Monday, November 29, 2010

Daily Recap: Rangers Trip Up; Crosby/Dubinsky Video; Rangers for Real?; Gaborik Plays; Prospect News

Lots of controversy this evening so might as well start with that and see where we go from there.  In the actual game the Rangers lost 3-1 because they were simply outplayed, most decisively in the second period and when the Rangers had their own chances they failed to make the most of them.  The full recap of the game itself is here.

During the course of the game is where all the talk will be about tonight and the next few days as in the first period of the game Sidney Crosby clearly slew footed Ryan Callahan and not only was a penalty not called for the play on Crosby but one was instead called on Callahan.  Video of the play is here.  During the intermission in an interview with Al Trautwig on MSG, Dubinsky was shown the play and asked about it and during his comments he called it a dirty play, said that is the kind of player Crosby is and that Crosby also complains a lot.  Must see for all Rangers fans and that video is here.

That takes care of the game itself, before the game there was a question as to whether Gaborik would play tonight but he did which lead to me posting about that, the lines that were being used and how I would change those line here.

The most viewed and discussed topic of the day was my post on how real the Rangers start was or was not based on the details of the season thus far.  I looked at the things they are doing that would make them a contender and also where they are falling short to be where they want to be.  My full thoughts and lots of user thoughts on the topic can be found here.  This turned out to be one of the better interactive discussions that have been had on the site to this point, which makes me happy because discussion is the entire point of the exercise.

Finally there was some prospect news in that Ethan Werek and Christian Thomas were kept off the invite list to the Canadian World Junior Championships camp.  It is disappointing that they are not going, but not the end of the world by any means.  The story can be found here.

Also in the prospect realm I took a very brief look at the Whale game from Sunday in which the team improved to 2-0 under their new name and logo.  The game featured a shutout by Cameron Talbot, a beautiful pass by Mats Zuccarello for a goal and the kind of goal all Rangers fans want to see Evgeny Grachev scoring on a regular basis.  The story and the highlights of the game can be found here.

Dubinsky Calls Crosby Dirty During Interview w/ Video

This is the real video I have been waiting for all night, the interview that Brandon Dubinsky did with Al during the first intermission where he said what we all know is true about Sidney Crosby. Good for your Dubi.  Video of the Crosby slew foot is here.

Rangers Tripped Up By Crosby and Penguins in 3-1 Loss

The Rangers took the ice tonight looking to win their third straight and answer my question from this morning about if they were real in beating one of the better teams in the league, but things were not just meant to be against the Penguins on this evening. The Rangers would fall 3-1 in a game that will be the talk of tomorrow more for a non-scoring play than the outcome or the goals that made it that way. To not fully rehash my take on the cheap play that was the Crosby slew foot I will just direct you to the post that contains the video as well, which can be found here. What I will say now is that if it was anyone other than Crosby that is an automatic suspension so let the league prove they are not in his pocket and make him sit for it.

As for the rest of the action the Rangers would be exposed on this night for the same things that have troubled them against the good teams all season. They have been susceptible to teams with speed up front, teams that make quick passing plays and defense that move the puck quickly and blunt the Rangers forecheck. The second period would eventually be the undoing of the club as a 1-0 first period lead for Pittsburgh would turn into a 3-1 deficit for the Rangers. It was a very similar scene to that in Colorado during the second of that game, except this time it was only Letang and Conner netting goals 1:15 apart instead of four of them. The only highlight of the period other than the Avery fight following Pittsburgh’s 3rd goal was Marian Gaborik’s goal at 16:19 to give the Rangers some life. The Rangers played a much better third period as they were able to impose the physical game much more and create chances including powerplays but they missed the net so many times it didn’t matter and they never could get within one to make it interesting.

The problems for the club are the same as they have been for the past few years in that they struggle against the best teams, do not control their home ice, the powerplay is inconsistent and they expect Henrik Lundqvist to bail them out of every defensive mistake. The team also has become accustomed this season to getting away with playing one good period and getting a result but as tonight, the second game against Boston and Tampa showed that will not cut it against the best teams. As nice as their record looks in the standings a game like this shows why they cannot be considered a contender nor can they be deemed a lock for a playoff spot. Still a lot of work to do and now that the brutal November schedule is over they get a few days off before playing four winnable games against the Islanders and Senators
  • Gaborik got more ice and was more effective tonight than I was expecting based on the health reports
  • Dubinsky's comments on Crosby were not only spot on but show why he is maturing into a leader on this club
  • Brandon Prust is fearless as he will fight anyone at any time
  • Avery had another involved game this evening, which is always good to see
  • Girardi did not play a good game tonight
  • Staal had some good hits but was out of position on one goal and beaten by speed consistently
  • Michael Del Zotto’s shooting is getting to comical absurdity as much as he misses the net
  • Lundqvist made some brilliant saves but was not as sharp tonight as the last two.

Tonight's scoring plays:
First period:
At 5:10 of the period the Penguins would break the seal on the scoring as Max Talbot would beat Lundqvist with a shot after Ruslan Fedotenko after catching the puck out of the air ran into Marc Staal and dropped the puck right at Talbot’s feet in the slot.

Second period:

At 12:01 of the second Crosby would tip a backhand pass to Pascal Dupuis who would give it back to Crosby and he would find Kris Letang wide open in the slot. On the play Marc Staal was caught too aggressive above the blue line and ended up out of the play.

1:15 later the Penguins would run the play I just described leading to an eventual three-on-two that would eventually end up on the stick of Chris Conner and he would beat Lundqvist low stick side for a 3-0 lead.

16:19 Michal Rozsival would hit Gaborik with a stretch pass and Marian would fire a snap shot in to cut the deficit to 3-1.

Crosby Slew Foots Callahan Yet Callahan Gets The Penalty W/Video

Everything up that point in the period no longer mattered because while we watch Marc Staal light up Kris Letang on the boards Sidney Crosby was busy slew footing Ryan Callahan in center and to add insult to potential injury it would Ryan Callahan who would be called for interference on the play.  I try as much as possible to not avoid complaining about the refs and even more the conspiracy bias theories, but this was absolutely absurd as it was clearly an intentional play by Crosby and to not only have to watch him get away with but be rewarded by the other team being called for a penalty was beyond words. 

While I was beyond words, one person who was not was Brandon Dubinsky during a first period intermission interview said, ““Yeah I mean that’s just a dirty play he tries to get away with all that kind of nonsense and complains a lot.”  That is why Dubinsky has become a leader on this club.  Video of the Dubinsky comments is here.

Rangers Final Lineup vs Pittsburgh: Gaborik In: Gilroy Scratch; Lines

According the Andrew Gross it looks like Marian Gaborik is going to give it a go tonight and that Matt Gilroy will be the scratch from the lineup.

The lines in warmups were:

They keep giving Frolov chances to do something, anything, at the beginning of games, and tonight no different though I dont really see him as a fit with Boyle and Prust.  Avery would fit well on that line or I would think about Boyle-Anisimov-Prust to have Boyle play the role of Shelley from that line late last year.


Whale Move To 2-0 In New Uniforms Behind Talbot SO, Grachev Goal, Zuccarello Helpers

I am not going to do a full recap of the game other than to say maybe things are starting to turn around down in the A for the Rangers affiliate as after a 1-9-1-2 stretch they are 4-1-0-1 in their last six games.  This stretch coincides with the return of Dale Weise and multiple moves the club has made in trying to reshape the locker room whether it be bringing in Kolarik for Byers; sending out Williams and getting Bickel or giving up future consideration for Eizenman.  Along with those moves the play of the Rangers youngsters has improved, especially the defenders who are all watching their plus/minus figures rise as the team fares better.

Last night Cam Talbot would stop 25 shots on his way to his second shutout. As you will see in the highlights the first goal was generated by a beautiful passing play from Kolarik to Zuccarello to Newbury.  The second and maybe most important for Rangers fans was watching Evgeny Grachev play the way he needs to play to be successful using his size and speed to get around and fend off a check while driving the net and finishing.  The exhale you see from him on the highlights says all you need to know about how big that goal was for him and let us hope it gets him going.  On the third and final goal would once again come form the trio of Zuccarello, Newbury and Kolarik as the law firm would start the play with Newbury finding Zuke for a shot and the rebound being put in by Kolarik.  All goals were scored in the third period which is a nice change from blowing leads late in the third each of the last two nights.

Rangers Prospects Ethan Werek and Christian Thomas Left Off Canadian WJC Invite List

Today the Canadian World Junior camp roster was announced and there was some reason for hope that a couple of Rangers prospects would get an invitation to the festivities.  The two main hopefuls for the New York Rangers were 2009 2nd round pick Ethan Werek and 2010 2nd round pick Christian Thomas.  Werek was at the camp over the summer so he probably had a better chance to make it, but he still needed a strong push in November and he just did not get that.  Overall for the month Werek had a respectable 5 games 4 assists performance in his 11 games, but he was held scoreless in four of his last five games before this announcement and that probably sealed his fate. 

Christian Thomas was a long shot coming into the year, especially considering he was not invited to the camp over the summer but his spectacular play this season with 18 goals and 16 assists in just 22 games was thought to put him in the running.  Overall in November Thomas numbers were down sans an incredible two game stretch in which he netted 5 goals and had 5 helpers on his way to OHL and CHL player of the week.  In his other 8 games this month he only had 2 goals and 5 assists and as Jess Rubenstein astutely as always pointed in a tweet:
His size I suppose is being one factor, he struggled against the Russians in the SSS is another
Do not take the lack of inclusion for either of these players as a statement on their future abilities with the Rangers as both are very talented and playing very good hockey.  The Canadian ranks are very deep as we see every year and this does not mean you should think any less of these players because they did not make it.   Werek is still someone I envision as a potential top 6 forward in the NHL and Thomas a tremendous sniper down the line.  Missing out on the experience is a negative in that playing against the best makes you better, but with both expect them to continue their hard work and development for the bigger picture of being a Ranger.

The Rangers are expected to have four prospects in the World Junior Championships this year with Ryan Bourque and Chris Kreider playing for team USA as they look to repeat; Jesper Fasth (2010 6th round pick) playing for the Swedes and Roman Horak (2009 5th round pick) representing the Czech Republic

Rangers Record Through 25 Games; Is It For Real?

So the Rangers are now 25 games into their 2010-2011 campaign and the overall record looks very good at 14-10-1 especially considering they have been without their best scorer for half the games, their captain for all but one game, their second leading scorer from last season the whole year and a key defenseman for nine games.  The question for me today is how legit is the record in terms of looking forward and seeing how for real this team is as a playoff or more contender.  There is the only quote from Bill Parcells that you are what your record says you are and for the Rangers right now it says they are the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference, but let’s look deeper to see how likely it is they stay there.