Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vally In, Malik Out, & Line Changes

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes gives an update from this mornings practice...

"As mentioned as a strong possiblity here yesterday, Steve Valiquette is giving Henrik a breather. He last played Jan. 3 and faced the Flyers in the 5-3 loss at MSG last Feb. 17 when both Shanahan (concussion) and Lundqvist (shoulder) left the game.

One surprise is that D Paul Mara is sitting, Marek Malik and Jason Strudwick are dressing. Marc Staal will play, still a little flu-ish.

No callups. I'm mystified. Just 12 healthy forwards.

Some line tinkering: Straka back with Gomez, Jagr. Avery back with Dubinsky, Shanny. Might happen, but Renney said not to read too much into it."

...if Renney pairs Malik with Strudwick tonight, is there a slower d tandem in the NHL?

...I don't like Renney continuing to tinker with the lines. Its one of the reasons this team can't find any chemistry.

Rangers vs. Flyers Preview

Tonight the New York Rangers (24-22-6) visit the Philadelphia Flyers (28-16-5). The Rangers look to avoid extending its road losing streak to seven games while trying for its sixth straight win at the Wachovia Center. They enter this game not having won away from Madison Square Garden since beating Toronto 6-1 on Dec. 29. They're 0-4-2 since and that win over the Maple Leafs was their lone victory in their last 11 road games (1-6-4). But making the 100-mile trek to Philadelphia has been a boost to New York's confidence lately. The Rangers have won five straight and nine of the past 10 on the Flyers' home ice dating to March 27, 2004. The Rangers offense continued to sputter on Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss at Carolina, the first game of a four-game road trip. No team in the NHL has fewer goals than the Rangers' 125, and they've scored just 14 in their last seven games. Philadelphia has been one of the NHL's hottest teams over the past month. The Flyers have gone 12-2-1 since Dec. 27 and haven't lost in regulation to a team other than New Jersey since Dec. 21. The Flyers are third in the league in goals with 163, and haven't scored fewer than three in a game since Jan. 4. For a full preview go to Yahoo! Sports.

...still a little early to call this a must win, but this is as big a game as you can think of in January.

...all reports indicate that Valiquette will get the start tonight. With the Flyers scoring the third most goals in the league, this might get ugly. Or Valiquette could stand on his head and we'll only lose 2-1.

...well its finally happened, we are officially the worst scoring team in the league. 125 goals in 52 games. Ottawa leads the league with 179 in 51 games. That's 54 more goals in one less game.

...not sure whose in goal for Philly, but does it really matter when we make every goalie look like Patrick Roy.

...Scott Hartnell has the hot hand for the Flyers (11 goals - five game-winners - and six assists in his past 10 games). So he's good for at least four tonight. think I'm down on this team right now. I'll have more when available.

Silent Sather

In his New York Post article today, Larry Brooks mentions Glen Sather's refusal to speak with the media...

"...the GM (Sather) rejected a formal request to take questions about the underachieving ninth-place team he constructed over the summer. Sather has not spoken to the New York press about the team all season.

It would be interesting to know what Sather thinks of Chris Drury, who continues to struggle. It would be interesting to know what the GM makes of Marek Malik's one-game banishment. It would be useful to hear his take as the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches..."

...what's up with Sather? I wouldn't mind hearing what's going in his head. Not sure why he refuses to speak with the media on the state of this team. He's probably afraid he'll get ripped for all of the terrible signings he's made over the years.

...I think the fans deserve to hear from Sather at least once every couple of months. C'mon Glen, give us something, anything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Valiquette May Start Against Philly and Other Notes

Over at Blue Notes, Steve Zipay gives a report at practice today including news that Steve Valiquette could get the start against Philadelphia tomorrow...

- After practice today at the Spectrum, coach Tom Renney said he was "contemplating" using Valiquette (2-3-1, with a 2.73 GAA) rather than play Lundqvist two consecutive nights. "...(Henrik's) going to be absolutely essential to our run and I don't want to burn him out. I want him to be in a position to play as much of those as he possibly can. We're going to have to play Steve. There's no question about that. (Henrik) was good against Montreal and New Jersey and I like the day off in between."

- President and GM Glen Sather sat in the fifth row behind the bench, watching the skate, paging through stats and taking phone calls. Sather, who also was in Carolina, and I briefly exchanged greetings, but according to a team spokesman, Sather would not be available to discuss the state of the ninth-place team. "When there's news, he'll talk," he said. "Nothing's imminent."

- The players dressed at Wachovia Center and wore sandals or sneakers, bussed over and laced up their skates at the Spectrum...Renney used some colorful language during attack drills. "Everybody understand the ------ concept? Drive the net. You want to win hockey games? ------ wake up!"....At one point, Shanahan took linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Nigel Dawes to the dry-erase board attached up on the glass to discuss positioning...Near the end of practice, bare-headed Jagr fired puck after puck off the old sideboards from about seven or eight feet away.

...I actually don't have a problem with Valiquette in goal tomorrow, because if we can't score more than one goal a game it really doesn't matter whose in goal.

...god I hope Sather isn't looking at the stats of Dubinsky, Dawes, Callahan, Anisimov, Cherepanov or Sanguinetti in an effort to boost their trade value in an attempt to get an aging defenseman.

...I've definitely been tough on Renney, but it's great to see that he's droppin' f-bombs on these guys trying to wake them up. the practice updates from Zipay, Weinman and Dellapina. They really give you a sense of what's going around the team.

Lundqvist Negotiations On Track Despite Struggles

John Dellapina at The Daily News reports that Don Meehan, Henrik Lundqvist's agent, says that negotiations on a contract remain on track...

"Don Meehan, the agent for Lundqvist, said that negotiations with the Rangers on a long-term contract for the franchise goaltender remain on track, with Lundqvist's struggles having had no impact on either side's desire to get a deal done."

...I'm very surprised that the Rangers haven't moved to get this done sooner. With the way Lundqvist has been struggling, you have to figure the negotiations are on his mind. The Rangers need to lock him up now so he can move on.

...on the other hand maybe the Rangers are holding back because of Lundqvist's struggles. If that's the case they should bring up Montoya to see what he's got.

Jagr: We Suck

Steve Zipay noted in Blue Notes that Jaromir Jagr was less than happy with the team's performance last night against the Hurricanes...

"...Jagr said last night in the locker room after I asked him to explain the turnaround in the game: 'Just say we ----.'..."

...its about time someone gave an honest assessment of the team's performance. However, I am concerned with this statement from Jagr as it sounds like he has no answers.

Forsberg Wants to Come to Rangers

According to Eklund at HockeyBuzz, Peter Forsberg wants to come to the Rangers...

"According to my source the team Forsberg would MOST like to play for is the NY Rangers. This is a source that has been VERY solid for quite some time in the past regarding Forsberg and other players as well.

The Problem in NY and Philly is obviously cap space, however both teams are reportedly looking into creating space soon..I was told that the Rangers and Flyers are for personal reasons and the Red Wings are simply because they have the best shot at winning."

...why in the world would Forsberg want to come to this team? Has he not watched the Rangers this year? You would think he would want to go to a team with a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup.

...the Rangers are getting to the point where they're going to have to make a decision if they want to go for it (signing Forsberg) or mail it in (trade vets to contenders for prospects). We'll probably know a lot more after this road trip concludes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Same Old Story

Tonight the New York Rangers (24-22-6) were defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes (25-24-4) by a score of 3-1. Rod Brind'Amour and Sergei Samsonov scored in the second period, and Trevor Letowski added an insurance goal in the third while Cam Ward made 34 saves for Carolina. Brendan Shanahan scored for the Rangers. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist stopped 24 shots. For a full recap go to Yahoo! Sports. is amazing how quickly this team can lose their confidence. In the first period and early part of the second they were by far the more aggressive team. Then Carolina scores and its like the team stops playing. Unbelievable.

...same story line as every game this year no scoring, too many penalties, no clutch saves, bad turnovers, can't hit the net on odd man breaks, etc.

...speaking of penalties. The first period could have been the worst officiated period in the history of the NHL. How neither ref saw Gomez get nearly killed from behind is a travesty and then the Hurricanes actually got a power play out of it. Prucha almost got his head taken off by a forearm shiver and then Jagr gets called for diving. Awful. And the whole time not a word from Renney. C'mon Tom stand up for your team they might actually start to respect you. their last seven road games the Rangers are now 0-6-1 and are tied with Tampa for the fewest road wins in the league.

...too sick to my stomach to go on.

Dawes on the Power Play!!!

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes, reports that Nigel Dawes has been put on the power play for tonight's game...

"Nigel Dawes, with five points in the last seven games, will be on the power play with Gomez and Drury.He has one power-play goal, against New Jersey on Oct. 25.

But Dawes has a quick release, a heavy shot and certainly can pass..."'s about time Renney. This kid has a ton of offensive talent, not sure why it took so long to get him on the power play. Especially since the Rangers are currently on streaks of 0-for-13, 1-for-21, and 2-for-38 which has dropped them to 24th in the NHL.

Callahan Back By February?

Over at The Rangers Report, Sam Weinman gives us an update on Ryan Callahan...

"Tom Renney said yesterday that Ryan Callahan is back on the team’s radar, especially given his improved production down in Hartford. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Callahan back up by mid-February." 10 games with Hartford, Callahan has 13 points (5 goals 8 assists) and is a +6. With those stats, why are we waiting until mid-February?

...if Callahan can come back and light it up like he did last year, we might not have to make a trade for a scoring forward.

...the question then becomes, who sits? I think it may depend on how Prucha and Dawes are playing. Or do I dare say that Renney sits one of his favorites on the fourth line.

Malik Out; Prucha & Drury Receive Treatment

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes reports that Marek Malik will be scratched tonight against the Canes and both Petr Prucha and Chris Drury were hit by shots in practice...

"No. 8 practiced, but is scratched tonight. 'Just hasn't been on the ice enough,' said coach Tom Renney. That makes five scratches in nine games. Didn't see the defenseman in the locker room...

...Petr Prucha took a shot off the right knee and his left shoulder was wrapped in the locker room. Drury was felled by a shot as well, but kept practicing; he was getting treatment..."

...maybe Zipay just didn't see Malik in the lockeroom, but he needs to be there kissing everyone's ass begging for their forgiveness for his handshaking incident with Renney.

...hey Renney can we tell our guys not to dive in front of shots during practice please. Save it for the game fellas.

You Steppin' Carolina

For the latest news and notes on the Carolina Hurricanes visit Canes Country.

Rangers vs. Hurricanes Preview

Tonight the New York Rangers (24-21-6) visit the Carolina Hurricanes (24-24-4). The Rangers are currently on a five-game road losing streak, which is one game shy of matching their six-game away slide (0-5-1) to start the season. They own a 7-10-6 mark on the road. Carolina, which has the fewest points of any division leader (52), has lost five of their last seven. The Hurricanes, who have dropped five of their last six at home (1-4-1), host the Rangers for the first time this season. The Rangers had lost five consecutive games against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C. before winning 4-1 in the last matchup there on Feb. 15. For a full preview visit Yahoo! Sports.

...the Rangers ended the first half of the seaon on a 4-2-1 run, which put them into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot, lets hope they can keep that momentum going into the second half of the season.

...the Hurricanes started the season on a nice run, but, similar to the Rangers, have been struggling for the last two months. We need to jump on this team from the get go.

...former Conn Smythe trophy winner goalie Cam Ward has been struggling for Carolina to the tune of a 2-5-0 record with a 3.98 goals-against average in his last seven games, including six starts. Let's get traffic in front and rattle him early.

...really hoping Lundqvist used the All-Star break to put his mind at ease and get himself ready for another late season surge. I can see him starting 28 of the last 31 games.

...I'll have game day notes as soon as available.

Put Up or Shut Up

John Dellapina at The Daliy News says the Rangers have 31 games to show why they were a preseason favorite to make a run for the Stanley Cup...

"...Returning from the All-Star break to play the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers have 31 regular-season games remaining to justify all of the preseason buzz that resulted in their home games being sold out in a couple of hours, their television ratings soaring and the folks at NBC, the NHL office and the International Ice Hockey Federation designating them league standard-bearers...

...Rangers Coach Tom Renney said...'We've got 31 games left. And it's not out of question that we can win 20, 22, 24 games. That's not out of reason at all - especially because we know that when we play our best can beat anybody.'..."

...last year's run to the playoffs was the most exciting hockey we've seen since 1994, if they're able to replicate that feat again this year Ranger fans are in for one hell of a ride.

Rangers Shopping Malik

According to Larry Brooks at The New York Post, Glen Sather is currently shopping Marek Malik...

"...Sather, we're told, is demanding the equivalent of a top-four defenseman in return for Malik, who carries a cap charge of approximately $950,000 the remainder of the way for this, the final season of his contract.

While there is widespread interest around the league in Malik, no GM has been willing to meet Sather's requirement for making a deal..."

...a top four defenseman?!?!? We're talking about Marek Malik. Is Stather out of his mind? Trade him for a bucket of pucks. Addition by subtraction Glen. I'm getting sick of writing about Malik.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Malik May Play Tomorrow?!?!?!?

Sam Weinman at the Rangers Report gives us the latest on the Marek Malik situation...

"We know Marek Malik skated today. We know he had a talk with Tom Renney and his teammates before practice and we know, by all outside indications at least, that the team is trying to put the events of last week behind it.

Malik spoke for five minutes to a bunch of us. He said he was unhappy that his intentional snub last week, when he refused to shake Renney’s hand after Tuesday’s win, somehow was made public. But he said the whole thing was not about trying to disrespect anyone.

“The only thing I can tell you guys is my gesture or statement when I didn’t shake Tom’s hand wasn’t anything personal about anybody on this team, the coaches, the organization, or my teammates” he said “It was just my personal statement about my situation here. But it was not to disrespect anyone.”

Of course, that’s the way it was interpreted, so Malik may still have some work to do in winning back the affections of his teammates. As for Renney, he said Malik is on the roster, part of the team, and could even play tomorrow against the Canes.

So maybe Malik got his message across after all…"

...I'll pretty much lose all respect for Renney if Malik is in the lineup tomorrow. Unless its to showcase him for a potential trade. Actually, if the Rangers are trying to showcase Malik it might be better if they didn't let him play at all.

Malik Skates

According to Steven Zipay at Blue Notes, Marek Malik was on the ice when the Rangers practiced today...

"The Rangers just started a 4 p.m. skate in Greenburgh and former un-person Marek Malik is on the ice. What does it mean? Will he play tomorrow? Has he skaken Tom Renney's hand today? It'll be about an hour or so before we can talk to Malik and the coach to find out the latest..."

...I'll have further details on this as soon as they become available. Stay tuned.

Jagr: I Do Care

Larry Brooks of The New York Post had a great article on Jaromir Jagr the other day, which includes these quotes from our Captain...

"When I play bad, people don't ever just say that I'm playing bad, they always say that I don't care, or I'm unhappy, or I'm not trying, or I lost interest," said Jagr, who turns 36 on Feb. 15. "Maybe it's a compliment that people don't think that I can just play bad, I don't know . . .

"It bothers me, because I do care and I do try my best all of the time, but there's nothing I can do about what people say about me.

"I have to say this. When there are times that I think I get too much of the blame, there are also times when I get too much of the credit. That's for sure. I don't complain when people say all the good things, so I can't complain when people say bad things. I just wish if they want to say bad things, say I'm playing bad, not that I don't care.

"I believe in myself and I believe in this team. I do. Now we have to do it, all of us. If we do, I don't have to think about next year, because they'll want me here . . . at least I hope so."

...sorry so late in posting this story.

...I think all the Jagr haters need to read this article. Too me it shows he cares and like anyone else can lose his confidence when things go wrong. The last thing Jagr can be accused of is being a cancer for the Rangers and anyone who puts the blame solely on Jagr for the team's lack of success so far this season hasn't watched this team. the way, in the last 19 games Jagr has 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) and is a +5.

...having said that, Jagr needs to get over people saying he doesn't care and lead this team to the playoffs. Like I've been saying, if this team doesn't turn it around in the next two weeks, its time to trade players such as Jagr, Shanahan, Straka and Rozsival for picks and prospects.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hot for Hossa

That would be Marian Hossa. As Bruce Garrioch at the Calgary Sun reports that the Rangers are one of a handful of teams interested in the services of Hossa if contract discussions break down with him and the Thrashers next week...

"Marian Hossa's future with the Thrashers could be decided next week.

Thrashers GM Don Waddell told reporters last night that he's going to sit down with Hossa and his Edmonton-based agent Ritch Winter early next week to see if he'll sign a long-term extension.

"I'm not frustrated. It's just something that's got to get moved quicker than it has," said Waddell. "Look, (trade deadline) is right around the corner. We've had many, many discussions, and I'm just going to tell them that we've got to get to the next stage."...

...If the club decides to deal Hossa, he will be a hot commodity with the likes of Detroit, Colorado, the Rangers, San Jose and Ottawa lining up to make an offer." it me or are the Rangers mentioned in every trade rumor in the league?

Rangers Eyeing a Rental Defenseman

According to Larry Brooks at the New York Post, the Rangers have a number of veteran defensemen in their sights...

"...the Rangers will check on potential rentals Rob Blake, Adam Foote and Jon-Michael Liles as they will on potential rental Dan Boyle, who returned to the Tampa Bay lineup on Thursday. But they are also sure to keep a close watch on Toronto's outstanding 29-year-old defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who has three years at $4.25M per remaining on his contract that includes a no-trade clause."

...Brooks also mentions in his article that the Rangers are looking to move Malik quickly (no kidding?) and that he's actually a tradable commodity (really?).

Rangers Looking to Trade for Sundin

Eklund over at HockeyBuzz says not to count the Rangers out of the Mats Sundin sweepstakes...

"Sundin. I was told 90% now that Sundin is moved. The latest rumblings include Vancouver and Calgary leading the way, but don't count out the NY Rangers I am told. With rumours of Malik being shipped to Chicago very prevalent, and also rumours popping up that the Sharks have interest in "another highly paid Ranger" I get the sense that the Rangers are up to something big."

...I thought we did something big this past off-season when we signed Gomez and Drury? I really hope Sather doesn't try to do something big by mortgaging our future for a player like Sundin.

Who Wants Peter Forsberg?

It looks like John Dellapina does in today's Daily News...

"Isn't it about time that Lundqvist gets on the horn with countryman Peter Forsberg, reminisces a bit about the good times they had bringing home gold from Turin and then convinces the all-world center to sign on with the Rangers for the remainder of the season?

Forsberg is attempting yet another comeback from his chronic foot and ankle woes. And the reports have been promising... Where better to cap his career than on Broadway, perhaps as the Euro center who ignites a Jagr explosion.

Time is running short for Forsberg to make a decision and pick a team. He has until Jan. 31 to sign with a Swedish Elite League team and until the Feb. 26 trade deadline to sign with an NHL team and be eligible for the playoffs."

...with the Rangers cap situation they would probably need to move someone, Malik anyone, but if Forsberg is only going to cost the Rangers money then why not. They can move Drury to the wing and drop Prucha to the fourth line. Its not like this team has some great chemistry that Forsberg would come in and ruin.

Deja Blue

John Dellapina of the Daily News reports that the Rangers are in the very same position they found themselves in last year, maybe even better...

"...The Rangers were 25-22-4 last season. They're 24-21-6 now. Both add up to 54 points.

They were in third place in the Atlantic Division then, are in fifth place now. But in the far more important Eastern Conference standings, their tied-for-eighth standing now is an improvement over their 10th-place slot then.

The Rangers are closer to both the current division (Philadelphia at 59 points) and conference (Ottawa at 66) leaders than they were to the 2006-07 Atlantic (Devils at 66) and East (Buffalo 72) pace-setters.

And Rangers coach Tom Renney's assertion that the conference is 'more bunched up this season, which certainly makes it exciting,' is perception not grounded in reality. Last season, the 14th-place team in the Eastern Conference had 48 points, just like now... also took some pretty impressive stretch runs by several other teams to make it so hard for the Rangers to make the playoffs. And they had to make their run largely without a key player - Brendan Shanahan was lost for 15 games and diminished for the rest in a horrifying collision Feb. 17."

However, Dellapina did add one small difference...

"...Of course, it took one of the most effective trades in Rangers history - the Feb. 5 acquisition of Sean Avery - to get the 2006-07 team home. And it is unreasonable to believe Glen Sather can pull off another such catalyzer."

...after reading all of these similarities, I suddenly don't feel this season is such a disaster anymore and that we actually have a chance of making the playoffs. Thanks John.

Gomez Gets Assist in All-Star Game

Scott Gomez had an assist and former Ranger Marc Savard scored the game winner with 20.9 seconds to go, as the East beat the West 8-7 in the NHL All-Star game. For a full recap, go to

...I've got to be honest, I only watched about three minutes of the game. But it looked exciting.

...with so many stars missing from the game and skills competition, I wasn't really into it this year. I mean four of the six All-Star goalies were Tim Thomas, Tomas Vokoun, Manny Legace and Chris Osgood (I thought he was the backup to Hasek?). Nuff said.

Dubinski Named YoungStars MVP

The Rangers Official Website reports that Brandon Dubinski was named MVP of the YoungStars game last night during All-Star weekend after his 2 goal 1 assist performance. Marc Staal, who also played in the game, had a goal and an assist...

"...It was a particularly big night for Dubinsky, who was named the MVP of the annual YoungStars Game. The game brought the top 16 rookies from the NHL's two conferences together for a 3-on-3 game, and Dubinsky led the East with two goals and an assist...

...Staal, meanwhile, scored a beautiful goal on a first-period semi-breakaway and assisted on the East's lone second-period goal."

...the YoungStars game was definitely entertaining with the back and forth action. But it really wasn't hockey. The commentators mentioned the possibility of using the 3 on 3 after overtime during regular season games to determine the outcome. Not sure I'm a big fan of that.

...great job by Dubinski and Staal representing the Rangers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rangers Set to Open '08-'09 Season in Prague

The NHL announced today that the New York Rangers will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague. The Rangers will also participate in the Victoria Cup – an International Ice Hockey Federation event...

"The National Hockey League (NHL), in cooperation with EMA Telstar and IMG in Sweden and Ceska Sportovni, announced today that the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators will open the 2008-09 NHL regular season in Europe...

... The Prague games feature the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning in a home-and-home series at Sazka Arena...

...Before starting the NHL regular season the Rangers will participate in the Victoria Cup – an International Ice Hockey Federation event featuring the winner of the European Champions Cup and an NHL team. The tournament will take place in Berne, Switzerland..."

...I'm definitely into the idea of starting the season in Europe, however, I'm not sure about the Rangers participation in the Victoria Cup. I don't think too many of us would be excited to see an over-anxious European player blast Chris Drury into the boards injuring him for an extended period of time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Malik's Mess

The New York Post's Jay Greenberg reports that Marek Malik was scratched from last night's game for not shaking Tom Renney's hand after the Rangers victory over Atlanta on Tuesday...

"...The Post has learned the embittered veteran Ranger defenseman refused Renney's handshake in the locker room after Tuesday night's 4-0 victory over the Thrashers and was scratched from last night's 2-1 shootout win over Atlanta for that reason.

Malik had stormed out of the arena in Edmonton on Jan. 5 after finding out he was a scratch, and has publicly indicated his bewilderment at intermittent lineup scratches. Scott Gomez laid into Malik for refusing Renney's common congratulatory courtesy after a win in which Malik actually played one of his best games of the season. The defenseman met with the coach yesterday morning and was expected to again on Monday, when the Rangers reconvene after the All-Star break..."

...this is an unexpected twist on this story. I thought for sure Malik was being traded. Now, unless Malik does some serious apologizing he might just be waived.

...on a side note, how about Gomez laying into Malik. Great job taking a leadership position Scottie.

Classy Ceremony for Classy Guy

Outstanding job by MSG and the Rangers on another jersey retirement ceremony. The event was filled with class, emotion and surprises. It was great to see players such as Beukeboom, Erixon and Domi at MSG again. The ceremony then got emotional, at least for me, when the family of John Murray, Leetch's old friend who died in the Sept.11 attacks, joined everyone at center ice. I thought that was a nice touch by the Rangers. Then the surprise of the evening, when Leetch announced that Adam Graves number would be retired. Leetch's speech was exactly what you would expect from him, giving thanks to everyone but himself. I also thought it was very notable that Leetch never mentioned the man who traded him from the Rangers, Glen Sather. Overall a great night for a man Messier called the greatest Ranger ever. Can't wait for Graves' ceremony next year.

Articles on the ceremony:

Daily News has two here and here.
New York Post
New York Times

Graves #9 to be Retired Next Year

We all got a great surprise last night when Brian Leetch announced that Adam Graves #9 will be retired next year...

Steve Zipay at Newsday has a recap on the announcement...

"Graves, who had no idea that the tribute was coming, hugged Leetch and still was in shock as he walked off the ice. In the 1993-94 season (his best in his 10-year Rangers tenure), Graves, now a special assistant for prospect development and community relations with the club, scored 52 goals to set the club record at the time...

...Graves, who won a Cup in 1989-90 with Edmonton, is third with 280 goals and 10th with 507 points in Rangers history."

...the look on Graves face when Leetch made the announcement was priceless.

...I always wondered if the Rangers were going to retire Graves' number. I had my doubts only because Richter and Leetch were home grown guys and Messier is..well...Messier. Graves to me just seemed notch below those three because of those reasons. But I do feel it is much deserved.

You the Shan!!!

Last night the New York Rangers (24-21-6) defeated the Atlanta Thrashers (23-26-3) by a score of 2-1 in a shootout. Henrik Lundqvist was perfect in the shootout and Brendan Shanahan scored the only goal in the tiebreaker for the Rangers. With the win, the Rangers completed a two-game home sweep of the Thrashers. New York was 0-for-5 on the power play, stretching its man-advantage slump to two goals in 38 chances. For a full recap go to Yahoo! Sports.

...while it wasn't the prettiest win, I have to give the Rangers credit for gutting it out under tough circumstances. You can only expect a lethargic beginning after sitting and watching the Leetch ceremony for an hour, plus you knew Atlanta was going to come out playing hard after they were embarrassed on Tuesday.

...another solid game from Dubinski and Dawes. These two have really elevated their game the last two weeks.

...all I have to say about our power play is 2 for their last 38. I didn't think that was possible.

...lots of help in the standings last night as the Devils, Penguins and Islanders all lost.

...nice two game winning streak heading into the All-Star break. Hopefully this gives the team some confidence going into a tough four game road trip to Carolina, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Montreal coming out of the All-Star break.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Malik Traded?

According to Steve Zipay at Blue Notes, Marek Malik's equipment was not in his practice locker and could be on the move...

"...'Right now it's just an internal matter,' said Tom Renney. Asked if Malik would be at tonight's game, Renney responded:.'That's to be determined.' Asked if he was suspended, Renney declined to answer. Asked if he was still on the team, the answer was: 'He's a Ranger.'

For how long, who knows?..."

...I was only planning on posting Brian Leetch stuff today, but this news is too good not to post. Not sure what Ranger fans are more excited about, Malik possibly being traded or Leetch night.

Top 10 Brian Leetch Moments

John Dellapina at the Daily News gives his Top Ten Brian Leetch Moments...

10. Returns to Garden as opponent, March 20, 2006
9. Drafted 9th overall in 1986
8. Scores playoff hat trick at Philadelphia, May 22, 1995
7. Wins Calder Trophy in 1989
6. Wins Norris Trophy in 1997
5. Wins Norris Trophy in 1992
4. Captains Team USA to 1996 World Cup title
3. Spin-o-rama goal against Martin Brodeur in Game 7 against the Devils in ‘94
2. Scores first goal in Game 7 of ‘94 Cup Finals
1. Wins Conn Smythe Trophy as 1994 playoffs MVP

...for a more in-depth description of each moment, click on the Daily News link.

Brian Leetch Tribute Video

Found this Leetch Tribute Video on YouTube. Its not that great, but its all I could find...

Brian Leetch Night Coverage

For all that is Brian Leetch, go to the New York Rangers Official Website's Leetch Tribute Section.

Rangers vs. Thrashers Preview: Leetch Night

Tonight the New York Rangers (23-21-6) will host the Atlanta Thrashers (23-25-3) at MSG on Brian Leetch Night. The Rangers will retire Leetch's jersey at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, when they host the Atlanta Thrashers for the second consecutive game in each club's final contest before the All-Star break. Leetch spent the first 16-plus seasons of his 18-year NHL career with the Rangers, and ranks second in franchise history with 1,129 games played, first with 741 assists, second with 981 points, and first among defensemen in goals (240) and points (981). His No. 2 will join Mark Messier's No. 11 and Mike Richter's No. 35 in the rafters - completing the trio most responsible for ending the Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. The Rangers cruised to a 4-0 victory Tuesday after Atlanta leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk was ejected late in the first period for driving Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival into the boards from behind. The Thrashers won't be getting Kovalchuk back for the rematch. The sixth-year winger was suspended for one game without pay for the hit on Rozsival, who was cut and stayed down for a few minutes, but returned later in the game. For a full preview go to Yahoo! Sports.

...since this game is more about Brain Leetch than the Rangers, I'm going to hold off on my opinions and give some of Leetch's accomplishments:

- 981 career points in 1,129 career games from Feb. 29, 1988, to March 2, 2004
- Holder of more than 40 Rangers Team Records
- Six-time Rangers MVP
- 11-Time NHL All-Star
- Three-time U.S. Olympian
- Captain of 1996 U.S. World Cup champions
- Two-time Norris Trophy winner as NHL's best defenseman
- 1988-89 NHL Rookie of Year
- 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kovalchuk Suspended for Tomorrow's Game

According to the NHL's website, Atlanta Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has been suspended for tomorrow night's game against the Rangers without pay for his hit from behind on Michal Rozsival...

...looks like things are starting to roll our way. First a solid victory and now because of a scheduling irregularity we actually get the benefit of Kovalchuk's boneheaded play two games in a row. Nice.

Ranger Scouts Attend Avalanche/Preds Game

Over at the Denver Post, Adrian Dater is reporting that Ranger scouts were spotted at Tuesday night's Colorado Avalanche/Nashville Predators game...

"Neither the Avalanche nor the Nashville Predators play the New York Rangers or Toronto Maple Leafs the rest of this season. So, why were scouts from the two latter teams at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night?

Gentlemen, start the engine to the rumor mill. The NHL trade deadline is a little more than a month away (Feb. 26), and the Rangers and Leafs are both struggling to get into the playoff pack in the Eastern Conference.

Rangers coach Tom Renney ripped into his team after Sunday's second straight loss to Boston, and the Maple Leafs fired general manager John Ferguson Jr. on Tuesday."

...earlier this year I posted a trade rumor (see here) between the Rangers and Avalanche which included Al Montoya, Petr Prucha, Marek Malik and a prospect to Colorado for defenseman John-Michael Liles and Marek Svatos. Maybe this is back on the table. I said in an earlier post, I would give this team a few weeks to respond to Renney's threats, before pulling the trigger on a trade.

NHL to Investigate Kovalchuk Hit on Rozsival

According to TSN, the NHL is investigating Ilya Kovalchuk's hit from behind on Michal Rozsival last night...

"...A suspension is possible.

Kovalchuk was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct late in the first period for hitting Rozsival from behind. Rozsival returned to the game after the first intermission....

...After the game Kovalchuk tried to explain the hit. 'I just tried to finish my check, and he kind of turned right before I tried to hit him,' he said.

'He hit the boards; it wasn't my [intention] to hurt him or anything,' added the 24-year-old. 'It's a contact sport. I wasn't trying to kill anybody.'..."

...I'm sorry that was a dirty hit and Kovalchuk should be suspended. We saw in last year's playoffs that this guy can lose his cool and that's what happened last night.

Share Your Thoughts on Brian Leetch

With Brian Leetch Night only a day away, the New York Rangers Official Website is welcoming Ranger fans to share their thoughts, congratulations or memories with No. 2, Brian Leetch! To submit message, click here...

"Heading into the big event, we invite fans to submit congratulations, thoughts, or memories of Leetch on We'll be posting many of them here in the last 8 hours leading up to Leetch Night.

Submission Deadline: Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m."

Bottle That Up

Last night the New York Rangers (23-21-6) defeated the Atlanta Thrashers (23-25-3) by a score of 4-0. Jaromir Jagr scored and had two assists on a newly created line, and defenseman Fedor Tyutin had a career-high three assists. Sean Avery and Brandon Dubinsky scored first-period goals, Martin Straka added one in the second, and Jagr finished the surge in the third to provide plenty of offense for Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist stopped 14 shots in earning his seventh shutout and 14th in three NHL seasons. For a full recap go to Yahoo! Sports.

...not sure what Renney said to those guys but that was as complete a win as you could ask for. The next step will be for them to carry this play into the rest of the season.

...the new lines, for one night at least, really seemed to click. To me, putting Avery on a line with Jagr was probably the best move that Renney made. Hopefully, Avery will attract a lot of attention with his physical play in front of the net opening up the slot for Jagr.

...Shanahan looked like a man possessed last night. While he didn't have a point he had five shots on goal and seemed to have an extra bounce to his step. He must have heard all the talk of him being a step slower this year. great has Dubinsky been lately. Three goals in the last four games. While the rest of the team has been floundering, Dubinsky has really stepped up his game. His goal last night was a thing of beauty. much tough luck can Drury have this year? He gets robbed on the door step, hits the crossbar and his deflection just barely gets stopped by Lehtonen. Keep your head up Chris it'll come.

...the only negative was the nightly failure of the power play. After going 0-5 last night, they are now 2 for their last 33.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Line Changes

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes, reports on the Ranger line changes for tonight's game...

"In order to create more energy, accoridng to the coach, Avery moves up to play left wing with Gomez and Jagr; Dubinsky will center Dawes and Shanahan, and Drury will center Straka and Prucha. The fourth line remains the same; Marcel Hossa is scratched again.

Marek Malik is back in, playng with Michal Rozsival. Strudwick with Marc Staal, Fedor Tyutin with Dan Girardi. Paul Mara, whose shot on the power play may be missed, is not being punished, said Renney, for his play. "It's to get Harry (Malik) in," he said.

If you're a skeptic, you may wonder whether a deal involving Mara or Malik, both unrestricted free agents, is in the works. I'll make some inquiries...

Henrik Lundqvist is in the net again...."

...I like the forward lines. A good mix of veterans and young players. The only thing I would have liked to see was Hossa put on the fourth line for Hollweg.

...not happy with Malik back in the lineup, but maybe as Zipay says, there's a deal involving Mara in the works.

Rangers vs. Thrashers Preview

Tonight the New York Rangers (22-21-6) host the Atlanta Thrashers (23-24-3) at MSG. A 2-6-2 record this month has dropped the Rangers into last place in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers would miss the playoffs if the season ended Monday, currently standing ninth in the Eastern Conference. They have managed only 21 goals in 10 games in January while going 5-for-50 on the power play, prompting coach Tom Renney to consider altering his lineup. This is Atlanta's first visit to Madison Square Garden, where these teams also play Thursday, since losing Game 4 of a first-round playoff series last season as New York completed a sweep. However, the Thrashers have won their last three regular-season games there, and five straight overall versus the Rangers. Thrashers right wing Marian Hossa scored in all five of those wins, totaling 10 points in that span, and he enters this matchup with five goals in his last four games overall. Atlanta, though, has been limited to five goals during its current three-game losing streak. Ilya Kovalchuk ended the weekend leading the league with 37 goals, but is on a season-high four-game goal drought. The All-Star left wing hasn't scored in his last three games against the Rangers, but has four goals in his last five games in Manhattan. For a full preview go to Yahoo! Sports.

...the only way to stop all of the trade talks, fire Renney demands and the overall doom and gloom is to go out and win.

...I've been reading the last two days about Renney saying he is going to play those who deserve it, let's see how much ice time the third line gets tonight. I'd also like to see the lines reconfigured with Shanahan's ice time being reduced. No offense to Shanny but he's a step slower this year with his age and injury.

...the Yahoo! Sports game preview mentions the Rangers possibly sitting Lundqvist in favor of Valiquette tonight. Rest isn't going to help Lundqvist. What Lundqvist needs is some competition. The Rangers need to bring up Montoya to see what he's got and let Lundqvist know that if he doesn't step it up soon they have a young capable goaltender ready to take his spot.

Buy, Stay or Sell?

Matt Waxman tries to answer this question at Outside the Garden...

Glen Sather could go to Johnson & Johnson and order the largest band-aid ever produced in an effort to at least qualify for the playoffs. This, in actuality, is fairly possible considering the team is a mere two points away from taking the 8 seed at present, especially if the mandate from the higher echelons of management is to at least make the playoffs. Of course, though, it would be silly to trade assets that could be an integral part of the team next season. Since the return of the NHL it seems Sather is determined to maintain a reasonable quantity of prospects, which should signal that such a move is not coming. Maybe Glen the Savior will make a move resembling the one for Petr Sykora made a couple of seasons ago. I offer the name Michael Ryder, not suggesting he would be targeted, but a player of his ilk—a free agent at the end of the season, a struggling but previously proven commodity that may simply need a change of scenery.

There is also the possibility that Glen Sather will stand pat. Sather could holdout hope that the team will come together and make the playoffs, at which point it could potentially repeat last season’s performance. If the team fails to make the playoffs Sather can simply retool the roster given the number of potential free agents.

Perhaps the likeliest of all is dumping all free agents and veterans that will not be part of the team’s future. In my opinion, this is by far the best option, assuming status quo. Of course, if a free-fall ensues this is a must. There are several factors that account for my opinion. First, there is an awful lot of youth on this team, which could benefit from more ice time, which would be possible if the team goes into dump mode. Consider the fact that what I have christened the “Young Blood line” (Prucha-Dubinsky-Dawes) has been the most consistent line of late. Second, there are a few players that could bring a lot back in the form of prospects and draft picks given the sellers’ market. Keep in mind that the draft this year is reportedly very deep too. So, with this said, who would I trade and who would I keep?

...if you click on the Outside the Garden link at the top, you can read Waxman's take on who should be traded and who should stay.

...While I said in a previous post that this team needs to do something, I'd give this team, as constructed, another three weeks to turn this around. If they don't its time to sell. Jagr, Shanahan, Rozsival, Mara, get rid of them all for young talent and draft picks.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tuned Out

According to Steve Zipay at Blue Notes, some Ranger players may have already tuned Tom Renney out...

"Of course, if and when the team tunes out Tom Renney---and while a few players may have, there's no wholesale revolt---then there's no choice." the looks of the Rangers play yesterday, I think its safe to say more than a few players have tuned Renney out.

...if Renney wants my support back, I'm going to need to see a few things. First, he needs to start playing the guys that deserve and want to play. I sat there in complete shock yesterday as I watched Renney continue to send out the same power play units that are currently 2 for their last 28, while the best offensive line the past week of Prucha-Dubinsky-Dawes sat on the bench. Second, I need to see Renney bench Rozsival for his horrid play of late and his absolute refusal to shoot the puck on the power play. And thirdly, this one is actually for Sather and Renney, I want to see the Rangers either cut or reassign Hollweg and sit Shanahan until he is completely healthy then recall Moore and Callahan to take their places.

We Have the Horses

Same Weinman at the Rangers Report, notes Tom Renney feels that the Rangers have the personnel to emerge from their latest crisis...

“You want to do it with who you brought to the dance,” Renney said today. “So if we don’t move a single person, I don’t have any problem with that whatsoever. I believe this team can win. There might not be a team in the league that can improve itself more by how they choose to play than the New York Rangers.”

“I’m very comfortable with this group,” he said. “I think this is the challenge this team needed. And we’re all committed to rising up to it. It’s not going to happen overnight..."

...with these quotes Renney has pretty much indicted himself. If he admits the Rangers have the personnel to win, then its obviously his fault that he hasn't gotten these players to gell together and win.

...when you see a team quit like they did yesterday you have to wonder if the players have begun to tune Renney out.

The Reaction

Plenty of player reaction to that disgusting display of hockey yesterday. Here it is...

John Dellapina has these quotes in his story for The Daily News...

"We deserved to be booed out of the rink today," winger Brendan Shanahan said after the Rangers indeed were booed off the ice following their eighth loss in 10 games (2-6-2). "I think we're all disgusted with ourselves."

Rangers coach Tom Renney said, "...We'll keep sending (the message). And if we have to rearrange lines or put people in the lineup or take people out of the lineup to ensure that we get at least what we're looking for in the attempt to do things right, then that's where we are. So step up or step back."

Larry Brooks at the New York Post had these...

"We're playing as bad as since I've been here," Shanahan said. "From the first day, we haven't developed any consistent chemistry. We don't work hard enough. We don't think well enough. We make the same mistakes. You don't have to be Scotty Bowman to figure out what's wrong."

"It kind of surprised me, but I think I should have had it," said Lundqvist, whose gaffe allowed Boston to take a 1-0 lead and then play lockdown the rest of the way.

...I have to first start with Lundqvist's quote. 'I think I should have had it." Please don't start going into denial Lundqvist. Except for the previous two games you have been an average goaltender for the last month and a half. I don't think you should have had it. I know you should have had it.

...I'm very interested to see if Renney sticks to his tough talk. We'll know right away on Tuesday when we look at the lineup or see the ice times at the end of the game. Please Renney, if you keep the third line in tact, play them more than the fourth line. I beg you.

As Bad As It Gets

As you might have noticed, there was no Ranger-Bruin game recap yesterday. There were two reasons for this, one: too busy celebrating the Giants big win and two: why bother? I didn't want to blog about it and I'm sure no one wanted to read about it. I was there and I can't imagine there being a worse played game in the history of the Ranger franchise. Obviously, they've been defeated by larger margins, but I don't think there has been a Ranger team that just mailed it in the way these guys did yesterday. It was almost like they didn't want to be there. For the first time in my life I was actually bored at a game and so were about 18,000 other fans. The players got off real easy to, because it was a Sunday afternoon crowd with lots of kids. If it were a Saturday night, the crowd would have went nuts. For the first time all year I heard a few 'Fire Renney' chants.

It's safe to say something big has to happen to snap this team out of this funk. And I don't care what it is. Fire Renney, trade Jagr, sit Jagr, bring up Montoya, anything.

And despite their poor play this season they are far from being out of the playoffs. Its still January and they're only 2 points out of 8th and 3 points out of 7th. Plenty of time to make a run like last year. Unfortunately, it looks like this team needs something to motivate them. Not sure what it is, but they better figure it out soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Avery Calls Out Team

According to John Dellapina at The Blueshirts Blog, Sean Avery called out the team for insufficient desire and effort after the game...

"Sean Avery pretty much called out the team for insufficient desire and effort after the game (check tomorrow’s paper for the quotes).

I don’t know where I stand on that. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with Avery’s assessment that the Rangers’ approach of late hasn’t come close to the relentless drive they mounted to make the playoffs last February-April.

On the other hand, so many prominent Rangers are so wracked with fear of making game-blowing mistakes right now, that the damage-minimizing first two periods they played yesterday was hardly damning. Rather, it was the kind of stuff that should have been the foundation for a rousing win once Jagr and Avery scored early in the third to snatch a 3-2 lead."

I was actually able to find one of the quotes in the Yahoo! Sports game recap...

"I saw urgency and intensity in the last 25 games of last year," said Avery, acquired by the Rangers last February. "That's urgency and intensity. Not right now, not how we're playing. I wish it were different, but it's not."

...its about time someone stood up and said something. Give Avery the Captain's 'C' right now. This is something Renney should have said about three weeks ago. Great job Sean.

...and why are so many prominent Rangers so wracked with fear of making game blowing mistakes? Its not like Renney's going to do anything about it if they did. What has Renney done to this team to put them in this mindset?

Rangers vs. Bruins Preview: Part II

The New York Rangers (22-20-6) host the Boston Bruins (23-28-5) today at MSG. The Bruins defeated the Rangers yesterday by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. Phil Kessel and Zdeno Chara both scored in the shootout to clinch the victory for Boston. With the win Boston climbed into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, while the Rangers remained at ninth after picking up the point.

...I'll be at the game tomorrow, so with the early start I probably won't have a lineup update. I'm hoping that I'll miss a lot of lineup changes, especially one that includes a certain defenseman. guess is that with Lundqvist's outstanding play of late he'll be back in goal.

...if we can cut down on the penalties, we win. Plain and simple.

Parade to the Penalty Box

Today the New York Rangers (22-20-6) lost to the Boston Bruins (23-18-5) by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. Zdeno Chara and Phil Kessel scored shootout goals for the Boston Bruins, who rallied for a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Chuck Kobasew had two goals in regulation for Boston, which led 2-1 through 40 minutes before the Rangers took a one-goal advantage in the third period. Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr scored a goal and helped set up two others, but it wasn't enough to keep New York from its fifth straight road loss (0-3-2). Tim Thomas stopped both Rangers shots in the shootout and 36 through overtime for Boston. Scott Gomez had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers, who lost both matchups with the Bruins in Boston during shootouts. These two teams will meet again tomorrow afternoon in New York. For a full recap go to Yahoo! Sports. I always say after a loss in either OT or shootout, I'll take the point. Especially with all the penalties the Rangers took. Obviously, more bad than good today, but I'm encouraged by the good.

...first with the good. I think Lundqvist is officially back. He was ridiculous today. Unfortunately, he sputtered, ironically when he normally steps-up, in the shootout. But that game doesn't go into OT or the shootout without Lundqvist's heroics.

...another good sign was the play of the first line. They were outstanding on offense today. Jagr's goal was highlight reel worthy. And Gomez continues to show why he has been the Rangers best forward this season. to the bad. What is up with all these penalties? Is there some hot chick that sits behind the penalty box every game that these guys want to talk to? Two more power play goals against today and one in the third period with us up 3-2. This team is so undisciplined. And that falls squarely in the lap of the head coach. Renney better start holding these guys accountable or this will continue for the rest of the year. bad is our power play. 1 for 4 and the lone goal came on a 5 on 3. The Rangers are now 2 for their last 24 on the power play. That is god awful. Something needs to change and it might be one of our coaches.

...lastly on the bad, how terrible is Malik. Was he serious with that blown clearing attempt at the end of OT? Why did he leave the back of the net? He wasn't even being pressured. This guy needs to go. Opposing players skate by him like he's a pylon on the ice. Bring up Pock.

...quick turnaround against the Bruins tomorrow. I'll take 3 out of a possible 4 points.

Blue Notes from Boston

According to Steve Zipay at Blue Notes, the Rangers will field the same lineup today as against the Sabres, which means Marcel Hossa and Jason Strudwick will be healthy scratches.

...not much of a surprise here, the only question will be if Valiquette gets the start tomorrow at home against the Bs.

Rangers vs. Bruins Preview

Today the New York Rangers (22-20-5) visit the Boston Bruins (22-18-5). Since losing a season-high five straight, the Rangers have rebounded to win two of their last three games. Leading the way offensively in victories over Montreal and Buffalo has been the line of Brandon Dubinsky, Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes. The Rangers had won eight straight against the Bruins before losing the first meeting this season, 1-0 in a shootout at Boston on Oct. 20. New York hasn't lost in regulation to the Bruins since March 4, 2004. The Bruins dropped their third straight home game Thursday, 3-2 in a shootout to Toronto. The Bruins were short-handed Thursday as they played without injured forwards Patrice Bergeron, P.J. Axelsson, Peter Schaefer and Glen Murray and defenseman Andrew Alberts. With several top forwards out, Boston's defensemen have played more of an offensive role lately. Chara has two goals and seven assists in his last seven games while Dennis Wideman has two goals and two assists in that span. The teams conclude the home-and-home set Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. For a full preview go to Yahoo! Sports.

...the Rangers seem to be turning a corner, winning two out of three. If we're to believe this team can make a real run at the playoffs, they're going to have to sweep this home and home with Boston. surprise, but the recent strong play has coincided with Lundqvist finally starting to look like the Lundqvist of earlier this season.

...the third line has carried us recently (I can't believe I just typed that), but now its time for the big dogs to step up.

...the Bruins are a little banged up so hopefully we can take advantage of a depleted lineup.

...I'll have more later.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Moore Re-Assigned

As expected, Steve Zipay at Blue Notes is reporting that with the return of Brendan Shanahan and Sean Avery to the Rangers lineup, Greg Moore has been sent back to Hartford...

...unless there's an injury, I don't think we'll be seeing Moore for the rest of the year. If he can work on his offensive consistency, Moore should have a great chance to make the team out of camp next year especially with the expected departures of Jagr, Shanahan and Straka.

Callahan Tearing It Up in Hartford

According to Mitch Beck at Howlings, it looks like Ryan Callahan is finding his offense...

"With 2 assists Ryan Callahan now has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in 4 games."

...I've got to give Callahan a lot of credit for going down to Hartford and really working hard. the problem is where do you put Callahan when he's ready to come back. I doubt Renney is doing anything with the first two lines and with the way the third line has played recently, I can't see a change there. So could we actually see Callahan on the fourth line. I doubt it, as Renney has for some reason fallen in love with that line. Unless the third line starts to struggle again, Callahan might be stuck in Hartford for the foreseeable future.

Revolving 'C'

Brett Cyrgalis over at The Blue Seats wonders, with Jaromir Jagr's uninspired play of late, if it might be better to rotate the captain's 'C' to the most deserving player month by month, as done by the Buffalo Sabres...

"...Every month, they (Buffalo Sabres) change who wears the captain’s ‘C’. It happens that for January, Brain Campbell, one of the best defenseman in the league, is wearing it for the second month in a row. But the idea is genuine, and one that I think deserves some speculation.

Imagine with me, Blue Seats brethren, if the month changed tomorrow and Sean Avery wore the ‘C’ for Saturday’s game in Boston. It wouldn’t make Jagr feel bad, because it would just be the way the team was run. He’d get an ‘A’ on his chest, which would make him still feel important without all the pressure of being the leader. I think the team would play a different brand of hockey under Avery; they would skate harder, forecheck harder, hit harder, shoot harder…well, maybe they'd look similiar to how they looked for the majority of tonight. Of course I could be wrong, but the speculation is fascinating."

...two years ago, we played very well when we didn't have a captain, so maybe this wouldn't be such a bad idea. Although I don't agree with Cyrgalis that Jagr won't feel bad, because he would.

Mara's Play Earns Praise

John Dellapina at the Daily News has a nice story on Paul Mara's strong play of late...

"...Mara has seven assists in his last 10 games, during which his ice time has been hiked to 18-1/2 minutes per game - approximately 1:30 more than he was averaging for the season. The difference has been Mara's inclusion on the power play. Mara's previous exclusion was mysterious because the 28-year-old has a record of success and the Rangers have been searching for competent point men since Brian Leetch was traded four years ago.

'I think I've gotten a little more power play time and I've been shooting the puck a lot more and gaining confidence every day,' said Mara, whose even-strength slapper was redirected home for the deciding goal by Petr Prucha in Wednesday night's victory over Buffalo. 'So things are getting better lately.'..."

...Mara has an absolute cannon and its been on display of late. The only problem is his shot is usually wide or blocked. Once he starts getting his shot on net, his offensive numbers will be even better.

...a have to agree with Dellapina that it has been a mystery why Renney has left Mara off the power play. Although with Renney's history of incorrectly using personnel on the power play (see Matt Cullen and Chris Drury) I'm not too surprised.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Milbury: Jagr the Problem

According to Lynn Zinser at Slap Shot, during a conference call in preparation of NBC's Ranger-Bruin game this Sunday former New York Islander General Manager Mike Milbury blames Jaromir Jagr for the Rangers' struggles...

With the Rangers playing so far under expectations, it is natural that much of the criticism is leveled at their captain, Jaromir Jagr.

But for Mike Milbury, the NBC broadcaster and former Islanders coach, it is always time to criticize Jagr. He warmed up for the first NBC game of the week by singling Jagr out for blame, which comes as no surprise because even when the Rangers are not struggling, it is a favorite topic of Milbury’s.

"The Rangers’ problem is Jagr,” Milbury said in a conference call. “He has to carry so much responsibility and his psyche is so fragile. At times he’s been missing his buddy Nylander or can’t find chemistry with somebody else, but he’s one of those guys that demands constant attention from the coaches, and you wonder whether it’s worth it. He’s one of the great all time players of the game, and he’s frustrating.”

...he can't do that to our pledges. Yeah, only we can do that to our pledges (I think I've used that Animal House line once before on this blog but hey it works).

...while everything Milbury said about Jagr is true and I've heard the same things from countless Ranger fans this year, I still don't like hearing it from a former Islander GM who doesn't know a thing about evaluating hockey talent as proved by his dreadful drafting ability (see trading Luongo so he could pick DiPietro ahead of Heatly and Gaborik) and ridiculous personnel moves (too numerous to mention).