Monday, November 15, 2010

Daily Recap: Henrik Returns, Dubinsky Shines in Win; Christensen Sticks Foot In Mouth Over Avery; McIlrath injury update; Callahan Throws Down

Most of the day was spent on the Erik Christensen comments about Sean Avery’s role in the brawl during the Rangers game vs Edmonton.  As I said in the post whether you agree with what Avery did or not you cannot as a teammate discuss that in public instead it must be done face to face behind the locker room doors.  What ended up for me in the scenario is you have a player who calls out his teammate claiming a sucker punch and in doing it how he did he ended up sucker punching Avery himself.  I am not a huge Avery guy myself, but when you are a guy like Christensen who is seen as soft and up and down in his own play he will win no fans by going after a guy who many Rangers fans already have their guard up to protect from anyone.  If it was someone like Callahan who said it or if the person Christensen was talking about was someone less liked by the fans like Rozsival then maybe the reaction might be different but for many now Christensen is enemy number 1.

The Night In Video: Lundqvist and Dubinsky Swipe Penguins

 Erik Christensen Goal

Lundqvist Returns In Top Form While Dubinsky Carries Rangers Over Finish Line in 3-2 OT Win

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For the better part of 57 minutes tonight Henrik Lundqvist frustrated the Penguins and dazzled Rangers fans as he could not be beaten low or high, but then the Penguins after numerous chances they created and were created for them would solve him twice in 38 seconds.  Luckily for Henrik and the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky decided he was not going to let the effort Lundqvist put together tonight go to waste or end in an L and he would combine with Marc Staal on the game tying goal with 1:26 left in regulation and then with Ryan Callahan for the game winner 3:38 into OT.  This is one of those games that in the past the Rangers fold the tent and go home with a disappointing loss, but they battled through the Penguins and the officials to get two points and this is the type of win that can be a huge stepping stone for a club.  They did not by any means play their best hockey in this game and frankly without Henrik and the PK they get blown out, but they found ways to make the big plays they needed led by their core guys in Lundqvist, Dubinsky, Staal, Callahan and Girardi.

Full details of the game inside.

Video: Ryan Callahan Laying Wood To Mr Hillary Duff (Mike Comrie)

2010 1st Round Pick Dylan McIlrath Coming To New York For MRI

As we passed along a few days ago Dylan McIlrath left the game the other night with an injured knee and we were awaiting an update on the severity of the injury.  Andrew Gross is now reporting:

#NYRangers top-pick Dylan McIlrath will come to New York for an MRI on his injured knee.
While I would caution against panic I would also be remiss if I did not say this is probably not a great sign that Dylan's hopes of a quick recovery are going to happen.  I say that because if it was a simple diagnosis it would have been made already and he would not be flying all the way here for presumably another evaluation.

Will certainly keep an eye out for any further updates

Henrik Lundqvist Back In At Pittsburgh; Boogaard Scratched with Hand Issue

The Rangers coming off of two straight wins will get their all-world netminder back to pitch in against the Penguins tonight.  The only other change in the lineup will be Todd White going back in as Derek Boogaard sits out with a hand issue after last night's fights.  With Boogaard out the enforcement duties fall on Brandon Prust who can match up size wise with about any fighter on Pittsburgh except Rupp.




Update (6:52PM): Staal and Eminger skating together in warm-ups.

Do My Eyes Lie Or Could The Rangers Have Three Scoring Lines?

For the past while Rangers fans have had to deal with each season basically having to rely on one line to do most of the heavy lifting in the goal scoring department.  Each season or should I say offseason the hopes are built up that this year will be different in that regard and that the new pieces will help to balance the scoring and that was the case again this year.  The talk this summer once Alexander Frolov was signed was that the Rangers had a legit second scoring option to go with Marian Gaborik and his exploits of last season.  Once the signing happened the debate began about whether or not it was best to keep them together or split them up because of the history the club has had with one line doing all the lifting.  The decision was made by the staff to keep them together and through the first 16 games of the season the results for Frolov and the line had not been what was expected in the offseason.  To be fair to the line as a whole Gaborik’s injury really killed a legitimate chance to judge their effectiveness.

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins 11/15/2010 Pregame Notes Lundqvist In; Boogaard Out

Rangers (9-7-1) at Pittsburgh (9-8-1)
Key Opposing Player: Sidney Crosby (12-15-27)
Frolov- Christensen -Gaborik
Avery- Stepan -White

Staal - Girardi
Del Zotto - Eminger


According to the teams twitter feed Henrik will be back as expected and Boogaard will be out with a  sore hand (my hand hurts just watching the punches he threw)

The Rangers coming off two straight wins at home will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins tonight.  Coming off their best win of the season, statistically at least, the Rangers will take a big step up in terms of the competition level this evening.  The Rangers would love to have saved some of the extra goals from yesterday’s trouncing to use them tonight against the high powered offense of the Penguins.  The club will have to once again mix the fundamental grind it out type hockey with the skill a Gaborik can provide if they are to continue this good stretch.  Because the Rangers just love the rollercoaster they also had to deal internally today with Erik Christensen and his comments about Sean Avery’s role in yesterday’s brawl so instead of the game and fight being a team building thing it turned into a circus.  At least the fallout of Christensen shooting his mouth off was handled out of the press as Christensen should have handled his feelings on Avery’s actions.

The Rangers defense will need to bring their ‘A’ game tonight to deal with all the skill the Penguins can throw at them.  In addition to that it will be up to the forwards to give help not only in transition plays but also against the high potent defense core the Pens have.  Marc Staal for my money has played his best two games on defense the last two including a lot of physicality or Tortorella likes to call it jam yesterday.  Staal will need to continue that tonight along with Girardi if the Rangers are going to give Lundqvist every chance against a potent offense.  I am interested to see if Staal-Girardi gets split depending on if Pittsburgh plays Malkin and Crosby together or not because I would split them and play Staal-Sauer vs one and MDZ-Girardi against the other while putting Staal-Girardi together on the PK.

The opposition, Pittsburgh Penguins, have well-known and much talked about star talent in Crosby, and Malkin, but they go deeper especially in getting offense from their blue-line.  Already this year they have three guys with at least 9 points from defense, lead by Kris Letang’s breakout start of 3G 14A in 18 games.  The Penguin offense lead by Crosby and Malkin are certainly not bashful in shooting the puck averaging 31.1 shots per game so in Henrik’s first game back from illness he can expect to see a lot of rubber.  The reason the Penguins record is not better to start the season has been their struggles in net as Marc Andre-Fleury has been awful though Brent Johnson has been very good early in the year.  Johnson has shown signs of coming back to Earth of late with two bombs in his last three starts.  Everything sets this game up to be a high scoring affair.

The Rangers have been excellent on the road (5-2) this season and Penguins have struggled at home (3-5), so that combination could lead to interesting results tonight. 

Prediction: Rangers win 4-3

Poll: How Should Tortorella Handle Erik Christensen Comments on Sean Avery

Title says it all. If you have other ideas, leave them in the comments.

Christensen Sucker Punches Avery In Press Over Brawl

The other day I wrote about the New York Rangers were finally becoming a team in sticking up for one another and stepping up where others were struggling, well Erik Christensen sort of dropped a bomb on that process yesterday after the blowout win against the Oilers.  In discussing the brawl set off by Sean Avery and what I deem to have been a sucker punch by Avery, especially if quotes attributed by the Oilers are true in that Avery told Smid to wait or to do it the next shift, but me saying he suckered him is a lot different than a teammate doing it.  That is exactly what Christensen did as in today's column Larry Brooks has the following quote:
Blueshirts center Erik Christensen told Edmonton TV it looked as if Avery "sucker-punched" Smid. "It looked to me like he suckered him; I'm not going to deny it," Christensen then told The Post. "I mean, everyone could see.''
As I just said me having an opinion and criticizing Avery from outside the locker room is much different than a guy he is supposed to line-up with each night to face the opposing team.  In that spot Christensen even if he believes exactly what he told the press he just needs to keep his mouth shut and deal with that internally.  For Christensen to do that to the media and not directly with Avery is him doing to Avery what he believes Avery did to him.  The reason for me Christensen counts as a sucker punch is because in your own locker room with your teammates your guard is naturally down believing they will have your back whether they agree with you or not and instead of backing up his teammate or saying nothing Christensen rolled the bus right over Avery.  It will interesting to see what if any fallout this has within the Rangers team chemistry.