Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Video: Bruins, Canadiens in Old School Brawl including Thomas vs Price


During the second period of the Montreal Candiens vs Boston Bruins game, a brawl broke out that included all players on the ice and eventually the two netminders.  Carey Price and Tim Thomas squared off, with Thomas trying to toss Price to the ice, but instead falling and ending the goalie ‘fight.’  After all was sorted out the Bruins penalty box had six players in it and the Canadiens was packed with five.

Another brawl broke out with just 40 seconds left in the third period brawl:

Del Zotto Stays 'For Now'; Rangers Rework PP Units, Extra PP Practice

After yesterday’s day off, the New York Rangers hit the practice ice today to work on things in hopes of ending their current five-game winless streak.  In a change of the normal reactions to a game where the team fails to score consistently, coach John Tortorella is leaving the forward lines exactly as they have been for the last two games.  This move allows the lines to attempt to build some chemistry together instead of having to figure out new people every game.  The lines were:


After a 45 minute normal practice the team left the ice for it to be resurfaced and then came out just to work on the power play which has cost them dearly of late.  The team worked with mainly two units.  Per Jesse Spector the units were as follows:

Unit 1: Callahan-Prospal-Gaborik up front; Staal-Wolski on the points
Unit 2: Dubinsky-Anisimov-Zuccarello up front; Del Zotto-Stepan on the points

During the course of the power play work there were also times where Erik Christensen filtered in for Artem Anisimov.  Also during the work on the power play, Jesse Spector passed along that John Tortorella was yelling for the team to shoot the puck during the drill, and later confirmed that it at Marian Gaborik whom he was scolding.

Following practice the news on Drury came down as well as, per Andrew Gross, John Tortorella confirming that Michael Del Zotto is staying with the team ‘for now.’  The other line of the day regarding Del Zotto was that he would not being going down “anytime soon,” according to Arthur Staple.  I still am not a fan of the mixed messages that sends to the young player, as I wrote yesterday in telling them to make a decision and stick with it, but at least on the surface it seems to be for a decent amount of time.

The reason for Del Zotto staying according to Tortorella was because he had seen some improvements in his play, but that there are still concerns about him playing nervously.  I can certainly understand him playing nervous hockey, when it seems every other game he is basically told in the press, do something or we might send you down.

With Del Zotto remaining in the lineup, it is expected that Eminger will continue to be a healthy scratch.

Drury Out Six Weeks With Knee Surgery

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Per Peter Botte, Chris Drury will be undergo surgery on his ailing knee and be out for the next six weeks.  The Rangers captain had fluid drained from the knee last week, but apparently that was not enough to alleviate the cause of problem, so they will go in and try to fix it.

The injury is the third injury to cost the 34-year-old Drury significant time this season.  Drury broke his finger during training camp, and missed the first couple games of the season and then broke the same finger again in his first game back, costing him 29 more.  In 23 games he has played this season, Drury has zero goals and four assists while playing primarily on the fourth line, penalty kill and taking defensive zone draws.
A six week timetable would put Drury’s return towards the end of March, with approximately two weeks left in the season.  Drury's absence will hurt the Rangers in terms of penalty killing and faceoffs.  They have enough depth in terms of forwards to kill off penalties to sustain there, but I would look for the Rangers to consider trading for a faceoff specialist between now and the deadline as the issues on faceoffs are only made worse by this news.  I will take a look at some potential candidates in the next few days.

I would also like to go on the record and apologize to Drury and the organization for the belief that the initial reports of his injury were an attempt to save face for the captain instead of making him a healthy scratch because of poor play.  Obviously there was more to the story than just the timing of it and I was wrong to assume otherwise.  Hopefully Drury getting this taken care will allow him to play more like his former self upon his return and help the Rangers make a final push to close the regular season.

This news begs a couple of questions: Was Drury's poor play a product of the balky knee?  Did Drury continue to play through because the team had other injuries, where had they been healthy he takes care of his knee sooner? Does this latest injury make retirement more of an option for Drury this summer?

Dreger: Rangers Willing to Listen On Gaborik

The grumblings about the New York Rangers being willing to listen on Marian Gaborik are getting louder.  Darren Dreger writes in today’s Dreger Report that the Rangers are willing to listen on Gaborik, but are not shopping him.  This is a lot like what Larry Brooks said last month NY Post last month. Before anyone gets overheated the key point here is listening, which just means if someone calls they do not immediately hang up, as opposed to shopping where Sather is the one calling other teams.  Listening is something that all GM’s do on a whole host of players they would never actually trade unless the other team is willing to overpay, which is what I think would have to be the case here.
As Dreger points out, players of Gaborik’s caliber are rarely available during the season for trades because they usually required long term negotiations to make the deal work.  Obviously we do not know if there have been some low-level negotiations that had already been going on in terms of Gaborik that could heat up towards the end and made the traditional timetable not apply in this case.
I have no doubt that if made available a number of teams would be knocking on Glen Sather’s door attempting to acquire Gaborik with the intention of getting him back to last season’s form.  The question would be if those teams were trying to do it at a discount rate, and that is the temptation that Sather must avoid.  If you are going to sell Gaborik, you do not sell low based on his struggles this season.  If a team is willing to hit you with a huge offer, then it is Sather’s job to listen and consider all the factors for the team both this year and in the future.  The fact that the trade and free agent market appear so weak this year would only help Sather in getting a higher premium for Gaborik.
Another consideration Sather would have to take into account is the financial situation of the team, both this summer and down the line.  Eliminating the $7.5 million cap hit would certainly create space to bring back Callahan, Dubinsky, Anisimov, Boyle, and Sauer, while also going after Richards if that is what the Rangers still desire.  I do not buy the notion that Richards would only be wanted here if Gaborik is here because I believe he could make other players, like Dubinsky, better.
When I think back to where Gaborik was just last year, it is truly amazing that this is a real thought right now for the Rangers.  One must remember that Marian Gaborik does have a no-trade clause, so even if the Rangers worked out a deal to send him somewhere he has to approve going to whatever team it is.
I expect, as I have always expected, that once the February 28 trade deadline has ended Marian Gaborik will still be wearing a Rangers 10 sweater and helping lead the Rangers on a playoff push.

Should Dubinsky Move Back to Center?

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Looking for a player capable of holding down the number one center spot is something the New York Rangers have been doing for far too long.  In the search, just this season, the team has tried a lot of different line configurations, and while many of them are generating shots and chances, they are not currently generating goals.  One thing the team has failed to attempt is moving Brandon Dubinsky back to his previous position of center.  The team is already using Dubinsky as a de facto center in terms of taking every draw when his line is on the ice and now taking most defensive zone draws with the absence of Chris Drury, so why not just leave him on the pivot after the puck drops?
While I do not think Dubinsky’s ideal position is as a first line center, he is the player best equipped among the current roster to handle the duties.  Anisimov and Stepan have shown flashes at times, but are not ready for the responsibility on both sides of the ice as a first line center.  Christensen has had so many chances, mainly by default, but has never shown any semblance of grabbing hold of the opportunity.  Vinny Prospal is another candidate, but his knee might not be up for the task of being a center as opposed to playing on the wing.
The fact is, for better or worse, Dubinsky has become the Rangers go to offensive player and the best place for him to do his work is at center.  Playing in the middle will allow Dubinsky more space on the ice to create for himself and his teammates.  I also like that it forces Dubinsky to be more in front of the net as opposed to drifting to the corners, which he has a tendency to do.   There are some negative possibilities in that he could become unfocused like was previously when he was at center, and there is the potential that he could lose some of his aggressiveness in the power forward type role he has taken on.  In the end, for right now, the potential rewards outweigh the possible risks.
This is not meant as another form of tearing the lineup apart to solve Gaborik as I believe the onus for that is on him, but with his line not working and the Dubinsky, Anisimov, Callahan line not producing goals, mixing and matching those parts might not be a bad idea.  I would surround Dubinsky with the Rangers best forward of late, Sean Avery, and their supposed best offensive player Marian Gaborik.  As I talked about yesterday, the chemistry that Avery and Gaborik have has been the closest thing to getting some consistent play out of Marian this season.  The team has tried to turn the clock back in the three games since Prospal’s return, but the pairing has not shown anything like what they had last year and honestly right now Prospal’s energy is being wasted on Gaborik.
Putting Dubinsky and Gaborik together should create space for each as long as Dubinsky does not defer to Gaborik, which I believe he has gotten over.  I think the results, leadership role, and the vocal role which Dubinsky has taken on this season allows him to and will have him be more comfortable in being more forceful with Gaborik than anyone else who has played with him can be. 
This line combination has the potential to play multiple styles at the same time.  The line can play both a dump and chase/forecheck style game, with Avery and Dubinsky being the primary players to work those battles,  and one that is capable of carrying the puck into the zone and creating offense that way.  For me it is the best mix of the two styles the Rangers have tried with Gaborik and it allows for a skill game, without being a soft line that can get pushed around.
Beyond what it does for this trio, the move has positive ramifications down the roster as well.  The move allows Stepan and Anisimov to not have the burden of being the top line guy or the one responsible for Gaborik while just playing their game.  It also eliminates Christensen from the equation as he becomes a spare part of the fourth line until other players return to the lineup or the Rangers recall a player better suited for a fourth line role.
I would run the following lines:

It would be more likely though that coach Tortorella would go with a line of Prospal, Dubinsky, Gaborik, and work from there, in an attempt to give Gaborik and Prospal as much time to recapture last year as possible.  The move might be a long-shot to happen because of Tortorella's public statements regarding Dubinsky as better on the wing, then at center, but if the Rangers are going to try different groupings as much as they have, then there is no reason to leave a possible solution untried.