Friday, December 3, 2010

Daily Recap: Rangers Sweep Isles; Callahan Dirty Hit, Suspension Coming?; Testy Torts; Trade Ideas and More

Today on the site there were stories that ranged from the multiple personality disorder the team has to how Sean Avery showed he can be a top 6 skilled forward, then to discussing a couple of potential trades for guys who have had their names out there the last few days all before the game.  Once the game started we have video and discussion of the Callahan elbowing play, the recap of the game and watching John Tortorella get testy with the media over a Sean Avery question.

There was a lot going on today in the wake of the Rangers win last night out on the Island in a less than stellar but still effective 6-5 game.  As I said, this morning maybe because I see things as much for the process as the result I took a look at the split personality of the New York Rangers and how not only from game to game but moment to moment this team can change from good to bad or reverse.  When the Rangers are good they are very good and when they are bad they are dreadful and so I sought to see if we could figure which one was the real identity of the club.  The article was titled, “Rangers Split Personality: Which One Is Real? Do They Know?” so give it a click and see if you can figure it out.

After that I discussed the way that Sean Avery dominated the game on the Island and how he showed that when he focuses on the hockey side he can be a top player in the league and help the team even more.  The article was called, “Sean Avery Showcasing His Top Line Abilities” and see if you agree with how Avery best helps the club.

During the afternoon I looked a few names that have been in the news as possible guys the Rangers should look at if they are in the trade market to give the team another push forward in their push to being a playoff and cup contender this season.  The two guys I looked at were Marco Sturm and Wojtek Wolski.  In the article “Rangers Trade Ideas: Sturm, Wolski Available?”I looked at the pros and cons of each and what it would mean for the club.

During the first period of the game tonight against the Islanders at MSG Ryan Callahan elbowed Frans Nielsen in the head.  I put up the video and looked at whether or not he would be suspended.  You can watch the play and see if you agree with my analysis here.

Following the game I wrote the recap, “Rangers Clamp Down Defensively in 2-0 Win” on what was a workman like victory for the Rangers, once again not pretty but two points worthy.  Finally in his post game press conference, Video: Tortorella Gets Testy over Sean Avery.

Video: Tortorella Gets Testy over Sean Avery in Press Conference

The press conference started off pretty cordial and Torts seemed to be in a very good mood talking about how the team played well and then it turned.

Rangers Clamp Down Defensively in 2-0 Win

Everyone had to expect after last night’s shootout the focus tonight would be on being sound defensively for both clubs and it certainly was.  The period was tight and passive with nothing really worth talking about in terms of offense.  It took the Islanders over fifteen minutes to even register a shot in the game that’s how “tight” the first period was.  The biggest play of the period will be one that the league takes a look at tomorrow and it was 12:42 of the first when Ryan Callahan on a back-check got his elbow up and hit Frans Nielsen in the face with it.  I do not believe the play was intentional by Callahan because he is not that kind of player but it should have been a five minute major penalty and I believe it fits the description of Rule 48 so it might get a suspension.  I believe with Callahan’s record and reputation he probably escapes being sat down.  Video of the play is here.

The second period the Rangers would dominate the play as their defense was very aggressive in joining the offense tonight.  At 4:33 after two power plays that registered zero shots in the first the Rangers would score a power play goal.  The play was kept alive when Marc Staal used his leg/skate to keep the puck in and Dubinsky worked the puck to Staal, then to Stepan back to Staal who wound up for a slapper that went through four Islanders and over Rollie to make it 1-0 Rangers.  For the rest of the period the Rangers would dominate play and if not for three pipes they would have had a bigger lead at the end of the two.

In the third the Rangers would have some scary moments as the Islanders had a few chances and even a bar, but they could not beat Lundqvist on the night.  In the last minute with the goalie pulled the Rangers got excellent work from Prust, Callahan, Boyle and Dubinsky would end up with Brian Boyle taking a check from two Islanders, a great play by Dubinsky on the boards and a Boyle empty netter with 2.9 seconds left to make it a 2-0 final

The Rangers will certainly take the four points out of these two games, but at the same time tough to get too high off two nail biters with the woeful Islanders.  The game was much more in the Rangers style tonight and defensively they had good positioning and solid hitting only surrendering 17 shots the whole game.  As I said before game 1, take the points and move on and the Rangers did that in these two and will get back at it Sunday against the Senators.
  • Sean Avery’s focus of a night ago was not evident tonight as he took two bad penalties, got a 10 minute misconduct and then dove but got the call late in the third.
  • Gaborik was pretty invisible after the first period
  • Anisimov had a very good bounce back game tonight earning a lot more minutes in the game
  • Dubinsky was very noticeable tonight getting two assists but making a lot of plays tonight
  • Staal and Girardi were excellent tonight
  • Eminger had a great move in the third just to stun the fans
  • MDZ had a very good defensive game tonight

Ryan Callahan Elbows Frans Nielsen In Head Video; Should He Be Suspended?

Tonight in the first period of the New York Rangers versus New York Islanders game Ryan Callahan one of the toughest and most honest players in the league made a play completely out of character for him.  12:42 into the first period Ryan Callahan on a back check went to hit Frans Nielsen and it would end up with his right elbow colliding with Nielsen's head.  I do not believe that the play was intentional, but that does not fully matter in terms of the punishment that should have been assessed on the play, but might with the league.  Callahan should have been assessed a five minute major for the hit and I believe the hit is the kind the league is trying to get rid of with it's new focus on hits to the head as to me it was from the side against a defenseless player.  With his history of clean hard play I would not expect a big suspension if one is given at all.  We will obviously see what the league does about the play over the next few days.

Video is of the hit and the ensuing fight.

Rangers Trade Ideas: Sturm, Wolski Available?

Let me be clear before anything else that these ideas are my own and not based on any information that would tie the New York Rangers to either of these players, just ideas about whether the Rangers should get involved, what they might cost and where the players might fit on the club.  Two names I have seen out there the last couple of days in trade discussion have been Marco Sturm and Wojtek Wolski.

Yesterday based on various reports it looked like Marco Sturm was headed to the Los Angeles Kings for a late round conditional pick, but that deal would eventually fall through apparently because Sturm was further away from a return than the Kings originally thought.  Reports put Sturm approximately two weeks away from a return to playing and the main reason the Bruins are looking to move him is because they have cap issues with the return of Marc Savard last night. 

The initial reaction to seeing the Sturm move for me was very similar to seeing the Caps trade for Hannan a few days ago that these are the kinds of moves the Rangers should be making to improve the club.  For me Sturm is an upgraded version of Fedotenko, not a great player but a very good third liner with more consistent offense. The risk on a guy like Sturm is very minimal for a low round conditional pick for a guy who is a 20 goal a year guy is none.  As far as salary cap ramifications the elimination of Todd White covers the cost of Sturm, but it would create an extra roster decision when Drury and Prospal return.  Dealing Frolov off out would solve that extra decision very nicely, recoup the draft pick we lost on Sturm and cover the salary cost.  There is no longer term damage on Sturm because he is a free agent this summer and can walk away. 

The other name I saw out there today that intrigues me and was linked to a team other than the Rangers is Wojtek Wolski.  If he is truly on the market, which I really doubt, he is a player that Rangers at the very least should do their due diligence on and see what his cost would be. We all know that Sather and Maloney have a very good trading relationship and that Maloney loves to acquire his former picks that are still in the organization.  Wolski is signed for another season and is coming off a year in which he scored 65 points, but started slow this year and has 13 points (4G, 9A) in his first 22 games.

The cost on Wolski would obviously be considerably higher than Sturm and cost a decent combination of assets but he is also a 24 year old talent we really don’t have in his offensive skill level and he would be a tremendous combination with Marian Gaborik.  I haven’t really wrapped my head about him possibly being available enough to decide what on the current club I would be willing to give up to get him, but just about any prospect I would consider in a deal for him.  My guess says Maloney would love to get his hands on Sauer in any type of deal here.

Just a couple names I thought I would throw out there and see what the general reaction was from all of you.

Sean Avery Showcasing His Top Line Abilities

A lot has been said and written in and by the press about Sean Avery over the years and most of it was less than flattering about the man Avery is and the way he goes about playing the game.  Last week following the Florida Panthers game I wrote a piece “Welcome Back Sean Avery, We Have Missed You,” in which I talked about how when Sean Avery decides he wants to focus on the hockey side, the skill side of the game instead of the antics side he can be a tremendous player.  I also said that I hoped to see more of that side to come as opposed to the other one.  Last night against the Islanders the forward with top six skills was on display in full force and with that version of Avery the team if they decide to play a full game and actually hit someone in front of their net can be dangerous.  

Rangers Split Personality: Which One Is Real? Do They Even Know?

I am sure you are all familiar with the following cliché: “I would rather be lucky than good.”  I am sure you are also familiar with the sentiment that no matter how it happened the W is all that matters.  I am having trouble reconciling the two when it comes to the Rangers in the sense that I cannot tell on many nights if what they are showing, or at least the results are from luck or being good as I am left with the sense that they played mediocre hockey but got a W.  I am all for getting the ugly win and everything that goes with it, but when every win right now feels like that ugly win that could have easily flipped the other way, especially against teams they are supposed to be better than it is tough to fully grasp what this team truly is.

It seems like just about every game, especially of late, there are two different versions of the Rangers team that are on the ice during play.  One version looks like it could be a contender if all went right in terms of how they can impose their style; how their style can create chances and frustrate opponents; how they block shots, kill penalties and stifle chances for their opponents either with their D or with their goaltending; how they fight through adversity from game to game and within the game; and finally how they can stand toe to toe with anyone in the league for long stretches of a game. 

The other version is a lethargic team is one that: cannot complete a pass; gives up odd-man rushes like a spigot; hands the puck to the other team anywhere and everywhere on the ice; misses the net on chance after chance; is burned by speed in all phases; gets pushed around in front of their net and doesn’t look like it could compete against an AHL caliber team.  This leads me to two different questions today: Which version of this multiple personality team is the dominant one and When does the fact they cannot control the one that gets them in trouble start to really bite them against the bad teams too?

The Night In Video: Gaborik and Avery Steal the Show

Erik Christensen Goal: