Saturday, March 31, 2007

This Just In

At 9:01 P.M. EST, the New York Islanders 2006-07 season was declared dead.

That is all.

Local Hockey Tripleheader (Sort of) tomorrow:

12:00 NHL On NBC Countdown to Faceoff (NBCSports.com)
12:30 Detroit vs. Columbus (NBC-HD)
3:00 Devils Gamenight (FSN NY)
3:30 Boston vs. Devils (FSN NY/inHD)
6:00 I don't know, order a pizza?
6:30 Rangers Gamenight (MSG)
7:00 Rangers vs. Toronto (MSG)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Devils Win; Isles Lose

The Devils, after both teams played dreadfully, got a 3-1 win over Filthy. Rupp, Zajac and Pando (!) scored for NJ to put them back in first on wins in the Atlantic. Pittsburgh is in T.O. on Saturday, the Devils are home to Boston on Sunday.

The Isles on the other hand, let a chance to overtake 8th place slip away. They blew it. AGAIN! Why does this team keep going with Mike Dunham? It clearly just isn't working for Marty Brodeur's former understudy. Dubliewicz comes in and stops 17 of 18 while Miller lets in 3rd period goals. Please, oh please, Teddy boy, let Doobie start on Saturday. The Isles have Ottawa at the Mausoleum on HNIC.

Buffalo, with their next win, will clinch top seed in the East.

Ottawa beat Montreal tonight, keeping the Isles two points out.

In rearview mirror news, FLORIDA WON AGAIN. 3-2 over the Caps. They have to be taken seriously this last week of the season. I sincerely believe they have a shot, merely because their remaining schedule is Carolina twice, and Tampa and DC on the road. They will have a prayer when Sunday brings on the Canes in Sunrise.

Tampa moved into 6th with their win over the Canes.

Here's how 2-13 look, sheesh.

2. NJ - 100 PTS, 4 Games Left
3. ATL - 91 PTS, 4 Games Left
4. PIT - 100 PTS, 4 Games Left
5. OTT - 100 PTS, 4 Games Left
6. TB - 88 PTS, 4 Games Left
7. NYR - 87 PTS, 5 Games Left
8. MTL - 86 PTS, 4 Games Left
---------------------------------
9. TOR - 85 PTS, 5 Games Left
10. NYI - 84 PTS, 5 Games Left
11. CAR - 84 PTS, 4 Games Left
12. FLA - 82 PTS, 4 Games Left

Devils, Isles Tonight

Devils are home to Philthy tonight at 7:30 on FSN, Isles at 8:00 are in Buffalo, in what is really a must-win for this team. This is the game in hand they have on EVERYONE. This is the definition of must win.

Devils need to win to get back ahead of Pittsburgh. Madden is back in the lineup tonight. Woo.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Entertaining Read

Here's my column from SFM this week.

Super-zoomed in cameras are not the answer to the NHL's television problem. Just because we're getting closer to the ice with the angle does not give you a better view of the game, it worsens it. Watching New Jersey-Florida from Sunrise on Saturday, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Grinding along the boards was a mystery, a few goals were out of sight. Tell you what: Put the camera wherever you want, use the crowd noise at the games (especially this time of year) to put the casual fan in the arena. Putting the camera in the 10th row and zooming in is not the solution.

Enjoy It

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Devils Lose

Well, there goes the conference. We gotta play better. You chalk as many games up to being tired as you want, but at some point your just gonna have to fight through it.

Great goals from Buffalo. They played fantastic. 2-2 season series for these teams. I hope they meet in the Conference Finals.

Rangers and Isles Lose

Both the Rangers and Islanders suffered costly losses tonight. Up two after a strong first period up north, the Rangers imploded in a dreadful second giving up five consecutive goals to fall behind 5-2. Though they got two in the third, it wasn't enough to come all the way back as they dropped one to the Canadiens 6-4- snapping their season high five-game win streak.

Meanwhile, the Islanders dropped one at home to the Devils 3-2 in a game they never led. The loss was their second straight and leaves them in dire straits heading into a difficult final six-game stretch which includes games against Buffalo, Ottawa, the Rangers, Leafs, Flyers and Devils. With No.1 goalie Rick DiPietro uncertain due to postconcussion symptoms probably stemming from a dirty play by Ranger pest Sean Avery and then a puck to the mask by Jaromir Jagr Sunday which probably reinjured the netminder, the Fishsticks will need backup Mike Dunham to come up big. They'll also need to score a lot of goals.

Congrats to the Pens on qualifying for their first postseason in six years (five seasons). They fought back from two down to post a 4-3 win at Washington. The win enabled them to keep pace with the Devils, who clinched a playoff spot for the 10th straight season Tuesday night in Long Island. Tied for first with 98 points, the Devs still hold two tiebreakers over the Pens with one extra game left.

For more on the breakdown of the battle for the final three playoff spots, please check out the remaining schedules for the six teams vying at Hitting Back.


There is one game on the schedule Wednesday night which has implications as Carolina visits the Flyers. The Canes find themselves in a three-way tie for ninth with the Leafs and Isles. All three know their work will be cut out for them in trailing eighth by two points and seventh by three. It should be a wild ride to the finish!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NHL/NBC Renew Deal

People are probably wondering what I think about this deal. In case you haven't heard, here's the basic details:

-9 National Games of the Week
-Flex Scheduling. NHL picks 3 games for each broadcast window at least, NBC picks 1 game 13 days prior.
-All games in HD.
-Playoffs are the same.

I think it's worth a shot, you know? We've gone with the old formula (3 Regional Games) for years. There going to put it in a timeslot on Sunday, and air the games.

Bravo.

Tonight, Devils-Islanders on VERSUS at 7:30. Doc, Brian Engblom and Chris Simpson with the call. Devils will make Dunham look like Roy tonight.

DP Out For Season

TSN reports that Rick DiPietro is suffering Post Concussion Syndrome and is out indefinitely. A reliable source on the HFBOARDS says that he is out at least for the remainder of the regular season.

With the difficult level of competition the Isles face in their remaining schedule, the Fat Lady is now singing. Turn out the lights, this party is over.

Let's hope DP can shake this thing and be okay for next season.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Anaheim-Detroit Tonight

A fun chance to see how the other half lives tonight at 7 on VERSUS and VSHD.

Joe Beninati, Darren Eliot and Billy Jaffe (!) have the call.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nylander's Winner

I can't really term that weak for two reasons:

A.It was a 4-on-3.
B.It was a deflection in front.

It's awfully difficult to kill DiPi on that. If that's how we're going to be, then I guess Marty's rebound on one of the Panthers' goals sucked. Maybe he's wearing down. ;)



P.S. The Avs announcer is a maniac. The Canucks scored two straight to go up 3-1. Then the Avs scored and he went berserk going, "Scoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

He sounded like he might jump out of his body. Does he really still believe they're making it over Calgary? :-\

Settling the Score

Considering Nylander's goal was one that could've happened at even strength or not --a really weak one there -- I'd say the onus is on the dark blue and orange.

Lundqvist The Difference

Rob, you can complain all you want. Personally, I don't care one bit. Not when your team had 10 power plays including two 5-on-3's and couldn't beat our goalie.

I bet you weren't upset when the fans howled until they got that holding call on Big Bird with about 4 minutes to go in regulation. I don't see how Sean Hill or any Fishstick fan can have any beef with the call made in overtime. Not when Jagr was held for as long as he was and kept skating until they were forced to make the call.

Bottom line: Despite carrying the majority of the play to the Rangers in a game they desperately needed to win due to the first playoff tiebreaker, the Islanders only managed to beat Henrik Lundqvist once on an Alexei Yashin redirect.

To be fair, both goalies were outstanding all day (Slick Rick DiPietro had 32 saves) and so were the respective penalty killing units. There was plenty of passion exhibited in one of the best rivalries of what was a very exciting game. One team came away with two points and the other with one.

The Rangers' fifth straight win enabled them to pass the Lightning in the standings for sixth with 87 points. They lead Tampa by a point with each club having six games remaining. Meanwhile, the Islanders tied Carolina and Montreal for eighth. All three clubs have 84 points with the defending champion Hurricanes and Isles holding a valuable game at hand (seven left for each) on the Canadiens. Meanwhile, with their 4-1 home win over Buffalo, the Maple Leafs still lurk behind in 11th with 82 points- two points off the pace with seven to play.

Anything can happen. Ultimately, both the area locals will have to continue to play solid hockey down the stretch if they want to make the playoff cut. The Blueshirts have now beaten the Islanders by a 2-1 score three straight times after losing the first four in the series. The two bitter rivals have one game left which will take place at Nassau Coliseum on April 3rd.

Now for one other bit on the Ranger netminder who has carried his team for over two months back into the playoff picture. With 34 more saves today, Lundqvist continued to roll. He reduced his GAA to 2.30 and lifted his save percentage to .917. Is it time for the Ranger netminder to get some Vezina consideration? Only if he keeps up the sizzling play and gets his team safely into the postseason for a second straight year.

The likeable Swedish goalie had an interesting comment after the big win:

"I want to play in a game where every save means the difference in winning or losing. I love 2-1 games. I hate 6-5 games. It's challenging, and you know you have to stay focused."



Indicative of how locked in the 25 year-old is on the task at hand.

Isles lose to Refs, I Mean Rangers

Well, it was a great game again today between the Isles and Rangers. Both goalies were great. But, and my Ranger fan blogger will disagree with this of course, the Refs gave the Rangers the game. Now on the surface, one can look at the box score and think Rob has lost his mind - the Isles had more power plays than the Rags. True, but to make that call on Hill in OT, when the stick was between Jagr's legs for about a second before Hill dropped his stick is just plain lame. I don't even think Jagr knew the stick was there. It certainly sisn't affect his skating with the puck. It would have been a weak call in a pre-season game, never mind OT of a very significant game. But I should be used to it by now. It has been happening for years.

Other than that, great game by both teams. Tightly played game, good D coverage on both sides and DP and Lund were great. Well, we have one more crack at the RagRefs. Hopefully the game will mean something. Oh anyone catch our favorite dirty player last week? Hollweg had another patented cheapo boarding a la the one against Simon. But this time he was penalized. One day some one is going to knock the daylights out of him and I am looking forward to it.

Should be an exciting stretch run. The Isles have a very tough schedule the rest of the way. I think it will be difficult for them to make the playoffs, but not impossible. They have played very well in the past three games and are back to their pre-trade deadline form, mainly due to the D stepping up and playing much tighter of late. It will probably come down to DP needing to be almost perfect over the next two weeks.

Fasten your seat belts....

Cheers Brett Hull

For calling out the unresponsible media for jumping on the bandwagon of banning fighting. The Golden Brett was right on with everything he said regarding why fights need to stay in the game of hockey. It's a matter of pride and is still a way to settle things properly without the unnecessary cheapshots we see way too much of these days. Hull called out Jordin Tootoo's sucker punch saying there's no place in the game for that or other dirty stuff which crosses the line.

Hull called out the lack of respect and made a valid point that it's not fights that need to go but the players who can't play the game the right way.

Cheers to you Brett! You get it!

Fans Speak On Fighting

A poll was conducted via yahoo regarding fighting. Which do you think we voted for?

Fighting in the NHL:
There's too much

10%
It's not an issue

51%
There should be more

39%

34781 Total Votes

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Rather Large Win

Jersey Jim Dowd ladies and gentleman. What a goal that second strike was! Fakes the shot then slips it around the Eagle for the goal.

Dowd gets two to go along with David Clarkson's one. Parise and Zajac score in the shootout, Marty gets two outta three and the Devils get a big two points.

Here's what the Top of the East looks like:

1. BUF - 103 PTS, 7 Games Left
2. NJ - 96 PTS, 7 Games Left
3. ATL - 88 PTS, 6 Games Left
4. OTT - 98 PTS, 6 Games Left
5. PIT - 94 PTS, 7 Games Left

By the way, an absolutely atrocious broadcast from FSN today. Terrible camera angle, Steve and Chico were repetitive, off the mark, made mistakes and the audio was poor as well.

Around the League tonight:

-It sucks to be an Isle fan. Big win over Philly, and Toronto, Carolina, Montreal and the Rags ALL WIN.

-Ottawa wins big as Tampa chokes on a chance to lead the Southeast, 7-2.

-Minnesota now leads the Northwest, they beat LA 4-1.

Let's look at the monster mash in the East:

6. TB, 86 PTS, 6 Games Left
7. NYR, 85 PTS, 7 Games Left
8. CAR, 84 PTS, 7 Games Left
------------------------------------
9. MTL, 84 PTS, 6 Games Left
10. NYI, 83 PTS, 8 Games Left
11. TOR, 82 PTS, 7 Games Left


Rangers-Islanders in what I think will be the game of the year on NBC4 tomorrow. NBC disagrees with me, because no one outside of NY State and Northern NJ can watch it. Dave Strader, Brian Hayward, Joe Micheletti have the call.

Rangers Get Huge Come From Behind Win

The Rangers can thank their goalie for today's comeback 2-1 shootout win in Boston. Henrik Lundqvist was once again brilliant in allowing only one goal on 41 shots. The Swedish netminder has been the best NHL goalie for over two months now. It continued today.

With his team not as sharp, the second-year Swedish netminder made some very difficult saves to keep them alive. Down one late, none was bigger than the robbery of ex-Ranger Aaron Ward. While flat on his back sprawled out, he got a pad on a Ward shot ticketed for the top of the net. If that goes in, it's goodnight because that's how tough Boston backup Joey MacDonald was to beat. The Bruins also played much better in front of him than they did last week in that 7-0 St. Patty's Day destruction at MSG.

Lundqvist (40 saves) allowed his team to find a way to steal two points. And when Thomas Pock ripped home a point shot with 100 seconds left for his first goal since October 10, it gave them a huge boost. Lundqvist continued his clutch play late in OT, thwarting Zdeno Chara in front on a Bruins' man-advantage.

The game would go to a shootout. And after Michael Nylander and Patrice Bergeron split goals the first two rounds, team captain Jaromir Jagr would step up and come through by powering one thru MacDonald's five-hole to put the Rangers in front. Lundqvist would then force rookie Phil Kessel wide to give the Blueshirts a huge two points.

It was their fourth straight win and kept them in seventh with 85 points. Two more than the Islanders have after posting their second win in a row by getting an Andy Hilbert tally with less than five minutes left in Philly.

That sets up a critical match-up at Nassau Coliseum tomorrow afternoon at 12:30 PM on NBC between the two bitter rivals. Plenty will be at stake.

For more on the Rangers' big win, please check out our recap:

King Henrik Steals Two Points In Boston

Devils tonight

Devils at Florida, 7:30 on FSN. Hope for the best, as Pittsburgh, Rags and Isles have all won their games.

Boston College-St. Lawrence at 4:30 on FSN. East Regional Final (Mass and Maine) at 6 on CN8, and Midwest Final (Michigan St. and Notre Dame) at 8:30 on CN8.

Enjoy folks.

Colton Orr KOs Todd Fedoruk

Ranger enforcer Colton Orr KO's Todd Fedoruk 21 seconds in during the Blueshirts' 5-0 win over the Flyers.

Friday, March 23, 2007

NCAA Tonight

Not hoops folks, check out College Puck action on FSNY right now and all weekend long.

Enjoy! UMass over Clarkson 1-0 in OT Winner takes on the victor of Maine-St. Cloud State, on FSN right now. Then at 8:30 and 11, a Midwest region DH, with two big boys, Boston U. and Michigan St. and the Notre Dame taking on Cinderella hopeful Alabama-Huntsville.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

From NHL Today

HE SAID IT
“It’s unbelievable how fast it goes by. If there’s something I want to pass on to the younger guys, it’s enjoy every moment of it, because it really does fly by. I still got that same grumpiness as I did when I was 18. But I still enjoy coming to the rink, having fun with the game. There’s been a lot of ups and downs over the years, but they’re all worth it." - Panthers forward Chris Gratton, who is scheduled to play in his 1,000th NHL game tonight against the Senators.

From Elias: Gratton, who is 31 years, 260 days old, will be the fifth-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game plateau, behind Dale Hawerchuk (30 years, 306 days), Vincent Damphousse (31-110), Brian Bellows (31-152) and Pierre Turgeon (31-206).

Just remember, Gratton was once supposed to be a very good player. Not that he doesn't play hard. But just remember that he was once dealt straight up for Daniel Briere. Who do you think won that deal?!?!?!?!?!

FROM THE STAT WIZARDS AT ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU
The Penguins and Islanders play each other for the final time this season tonight at Nassau Coliseum. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in the six games he’s played against the Islanders this season, with at least two points in each game. Only two players have ever scored more than 17 points against the Islanders in one season: Mario Lemieux in 1988-89 (18 in seven games) and Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06 (18 in eight games).

There's little doubt that if the Islanders are to snap their four-game skid, they'll need to shutdown Sid The Kid tonight. Any takers on that one?

NY Hockey Report 3-21-07 Archive

Last night, yours truly flew solo and discussed the Rangers' hot play of late, the Isles' recent struggles along with the Devs' problems. Also covered were a couple of key Award races and discussion about the unbalanced schedule. Joe McDonald also made a cameo between periods for part of the middle seg from The Garden.

Check it out here:

NYHR 3-21-07

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rangers Devour Cheesesteaks

The game isn't over yet. But for all intent and purposes, it ended a little while ago. One word to sum it up: Domination.

In every aspect, the Rangers have given their fans at MSG a treat. And with it, they march two points closer to a second straight postseason. After tonight, they'll be up to 83 with eight left- one behind the Lightning for sixth.

The goalscorers were Petr Prucha (19), Jaromir Jagr (26), Sean Avery (15,16) and Jed Ortmeyer (2).

So, what can be said about this performance on the heels of two impressive ones over Boston (7-0 St. Patty's Bash) and Pittsburgh (2-1)? They're looking very together. Brendan Shanahan has looked good playing alongside Avery and impressive rookie Ryan Callahan to comprise the IRA Line, which btw struck for a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal to put the finishing touches on this 5-0 domination (third consecutive win).

With red hot netminder Henrik Lundqvist about to get shutout No.5 (he's coming folks), the Rangers are the best defensive team in the league since January 13. One word which sums it up: Wow. It's hard to fathom. But the Swedish goalie has been sensational and the team D has improved significantly since rookie Daniel Girardi (2 assists and some more steady play tonight) was recalled. Since Tom Renney broke up Marek Malik and Michal Rozsival, the blueline looks much more balanced. Girardi works extremely well with Big Bird. And Rozsival has teamed effectively with Thomas Pock. Meanwhile, veteran Jason Strudwick hasn't looked out of place in working with Paul Mara. Just remember they're missing Fedor Tyutin (just started skating) and Karel Rachunek.

It's a credit to the staff how well these guys have meshed under extreme circumstances. And kudos to Renney for having enough confidence to roll four lines. Every player saw at least 10 minutes including enforcer Colton Orr, who as noted earlier KO'd Todd Fedoruk- sending the Flyer tough guy to St. Vincent's Hospital for precautionary measures.

What's more? Renney's club is coming together while staying disciplined. This wasn't the case during last season's feel good story and certainly wasn't two months ago. But a lot seems to have been righted lately. And with meathead Avery proving to be more than just a pest, this team is no longer a pushover for the opposition. With Callahan continuing to impress playing solid overall hockey notching his first career assist on Avery's second, this team has much more balance than before.

It says here that when Martin Straka returns from his knee injury, Callahan deserves his place on the second line. While Brad Isbister has been a good soldier, he doesn't have the skills that the 21 year-old Rochester native possesses. Nor the hands either. Izzy has played hard but it would be an injustice if he played over Callahan.

So when Straka returns, the lines should look like this:

Straka-Nylander-Jagr

Callahan-Avery-Shanahan

Ortmeyer-Cullen-Prucha

Hollweg-Betts-Orr

Extra F: Isbister


As complete a lineup up front as the Rangers have had in years. What can't get lost in all this solid play is that the task is far from over. Locked into seventh in the East with 83 points (3 better than Tor, Car and Mtl and 4 more than NYI), the Blueshirts have their work cut out for them down the stretch- finishing the schedule with six of the final eight away from MSG. But as Avery noted during the 2nd intermission, the team has played better away from home. They'll now put it to a test when they visit Boston, the Islanders, Canadiens and Flyers in succession over the next week.

With pivotal games against the Isles (2 at Nassau), Habs (1 R, 1 H) and the Leafs (H 4/1), Renney's players know what they must do if they want to make it back-to-back postseasons on Broadway for the first time in a decade ('96, '97).

And the formula is simple. Keep playing the way they are with solid team commitment to defense and hard aggressive forechecking. If they do, everything will take care of itself.

Fedoruk KO'd By Orr

Live Update: Last time these two teams met, Todd Fedoruk ran every Ranger in sight with club enforcer Colton Orr not in the lineup. Apparently, that wasn't going to happen in tonight's rematch.

During the game's opening shift, the undersized Orr KO'd Fedoruk and he's being taken out on a stretcher as we write this. It was a clean right that did the damage. Even though this was payback for last time, I hope Fedoruk is okay. This was very scary. Nobody ever wants to see anyone get hurt. Wishing him the very best.

Irish Line Debuts

With Brendan Shanahan returning from a concussion, he'll be teamed up with Sean Avery and rookie Ryan Callahan, forming the Irish Line. ;)

Here are tonight's lines:

Isbister AKA Stonehands-Nylander-Jagr

Callahan-Avery-Shanahan

Ortmeyer-Cullen-Prucha

Hollweg-Betts-Orr

Malik-Girardi

Pock-Rozsival

Mara-Strudwick

After how well the Betts line performed in silencing Sidney Crosby the other night, it wouldn't surprise us if Tom Renney matches them against the dangerous scoring duo of Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble (just back from broken orbital bone). We'll see.


Don't forget to tune into us at the top of the our for the NYHR over at All In Broadcasting.

Rangers Tonight

Tranny returns tonight as the Rangers are hosting Philadelphia. It's on MSG and out of marketers can watch it on Comcast.net

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tranny-han?

Interesting stuff from today's Post:

March 20, 2007 -- LINDSAY Lohan continued her New York party over the weekend. On Saturday night, she and her pals, deejay Samantha Ronson and p.r. powerhouse Lisette Sand-Freeman, hit the Beatrice Inn before going to The Box at 1 a.m. - where Lohan got up on the stage and sang while doing a "stripper dance" to thunderous applause. She got off easy - after her, New York Ranger Brendan Shanahan was blindfolded and ball-gagged as trannies danced around him.

Ugggh

Hey, nice D on that last goal. Kuba came in with Satan trying to cover him from behind without touching him. Great. One point does not really help the Isles as Toronto and Montreal both won. I really don't have much to say after this loss. I predict the Isles do not make the playoffs. Too many teams in the hunt that know how to play D. Later.

Rob

HELP!! The Isles Are Falling

I've taken my meds and moved back from the ledge. But I can't promise I won't jump. WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO THE ISLES????? I'm sitting here after the first period of tonight's game against Tampa. The Isles look horrible. Slow, malaised, not hitting anything. No offense. The puck in the Isles' zone the entire period. Shorthanded four times.

Right about now, I'm starting to regret the Zhitnik trade. Meyer and Campoli are like two munchkins trying to stop Lecavalier and company. DP has looked pretty good, but bends over between plays and doesn't look well to me. I seems as if the rest of the league has figured out the Isles. Throw the puck in and cycle, cycle, cycle. With their small D, the puck never leaves the zone. In the last few losses, the Isles at least looked determined. Tonight they look resigned to losing. It is disgusting to watch.

If the Isles lose tonight and I am Nolan, I bring up Tambellini and Nielsen and sit some asses down from here on in. At least those two give you energy. Ugghh. I know I didn't post this weekend but I was too depressed to pump out a column. Well, back to the action - I'll post more later.

Rob

Isles and Devs in Action

Both locals will be facing off tonight. The slumping Islanders (lost 3 straight) will look to overcome their demons against Tampa in St. Petersburg. They've lost the last seven to the Lightning, who currently rank sixth in the East with 82 points (one more than the Rangers). Starting netminder Slick Rick DiPietro could be returning from a concussion suffered in a loss at Montreal last week.

It's a huge game for the Fishsticks, who are in a three-way tie for ninth with Toronto and Montreal. All three trail eighth Carolina by a point. And they're all playing tonight. The Leafs will host the Devils at the ACC while the Canadiens visit Boston.

For the Devils, they'll try to gain valuable ground on idle Pittsburgh, who lost in regulation last night to the Rangers 2-1 thanks to a Jaromir Jagr goal with 33.8 left. Two points up on the Pens for the Atlantic, the Devs will attempt to bounceback from a dreadful 7-2 spanking courtesy of the Canes on St. Patty's Day. The good news for the Devs is that the game is on the road, where they've gone 8-0-2 in their last 10. The bad is that the Leafs will be out for retribution for Cam Janssen's cheap hit on Tomas Kaberle. If it's decided, there could be some fireworks.


This from the NHL Today:

From Elias: Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 14-3-3 with a 2.14 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and one shutout in 21 games since January 20. Marc-Andre Fleury (16) and Roberto Luongo (15) are the only goaltenders with more wins than Backstrom since January 20. Martin Brodeur also has 14 wins since that date.

The Wild have climbed the standings since star forward Marian Gaborik returned in February. But without the splendid play of Backstrom, replacing injured starter Manny Fernandez, they wouldn't be challenging Vancouver for the Northwest crown. No small feat there.

And while we're on topic with the Western race, don't look now but the sizzling Avs are right on the tail of eighth place Calgary. Since the deadline, Colorado hasn't lost in regulation. They had a great come from behind 4-3 victory over San Jose the other night. Trailing by two against a Western power, they rallied to tie it forcing OT. In the extra session, the resurgent Milan Hejduk netted his 30th via a power play to propel the Avs to the big win- pulling them within four points of the Flames.

Colorado has 80 points as they chase Calgary. Each team has 10 games remaining. The Avs need to take advantage of a couple of upcoming meetings against the dreadful Oilers. Edmonton hasn't won since trading heart and soul Ryan Smyth to the Isles on the deadline. In fact, after last night's 2-1 defeat to Vancouver, they've now dropped their last 11. When will they get another win? The Avs hope it's not them and neither do their homeristic announcers, who already have them in the playoffs. They certainly are playing lights out as Joe Sakic, Hejduk, Andrew Brunette and sizzling rookie Paul Stastny continue to roll.

It should be an exciting final three weeks.


And finally, an interesting column was written by my co-host Gary Harding via the NYHR. He discusses the Chris Simon suspension and makes interesting points about other suspensions handed out. Check it out here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rangers Get Big Win

There have been games this year where you knew the Rangers left points on the table. Tonight against the red hot Penguins, they didn't allow that to happen. Playing the kind of desperate hockey needed to make the playoffs, they were by far the superior team against a tired Pittsburgh club which played the night before (home shootout win over Ottawa).

That said, the Pens have been a thorn in the side of the Blueshirts all season. They recently broke their backs by coming from two down to pull out a 3-2 overtime win at Mellon Arena. It marked the second time that had happened. It also took place at MSG with the Pens posting a shootout win courtesy of Sidney Crosby.

Tonight though, Tom Renney's club didn't allow the Pens' tying goal from with 5:34 left to get to them. Instead, they stayed rock solid in their end limiting the Pens' chances and remarkably got the winner in the final minute on a break. But maybe they deserved that fortuitous bounce when Michel OuelletJaromir Jagr centered one off Rob Scuderi's skate and just over the goal line despite Jocelyn Thibault's attempt to hide the puck. A video review confirmed that Jagr had indeed finally snapped his goal drought, getting his first in nine games. It was a milestone for Jagr, who reached 25 goals for the 16th consecutive season. But none of his 25 this year were ever bigger. Even if he was trying to get the puck to Michael Nylander, who actually had a very strong game and was pivotal on the deciding goal by beating Sidney Crosby on a neutral zone draw which gave the Rangers puck possession and allowed Jagr to make the play, putting his club ahead with only 33.8 seconds remaining.

The best part though about this win was how well the Rangers defended their end. Something that was very apparent as the Pens with an extra attacker scrambled around behind the net to try to force OT like they have so many times this season. But Marek Malik did the job on Crosby behind the net, pinning him against the boards. And even if the officials called a tacky holding the stick penalty and put 2.2 back on the clock, there was no way the Pens were tying it. And when Blair Betts won one last faceoff, the Rangers had their big two points, improving to 36-28-9 and boosting their postseason aspirations with 81 points- just a point behind sixth Tampa Bay and one better than eighth Carolina.

All three teams have nine games left. The Lightning host the fading Islanders later tonight in a huge match-up. Look for No.1 goalie Rick DiPietro to return from a concussion. That's how desperate the situation is for the Fishsticks, who not too long ago looked like a playoff lock after the Ryan Smyth deadline deal. But now have struggled mightily on the blueline and with backup Mike Dunham the past two losses.

The Islanders do have two games at hand on the teams ahead of them. They're currently in a three-way tie for ninth with Toronto and Montreal with each having 78 points. The Leafs will be hosting the Devils at Air Canada Centre tonight in an anticipated rematch. Don't forget about Cam Janssen's high late hit which concussed Tomas Kaberle. But maybe Darcy Tucker, Wade Belak and Co. won't try to get revenge on the fourth liner. This game is too important for the Leafs. But if they are ahead by a comfortable margin in the third or vice versa, look for something to happen.

A couple of other observations on the Ranger win:

1.They almost reached Islander territory, nearly doubling the Pens in shots (42-22).

2.Pens' backup Jocelyn Thibault was brilliant in defeat. Just as he was in a shutout of the Devils last week, the former Nordique was razor sharp. But unlike that game where he was rarely tested, the netminder really had to work just to keep his team afloat, finishing with 40 saves. It now looks like the Pens' once thought weakness is a strength. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Thibault are playing well.

3.Betts got the Rangers' first goal 47 seconds into the third when he beat Crosby on a draw and then redirected home a Daniel Girardi point shot. Ryan Hollweg notched an assist for his third point of the season. Betts, Hollweg and enforcer Colton Orr were matched against the Crosby line that period and did a superb job neutralizing them. Betts deserved a star for his effort.

4.Rookie Ryan Callahan again excelled in his fifth game, logging over 15:00 while playing a very active offensive game registering five shots and even seeing PP time on the top unit. The Rochester native looks like a keeper. If Brendan Shanahan returns from a concussion Wednesday night vs the Flyers, Callahan deserves to stay in the lineup and continue to get time.

5.Petr Prucha inexplicably only played 7:29 while 20 year-old rookie Brandon Dubinsky got 6:19.

6.Pens' enforcer Georges Laraque (3:43) was reduced to a nonfactor while Sean Avery played his usual spunky game, working extremely well with Callahan and Matt Cullen on the second line. It becomes apparent that this trio should remain intact as they seem to create chaos for opponents.

7.Martin Straka sat out with a bruised leg.

8.Veteran D Jason Strudwick made his season debut with the club after re-signing and clearing waivers. He replaced rookie David Liffiton in the lineup and logged 12:15 as the sixth defenseman. He held his own and didn't make any glaring mistakes.

9.The Pens' Erik Christensen setup Ouellet's 16th by going around a Ranger and making a brilliant goalmouth pass which Ouellet deflected home. Christensen is kind of overlooked as is Ouellet but both are good players who shouldn't be underestimated this Spring.

10.Henrik Lundqvist (21 saves) was again sharp despite not much action. He improved to 31-21-7, continuing to dwindle his GAA (2.39) and lift his save percentage (.914).

Big Game Tonight

Penguins vs. Rangers tonight at 7 on VERSUS. Doc and Eddie O. on the call. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Your Guide to Hockey

Here's a revised edition of where to get your cure for Puck Addiction:
March 18 7:30 PM Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 19 7:00 PM Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers (VERSUS)
March 19 9:00 PM Vancouver vs. Calgary (Yahoo.com)
March 20 8:00 PM Phoenix vs. Minnesota (VERSUS)
March 21 7:30 PM Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers (Comcast.net)
March 22 7:30 PM Pittsburgh vs. NY Islanders (Comcast.net)
March 22 7:30 PM Columbus vs. Detroit (HDNet)
March 22 10:00 PM Anaheim vs. Phoenix (Yahoo.com)
March 23 2:30 PM NCAA: Clarkson vs. UMass (FSNY)
March 23 6:00 PM NCAA: Maine vs. St. Cloud State (FSNY)
March 23 8:30 PM NCAA: Boston U vs. Michigan St. (FSNY)
March 23 8:00 PM Toronto vs. Buffalo (Comast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 24 1:00 PM Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 24 4:30 PM NCAA:Maine vs. Boston Coll. (FSNY)
March 24 6:00 PM NCAA: East Regional Final (CN8)
March 24 8:30 PM NCAA: Midwest Regional Final (CN8)
March 25 12:30 PM NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders (NBC)
March 25 3:30 PM NCAA: Northeast Regional Final (FSNY)
March 25 6:00 PM NCAA: West Regional Final (FSNY)
March 26 7:00 PM Anaheim vs. Detroit (VERSUS)
March 27 7:30 PM New Jersey vs. NY Islanders (VERSUS)
March 28 7:00 PM New Jersey vs. Buffalo (Comcast.net)
March 29 7:00 PM Pittsburgh vs. Boston (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 29 8:00 PM Detroit vs. Nashville (HDNet)
March 29 10:00 PM Colorado vs. Phoenix (Yahoo.com)
March 30 7:30 PM Philadelphia vs. New Jersey (Comcast.net)
March 31 1:00 PM Atlanta vs. Boston (Yahoo.com)
March 31 8:00 PM Dallas vs. Nashville (HDNet)
April 1 12:30 PM Detroit vs. Columbus (NBC)
April 1 3:00 PM Edmonton vs. Chicago (Yahoo.com)
April 2 8:00 PM St. Louis vs. Dallas (VERSUS)
April 3 7:00 PM Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh (VERSUS)
April 4 7:00 PM Washington vs. Atlanta (Yahoo.com/Comcast.net)
April 5 4:00 PM NCAA: National Semifinal (ESPN2)
April 5 7:30 PM Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa (Comcast.net)
April 5 8:00 PM NCAA: National Semifinal (ESPN2)
April 5 10:00 PM Colorado vs. Vancouver (Yahoo.com)
April 6 7:00 PM Atlanta vs. Carolina (Yahoo.com/Comcast.net)
April 7 1:00 PM Buffalo vs. Washington (Comcast.net)
April 7 8:00 PM NCAA: National Championship (ESPN)
April 7 9:00 PM Nashville vs. Colorado (HDNet)
April 8 1:00 PM Buffalo vs. Philadelphia (NBC)
April 8 9:00 PM Calgary vs. Colorado (Yahoo.com)

NCAA Tournament LIVE TV Schedule

Here are the Live (and Interesting Taped) games you'll see:

March 23
2:30 Clarkson vs. UMass (FSNY)
6:00 Maine vs. St. Cloud State (FSNY)
8:30 Boston U. vs. Michigan St. (FSNY)
11:00 (Taped) Alabama-Huntsville vs. Notre Dame (FSNY)

March 24
4:30 Boston Coll. vs. St. Lawrence (FSNY)
6:00 East Regional Final (CN8)
8:30 Midwest Regional Final (CN8)

March 25
3:30 Northeast Regional Final (FSNY)
6:00 West Regional Final (FSNY)

April 5
4:00 National Semifinal (ESPN2)
8:00 National Semifinal (ESPN2)

April 7
8:00 National Championship (ESPN)

Here are some places to get a hockey fix the next few weeks.

Today

Looks like Yahoo has dropped it's streaming of a couple games, so the only game viewable tonight is Pittsburgh-Ottawa on Comcast.net

God, the NHL Network can't come soon enough.

Kudos


Just want to say kudos to Steve for holding down the forte lately. Nice job updating the blog and the current status of the wacky Eastern race. I am not really sure what to think right now. Considering how I felt at the deadline, I must say I'm pleasantly surprised so far. But that can change pretty quickly. One slip up and everything can change dramatically. Need proof? Just look at what's happened to the Islanders lately. That's why this frantic race is so unpredictable.

I got to admit watching the scoreboard is fun when you know your team's got a chance. I definitely will say that the failure by the Rangers' other competitors is what opened the door. There's still plenty of work left to be done including 2 match-ups against the Islanders, 2 against the Canadiens and 1 on April Fool's Day versus Toronto at The Garden. And those are the potential four-point swing games which will decide the Blueshirts' fate along with their primary competition down the stretch.

I want to also say thank you for making reference to what I had said all along about the kids from Hartford coming up and doing the job. It was very nice to see Ryan Callahan get rewarded finally for his hard work. And to boot an Irish kid from Rochester basically had himself an Irish hat trick ;) with his first two NHL goals and a scrap. He really played well in his first big action in the OT defeat to Atlanta, nearly scoring to put them ahead in the third. To see him follow it up with last night's performance was very nice and something Ranger fans have wanted for a while. Congrats to him!



But also, it would be worth mentioning that Daniel Girardi has been part of the D's improvement. And while it's not always a result of their play as evidenced by Marek Malik's tip-ins on his own goalie and Michal Rozsival's turnovers (can anyone say apple) or Paul Mara's fear of physical contact in the corners, they have steadied lately. But also, without Henrik Lundqvist raising his game, this wouldn't be possible. Before last night's seven-goal explosion, the Rangers had only manufactured 12 goals in their previous seven games. Yet they managed to take 10 of a possible 14 points by going 4-1-2 in that span. And it was due to the improved play of King Henrik. As noted in this space, the Swedish gold medallist has been brilliant since the middle of January and probably has the lowest GAA in that span. He's turned around his season and played like a No.1 calibre goalie capable of carrying his club. Watching Henrik from high above, he looks extremely focused.

Another change I see is in his demeanor. He seems to be taking on more of a leadership role. It's in his actions on and off the ice. Just read some of his comments after frustrating losses. This guy wants to win badly. I can't remember the last time a Ranger goalie won 30 in back-to-back seasons. But this guy has proven basically without a backup that he can carry the load.

As much credit as he deserves, it also goes to the team which has continued to work extremely hard despite all the injuries. Martin Straka's leg injury which looked quite serious appears not to be, which could be good news for the team. My question is if he's banged up, will they put sparkplug Brandon Dubinsky back in? The 20 year-old former second round pick hasn't looked out of place in the three games he's appeared in. In fact, despite less than eight minutes the other night, he was quite effective creating a couple of scoring chances and registering three shots including one which might've been his first career goal if not for some groovy glove work from No.1 Star Johan Hedberg. It's in this writer's opinion that Dubinsky is the more offensively gifted player over the gritty two-way more polished Callahan. Just based on his skating and how quick he can transition from D to offense makes me believe that Dubinsky could help solve the Ranger problem at center in the future. This kid looks to have some real tools already and he's only in his first pro season. Once he fills out, he should be an even more finished product.

The other positive as we see it was that David Liffiton didn't look out of place in Game No.2. The 22 year-old who was acquired from Colorado for Matt Barnaby three years ago played a physical brand of hockey, winning an entertaining scrap and also taking out a Bruin in front of the net into the boards. Paging the veteran defenders: That's how it's done!

Just a slight correction to Steve on that popular meathead and perennial pest Sean Avery. He registered a career high four points. :)

And with that, I think it's time to conclude this overdue post.


Until next time!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rangers Win; Isles Lose; Blogger is Spinning Like a Top at East Standings

I saw none of either game, me and some buddies went to the Meadowlands for the NJ HS Hockey Semifinals. To think, I saw better play out of two high school games than one Devils game. Frankly, it was Pre-Lockout hockey, and I loved it.

Anyway, back to my original point, the Rangers waived bye-bye to the Bruins playoff hopes with a 7-0 victory over Bahston at the Gahden. Call-up Ryan Callahan scored his 1st NHL goal and added another in the 3rd. Good day for rookie call-ups I suppose. Matt Cullen notched 2 goals (in 25 seconds) and an assist. He's easily been the finest Ranger forward the past 2-3 weeks, and is the reason they'll be challenging till at least the season's final day. JJ added 3 assists, and even Meathead Avery had a goal and two hamburger helpers. The Rags move back into 8th place because. Hmm, the Rangers getting big production out of call-ups from Hartford. I wonder who's been advocating that since we started this blog?

The Isles blew it. An 8-5 loss in South Florida is a real demorilizer. It knocks them outta the Top 8 for the first time since before the trade deadline. Ryan Smyth and Mike Sillinger both scored twice for the Icelanders, who were tied with Florida 3-3 after one period. The Cats exploded for 4 in the 3rd. Ville Peltonen and Olli Jokinen scored two for Florida each. It puts Florida's hopes back to the "slim" level. How important is Ricky D. now?

Here's and updated look at the East, 1-13:

# Team PTS GR
1. Buffalo 98 11
2. Devils 94 10
3. Atlanta 86 9
----------------------
4. Ottawa 91 10
5. Penguins 90 11
6. Tampa 82 10
7. Carolina 80 9
8. Rangers 79 10
----------------------
9. Islanders 78 11
10. Leafs 78 10
11. Habs 78 9
12. Bruins 73 11
13. Florida 73 10

Thanks Paul

Thanks to Paul Kukla at Kuklaskorner.com for adding us to their "Everything Hockey" blog section.

Another Clunker

Boy, there is something about the Meadowlands that has made the Devils just flat lately.

Not as bad as the Pittsburgh game on Wednesday, Marty and Clemmer got flat-out beat on a couple goals, but there were a few that were crazy bounces.

Great stuff from David Clarkson and the entire Zajac line. Them and the 4th line came out and wanted to play.

I've defended Gomer before but I gotta say, after watching him in person twice this week, I am sick of his act. I think defenses are ready for him to make those rushes up the ice and once he gets to the line he has no clue what to do.

Some horrid officiating. Cue the deathknell for the anti-hooking aspect of the New NHL. Can I have my season back, Gary?

Overall, not the end of the world, not even as bad a loss as the Pittsburgh game, because we showed some effort. But overall, the defense was very poor. This could've been 9 or 10-2.

Pick up the pieces and get ready for an all-out dogfight on Tuesday in TO.

Rangers host Bahston tonight at and on MSG. Isles are in Sunrise, and with the WhalerCanes winning, both need to get two points tonight.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Your Hockey Watching Guide

Here's a revised edition of where to get your cure for Puck Addiction:

March 16 7:00 PM NY Rangers vs. Atlanta (Comcast.net)
March 16 7:30 PM Montreal vs. Pittsburgh (HDNet)
March 17 8:00 PM Dallas vs. Nashville (HDNet/Yahoo.com)
March 18 2:00 PM Buffalo vs. Atlanta (Yahoo.com)
March 18 7:30 PM Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 19 7:00 PM Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers (VERSUS)
March 19 9:00 PM Vancouver vs. Calgary (Yahoo.com)
March 20 8:00 PM Phoenix vs. Minnesota (VERSUS)
March 21 7:30 PM Philadelphia vs. NY Rangers (Comcast.net)
March 22 7:30 PM Pittsburgh vs. NY Islanders (Comcast.net)
March 22 7:30 PM Columbus vs. Detroit (HDNet)
March 22 10:00 PM Anaheim vs. Phoenix (Yahoo.com)
March 23 8:00 PM Toronto vs. Buffalo (Comast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 24 1:00 PM Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 25 12:30 PM NY Rangers vs. NY Islanders (NBC)
March 26 7:00 PM Anaheim vs. Detroit (VERSUS)
March 27 7:30 PM New Jersey vs. NY Islanders (VERSUS)
March 28 7:00 PM New Jersey vs. Buffalo (Comcast.net)
March 29 7:00 PM Pittsburgh vs. Boston (Comcast.net/Yahoo.com)
March 29 8:00 PM Detroit vs. Nashville (HDNet)
March 29 10:00 PM Colorado vs. Phoenix (Yahoo.com)
March 30 7:30 PM Philadelphia vs. New Jersey (Comcast.net)
March 31 1:00 PM Atlanta vs. Boston (Yahoo.com)
March 31 8:00 PM Dallas vs. Nashville (HDNet)
April 1 12:30 PM Detroit vs. Columbus (NBC)
April 1 3:00 PM Edmonton vs. Chicago (Yahoo.com)
April 2 8:00 PM St. Louis vs. Dallas (VERSUS)
April 3 7:00 PM Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh (VERSUS)
April 4 7:00 PM Washington vs. Atlanta (Yahoo.com/Comcast.net)
April 5 7:30 PM Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa (Comcast.net)
April 5 10:00 PM Colorado vs. Vancouver (Yahoo.com)
April 6 7:00 PM Atlanta vs. Carolina (Yahoo.com/Comcast.net)
April 7 1:00 PM Buffalo vs. Washington (Comcast.net)
April 7 9:00 PM Nashville vs. Colorado (HDNet)
April 8 1:00 PM Buffalo vs. Philadelphia (NBC)
April 8 9:00 PM Calgary vs. Colorado (Yahoo.com)

Inside Hell - 3/16/07

...David Clarkson is just another brick in the wall. He was all over the place during Thursday night's game. It certainly left me impressed. It's a shame that Lou's going to waste money on Gomez when he has hungry players like Clarkson and the lesser-used Rod Pelley on the farm and, from the looks of it, ready to go. Now, I'll give it more than one game on the two, but still, it's so impressive to see how this team develops more unhearalded projects than anyone else in professional sports, let alone hockey.

...That said, Wednesday night's game was absolutely appaling, even from my seat in row 12 of Section 220 of The Swamp. The best skater on the ice was Eric Rasmussen, which student's of forshadowing should take note of. It is amazing how this team manages to get up for road games against the best, yet often times come out flat - and sometimes win such games - at home. It's partially due, probably, to the crowds at the Meadowlands but still, it's Crosby, Malkin and the Pens, there's no reason to not be amped for it.

...Will Brian Gionta be back for the playoffs? Now, I'm not comparing his injury to Scott Stevens' concussion, by any means. But still, could this be something that hampers Gio for the rest of the year, leading to will-he wont-he speculation from us all? I certainly hope not. Gionta is key to this team, especially since our 2nd line is so young. Gionta will be a key factor in getting consistent scoring come April.

...Great quote from TSN's Glen Healy during last night's Devils-Canes game: "Where have all the Huricanes forwards been. I've been talking more about David Clarkson than Staal, Brind'Amour and Cole combined".

...If any team should celebrate St. Patrick's day, it's the Devils. I always felt that those old red and green jerseys were more St. Patrick's Day themed than Christmas tree themed. Frankly, I think selling green beer for a dollar at tomorrow's game vs. the Hurricanes (1:00 PM, FSNY) would bring attendence up to a respectable level. Actually, selling any beer, or food, or you know, just something for a dollar, anything, and we might be able to draw a couple hundred more to the Mess that Xanadu built, can't we?

...The Devils have only one more game on national TV, against the Islanders on March 27th (7:30 PM, VERSUS). We were scheduled to have two more, against the Bruins on April 1st (12:30 PM, NBC), and hosting the Isles in the season finale April 8th (1:00 PM, NBC), but those two games were moved to 3:30 PM on FSNY due to NBC hating us. Instead, the NY-Metro Area will see Detroit-Columbus on 4/1, and Buffalo-Philadelphia on 4/8. Riveting. Other than filling up the annoying wait time until 3:30 PM games, this will mean nothing. Boo to NBC for slashing two games that will matter, for two that won't simple as that.

Of course, this quote from Doc Emrick will leave you with hope for the future:

"If the Devils advance to the 3rd and 4th round, NBC will have no choice."

Thanks

Only got one thing to add to what Steve said. A thank you to Martin Brodeur, who came up large against what was a furious Canes' attack in that final five minute stretch where they dominated, doing everything possible to score but didn't because of No.30. He allowed his shorthanded team to hold on and get the win which helped the Rangers' playoff chances. They now know a win in Atlanta tonight means they're tied with Carolina and the Islanders for either seventh or eighth.

The Blueshirts will have to make due despite all their injuries and hope they can get a lead they don't relinquish. We'll certainly find out what they're made out of. It's gut check time. How bad do they want it? Find out this St. Patty's weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Devils 3, Canes 2

Now THAT is what Willis was talkin' 'bout.

I watched this team in person from section 220 last night, and it was the most pisspoor excuse for a hockey team this franchise has displayed all season. With the Penguins in town, they had no excuse for playing the gutless, emotionless way we did. Eric Rasmussen (students of foreshadowing note) was probably our most consistent forward, it was that kind of night. Even Marty had poor stickhandling at times.

This was a great Devil performance. Infused with new blood from Lowell in the persons of returner Rod Pelley and 1st NHL Gamer David Clarkson, they had a spike in their punchbowl tonight, outskating and outdefending the Canes on their way to a 3-2 victory at the Royal Bank of Canada Center in Raleigh, NC, in front of good crowd of 18,279, which is 500 short of a sellout but with Duke and UNC both in action, an impressive showing for hockey in The Triangle.

Scott Gomez scored at :39 of the 1st. Rasmussen, Gomer and Langs combined for some great shifts tonight, leading this team and setting the table for the other 3 lines without the presence of captain Patrik or Mad Dog. Of course, Gomer then on the backcheck loses a rebound after Marty poke checks a Justin Williams chance away and David Tanabe scores his second goal of the season just pinching in and hoping for a rebound.

Gomer giveth, and Gomer taketh away.

Anyway, Marty and John Grahame held the forts for the distance of about 31:54 until Eric Rasmussen found the rebound of a Scott Gomez try and made it 2-1. It was Rass' 3rd goal of the year, and good for him. Every time I go to a game, people wonder why he's on the team. But he works hard, plays his shifts and crashes the net. He chips in when needed and boy did we need it.

Nearly eight minutes later, Zach Parise broke a 4-game goalless spell with a beautiful 1-on-1 move on Grahame after a pretty feed from Travis Zajac to make it 3-1. It was THE ZACH's 28th of the season, a team-leading number, and only Ovechkin,Vanek and Crosby are ahead of him on the NHL's Sophomore goal-scoring list. Zajac moves up to 8th on the rookie scoring list with 34 points, which has got to be a lot more than anyone expected him to have at this point. I'll be honest, I had no clue what to expect of Zajac at the year's start. But boy, talk about another brick in the wall. He has fit in seemlessly and chipped in when he can. A true Devil at a young age already.

Andrew Ladd added one for the WhalerCanes, but even a late scramble could not keep the Devs from winning this one.

Now, here are tonight's Eastern Conference winners and losers

WINNERS: Buffalo, Ottawa, Philly, Boston
LOSERS: Isles, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Atlanta

Here's what things look like

At the top...
1. Sabres - 96 PTS - 12 Games Left
2. Devils - 94 PTS - 11 Games Left

At the Bottom...
7. Isles - 78 PTS - 12 Games Left
8. Canes - 78 PTS - 11 Games Left
-----------------------------------
9. Leafs - 77 PTS - 12 Games Left
10. Rags - 76 PTS - 12 Games Left
11. Habs - 76 PTS - 11 Games Left
12. Bruins - 73 PTS - 12 Games Left
13. Panthers -71 PTS - 11 Games Left

Tomorrow in the East:
Toronto at Washington
Montreal at Pittsburgh
Rangers at Atlanta
Sabres at Tampa Bay

Enjoy your night everyone.

NY Hockey Report Show Archive

Last night's show covered Chris Simon's suspension, the Isles' and Rangers' bad Tuesday night losses, Rick DiPietro's overaggressiveness leading to injury, Devils and Pens discussion along with a surprise from yours truly.

Here's the show archive:


NYHR 3-14-07



The Devils lost to the Pens last night 3-0, shutout by immortal Joceyln Thibault. No wonder Steve didn't post a recap. I would be pretty embarrassed too. But yeah. My own team has its own problems. The Rangers once again blew a two-goal lead in another crushing 3-2 loss the other night to Ottawa. Making matters worse Karel Rachunek was lost for 3-4 weeks with the same MCL injury that shelved Fedor Tyutin and Marcel Hossa. This team is hexed. They have played pretty hard but how many injuries can you overcome before it just kills you in the end. The Hossa injury has really hurt the scoring up front. They can't seem to score more than two goals. David Liffiton was recalled as was Ryan Callahan. Liffiton will play in Atlanta. As for Callahan, I have no idea why he was called up. It's not like he's going to get in there. They have the immortal Brad "Stone Hands" Isbister.

The Devs travel to Carolina tonight and the Isles are in Ottawa. Both the Canes and Isles are tied for seventh with 78 points but the Fishsticks have two extra games left. The idle Blueshirts will be keeping a close eye on those games.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Devils-Pens Tonight

Big game for Jersey after Pitt got a huge win over Buffalo on Tuesday.

I'll be there in the upper deck, so enjoy the game. 7:30 PM, FSN/inHD.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Too Funny

If you haven't read this, here's your chance:

NHL To Be On Food Network

Some high's:

In all my years as commissioner, I have learned that our diverse group of fans and players all enjoy food of some sort. Italian, French, barbecue, quick-and-easy 30-minute meals—you name it, one or more of them eat it," said Bettman,

French host Hiroyuki Sakai will join play-by-play announcer Mike"Doc" Emrick and analyst Brian Engblom to form a new lead announcingteam for all Food Network games. "This partnership has been a long timecoming. If the Food Network would have been around in 1991, we wouldhave left ESPN in a heartbeat."

Though she stated that she didn't want to give anything away, Johnson said that the network's first hockey-related profile will focus on Sidney Crosby eating veal and creamed spinach prepared by Roker On The Road host Al Roker.


Read the entire Onion article via the above link. The sad aspect is this spoof is actually a much better option than Versus. Hahahahahaha.

Henrik Lundqvist

Courtesy of my hittingback blog entry, Lundqvist since January 13th against Boston:

23 games

11-7-4 record

1.74 GAA (40 GA in 1381 minutes)
.934 save percentage

2 shutouts

Pretty good stuff, wouldn’t you say? It’s kind of sad that the Rangers only won half the games in that time, which tells you that the offense hasn’t been scoring as much. And as evidenced by their recent play, they’ve needed that kind of calibre goaltending to have a puncher’s chance in this wild playoff race. They’ll need for Henrik’s heroics to continue when they visit Ottawa tonight.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Around the NHL

From my Weekly SFM Colum at this Link:

Here's an excerpt

Why anyone would complain about the NHL's championing of the Warner Bros. film "300" is beyond me.

Here's an idea: Take a hip looking movie with great technology, lots of violence and comic book-nerd credibility (the kind the NHL's main 18-34 male demographic loves) and make a connection between the plot of the movie (300 Spartan soldiers' fight against the largest army ever assembled) with the chase for the Stanley Cup.

You know what? "300" made $70 million this weekend at the box office.

Think the NHL doesn't like being associated with that?


Enjoy...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Almost Forgot

The best part of the game was the crowd getting on Nylander and the god awful top power play unit, who once again refused to shoot prompting loud chants of, "Shoot the Puck, Shoot the Puck, Shoot the Puck."

Classic stuff!

Rangers Escape With Two Points

I am not even sure how they managed to get to overtime never mind the shootout which they prevailed in. Not that I saw it. Funny story. I was headed downstairs to a lower section figuring I would catch the Canes' power play in OT before leaving. I figured they'd win after that goof Michael Nylander took another dumb hooking penalty. You think the league mandate is out. Maybe it should be renamed The Crosby Effect. Nevermind.

So as I am about to go back in and watch the conclusion, I hear a loud chorus of boos. Me being naive and a Ranger fan waiting for the other shoe to drop, I figured that the Canes had already somehow scored off the draw after their timeout. So, instead of going back to see, I headed for the exits.

I got back to the car and waited for my Dad, bro and buddy figuring they'd be there eventually. But time just kept going as I stood on 27th between 7th and 8th by F.I.T. (Fashion Institute) pacing around. What could've happened to them? Did they somehow get to a shootout? Or was it just the usual Garden garbage of shutting down escalators and making it as difficult as humanly possible for people to file out, probably violating fire codes??? About 20 minutes later, I saw them walking back and nobody seemed excited. So I figured I had made the wise move and left early knowing they'd lose a game they should've lost much earlier if not for some miraculous goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. The Canes so badly outplayed and outskated the Rangers the last two periods that it looked like New York was in quick sand. Yet somehow the game was tied at one.

So I heard that Matt Cullen, who btw has really stepped up lately scored another big shootout goal and that a less than 100 percent Jaromir Jagr iced it to somehow give the Rangers 76 points and again the eighth spot. Not bad considering they had no business winning. Maybe that's why I laughed when I was told they won. The funny aspect was I didn't know till we turned on the radio and heard the shocking conclusion.

So somehow this banged up team has gotten points in their last five (9 of 10) winning four. Not too bad. Let's just call it a day cause the road doesn't get any easier this week. They take on Ottawa Tuesday.

And finally, responding to my blogger comrade Rob regarding the Hollweg-Simon situation, you see it the way you do. I see it differently. I know you might not want to hear this but our NY SportsDay Isles' beat writer Brian Bohl termed it as "hard but legal check." That's how I saw it as well. Whatever side you're on, so be it.

As far as the officiating, I heard Fishstick fans complaining about the shootout loss at the Garden. A game in which Rick DiPietro stood on his head and saw the Rangers dominate for long stretches. That night, they had nothing to be upset about. Thursday, I only can recall one situation where you have a point and it involved Sean Avery on Sean Hill, which they missed before getting the retaliation. More examples would certainly help. The Islanders did play better and were superior the entire first half but only led by a goal because of Lundqvist. But once Paul Mara tied it, the Rangers woke up and raised their level.

I have had my own beefs with the officiating this season. They're calling those hooks all the time. But what about the other stuff such as the crosschecks, high sticks, etc? When does that get addressed? Ask Dr. Evil.

Official League Press Release

Here's the official NHL press release courtesy of nhlmedia which addressed the Chris Simon situation, ending his season:


Islanders’ Simon Suspended For Balance of Regular Season And Playoffs
Contact Information:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 11, 2007
ISLANDERS’ SIMON SUSPENDED FOR
BALANCE OF REGULAR SEASON AND PLAYOFFS
Minimum 25-game Ban Could Include Games At Start of 2007-08
NEW YORK (March 11, 2007) – New York Islanders forward Chris Simon has been suspended, for the remainder of the 2006-07 regular season and the entirety of the Stanley Cup playoffs, for deliberately using his stick to injure New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg during the third period of Thursday night’s game at Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum.
Simon is suspended a minimum of 25 games, including Saturday night’s game against Washington plus the 14 that remain in the 2006-07 regular season. If the Islanders do not qualify for the 2007 playoffs, or play fewer than 10 playoff games in the 2007 playoffs, Simon would serve additional games at the start of the 2007-08 regular season to satisfy the minimum term of the suspension.
“The National Hockey League will not accept the use of a stick in the manner and fashion in which Mr. Simon used his Thursday night,” said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations. “As a consequence of his actions, Mr. Simon has forfeited the privilege of playing in an NHL game again this season, regardless of how many games the Islanders ultimately play.”
Based on his $1-million contract, which expires at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season, Simon forfeits a minimum of $80,213.90. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 13:29 of the third period. After receiving a hard check from Hollweg, Simon swung his stick and delivered a two-handed blow to Hollweg’s upper body, causing a cut on Hollweg’s chin. Simon was assessed a Match penalty.

Rangers Win in SO

Jagr and Cullen finish off the Canes in the Skills Comp. 2-1 Final.

Great crowd at the game. Loud at all times and unafraid to eat their team alive when they refused to shoot.

In the other NBC game, Boston beat Detroit 6-3, in a big surprise. The Bruins stay alive in a game they needed. Marco Sturm had two goals and a helper.

Here's an Updated East 6-13:

# Team Points Games Left Next Game
6. Atlanta 82 12 Monday vs. WSH (7PM, VERSUS)
7. Islanders 78 14 Tuesday at MTL (7:30PM, FSNY)
8. Rangers 76 13 Tuesday vs. OTT (7PM, MSG)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
9. Carolina 76 12 Tuesday vs. FLA
10. Toronto 75 13 Tuesday vs. TB
11 Montreal 74 12 Tuesday vs. NYI (7:30PM, FSNY)
12. Boston 71 13 Thursday vs. WSH
13. Florida 71 13 Tuesday at CAR

Ahh, my poor deluded Rangers blogger. Just because Hollweg came in on an angle does not mean that Simon was not completely facing the boards face first. Hollweg plastered Simon face-first (not side first) into the glass and should have received a boarding call. But you can justify it any way you'd like. and I'll say it again, I'm not justifying Simon's action, for it was wrong. But I'm tired of Broadway getting favoritism at the first sniff of a possible playoff spot, and that game was rife with Rangers bias from the refs and the replay judges.






Simon Gets 25

Just broken by Countdown to Faceoff on NBC. Simon is banned for the season AND the playoffs regardless of how far the Isles go. And, if the Islanders do not play 25 games the rest of the way, season and playoffs combined, or they do not make the postseason, he will serve up until the total of games reaches 25.

Carolina at the Rangers on NBC today. Strader, Hayward and Micheletti on the call. As Derek said, Jagr will go.

Leaving For Game

Heading out now for the big game at The Garden against the Canes. Bottom line: Jagr or no Jagr, the Rangers must get the 'W.' No excuses. Who are we kidding? Jagr will play. Whether or not he's effective is another story.

Why am I upset about the Caps Steve? Because they are mailing it in buddy. The Flyers are up to 49 points. I believe that's 12 off the pace for 14th. I wouldn't be shocked if they catch them. That's how pathetic what Washington is doing is.

I just haven't had time lately to chat. I've been pretty focused on my Hitting Back blog the past week. Maybe we'll chat when I get back.


Anyway, it's time to leave. See ya later.

From Phil Mushnick...

In a fairly negative review, he manages to point this out:

Given that Versus' NHL telecasts are designed to be bad - live play is now covered by promo graphics preceded by a Star Trek-like appearance of a large, computerized hockey player, creating a startling distraction (not to mention a too-many-men-on-the-ice situation) - as long as Doc Emrick remains in the mix, they can be indulged.

Monday, with the Rangers and Isles at 1-1 and the Rangers relentlessly blasting away at Rick DiPietro - at this point he'd made 46 saves with still 12 minutes still left in regulation - Emrick nailed it. "Marvelous chaos!" he hollered. One more example of why Emrick's the best.

I don't Know...

Doc was a bit off his game tonight. But still, would you rather hear Doc call tomorrows game, or Dave Strader, like you'll be forced to.

Would you rather have heard RJ's call of that goal?

We all know Doc probably bleeds red and black as much as us, but at least he makes an effort. When we play you, he's very fair, considering the blowjob Chico often gives the Rangers.

Somehow Boston-Detroit is GotW and Canes-Rangers isn't. Same thing next NBC time. March 25th - Boston-Pitt over Rags-Isles.

And by the way, I didn't mean he was supposed to fight with Laraque. I'm just sayin, it's curious that the one man with an actual reason to beat the living snot out of Avery rendered him ineffective this afternoon.

What is with your aggrivation over the Isles-Caps game dude? It just seemed kind of odd how mad you were about it.

I rarely work out personal issues on this, but where have you been man, we haven't talked into ages.

Batman's gone missing. And this blog turned into a message board.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Classic New NHL

If you saw the last part of the Devils-Sabres game up at HSBC Arena, then you know what I'm referring to. Oduya crosschecks a Buffalo player into the boards. No call. Madden blatantly takes down a Sabre. Nothing. Brylin knocked into the wall. And it finally was properly called. But the other two fouls weren't. Why not? I think there was also one instance on that Devil power play too where Zajac tripped a Sabre. But oh yeah. Mike Rupp slightly interferes and that's a penalty. Or a phantom hook against any Pen and it's a guaranteed trip to the box. Where's the consistency?

When the FSNY camera zoomed in on Lindy Ruff late, he was stone cold. You could tell how he felt. Not that his team deserved to win. They didn't. The Devils played their grind it out type of hockey, getting in the path of about 100 Buffalo passes and shots. Well, that's what it felt like. And that's why I refuse to put Brodeur on a pedestal the way Chico Resch does. The Devils defensemen are taught better than anyone about how to play the puck. I'll take their system over anyone's. Nobody has more active D in terms of being in the right position and no team has better backchecking forwards. Every bit helps. I don't believe Brodeur would disagree. He would probably smile and chuckle because the future Hall of Fame netminder understands how important that aspect of his team's game has been for over a decade. He's great. We get that and don't need Chico shoving it down our ears every two minutes. But having a smart bunch of players in front of him has never hurt. And that right there is what separates the Devils system from others. It doesn't matter that they don't have Stevens or Niedermayer or even Daneyko. The players may change but the results don't. Isn't it about time Jacques Laperriere got his due?

That system doesn't allow too many breakaways or odd-man rushes. It's one that will once again be a royal pain in the ass to beat this Spring. I hope I'm wrong. I don't want the Devils to win ever. That's how much I despise them. But with that passionate hatred comes respect. Because it's very hard to win in this league and do it as consistently as these guys. To quote Indiana Jones from The Last Crusade, at one point he says, "Nazis. I hate these guys."

That kind of sums up my feelings. But unlike that evil regime which Harrison Ford referenced during that entertaining trilogy, it's a lot easier to respect what the Satans as I like to refer to them have accomplished. Drafting and developing players such as Parise and Zajac, who mean every bit to their playoff aspirations this Spring as Elias and Gomez. In this salary cap era, you better be able to select the right players because you won't be able to keep everybody. The Devils could lose Gomez this summer. But if they do, you know someone will step up and emerge. Why? Because they always do.

Hard Hits: So the Craps got 2 goals at the Isles in their latest loss. Color me unimpressed. Any team that plays goon Donald Brashear significant minutes isn't interested in winning.

I see the Sens were at it again, blowing another third period lead (3-1 this time) before falling to playoff desperate Toronto 4-3 in OT. And hockey extraordinaire Darcy Tucker scored his second for the winner. That's 22 on the season. Imagine if he didn't miss the prior two months. He is a pain in the ass but also is a very good hockey player. He'll mix it up against anyone and also can score big goals. He might be a jerkoff but I'll take him anyday.

With their win, the Leafs moved into an eighth place tie with Carolina with 75 points apiece. By the end of the night, if the Habs don't choke away another one at St. Louis, they could be tied with the Rangers for 10th with 74 points. Don't count on it. The Habs D sucks and their goaltending is even worse.

Seeing Don Cherry wearing a chest protector on HNIC was priceless. Grapes never ceases to amaze us.

Random Stuff

Avery is a hockey player unlike Cam Janssen. Was he out of line the other night? Sure. But that's Avery. He obviously felt Janssen's hit should've earned a heavier suspension. I've seen plenty of people including yourself turning the other cheek and acting like he didn't deserve any time off. The three games seemed okay in my book.

And also, Avery's role isn't to battle the best heavyweight in the league. It's to be a pest, much like ex-Devil Claude Lemieux. You remember him, don't you? The biggest agitator there was and a freaking pain in the ass. To be honest, Lemieux was a jerkoff and never went out of his way to throw a cheapshot. So I don't want to hear it. That guy helped your team win two Cups. But I guess because you had him it was okay.

Speaking of which, Doc Emrick is getting on my nerves in this game. He's not being as professional tonight, using the silly tired complaint about "the trap," and not sounding all too enthusiastic on Briere's goal before but exploding during Rafalski's shorthander and the other two. Who says Doc doesn't have a bit of homerism in him? Every announcer does. He's still great though. Chico Resch on the other hand...

Hallelujah...the Crapitals scored one at the Isles. Is there a more gutless team than this one? They are tanking.

Buffalo's D just sucks in this one. The injuries have caught up. Darcy Regier didn't do enough at the deadline and it might wind up costing them. They don't look like worldbeaters anymore.

Chris Simon's Statement

After watching the tape the morning after Thursday’s game, I was disgusted. There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did.
I want to apologize to Ryan Hollweg. I was grateful to learn that Ryan is okay and that he returned to the game. My hope is to reach out to him in the near future.
I want to apologize to my team and Islanders fans everywhere. My actions Thursday night played a major part in our team losing a crucial game. I also want to apologize to the National Hockey League for the damage I have caused this great game of ours.
What you saw Thursday is not the person, player and competitor that I am. I know my teammates and opponents over my 14 years in the NHL understand that.
I do not remember much about Thursday’s incident. When I saw the tape on Friday morning, it explained a lot to me when I saw the look on my face after being hit into the boards. I was completely out of it. When I met with the media about 30 minutes later, I still was not feeling well.
I met with our medical staff briefly Thursday night and underwent a series of tests on Friday afternoon. They have told me that I suffered a concussion when I hit the boards. Because I was not cleared by our doctors to travel, I would like to thank Colin Campbell for traveling to New York for today’s hearing.
I need to make clear that this is not justification for the danger I put Ryan Hollweg in and the damage I have caused the game. I understand disciplinary action will be taken.
Since Ryan is thankfully okay, what hurts the most is knowing my actions will result in me losing the privilege of being in the Islanders lineup.
Finally, I want to thank my Islanders teammates for their support throughout this process. It means everything to me.

The Puck Stops Here

Loading...

Search This Blog

Stats