Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video: Tortorella Press Conference - "We Have A Mentality"

Via Jesse Spector:

Love that Torts while asked about and justly praising Boyle, spoke up for how well Anisimov is going right now.

Lundqvist, Boyle, Dubinsky Help Rangers Find A Way To Win Another One

Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty
The Rangers have become a team that does just find a way to win games they might not even deserve to be in and they did that again tonight where they played an awful first period, decent second and better third, and got some breaks against a team they should dominate.  The reality was the play that typified the season for the Rangers and conversely the Devils was the game winning goal.  At 13:22 of the second following a good shift for the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky would have the puck behind the net and find a pinching Michal Rozsival who would fire a shot that was going five feet wide until it hit Devils defender Andy Greene and went in. 

Combine that with the 43 saves that Lundqvist made tonight to keep the team in the game long enough to catch those breaks and you have an ugly win.   The Rangers a season ago do not win this game, so there is certainly a lot of positives to take from that side of it, but this team still does not handle huge wins all that well in that they come out sluggish and have to then fight uphill the rest of the night.  It is good they are showing that capability, but let’s not get into the habit of looking to do that.

Something to watch for will be the injury that Erik Christensen sustained just over eight minutes in when he crashed into the post and immediately grabbed at his knee.  He would not return in the game in what was described as a lower leg injury.   After the game it was announced that with the injury the Rangers have recalled Dale Weise from the Connecticut Whale.  Full details of play below.

Roster News: Dale Weise Recalled Following Erik Christensen Injury

During the second period of tonight's game Rangers forward Erik Christensen went crashing into the goal post and immediately grabbed for his knee.  He would not return for the rest of the game with what was described as a lower leg injury, but it was clear it was his knee, though no word on the severity at this point.  With the injury to Christensen, per Mitch Beck at HowlingsToday the team recalled Dale Weise from Connecticut which I think would have happened soon even without an injury thanks to the moving of Todd White to the Whale earlier today.  Weise showed himself well in his only game against the Flyers and will be a solid energy player on the fourth line if Christensen is out for any length of time, but once again there will be more line juggling.

Video: Brian Boyle vs Dainius Zubrus

Video: Jesper Fasth Goal Vs Russia at WJC

During the second game of the tournament Rangers 2010 6th round pick Jesper Fasth scored his first goal and second point of the tournament. Obviously do not watch the video for the commentary, but it was impressive to see not only Fasth's quickness in transition after the Russian turnover, but the way in which he set himself up for the one-timer before the pass was even made. The move to be prepared to shoot like that shows some goal scoring instincts.

Todd White Finally Sent To Connecticut Whale

After clearing waivers again today the New York Rangers have finally sent Todd White down to the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.  The move to send White down comes approximately three months later than it should have sending him down.  White, 35, was acquired over the summer from the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal that sent Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller out of New York.  In 18 games this season for the Rangers White recorded one goal and one assist while getting mainly fourth line minutes.

The move to send White down was not necessary from a roster situation aspect, but with the Rangers now carrying Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and his 1.75 million dollar cap it as well it became more of a financial decision to finally let him go.  Moving White out means that at least for the near future Zuccarello is here to stay which is good news for him, the team and the fans as his added skill has been very evident in his first two appearances, especially on the power play.  Hopefully the Rangers have now found combinations that work for an extended period of time and can stop the line juggling that has plagued them of late.

This move also makes it possible depending on the opponent and the play of Avery, Frolov and Christensen to call up Dale Weise to play a fourth line role again due to having an open roster spot, though it does add another veteran to the Connecticut Whale and the veteran roster limit. To make room on the roster the Whale sent Lee Baldwin down to the Greenville of the ECHL.  Let us all hope that White takes the same attitude to his demotion as Wade Redden has and turns into a mentoring figure for some of the young forwards down with the Whale.

Rumor: Niclas Bergfors on the Block; Should Rangers go after him?

A few times over the past couple weeks the rumor has circulated that the Atlanta Thrashers are looking to move Niclas Bergfors in a trade.  The most recent discussion of this came yesterday when Kevin Allen of USA Today reported that the Atlanta Thrashers “won’t get a player back when they deal Niclas Bergfors.” He went on to say that they’re likely to get a draft pick or a prospect.  So the question becomes with the Rangers like all other teams always needing to add talent to the roster should they look to acquire him?

Bergfors, 23, is a former 1st round draft pick of the Devils and was the centerpiece of the Ilya Kovalchuk deal and has shown very good skill in his short NHL career.  Last season between NJ and Atl he registered a very respectable 21 goals and 44 points in 81 games and looked like he was on his way to big things having scored 9 goals and 17 point in just 27 games following the trade.  Things have not worked out that way as he has not meshed well with new coach Craig Ramsay and despite putting up 7 goals and 18 points in just 28 games played he has been a healthy scratch consistently over this latest stretch presumably due to defensive issues.

The upside in Bergfors is certainly there as he has impressive offensive skills in his speed and stick handling most notably.  He is strong on the puck, good vision and has a good wrist shot and from watching him with the Devils last year was willing to play the other side of the puck as well, so I am not sure what the problem is with him and Ramsay other than there have been some work ethic concerns which could also be a problem with Tortorella.  

The other issue with the Rangers right now is even though they could stand to add more skill to the lineup it is unclear where he would fit on the roster unless someone like Frolov was moved out.  Fans certainly have had their fill of the enigmatic European players, but I am not convinced that is what Bergfors really is and if they can find a spot for him the cost of a draft pick seems like it might be a risk worth taking on a talent of his potential.

Let me know what you think.

Is Sending Del Zotto Down The Right Move?; Marc-Andre Bergeron PP QB Answer?

Yesterday John Tortorella created a buzz concerning second year defenseman Michael Del Zotto when Jim Cerny’s twitter, Tortorella said he has not ruled out possibly sending Del Zotto down to the Connecticut Whale (AHL) for a stint in the minors.  Obviously with any move that the Rangers make with MDZ right now there are positives and negatives to them.  I want to take a look at what the good and bad of making the AHL move would be for Del Zotto along with if anyone from Connecticut could come up or if someone outside is the solution for the Rangers right now.

The reality is to be effective in the NHL the biggest factor even more than the obvious level of skill required is confidence.  Without confidence the level of skill will be rendered meaningless because you are left with a player who is thinking too much and second guessing everything they do which basically leaves them paralyzed as a player.  Del Zotto can say all the right things in interviews that he wants, but watch him play and it is clear he has no confidence to his game right now and is trying to force it to come back.

On the positive side if he is going to be a scratch consistently even for a short time frame whether healthy or the new mystery issue every few days then going down would allow him to play and play a lot.  Not only would he be able to get significant minutes, but he could do it with significantly less pressure from the coaches and scrutiny from fans and the media being in Connecticut as opposed to the biggest stage in the world.  What is going on right now is there is a sense of fear in every move that Del Zotto makes much like Gilroy had when he came back up last season that if he screws a play up, especially defensively, he could be out of the lineup the next time out.  Sending him down to Hartford would allow the pressure to release to some extent and let him get back to playing hockey in a freer flowing and natural way.  He could get back to doing things like rushing the puck and manning the power play while also working with a veteran like Wade Redden on how to make the simple plays instead of constantly aiming for the touchdown on every play. 

Say what you want about Redden’s play and time in New York, but what Wade has forgotten about the game of hockey and being exactly what the Rangers hope Del Zotto will become is more than most will ever know.  It also does not hurt that Redden can understand exactly where Del Zotto is right now in taking the brunt of the fans and the media in terms of his abilities and what the team should do with him as Redden went through in this pressure cooker and while his play on the ice never lived up to the contract his class on and off the ice remained in-tact.  There is no better example of that fact than the job Redden has done bringing along all the young defenders already down in Hartford as many of them are transitioning to becoming professionals for the first time.  If Redden can do what he has done in the transformation of the Whale defensive core from the beginning of the year until now I think he could certainly aid Del Zotto is his path back to where he was and where he can get to.  All of those things for me make sending him to Connecticut a more constructive message than just sitting him in the press box to watch and write essays.

The biggest concern in sending Del Zotto down to the AHL is one of the shock to his confidence level and not knowing how he would respond to it.  Would he take it in the Zuccarello fashion of this year and work on his game forcing the Rangers to bring him back or would he have more of the Gilroy reaction of last season where it basically shot his game the rest of the season.  If Del Zotto takes the Zuccarello approach to it he would be back in New York in relatively short order and everyone would be better for it.

In terms of the Rangers if they send Del Zotto down I do not see anyone on the Whale roster who is ready to come up right now and play though Kundratek, McDonagh and Valenteko are getting closer day by day and might be ready for at least spot duty by the end of the season.  The Rangers could elect to go with six defenders and then either bring Del Zotto back or call someone else up if they had an injury and needed another body on defense. 

For me there is also another option that the Rangers could pursue which is someone outside the organization like Marc-Andre Bergeron.  Bergeron certainly has his faults on defense, but as a free agent he costs nothing but money, and not a lot of it at that.  What he can bring to this club is a consistent power play quarterback, a veteran defender and another left handed defenseman to mix in with all the right handers the Rangers currently have, especially if Del Zotto went down to the AHL.  If and when the Rangers want to bring Del Zotto back up it would only create more options for the club similar to the situation they have up front and other guys can be traded to bring assets back to the club to make room as well.

As always hit me with your thoughts.

Daily Recap: Gilroy Is In, Who's Out?; Kreider, Bourque, Fasth At WJC; Whale Home Jersey; Shelley Sucker Punch

With his strong play against the Islanders Matt Gilroy at least for the moment has put a lock on a spot for himself in the lineup and so this morning I looked at what the ramifications for him locking in a spot where on the other defenders and who might become the new odd-man out.  There really are only three candidates who might qualify to be the one who now misses time from the lineup and I went through the cases on Rozsival, Del Zotto and Eminger to see whom given all the factors I would leave out of the lineup.  On this front coach John Tortorella made some news both agreeing and disagreeing with my logic in the original piece and I will look at what he said and what will be the right move for Del Zotto tomorrow.

In other Rangers news today all four of the prospects at the WJC were in action and while Roman Horak was held scoreless the other three all got on the board today.  I recapped the Team USA game in which Kyle Palmieri and Charlie Coyle lead the way in the romp over Slovakia and discussed the play of both Kreider and Bourque who both had assists in the game.  Both of the Rangers prospects showed well for themselves in their different areas of expertise and look to be in form to be even bigger factors as the tournament progresses.  Jesper Fasth who had an assist in Sweden’s opening game would score a goal today in the 2-0 win over Russia.

Other than that there was only the photo of the new Whale home jersey in direct relation to the Rangers.

Outside of currently relating to the Rangers there was:

Video: Jody Shelley Sucker Punches Andrew Alberts

Tonight in the third period of a blowout win for the Vancouver Canucks, Flyers forward Jody Shelley decided to sucker punch Andrew Albert during a third period scrum. Seems that sucker punches are becoming more of the rage these days in the NHL with the one that Milan Lucic threw in the brawl against the Thrashers last week in which he was only fined and not suspended. My guess says based on his history the NHL will suspend Shelley and they may even try to make an example of him to stop this stuff because sucker punches have no place in the game of hockey. If you want to fight a guy then fine go fight the guy but to act like you are wrapping up with one player and then catch another blind with a punch is beyond the scope. You would think in a league with their new emphasis on taking away head shots and blindside hits from the game they would treat this as harshly or even more so than one of those.