Sunday, December 5, 2010

Daily Recap: Rumors Galore (Richards, Minnesota Deal); Bad Loss To Ott; Torts Lively Presser; Kreider SHG Video

Today was mainly about the rumor mill running wild, no pun intended, as there were rumors with contradicting senses of urgency for the Rangers when it comes to Brad Richards and also ones claiming a connection between the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild and the additional claim that the one driving that potential deal is star Marian Gaborik.  Also today the Rangers played their afternoon affair with the Ottawa Senators and with that comes stories on the outcome of the game and video of another entertaining Tortorella press conference.

In the Richards situation the fan reaction to him for many has been to go and get him because the team needs a number one center to help out Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards is seen as clearly the best one that could be available both in the trade market and the upcoming free agency period.  The rumor today was how the Rangers did not want to risk waiting for him to get to free agency and would trade for him before the deadline.  The uproar this time was some fans took the comments as something new and ran with the idea of names including Ryan Callahan being involved in getting Richards and Rangers fans do not react well to the idea of dealing Cally.  The full story on the rumor from today, where the fans might have gotten the ideas for the names and whether or not the Rangers should even do it can be found in: Rangers Interest In Richards Serious; Thought of Callahan Involved Enrages Fans.


In the Minnesota scenario the talk centered around recently returned Pierre-Marc Bouchard who missed the last year with concussion issues.  In the article I talked about my thoughts on trading for him in light of his performance, his concussion issues and his cap hit.  Also discussed in: Rangers Want Pierre-Marc Bouchard from Wild? Gaborik Too Much Personnel Influence? was as the title says if Marian Gaborik is being given too much influence on the personnel of the hockey club.  Check it out and tell me what you think.


The Rangers took on the Ottawa Senators today in the Garden at the unusual Sunday 5pm start time that I still cannot figure out and apparently neither could the team because they did not show up until at least 6.  The team would play better in the last two periods but blew lots of chances to get the lead and eventually would lose the game in the final minutes.  The full details of the game in terms of the scoring and thoughts on who played well and who did not just read: Rangers Finally Pay For Playing Down To Level Of Opponent


Following the game there was yet another entertaining press conference from coach John Tortorella which are becoming a version of must see TV and in it he discussed a number of different issues from the start to the power play to Derek Stepan to an underachieving top line in only ways Torts can.  To watch the full press conference just click on the post: Video: Tortorella Postgame - Says Team Asleep; Defends Stepan; Calls Out Top Line 


On the prospect front for those of you who missed the BC Eagles take on the Boston Terriers last night I put up the highlights which included a beautiful shorthanded goal by top prospect Chris Kreider and that can be found in the following post: Video: Chris Kreider SHG against BU 12/4/2010.  Finally I updated the prospect stats as I do each week and to see how they are all doing and which had especially good weeks just check out New York Rangers Prospects Page.

Video: Tortorella Postgame - Says Team Asleep; Defends Stepan; Calls Out Top Line

In his press conference after the game New York Rangers coach John Tortorella went through a wide range of issues after today's game.  Nothing in there that I can disagree with and you should check it out.

Rangers Finally Pay For Playing Down To Level Of Opponent

Earlier this week I asked at what point would the Rangers penchant to have lapses in focus against both good and bad teams would come back to bite them against the bad ones too.  Today was that day.  There might be no better or worse depending on your perspective organization in the NHL at playing down to the level of their opponent than the New York Rangers.  Today they were facing an Ottawa Senators team that was 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, coming off a SO loss in a game that started only 22 hours before this one and had not scored a goal in 178:30 of game time.  Of course they were destined to lose.
The first period saw the Rangers get absolutely dominated in every facet of the game whether it be puck possession, zone time, scoring chances or just flat out desire to be out there.  The team spent the whole period rolling around like it was a pregame skate and they were waiting for a 7pm start tonight instead of the actual one at 5.  The effort was so bad early that John Tortorella called his time out at 4:09 of the period in an attempt to wake the team up.  The first shot for the Rangers was not registered until 5:02 in the period by Derek Stepan.  The best chances of the period were those for Stepan as at 15:10 he had a three-on-one where he got the pass back from a streaking Marc Staal and shot the puck high over the net.  With about two minutes left in the period again it was Stepan, with Avery and Callahan that would create some pressure, but no finishes.
In the second the Rangers were still asleep to start, but they would get an early powerplay to try and wake them up.  Again they would go with Stepan on the point with Staal, Christensen, Gaborik and Callahan up front.  During the course of the man advantage Gaborik would be clearly taken down but after the no call Chris Kelly would get the puck when Derek Stepan failed to hold the blue line, take it down the ice and beat Lundqvist short side for the shorthanded goal at 4:27.  The goal by Kelly would snap the goalless drought for the Senators at a whopping 202:57.
The Rangers finally woke up when their best unit took the ice, the penalty kill, once Alex Kovalev was taken down.  During the penalty kill after a series of good defensive plays the puck would get worked up the boards to Brandon Prust who had Marc Staal for the two-on-one but Prust did not pass but shot high glove and beat Leclaire at 10:50 of the period. 
In the third the Rangers would play a better period, their best of the night, but even still it was mostly two lines that were creating all the chances.  The Rangers would have back to back powerplays early in the third and created some chances but got no goals to show for it.  The best line again tonight as too many times of late was that of Boyle, Fedetenko and Prust.  If it was not that line creating chances then it was Dubinsky, Stepan and Callahn or nothing happened. 
At 17:36 of the period Jarko Ruutu would find Chris Kelly who beat Henrik high to the blocker side for the 2-1 lead and that was really the game though Kelly would finish off the hat-trick with an empty-net goal with .8 seconds remaining.  Rangers will next play Thursday in Ottawa.
  • Anyone surprised by this game has not been watching this team over the last two weeks as they have been awful against the good teams and getting away with against the bad ones.  There has not been one good performance for sixty minutes by this team since before Thanksgiving and they finally paid for it against a sub-par team today.
  • Boyle, Prust and Stepan along with Hank were the only guys who consistently showed up today
  • Gaborik for me was once again a non-factor.  His overall numbers look good with 15 points in 16 games but realize 8 of those are in 2 games against the pitiful Islanders and Oilers.  7 points in his other 14 games is not enough for your best offensive player
  • All credit to Leclaire for some excellent saves but when you have 3 different three-on-one chances you have to bury at least one of them.

Video: Chris Kreider SHG against BU 12/4/2010

These are highlights of the whole game, but the Kreider highlight that all New York Rangers fans want to watch starts at 2:35 of the clip

Rangers Want Pierre-Marc Bouchard from Wild? Gaborik Too Much Personnel Influence?

File this one under the I do not understand category if it is true but yesterday there was speculation out there that the New York Rangers wanted someone from the Minnesota Wild at the encouragement of star Marian Gaborik.  I went through the Wild roster for whom there with Gaborik trying to figure it out and other than Mikko Koive and Brett Burns I did not find much I would want, but I had narrowed the possibilities down to Nick Schultz, Andrew Brunette and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.  Of the three PMB was the one that was the most concerning as a potential target, but also had the highest likelihood of being the guy.  Unfortunately based on the speculation this morning it is in-fact Bouchard who is the guy that the Rangers are apparently after.

Rangers Interest In Richards Serious; Thought of Callahan Involved Enrages Fans

The Brad Richards to the New York Rangers rumors are like a plague that cannot be killed because each time I finally start to think it is over with another hockey person brings it back up and starts the cycle all over again.  Each time the Rangers fans hear this rumor start again it is a combination of happiness in getting a player of his quality and offers that would if combined with 2.25 get you a one way NYC metro trip or as was the case last someone utters a name like Ryan Callahan and meltdown occurs.

The culprit in start this particular round is’s Pierre LeBrun who apparently on Hockey Night In Canada’s Hot Stove during the intermission of the Leafs Bruins game said the Rangers were prepared to give up “assets” for Richards.  I did not see the interview to know if actual names were named, but I did find the linked article from tonight and it says:
I was told Saturday the New York Rangers’ interest in Brad Richards (set to be an unrestricted free agent July 1) is serious enough that they’re willing to pony up assets before the Feb. 28 trade deadline to make sure he doesn’t go elsewhere should the Dallas Stars decide to put him on the market in order to get value before he leaves. This despite the fact the Rangers could get him July 1 without giving up any assets.

If something else was said on HNIC someone let me know because if it wasn’t the response I have seen from Rangers fans, including some having a meltdown has been completely disproportionate to what was said.  Maybe it was the shock that someone believed we would actually have to give up something worth while to get a top line center in a trade and not the scrubs everyone suggests we give them.  

The other possibility which a few people referenced to me was the Larry Brooks article from about ten days ago where he discussed the Richards issue and said that Sather was in no rush to make the move.  The problem was that in his article Larry threw out names people do not want to think about having to trade when he said the following:
You know what, if Rangers general manager Glen Sather cares to pony up Marc Staal or Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan, then the Rangers undoubtedly would have Richards, the blue-chip Dallas first-line center in the final season of his contract at a $7.8 million cap hit, in time for tonight's opening faceoff at Tampa Bay
Brooks to his credit did shoot that down in the very next part of the article, but my working theory or at least hope to explain the response to the LeBrun comments is they equated the “assets” with the names that Brooks mentioned the last time the topic was brought up.  We all know how the mere mention of trading Ryan Callahan can bring out the torches among many Rangers fans and that was the brunt of the freak out as I got it in emails, texts and calls after this went down tonight.  For the record I do not see any of those four being dealt for Richards, but I also don’t see the pipe dream packages of White, Christensen Rozi or now the new ones have Frolov getting it done either.

The most curious part of the reaction from the fans for me was how last year whenever Cally’s name would get mentioned possibly in a deal they automatically responding with wanting to send Dubinsky instead, but today what I saw and heard was a lot of people giving up Anisimov if we had to give up someone good from the NHL forwards.  The majority opinion was no on Callahan, Dubinsky, Stepan, but if they had to Anisimov was ok. 

I cannot believe that I have to do this but, seriously people?  Artem Anisimov is a 22 year old who while having slowed down with his newly juggled role was your number 1 center helping to carry your team the first 20 games of this season and now suddenly he can be tossed overboard to get Richards?  With that kind of reaction I can only imagine how much they must love the irrational line juggling of the coach since one stretch of not producing points made AA completely expendable.  I guarantee that would not have been the response 10 games ago.

If Sather does go ahead and make the move for Richards I hope that it doesn’t include Anisimov or Stepan or any of the four Brooks mentioned, but if it doesn’t I expect that it will mean deep cuts into the prospect pool I am looking so forward to maturing on into the future of this club.  After hearing nonstop about the core this and the core that if a guy like AA is moved for yet another big name then it will only prove once again that the man with the cigar is all about CYA and not about truly making this club better long term.  I am on record as calling Richards a great player, but being against the move as I wrote about here and nothing that has been said today by LeBrun changes that for me.  If anything it reinforces my belief that the price will be steeper than a lot believe to get Richards out of Dallas.  In the meantime when all the “rumors” come out can we keep a level head about them, especially when no names are specifically mentioned and if we cannot can we at least pretend to?

Use the comments to freak out if you like or just want to say your piece as always.