Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Video: Zdeno Chara Hits Max Pacioretty Into Glass Divider, Pacioretty Stretchered Off

After their last meeting there was some bad blood between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens and tonight’s action will not do anything to stem that from these two longtime rivals.  Late in the second period, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara rode Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty along the wall and Pacioretty’s head would slam into the glass divider between the two benches. 

Pacioretty was down and unconscious for some time before he was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.  Early reports from the Canadiens are that Pacioretty is conscious and able to move all of his extremities, which is excellent news. 

Update: Per Darren Dreger the news on Pacioretty is not good.
According to Habs, Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and fractured 4th cervical vertebra.
Here is the video of the hit:

As for the hit itself it is definitely late and Chara was assessed a 5-minute major penalty for interference, as well as a game misconduct on the play.  The question now is what kind of punishment Chara will get from the league.  There does appear to be malicious intent on Chara’s part, but the severity of the result will certainly be factored into any decision that the league makes.

What do you think the league should do with Chara?

Is It Playoffs Or Bust For Rangers Season?

Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
There is a consensus among followers of the New York Rangers that the future looks brighter than it has in some years.  This team will only continue to grow as the younger players on it mature and development into more consistent players at the NHL level.  Where there seems to be some disagreement is on how critical making the playoffs this season is to whether or not the year has been successful.  Today, two Rangers bloggers of whom I have great respect take different approaches to that topic.  Dave Shapiro at Blue Seat Blogs takes the approach that the season regardless of whether the team maintains it current playoff standing it has been a successful season.  John Merrigan at Canyon of Blueshirts argues that it is unacceptable for this team to miss the playoffs again this year.  Is one right and the other wrong?

Personally I tend to lean more in Dave’s direction while understanding where John is coming from.  The incorporation of so many young players this season and the experience they have gained for the future is more important to the long term fate of this franchise then getting in the playoffs for me.  The growth in the games of Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Staal, Girardi, Boyle while rookies Derek Stepan, Michael Sauer, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello have all shown their abilities at this level is such a massive positive for this season.  That is not to discount the value and experience making the playoffs would have for those same players as they advance in their careers.  You do have to get to the playoffs to learn the lessons of how to win there.

We will all be upset if the team misses the playoffs considering the work and effort they put into the season to this point and how they basically have control over their destiny with just fourteen games to go. It will hurt when added to how the team missed out on the playoffs last season, but the difference for me will be in the hope for the future which was not nearly as strong when they failed last season.  This team is good enough to get in.  This team has done enough to deserve to get in this year.  Failing to do so would certainly dampen some of the success of this year, but it will not wash it away.

I expect them to finish off the task, get in, and at the very least give their first round opponent the scare of their lives if not outright beat them depending on the matchup.  I don’t buy the Cinderella idea that if they get in they can win it all, but if they play to their capabilities then they will be an extremely tough out come playoff time. 

Tell me what you think.

Ryan Callahan Has Taken The Next Step Offensively

Al Bello/Getty Images
Coming into this season, beyond Marian Gaborik, the New York Rangers were full of question marks in terms of finding consistent scoring overall and more importantly finishing in the goal scoring department.  Even with Gaborik in and out of the lineup and failing to consistently score, Ryan Callahan might be changing both of those facts if his play this season is a sign of things to come for him.  Coming into last season I had high hopes for Callahan to have a breakout season offensively.  This was based in large part to how well he closed the 2008-09 season following the hiring of coach John Tortorella, but the results really never materialized.  Instead the New York Rangers got the great all-around play that has come to be standard fare for him and the same 40 point season they had gotten the year before.  There was no uptick in production despite the rise in power play time and production there because it was offset by a massive decline in his effectiveness at even strength. 

From last year’s inability to take the next step offensive despite the added ice time I began to wonder if we had seen the ceiling on Callahan offensively in the NHL.  Was he going to be an excellent character guy who does everything, is a leader, while producing 40-50 points and maybe 20-25 goals a season.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that as every team need those kinds of players, but they cannot be the key players on your team if you want to contend for a title.  The question at this point in the 2010-11 season is if Callahan has forced another look into his offensive potential and if he can become a legitimate 30 goal, 60 point player, which vaults him into a completely different category. 

In just 48 games this season Callahan has tallied 20 goals, 19 assists and 39 points.  Those totals put up two shy of his career high in goals (22), over his previous career high in assists (18) and one shy of his career high points total (40) in 33 less games than when he set them in 2008-09. 

Looking at his statistics on a per game basis in the previous two seasons he averaged .26 goals/game, .23 assists/game and .49 pts/game. This season those numbers have soared to .42 goals/game, .40 assists/game and .81 pts/game which is a tremendous advancement in production.  If you calculated Callahan’s totals out over an 82 game season he would be on pace for a statistical line of 34-33-67.  He will not reach those totals this season because of the broken hand that cost him 19 games, but this is more about whether he can keep those kind of projections up through the end of the year and then match this in a full season.

There is no debating that his totals and averages are inflated from a performance like Sunday against the Flyers, but even if you remove that performance he was still on pace for a very respectable 27 goals this season.  The scariest part is he is having this kind of offensive season while still struggling to finish many plays he should convert.  If you believe he can learn to convert some more of those chances, which I do, then seeing him as a legitimate 30 goal threat down the line is very reasonable.

While no one is going to confuse Callahan for Marian Gaborik in the goal scoring or point production departments when both are at their best, Callahan is doing his best to solidify himself as a legitimate offensive option, that other teams must account for, to go with his tremendous two-way hockey player.  If Callahan can become a consistent 28-32 goal guy instead of 20-24 that makes a huge difference to his value and the fortunes of the team in terms of their scoring troubles. 

Has Callahan become a 30 goal type guy or has just had some really good games and is still on average more of a 25 max type player?