Sunday, October 31, 2010

For Anyone Still Wondering MZA Not Leaving

Sorry for being late to squash this, but being out doing election work did let me do it during the day.  Anyway, dont really know why this was taken as far as it was by some, but MZA is not going back to Sweden.  If he did go he would kiss his NHL career goodbye and I do not see him giving up on it that quick nor do I see the Rangers giving up on him that quickly.  It would be a nightmare for both sides as the Rangers once again would have signed a sought after free agent and failed to develop them into an NHL guy worth money the Rangers paid them.  On MZA's side as I said it would probably ruin his chances in the NHL at least for the foreseeable future as he would be seen as unable or unwilling to adjust to the North American game.  There is a slim possibility in my opinion of him going back after the year if a combination of his struggles and him being used inappropriately continue.  If I was him and I was the best player in the Sweedish Elite League last season and now I am playing on the fourth line under a coach who has done nothing I would be unhappy too.  He can make plenty of money in Europe if he decides North America and the NHL is not what he wants.

Look at Rangers Week Ahead

The New York Rangers have four games on their schedule this week: Monday vs Chi; Thursday at Philly; Friday at New Jersey and Sunday vs St. Louis. 

Coming off a week in which Rangers failed to build on the momentum of a 3 game win streak and instead lost the first two games, but salvaged the week with a win on Saturday and will look to get back to their win streak ways this week against a series of tough opponents even if only some of them are really playing like it right now.  There is no easy game this week and the Rangers will have to bring their A game in all of them in order to compete. 

Rangers Week In Review 10/25-10/31 : Hold On For The Ride All Year

The Rangers entered this week with the club and fans riding high on the back of a 3 game winning streak in which they played very good to excellent hockey for 8 of the 9 periods. These results pushed the season record from 1-2-1 where the fans were writing off the season to 4-2-1 and the fans back on the bandwagon talking playoffs and more. The reality is these Rangers like every incarnation of them for the last couple of years are neither as bad as the early results nor as good as last weeks, they are mediocre to good team, but not a contender for anything worthwhile and at best dash for a late playoff spot. Saturday night showed why they will always be in contention for a late run as they finish a disappointing week with a 2-0 win on the back of Henrik Lundqvist.

The Night in Video: Prust, Boyle, Callahan, Lundqvist

Prust Fight

Boyle Goal

Callahan Penalty Shot

Lundqvist Saves
On Bozak mid 2nd

On Bozak in 3rd

On Grabovski late 3rd

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Henrik Decides No Mischief or Mystery on This Halloween Eve Blanks Leafs 2-0

TORONTO - OCTOBER 30: Kris Versteeg #32 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is stopped in close by  Henrik Lundqvist #30 and Michal Rozsival #33 of the New York Rangers during game action October 30, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
After two straight losses this week the Rangers decided the time for a win was the same place they started their last winning streak, Toronto. This time instead of Martin Biron being the man in the net to lead the charge it was Henrik Lundqvist. The win puts the Rangers at 5-4-1 after their first 10 games with a brutal November schedule on the horizon. After 34 saves in a loss last night, Henrik would outdo himself in making 36 en route to his 25th career shutout.

Tonight's Lineup


As I speculated earlier it was White would would be scratched to get Boogaard back in the lineup and the eventual shift of Stepan to the 4th line to start a game after the past few outings has finally happened. D even with it's awful play the last two remains exactly the same in players and pairs. Henrik in net.

The Development of Dubinsky and Callahan: What Will and Probably Wont Continue

Twelve days ago I sat here and wrote a piece about how the Rangers new top line was proving that for different players development happens at its own pace.  The impetus for my analysis was mainly that they were about to debut as a top line, but more in that they had already shown in the 3 games before the Gaborik injury that they were the best line this season.  Since I have revisited the topic of Artem Anisimov in the context of him proving the search for a number 1 center was over and that the big names were no long necessary through trade or signing.  Because I have discussed AA again this time I want to focus on his two other linemates and how far and away above previously play they are performing.

Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs Pregame

Rangers (4-4-1) at Toronto (5-3-1)
Key Opposing Player: Phil Kessel (7-2-9)
Dubinsky - Anisimov – Callahan
Frolov - Stepan - Prust
Avery - Boyle – Fedotenko
Grachev – White - EC

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi

(The lineup is pure speculation from me and wont be official til 5.  If Boogaard can go I think they put him and I wouldnt be surprised to see White sit since all the get him involved talk manifested itself in 7 minutes last night.  Also wouldnt be stunned to see Biron in Toronto again but since he struggled some the other night and Hank was good in the loss I expect Hank in there.  Wish Sauer was in but done expecting it.  If I can get online once the final lineup is announced last today I will put it up.)

The Game:
The Rangers will take the ice tonight looking to rebound from losing two straight after winning three in a row; in other words they look to rebound from being the Rangers.  This team is allergic to both goo results and consistency in their own play of the past few years.  It is almost a given that a lousy stretch is followed by a good stretch to back the fans off the cliff and make them believe again only to have a new lousy stretch and they let fans assume the natural position on the ledge.   

Offensively the effort was much better and more consistent against Carolina than Atlanta but the defense was 

still awful and if not for Henrik and his goaltending they easily could have given up 7 or 8 with the quality and ease of some of those chances. I will repeat part of yesterday’s preview in the following: “Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line will have to lead this team again and they will need to get contributions from others along with continued strong play from Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedetenko.  The defense will have to play much better than on Wednesday both in their coverage and their physicality in their own zone.”  The question I now have is how long can that top line keep it up because Dubinsky and Cally have never been anywhere near point per game players and you have Dubinsky with 5G-4A-9pts in 9 games while Cally has 3G-7A-10pts on in 9 games.  I would like to, but cannot make myself believe that suddenly they have become that good.  Dubi is on pace for 45 goals while his career high is 20 and Cally is on pace for 63 assists while he had 43 total in basically his 3 years of NHL game experience prior to the year.  Someone other than these guys is going to have to carry it for a little while.   

On Defense I will come out and say that if Staal and MDZ don’t start playing better in their own end they both deserve to get benched for a game.

Toronto comes in 5-3-1 after their torrid 4-0 start and these two teams have already met twice so there wont be too many secrets in store. The key for the Rangers against Toronto will be shutting down Phil Kessel which they failed to do in the first meeting and did successfully in the second.

Prediction Toronto 4-2

Rangers Week In Review 10/25-10/31 : Hold On For The Ride

The Rangers entered this week with the club and fans riding high on the back of a 3 game winning streak in which they played very good to excellent hockey for 8 of the 9 periods.  These results pushed the season record from 1-2-1 where the fans were writing off the season to 4-2-1 and the fans back on the bandwagon talking playoffs and more.  The reality is these Rangers like every incarnation of them for the last couple of years are neither as bad as the early results nor as good as last weeks, they are mediocre to good team, but not a contender for anything worthwhile and at best dash for a late playoff spot.  Saturday night showed why they will always be in contention for a late run as they finish a disappointing week with a 2-0 win on the back of Henrik Lundqvist.

Colton Orr Skates Pink

There are a lot of reasons that Colton Orr is a missed commodity in the Rangers organization in the way he protected teammates, fought anyone at any time and just brought energy with his enforcer role. The other reason is he was a top quality person as he will show off tonight when the Rangers go to Toronto to face the Leafs and Orr laces up his new pink skates for "Hockey Fights Cancer." The skates are being warn in tribute to people he lost, in order to raise awareness and money to fight cancer as they will be auctioned off after the game and the proceeds going to Cancer research. Not many enforcers could get away with lacing up some pink skates, but if one can I have no doubt it will be Colton Orr.

Video of Orr talking about the skates along with seeing them:

Something Sather Should Spend Money On

As many of you know one of my favorite things to do in terms of the Rangers is keep an eye on the prospects and how they develop, discuss them and ask those who are more knowledgeable than me questions about them.  Part of it is the idea that with each new prospect there is a level of untapped potential but also a piece that has not been tainted yet by the inconsistencies and short comings of the organization we once hope for him to play in and that when they get it here things can be different.  At various times we talk about the prospects and there are those who get the hype (Grachev, MDZ, Stepan, Kreider), those who just go out and do their job without the publicity and fanfare (Werek, Hagelin, Bourque) and those that many fans don’t know much about though people who follow me have seen.  There is one that is not even Rangers property that each time I listen to a game the Chilliwack Bruins play I cannot help but get more excited for what he can become and could be for us and at the same time more terrified that he ends up somewhere else terrorizing us for his whole career.  That prospect is Brandon Manning whom the Rangers had in camp this year but could not get signed because Manning knew and had enough belief in his own game that if he went back to Chilliwack and played to his capabilities the money would be there for him.

In previewing the WHL season Open Ice Hockey wrote of Manning, “20-year-old Brandon Manning will be the lynchpin of the defense corps should he return to the Bruins this season.  The 20-year-old Prince George, B.C., product put up 13 goals and 54 points in 69 games last year, and also led the team with a solid +20 rating.”  Those numbers alone are very impressive but add to them the fact that he is the Captain of the club and he had 138 penalty minutes and they only get more impressive.

The Rangers possess a myriad of defensive prospects who all have their own specialties, but there is not one prospect in this system that has the total package Brandon Manning possesses.  Tonight Manning in a 7-2 drubbing of Calgary went out and had a goal, 3 assists, a plus 2, 7 penalty minutes including a fighting major for the Gordie Howe hat trick as a defenseman.  Now 10 games into his season Brandon Manning has put up 5 goals 12 assists for 17 points all while being a +9 and having 28 pims.  As great a start as Horak, Werek, Thomas have been off to offensively I would argue right now not only is Manning have the best year of any defensive prospect but any prospect period and would rank above all other defensive prospects in the system at the moment.  There is not another that can score, defend, hit, fight and be a Captain all at the same time. 

I do not ask Glen Sather for much in terms of things I actually want him to go out and spend money on but this player is one I will.  Manning will undoubtedly win his bet on himself and make more than he would have signing in camp, but that number is only increasing daily so time to pony up before someone else does.

Tortorella Post Game Press Conference

Talks about the effort, the defense, officiating. In general I am over the whole Torts and the media thing, but this seemed more genuine than a lot of the show he puts on for them most times.

Do Yourself a Favor Listen To The Kids Play Too

I would suggest to any Ranger fan who wants to know more about the future of this organization dont just read the box-scores but listen to or watch some of the games these kids play, you will not be sorry.

Here are some links to the broadcasts of some of the Ranger prospects:

Ethan Werek: Kingston Frontenacs
Scott Stacjer: Owen Sound
Dylan McIlrath: Moose Jaw Warriors
Roman Horak, Brandon Manning: Chilliwack Bruins
Carl Hagelin: Michigan Wolverines
Chris Kreider: Boston College

I love listening to the Chilliwack games especially because the announcers do a very good job of describing the play and their reactions when things happen are great, not to mention you get to hear them describe the play of one for sure and hopefully two parts of the Rangers future.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Grachev Going To Toronto

Andrew Gross is reporting that Grachev will make the trip with the club to Toronto for tomorrow's game which obviously means he wont be sent to Hartford before the game, but doesnt make him a lock to play.  If Boogaard is still out with the finger then Grachev will play but tomorrow is a game where Boogaard could be more useful even if just with Colton Orr.  I would expect Grachev to get another shot because of the energy he played with in his limited minutes.

Rangers vs Hurricanes Recap: Effort Improves But Again 3rd Period Failure To Kill Penalty Dooms

The Rangers took the ice tonight looking to avenge not only a loss versus Atlanta but an overall poor showing in terms of effort both offensively and defensively.  The effort if not the results were there early on tonight as there was pressure and chances to score along with illegal goals.  In the end though they got no results and the scoring would not start until during a Steve Eminger penalty Ruutu was left alone at the post for the opening goal which nullified a great save by Henrik on Babchuk during the course of the man advantage.  The early domination shown by the Rangers dissipated as a 9-2 shot advantage early in the first turned into a 12-11 deficit for the Rangers by intermission.

The second period started and less than a minute in Jeff Skinner scored to make it 2-0.  Funny how leading up to the draft so many Ranger fans didn’t want Skinner because he was going to be too slow to play at this level, but there are reasons snipers are snipers and he showed that tonight.  The Rangers lead by Ryan Callahan responded as Cally drew an elbowing penalty and 52 seconds into the man advantage it was Callahan who cashed in with another mid air goal.  Maybe that is the secret for the Rangers to hit the net, instead of it being on the ice make them play baseball with it and swat puck from the air.  The Ranger surge continued later in the period when Ruutu slashed Todd White in frustration leading to another power play.  Suddenly a Ranger power play that was 1-20 at home before the Cally goal would score a second as Eric Christensen gave a beautiful feed to Marc Staal at the left circle for what would be the game tying goal. 

A Rozi giveaway at the blue line would lead to Ruutu finding Skinner and Skinner and putting a backhander past Lundqvist to give the Hurricanes the lead back but once again the Rangers would respond 2:24 as it was Callahan and Dubinsky hooking up for a beautiful goal in which Dubi roofed a wrist shot just under the bar to make it 3-3.  The Rangers dominated the play in outshooting the Hurricanes 18-8 in the period but with all that they only outscored them 3-2 and went into the 3rd tied. 

Once again the 3rd period would decide the fate of a Ranger home game and once again the Rangers would come up short.  The powerplay that would lead to the eventual winner for the Canes by Erik Cole was a bad call as Skinner did a great job of embellishing any contact and adding to it himself by holding onto Boyle’s stick and taking himself down.  To say that is what cost the Rangers the game though in my opinion is a cop out for the club because good teams overcome it and kill the BS penalty off and at home right now this team cant find a way to get the big kill.  It cost them in the 3rd vs Colorado, in the 3rd eventually vs Atlanta, in the 3rd tonight and also on the road at the Isles.  Every loss so far this year has seen the Rangers fail to kill off penalties in the 3rd period and frankly they are not good enough when they don’t.

The story of the game was clearly the goalies as Ward and Henrik both stood on their heads at times, but Ward bested him with his 40 stops and as I said before the game and in the week preview he is the key to that team.  People didn’t give enough attention to what his loss early last year meant to that team and in my opinion was the single most important reason they didn’t make the playoffs.  That the Rangers shot the puck that much and created as many chances as they did is a good sign and you have to hope that offensively they wont face such a hot goalie while keeping up similar effort in future contests.  On the defensive side the way they hung Hank out to dry was pitiful in many different cases as he was constantly having to make repeat saves without getting any help from his teammates either in terms of taking the body or just clearing the puck out of danger areas if not the zone.

  • The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line was phenomenal again tonight and if it keeps up the Rangers cap may be eaten alive by Dubi and Cally’s new deals as both are playing way above prior years.
  • Grachev showed aggression and physicality in his limited time, racking up 4 hits in 9 shifts and 6:55 TOI.
  • MDZ’s defensive deficiencies cannot be continually overlooked or excused as he was awful in his own end.
  • Staal played a 2nd straight poor defensive game

Rangers vs Carolina Hurricanes Pregame

Rangers (4-3-1) vs Carolina (4-4)
Key Opposing Player: Eric Staal (3-3-6)
There is no official word on lineup or lines, but based on practice and media quotes I am going to project a lineup looking like the following:
Dubinsky - Anisimov – Callahan
Avery - Boyle – Fedotenko
Frolov - White – Prust
Grachev – Stepan - EC

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi

(If we do see that lineup hopefully we will role 4 lines a little more at ES)
The Rangers will take the ice tonight looking to not only get back on the winning track, but also look to get back to playing the fundamental hockey they were playing before the clunker they threw up there against Atlanta on Wednesday night.  The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line will have to lead this team again and they will need to get contributions from others along with continued strong play from Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedetenko.  The defense will have to play much better than on Wednesday both in their coverage and their physicality in their own zone.  Way too many turnovers, lazy sticks and untouched offensive players against Atlanta and that certainly wont work against a team in Carolina that in my opinion has even more skill.  As Tortorella said following Wednesday’s game they are not skilled enough to play as they did and win games.  This team must be blue collar to get points.

Carolina comes in at 4-4 which might not seem great but considering the awful draw they have had with the schedule I would consider that a pretty good start. We all know about Eric Staal, but this team has more in Jussi Jokinen, Jeff Skinner, Joni Pitkanen, Anton Babchuk to go with Cam Ward in net.

Prediction I expect the Rangers to come out hard due to the embarrassment of the other night and get the win in a close one 3-2.

Grachev In Lineup Tonight: NHL Debut

According to both Jesse Spector and Steve Zipay, the two I saw as of this posting, Evgeny Grachev has been told he will be in the lineup tonight and make his NHL debut.  Personally I dont think he is ready for this level, but I guess we will find out to some extent tonight. 

There was no additional word as to lines or who it would be that would sit for him to be in.  The intriguing question is if Boogaard does goes would Christensen and his seat in the Tortorella doghouse land him as a healthy scratch this evening.  I still believe that they will sit Boogaard for this one since he serves no purpose against Carolina and left him heal up for Toronto tomorrow and teams like Philly next week.

Tortorella Eminger and The Song and Dance

Maybe my distaste for Steve Eminger is irrational or something I am not sure, you can certainly tell me, but I still don’t understand why he plays.  My bigger problem than him playing is the phony song and dance routine that Tortorella goes through before and after each game to justify the simple fact that he wants to play Eminger.  Obviously I do not have to agree with it or like it, but I wish Torts would just come out and say, “This is the guy I want to play,” and stop reaching for justifications.  Personally I believe that not only has Sauer played better in his four games than Eminger, but also Gilroy.  That said Tortorella is the coach and with that title he gets to make those calls regardless if they are based in fact or not, so just stop insulting the rest of us talking about rotations and sides and admit what you want to do and be done with it.  Rant over.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Goes On In Hartford/Connecticut? Do Our Prospects Advance There?

Normally at the pro levels I am first looking to the player themselves if there is a problem with their play because coaches in many instances can only do so much and it is the players job to execute whatever game plan and role set out by the coach.  That is true for me until I see a pattern develop in which many people on the same team are having similar problems and then you either wonder if the coach lost the room or if he just is not good enough to help his players get over the hump.  In my take on the Grachev move I made reference to Hartford becoming a place where prospects seem to go to stall in their development.  Frankly I think Gernander and his staff do a lousy job in developing our prospects and I think that is evidenced in the lack of advancement players under his coaching making in their games.  Very few of the guys we send there can come up and be regular contributors at the higher levels.  To me this has been true since he took over as coach in 07 and the only prospect that has really come through the Hartford system under Gernander and made it full time for the Rangers is Anisimov and Sauer is showing he is ready for a 3rd pair role.  This trend of development failures has only gotten worse in my opinion since Jim Schoenfeld left his role in Hartford altogether once Renney was fired.

My take On Grachev Development and Recall

Fourteen months ago when the Rangers were set to begin camp the hottest name among Ranger prospects for many fans was Evgeny Grachev.  The then 19 year old winger was coming off a season with the Brampton Battalion of the OHL in which he scored 40 goals and had 40 assists in 60 games.  On that team and many games on the same line he had the luxury of playing with other top prospects Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche and Cody Hodgson of the Vancouver Canucks.  The talk was how he was the next great hope for a scorer for the Rangers, how he could come in the NHL right then and score 20, even 30 goals as a rookie.  Personally I never believed that to be the case if he had come in last year.  

Artem Anisimov, Michal Rozsival Updates: Potential Lines vs Carolina

As news keeps rolling in we hear that the MRI on Anisimov's Ankle turned out fine and that both he and Rozsival are expected to play tomorrow against Carolina.  Both of these developments are welcomed news to the Rangers as they get their number 1 center and top pair d-man back.  This combined with the Grachev callup does make for some interesting possibilities in the lineup tomorrow.  I could see where they let Stepan get some time playing down on the 4th line with Grachev if they really want to move White up in the lineup based on his 3rd period yesterday.

Possible Lines:

Reading the quotes from Torts on Eminger and "liking his physicality" it seems as if he will be in there with Gilroy again as Sauer gets scratched for the 3rd straight.

Grachev Called Up

Things in Ranger land just took a very interesting turn as Evgeny Grachev the prize prospect to many fans coming into last season and guy many have turned on coming into this year is being called up.  Reports are Boogaard has an infected hand and is questionable for tomorrow not that we will really notice his absence. Apparently the Boogaard infection came from a cut he got fighting Shawn Thornton over the weekend on his knuckle that didnt heal properly.

So far on the year Grachev has 1G, 1A in 9 games for Hartford.  The talent is there for Grachev, still only 20, it has been the other stuff that has been the question mark for him to this point, mainly the work ethic and then the confidence after the struggles.  Also interesting to see him called up over a RW when EG has predominantly played the left side and all our left wing guys are healthy unless they plan on playing him on the 4th line.

New York Rangers Practice Notes 10/28

With the uncertainty about Artem Anisimov after last night’s injury and today’s MRI the Rangers took to the practice ice with the fans having little idea of how they would adjust in case their best center this season was actually out for tomorrow’s game or heaven forbid longer.  There were also questions as to how serious the injury to Michal Rozsival was and while it was said to be minor, he did not practice either today.  In practice the forward lines looked like this:
Boogaard-EC as extras

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anisimov, Rozsival Injury Updates

It is being reported by everyone that the injury to Artem Anisimov was to his right ankle and he sustained it during the second period blocking a shot.  Artem tried playing through the pain for the rest of the period but it became worse and worse so they took him out for the rest of the game.  He is said to be getting an MRI on the ankle tomorrow, but was limping after the game.  Will see what the update is tomorrow and in the coming days, but as of now I wouldnt bank on him being there Friday vs Carolina.

On Rozsival who missed the last minutes of the 3rd the injury was to his knee and called a hyper-extension but not considered to be too serious and Tortorella seemed to suggest he should be in there Friday.  Will look out for anything new on this tomorrow as well.

Rangers vs Thrashers Recap: Rangers Come Up Inches Short While Playing Miles Away

The Rangers took the ice tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers looking to extend their 3 game winning streak.  Earlier in the evening it was reported that for the first time since October 19, 2009 Henrik Lundqvist would not make a home start for the Rangers and instead it would be Martin Biron.  For 20 minutes of the game they played like they wanted to actually win a fourth in a row, but for the other 40 they were playing somewhere other than the Garden.
Details of Game, Thoughts Inside.

Biron Starting vs Atlanta; D Update

In a somewhat surprise move the Rangers are going with Martin Biron tonight vs the Thrashers and not Henrik Lundqvist.  Biron played very well last week against Toronto and the Rangers will look for a similar type performance tonight.  The Rangers have said all off-season they brought Biron in to give Henrik more rest during the year so he can be fresher down the stretch and this would be an example of that.  Only issue I have is they keep doing it in games sandwiched around days off instead of in back-to-back situations so far.

In other news Eminger and Gilroy will be the 3rd pair tonight and Sauer is out again.  If this is anything other than an injury it is a mistake.  For some reason beyond me it seems Torts wants to find ways to get Eminger in the lineup and even if that is the case Sauer has outplayed both Gilroy and Eminger.

Dylan "Truck" McIlrath Fight Destruction Video Oct 13, 2010

In case anyone needed something to get excited for the game tonight or just wanted something to pass 1:24 seconds of the time, lol.

Dylan McIlrath vs John Neibrandt Oct 13, 2010:

Dylan absolutely destroys this guy. Most impressive part was the effectiveness of the left jab.

Non-Ranger Injury News: Colby Armstrong out 4-6 Weeks

Yes, as the title indicates this is non Ranger news and I only mention it at all because of all the fan calls for Armstrong to be dealt with to get some sort of retaliation for Armstrong knocking Gaborik out of the lineup. Reports this morning are indicating that Armstrong, who left last night's game vs Florida in the first period, has injured his hand and will require surgery forcing him to miss the next 4-6 weeks.  Obviously this would mean he will not be in the lineup this Saturday when the Rangers play the Leafs for the 3rd time on the short season.  Some might say it is a form of karma from the Hockey G-d's if you believe in that sort of thing.  Personally as I said before we played Toronto last week, get revenge where it counts on the scoreboard/in the standings first and if you get a chance to send a message without hurting the club go for it.  I have never will never call for someone to try and injure someone because I don't believe that should be part of the game, but injuries themselves are and this one will hurt Toronto.

In the meantime if you missed the update on Gaborik yesterday he is working out without a sling, hoping to skate by early next week.

New York Rangers vs Atlanta Thrashers Pregame

Rangers (4-2-1) vs Atlanta (3-4-1)
Key Opposing Player: Andrew Ladd (2-6-8)
Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Avery - Stepan – Fedotenko
Frolov - Christensen - Prust
Boogaard - White - Boyle

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Gilroy/Sauer/Eminger (2 of 3)

(No announcement yet on the 3rd pair, would assume Sauer plays if over soreness)

Ethan Werek Radio Interview 10/14/2010

Just found this radio interview from New York Rangers prospect Ethan Werek from about two weeks ago (10/14).  Ethan is always great to listen to because of his intelligence, poise and drive being obvious in his answers. Ranger fans should be very proud not just of the quality of hockey players that the organization is drafting but also the quality of people they are.  When you draft winning type players, leaders the organization and the team will be all the better for it.

Give it a listen. Excellent questions and answers from Offsides on CFRC 101.9

Interview inside

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Looking At The Prospects After Month One

Now that we have just crossed the month mark at least in the CHL leagues figured we could take a look at a variety of Ranger prospects in terms of their production to this point in the season.  Disclaimers up front include that points do not reveal all there is about level of play a prospect or any hockey player for that matter is playing at.  Also, the variance in the leagues in terms of quality of competition can alter what statistically would qualify as quality production. 

With those out of the way I am going to break down the prospect into a few categories as there are prospects who are just on fire to start the year, those who are simmer with solid play and production, some who are smoldering and others that are building the fire as they adjust to new leagues.  For the purposes of this I will leave Stepan’s start out because of being in the NHL.

New York Rangers Week Ahead: Any Danger Ahead?

The New York Rangers have three games on their schedule this week: Wednesday vs Atl; Friday vs Carolina and Saturday at Toronto.  Coming off a week in which they went 3-1 and have won 3 in a row the team and fans are brimming with confidence.  The question becomes how real the threat each of these opponents bring to the Rangers is.  The answer for me is very real and the Ranger players better not become satisfied or complacent based on their recent success.

Rangers Practice News 10/26/2010. Lines + Injury Updates (Gaborik, Sauer)

Not a whole lot of news out of Rangers practice itself today as the lines went back to how they were before the Williams call-up. There was some on the injury front regarding Marian Gaborik.  First the lines:


Injury update:
Marian Gaborik was said to be riding the bike without a sling today which is a good sign that the shoulder is feeling a little better and progressing towards a return.  That he is not skating yet means we are still probably at least a week or two away from a return.  With the way the team is playing right now there is no reason to rush him back too soon, so let him heal fully and go from there.

Update: Steve Zipay says that Gaborik intends to try and skate early next week which would be about on my timeline if not a little delayed:
stevezipay Gaborik has no timetable bu hopes to try first skate early next week
According to Jesse Spector Mike Sauer skated fully in practice:
NYDNRangers  Practiced fully, looked fine. I didn't talk to him, though. RT @mleetch352: any news on sauer and his soreness for tomorrow's game?

Hopefully he will be available for tomorrow’s game against Atlanta as I and many other Ranger fan feel more comfortable on defense when he is out there than either Eminger or Gilroy.

Brandon Prust still wearing the visor after the facial injury from the stick of Bruin Gregory Campbell.  Apparently Campbell called Prust to apologize for the incident.  Wonder if Dubinsky is calling Boychuk to apologize for the slash that broke his forearm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Prospect of the Weekend 10/22-10-24

I decided when I started this that I wouldn’t write too much on the prospects because I feel there are those out there more qualified to do so, but I would find ways to chime my opinions in through various forms and so now I have decided while I wont do daily prospect recaps I am going to do a weekly prospect of the weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

Keep reading to find out who this weekend’s winner was.

Spezza Speculation And Ridiculous Trade Suggestions

The other issue that is making me laugh, cry and scream all at the same time right now in regards to the fans are the ridiculous trade proposals that make wouldn’t even get through in a video game let alone the NHL.  Putting aside that we don’t even need Jason Spezza right now, the idea that Ottawa would trade their 27 year old star for some of the combinations I have seen is beyond absurd.  Just about every proposal I have seen involves a mish mash of all the guys Ranger fans want gone or not to play already.  

Rangers Week In Review 10/18-10/24 : An Ominous Start, But a Promising End

Each week depending on how the schedule looks in terms of Sunday and Monday games I will take a look at the week in review as well as the week ahead.  I am going to look at them as two separate topics because while how the team played the previous week may inform how they will play the upcoming slate of games it does not tell much about the opponents we will be facing.

Record starting week 1-1-1
Record ending week 4-2-1

This past week the Blueshirts went 3-1 and turned what seemed to be a down and somber fan base based on the start of the season and the just collected injury news on Gaborik, Drury and Prospal at its start and ended the week with hope of very good things. 

Jeremy Williams Sent Back to Hartford

After a one day/one game callup Jeremy Williams was sent back to the AHL to rejoin his teammates.  Cannot say this is a surprise and Williams did not do much last night, though in his defense he was given almost zero chance to do so playing on the 4th line Boogaard and Boyle and only playing 3:43 in the game.  He will go back to the Pack/Whale and be a key contributor for them again with the hopes of getting another shot at being this years de-facto P.A. Parenteau.

This likely means a return to the lineup for Todd White after his most recent 1 game absence

Memo To Ranger Fans: Judge The Play Not The Name and Number

As a Ranger fan myself I take great pride in the passion and pride Ranger fans take in supporting their team even in years where it seems they care more than the guys getting paid to put on the jersey’s and lace up the skates.  That said there are few things going on with Ranger fans of late that are really irking me and so since I have a blog I guess I should use it to voice those opinions.  I was going to do a couple of them today, but instead I am going to stick with one here and maybe do the other later.  The topic now is about carrying over past opinions and blindly applying them to players today/ just seeing what you want to see out there.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quick Update on Mike Sauer

For those confused by the late switch from Sauer to Eminger, as I was, there is an update on the reason for what seemed like an otherwise baffling decision.  According to Andrew Gross:
AGrossRecord #NYRangers D Mike Sauer apparently scratched due to undisclosed soreness. 
Obviously I will keep an eye out for any updates on this tomorrow and in the coming days if further details emerge.  Hopefully this is nothing serious as Sauer has had a history of injuries costing him time.  This does make me feel a little better if this was because of an injury concern rather than just a coaching decision which would have had no basis in the comparative play.

Henrik Burns Devils For Rangers 3rd Straight Win

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 24: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers protects the net in the second period against the New Jersey Devils on October 24, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
Coming into the game everyone expected a goaltending battle because that is the history of this matchup over the past few seasons, and true to form both goalies played very well, with Henrik Lundqvist once again getting the best of Martin Brodeur.  Henrik ended up with 27 saves on the night as the Rangers won their 3rd straight, but for the most part Henrik was untested until the 3rd where he made 11 saves on 12 shots.  The biggest save of the night had to be on Jacob Josefson with 1:59 remaining, as he stoned him twice after a bad turnover by Michal Rozsival in the neutral zone.

Final Lines vs NJ

Based on reports of Rangers beat writing crew observations of pregame skate, lines will be as follows:


Lineup Updates: Prust, Williams In; White Out vs Devils. Kovalchuk news, Goaltending matchup

Steve Zipay is reporting that Brandon Prust despite his injury last night will play tonight and today's call-up, Jeremy Williams, will also get in the lineup, taking the spot of Todd White.  It will be interesting to see the combinations that this causes on the 3rd and fourth line.  Here is what I will project:


I could easily see keeping Prust with Frolov and EC as he was the last couple of games, but Williams is not a gritty/4th line type, but more of a scoring threat so tough to see him with Boogaard and Boyle.  This move should also put Ranger fans at ease that at some point Todd White will be gone from this club.

Other News: Ilya Kovalchuk is said to be in tonight's lineup for the Devils.
In net it will be Henrik vs Marrrrty
John Amirante has recovered from his illness and will perform tonight's anthem.

New York Rangers vs New Jersey Devils Pregame: Beware of Wounded Animals

New Jersey (2-5-1) @ Rangers (3-2-1)

Key Opposing Player: ZIP line (Zajac, Ilya, Parise)

Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Avery - Stepan – Fedotenko
Frolov - Christensen - Prust
Boogaard - White - Boyle

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Gilroy - Sauer

(No definitive word on Prust being a go or Hank in net as of now)

Jeremy Williams Called Up

With this injury to Brandon Prust last night on the high stick over his eye the Rangers have called up Jeremy Williams as an insurance policy.  Prust has not been ruled out of the game so this only in event Prust cannot go.  I wouldnt get overly excited about Williams an NHL player, but he has shown very good results in the AHL, both this year and his past.  The 26 year old has 4G 2A in 8 game this year and is coming off a 32G 63 point season from Grand Rapids in the AHL.  If he does get in the lineup the 5'11" RW will probably slot in with Christensen and Frolov allowing Tortorella to leave his other three lines in tact tonight vs NJ.

The Search For The Elusive Top Flight Centers Is Over

For the better part of the last decade the Rangers as an organization and all Ranger fans have been desperately seeking a number 1 center to lead this team back to a real semblance of being a contender.  It was in this quest that the Rangers have overspent on guys like Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez, even captian Chris Drury.  The Rangers in the middle part of this last decade of questing got excellent play from Michael Nylander on a top line with Jaromir Jagr.  Even in those years we had only one high quality center on the roster.  The Rangers over the early parts of this period were obsessed with the big names and many times they would get very good production, but usually it was from the wingers instead of having a foundation built down the middle.

I am of the belief that championships are won by teams that can control the pivot as much as any other position in the game.  Great wingers are phenomenal scorers and a joy for fans to watch but the center has a bigger impact on the outcome of games.  Show me a team that doesn’t have a top line center and I will show you a team that is incapable of competing to win it all.  This question mark has hung over the Rangers like a dark cloud for a long time and still hovered as the team entered camp this year.  I am here to tell you that what I saw coming in the future has arrived a little earlier than expected and the sun is beginning to peak through the black hole that was the Rangers pivot position.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New York Rangers @ Boston Bruins Recap: Everyone Plays Their Role In 3-2 Win

BOSTON - OCTOBER 23: Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers scores a breakaway goal at 48 seconds of the second period against Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on October 23, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
I asked before the game if the Rangers were ever going to find the consistency they keep talking about and while there were more breakdowns tonight than on Thursday in Toronto this was another step in the right direction as the effort was still there.  The Rangers took advantage of some luck/chances early in the game and it would eventually be enough to get the W, bringing them to 3-2-1 on the year.  This was a big win because the Bruins came in hot, having won four straight as well.

New York Rangers @ Boston Bruins: Consistency?

Rangers (2-2-1) @ Boston (4-1)

Key Opposing Player: Nathan Horton

Dubinsky - Anisimov - Callahan
Avery - Stepan – Fedotenko
Frolov - Christensen - Prust
Boogaard - White - Boyle

Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi
Gilroy - Sauer


Lundqvist vs Rask Tonight

As expected the NYRangers lineup will stay the same tonight in front of the net and in a traditional move Tortorella goes back to Lundqvist tonight.  Seems as if both coaches are playing on the history of numbers against the opponent in this one as Tim Thomas despite his great start to the year will give way to Tukka Rask who is 2-1 1.34GAA .957 SV% and 1 SO in 3 starts against the Rangers.  While Rask's numbers are very impressive versus the Rangers they dont stack up quite as impressively as Henrik's 13-4-0-2 1.39 GAA .951SV% in 19 starts, if only the number of starts Henrik has done it against Boston.

As I said yesterday I would have given Biron another go today to see how he and the team responded, but can never get too upset when the coach puts Lundqvist between the pipes.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Who Should Start Tomorrow @ Boston

After last night’s performance in Toronto I would expect that the Rangers roll out the same lineup in front of the net against Boston.  Part of that will depend on the health of Eric Christensen’s groin, but even if Christensen cannot go the more likely move is just to move either Todd White or Brian Boyle up a line and go with 11 forwards.  The bigger question right now is which of the two goalies will be between the pipes when the puck is dropped in Beantown.  No, I am not suggesting that there should be some sort of goalie competition or that Biron has played better so he is the number 1 or any non-sense of the like.  What I am saying is that he might be the better option for tomorrow night in Boston for a few reasons.

The first of those reasons is giving a guy with a hot hand another go is usually a good thing because it can help to build his confidence and keep Biron more focused in the games where he will just sit and watch.  I also look at it as an easy way to reward a guy for doing things the right one, keeping himself prepared to play and taking advantage of his opportunities which is a lesson that can help any other player on the team.  The other main reason I see is that I have noticed over the last few years that this team tends to focus a lot more defensively when a goalie other than Henrik is in the net.   I mean no disrespect to Martin Biron or the performance he put on last night because he was superb, but we have not seen that kind of team effort in game up to that point this year.  I do not know if the effort last night was about playing better in front of the backup goalie or if it was just the total team desperation, but what I would say is giving it another game to sink in and become more ritualized can be a good thing as opposed to them “letting up” because they have Lundqvist back there to be the proverbial bail out. 

The combination of how well Biron played with allowing another game to engrain better habits lead me to argue for Biron getting the start tomorrow and going back to Henrik on Sunday against the Devils.  Besides more rest for Henrik now can only be a good thing for him later in the year when he wont have as much wear and tear on his body as in previous seasons.  Tortorella complained last year he needed a backup goalie he could be confident in going to more, even twice in a row and so now is his chance to show it wasnt just him blowing smoke and see what Biron can do.

Hit me with your thoughts.

Rangers Get Back to Basics Thus Bringing Back Winning.

The other day I wrote that the Rangers in general, and especially in this stretch without Gaborik, Prospal and Drury to add offense, need to get back to playing basic fundamental hockey.  To me basic fundamental hockey includes sound defensive zone coverage, 5 man team hockey in both zones, blocking shots, killing penalties, not taking bad penalties, consistent hard effort, fore-checking the offensive zone, opportunism in transition/counter and a goalie coming up with a few critical saves each game.  Based on that definition I have to give the Rangers outing last night in Toronto an A. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs Recap: Biron Plays Like a Number One

New York Rangers goaltender Martin Biron makes a save on the Toronto Maple Leafs during second-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

The Rangers came into tonight at 1-2-1 and many calling it a must win in October.  I don’t buy that part of it, but the Rangers came out with that kind of intensity and when they faltered, Martin Biron bailed them out.  The point of bringing in Biron was to have a backup for Henrik Lundqvist who you could trust to start any game and let Henrik rest more.  If this is any indication of Biron is going to play this year, then the Rangers can take it a lot easier on Hank as the year moves along. 

New York Rangers @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Points over Payback

NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is knocked off balance by Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 7, 2010 in New York City.

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Rangers @ Toronto (4-0-1)

Key Opposing Player: Phil Kessel

Previous Matchup: Toronto 4, NYR 3 OT (MSG) 10-15-2010

Projected Lineup:
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery -Derek Stepan-Ruslan Fedotenko
Alex Frolov - Erik Christensen - Brian Boyle
Derek Boogaard- Todd White -Brandon Prust

Marc Staal-Michal Rozsival
Michael Del Zotto-Dan Girardi
Matt Gilroy-Michael Sauer

Martin Biron

Pregame Thoughts inside.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marc Staal Gets an 'A'

In the absence of both Captain Chris Drury and Assistant Captain Vinny Prospal the New York Rangers have been down to just Ryan Callahan wearing a letter on his sweater.  That changed today as the team voted unanimously to give an A to Marc Staal during the absence of their two other captains.  I like the move as Staal already has the responsibilities of leading the defense, now he gets the letter to prove it and if anything it might make him more vocal, but I don’t want him to change who he is just for the letter.
"I think it's the right thing to do...he's a big part of our core...hopefully thrives in that position"
Join me after the break for more thoughts on what this means to the Rangers and the future.

Another Day, Another Line Combination - Will It Unlock Goals?

According to the Rangers twitter feed we have a new set of line contestants in attempting to find the right price for offense with Gaborik, Prospal and Drury on the shelf.
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Sean Avery-Derek Stepan-Ruslan Fedotenko
Alex Frolov-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust
Derek Boogaard-Todd White-Brian Boyle

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New York Rangers Need to Get Back to Basics

I touched on this last night in reviewing the game, but I feel the need to touch on it and maybe even expand on the idea today.  It is easy to focus on the offense and whatever struggles it is likely to have with Gaborik, Prospal and Drury on the shelf because it is a storyline everyone relates to and understands from prior seasons.  I would rather skip that discussion, assume it to be a fact on most nights we are going to only get 1, 2 maybe 3 goals and move on to how we survive this stretch and it does include going back to principles this team used to employ under the so called boring hockey of Tom Renney.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rangers Continue to Forget How to Kill Penalties: Stewart Makes them Pay

For the second time in three games the Rangers would take what was a game they very much had a chance to win and turn it into a loss by being outplayed in a 3rd period.  Against certain teams and certain players you can get away with leaving a man wide open in front but a player the caliber of Chris Stewart is not going to miss those chances and he didn’t netting his 2nd PPG of the game, 5th of the season.  I said early in the game that I love Chris Stewart’s game and New York along with a national audience that didn’t know about him before got a lesson in the skill he has.  His first goal was a play where he outmuscled Marc Staal getting to the front of the net and converted with a beautiful deflection on the John Michael Liles shot.  The third goal was purely academic as it never felt like the Rangers were going to get a 2nd tonight.

New York Rangers New First Line: Development Happens At It’s Own Pace

Time is one of those concepts that can be very simple in terms of the clinical amount of minutes, days, months, years something takes but also abstract in that for each person the time required in development differs.  The Rangers have been on a transition to younger players they are developing from their system and a move away from the bigger ticket items.  The key to sustainability of that kind of transition is that the players you are developing from your system must develop and show enough to produce the belief of the management the course is worth staying on.

A perfect example of the differing forms of development will be on display tonight when the Rangers and Avalanche play tonight in the Garden.  The top line for New York will consist of three homegrown players in Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Ryan Callahan, who all have had a somewhat different path in developing to where they are right now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NY Rangers Practice News 10-17-2010: Lines, D-Pairs, Call-ups

According to Andrew Gross and Jesse Spector the lines at Rangers practice today were as follows:





My take on the lines, the projected D-pairs and other thoughts inside.

My Top 18 New York Rangers Prospects: Who, Where, Why, Maybe Even When, How They Hit Broadway

Ranger Prospect Rankings Oct 2010

1. Derek Stepan
2. Chris Kreider
3. Ryan Mcdonagh
4. Mats Zuccarello Aasen
5. Evgeny Grachev
6. Ethan Werek
7. Roman Horak
8. Dylan McIlrath
9. Carl Hagelin
10. Christian Thomas
11. Pavel Valentenko
12. Michael Sauer
13. Chad Johnson
14. Tomas Kundratek
15. Ryan Bourque
16. Dale Weise
17. Mikhail Pashnin
18. Andrew Yogan

HM: Scott Stacjer, Brandon Manning, Kelsey Tessier, Jyri Niemi, Cam Talbot

Details of the guys and why I put some where I did inside.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ranger Fans: Boom or Bust with Every Drop of the Puck

If there is one thing that Ranger fans can be counted on for other than their passion it is their impulsive responses to every situation.  With each game being a life or death event, the outcome is mashed until the game itself is no longer recognizable and neither is a rational response to what should come next.  After Game 1 in which the Rangers lit up Ryan Miller and Derek Stepan scored a hat-trick in his debut the parade was planned and the Calder was Stepan’s.  After Game 2 on the Island in which the Rangers folded their tent late against an underrated and under-appreciated Islander team it was time to swan dive off the Brooklyn Bridge.  Then we have Game 3 last night vs Toronto.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Injury News Galore: Gaborik, Drury, Prospal

As if losing the game tonight, though getting a point, was not enough bad news for Ranger fans the injury news is going to make it a lot worse. Full details inside.

NY Rangers vs Toronto Maple Leafs Recap: Henrik and Boyle Save Ranger Bacon

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="284" caption="(Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)"][/caption]

The Rangers play tonight was very similar to the opening ceremonies where they built momentum early and then had it all crash in a very ugly fashion.  The first eight to ten minutes of the game the Rangers were excellent specifically the second line of Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan as the Leafs could seem to get the puck off of them, but that line could not get a goal for all the possession that they were able to maintain.  The Rangers would get a goal from Michal Rozsival at 7:58 of the 1st period on a point shot and the good play continued for a few more minutes before the wheels came off defensively.  They gave up odd man rushes, wide open guys in front of the net and Henrik bailed them out making 16 saves in the 1st and letting them end the period 1-0.

The second period was even worse than how the first ended.  Toronto started the period on a PP because Drury took a needless penalty to end the first.  The Rangers managed to kill the penalty, but four seconds after it ended they gave up the tying goal to Clarke MacArthur untouched on the post.  Thirty seconds after that goal was a play whose significance we wont know the significance of until later when Colby Armstrong checked Marian Gaborik into the boards and injured his shoulder.  Gaborik stayed on the ice for the ensuing power play, but once he went to the bench for the end of his shift, he proceeded to the locker room and would not return.

The Leafs killed off the Armstrong Penalty and shortly after it ended Mike Komisarek scored to make it 2-1 on a point shot not dissimilar to Rozsival’s goal.  For the rest of the period it was odd man chance and wide open man one after another and I would swear that no Ranger ever touched Phil Kessel in the period.  Kessel after being stoned multiple times by Henrik Lundqvist finally scored one at 7:50 of the 2nd to put the Leafs up 3-1.  The fact that the period ended with it still 3-1 was about Henrik Lundqvist and no one else as shots at the end of 2 were 30-12 and Ranger fans spent the 2nd intermission contemplating the end of the season between the performance on the ice and injuries to Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury.

Join me after the jump to see how it would end.

NY Rangers Home Opener Polls

Seeing as how this is the Rangers home opener and the first game since I started this blog figured we might as well try out some polls while we pass the time until they FINALLY drop the puck.  Feel free to leave your answers in the comments as well.

Previewing The Home Opener vs Toronto

As Ranger fans we take just about every game as a life and death type experience, we pack the Garden even for preseason games, but the pageantry of the home opener still makes it a special game to experience.  Even though we are two games into the year, with the spacing in the schedule it feels like the season is starting again with the opener tonight against Toronto.  For the fans the opening ceremonies will bring back the good memories of what a new season can mean, and Ranger fans ever the optimists always believe this is the year.  As I said, every game for Ranger fans every game is like a life and death experience and it is never more telling than listening after a game to their views on the team.   When the team wins it means the Stanley Cup is getting hoisted and when they lose it means everyone in power should get hoisted on a sword, there just is no middle ground.

Analysis of teams and situations after the jump

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NY Rangers Make Defensive Change: Gilroy In, Wrong Guy Out

After watching the first two games of the season every Ranger fan knew that a defensive change was necessary and I would bet that 98% of them agreed on what it should be.  Unfortunately for all of us we do not have any control over what actually goes on in the lineup.  Matt Gilroy is going to get his shot as many of us want him to, but the problem is the man getting shown the press box is not Steve Eminger, but rather Michael Sauer as was reported by all the Ranger beat writers, first being Andrew Gross according to my feed.

How in watching those two games Tortorella and his coaching staff could possibly think that Steve Eminger outplayed Michael Sauer.  A traffic cone could have played better than Eminger and Sauer was very solid for my money in his play the first two games, taking the body, making the simple play.  The argument for Eminger playing in the 1st game was that he was the best of the 3 on the left side while it was down to Gilroy and Sauer for the RD spot on the 3rd pair.  If that "excuse" was actually fact, then someone is going to have to explain to me why they are reporting

Matt Gilroy in, Mike Sauer out for #NYRangers tomorrow vs. #Leafs. Gilroy will play left side and Eminger will move back to the right.

I dont know if Eminger has some sort of dirt on Tortorella and Sather or something, but the fact that can't bring themselves to put him on the bench is beyond me and not helping this club.  I understand the idea of wanting some experience on the blueline because as a group there is not much, but having experience does not automatically make you qualified for the position.

Have at it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rangers Upcoming Roster/Line Decisions Up Front: Depth is a Good Thing

With the preseason injuries to Captain Chris Drury and Assistant Captain Vinny Prospal the New York Rangers were able to skate on making some tough decisions when it comes to their roster for this season.  We have a good sense of which 14 forwards they will carry for the season, as the assumption is when Drury comes back for Friday the Roster move will be to send Todd White to Hartford, but they could always send Tim Kennedy instead.  I dont see any value for White, but Kennedy could get some use in Hartford if he isn't going to do anything but sit here.  What is less clear is what impact the return of Chris Drury will have on the lineup that we have seen for the first two games both in terms of who will be scratched instead of dressed and deeper what the line combinations will look like.  The minor injury to Erik Christensen could once again buy the Rangers a little extra time in making those tough decisions, but let us examine what this roster could look like with a healthy Drury and Christensen.

For my thoughts on those potential roster moves and line combinations join me after the jump.

Update: Since writing this last night we have seen Chris Drury practice with the top line, so that could potentially make all I say below irrelevant if he plays well there, but I will post it as it was anyway and re-evaluate if necessary once play happens again and all the forwards are healthy.  Also it was Tim Kennedy who was sent to Hartford as I speculated was possible even though I still firmly believe there is no purpose for Todd White here.

NY Rangers Practice News: A Surprise Centering the Top Line

The fact that Erik Christensen was still out of practice with his leg injury suffered against the Islanders was not a surprise, but the surprise to many Ranger followers might have been who coach Tortorella chose to put in his place at practice this morning.  The assumption of many would likely have been that Christensen being injured would lead to rookie Derek Stepan moving up to play with Frolov and Gaborik, while Chris Drury on his way back from injury would slot in Stepan's place with Avery and Fedetenko.

Instead what we saw was the captain, Chris Drury, at least for the day given the assignment with the top line while Stepan remained with his line-mates from the prior two games.  This is surprising because at no point last year did Drury really play with Gaborik and it would seem unlikely he has the speed to keep up with him on a line, but this would fit the notion of coach Tortorella seeking to put Drury in more offensive situations.  For now I will assume that this move was just to get Drury re-acclimated to a full practice with the club and possibly some unsureness on what Christensen's availability for Friday might end up, but if this continues again tomorrow it will be a very interesting development in this young season.  This move would mess up a couple of the assumptions made in my analysis of the Ranger forward moves to come when I wrote it last night, but I will still post it later today in any event.

Andrew Gross over at his blog Rangers Rants also speculates that we might see Matt Gilroy in for Steve Eminger on Friday night.

Update: Following practice Drury said not to read much into his skating with Frolov and Gaborik, while Christensen says he hopes to skate tomorrow and play on Friday.  My guess is even if he does skate tomorrow EC sits on Friday.

In other news Drury picks the Yanks in 6 in the ALCS, which I will look at later today or tomorrow.

What to Do About the Blue Line

Yes it has been only two games of this season, so nothing is set in stone in terms of performance, but there are some reasons for concern based on the defensive coverage the Rangers have shown so far.  Thinking the best way to discuss this is to take on each person’s play individually and then seek to come up with pairings and or ideas going forward after. After the jump I will do just that, so come join me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Purpose of This Blog

Blogging is something that exploded over the last number of years and I have no illusions that this will be one of many that deal with many of the topics I seek to talk about, though it might be the only one that seeks to talk about all of it in one place.  I have toyed with the idea of starting a blog a few different times, but mostly on any one of these topics and ultimately resisted because I didn’t want to constrain by thoughts or focus to any single topic.  There will be things here that fit some people’s likes and some that don’t which in all honesty is just how the world works, so I view that as a positive and not something to attempt to avoid.  This blog will be an attempt to follow the teams and issues that I care about without any need for sugarcoating or spin because I have no bridges to burn at this point, just an honest analysis of the way I see the things I choose to follow.

Hopefully you will find something you like here and contribute your thoughts. I do not seek to censor any opinions, all I ask is that comments do not become of a personal nature.