Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rangers Recall Newbury, Grachev, Del Zotto. Good Move?

The CT Whale have tweeted that the Rangers have called up Evgeny Grachev, Michael Del Zotto and Kris Newbury.  The move is also listed on the AHL transactions page. 

The recall of Newbury was to be expected, but bringing back Grachev and Del Zotto are both surprising to me.  In terms of Del Zotto there are six guys who are all clearly ahead of him in terms of their play, so unless Girardi is not responding well to his injury, then MDZ should be sticking with the Whale and continuing to work on his game.  Grachev has been tearing up the AHL, but has not shown any real flash of being ready at the NHL level.  To further that, with the expected return of Callahan on Tuesday, Grachev is likely being called up for a fourth line role which is a mistake and will only further hinder his development to get 8 minutes a games instead of playing big minutes for the Whale.

Video: Lundqvist Stops Duchene On First-Ever All-Star Penalty Shot

During the third period of tonight's All-Star game, the first ever penalty shot was awarded with Matt Duchene taking on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The penalty shot was given after Alex Ovechkin tossed his stick at Duchene in an attempt to stop his breakaway on Lundqvist, which Lundqvist would end up stopping anyway. 

On the penalty shot Duchene skated in and tried to beat Lundqvist with the backhand, but Henrik stuck with him the whole way and knocked it away with his left skate.

Marc Staal to Play with Letang; Lundqvist in Goal for Third Period.

According to Mike Sundheim New York Rangers All-Star Marc Staal will be paired with Penguins D Kris Letang on the second pair for Team Staal.

In addition as you can see in the picture Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will get the third period in today's All-Star game.  The fact that Lundqvist is playing the third period should give him a chance to drive out of Raleigh with a new car for the MVP.  Obviously as offensive MVP is more likely, but if the game is close and Henrik leads them to the lead it is certainly possible.

NHLPA Poll: Tortorella Voted Most Demanding Coach; Where Do Other Rangers Rank?

This year’s NHLPA player survey has the New York Rangers featured prominently in many of the results.  This morning CBC posted the results on their site, so let’s see how the Rangers came out in some of the different categories.
Among the coaches, John Tortorella was voted the most demanding coach and also finished second in the voting for coach players would least like to play for.  That is not altogether surprising, but one has to wonder if the results of the poll were based on past seasons and not this “new” version of Torts that seems to have emerged this year.  I would say he is still one of the most demanding guys in the game, but not sure that he would rank as high in terms of least like to play for.
Among the goalies, Henrik Lundqvist was voted the fourth most difficult goalie to score on behind Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas.  This season I could buy Tim Thomas being ahead of him, and even Ryan Miller based on last year, but Luongo never should be.  Maybe they want to have a re-vote after last night’s skills competition.
Marian Gaborik was listed as the best skater in the NHL and also the fastest skater.  I have always thought of Gaborik is as a very good and extremely quick skater, but he has never really popped to the forefront of fastest skaters in the league.
Among the tough guys, Derek Boogaard was voted the toughest player in the NHL.  Not really sure what the criteria were for this particular category, but if it is about a combination of guts and strength I am certainly voting for Brandon Prust.
Madison Square Garden was voted the second worst ice in the NHL behind the Florida Panthers rink.  Despits having awful ice MSG was also listed behind the Montreal and the Chicago as the rink players like most to play in.  The only way to reconcile the awful ice with the fact that the players love playing in MSG is the fans the Rangers have.  Every game at the Garden the place has a buzz to go along with the history of the building itself, so give yourselves a pat on the back Rangers fans.
Finally the Rangers were listed fourth as the team most players would like to play on.  This again needs some reconciling considering players don’t want to play for Tortorella and the fact that the team has not been in contention in some time.  The best explanations are the fans, the city and the building.

In non-Rangers news it seems clear that 24/7 helped the image of both Dan Bylsma and Bruce Boudreau.  Blysma was voted the coach they most want to play for, while Boudreau was voted the easiest to play for.  

Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist Photos at SuperSkills


All Photos from

Lundqvist Nearly Pitches Shutout In Elimination Shootout

Last night in the NHL SuperSkills the New York Rangers were well represented having Derek Stepan, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist all involved in the competition.  While Staal and Stepan would have their moments in the spotlight, it was Lundqvist who once again demonstrated why he is one of if not the best goaltender in the world during the night’s final event. Typically the performances in the shootout for Henrik get the Rangers the extra point, but on this night they would seal the victory for Team Staal.
During the concluding Elimination Shootout, Lundqvist would turn aside nine of 10 shooters he faced, which would rank him atop the standings for all of the six participating goaltenders.  The only player who would find an answer for Lundqvist on this night was Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who beat the Rangers goalie with a backhand. 
That Henrik put on this kind of performance is no surprise to Rangers fans who have the pleasure of watching him over the past six seasons.  Lundqvist is second all-time in shootout wins (33) and has stopped a remarkable 160/211 (75.8%) career attempts in the format.  
Other than Martin St. Louis, the only player who had a great chance to score on Henrik was his teammate Derek Stepan.  Stepan beat Lundqvist cleanly with his deke to the forehand side, but he would hit the crossbar as he tried to lift it over his down goalie.

Paired with Lundqvist on Team Staal, Marc Staal would be stopped by Team Lidstrom goalie Jonas Hiller in the first round of the Elimination Shootout. Staal would also compete in the Fastest Skater event to open the festivities.  In that competition, Staal would be matched up against Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene as the final skaters in the first round.  Staal was clearly the underdog in the pairing and then during his lap the timer for Staal malfunctioned, so no time was ever shown.  Duchene was clearly the winner and his time was 14.779 seconds.
Marc Staal would also participate in the Skills Challenge relay event on the evening.  The multi-player event which tested the All-Stars in a vast array of hockey skills would see Staal on a team with Kris Letang, Mike Green, Claude Giroux, Jamie McBain, David Backes, and Jeff Skinner.  The role for Stepan in the event was that of stickhandling through a series of pucks and overall he did fine, but there were a couple of hiccups.  Overall this group would end up with the worst time of the four groups at 2:34.
The only other event that saw a Rangers player participate was the Accuracy Shooting Competition in which Derek Stepan competed.  Stepan would compete head-to-head against Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks.  Couture is currently considered one of the top two in the Calder trophy race.  In the event both Couture and Stepan would break all four targets, but Couture would do it in a faster time and earn Team Staal a point for winning the round. 
While Derek Stepan has no more hockey to participate in during the weekend, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist will suit up for Team Staal in this afternoon’s All-Star game.  No word yet on who Marc will partner with on defense or what period Henrik will play, but one expects both to represent the Rangers proudly as they always do.