Thursday, October 27, 2011

Video: Plekanec Wins Faceoff Into Own Net

Tomas Plekanec is one the NHL's elite faceoff men, but tonight against the Boston Bruins he wishes that he had lost at least one more faceoff. During the first period tonight he beat Patrice Bergeron on a defensive zone draw, but the puck went back towards netminder Carey Price who completely whiffed on the moving the puck to the corner and instead had it end up in his own net.

To their credit both Canadiens involved in this blooper responded beautifully as Price did not allow another goal, stopping 29 Bruins shots and Plekanec scored the game winner in the Bruins net.

Rangers Skip Final Two Periods, Drop Home Opener 4-2

The New York Rangers opened their home schedule with a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The New York Rangers came out flying in their first home period of the season, but they seemingly left that team in the new locker rooms for the other two periods on the night.  In the first period the Rangers were doing everything they had been criticized for not doing on the road to start the season.  They attacked the net, shot the puck, and established a forecheck.  Unfortunately the result was only a 1-0 lead when all was the period was over.  Even more unfortunate was that they went back to not doing any of those things for the rest of the night.

The Rangers were dominated in the second period, but only Mike Lombardi scored a soft goal short side on Lundqvist.  Lundqvist was not sharp overall tonight, but he stoned Phil Kessel twice on breakaways and covered for more defensive lapses by Michael Del Zotto.  Lundqvist had some help from Michael Sauer in that department.  Sauer saved a sure goal with just over 6 minutes left in the second period after Michael Del Zotto gave the puck away in the corner and the Leafs had Lundqvist out of the net before Sauer slid across the crease to rob Grabovski.

The Rangers did not appreciate how lucky they were to be tied heading into the final period, and played a similar period.   Joffrey Lupul won a battle in front and chipped one behind Lundqvist just 2:11 into the third period.  Mike Komisarek stole the puck from Artem Anisimov at the blue line sending Clark MacArthur the other way and he beat Lundqvist far post to make it 3-1 Leafs.  Mike Brown beat Lundqvist for a 4-1 lead with just over six minutes left on another one Lundqvist would say he should stop.

Michael Del Zotto scored a meaningless goal with just over four minutes to go to cap the scoring.

New York got on the board 6:23 into the game with Dan Girardi getting the goal, but Marian Gaborik deserving full credit.  Gaborik made a phenomenal drive to the net the forced Gustavsson down and out of position before Girardi ended up with the puck in the faceoff circle.  Gustavsson certainly should have stopped it.

Just before the mid-way point of the period the Rangers appeared to get their second of the game when Michael Del Zotto beat Gustavsson far post with a shot.  The goal was waved off when Ryan Callahan and Mike Komisarek’s battle took them into the goalie.  Komisarek definitely appeared to push Callahan into Gustavsson, but the goal was taken away and no penalty assessed. 

Unfortunately for Callahan it would not be the last time a goal was waved off because of him on the evening.  Just three minutes later an apparent Dubinsky goal was taken away when Callahan crashed into Gustavsson.  Tortorella and the Rangers were going crazy that they had two apparent goals waved off, but the call on the second was absolutely right.  In fact, Callahan was lucky not to be called for interference as appeared was going to be the case initially. 
  • Lundqvist had an off night overall as he would argue at least three of the goals are ones he would say he should stop
  • Brad Richards was awful with his chemistry with any and every other forward out there tonight
  • Gaborik showed the jump again tonight, but with how little they are generating it is going to be like 2009-10 where they need him to convert every night.
  • Dubinsky now has a reputation with penalties to the point where he is getting called for bogus ones.
  • Sauer was excellent in his first game back.
  • Del Zotto's defense might actually be regressing, if that is possible.  Offensively he showed flashes with one good goal and a disallowed one, but his liability on D is ridiculous at this point.

Photo: Avery Fans Make Voices Heard At MSG Opener With Banner/Chants

Sean Avery supporters have certainly voiced their displeasure with the decision of the New York Rangers, specifically coach John Tortorella, to send Avery down to the Connecticut Whale during training camp.  During the home opener at MSG they put that displeasure in the form of a banner reading "16 Avery...Send Torts to the Whale."

The banner was taken down during the first period, but with the Rangers trailing 3-1 during the third period the crowd began "We Want Avery" chants.

Photo via @DaveLozo

Rangers Prospect Christian Thomas Suspended 10 Games For High-Stick

According to Jess Rubenstein over at The Prospect Park, Rangers prospect Christian Thomas has been suspended 10 games for a high sticking incident in Sunday's game against the London Knights. 

Video of the incident

Cannot agree with the punishment here considering in the video showing the punishment the league says that there was no intent and no serious injury to the play struck with the stick.  Suspending Thomas for being irresponsible with his stick is certainly warranted, but the length of the suspension is excessive.

Video: Inside Look At Transformed Madison Square Garden

The renovations that they did to MSG look really stunning in this video.

To Contend Rangers Must Make MSG Home Sweet Home Again

The New York Rangers finally get to hit home ice tonight after playing their first seven games on the road.  The team battled through both poor play and injuries on defense to come home with a successful 3-2-2 record.  Much of the discussion this week is about how nice it is for the Rangers to be with the opportunity to play in a partially renovated Madison Square Garden.  The benefit of starting with so many road games is that you get a six-game home-stand like the one the Rangers begin tonight against Toronto.  However, the question must be asked as to whether the Rangers can actually make MSG an actual home ice advantage this season for that to be helpful to them?
The past two years the Rangers have had their season’s come down to the final day simply because they have not been dominant enough on home ice.  Both season they were well above .500 on the road, and actually recorded more points on the road than at home in both seasons.  Their mediocre home record is one of the biggest things holding this team back.  In 2009-10 the Rangers were just 18-17-6 at home and ended up missing the playoffs by a single point.  Last season the team improved slightly to 20-17-4 at home, but still needed help from Tampa on the final day to make the playoffs by two points.
All the new features of the Garden are nice for the fans and the players to take in off the ice, but none of it matters if the Rangers don’t make it a place the opposition fears coming.  Coach John Tortorella spoke to that yesterday. 
"We love what we see," said Tortorella. "But we need to win here. That's what makes a building good. Winning in it."
If the Rangers have aspirations of winning a division or just moving up in the final standings from the past few years it will start with making their building a tougher place to play.  The Rangers have to get back to the level just after the lockout when they won 25, 21, 25, and 26 games on home ice.  The excuse the past few years has been that the players want it so bad at home that they press and whether that is true or not it has to end this season and tonight is a perfect time to set the tone for the home season.  The Rangers are opening a six game home-stand that can send a message throughout the league that they are back to being a good home team and not one who you can steal points off. 

Combining their play on the road with 25 wins at home makes the Rangers a legitimate threat to get home ice in the playoffs.  If they repeat their .500 or just over home mark they are going to once again be battling for the final spots down the stretch.  Tonight is the beginning of whether the Rangers will once again make MSG home sweet home.