Saturday, November 20, 2010

New York Rangers Run Wild In 2nd on Way to 5-2 Win Over Minnesota

The Rangers came into the night having lost two in a row and in danger of falling back to the .500 mark if they took another loss tonight.  For one period the game was very even much as it was last night for a period, but the feel was slightly different tonight as the energy the second half of the period was not just the homecoming buzz of Gaborik and Stepan but the whole team got involved and if not for Niklas Backstrom could have had a few in the first, but in the end it was scoreless.  Tonight the second period was a landslide in favor of the Rangers instead of a debacle they want to forget.  

New York Rangers Heritage Jersey Schedule

For those of you who are curious as to when you will next see and how many times you will see those sharp Heritage jersey's again they will wear them each Sunday games and against Original Six teams.  The full schedule here:

  • 5th against Ottawa
  • 12th against Washington
  • 11th against Montreal
  • 16th against Philly
  • 19th against Toronto
  • 13th against Pittsburgh
  • 20th against Philly
  • 27th against Tampa Bay
  • 6th against Philly
  • 18th against Montreal
  • 4th against Boston

Rangers Final Lineup vs Minnesota: Biron, Boogaard In; Prust Game-time Decision; Rozsival Injury Update

The final lineup looks a lot like my speculation from this afternoon as Martin Biron is going to start and Derek Boogaard will be back in the lineup for his return to Minnesota.  The decision on Biron had nothing to do with last night and Henrik getting pulled as it was planned before the trip, which is what I thought would be the case just because of how many games the Rangers are playing this month and how solid Biron has been in his outings.

Both the D pairings and Brandon Prust will be game-time decisions with Prust going through warm-ups to see if the charley horse will allow him to play tonight if he cannot look for White to be in the lineup.  If Prust is out look for Avery to move up with Boyle and Fedotenko while White plays on the fourth line with Boogaard and Christensen.

Update 7:39 PM: D-pairs in warm-ups Staal-Eminger; MDZ-Girardi; Gilroy-Sauer.  Also Andrew Gross says Prust not skating well so I would figure they rest him and get him right for Monday against Calgary, or at least I would, but Prust is tough so he probably tries to go.

Rozsival Update: Andrew Gross is reporting that Michal Rozsival will not be back in the lineup until the middle of next week at least as he underwent platelet enriched plasma (PRP) treatment like Marian Gaborik had though for Rozsival it on his knee.  PRP seems to be becoming more and more popular with athletes as it supposedly has qualities that allow for quicker recovery.  In his absence Steve Eminger will continue to see an increased role which for the most part he has handled well to this point.

Prospect Roundup:Scoring Race Contestants And Huge Friday Night (Thomas, Horak, Bourque, etc)

So far this season the New York Rangers prospects have been putting on a tremendous effort, particularly those in the CHL as there has been a scoring race going on between Roman Horak and Christian Thomas since the very beginning, then Ethan Werek climbed into it as his game rose and theirs slipped slightly and now red-hot Ryan Bourque is right in the mix for the lead.  The other guy who is in the running right now is not Rangers property in Brandon Manning the free agent defenseman who is destroying the WHL and Glen Sather must sign.  Other than Werek all of these guys in the race had huge nights on Friday night and even some Hartford guys got in on the act.

Pregame: New York Rangers Look to End Slide Against Wild In Homecoming Game 11/20/2010

New York Rangers (10-9-1) at Minnesota Wild (10-6-2)

Key Opposing Offensive Player: Mikko Koivu (4-12-16)




(Disclaimer: Lineup is totally unofficial and based on what I think will happen following last night.  Prust sounded like a go following last night’s game and have to expect Tortorella to put Boogaard in back in Minnesota.  The defense pairs are based on the 3rd period last night but could certainly revert back to old form.  In net I figure they had Biron penciled in for this one, but pulling of Lundqvist early last night might get him back in there.)

The Rangers will take the ice tonight against the Minnesota Wild looking to rebound from arguably their worst performance of the season last night against Colorado when they were beaten in every phase of the game in a 5-1 drubbing.  The game will mark the return to Minnesota for Marian Gaborik and Derek Boogaard along with a homecoming for native Minnesotans Derek Stepan and Michael Sauer.  The Rangers if they are going to be successful tonight must play with more energy and fight than they did last night and get back to the fundamentals that have been so evident in their best games.  This team is at its best when it plays the physical game because of the energy and opportunities the fore-check and cycle create along with when they just play solid positional hockey in the back and block shots.  Last night none of those things happened and it was a laugher.  There is not enough talent throughout this lineup for them to play a run and gun game with any of the more talented teams and succeed unless Lundqvist steals the game.

Tonight they take on the Wild who are a grind it out type team that doesn’t have explosive offense overall but is exceptional with the man advantage, leading the league with 27.8%, so an obvious key for the Rangers will be to stay out the box tonight.  The goal scoring for the Wild is spread throughout the lineup but the key offensive player is Mikko Koivu.  Koivu is everything Rangers fans hope a player like Derek Stepan can one day become in that he has excellent vision, is a great leader and passer while being a threat to chip in some goals.  The Wild though will live and die overall by their defense which currently ranks number 3 in league for fewest goals against per game at 2.22 and 9 in the league for penalty kill at 85%.  The defense is anchored in the net by Nicklas Backstrom who is off to a tremendous start this season at 8-4-2 with a 1.91 GAA and .938 SV% so scoring tonight will be no easy task.

The best teams in the league, and even playoff caliber teams have their seasons defined not by the wins they have but how they respond to losses and end losing streaks.  The Rangers will seek to show they can be one of those playoff caliber teams and rebound from their embarrassing showing last night and end their current two game slide.  I expect a better effort tonight and for both Stepan and Gaborik to play well in their respective returns to Minnesota.

Prediction: Wild 2-1

Hartford Shows Signs of Life in 5-2 Win Lead By Kolarik, Zuccarello and Weise Return

When I last talked about Hartford a few days ago I wrote about how things were not working there and that changes needed to be made not just for the present but also the future.  For me all of that is still true, but the team showed some signs of life last night in a very nice 5-2 win in which they mixed skill with toughness and stuck up for one another.  The game would be a re-match of last week’s matchup against the Springfield Falcons in which Dane Byers returned to Hartford and eventually got the clincher in the shootout.  In his one Chad Kolarik who was acquired for the afore mentioned Byers would be the star in his return to his former home as he would score 2 goals and add a helper in only the teams second win in 14 outings.

Michael Del Zotto: What Now? Bench, Drop Down, Minors, Trade?

Obviously with a 20 year old defenseman, even one as talent as Michael Del Zotto, who is known more for his offense there will be some defensive lapses both in his natural growth as a young player but also as a player really learning how to play better fundamental defense.  My issue is not with the effort on his part or the fact that he is making mistakes, but rather with the sheer number, the fact that many of them are repeat mistakes and the source of many of them comes from trying to do too much and not being fundamentally sound.  Mistakes are part of that growth process in a young player, but how many times do you have to get caught on a pinch that you don’t get the man or the puck or turn the puck over in your defensive zone because you are forcing the stick handling before it stops being about being 20 or learning and just is what the play looks like; a bad play?

The question that came from last night’s thread over at Blueshirt Banter was what do we do about it?  The options vary, but are also somewhat limited based on the number of ready defenseman in the organization.  First and foremost anyone who is advocating giving up on a talent like Del Zotto, calling him a bust or suggesting trading him does not fully comprehend the talent they are dealing with.  Before I go on to the other options, let’s go back to see how we got here.

Daily Recap: Stepan Moves Up Plus Future; Rangers Clunker; McIlrath Timetable

The man of the day for the Rangers and here at Bleeding All Blue was Derek Stepan in terms of news regarding the Rangers at the NHL level.  I started the day chiming in on a topic that many have weighed in on concerning what happens when everyone gets back healthy for the Rangers and for me the key to that entire math equation would be Derek Stepan because he can change many calculations both in terms of who is on the roster and where people fit on it.  I said that in the end it was on Stepan’s stick to decide if he ends up on the first line, the fourth line or in the minors.  Later in the day we would come to find out that he was going to get that exact shot to prove it as he was going to get his first start centering Gaborik and Frolov.

Video: Tortorella Press Conference - Nice Torts Disappears

Sam Rosen was doing his best to get the Larry Brooks treatment tonight from coach John Tortorella who has been much nicer in the media so far this season, but Tortorella was blunt though he bit his lip to not go off on Rosen repeatedly asking the same question even if in multiple formulations.  Tortorella had every right to be upset with his team's performance tonight and was probably generous in only saying that they were better in every position tonight because he could have been much more blunt about it.