Saturday, October 30, 2010

Henrik Decides No Mischief or Mystery on This Halloween Eve Blanks Leafs 2-0

TORONTO - OCTOBER 30: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is stopped in close by  Henrik Lundqvist #30 and Michal Rozsival #33 of the New York Rangers during game action October 30, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
After two straight losses this week the Rangers decided the time for a win was the same place they started their last winning streak, Toronto. This time instead of Martin Biron being the man in the net to lead the charge it was Henrik Lundqvist. The win puts the Rangers at 5-4-1 after their first 10 games with a brutal November schedule on the horizon. After 34 saves in a loss last night, Henrik would outdo himself in making 36 en route to his 25th career shutout.

Tonight's Lineup


As I speculated earlier it was White would would be scratched to get Boogaard back in the lineup and the eventual shift of Stepan to the 4th line to start a game after the past few outings has finally happened. D even with it's awful play the last two remains exactly the same in players and pairs. Henrik in net.

The Development of Dubinsky and Callahan: What Will and Probably Wont Continue

Twelve days ago I sat here and wrote a piece about how the Rangers new top line was proving that for different players development happens at its own pace.  The impetus for my analysis was mainly that they were about to debut as a top line, but more in that they had already shown in the 3 games before the Gaborik injury that they were the best line this season.  Since I have revisited the topic of Artem Anisimov in the context of him proving the search for a number 1 center was over and that the big names were no long necessary through trade or signing.  Because I have discussed AA again this time I want to focus on his two other linemates and how far and away above previously play they are performing.

Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs Pregame

Rangers (4-4-1) at Toronto (5-3-1)
Key Opposing Player: Phil Kessel (7-2-9)
Dubinsky - Anisimov – Callahan
Frolov - Stepan - Prust
Avery - Boyle – Fedotenko
Grachev – White - EC

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi

(The lineup is pure speculation from me and wont be official til 5.  If Boogaard can go I think they put him and I wouldnt be surprised to see White sit since all the get him involved talk manifested itself in 7 minutes last night.  Also wouldnt be stunned to see Biron in Toronto again but since he struggled some the other night and Hank was good in the loss I expect Hank in there.  Wish Sauer was in but done expecting it.  If I can get online once the final lineup is announced last today I will put it up.)

The Game:
The Rangers will take the ice tonight looking to rebound from losing two straight after winning three in a row; in other words they look to rebound from being the Rangers.  This team is allergic to both goo results and consistency in their own play of the past few years.  It is almost a given that a lousy stretch is followed by a good stretch to back the fans off the cliff and make them believe again only to have a new lousy stretch and they let fans assume the natural position on the ledge.   

Offensively the effort was much better and more consistent against Carolina than Atlanta but the defense was 

still awful and if not for Henrik and his goaltending they easily could have given up 7 or 8 with the quality and ease of some of those chances. I will repeat part of yesterday’s preview in the following: “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.”  The question I now have is how long can that top line keep it up because Dubinsky and Cally have never been anywhere near point per game players and you have Dubinsky with 5G-4A-9pts in 9 games while Cally has 3G-7A-10pts on in 9 games.  I would like to, but cannot make myself believe that suddenly they have become that good.  Dubi is on pace for 45 goals while his career high is 20 and Cally is on pace for 63 assists while he had 43 total in basically his 3 years of NHL game experience prior to the year.  Someone other than these guys is going to have to carry it for a little while.   

On Defense I will come out and say that if Staal and MDZ don’t start playing better in their own end they both deserve to get benched for a game.

Toronto comes in 5-3-1 after their torrid 4-0 start and these two teams have already met twice so there wont be too many secrets in store. The key for the Rangers against Toronto will be shutting down Phil Kessel which they failed to do in the first meeting and did successfully in the second.

Prediction Toronto 4-2

Rangers Week In Review 10/25-10/31 : Hold On For The Ride

The Rangers entered this week with the club and fans riding high on the back of a 3 game winning streak in which they played very good to excellent hockey for 8 of the 9 periods.  These results pushed the season record from 1-2-1 where the fans were writing off the season to 4-2-1 and the fans back on the bandwagon talking playoffs and more.  The reality is these Rangers like every incarnation of them for the last couple of years are neither as bad as the early results nor as good as last weeks, they are mediocre to good team, but not a contender for anything worthwhile and at best dash for a late playoff spot.  Saturday night showed why they will always be in contention for a late run as they finish a disappointing week with a 2-0 win on the back of Henrik Lundqvist.

Colton Orr Skates Pink

There are a lot of reasons that Colton Orr is a missed commodity in the Rangers organization in the way he protected teammates, fought anyone at any time and just brought energy with his enforcer role. The other reason is he was a top quality person as he will show off tonight when the Rangers go to Toronto to face the Leafs and Orr laces up his new pink skates for "Hockey Fights Cancer." The skates are being warn in tribute to people he lost, in order to raise awareness and money to fight cancer as they will be auctioned off after the game and the proceeds going to Cancer research. Not many enforcers could get away with lacing up some pink skates, but if one can I have no doubt it will be Colton Orr.

Video of Orr talking about the skates along with seeing them:

Something Sather Should Spend Money On

As many of you know one of my favorite things to do in terms of the Rangers is keep an eye on the prospects and how they develop, discuss them and ask those who are more knowledgeable than me questions about them.  Part of it is the idea that with each new prospect there is a level of untapped potential but also a piece that has not been tainted yet by the inconsistencies and short comings of the organization we once hope for him to play in and that when they get it here things can be different.  At various times we talk about the prospects and there are those who get the hype (Grachev, MDZ, Stepan, Kreider), those who just go out and do their job without the publicity and fanfare (Werek, Hagelin, Bourque) and those that many fans don’t know much about though people who follow me have seen.  There is one that is not even Rangers property that each time I listen to a game the Chilliwack Bruins play I cannot help but get more excited for what he can become and could be for us and at the same time more terrified that he ends up somewhere else terrorizing us for his whole career.  That prospect is Brandon Manning whom the Rangers had in camp this year but could not get signed because Manning knew and had enough belief in his own game that if he went back to Chilliwack and played to his capabilities the money would be there for him.

In previewing the WHL season Open Ice Hockey wrote of Manning, “20-year-old Brandon Manning will be the lynchpin of the defense corps should he return to the Bruins this season.  The 20-year-old Prince George, B.C., product put up 13 goals and 54 points in 69 games last year, and also led the team with a solid +20 rating.”  Those numbers alone are very impressive but add to them the fact that he is the Captain of the club and he had 138 penalty minutes and they only get more impressive.

The Rangers possess a myriad of defensive prospects who all have their own specialties, but there is not one prospect in this system that has the total package Brandon Manning possesses.  Tonight Manning in a 7-2 drubbing of Calgary went out and had a goal, 3 assists, a plus 2, 7 penalty minutes including a fighting major for the Gordie Howe hat trick as a defenseman.  Now 10 games into his season Brandon Manning has put up 5 goals 12 assists for 17 points all while being a +9 and having 28 pims.  As great a start as Horak, Werek, Thomas have been off to offensively I would argue right now not only is Manning have the best year of any defensive prospect but any prospect period and would rank above all other defensive prospects in the system at the moment.  There is not another that can score, defend, hit, fight and be a Captain all at the same time. 

I do not ask Glen Sather for much in terms of things I actually want him to go out and spend money on but this player is one I will.  Manning will undoubtedly win his bet on himself and make more than he would have signing in camp, but that number is only increasing daily so time to pony up before someone else does.

Tortorella Post Game Press Conference

Talks about the effort, the defense, officiating. In general I am over the whole Torts and the media thing, but this seemed more genuine than a lot of the show he puts on for them most times.

Do Yourself a Favor Listen To The Kids Play Too

I would suggest to any Ranger fan who wants to know more about the future of this organization dont just read the box-scores but listen to or watch some of the games these kids play, you will not be sorry.

Here are some links to the broadcasts of some of the Ranger prospects:

Ethan Werek: Kingston Frontenacs
Scott Stacjer: Owen Sound
Dylan McIlrath: Moose Jaw Warriors
Roman Horak, Brandon Manning: Chilliwack Bruins
Carl Hagelin: Michigan Wolverines
Chris Kreider: Boston College

I love listening to the Chilliwack games especially because the announcers do a very good job of describing the play and their reactions when things happen are great, not to mention you get to hear them describe the play of one for sure and hopefully two parts of the Rangers future.