Monday, January 3, 2011

Video: Dylan McIlrath Fights Sena Acolatse

Certainly not his greatest fight but still showed some good technique and did throw a big shot at the end.

McDonagh Called Up to Not Play?; Del Zotto Dissents On His Demotion?

This season things have been changing, for the better, in the way the New York Rangers have managed their young players and giving them chances to prove they belonged at the NHL level.  Every youngster has appear to at least get a fair chance in game action to prove their worth, but apparently that might not be the case for the newest call up Ryan McDonagh.  McDonagh was a somewhat surprising call given that coach John Tortorella for the most part has been satisfied with the other six defenders he was using while Del Zotto was being benched, but there was still a level of excitement to see what another young player could do at this level. 

You can stop thinking that way if you were doing so.  I said at the end of the post which announced his call and Del Zotto’s demotion that the only way it was worth it to call on McDonagh was if he was going to play or else it was a mistake.  Guess something in my gut knew what going to happen as along with the fact he was recalled it was announced today that not only with McDonagh not be in the lineup tomorrow against the Hurricanes, but that he might not play AT ALL during this recall.  So I ask, what is the point of calling the kid up to sit in the press box during the games?  Please do not tell me practice or to work with the NHL staff on his defense because we saw how well those things did for Del Zotto. 

The line that was trotted out was that they wanted to “evaluate” him.  This is 2010, that is what you have scouts and video for you do not need to call the kid up and take away game action from him so you can sit there and watch him practice.  If he is not going to play then send him back down and let him play and continue his development with the Whale.  They already messed up Del Zotto by rushing him to the NHL, why mess with McDonagh’s development either by rushing him up or bringing him and not playing him.  The focus right now is clear that it is about wins and losses more than truly the development side which is fine at the NHL level, but let us not act like it is different.

On Del Zotto, per Andrew Gross it does not appear the news of his demotion went over too well with him and it seems he had some things to say when they told him.  Tortorella tried to play coy with it based on the quotes Andrew has but the one that tells it all is this one:

“I hope so. It was in a different mode as far as versus Zuc going down. We probably expected that because Michael, he played all last year. Now this is his second year. I think it was a different frame of mind in how he saw this. This kid is a 20-year-old kid. Sometimes they don’t see it there right now. Eventually he’ll realize it’s good for him.”

That says that MDZ did not buy the move was right move for him and was not happy about it which is what you want from a competitor.  Problem is with Torts in subtle ways those sorts of things seem to get held against certain players.  As fare as the move to send Del Zotto down personally I believe right now it is if for no other reason than to get away from Torts and to go work with the only defensive coach this organization seems to have right now; Wade Redden.  Del Zotto is going to get the lion share of the blame for his play earning him the trip down, but this goes back to last year when the organization rushed him and tried to skip steps in his development.  Things like this happen when you do things like that.  

This BS about now they are worried about his conditioning is comical and the kind of cop-out that is beneath the people who follow the team.  Admit your mistakes as an organization in how you have handled the young defenseman and send him down to get his game straight without the need for making excuses.

Just when you thought things were really changing the organization reminds you why it has been so long since they have been a legit contender.

Rangers Send Michael Del Zotto Down, Bring Up Ryan McDonagh.

According the AHL transactions page the New York Rangers have send down second year defender down to the Connecticut Whale, which is not a huge surprise given the combination of his poor play and scratches in recent weeks.  Del Zotto returned to the lineup yesterday after missing the previous four games and was very shaky playing a combination of scared hockey and continuing to make many of the same mental mistakes that took him out of the lineup to begin with.  In 35 games this year, MDZ has struggled mightily, putting together a line of 2-7-9 and a -1 rating. The problem of late has been his offensive play as much as the defensive issues that plagued him last season.  Hopefully this move will be taken well by Del Zotto and his time away from coach Tortorella and with Wade Redden, who has been a great mentor for the other young defenders, will get his game back on track

What is more of a surprise though is that the move comes with an accompanying call up of rookie defender Ryan McDonagh.  McDonagh, 22, was one of the key figures in the Scott Gomez trade struggled early in his first professional season falling all the way to a -8 rating before turning it around.  Of late he has been excellent and on the season he has a line of 1 goal 7 assists and an even rating in 38 games in the AHL. McDonagh will not amaze with flash in his game, but he will be a solid defensive presence who makes the simple plays and even clears the crease which is exactly what the Rangers need from him. Think of McDonagh as a cross between a Marc Staal type and Michael Sauer.

I like the move as long as McDonagh plays, but if he is coming up here to be an extra then this is huge mistake.  Have to wonder if this means Gilroy would continue to be out of the lineup or if someone else like Eminger might have his card pulled.

Petr Prucha on Re-Entry Waivers; Rangers Possible Destination Given Injuries?

Former Ranger Petr Prucha was put on re-entry waivers today and with the New York Rangers rash of injuries one has to wonder if the club should and/or will consider putting a claim in on Prucha.  Prucha, 28 , struggled in his time in the NHL this season scoring no goals and having only one assist in 11 games before being sent down to the AHL by the Phoenix Coyotes.   Since his demotion he has been tearing up the AHL with 7 goals and 10 assists in 16 games, which is likely what has prompted Phoenix to try and recall him either to play for them or in hopes of him being claimed. 
The Rangers interest is likely higher than it should be given the vast number of injuries that the team has been dealing with right now.  With Callahan out for another few weeks, Prospal having a set-back, and the most recent injury to Fedotenko the club might have interest in bringing in an experienced NHL player.  What works in his favor is that given his base salary of 1.1 million, the fact that there is only half the year remaining and the fifty percent discount on re-entry the Rangers would only be on the hook for about 275K which makes it a very low cost gamble to take on a player they have had before.
Personally I do not see much upside to the move since Prucha’s best season since 2006-07 was last year when he only registered 22 points.  There is a nostalgia element for many fans on Prucha and the hope he finally regains the form that netted him 30 goals in his rookie year and 22 the following year, but that player is gone.  I would pass, but I could see the Rangers taking the gamble.

Rangers Stray From Identity Reveals Depth of Callahan Void; Avery Key To Filling Hole?

AP Photo/Kathy Willens
This season the New York Rangers formed their identity as being a hard team to play against in terms of hitting, forechecking, cycle/puck possession and grinding their opportunities that way.  One of the guys on this club that epitomized that style is assistant captain Ryan Callahan.  When Ryan Callahan was first lost 19 days ago to his broken right hand I said in the aftermath that while other players could step in and fill parts of what he does the whole of Callahan and the hole his absence creates could not be completely filled.  There have been players who have stepped up in his absence: Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Derek Stepan.  As a team in his absence if you count the Pittsburgh game in which he got hurt the team is a very respectable 4-2-2 overall. 

The problem for me is the way the Rangers go about their business has a much different feel and some of those results have a very hollow ring to them.  Of the four wins they probably deserved to lose the Phoenix and New Jersey games while in both Tampa games Lundqvist managed to steal them points.  Beyond that aspect of it, the process is not the same as this team truly is missing a spark.  Maybe it would be slightly different if Prust were really healthy and could fight or Avery were actually getting involved in the game, but the team seems to lack an overall drive right now.  Individual players that I mentioned above along with Mats Zuccarello who likely would not have come up if Callahan were healthy have played with their fire, but the team energy level is changed.

Video: Fedotenko Willingness To Block Shots After Injury Shows Toughness and Dedication

To watch Ruslan Fedotenko today after he was hurt on the initially shot black of Bryan McCabe's blast was something special that I think epitomized what this team has tried to be about this year in that they sacrifice for one another and do whatever it takes.  Hats off to Fedotenko and get back soon

Daily Recap: Blanked By Vokoun; Trade Gaborik?; Torts Ticked At Penalty; Fed Hurt; Grachev Shows Up

Following their OT loss to Tampa last night the Rangers took the ice looking to get their first win of the calendar year and more importantly a big two points in the standings.  The question heading in is whether the positives from getting the late point against Tampa or the negatives of the quick OT loss would carry over and from the start it seemed a hangover was in effect.  The team did not have much energy through the early part of the game as they were outplayed by an inferior Florida and when they tried to rally in the third Vokoun deny all their advances.  The last 10-15 minutes of the game were the main points in which the Rangers offense showed any sustained life in the game, but they would also surrender a goal and an empty netter in the process while failing to cash anything in.  The full game recap looks at the injury to Ruslan Fedotenko and what they said following the game on its severity, how Del Zotto played in his return, the play of Gaborik, which lines worked as well as the normal details of all the scoring action.

The 3-0 loss meant the Rangers would come out of the weekend with only one of four possible points, two poor performances and only one total goal.  In terms of the standings they were passed by Atlanta falling to 7th with Montreal gaining one to get within two points.  There is still some cushion back to 9th where Carolina is seven points back but Carolina does have 3 games in hand and has won three straight.

Following the game John Tortorella met with the media and he discussed the absence of Fedotenko from his early injury, was livid about an offensive zone penalty, praised certain lines play and refused to discuss the play of Del Zotto before looking at the tape.  Entertaining watch as usual, but there were certainly some things Torts said and did I did not agree with so watch and give me your take.