Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gaborik Gets Two In Rangers 6-3 Rout of Rival Islanders

The Rangers took the Islanders seriously as an opponent and then they handled their business on their way to a convincing 6-3 win. New York had its stars show up tonight with Henrik Lundqvist making done tremendous saves, especially early on, Gaborik getting two goals and the power play cashing in on its chances. If those three things continue the last 11 games then they playoff spot will take care of itself.
The Rangers came out with excellent energy and maintained it throughout the first period. Marian Gaborik had an early breakaway, but could not covert. Moments later Sean Avery took a boarding penalty. While shorthanded Brandon Prust gave the Rangers the 1-0 lead.  The Prust goal was created by Ryan McDonagh who collapsed the defense with his move to the net and his shot created the rebound for Prust. Late in the first Erik Christensen extended the lead to 2-0 with a beautiful shot on the power play. That is how the first ended.
The team came out sluggish to start the second with goals by Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau to tie the game.
New York would respond with three goals of their own before the period would end. The first was from Ryan Callahan off a beautiful behind the back pass from Artem Anisimov. Marian Gaborik made it 4-2 on a gorgeous wrist shot far post. Bryan McCabe would close the period with his first as a Ranger to bring the lead to 3 at 5-2.
The third period was academic, but Gaborik would get his second of the evening before John Tavares scored to make the final 6-3.
  • Lundqvist was excellent, especially in the first and he seems to be in a much better groove these last few games.
  • Don’t know what has gotten into Erik Christensen, but I like it.  He is producing points on a consistent basis and even more than that he is showing up at other points of the game.
  • I expect Avery to be right back in the press box watching on Friday as he was awful tonight.  He took three penalties and none of them of the “good” variety.  The boarding call in the first he got lucky, at least from where we were, to not get more than two minutes and the one in the third cost them what in this game was a meaningless goal, but you cannot expect to be up four to be ok with giving up a goal down the stretch.
Big thank you to Robyn (@njrobynf) for letting me come tonight. Lots of fun had by all.

Is Benching Wolski The Right Move?

The New York Rangers are making some lineup changes for tonight’s gameagainst the New York Islanders with Sean Avery and Steve Eminger returning tothe lineup while Wojtek Wolski and Matt Gilroy will be sitting in the pressbox. The decision to sit Gilroy forEminger is not one that surprises me and is once I have been looking for sometime, but the move to sit Wolski for Avery is a bit surprising.

On the plus side I see the appeal to Avery in what could be a very physicalgame against a rival who has been playing tough hockey of late. There is also the fact thatbased on being benched the last game you will have a very motivated Sean Averywhich can be a powerful weapon as he showed last season when he scored sixpoints in 7 games after being benched for. The issue is not with the reinsertion of Avery per say, but the choiceto remove Wolski from the lineup.

Wolski is a player that with coach John Tortorella is either ridden for topline time or in the doghouse from one game to the next.He can be inconsistent in his results, but ona team that lacks skilled forwards to remove him not only from the lineupduring regulation play, but a potential shootout situation when in the lastgame he kept the team alive to eventually get the second point on BrandonDubinsky’s winner. For a team worriedabout every point that seems like a big risk to take especially if you end upwith another game of Avery playing less than 10 minutes.

The other piece that I worry about with Wolski is that being a healthyscratch was not an effective tool to prod more out of him in Phoenix, so ifthat is the goal of the move I fear it will fail and the Rangers will lose himto it, but hopefully that wont happen.
From what Andrew Gross is reporting at RangerRants he seems to understand the issue and is determined to work on it.
“I guess you’re always surprised. You don’t want to be out of the lineup.You want to be in the lineup. But I don’t think that (the shootout goal) is agood enough reason to keep me in the lineup. I’ve got to play better. He (coachJohn Tortorella) is holding me accountable. The only one to blame is myself. Ihave to play better and have more of an impact on the game. Obviously, Irealize I have a lot of upside and potential. I’m happy they realize it too.The team is battling for a playoff spot and I’m not playing as well as I couldbe. They’re going to hold me accountable. It was a quick conversation (withTortorella). It wasn’t anything too big. We’ve got to win and I’ve got to be apart of it. If I’m not contributing, I’m not going to play.”
Hopefully this is one of those times where using the prod works becausesitting can be a great motivational tool, but I don’t want a scenario whereeach game a different guy gets benches just to light a fire under him because itis too late in the year for those kind of mind games.

Playoff Odds Certainly In Rangers Favor

The New York Rangers picked up two huge points in what could be described as a momentum building win.  The performance was one of those wins that could define a season and catapult the team on a hot streak.  Nod if you have heard that before this season.  The Rangers have had a series of those kinds of games this year and instead of building on them they have had a tendency to fall flat on their face the next time out.  They cannot afford for that to happen now.  Instead the momentum from that game has to be transferred into that hot stretch as the number of games dwindles and the number of teams sniffing around the playoffs is rising.  That must begin tonight against the Islanders who have been playing very hard and have not been an easy team to beat lately, so the same effort must be there tonight.
The odds for New York are significantly better this week as Sports Club Stats shows their probability of making the playoffs at 85.1% today as opposed to 77.27% last Monday.  According to the probability break down the key mark for the Rangers is as I have said for some time 90 points.  If they get to 90 points the probability they make the playoffs this year is 94.8%.
Assuming 90 is the magic number here is a look at what each team would have to do in order to reach 90 points.
Current Points
Games Remaining
Record Necessary to Reach 90 pts
New York
New Jersey

The time for scoreboard watching and hoping for help is over as they control their destiny right now and they have to do it on the ice.  Tonight is the start of that as they can either increase their odds of a playoff spot to as high as 91.3% or as low as 72.9% depending on how the action plays out.  The biggest determinant of that is the Rangers own game as a win raises their chances by 4% while a loss drops it by a whopping 8.7%.  Handle your business Rangers because the numbers are on your side if you play each game to your capabilities.

Video: Cal Clutterbuck Fans On Hit, Flips Into Canucks Bench

When you hit players as often as Cal Clutterbuck sometimes you are going to miss.  Clutterbuck who came into the game as the league leader in hits with 298 was looking for another in front of the Vancouver bench on Alex Burrows and he missed in a huge way.  

After missing Clutterbuck ended up flipping into the Vancouver bench and while he was down there Burrows decided that some trash talking was in order.

Rangers In Need of A Blueline Shakeup?

The idea of mixing up players is nothing new for the New York Rangers as with every struggling period of offense coach John Tortorella gives the line lottery wheel another spin to see what combination of players it kicks out.  On the flip side of that, there is little to no consideration of changing things up when it comes to the defensive pairings, at least not when it comes to the top pair of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.  Maybe it is time for that to change.  I have thought about and even suggested this for some time and now I think the time has come to put real consideration into splitting up Staal and Girardi.  I know it is crazy to think about doing this down the home stretch of a playoff chase, but hear me out first and see if it sounds a little less insane by the time I am done.