparently the poorest judge of whether a player is good or bad. I really am. But. . .while Crosby is definitely one of the best players in the league - Is he THE best? I don't know. I really don't know. And to Semin's point, the NHL focuses on Crosby as the next coming of Wayne Gretzky and the source of almost all its NHL Marketing. And I think that's narrow-minded and short-sided. The NHL has the best crop of young talent in a long time right now, playing night in and night out. They should embrace ALL OF IT. Is Crosby a part? - yes. The entire entity of the NHL? - he shouldn't be. Gordie Howe alluded to it at the NHL Awards - the league is in "great hands." Let it be. Let them be in great hands. And that is more than just the two belonging to #87.

- What would we do with out hockey? :)

***Updated: As of 12:35, Tony and PJ on the Team990 in Montreal say Brodeur will have surgery and be out around 4 months. confirmed on **