Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lundqvist, Dubinsky Lead Way In Gutty SO Win at Nashville

The Rangers took the ice tonight against the Nashville Predators looking to build on last night’s victory over the Florida Panthers, but found out a few hours before the game that they would be without their offensive superstar, Marian Gaborik.  Gaborik was out with the flu, but the Rangers had experience playing without Gaborik already this season when he was out with his shoulder injury so there were no excuses to be had.  If the team was tired before tonight’s game considering the brutal November schedule and the back-to-back they would be even more exhausted after the night was over since they got an extra five and the shootout tonight.  This would be the first shootout for the Rangers this season.

In the shootout Erik Christensen would make a beautiful deke to the backhand to pull it back to his forehand and beat Pekka Rinne.  Henrik Lundqvist would stop on O’reilly.  Stepan would come in and be stopped by Renne.  The next Nashville shooter was Marcel Goc who tried to beat Henrik, but Lundqvist did not go for the dekes and stoned him.  Ryan Callahan would try to deke and beat Rinne on his forehand but could not stuff it home, so heading to the last shooter it was 1-0 Rangers.  Martin Erat would have to beat Henrik Lundqvist or the game would be over and he would come in and shoot high glove to watch Lundqvist snare it for the Rangers 2-1 victory.

Overall the game was a tale of opposing half periods for each team as in each period the Predators would dominate the opening half of the period and the Rangers would have the edge in the second half of the period.  The boxscore will say that Henrik Lundqvist had to make 29 saves in the game, but after the first period it was a relatively easy night in terms of the difficulty of the shots he faced.  In the absence of Gaborik the same players who carried the team when he was out before did it again as Brandon Dubinsky was a man out there playing 25:44 in the game and creating what would be the only goal for the Rangers scored by Ryan Callahan.

This win is the type of game the Rangers are going to have to play even with a healthy Gaborik as they played a tough gritty game where they were physical and once again their goal did not come off a flash play but rather a hard work cycle play that eventually led to the Cally goal.

In the first period the key moments were the Nashville goal where Dan Girardi had the puck hop over the stick and led to a breakaway for Colin Wilson as he got between Girardi and Michael Del Zotto at 5:04 of the period.  After that there were two successive fights as Sean Avery and Jordin Tootoo would scrap after they came out of the penalty box and then off the ensuing faceoff Brandon Prust and Shane O’Brien would fight in the Nashville zone.  Later in the period Christensen would put the puck in the net but it was an intentional kick so it would not count.

In the second period it would take the Rangers over ten minutes to register a shot and once they did they would have three golden opportunities to score but could not convert any of them.  The best of the chances was on Erik Christensen’s stick and he had all day but could not lift the puck over Rinne.  The other chances were Alex Frolov off a beautiful feed from Derek Stepan and then Callahan driving to the net and on both the Rangers would miss the net.  The same story would play out in the third as another slow start would be followed by a good second half of the period which culminated in the Ryan Callahan goal which was created solely by the work of Brandon Dubinsky refusing to be taken off the puck and then Callahan would have his shot deflect off JP Dumont and in at 13:04.
  • Dubinsky was the man tonight as he seems to be when Gaborik is out of the lineup.  He showed why he deserves to be an all-star as he led by example and would not be denied on the tying goal.  Now the Rangers need him to play that way with Gaborik in there as well
  • Christensen showed the flashes of why he is so frustrating because the talent is clearly there but he does not put it together
  • Callahan is fearless in blocking shots
  • Frolov had a good first period but did not notice him much after that
  • Stepan made some good plays
  • After a poor first period, Marc Staal rebounded to have a solid last two periods
  • Eminger and Sauer were both good in this game
  • Lundqvist continued his better technique tonight staying high and more upright in the net

Video: Brandon Prust vs Shane O'Brien

Video: Sean Avery vs Jordin Tootoo

Marian Gaborik Out Vs. Predators; 7D 11 Forwards In Lineup

When the New York Rangers take on the Nashville Predators tonight they will be without star forward Marian Gaborik who is said to be sick with the flu and remained at the hotel.  This is obviously a huge blow to the team as Gaborik played very well last night in response to being called out by his coach after Wednesday's game.  The team does know how to play without Gaborik so if there is a silver lining that would be it.  In other lineup news since Derek Boogaard is still unable to go the team will dress 7 defense with Michal Rozsival's return and 11 forwards.  It will be interesting to see how they work out lines and ice time with this development as other guys will have increased opportunities up front to show something.  While many of us would love to see Matt Gilroy get a shot on the wing he is said to be staying back on defense.

The lines I would use:
Christensen and White as extra forwards to start

Brandon Dubinsky Untouchable?

Since I was bored I scanned to see what ridiculous rumors he who shall remain nameless here had pulled out of thin air and in an update he wrote that in the dealings between the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers that the Rangers had taken Oilers long coveted player Brandon Dubinsky off the table and put him into the "untouchable" list.  There are so many things wrong with the whole exercise, but what the heck the game has a late start tonight so let's go through them.  The most obvious is as usual there are no real sources cited to prove there were any talks to begin with or that the Rangers actually said it and of course no specifics of who was trading what.  Now for the deal aside from their young future stars there is nothing on Oilers roster that should have had Dubinsky's name come in a trade conversation to begin with.  After that there is the breakout start to the season that Dubinsky has had which has only increased his value to the team, on the next contract and presumably if he was ever dealt.

Now let me look at the one aspect of the story that actually interests me, Dubinsky as "untouchable." It may may surprise some as I am admittedly a Dubinsky fan, but there is no player on the Rangers outside of Henrik Lundqvist who should be in the untouchable pile with Marc Staal coming second.  To say that Dubinsky is untouchable is a fallacy because while he is having an excellent start to the year and a critical component to the team success this year and I believe in the future to put that kind of label on him is preposterous to me.  There are plenty of guys or package in which I would give up Dubinsky to obtain especially with historical propensity for inconsistent production and the fact his huge start is going to lead to huge contract demands that will probably outweigh his worth on the market.  I am in no way advocating the trade of Dubinsky because I believe in the talent and am greatly encouraged by the evolving maturity of the player not only in being more consistent in effort and production but his continued desire to protect his teammates.  What I am saying is that he should not be labeled as untouchable in terms of contract negotiations with any team including the Oilers.  If Edmonton wants to give up some of their young players to get Dubinsky depending on the total package you have to listen, as with any team, now if the reason he was taken out of whatever negotiations was based on what Edmonton was giving up the whole characterization of the label is inaccurate, which would not surprise me considering the source.

Do you think Dubinsky should be untouchable?  What Rangers do you classify as untouchable?

Update: Today I did a story on whether Marian Gaborik Is Holding Dubinsky Back that might interest you.

Hartford Collapses In Finale As Wolf Pack...Rebranding Wonk Fix This One

Last night in the final game as the Hartford Wolf Pack the New York Rangers AHL affiliate took on the Islanders affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  The Pack or as of today the Connecticut Whale were looking to build on the momentum of a solid week having won 2 of their last 3 games following a 1-9-1-2 stretch. You had a Wolfpack team that was coming in playing better hockey and a Sound Tigers team that had been ravaged by injuries and call-ups and yet the results would play out as they did.  For 53 minutes in their finale as the Wolfpack the team looked poised to send the heritage out on a high note and then much like the season as a whole to this point it all collapsed.

Lineup News: Lundqvist to Start; Rozsival Back...Should Del Zotto Sit Instead of Gilroy?

It has been announced that Henrik Lundqvist will get the start for the Rangers when they play the Predators in Nashville tonight.  This is the right move for the club not only tonight, but for the season and not just because he had a shutout last night.  Earlier this morning I looked at why Lundqvist had to make the start tonight and you can find those thoughts here.

The other news is good for the defense as Michal Rozsival will return to the lineup tonight after missing the last 9 games with both shoulder and knee issues.  The return of Rozsival will bring another veteran blue-liner into the defensive core and if Rozi returns playing as he was earlier in the year the defense will be much stronger for it.  

Welcome Back Sean Avery, We Have Missed You

I know that in this space I can be hard on Sean Avery for some of the antics he brings and the lack of energy he has brought over the last couple of weeks, but when I do that it is because of games like last night when Avery pulls out the pocket what he is capable of as a hockey player first.  With a team that is struggling through a brutal schedule at the moment and a lot of players with tired legs Sean Avery against the Panthers brought his game back to the rink.  Avery should have more life in his legs compared to many of the guys on the roster because he had been playing only around eight or nine minutes over the prior eight games and he brought that life out early and often last night.

Rangers Goalies: Why Lundqvist Must Continue To Play; Biron Can Wait

Coming off last night’s game the topic that first came to my mind this morning more than the way they played or  how good Henrik was in net was who would get the start against the Predators.  With the Rangers having been so focused on making sure to get Biron some work I believe he was probably scheduled to go tonight and that is not a bad thing, but if that was the schedule they need to make a change on it.  The biggest thing for the Rangers hopes this season and any season is the play of Henrik Lundqvist without question as he is their franchise guy.  In that you have your franchise player who has been up and down for the first 24 games of the year even to the point where his technique and his confidence were off.  Last night he comes out and I believe plays his best game of the year overall.