Friday, November 26, 2010

Daily Recap: Lundqvist Back in Form; Staal a Scapegoat; Stepan and the Calder; Avery Rule Lives; Prust In a Battle

After the somewhat slow news day on the Thanksgiving holiday the Rangers got back at it today and that meant more news and stories on the site ranging from looking at Staal becoming a scapegoat for some; Stepan creeping up in Calder contention; previewing tonight’s game; looking at the Sean Avery rule being called on Chris Pronger and of course the recap of the game itself. 

This morning after a couple of days of reading a series of comments sticking the majority of the loss to Tampa on Marc Staal’s shoulders I wrote about how for some Staal has become a target to be criticized whenever things seem to go wrong defensively.  The fact is he did play a lousy game against the Lightning, but so did just about everyone else and to act like he was the main reason they lost that game just takes it too far for me.  If that part of it was not enough to then take a bad game and claim it as proof of him being over-rated is just beyond comprehension to me as he is one of the best defensive defenders in the game.

Following the Staal story I looked at how in the past week Stepan has made the most of his increased role and with his hot scoring was not only taking himself off the Hartford train but moving him into the talk for the Calder.  Obvious it will take more than a hot week for him to be a legitimate candidate for the award, but with the signs in his game the idea is certainly within the realm of possibilities.

The pregame is as the pregame always is, but today the question was about how the team and especially the best players would respond to being called out by Tortorella for the way they performed against the Lightning.

During the early evening the news broke about how during overtime of the Flyers-Flames game that Chris Pronger was called for the Sean Avery rule not only giving the Flyers a penalty but nullifying what would have been the game winning goal for the team.  I put up the video of the incident which to me looked relatively harmless though the intent from Pronger was obvious and the video of Pronger’s post-game comments which were great.  Later on I put up the video of back when Avery faced up against Brodeur literally and was the impetus for the rule in the first place.

From the game itself there was the video of an entertaining fight between two very good fighters in Brandon Prust and Darcy Hordichuk which can be seen here.  Finally there was the game recap in which I looked at how while the effort was better tonight the team did not play nearly well enough to have beaten a better opponent on the night and if not for Henrik Lundqvist and his brilliance might not have even beaten this one.  Stepan kept his hot play up making me look smart from this morning, Prust got his first of the year, Gaborik, Staal and Girardi all responded from their subpar games to have a very positive impact in this one.

The Rangers will be in Nashville tomorrow to take on the Predators and we will certainly cover that along with other news and stories.

Lundqvist Tames Panthers As Rangers Win 3-0 In Solid Bounceback Effort

Eliot J. Schechter/ Getty Images

The Rangers took the ice against the Florida Panthers looking to rebound from a bad performance on Wednesday against the Lightning and the effort was much better tonight and their world class goaltender made all of it stand up with a brilliant game.  For those who were worried about Henrik and his confidence you can exhale as he was on top of his game from the opening shift of the game and they needed him to be.  In all Henrik would have to make 40 saves in the game as his defense really was not great tonight either as a whole though an improvement from Wednesday.  In a relative sense this was a better performance but by no means should fans or the team be jumping for joy over this performance outside of a couple players because as a team if they play this way against a good team they are in trouble.

Video: Brandon Prust vs Darcy Hordichuk

Good fight, give the edge to Prust but pretty close fight overall. Nice to see Prust get active early in this one. He and Hordichuk have a history from their time in CGY and VAN.

The Original Reason For The Avery Rule That Cost Pronger's Flyers a Point Today

If we are going to talk about Chris Pronger and him being called for the "Avery rule" we cannot do that without looking back to the original that forced the NHL to come up with the rule in the first place. This play epitomizes the split on Sean Avery as those who love him think it is a wonderful play and Avery at his best while those who cannot stand him will see it is the epitome of why he should not even be in the league for things they see as below the dignity of the game.

Either way it was this play that in the end created the rule which would be enforced against Chris Pronger in OT against Calgary and instead of Mike Richards goal being the winner, the Flyers would lose to the Flames in a shoot-out.  Is nice to see that someone other than 16 in a Rangers sweater can actually be called for that penalty since I think most of us assumed it was an Avery specialty for the officials.

Video: Ohlund Clean Hit On Christensen; Avery Fighting Ohlund

As most of you know the other night during the third period of the 5-3 Rangers loss to Tampa Bay, with the score 5-1 Mattias Ohlund stepped up and checked Erik Christensen cleanly at the blueline not dissimilar to the hit Marc Staal laid on Matt Stajan a few nights prior. Sean Avery took exception to the hit as has become far too common in the league right now on clean hits and fought Ohlund. I know some of you wanted to see the video the other night, but I forgot to look for it yesterday, so here it is now.

Video: Pronger Called For Avery Rule; His Fun Postgame Comments Too

The play in question starts at the 4:30 mark. Dont see that as being the same as Avery though he clearly was trying to distract the goalie. The expanded video makes it look a lot worse than it seemed the first time.  Let me know what you think of the play and the call.

Pregame: Will Rangers Stars Respond Against Panthers? 11/26/2010

New York (12-10-1) at Florida (9-11)

Key Opposition Player: Frolik (4-9-13)

Rangers Lineup:


Staal - Girardi
Del Zotto - Eminger
Gilroy - Sauer


Derek Stepan: Stepping His Game Up To the Calder?

It was just a week ago where right here I pondered the future of the lineups when everyone came back and said the real key to the decisions that would be made would be Derek Stepan.  The options that were on the table were either Stepan proves he can play with the top guys, he ends up stuck with the fourth liners or maybe even he gets sent to Hartford.  Since that point some things have changed for the 20 year old Badger product who has just opened his career on Broadway.  Stepan the night of that article was given his chance to center the Rangers top line and best player in Marian Gaborik and while yes it is a short sample size he has responded beautifully.  In the week that has followed my musings not only has Stepan shown that he can play with the top guys when he has his game going, but now the conversation shifts to another subject; can he win the Calder?  It is somewhat crazy to go from talking about a player going to the minors one week to maybe being the top rookie in the league the next, but let us look at Stepan’s resume and that of his competition.

Marc Staal: A New Whipping Post For Some Rangers Fans

What started to become more apparent this summer and has only built during the early season is this faction of people who seem to enjoy nothing more than ripping on Marc Staal.  I am not going to sit here and say the 23 year old defenseman has had a great season to this point as I have said many times Dan Girardi has been by far the best d-man for the Rangers, but this notion that Marc Staal is an over-rated overpaid player is beyond me.  What troubles me more than the criticism because I criticize Staal when he plays badly, as he did against Tampa the other night, is the combination of vitriol that comes with it and how some really seem to enjoy him playing bad so they can gripe about it.  Not to impinge upon or impune on others motives but there are some in the universes in which I follow and chat about the Rangers who are nowhere to be found when the team plays well and especially when Staal plays well, but if he makes one mistake in a game they spring up from wherever they were previously stashed.  Case in point would be the crickets heard from most of them when Staal laid out Matt Stajan on Monday but the roars that have come since the Tampa game.