Friday, November 30, 2007

Rangers finally pick up a win on Islanders (Updated)

-Updated 2:15 Friday-
Paul Mara sprained his shoulder in last night's third period collision with the boards, and is almost certainly out for tomorrow's game. Marek Malik looks to play with Michal Rozsival and Marc Staal should shift down with Jason Strudwick. As much as I like Staal with Rozsival as the top pairing, there is no way you can put Strudwick and Malik together. That's like pairing Sandis Ozolinsh and Aaron Ward together. The results would be catastrophic, especially against the potent offense of Ottawa. The good news is that the injury is minor, and Mara isn't expected to miss much time. He has been playing pretty well as of late, so it's tough to see him go down.

The Rangers defeated the Islanders for the first time this season 4-2 at the Garden last night. It was a great game all around, with the Rangers finally getting some production from the people they are paying to score, excellent goaltending and all the extra that comes with a good rivalry. Some quick hits on the game:

Offensive production - Chris Drury, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez scored goals tonight. We have been waiting for that all season. Brandon Dubinsky scored the fourth goal with only a few minutes left in the game. The first line looked amazing, and Jagr played a strong game.

Defense - Dan Girardi shook off a couple of bad games to look more like his old self again. There are still some holes that are opening up now that we're there in the beginning of the season, but they continue to play well.

Goaltending - Great goaltending from both ends of the ice. I have no idea how Rick DiPietro scrambled back to stop Marc Staal's shot from crossing the goal line. Henrik Lundqvist was solid again in the net, and he'll have to keep that up heading into tomorrow's game against Ottawa.

Officiating - Well, it was poor at best again last night. There were some good calls, some bad calls, some missed calls and some awful calls. I hate the little tap of the stick on the hands equalling a hooking penalty. It happened to Drury and to Bill Guerrin last night. Colton Orr getting mugged by Brendan Witt and Chris Simon after a late hit (he deserved the two minutes for the hit) somehow netted the Islanders a powerplay. Simon got away again. He got his later on against Orr, although I think he was a little off balance to start.

The Rangers are back against the Senators tomorrow afternoon in a Saturday matinee matchup. Paul Mara went hard into the boards at the end of the game last night and was bleeding on the bench, but if he's healthy he should be in there. Marek Malik should remain on the bench for this game. Ryan Callahan looked great in his first game back as well. Back tomorrow with updates.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rangers v. Islanders tonight

Good preview by Derek, so not much is needed from me, but I wanted to add in the starting lineup for the Rangers.

Straka - Dubinsky - Jagr
Shanahan - Gomez - Hossa
Prucha - Drury - Callahan
Orr- Betts - Hollweg

Staal - Rozsival
Tyutin - Girardi
Mara - Strudwick

Lundqvist

Marek Malik is cleared to play, but will be a healthy scratch unless there is an injury or defensive breakdown.

Brandon Dubinsky was seen limping with ice on his knee after practice, but said he would be fine.

In a good move by Tom Renney, Petr Prucha will see powerplay time with Jaromir Jagr and Brandon Dubinsky and Michal Rozsival and Martin Straka on the points. They need someone out there willing to just shoot the puck and follow it up hard to the net.

Enjoy the game. I'll check in later.

Isle be seeing you tonight at The Garden


Tonight, for the fourth time this season, one of the most exciting and bitter rivalries will be renewed when the New York Rangers play host to the New York Islanders at what should be a packed electric house at Madison Square Garden on Seventh and 33rd.
As almost everyone who has followed this classic rivalry knows, the Fishsticks have owned the series lately. Ted Nolan's hard working club has taken the first three this season all by a goal in regulation adding fuel to the fire for Tom Renney's star-laden Blueshirts.
Dating back to that miraculous shootout win backstopped by backup Wade Dubielwicz which sparked the Isles to an unreal win streak to squeak in past Toronto and Montreal, the Islanders have taken the last four. They bring an impressive 9-1-2 record in the last 12 meetings into MSG tonight, even winning five of the past six on Broadway.
In fact, everyone's favorite whipping boy (no not Marek Malik or Marcel "Stonehands" Hossa) Rick "DP" DiPietro has owned the Rangers lately posting an 8-1-2 record along with a miniscule 1.89 GAA in his last 11 starts.
The former 2000 first overall selection has finally developed into the kind of franchise netminder ex-GM now TSN analyst Mike Milbury envisioned when he passed over Marian Gaborik and Dany Heatley to grab the Massachusetts native. Given how gifted those two snipers are, how many Cups have they combined to win? You know the answer.
Still, until DiPietro gets the playoff monkey off his back and helps his team win a series and carries them deep into a postseason, the critics will remain.
Coming off a 35 save performance in a 3-2 shootout home win over the Senators to snap an eight-game losing streak against them, DiPi enters with 11 wins and a respectable 2.31 GAA.
He'll once again be the focal point at one end while Henrik Lundqvist (12-9-1, 1.81 GAA, .931 Save Pct) backstops for the Rangers and hopes to get some much needed offense for a change from the league's worst scoring team (2.21 GF/Gm).
Can Jaromir Jagr and Chris Drury get untracked without antagonist Sean Avery (wrist). Will Ryan Callahan and the possible return of Malik provide enough of a spark to finally give the Rangers a win over their nemesis? Or will Hossa's continued skating without shooting and stone hands draw the ire of the crowd?
Find out tonight when the Rangers (13-9-2) look to snap a two-game skid against the pesky Islanders (13-8-1) in a tight Atlantic race!

Did the Islanders just beat Ottawa?

The Isles skated against the Ottawa Senators tonight at Nassau Coliseum and to tell you the truth, I really didn't have any hope for a win. I mean the Isles are 4-29 against the Sens all time and that has to be the worst record against ANY team EVER!When the Senators come to the Island, I usually don't watch the game because its usually ugly....REAL ugly. When I heard the Isles took an early lead, it didn't really excite me. There have been plenty of times where the Isles have scored first against the Sens, only to give up 923474434 goals in the next two periods.

At the end of the second the Isles had a 2-1 lead. Goals by Vasicek and Sillinger put them ahead. But Andrej Meszaros scored twice to tie it up and next thing I know we are going to OT. With Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley shooting on DP in overtime makes any Islander fan cringe. The first shot in OT by Ottawa went to a video replay and for some weird reason, it was no goal. After watching it a few times myself, it was definitely not a goal but this is the Islanders, and video reviews usually go against us. The Isles ended up taking the Sens to a shootout, the first of the season for the Isles.

Miro Satan .....Miss
Alfredsson.....GOAL
Vasicek........Miss
Spezza......Miss
Guerin......GOAL
Heatley.....Miss
Comrie.....Miss
Robitaille...Miss
Hunter.....Miss
Vermette..Miss
Sillinger.....GOAL
McAmmond...Miss

The Isles beat the Sens for the first time in a loooooonnnggg time! Rick Dipietro kept the Isles in the game as the Isles beat the Sens for the first time at the Colesium since 2004. Next up, the New York Rangers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Devils GameDay: DAL vs. NJ, 7PM, MSG/WFAN

Devils take on the Stars for the first time since the 2nd game of '06-'07, when the Stars beat the Devs, 3-1. This is their first venture to the Garden State since 2003.

The Stars come into tonight's game with consecutive one goal wins over teams from New York on goals by Mike Modano. It'll be interesting to see if Marty Turco gets the call over the hot Mike Smith, whom Cat at Untypical Girls loves so much, she got a jersey of him. Not since Patricia from 2MA has there been such backup goaltender love. Anyway, Smith has played well when given a chance and, let's face it...we blow chodes when we take on backups!

DEVILS LAST 10 GAMES vs. BACKUP GOALTENDERS
11/23 at ATL (Johan Hedberg), 3-0 W
11/12 at PIT (Danny Sabourin), 3-2 W
11/5 vs. PIT (Danny Sabourin), 5-0 L
4/8 vs. NYI (Wade Dubieliewicz), 3-2 OTL
3/22 at TB (Marc Denis), 3-1 L
3/17 vs. CAR (John Grahame) 7-2 L
3/14 vs. PIT (Jocelyn Thibault) 3-0 L
2/24 at WSH (Brent Johnson) 3-2 W
2/14 vs. MTL (David Abeischer) 5-2 W
12/22 at WSH (Brent Johnson) 4-3 W

So we'll see how it goes tonight.

So much for those healthy Rangers

Just when it was safe to assume that the Rangers would be taking on their Atlantic Division rivals with a fully healthy roster tomorrow night, injury news has broken from Rangers' camp. Sean Avery will miss the next couple of weeks after undergoing wrist surgery today. The surgery was routine arthroscopic surgery to clean out and fix up some minor problems that were nagging him throughout the season. After taking a Brendan Shanahan shot to the wrist in the Tampa game, Avery found himself unable to shoot a puck at Monday's practice, took a CAT scan yesterday and had or is having surgery today.

What this means is that the lovably poorly performing Marcel Hossa stays in the lineup tomorrow, and Ryan Callahan is definitely ready to go. Hossa will most likely take a third line spot with Chris Drury and Callahan, with Petr Prucha moving up to play with Scott Gomez and Shanahan on the second line. First and fourth lines remain the same, as does the defense pairings, even with Marek Malik being declared ready for game action.

The Rangers are a better team with Avery on the ice, regardless of what people think of him. Aside from his irritating, sometimes childish behavior, the man has offensive ability, kills penalties and brings a team together. It's too bad we'll be without him for a tough stretch of games.

In a league wide note, the Philadelphia Flyers were handed their fourth suspension of the year yesterday, after Scott Hartnell received a two game suspension for his hit on a defenseless Andrew Alberts the other night. I have preached it before, but something has to be done about all of these dangerous hits. Zdeno Chara needed to step in and fight someone after that, even though Hartnell was thrown out. A big hit has to be thrown by anyone to a top Philly player. It doesn't have to be dirty, clean would be better actually. I'm not advocating any kind of goon tactics, but players need to step in.

Tomorrow's game should be another fun one, although it seems like every other game is against the Islanders. I'll check in if I hear anything new.

Firing Blanks

For whatever reason late last night, I decided to construct a work summarizing my feelings on the Ranger offensive futility. Appropriately titled, "Firing Blanks," I think you'll agree with the sentiment expressed. Just remember. It's supposed to be humorous and put smiles on people's faces. Though I'm not real certain it will do that for Blueshirt supporters.

This poem is dedicated to the gang which can't shoot straight on Broadway.

"Firing Blanks"
By Derek Felix

There once was a team who used to routinely score
Only to one day turn the back of the net into a constant chore
Now they fire just blanks and look practically dead
Yet somehow their goalie keeps them in games to win instead

Now the hometown fans sit on their hands and knees
Begging and praying for some accurate shooters please
Is it too much to ask for at least a three goal night
Or is that request just plain out of sight

Questions continue to linger as the days carry on
Just a battle to find some consistent offense before the crack of dawn
Will it actually happen or might something else go wrong
Or can they finally beat the Islanders with only two before too long

This is the classic case of a team with just stone hands
Suddenly they're all Marcel Hossa in an angry MSG land
People ponder if they'll rediscover their touch
Or if this month long funk will turn into so much

But questions shall only be answered in the coming days
With fans hoping not to continue to fall asleep in an utter drunken daze
In the meantime the supporters will be there to scream and shout
And hope for the team to breakout just once for a miraculous rout

That's the motto for a team which can't shoot straight
It's time for them to find the magic sticks and become great
Or face the wrath of the fans who will curse and yell
Half wondering if their star laden team has gone eternally to hell

Battle of New York: The Best of the First 1,000 Posts (Part 3)

Here we go, heading toward the end folks:

6. Dear Sean, You Suck at Life
by Steve (Newark)
November 4, 2007
===================
http://njmg.typepad.com/devilsblog/2007/11/all-about-avery.html

Tom Gulitti did a great job conveying the wisdom of Sean Avery tonight.

Some points made:

-Avery called Clarkson "a bonehead minor leaguer" after the game and called Brodeur, "Marty the diver", a reference to the goaltender's first period diving penalty. "I don't even know who this guy is, why am I talking to him," Avery said of Clarkson. "We're not friends. It's not an (expletive) secret. We're getting ready for a game and we go to war."

First of all, anyone who saw Clarkie's goal Friday night...has Avery ever scored a goal that nice? And why are you talking to him? I don't know ass-job...you started the conversation! Do you have soap opera level amnesia?

Moving on...

-When asked if Brodeur said anything back to him, Avery said, "I can't understand a word he says with his accent."

C'mon Sean, is that Jersey twang Marty speaks in English with baffling you? Watch some Sopranos DVDs and you'll figure it out.

So, what was David Clarkson's response?

-Clarkson played it diplomatic. "We both kind of play the same way, hit hard and get in other guy's face," he said. "That's how he is. He's going to try to get under my skin before the game and other guys, just like I do."

Aw Yeah, David's a soulja. He's smart enough to figure out that he's pretty much Sean, but with, you know, an offensive game?

Hey, guess who else Sean decided to take on...

-Before one first period faceoff, Avery lined up across from Zach Parise and yapped in his ear for what seemed like an eternity. "I asked him to fight a couple of times," Avery admitted. When an incredulous reporter questioned that he would challenge Parise, who has never had an NHL fight, Avery replied, "Is that his name?"

Yeah Sean, you saw the back of his jersey enough tonight...

Seriously, Sean...you joking about not knowing who Parise is...is that a thing? That's like when Brian and Stewie from Family Guy called Scrubs unfunny at the Emmys.

THE ZACH's response?

-Parise also said he ignored Avery. "He wanted to fight me," he said. "He told me to, 'make a statement.' I just ignored him. It's all about him. It's too bad because he can be a pretty good player."

Good boy Zach.

Aaah, it's good to hate the Rag$ again!.
=========================
5. Avery needs to tone Down Act
by Derek Felix
November 14, 2007

Sean Avery is quite possibly the biggest agitator in the game right now. The 27 year-old Ranger forward will do almost anything to get underneath the skin of opponents. However, the undrafted Pickering Ontario native who's with his third organization in six seasons might just have pushed the envelope too far.

The talkative pest has recently been involved in two incidents during pregame warmups. The first came in his Nov. 3 return against New Jersey from a separated shoulder when he exchanged words with Devil netminder Martin Brodeur while the two stretched out along the ice in preparation for a game the Rangers won 2-1 in a shootout. From our vantage point, it didn't look like anything too serious developed even if Devils' fourth liner David Clarkson took exception during the contest. That Avery decided to go even further and make this a recurring theme by nearly inciting a fight involving Toronto's Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake who's battling Leukemia during warmups on what was a special Hockey Night In Canada honoring Monday's new HOF class featuring Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Jim Gregory was just assinine.

Talk about bad timing. Avery's antics can sometimes waver on absurd and while I am a supporter of him, he can even get on my last nerve. He used poor judgment Saturday which probably won't be the last time either. With NHL executive VP of Operations Colin Campbell having to get involved and fine Avery $2,500, Tucker a grand and both organizations (Rangers- $25,000 Leafs- $10,000) substantial amounts embarrassing each in the process, one has to ask when is enough enough? Clearly, Avery is on watch and must tone down his act. That he is an effective player who's valuable to his team should make him better understand why he's needed on the ice.

When he's not mouthing off and ticking off opponents, the Ranger second liner who rides shotgun for the team's best playmaking pivot Scott Gomez is an outstanding skater with exceptional speed who brings many elements to the table such as going to the net with reckless abandon and getting dirty to make a play. Quite honestly, Tom Renney's club is a better team with Avery on it. Despite his penchant for silly penalties, he'll also draw some as the result of his aggressive nature. That's the good coming with the bad. What also comes with it is a player who can play effectively at even strength, give a boost on the power play and kill penalties due to his speed and instincts. If he had better hands, he'd be scary. He certainly gets enough chances.

Last season, when Ranger President and GM Glen Sather went out and acquired him, it turned around their season. It's no coincidence that the Rangers became a much more difficult team to deal with after his acquisition. So when he's out of the lineup, the impact is felt. Since returning five games ago, Avery has not only been a pest but he's been playing well scoring twice and setting up three other goals for all five of his points while having a couple of scraps which he fared well in sparking the club. What gets lost in all the chaos is that the 5-9 195 pound nuisance can be a pretty darn good player when he wants to be. Sometimes though, it's our opinion that he'd rather be a clown and beat to his own drum than always do what's best for his team. Maybe that explains why linemate Brendan Shanahan recently said that he doesn't need to talk so much and take it as far as he does sometimes crossing the line.

This is a very important year for the Rangers and they're going to need the good Avery to show up more than the one who acts like an idiot and sometimes is more a detriment. It's also a huge season for Avery who will be eligible for Group II free agency next July. Ultimately, he has to decide if he wants to continue acting like a bozo annoying opponents who could even possibly be future suitors for his services next summer. By continuing this current path, it hurts his future more than helps. If he keeps his head and just goes out and plays to capability, it will not only benefit the Rangers but Avery as well. The choice is his.
===============

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rangers finally getting healthy

Kovy (Derek) beat me to the recap of Sunday's loss to Dallas, and hit the nail on the head several times throughout his post. I'll add a couple of things and then get to new stuff.

The Rangers looked unbeatable for a couple of weeks, but it looks like they have a weakness that was exploited in both the Florida and Dallas games. They are vulnerable to the fast skating teams. All three Dallas goals were the result of some kind of speed burst or breakaway. Florida exploited it too. Jusse Jokinen, one of the league's fastest skaters only had a half stride on our defense, yet looked like he was on a penalty shot on his breakaway goal on Sunday. The partial breakaway goal was also a killer, and it was the speed of the Stars that led to that. Maybe we were flatfooted, not expecting those kinds of bursts, but our defense needs to work on making sure we can keep up with the Sidney Crosbies and Jussi Jokinens of the league.

Henrik Lundqvist cannot carry the team every game. He only stopped 15 out of 18 shots on Sunday, which would be considered an off day for him. Granted, breakaways are hard to stop as a goaltender, but if the Rangers could just find that scoring touch, we wouldn't have to worry about Lundqvist giving up three a game. Four goals a game from the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Brendan Shanahan, Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan, etc should not be unattainable.


Now on to today's news:

Callahan will return for Thursday's game against the Islanders, barring some unforeseen setback. His return, coupled with Sean Avery and Straka being in the lineup despite some bumps and bruises, raises the questions the Rangers' brass has been dreading for a while: Who gets a seat on the bench?

Jagr - Dubinsky - Straka
Shanahan - Gomez - Avery
Callahan - Drury - Prucha
Hollweg - Betts - Orr

That's my suggestion. Marcel Hossa has been solid along the boards, but he has hands of stone, and has shown no finishing ability except for in the shootout. With the star power that we have, he should be a replacement winger. With this lineup, you have three solid scoring lines and a checking line. The fourth line hasn't chipped in any offense, but they are not expected to. They go out there and shut down the opposing teams, and it's great.

Greg Moore was returned to Hartford of the AHL, the same place Nigel Dawes is tearing up since his demotion. Dawes had a 2 goal, 2 assist night the other night, and is now up to 10 points in only six games played in Hartford. First sign of injury, he has to be back with the Rangers, maybe even playing with Jagr and Dubinsky if Marty isn't quite clicking. Ivan Baranka was sent down the other day too. He was good in his one game with the club, but he is still a year or so away from being an NHL defenseman.

We're off until Thursday's matchup against the Islanders, who we have yet to beat. We need to come out flying, play a physical game and bury some past Rick DiPietro to win. More on that later in the week.

Congratulations on the year anniversary as well. As a new blogger, it's great being a part of this website. Thanks for the mention in the top 10 as well. It's my first crack at this and I love every minute of it. I hope to get you guys some more of those caliber posts throughout the season.

Battle of New York: The Best of the First 1,000 Posts (Part 2)

More of our good stuff:

8. My Take on the Rangers vs. Islanders Game Last Night
by Lenny
September 25, 2007
=========================
By now anyone who follows hockey knows about the Rangers v. Islanders game last night. A fight filled affair that saw the "enforcers" as well as the common players, and goaltenders drop the gloves. On one hand, it was great to see the players, preseason or not, stick up for each other. On the other hand, it was disgraceful to watch. Here's my take on everything:


Chris Simon. We'll start with the worst I guess. Because of loopholes in the NHL rulebook, Simon was able to play preseason games, even though he still has an outstanding suspension to serve. One has to think, if Simon is not in the lineup last night, half of the fisticuffs that occurred would have been avoided. Give it up for Orr, who stuck up for Hollweg by scrapping with Simon early in the first and then again on Simon's unnecessary, dirty hit from behind on Hollweg setting off the brawl. The league should be reviewing tape right now, and tacking on 10 more games to Simon's suspension.

Ted Nolan. The Rangers had their lineup posted 3 days in advance. Each team plays about 6 preseason games. Simon could have played in any of the other five and not this one. He knew there would be fireworks if Simon was in the lineup. It surprises me that with the players that he did dress, that Brendon Witt wasn't also in the lineup.

Rick DiPietro. Was there any reason for him to jump in? And why did he have to bait Montoya into the fight. It was apparent the Monty didn't want to fight, he has a spot to win. I give him all the credit in the world for sticking up for his team.

Tom Renney. Anyone read his post game comments? Sure the elbow to the head of Callahan was dirty. And sure it was probably a contributing factor to the rest of the night's activities. But to dismiss blame on Simon just makes no sense to me. He did it with the stick incident last year and then again last night. He should be saying how much Simon should be suspended, and how proud he is of his players for sticking up for each other. Here's to hoping Orr, Hollweg, Strudwick and Avery are all in the lineup come the first regular season game between these two.

Just my opinion on the game. Give it up to players like Dubinski, Pock, Hossa, Strudwick and Orr. I enjoy the occasional scrap. Especially when it comes from sticking up for your teammates. Without them, there would be no way to police the sport, ridding the league of incidents like Marty McScorley, Todd Bertuzzi or Chris Simon. I don't even hold anything against the rest of the Islanders, minus Simon and Sutton. Anyone else feel like sharing some thoughts?
===================
7. Blah Blah Blog
by Rob (Long Island)
September 26, 2007
===================
Thankfully, most readers of this blog site are hardcore fans who actually watched the game, otherwise one might think the Isles were the second coming of the '75 Flyers.

Reading these Rangers blogs is kind of like watching the Fox News channel. Fun for a couple of chuckles, but with biases that run that deep, all objectivity is out the window. When Hollweg is defended regularly, you know that the looking glass is a bit foggy. Hollweg will hurt someone the same way McAmmond got hurt, and then we'll revisit this discussion. Funny that Hollweg averaged 1.7 pims per game last season vs Simon's 1.1 pims per game. How can that happen? Hollweg is a future Lady Bing candidate. And Simon is Charles Manson.

Anyway, it has been funny being tag-teamed by the Rag Bloggers the way Simon was double-teamed by Strudwick and Hollweg. Maybe one day Hollweg will fight his own battle without needing help from a teammate. Hollweg = Gutless Puke.

Let the games begin.

Power Outage on Broadway

Alright. Maybe Fedor Tyutin (closing eyes in this picture) isn't really to blame for the pathetic power outage that continues to plague the Rangers.
The defenseman has scored three goals this season which is only a couple fewer than struggling captain Jaromir Jagr. Even though No.68 actually broke his slump in yesterday's disappointing 3-2 defeat to the Stars, the 36 year-old Czech is clearly not himself. Or maybe he picked up Patrik Elias disease! They do hail from the same country.
I am starting to wonder if maybe this team is better off without Jagr much the way the Devils are without their most overrated and overpaid star.
Call me crazy but I am beginning to doubt that the Blueshirts will ever win anything with Jagr leading it. Just look at the lack of chemistry he has displayed with the two new pivots Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Was Michael Nylander really that vital?
So the question is who's the more valuable player? You decide:
Jagr- 24 GP, 5 goals, 13 assists, 18 points, 1 PP, 2 GW
Nylander- 23 GP, 6 goals, 16 assists, 22 points, 4 PP, 1 GW
Maybe we're being a bit unfair because Jagr has played with rookie pivot Brandon Dubinsky and just got back complementary overlooked wing Martin Straka. Sure. Nylander plays with an elite talent who can finish his passes (Ovechkin). But the Caps are a much worse team which might help explain the minus-11 rating.
Since when did styles make the player or in Jagr's case the superstar? If he truly is a great player, it shouldn't matter who he plays with because No.68 should be able to make any linemate better. He also should be able to elevate his game when the team needs it most. Were the old Reebok sticks that important? Does that help explain why everytime he has the puck on a rush, he morphs into the biggest waste of space Marcel Hossa and carries it around the net and doesn't dare shoot?
Jagr is 36 and it's true he's not what he once was. A dominant star player. But part of that seems to be mental. The skating is still there. So is the size and strength.
Here's a quote from a frustrated captain summing up how his team failed to win despite outshooting Dallas by a ridiculous 41-18 margin:
"I thought we played pretty good. We had a lot of chances, we just didn't score
goals
."
The final sentence could well sum up the entire Ranger season. Through the quarter mark, no team is worse at putting the biscuit in the basket than these Rangers! The 53 goals in their first 24 average out to a league low 2.21-per-game. Just brutal!
Just how anemic are they? The first place Flyers have played two less games and scored 17 more times. If you calculated their average, it's almost an entire goal more than the Blueshirts who continue to leave their fans blue in the face wondering how this could actually be possible.
Sure. It's not all bad. They're still 13-9-3 with 28 points and have arguably the best goaltender in the game in Henrik Lundqvist. But if you play every contest close to the vest, this sort of Devilish grinding style could be fatal to any postseason aspirations they have next Spring.
The defensemen have certainly chipped in. Led by Michal Rozsival's seven, the underrated no-name group have put home 15 which ranks second most in the league by a team's blueline.
It's the forwards who aren't holding up their end of the bargain. Drury has been a disappointment and hasn't found chemistry with anyone. Gomez already centers the team's best line but would someone please tell the likeable Alaskan that it's okay to shoot the puck every once in a while! Maybe if he did yesterday during a four-on-four instead of toying around with it, he wouldn't have fallen down and lost control leading to Jussi Jokinen's sick tying goal in the last minute of the opening stanza.
He's certainly the best skater this team has had in a long time and has the skills to go with it. But until he utilizes his underrated shot, Gomer is becoming too one dimensional.
The stars aren't the only problems. Petr Prucha is one of the hardest workers but the lack of production (2-5-7) is alarming. He's got the speed, grit and desire. He also has a deadly shot. But 36 shots in 24 games just isn't cutting it! He should be shooting it much more. If he did, he could be another Gionta.
I was a firm backer of Hossa last season in this space. And his outstanding play down the stretch last year and virtuoso first round performance where he outplayed big bro Marian proved he had some capability. But this experiment needs to commence already. Three assists and no goals despite the ice-time! And I don't care if he can be a shootout threat or is somewhat decent on the PK.
How can this Slovak be stealing a paycheck while the much more gifted Nigel Dawes is back in Hartford? Come on! Isn't it about time this organization woke up?!?!?!?!?!
If Hollweg, Betts and Orr can have spots for being effective fourth liners despite no finish, then the team can afford to play the much more offensive minded Dawes (1 less goal than Jagr in 8 less games including 3 on Brodeur).
Can this club afford not to get this kid back up here? He has excellent skating ability, instincts and great hands. So maybe he isn't as solid overall yet as Dubinsky. Newsflash. Not every player is going to be great defensively.
Maybe that's the problem which is why scoring continues to plummet despite the league's improvements for skaters. Let's be perfectly honest here. Almost every organization with only a couple of exceptions (Toronto, Tampa, Pittsburgh) is obsessed with defense. Here's a new word from the Felix vocabulary: They're D-sessed!
That's right. It says here that any player can backcheck. That it doesn't always have to be so D oriented. Who pays the ridiculous prices these days for tickets, food and parking to see players block shots but have absolutely no finishing ability? Stone hands. If the league is becoming a bunch of Mike Rupps and Marcel Hossas, please count me out!
The offensive ineptitude of these one dimensional players can drive fans nuts. It's nice to have some checkers. But isn't it also nice for them to have some offensive capability?!?!?!?!?!
Vets who can't do anything but check are hogging up roster spots which could be filled by kids. How are they going to learn if they're stuck in the 'A?' No player likes to stay in the minors forever. And despite whatever good can come out of it, it's not the NHL! Not even close.
The only way for prospects to fully develop and fulfill potential is to get ice-time and responsibility up with their big club.
It's time for the Rangers to get into the 21st century. Unfortunately, they're not the only team.
Which reminds me. Give us one good reason Bobby Ryan isn't on the Ducks.
Random thought:
Jamie Langenbrunner making less than half the salary is a much more valuable player than Elias. Who knew?
I'm Derek Felix and that's my take!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Battle of New York: The Best of the First 1,000 Posts (Part 1)

We're about 23 days from the 1st anniversary of the creation of The Battle of New York Blog. Here's what I said when I pondered just why I was doing this, in December of 2006:

=================
Why create Battle of NY?

Because, well, Rangers, Isles and Devils fans are a fun bunch, and we figure you'd love to hear how different our perspectives are on various issues, including our teams' performances.

I started this site so that you could get a fresh perspective on hockey from 3 sides of the NHL's most intense American rivalry.
==================

REAL REASON? Wanted a blog, didn't wanna do all the work.

Anyway, we've accomplished some of the goals in this first 1000, we've had some great perspective from all three angles of the mighty New York hockey triumverate, and much of it has been fresh.

Overall, I'm proud of what we've done here. So, this week, we'll be counting down the 10 Best Posts from our first 999. Two a day. Here's Numbers 10 and 9.
==================
#10. "What Have I Gotten Myself Into Exactly?"
by Derek Felix
December 18, 2006

I am still trying to figure out why I decided to participate in this. If you know me, then you know I will give you my no-nonsense take on anything to do with sports. Particularly the NHL (soon to be renamed the No Hitting League). Sorry Steve. Couldn't resist!

It's been a while since I actually sat down at the computer and wrote something worthwhile about sports. To be quite honest, I've been in a funk since covering the repeat champion Staten Island Yankees. I've only covered two Devils games and now have no time to get out to the arena due to helping out with Berkeley Carroll High School basketball. It's been a fun gig so far and actual money. Imagine that. Good god. Today, I ran into an old friend who was coaching the Staten Island Academy Girls Varsity team. We go back 10 years and I once worked for him in a similar capacity when he coached the Tottenville Boys team. P.S. I discovered just before that his former school hasn't won a game this year and has been blown out as much as the Knicks. Good! He got the shaft over a year ago. So justice is being served.

Anyway, you probably are thinking why am I even filling you in on this? Because maybe me and the old coach could be reunited at the JCC like old times. We'll see.

In any event, when it comes to this intro title, I may as well be discussing the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this year's Rangers. Can anyone honestly figure this team out? After winning five straight in which they only managed to allow six goals mostly due to great netminding by both Henrik Lundqvist and whipping boy Kevin Weekes, the Blueshirts had one of the worst weekends an NHL team could have- losing by a combined score of 15-3 at Toronto and then back home to the archrival Devils. Or as I like to call them the Satans!

Now it's one thing to not have it and lose 9-2 at the Air Canada Centre but quite another to get thoroughly embarrassed by a bitter rival on your own home ice the following night. A loss of discipline cost the Rangers big time last night as they allowed the Devils to connect three times out of five on the power play. That's like a week's worth for the offensively challenged team from New Jersey. (They also gave up six to a team that might be lucky to reach that total in the next three games). And in the same game, while the Blueshirts made their fans including myself feel eternally blue (no thanks to that vintage little Giant performance against the Eagles) with an awful 0-for on just as many PP opportunities, not only did they quit and force the home crowd to a quick exit reminiscent of what goes on in the Swamp. But also allowed the contingent of Devil supporters to turn MSG into their own adopted home. It is kind of ironic though that these fans who turn up in Manhattan are almost never found at their own abysmal arena which has morphed into a 24 hour construction site. I also found it funny that these "great fans" bragged about the "Let's Go Devils" chants with six or so minutes left with their team comfortably in front. Where were those chants earlier when the game was still close? Guess they feared another monumental Devils collapse or just weren't brave enough to pull it when the building was still full. That's what I'll never get about Devil fans.

So what's wrong with the Rangers? Well, the effort certainly hasn't been there the last two games. But also, they were lucky to beat Dallas before this weekend thanks to Lundqvist. What did he finish with? 43 or 44 saves? They are a weird team. But then again, you could say that for almost any of the four Atlantic teams who are separated by five or six points. The Devils looked like world beaters recently also winning five straight before coming down to earth with three consecutive losses before a strong response last night. So who wants this pathetic division? Stay tuned.

So today, the Rangers finally waived defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Carrying his $2.75 million salary wasn't making much sense. But neither does basically placing the blame on the much maligned vet who worked hard to return early after such a tumultuous offseason which included taking part in the league drug and alcohol rehab program and recovering from offseason surgery. For the most part, the former Av who helped them win the Cup in 1996 acquitted himself well. He didn't take as many chances in Tom Renney's system and tried to make pairing with Karel "Poti II" Rachunek watchable. So when does Poti II stop cashing a paycheck? Nevermind.

With Ozolinsh out of the picture and Marek "Big Bird" Malik straining his groin and missing the final two periods last night, the Rangers recalled Thomas Pock from Hartford. The 25 year-old Pock who was once a Hobey Baker finalist has lingered for most of the season waiting for another chance to break into the lineup. Why Ranger management is so afraid to put him in is mindboggling. Is he really worse than what they got? The best D on the roster is Michal Rozsival. Malik gets bashed a lot but the team is actually worse without him. Recently, Fedor Tyutin and Aaron Ward have struggled. When an out of shape Darius Kasparaitis is outperforming most of your regulars, you know things are bad. And I like Kaspar but come on. Aside from that, the fans have grown tired of the predictable man-advantage where the pointmen never shoot and continue to overpass to Jaromir Jagr's right side allowing for opposing PK units to just overplay and leave the points vacated. Brendan Shanahan is given little space. The fans last night chanted, "Bring Back Leetch." And really, can the aging Leetch look out of place running the Blueshirts power play? At this point no. A move I have been against for seemingly ever now makes sense because the one thing No.2 can do is run a PP and take some pressure off Jagr, Shanahan, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander. So will it happen now that Ozo's salary is coming off the cap? We'll see.

With the dreaded Islanders coming in for the second match-up of the season tomorrow (a game I'll be at in 411), the team needs to show a pulse. Especially after getting shellacked this weekend and outclassed by those same Fishsticks two weeks prior 7-4 once again at MSG in the Viktor Kozlov career game (4 goals). It's hard to say what will happen. But it's another big game between two rivals in a division nobody wants. Will someone please step up already? Till tomorrow.

=================

9. Tranny-han?
by Steve Lepore
March 20, 2007

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.

Rangers Lose against Dallas

Didn't get a chance to check it out, but Brendan Morrow's goal sunk New York, 3-2.

At this rate, NJD will be in first by New Year's.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Devils Squeeze One Out in Tampa

A Big 3-2 victory for the Devils. Two goals for Brian Gionta, and one by David Clarkson on a brilliant feed by John Madden.

Four consecutive ROAD wins for New Jersey. They come home for Dallas, Montreal, Atlanta, Boston and Washington. Consecutively.

I'm scheduled to go Friday (MTL), Sunday (ATL) and the Friday afterwards (WSH).

8 Points out of 10 is particularly possible for this stand. Hell, 10 out of 10 is if Brodeur keeps playing at his God-ly standards. No Elias for 2 nights in a row and 2 wins.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Final in Florida - 3-2 Panthers in a SO

The Rangers lost in a shootout tonight against the Florida Panthers, 3-2. Stephen Valiquette got the start tonight and really looked great for every shot he faced, except for the two that went in during regulation and the one in the shootout. All three goals were somewhat soft, but the amount of great saves he made outweighs the soft goals. Chris Drury broke out of a scoring slump and recorded both of New York's goals, but couldn't get the equalizer in the shootout.

The Rangers were really outplayed in the first period, but came out with a 1-0 lead. From there, their play picked up and was extremely sharp towards the end of the third period. The Rangers downfall, however, was the speed of Florida. They were quicker than almost every Ranger defender, which led to three breakaways in regulation, and several partial breakaways that led to scoring chances.

Sorry for the lack of updating over the last couple of days. I'll be busy again most of the weekend, and probably won't get a chance to update again until Sunday night or Monday morning. The Rangers take on the Dallas Stars at 1pm at home on Sunday afternoon on My9 for those of you in New York. Ryan Callahan is expected to return to action, which may be a good sign since Martin Straka, who returned today, left the game at the end of the third period. Enjoy the rest of the shopping weekend and I'll check in after the Dallas game.

Isles-Bruins: Matinee Hockey!

Scoreless after a lifeless first period until about the final minute.

Devils, Rags coming up later. Enjoy your day of hockey!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Devils Get a Huge Win over Pens 3-2

What a game. The Devils save their season with a huge win over Pittsburgh 2-1. Zach Parise got both goals on the power play. Marty Brodeur played a fantastic game, only an Evgeni Malkin goal off a redonkulous turnover by Johnny Oduya (sigh) kept him from the shutout.

Great game, including a key 5-on-3 kill by the Devils in the third period.

Devils take on the Thrashers on Friday at 7.

Little bit of a lineup change for tonight's Ranger game

Tonight's Ranger game against Tampa Bay will feature a bit of a lineup shake up. Here are the tentative lines for the Blueshirts, which is subject to change based upon how many times Tom Renney changes his mind.

Drury - Dubinsky - Jagr
Avery - Gomez - Shanahan
Hossa - Moore - Prucha
Hollweg - Betts - Orr

Tyutin - Girardi
Mara - Staal
Strudwick - Baranka

Michael Rozsival is nursing a sore knee. Strudwick is also skating on one leg after suffering a bruise on Monday. It's the NHL debut for both Baranka and Moore. Should be an interesting game.

The game is also on MSG2, which sometimes I get and sometimes I don't. So any updates will be pending I am watching the game. If' not I'll check in later on.

Devils-Penguins for like the 9th time this Season

Devils and Pens tonight on FSN NY and WFAN at 7:30 PM. NHL Network in the US will broadcast the game.

Colin White and Paul Martin "may" play tonight. If so, the Devils will be much more adept on Defense, and perhaps more confident on the offensive side.

Aaron Asham also may play tonight. If so...OK.

For the Penguins tonight, they have to balance the lineups and get offense outside the Crosby line.

The Devils have to stop Crosby. I don't care what Sutter wants, Madden's line and White (If he plays) should be against Crosby on every possible shift.

I feel confident in my team tonight. No, really.

Marty will start tonight for NJD.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rangers demote Dawes. Huh?

In what can only be described as a head-scratcher of a move, the Rangers demoted Nigel Dawes to Hartford today. Tom Renney issued a statement saying, for the most part, that Dawes needed to be more of a two way player. Renney said he was looking for consistency from the second highest scorer on the team. To fill his slot, Greg Moore was recalled from Hartford.

Moore will play alongside Petr Prucha and Chris Drury tomorrow night as the Rangers' third line. Also up from Hartford is Ivan Baranka. Baranka is up incase Jason Strudwick can't play tomorrow. Strudwick took a shot off the leg last night and did not play much of the third period. If he can't go, Baranka will slide in next to Paul Mara as the third pairing.

The Dawes demotion is most likely a precursor to Martin Straka and Ryan Callahan coming back. Straka will most like shift back to the top line, with Brandon Dubinsky and Jaromir Jagr, and Callahan will take Moore's spot with Drury and Prucha. While Marcel Hossa is a valuable two way player, you have to imagine that his lack of offensive ability will ultimately spell the end of him as a regular player while everyone is healthy. Either that or he gets stashed on the fourth line, and we lose Ryan Hollweg or Colton Orr.

What would you do? I think the demotion of Dawes was unwarranted, but there is so much depth right now that he is unfortunately expendable. It shouldn't be too long before he gets another call with the big club, or in maybe a more likely scenario, he is traded. We'll see.

Rangers Game on Channel 9 on Sunday

The NYR home game vs. the Dallas Stars this Sunday at 1PM will air on WOR, Channel 9.

Throwback. Cool idea for the Rangers. A December game against Phoenix, and two additional Knicks games will also air on what is now MyNetworkTV 9.

I would've tuned in if I weren't working the Giants on Sunday. Should be an interesting watch for Rangers fans.

Rangers drop one on the road to the Islanders

My apologies for not having anything in game or immediately post game. It's a busy time for me right now, but it will calm down in a couple of weeks. Anyways, about the game.

The Islanders created a lot more scoring chances from where I was sitting, and Henrik Lundqvist was great. Besides the opening minute of the second period where the Rangers took a collective 15 seconds off, they played pretty good hockey. Rick DiPietro robbed Jaromir Jagr in the third, and made a couple of other crucial saves throughout the night, but he was not tested to badly.

Michael Rozsival scored for the Rangers, shorthanded. I can't be happier about the defense scoring all of these goals, but the offense needs to score as well. In order to score, you need to shoot, and that was something that the Rangers just weren't doing last night. Scott Gomez goes coast to coast and then pulls up to pass, and it's all for naught. Marcel Hossa skates through the slot with no one in front of him but doesn't shoot because he's on his backhand. They should all be on the ice right now blasting pucks on net from everywhere on the ice.

Rangers are back in action tomorrow night. I'll be around a lot more often the next three games, so I'll check in later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rags-Isles to air on 1480 AM...in Chinese

Might be worth a shot if you speak the language...

http://www.puckupdate.com/archives/2007_11_18-2007_11_24.html#002248

Rangers to host archrival Islanders tonight

There's a little more than six hours until the drop of the puck at what should be an energized Garden tonight when the Rangers play host to the hated Islanders.

What makes this rivalry so special is its intensity. Not just the players on the ice for each respective team but the passionate fans who add so much to these games. Whenever Ranger and Islander fans get together for a game, you never know what to expect. But sometimes, the hatred can go too far and boil over even in the stands which many know all too well.

It was during one of last year's games at MSG (one the Rangers pulled out) that that evidence was on display when a drunk Isles' fan said a few too many things to a couple of Blueshirt fans which led to a fight and a couple of spectators being tossed out. That it literally happened right in front of me was all too scary.

I'm a true believer that these types of incidents could be avoided entirely if the paying customers who go just had a little more mutual respect for one another. These are the teams that we support. It's not like we're players competing against each other every shift where emotions sometimes run too high and lead to scraps. That's what Colton Orr and Chris Simon are for along with Hollweg, Strudwick, Witt and Sutton.

A lot of times, it's the alcohol that leads to such ugly stuff which usually takes away from what's happening on the ice.

These games are about as good as it gets in this league. Like any bitter rivalry, the battles in the corners are a little more intense which usually makes for fairly competitive and entertaining games.

So far, the Islanders have prevailed in the first two games of the 2007-08 season series winning both by the narrowest of margins- a goal both in regulation. The 2-1 and 3-2 scores are reflective of how close these contests can be. With many coming down to the final close call at the buzzer.

Lately, the Fishsticks have had the better of the rivalry bringing an 8-1-2 recent record into tonight's big battle. In fact, they've taken four of the past five on Broadway dating back to last season. So, the Blueshirts have plenty of incentive to defend their own turf.

Both teams are playing well coming in with the Islanders winning five of seven and the Rangers putting a season high five-game winning streak on the line.

The Rangers (12-7-1) lead the Atlantic with 25 points while the Islanders (10-6-0) enter in third five behind despite playing four fewer games. Got to love those schedule makers!

Figure both starting netminders Rick DiPietro and Henrik Lundqvist to be in goal. Lately, DiPi has been brilliant in these games. The King is having a great year. So it should be a fun goalie battle.

In order for the Blueshirts to win, they must play aggressively and win the battles along the boards. Use their speed well to attack a slower but mean Fishstick D. On the other side, they can't allow the Isles to get their aggressive forecheck going. They are extremely effective down low at generating chances.

The team who can consistently pin the opposite side in their own end will most likely wind up with the two points.

Special teams could also come into play. The Islanders have a pretty potent power play while the Rangers have a solid penalty killing unit. The Ranger PP is still not great and can be attacked shorthanded. They must get it righted soon before it starts affecting end results.

It should be another great battle!


Congratulations to Martin Brodeur on finally becoming just the second NHL netminder to win 500 for a career, trailing only childhood idol Patrick Roy! He might be on the opposing side and an Oscar Award winning embellisher at times but this is a very classy team oriented athlete who has a great attitude.

As someone who covered him a few times, he was always there win or lose. And more often than not as evidenced by the three Stanley Cups, Olympic Gold and three Vezinas, Marty came out on top. His great desire and extreme work ethic have helped him have an outstanding career which is why when it ends, the likeable Montreal native is going into the Hockey Hall up in Toronto.

Glad it also came at the expense of the Cryers. Especially in their building. That must've been rough.

Enjoy your hockey night!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Devils Finally Win #500 for Marty

Marty gets big wins against the Failures. Period. Exclamation point.

Congrats to Marty, and the Devils, who got off the snide tonight with a 6-2 victory at the ATM in South Philadelphia. I was unable to watch, so I'll post the point-getters tonight...

DEVILS:
Parise: 1 G, 2 A
Elias (!): 1 G, 1 A
Zubrus: 1 G, 1 A
Gionta: 1 G, 1 A
Rachunek: 1 G
Pandolfo: 1 G
Greene: 1 A
Zajac: 1 A
Oduya: 1 A

Brodeur: 26 Saves

PHILADELPHIA:
Richards: 1 G, 1 A
Upshall: 1 G, 1 A
Timonen: 1 A
Knuble: 1 A

Biron: 18 Saves

Rangers win with defense, who provide offense

Confused? Let me clear it up. Michael Roszival, Dan Girardi and Jason Strudwick (!) scored for the Rangers tonight to give them a 4-3 win in overtime against the Penguins. Roszival had a pair, including a short handed goal, and Strudwick's was the game winner in overtime (!!) off of a rush with Paul Mara. Pretty unbelievable right? Well, Ryan Hollweg also cracked the scoresheet with an assist on Roszival's first goal. Marc Staal, Sean Avery, Petr Prucha, Brandon Dubinsky, Fedor Tyutin and Scott Gomez also picked up assists on the night. Every Ranger defenseman made the scoresheet tonight, which is quite the feat.

For the Penguins, Sidney Crosby was most of the offense, and he single handedly controlled the first period. He had a goal and an assist on the night. Petr Sykora and Maxime Talbot scored the other goals for Pittsburgh.

After the first period, when the Rangers were down 2-0, is when the Blueshirts remembered that they should be playing hockey. After a slow start in the first, they answered with three goals in the second. The rest of the game was fairly even with a weird bounce off of Colton Orr's skate to main reason for Sykora's third period goal to tie it up at 3-3. Overtime was only 1:40 old when Mara slid the puck over to Strudwick, who deposited it into the open cage.

Not much to really dissect tonight. Other than the first period, the Rangers played good hockey. I said in the beginning of the season that playing all 60 minutes was crucial to a successful season, and up until tonight they had been doing that. They were bailed out tonight, and that just goes to show how well this team is going right now.

A couple of other quick hits:

Martin Straka and Ryan Callahan were said to be a week or so away for the Rangers. No timetable on Marek Malik.

The players need to start policing the checking from behind, in my opinion. There have been way too many instances this year with players being boarded and injured. Over the last several games, Chris Drury and Dubinsky have been hit hard from behind, but both escaped unscathed. Dubinsky even got up and fought Tuumo Ruutu tonight, which takes guts. It's sad what happened to Patrice Bergeron, who may not play hockey again this year, or ever. Erik Cole is also seriously injured. The league needs to increase the penalties for boarding, maybe to an automatic five minutes. I realize sometimes it is accidental, but too many times it looks like the player has plenty of time to pull back, and doesn't. Until the league does something, enforcers like Orr need to step up and challenge anyone who boards a teammate. Just my opinion.

Also, while as a Ranger fan I am forced to despise Martin Brodeur, congratulations to him for winning his 500th game. Patrick Roy is now the only goaltender with more wins, with 551.

The Rangers are off tomorrow before Monday's tilt against the Islanders. If anything breaks before then, I'll let you know. If not, talk to you all on Monday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rangers continue good play as King derails Flyers in shootout win

It wasn't their best game but when one considers that it was a back-to-back situation with the second game against the hated Flyers at an energized Wachovia Center, you have to admire the Rangers' perseverance as they were able to capture their fourth straight in an exciting 4-3 shootout victory last night.

The difference was the accurate shooting of sniper Brendan Shanahan whose laser past Martin Biron's outstretched glove was enough for the Blueshirts to prevail because as expected, Henrik Lundqvist was unbeatable in the skills competition- repelling all three Flyer shooters who came his way including a calm stack of the pads on Scottie Upshall's bid to keep it going.

It allowed Tom Renney's club to pull into a first place tie with those same Flyers and become the first road foe to come out with a 'W' in the City of Brotherly Love. Philly had been a perfect 6-0 entering the action packed contest which was played on the edge.

There's certainly much to like even if top scorer Jaromir Jagr was held off the scoresheet. When the now red hot Scott Gomez who was flying all night notched two helpers on nifty transition goals by Fedor Tyutin and Shanahan, it was continued success for the ex-Devil pivot who apparently has finally grown more comfortable anchoring the ever dangerous Line One B with equally speedy pest Sean Avery and Shanny, who is starting to find the back of the net finally.

Though the power play fizzled and they couldn't hold two third period leads, it was also nice to see Petr Prucha stepping into one for his second of the season breaking a long goal drought since the season's opening week.

You also certainly got the feeling that the next six battles between these bitter rivals are going to be riveting hockey played on the edge. Both seem to be separating themselves from the pack in an ultra competitive Atlantic.

I loved the intensity. Who didn't enjoy a very good scrap between Orr and Cote? Maybe only Bettman Inc!

And with the predictable scrums with each team exchanging words before faceoffs, it told you how much this still early game meant to both clubs.

There's certainly a lot to like right now if you're a Ranger fan. The team is finally clicking and it helps explain why they've turned the corner and have now won eight of nine as they enter Pittsburgh tomorrow before returning home Monday to host most hated nemesis Islanders.

Let's see if they can keep it going!

Devils-Isles Tonight, 7PM

Blue and Orange make their first journey to The Rock tonight.

Lineups:

Parise-Zajac-Langenbruner
Zubrus-Elias-Gionta
Pandolfo-Madden-Clarkson
Brylin-Pelley-Asham.

Greene-Rachunek
Vishnevski-Brookbank
Oduya-Mottau

Brodeur
Weekes

Rangers win another on the road

The Rangers pulled out a 4-3 shootout victory over the Flyers last night to pull even with Philly atop the Atlantic Division. It was the Rangers' eighth win in the last ten games, and it was Philly's first loss on home ice all year.

The Flyers got regulation goals from Jim Dowd, Daniel Briere and Denis Tolpeko (first NHL goal) while the Rangers got goals from Fedor Tyutin (50th NHL point), Brendan Shanahan and Petr Prucha. Scott Gomez extended his point scoring streak with a pair of assists, Sean Avery chipped in a pair as well and Chris Drury assist on the Prucha goal. Shanahan scored the game winner in the shootout again, after Marcel Hossa was stopped on the first attempt. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 of 23 shots in regulation and overtime, and all three shootout attempts. Marty Biron stopped 26 of 29 in the four periods, and was only beaten by Shanahan in the shootout.

The game was blacked out for Buffalo vs Ottawa, which I was hoping would be a good game at least. It wasn't, as Buffalo isn't the same team without Drury and Briere and those Buffalo announcers drive me crazy. I don't have much to go by as highlights on Sportscenter were also very limited. From what I heard, the Rangers started slow, then kicked into a new gear about halfway through the first period and didn't slow down, creating a very entertaining game. Other than that, I cannot offer too much else. I'll be able to see tomorrow night's game against the Penguins though.

In other news, Ryan Callahan is now listed as day to day as he just has to get used to the new knee brace and recondition himself. I offered it before, but who goes when he comes back? Does he sit? Or does someone like Hossa get bumped? Maybe Ryan Hollweg or Colton Orr goes, even though that line has been very impressive and is doing a great job at what they're supposed to do, shutdown the line they're against and energize the team and crowd? If that happens, who gets stashed on the fourth line? Prucha? It's a bad situation, but a good one at the same time. Better to have too much depth than not enough depth.

I say create a rotation. Rotate Hossa, Callahan and maybe Prucha in and out of the lineup until injury strikes, someone goes in a slump or something unforeseen happens. Keep players fresh. If Shanahan needs a game off, give it to him. Put Callahan in on the second line and he can chip in where Shanahan took off. It's not ideal, but the team is playing so well, it's hard to sit anyone permanently.

Also, Avery was featured in People magazine this week. He is listed as one of People's sexiest men alive, sharing the honor with celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Patrick Dempsey, Ben Affleck and others. I am going to stop talking about sexy men now, but there is a video interview on People's page located here: http://www.people.com/people/package/video/0,,20154290_20154496_20159873,00.html
It's not a bad interview so enjoy.

See you back here tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Isles vs Pittsburgh tonight FSN 7:30pm

Ive been away for a few days and seemed to have missed the Tucker-Avery nonsense as well as the Islanders not being able to capitalize on the opportunity to regain first place with a lowly loss to the Flyers. A game in which Marc Andre Bergeron did something stupid [and something he has been noted doing a lot before the Isles picked him up a year ago] and tried to pinch a little too deep in the offensive zone, thus creating a bad 2 on 1 situation in which Mike Richards scored a shorthanded goal to seal the game.

Anyway, now that I am done with that garbage, we travel to Pittsburgh tonight to face off with the Penguins in a game that I hope Miro Satan is salivating at. There's a few teams out there that Miro really love to play against, one of them being the Devils [check his track record, or better yet his shootout % against them] and the other is Pittsburgh. Last season he lit the lamp numerous times against Crosby and Co and the last time these two teams met, Miro put the game winner in the back of the net once again. The Isles need a win tonight to stay one point behind the second place Rangers and keep the Devils from sneaking past them for third.

The Isles will be without their captain, Bill Guerin tonight who is still suffering from blurred vision after being hit in the eye with a puck two games ago. Sean Bergenheim will be taking his spot in the lineup and Mike Sillinger may be given the "C" for this game.

Brian Berard has been practicing and should be able to play tonight. that leaves an extra defenseman who will be scratched. [Most likely Bergeron] Forward Ben Walter has been sent to Bridgeport so to make room for Berard on the roster. Walter played very well in his short sty here centering a line of Chris Simon and Tim Jackman.

Now onto two things that disgust me. We re-signed Freddy Meyer....WHY? and even worse, we sent Sean Bates down to Bridgeport for conditioning, meaning he'll be back up to play with the Isles in a week.....WHY?

In related news, the last time Bridgeport played Hershey, they had a huge brawl and one of their leading scorers' Blake Comeau, ended up in two fights. One was against resident tough guy Louis Robitaille. Comeau has no right going up against a guy like Robitaille but stood in there like a champ. I bring all this up because Bridgeport goes into Hershey on Saturday and there still a lot of bad blood in the air. Lots of guys got thrown out of the game, guys were fighting all over the arena and guys were still fighting in the runways afterwards. Sean Bates plays his first game Saturday in Hershey. $50 for whatever Hershey player takes him out. We dont want him here on the Island. Go away!

Rangers prevail in Battle of Hudson

Maybe it's just as simple as what Devils' ultimate warrior John Madden stated:

"They're the better hockey club."
That was very evident in the latest Ranger victory over Madden's Devils- spoiling future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur's second attempt at becoming the second goalie to win 500 for a career in front of a packed house at The Rock in downtown Newark.
In the first couple of games across the subway Path, the Rangers prevailed 2-0 and 2-1 (shootout) holding New Jersey to only one goal. This time, a sharp Jamie Langenbrunner who made his season debut after missing the first 17 contests due to shoulder surgery matched that output just 35 seconds in potting a Johnny Oduya rebound to give his team a lead.
However, instead of getting a spark from such a lift from their valuable top six forward, the Devils allowed the Blueshirts to come right back 50 seconds later when rookie Nigel Dawes converted a two-on-one by outwaiting Brodeur before going five-hole for his fourth tally of the season. It was the 22 year-old Manitoban's third in three games against the legendary Devil, quickly making the miniscule former 2003 fifth round selection a new thorn in the Devils' side.
The timely goal helped turn the tide as the Blueshirts would score four straight including goals from a couple of other first-year players in Brandon Dubinsky (rebound) and Marc Staal (wrist shot for first career NHL goal) sandwiched around a Jaromir Jagr power play goal off a misplay by Brodeur in which he wasn't able to recover as a dominant No.68 tucked home a backhand wraparound through his right leg.
By the time Langenbrunner backhanded home his second of the night on a rebound of a Karel Rachunek shot redirected by Zach Parise to slice it to two with 12:31 remaining, the damage had already been done as New York would get a huge stop by Henrik Lundqvist of a Brian Gionta shorthanded bid on a break with five and a half to go as they rolled to their third consecutive win over their Lincoln Tunnel rivals.
It was the Rangers' third win in a row and seventh in their last eight which has seen the team rebound from a sluggish 3-6-1 start improving to 10-7-1, just a point behind first place Philadelphia as they get set to battle at Wachovia Center later tonight.
Most impressive about Tom Renney's club last night was how composed their rookies continue to look. While Dawes seems to step up in these big games, Dubinsky has continued a progression centering an unlikely top line with Marcel "Stonehands" Hossa flanking the team's most talented forward Jagr.
The trio has continued to click because they all work well down low and are becoming more familiar with each other as last night showed where the Devils struggled all night to get the puck from them.
The end result was Dubinsky potting his second on a backhand rebound after Jagr powered through the tandem of Madden and Jay Pandolfo to fire a point blank shot in the slot which a sliding Brodeur denied before the Alaskan converted at the doorstep.
They easily could've had more but Brodeur made an unbelievable stop on a Jagr rebound stretching out to get his glove on a puck which replays confirmed never entirely went over the goal line. A great call by the officials and Toronto.
All night, Jagr was flying. He and Dubinsky nearly teamed up on another shift to setup a goal but Brodeur slid across to deny Fedor Tyutin.
"I like to work with him; he has potential," Jagr noted afterwards. "I mean, he's good now, and I like playing with him, but maybe in 20 games I'm going to love it.

"It's good for us together and it gives us three lines. It makes us a better team."
There's little doubt that Jagr's assessment was right on the money because while he failed to find chemistry with acquisitions Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, by working well with Dubinsky, it's allowed Renney to put together three solid scoring lines.
Combined with the improved play of a fourth line which now is consistently seeing more ice-time, the Rangers suddenly look very formidable up front. And as fellow blogger Lenny already noted, just wait until Martin Straka and Ryan Callahan return. It's a very good problem for the coach to have.
Did we also mention that Marek Malik continues to remain out with a groin injury? It doesn't look like the D misses Big Bird much, especially with Staal showing why he was highly touted and taken by the Rangers 12th overall a couple of years ago.
With Gomez getting more and more acclimated while teaming with pest Sean Avery and Brendan Shanahan to form line 1 B, things are looking up for New York. The ex-Devil who got the Bronx cheers from Devil fans wasn't fazed much helping setup two Ranger goals extending his point streak to seven (2-7-9).
Drury meanwhile continues to work with Dawes and the slumping Petr Prucha (9:37 TOI), who really needs a goal for his confidence and also just to not become the odd man out when Callahan and Straka return.
It would also be nice if Blair Betts, Ryan Hollweg and Colton Orr were rewarded for their improved work. Maybe a bounce will finally go their way tonight.
As for Lundqvist, what else can be said that hasn't already. After getting a rare night off in Toronto, King Henrik was razor sharp in making 22 saves to improve to 8-2-3 against New Jersey.
With his teammates continuing to kill penalties well going five-for-five last night to make it 36 of 38 in their last 10 games, Lundqvist knows he has help. His workload hasn't been as bad because the Rangers underrated D doesn't allow many shots. They might bend but never seem to break.
It should be interesting to see how the team fares in a back-to-back against a rested opponent looking for a little revenge for being shutdown a couple of weeks ago.
We're ready! Are you?

Rangers deny Brodeur his 500th

The Rangers defeated the Devils last night, denying Martin Brodeur of his 500th win. In a game that saw Jamie Langenbrunner return to action, and score on his first shift to open the game, the Devils had little else to cheer about. Nigel Dawes scored less than 90 seconds later, followed by goals by Brandon Dubinsky, Jaromir Jagr and Marc Staal got his first of his career. Brian Gianta scored in the third period to bring the Devils within two, but it was not enough.

Couple of quick notes:

Marc Staal continues to improve. He's taking the body well, becoming more and more confident with the puck and letting go some nice shots.

Tom Renney has so much confidence in the fourth line that they ended the game against the Devils top line. The Rangers' checking line is staying out of the penalty box, pinning opponents in their own zones and even generating scoring opportunities. It's great to see.

The Rangers have a huge problem when Martin Staka and Ryan Callahan return. Who do you sit? Dawes who has four goals? Dubinsky, who has created a great chemisty with Jagr? Unfortunately, I can see Marcel Hossa getting a seat on the bench, and possibly Petr Prucha. Unless they bump Ryan Hollweg or Colton Orr and then bury someone on the fourth line. We'll see what happens.

The Rangers jump right back into action tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. It should be another good game. This is the time of year that school owns my life and I will be forced to watch the game later on tonight again, but I'll post in the morning. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

War at the Rock: Blue and Red vs. Red and Black, 7PM, FSN/MSG/NHLNet, WFAN/ESPN Radio/XM

I'll be out in Newark tonight, so we'll see how this goes tonight. The Devils gotta get production from (supposedly) Jamie Langenbrunner and his linemates Parise and Zajac, and then balance the attack between Elias' line and Madden's line, get some solid shifts from the 4th line and hope for the best against the Rangers' forward attack.

I'll see you in Newark!

Avery needs to tone down the act


Sean Avery is quite possibly the biggest agitator in the game right now. The 27 year-old Ranger forward will do almost anything to get underneath the skin of opponents.
However, the undrafted Pickering Ontario native who's with his third organization in six seasons might just have pushed the envelope too far. The talkative pest has recently been involved in two incidents during pregame warmups.
The first came in his Nov. 3 return against New Jersey from a separated shoulder when he exchanged words with Devil netminder Martin Brodeur while the two stretched out along the ice in preparation for a game the Rangers won 2-1 in a shootout.
From our vantage point, it didn't look like anything too serious developed even if Devils' fourth liner David Clarkson took exception during the contest.
That Avery decided to go even further and make this a recurring theme by nearly inciting a fight involving Toronto's Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake who's battling Leukemia during warmups on what was a special Hockey Night In Canada honoring Monday's new HOF class featuring Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Jim Gregory was just assinine.
Talk about bad timing. Avery's antics can sometimes waver on absurd and while I am a supporter of him, he can even get on my last nerve. He used poor judgment Saturday which probably won't be the last time either.
With NHL executive VP of Operations Colin Campbell having to get involved and fine Avery $2,500, Tucker a grand and both organizations (Rangers- $25,000 Leafs- $10,000) substantial amounts embarrassing each in the process, one has to ask when is enough enough?
Clearly, Avery is on watch and must tone down his act. That he is an effective player who's valuable to his team should make him better understand why he's needed on the ice. When he's not mouthing off and ticking off opponents, the Ranger second liner who rides shotgun for the team's best playmaking pivot Scott Gomez is an outstanding skater with exceptional speed who brings many elements to the table such as going to the net with reckless abandon and getting dirty to make a play.
Quite honestly, Tom Renney's club is a better team with Avery on it. Despite his penchant for silly penalties, he'll also draw some as the result of his aggressive nature. That's the good coming with the bad. What also comes with it is a player who can play effectively at even strength, give a boost on the power play and kill penalties due to his speed and instincts. If he had better hands, he'd be scary. He certainly gets enough chances.
Last season, when Ranger President and GM Glen Sather went out and acquired him, it turned around their season. It's no coincidence that the Rangers became a much more difficult team to deal with after his acquisition. So when he's out of the lineup, the impact is felt.
Since returning five games ago, Avery has not only been a pest but he's been playing well scoring twice and setting up three other goals for all five of his points while having a couple of scraps which he fared well in sparking the club.
What gets lost in all the chaos is that the 5-9 195 pound nuisance can be a pretty darn good player when he wants to be. Sometimes though, it's our opinion that he'd rather be a clown and beat to his own drum than always do what's best for his team.
Maybe that explains why linemate Brendan Shanahan recently said that he doesn't need to talk so much and take it as far as he does sometimes crossing the line.
This is a very important year for the Rangers and they're going to need the good Avery to show up more than the one who acts like an idiot and sometimes is more a detriment. It's also a huge season for Avery who will be eligible for Group II free agency next July.
Ultimately, he has to decide if he wants to continue acting like a bozo annoying opponents who could even possibly be future suitors for his services next summer. By continuing this current path, it hurts his future more than helps.
If he keeps his head and just goes out and plays to capability, it will not only benefit the Rangers but Avery as well.
The choice is his.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rags and Avery, Leafs and Tucker fined

From NHL PR Dep't:

TORONTO (November 13, 2007) –

The New York Rangers organization has been fined $25,000, the Toronto Maple Leafs $10,000; the Rangers Sean Avery fined $2,500 and the Maple Leafs Darcy Tucker $1,000 for their actions in the pre-game warm-up in NHL Game #236 on Nov. 10.

"The unprofessional conduct of Avery in initiating this altercation, less than a week after being involved in an incident in the pre-game warm-up against New Jersey, is the basis for this discipline," said NHL Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. "Tucker also bears some responsibility for his inappropriate response. Both organizations must also be held accountable for the players’ actions."

Team fine money goes to the NHL Foundation; player fine money goes to the NHL Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Sean Avery in hot water up in Toronto

As fellow blogger Steve has already reported, Sean Avery was called to Toronto today to speak with Commissioner Colin Campbell and the rest of the disciplinary team to decide if a suspension is warranted for Avery's actions on Saturday night.

As noted, Toronto's Howard Berger said that Avery started the ruckus after a comment about Jason Blake's bout with Leukemia. Brendan Shanahan has voiced his opinion on the matter, saying that Avery would not have said anything of that sort, and that while Avery's antics are sometimes seen as classless, he wouldn't stoop that low. Even Toronto's head coach Paul Maurice said he had no problem with Avery's antics before the game, so something seems fishy. It was originally reported that a fellow Ranger had said that even he "wanted to strangle" Avery at that point, but come on, who doesn't want to strangle Sean Avery sometimes.

Avery will not be suspended, and Greg Moore who was called up as an insurance policy, has been sent back down to Hartford. Avery will likely be fined, even though it is coming mainly from reputation and he said, she said nonsense.

The Rangers and Devils square off tomorrow night as Martin Brodeur looks for win number 500. Should be a good one tomorrow as Avery will surely be looking to release some steam.

A couple of pics of the HHOF Class







We posted our thoughts below under Devils-Pens. But what would such a great night be without a couple of pics?





Man, does Stevens' face look big next to those guys or what?

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