Friday, October 29, 2010

Grachev Going To Toronto

Andrew Gross is reporting that Grachev will make the trip with the club to Toronto for tomorrow's game which obviously means he wont be sent to Hartford before the game, but doesnt make him a lock to play.  If Boogaard is still out with the finger then Grachev will play but tomorrow is a game where Boogaard could be more useful even if just with Colton Orr.  I would expect Grachev to get another shot because of the energy he played with in his limited minutes.

Rangers vs Hurricanes Recap: Effort Improves But Again 3rd Period Failure To Kill Penalty Dooms

The Rangers took the ice tonight looking to avenge not only a loss versus Atlanta but an overall poor showing in terms of effort both offensively and defensively.  The effort if not the results were there early on tonight as there was pressure and chances to score along with illegal goals.  In the end though they got no results and the scoring would not start until during a Steve Eminger penalty Ruutu was left alone at the post for the opening goal which nullified a great save by Henrik on Babchuk during the course of the man advantage.  The early domination shown by the Rangers dissipated as a 9-2 shot advantage early in the first turned into a 12-11 deficit for the Rangers by intermission.

The second period started and less than a minute in Jeff Skinner scored to make it 2-0.  Funny how leading up to the draft so many Ranger fans didn’t want Skinner because he was going to be too slow to play at this level, but there are reasons snipers are snipers and he showed that tonight.  The Rangers lead by Ryan Callahan responded as Cally drew an elbowing penalty and 52 seconds into the man advantage it was Callahan who cashed in with another mid air goal.  Maybe that is the secret for the Rangers to hit the net, instead of it being on the ice make them play baseball with it and swat puck from the air.  The Ranger surge continued later in the period when Ruutu slashed Todd White in frustration leading to another power play.  Suddenly a Ranger power play that was 1-20 at home before the Cally goal would score a second as Eric Christensen gave a beautiful feed to Marc Staal at the left circle for what would be the game tying goal. 

A Rozi giveaway at the blue line would lead to Ruutu finding Skinner and Skinner and putting a backhander past Lundqvist to give the Hurricanes the lead back but once again the Rangers would respond 2:24 as it was Callahan and Dubinsky hooking up for a beautiful goal in which Dubi roofed a wrist shot just under the bar to make it 3-3.  The Rangers dominated the play in outshooting the Hurricanes 18-8 in the period but with all that they only outscored them 3-2 and went into the 3rd tied. 

Once again the 3rd period would decide the fate of a Ranger home game and once again the Rangers would come up short.  The powerplay that would lead to the eventual winner for the Canes by Erik Cole was a bad call as Skinner did a great job of embellishing any contact and adding to it himself by holding onto Boyle’s stick and taking himself down.  To say that is what cost the Rangers the game though in my opinion is a cop out for the club because good teams overcome it and kill the BS penalty off and at home right now this team cant find a way to get the big kill.  It cost them in the 3rd vs Colorado, in the 3rd eventually vs Atlanta, in the 3rd tonight and also on the road at the Isles.  Every loss so far this year has seen the Rangers fail to kill off penalties in the 3rd period and frankly they are not good enough when they don’t.

The story of the game was clearly the goalies as Ward and Henrik both stood on their heads at times, but Ward bested him with his 40 stops and as I said before the game and in the week preview he is the key to that team.  People didn’t give enough attention to what his loss early last year meant to that team and in my opinion was the single most important reason they didn’t make the playoffs.  That the Rangers shot the puck that much and created as many chances as they did is a good sign and you have to hope that offensively they wont face such a hot goalie while keeping up similar effort in future contests.  On the defensive side the way they hung Hank out to dry was pitiful in many different cases as he was constantly having to make repeat saves without getting any help from his teammates either in terms of taking the body or just clearing the puck out of danger areas if not the zone.

  • The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line was phenomenal again tonight and if it keeps up the Rangers cap may be eaten alive by Dubi and Cally’s new deals as both are playing way above prior years.
  • Grachev showed aggression and physicality in his limited time, racking up 4 hits in 9 shifts and 6:55 TOI.
  • MDZ’s defensive deficiencies cannot be continually overlooked or excused as he was awful in his own end.
  • Staal played a 2nd straight poor defensive game

Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes Pregame

Rangers (4-3-1) vs Carolina (4-4)
Key Opposing Player: Eric Staal (3-3-6)
There is no official word on lineup or lines, but based on practice and media quotes I am going to project a lineup looking like the following:
Dubinsky - Anisimov – Callahan
Avery - Boyle – Fedotenko
Frolov - White – Prust
Grachev – Stepan - EC

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi

(If we do see that lineup hopefully we will role 4 lines a little more at ES)
The Rangers will take the ice tonight looking to not only get back on the winning track, but also look to get back to playing the fundamental hockey they were playing before the clunker they threw up there against Atlanta on Wednesday night.  The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line will have to lead this team again and they will need to get contributions from others along with continued strong play from Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedetenko.  The defense will have to play much better than on Wednesday both in their coverage and their physicality in their own zone.  Way too many turnovers, lazy sticks and untouched offensive players against Atlanta and that certainly wont work against a team in Carolina that in my opinion has even more skill.  As Tortorella said following Wednesday’s game they are not skilled enough to play as they did and win games.  This team must be blue collar to get points.

Carolina comes in at 4-4 which might not seem great but considering the awful draw they have had with the schedule I would consider that a pretty good start. We all know about Eric Staal, but this team has more in Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Anton Babchuk to go with Cam Ward in net.

Prediction I expect the Rangers to come out hard due to the embarrassment of the other night and get the win in a close one 3-2.

Grachev In Lineup Tonight: NHL Debut

According to both Jesse Spector and Steve Zipay, the two I saw as of this posting, Evgeny Grachev has been told he will be in the lineup tonight and make his NHL debut.  Personally I dont think he is ready for this level, but I guess we will find out to some extent tonight. 

There was no additional word as to lines or who it would be that would sit for him to be in.  The intriguing question is if Boogaard does goes would Christensen and his seat in the Tortorella doghouse land him as a healthy scratch this evening.  I still believe that they will sit Boogaard for this one since he serves no purpose against Carolina and left him heal up for Toronto tomorrow and teams like Philly next week.

Tortorella Eminger and The Song and Dance

Maybe my distaste for Steve Eminger is irrational or something I am not sure, you can certainly tell me, but I still don’t understand why he plays.  My bigger problem than him playing is the phony song and dance routine that Tortorella goes through before and after each game to justify the simple fact that he wants to play Eminger.  Obviously I do not have to agree with it or like it, but I wish Torts would just come out and say, “This is the guy I want to play,” and stop reaching for justifications.  Personally I believe that not only has Sauer played better in his four games than Eminger, but also Gilroy.  That said Tortorella is the coach and with that title he gets to make those calls regardless if they are based in fact or not, so just stop insulting the rest of us talking about rotations and sides and admit what you want to do and be done with it.  Rant over.