Saturday, January 22, 2011

Zuccarello Shootout Magic Finishes What Boyle Started In Rangers Gritty 3-2 Win

Scott Cunningham/NHLI via Getty Images
To say the Rangers keep finding a way is becoming an understatement of epic proportions at this point.  This team lost two more key players in Dan Girardi and Brandon Prust during the course of this game and somehow managed to battle back from another deficit heading into the third period.  This team is decimated by injuries and down on talent, but you can never question their heart and desire to fight.  Throw in a little Zuccarello magic and you get tonight’s 3-2 shootout win.

Mats Zuccarello Works Hobbit Magic Again In Shootout (Video)

No words for how special this young player has been in his short time with the Rangers.  This goal was his second shootout winner and made him 3 of 3 in the skills competition.

Evgeny Grachev and Michael Del Zotto Recalled; Weise Sent Down

Mitch Beck over at Howlings tweets that both Evgeny Grachev and Michael Del Zotto have been recalled to give the Rangers insurance for the injuries suffered tonight to Brandon Prust and Dan Girardi.

I am not convinced that either player is ready to be back with the Rangers, but sometimes injuries necessitate moves that should not otherwise be made.  On the bright side, Grachev has been scorching this month including a hat-trick tonight.  Overall he has 11 points (8G, 3A) with 6 goals in his last three games.  I would rather that he stay in the AHL and continue to build on this as opposed to being thrown into the NHL again, but these are the moves that sometimes have to be made.

As far as Del Zotto, there have been good games and bad games, much like there were with the Rangers, but on the positive side the offense seems to have returned.  In his eight games with the Whale he recorded seven assists and played to an even rating while showing more confidence in rushing the puck up the ice.

To make room for these two Dale Weise was optioned back to Connecticut.

Dan Girardi Fights Andrew Ladd To Stick Up For Staal (Video)

Last season Dan Girardi was the goat for many New York Rangers fans when he failed to step in and fight for Marian Gaborik against Dan Carcillo.  Tonight he sought to erase some of the remnants of that event when he stuck up for his Marc Staal.  On the play Andrew Ladd had a clean hard hit on Staal that would result in Marc hitting neck/shoulder first into the boards and with no hesitation Girardi went over to defend his partner.  

In the fight Girardi likely broke his nose and did not return to action, but those are moves that bring a team together.

Dupont To Debut, Weise Scratch; Kolarik with Boyle, Prust; Lundqvist Starting

Per Andrew Gross the Rangers lines will be as follows tonight:


This is what was to be expected based on the post-game comments of John Tortorella from Thursday's game.

In Dupont the Rangers are going to get a very good grind type winger who should fit this system well.  Excited to see him get a shot.

Henrik Lundqvist will be the starter tonight which is absolutely the right move in a game with crucial points on the line.
Kolarik certainly earned a chance to move up and get more ice with his performance against Carolina.  Hopefully he will be able to get a goal tonight.

Mailbag: Jagr Reuniting With Rangers

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Liz asks: What about the possibility of bringing back Jaromir Jagr to the Rangers?  Jagr was great when he was here, would give the team another star talent and would help solve the power play.  Seems like a good idea to me.  

Over the past few weeks this discussion seems to be going on among fans about the New York Rangers bringing back Jaromir Jagr this season.  Jagr, 39 next month, is currently playing for Avangard Omsk in the KHL.  On the season he has 16 goals and 23 assists in 41 games.  It is no secret that the Rangers are down on healthy forwards right now, and that as a result their offense is struggling to consistently generate goals.  Combine that with what Liz mentioned and the buzz among some fans is certainly there to have a reuinion. I am not in that group.

I have great respect for Jagr and what he did with the Rangers, but there are many things wrong with this idea.  Jagr is happy with Omsk, so the idea that he would leave there and break his contract is far-fetched to begin with.  The NHL requirement that players who played in a European league this season to pass through waivers would be another hurdle to the process.  Even if he did want to come to New York there is no way he would get to the Rangers in the waiver process.  If guys like Kyle Wellwood are getting claimed and there is this supposed fight for Evgeni Nabokov who no one wanted a few months ago, there is no way that Jagr makes it through waivers.

From the Rangers perspective this move would completely contradict the direction they are taking the team in with the youth, young core and the system.  Jagr was a great player for the Rangers, who carried this team following the lockout, and for that Rangers fans will always think of him fondly.  In his game Jagr played with tremendous strength on the puck and overall skill, but he was not a player made for this system.  Also, for those concerned about integrating the youth, bringing in Jagr is a clear case of stealing a spot from a young player.

This talk is all too common for my taste among Rangers fans who seem to have a nostalgia for bringing back past players numerous times.  Of late I have seen and heard about this idea, the desire to bring Prucha back, people talking about trading for Kovalev again.  The Rangers are moving in the right direction with this focus on youth, so it is time for some fresh names and faces for the fans to focus on as well instead of digging back into the closet.

Daily Recap: Buying Out Drury; Grachev Gets A Message; Newbury Making Case

The New York Rangers were off today as they prepare for tomorrow’s crucial game against the eighth place Thrashers.  With tonight’s action the Rangers did lose ground and position in the standings as with their win Montreal passed New York in the standings.  That result only makes tomorrow’s game with Atlanta even more critical for the Rangers to widen the gap between them and the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

As for today on the site I took a look at Evgeny Grachev, Kris Newbury and buying out Chris Drury.

I have never been a proponent of buyouts under the system the NHL has constructed in the way the cap hits are configured, but in the case of Chris Drury a buyout this summer is the best move for the Rangers.  The reasoning goes beyond just Drury’s poor play and seeming utter loss of his offensive game to a level that seemed unimaginable.  There are negatives to the move as well which are discussed along with what the savings and costs are financially, against the cap, over the years.  Maybe Drury would do everyone a favor and save himself the embarrassment of such a move by just retiring, but that might be asking too much.

In looking at Grachev I wondered if this time he was going to get the message on what he needs to do in order to make himself a candidate for the NHL.  There is no bigger message they could send to him then having five of his teammates called up and on the NHL roster while he remains in the AHL having been deemed not ready.  To his credit he has shown improvement this month and scored another goal tonight, but there is still a long way to go.  For me the biggest messages beyond the sheer number of guys who are up with the NHL club over him is how many of them are known to have no real long term impact with the franchise.  I am not ready for the bust label on Grachev because the talent is there and frankly the Rangers need him to exercise it.

Speaking of those Whale guys who are on the NHL roster, Kris Newbury has made an impression in four appearances with the team.  I believe with the way he has played and the roles he is showing he can fill that Newbury is making a case to stay not just until the injured players can get back, but after as well.

Dominic Moore's Shootout Winner: Good Goal or Illegal Double Touch? (Video)

In tonight’s shootout between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, Lightning forward Dominic Moore scored the game winner, but should it have been the winner at all is the question?

During the shootout it appeared that the attempt by Moore was stopped by the right pad of Tomas Vokoun with the puck going backwards(1:12 of the video) and then being put home by Moore.  The question is whether or not that was a double touching by Moore which would be illegal and thus make the goal invalid. 

From Rule 24.2:
"No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line or comes to a complete stop, the shot shall be considered complete."

After a review the NHL War Room decided that because the puck never left the stick of Moore it did not constitute a double touch, so the goal was allowed to stand.

I do not buy that rationale from the league as I see a clear save on the play that if not redirected by Moore’s stick heads off towards the boards and not into the net, thus making it a rebound on the play.  Luckily for me I am not Dean Lombardi so there will be no 50K fine coming my way for disagreeing with the league.

What do you think?