Monday, October 31, 2011

Rangers Get First Home Win With 5-2 Victory Over Sharks

After blowing a three goal third period lead against Ottawa on Saturday, the New York Rangers responded with an impressive 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Ryan Callahan led the way with two goals as the Rangers played their most complete game of the season.

The New York Rangers played a very good opening period jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead before surrendering a late goal to end the period 2-1.

Brandon Prust created an early buzz when he dropped the gloves with Ryan Clowe just seven seconds into the game.

After failing to convert on an early power play, the Rangers got on the board when Ryan McDonagh scored on a one-timer from the left faceoff circle at 4:46.  Dan Girardi played it down low to Callahan who showed patience behind the net before finding McDonagh.

The Rangers got another power play chance which Derek Stepan converted a beautiful feed from Brandon Dubinsky at 14:53. Big for Stepan to get on the board with his first goal of the season.

The Sharks got one back with just 2:10 left as Joe Pavelski found a rebound just laying in front. Dan Girardi had to clear the crease on that play and remove Pavelski from the rebound.

The Sharks tied it up midway through the second after the Rangers were trapped in the zone for nearly two minutes. New York got it out but failed to get the pick deep which didn't allow Eminger and Woywitka to get off the ice.  Logan Couture made them pay with a beautiful snipe top shelf.

The Rangers retook the lead when Ryan Callahan scored as time expired on a power play.  Callahan's goal was set up by a beautiful cross ice pass from Christensen.

The Rangers extended the lead 2:42 later when Artem Anisimov joined the party with his first goal of the season on a backhander over Niemi.

Callahan pushed the lead to three with a great effort to score, as he, was going to the ice at 19:12.

The Garden of Dreams 2011 Rangers Auction

Received an email earlier this afternoon about some great items up for auction this year to help raise money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation.  Some tremendous opportunities up for auction and we all know the great work that the Garden of Dreams does, so place your bids Rangers fans. 

Meet Brad Richards After Watching Rangers Vs. Phoenix At The Garden
The last time Tortorella and Brad Richards teamed up, they won the 2004 Stanley Cup for Tampa, so theres no question that their reunion in New York is stirring up some conversation. One lucky fan and a friend will get to personally welcome Richards to New York, when they meet the All-Star Center after a home game! The twosome will enjoy 2 club level tickets to watch the Rangers take on the Phoenix Coyotes on January 10 at The Garden, and then head to the locker room to buddy up to Brad.

Have Dinner with Hockey Great Adam Graves Before A Rangers Home Game
It’s safe to say that former Rangers left-wing Adam Graves has seen some of the best days in Blueshirt history, and two lucky fans will get the chance to hear all about! The pair will have dinner with the hockey great before watching the Rangers take on the Hurricanes on November 11 at Madison Square Garden. After the meal, Graves will send the winner to their club level seats with a signed Rangers jersey to take home.

Ride the Zamboni At the Rangers Vs. Panthers Game at The Garden
The winning bidder will be able to enjoy the Rangers with the whole family, when their child gets to ride on the Zamboni during intermission at the Rangers vs. Florida Panthers game at Madison Square Garden! The lucky winner will watch the game with three family members from club level seats, close enough to catch all the Rangers action and their childs ride on the ice.

Enjoy Lunch with Former Ranger Dave Maloney, Watch Rangers Practice and Tour the MSG Training Facility
Fans that want a behind-the-scenes look at how the Blueshirts gear up for game time can watch the team practice at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, NY after lunch with Ranger alum and radio announcer Dave Maloney! The winning bidder and a guest will go to practice on November 14, and then meet Maloney in the players dining room for lunch before an exclusive tour of the MSG Training Center.

Bidding for these items is open through Monday, November 7 at

Proceeds benefit The Garden of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit charity that works closely with the Madison Square Garden Company to bring joy and happiness to children facing devastating problems.

Rangers Officially Place Sean Avery On Re-entry Waivers

Andrew Gross reports that the New York Rangers have placed forward Sean Avery on re-entry waivers. The rest of the league has until tomorrow at noon to place a claim on Avery. If no team does the Rangers will be free to recall him to the NHL.

Rangers Lack of Effort An Indictment On Team Leadership?

Nick Laham/Getty Images
The New York Rangers 3-3-3 record to start the season leaves much to be desired.  Worse yet is that the level of play on the ice isn’t even worthy of that mediocre record.  The Rangers are lacking a lot of things on both ends of the ice to open the season, but beyond the offensive and defensive problems they seem to be lacking any sense of leadership within the group.  The lack of scoring consistency or secondary production offensively and awful turnovers are things that Rangers’ fans are used to witnessing, but the lack of desire to put forth effort for a full game is disgraceful.  To lose games because players have off nights or the other team is simply more talented is one thing, but to be outworked goes against what fans expect of the Blueshirts.  
The question for some becomes where does the responsibility for that consistently being the case reside?  Is it on the coach who is paid to get the best out of his players, on the players themselves who should have their own internal pride of performance or on the  leadership within the locker room?
There is no question that some of it is clearly on the shoulders of coach John Tortorella, but the players, especially the leadership are getting off too easy from many of the supporters in terms of "blame" for effort.  Following each game, especially the losses, you see those who are presumed to be leaders, either by being team captains or vocal presences in the locker room say the right things to the media.  They talk about how the team has to play a full game and how unacceptable different aspects of their game on that particular night were along with knowing they have to fix it.  Yet, the Rangers are now nine games into the season and have yet to put 60 minutes of hockey together even once.  No denying  the coaching staff shoulders responsibility in that, but on another level, at what point do you start looking at the “leadership group” on the club and asking when they do something about what is going on?
To listen to Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan admit following the collapse against Ottawa that they relaxed when they went up 4-1 is unacceptable.  To watch this team play lifeless period after lifeless period is deplorable.  Where is that leadership group standing up in the room and calling people out?  Where is that group doing something about it on the ice themselves instead of just giving lip service to the media after the game ends?
Callahan was named captain this season because he was said to have the respect of the room and performed well as the de-facto captain last season.  The room is not showing the same level of fire playing for him with the 'C' that they did when he had the 'A' a year ago and part of being the head guy is demanding that effort. Placing the full blame at his feet would be wrong, but it goes with the title that he should be one of the first places you look when the team consistently lacks the effort he himself has been known for throughout his career.  Even more disappointing is that he himself has had a number of games this year where he would not have met his own standards before, though to his credit he has owned up to it and is getting back to his type of hockey. Now he has to demand that of everyone else in the room.
In talking about the new locker rooms at Madison Square Garden, Captain Ryan Callahan said that the shape of the room was important because it allows all the players to look each other in the eye and breads more accountability.  That level of accountability to one another does not seem apparent thus far this season.  Last year this team had the feel of a team that fought for one another and did whatever it took to win a hockey game.  This team has the feel of a club that is willing to do as little as possible to get the result they want. 
You do not win in this league without hard work for a full 60 minutes and this team has not been willing to make that kind of effort once this season.  They have three wins on the year, but there is not one of those games where the team played for 60 minutes or you could argue, outside of the goaltending, they outplayed their opponent for the majority of the contest.  That itself should be seen as an indictment on the leadership of a club.
The thing that made last season’s club enjoyable to watch and gave such hope for what was to come was the level of intensity they played with each night.  They certainly had lousy periods, mainly opening periods, but they fought and achieved despite being the less talented team on many nights.  You cannot blame the start this season on talent as the Rangers went out and spent the money on the biggest fish in the free agent market, Brad Richards, and both he and Marian Gaborik have produced while Lundqvist has been Lundqvist in net, minus some soft goals against Toronto. 
The loss of Marc Staal has certainly hurt, but the Rangers issues on the ice are based more on compete level and desire than talent.  The idea that Sean Avery needs to be called up to give the team life and a spark is both a statement on Avery and a negative reflection on everyone else in the locker room.  Some will argue that the Rangers are playing lifeless because Tortorella has lost the team, which could be true, but if they believe in their leaders they will run through the wall for them regardless of feelings on the coach.  The Rangers are not doing that right now and instead are being consistently outworked by the opposition game in and game out.  The time for placing the entire blame on Tortorella’s shoulders needs to come to an end and players like Callahan, Richards and now Girardi need to take control of the leadership of this team, demand better and accept nothing less. They cannot control the results and performance of each player, but they can require the effort.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rupp's Knee Becoming Increasing Concern For Rangers

The New York Rangers signed forward Mike Rupp this summer hoping to add some grit, a little offense down the roster and someone to take a little of the fighting burden off Brandon Prust.  Rupp has been unable to get much going early in the season dealing with a “cranky” knee that has caused him to miss the last two games and the concern over that knee is only growing by the day to the point where surgery appears to now be in the discussion even if coach John Tortorella won't publicly acknowledge that piece. 

Rupp is said to be seeking another opinion, likely to avoid going under the knife, but having surgery might be best option.  By getting the problem fixed now he can focus on recovery and coming back later in the season at 100% instead of continuing to try and rest and play with it and having it nag him all season. 

Rangers To Place Avery On Re-Entry Waivers Monday

Larry Brooks of the New York Post tweeted that he has confirmed the New York Rangers will place forward Sean Avery on re-entry waivers Monday.  Should he clear he would be able to play on Thursday against Anaheim.  Most don't seem to think that Avery is going to get claimed by another team on re-entry. 

This feels like a move to appease the fan base for a slow start and not one that has a legitimate possibility of changing the team.  Should be interesting to watch Tortorella and Avery over the next couple of weeks as this seems like a move that went above Tororella's head.

Rangers Signing Stralman Soon?

Last night Larry Brooks at the New York Post reported that the New York Rangers were still waiting on defenseman Anton Stralman to inform them of his decision on their contract offer from last week.

This morning Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet said that Stralman is set to sign with the Rangers shortly.  

The decision to send Erixon down last night signals that another move on defense is likely coming in short order, but these "conflicting" reports do not shed much light on how certain Anton Stralman is to be that move, at least short term.  For tomorrow expect Jeff Woywitka to be back in the lineup on the third pair with Steve Eminger.

No Further Discipline For Wolski?; Rupp, Anisimov, Del Zotto Missing At Practice

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun tweeted that there is no disciplinary hearing scheduled for Wojtek Wolski in regards to his high hit on Daniel Alfredsson yesterday, so he does not believe there will be any further discipline.  Somewhat surprising given the call on the ice and the fact that Alfredsson is out today because of the hit, but good news for the Rangers as Wolski was instrumental in two goal yesterday.

In practice news there was no Mike Rupp, Artem Anisimov or Michael Del Zotto on ice during practice (via Rangers twitter). Rupp has been dealing with a "cranky" knee, Del Zotto has had a sore hip and Anisimov is more than likely the result of soreness from yesterday's meeting with the glass.

On the good news front there was consistency with the forward groupings today as these top two lines showed some spark yesterday.  Andrew Gross reported the lines from practice ...
Deveaux, Christensen skating together

Video: Talbot Sings "Moves Like Jagr" During Jagr Interview

Fans in Philadelphia are having a lot of fun with "Moves Like Jagr" and it appears they are not the only ones.  Last night following a 5-1 win over Carolina Jagr was meeting with the media when teammate Max Talbot came into the dressing room and started singing "Moves Like Jagr."

Talbot appears at 2:31 mark of the video.

Video via Broad Street Hockey:

Sean Avery Coming Back To Rangers?

Update: Avery to be placed on re-entry waivers Monday.

When Sean Avery was demoted to the Connecticut Whale at the end of training camp it appeared likely that his days with the New York Rangers were finished.  His relationship with coach John Tortorella and his uneven play of the past two seasons looked like a recall would be a virtual impossibility.  However, after a slow start by the team, playing lifeless hockey for far too many periods of the young season, the return of Avery might just be what is in the offing, at least according to one radio host in New York.

Boomer Esiason tweeted the following this morning...
Little birdie telling me Sean Avery is back! Thank God! Finally some energy! For the NYR.
Obviously this is not a beat writer or the team announcing it so there has to be a high level of skepticism involved, but why would Boomer to put his neck on the line with false information?  Esiason is a fan first in this situation and certainly not a reporter, so it could be more wishful than anything else.

Note of caution for all the Avery fans is that he does have to clear re-entry waivers before he can report to the Rangers so he would not be there for Monday's game and could always be claimed by another team.  There have been murmurs the Islanders could be interested.

Rangers Call Up Andre Deveaux?

On Saturday night the New York Rangers announced that Tim Erixon and Kris Newbury were being sent down to the Connecticut Whale (AHL) and the speculation began as to who, if anyone, would be coming to the Rangers.  Most of the speculation surrounded Mats Zuccarello, John Mitchell and prospect Carl Hagelin, but none of those appear to be the option.  While there is no official announcement as of yet, Rangers prospect Carl Hagelin announced via twitter that his roomate Andre Deveaux is heading to New York.

Deveaux is a good fit for a fourth line type role to play limited minutes, bring some toughness to the team and add another player capable of dropping the gloves.  Deveaux has racked up huge penalty minute numbers in his AHL career but has also shown some offense in recent seasons.  He currently has four goals, two assists and 23 penalty minutes in 9 games. 

For those who wanted a bigger name or someone with more offensive upside realize that the Rangers had some good work offensively from Wolski-Stepan-Gaborik and Dubinsky-Richards-Callahan lines today and Tortorella doesn't like to touch the Boyle line as his third line.  Taking those as the top 9 there is no reason to call up a legit prospect who should be getting more minutes in an offensive role.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rangers Send Erixon, Newbury Down to CT Whale

Following today's 5-4 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators the New York Rangers announced some roster moves sending both D Tim Erixon and F Kris Newbury to the Connecticut Whale (AHL).  Erixon has been up and down with his play thus far this season, while Newbury has been a non-factor while getting little ice time on the fourth line.  It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will get the call in their place.

Rangers Blow Three Goal Lead, Lose To Senators 5-4 In Shootout

When Brad Richards scored 8:05 into the third period to give the New York Rangers a 4-1 lead many thought it was a safe two points in the standings for the team.  That assumption was a bad one as the Rangers absolutely collapsed in the second half of the third period giving up three goals in the final 10:42 of the game to send the game to overtime.  Milan Michalek netted the only goal in the shootout to complete the Senators comeback and the Rangers collapse.
The game was all about how bad penalties can absolutely swing a game.  The Rangers were awful in the first period and trailed 1-0 when Ottawa’s Zenon Konopka was assessed a major penalty for boarding was at 4:05 of the second period.  After the Rangers failed to tally even a single shot for the first two minutes of the major power play, Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards scored 1:20 seconds apart to completely flip the feel of the game.
Callahan’s goal came when he fired the puck from the faceoff circle after a Brad Richards shot attempt had been blocked by Ottawa.  Richards took a quick feed from Gaborik down load and beat Anderson to give the Rangers their first lead.  After the goal Richards showed the emotion of scoring his first at MSG for New York when he jumped into the boards.
The Rangers continued the momentum early in the third with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards scoring to push the lead to 4-1.  The Rangers forecheck worked on the Gaborik goal leaving Stepan with the puck behind the net to find a streaking Gaborik in the slot for the goal. 
Richards second of the game came when he was paired with Wolski and Richards because Dubinsky and Callahan had just been out on the penalty kill.  Gaborik collected the puck down load and fed Richards for the shot over Anderson’s shoulder and it appeared the rout was on.
The Senators had other ideas as Jason Spezza scored only 1:13 after Richards looked to put the game away when as he deflected Filip Kuba’s shot beyond Lundqvist.  A 4-2 lead still felt safe until Wojtek Wolski took a foolish elbowing penalty to give the Senators the man advantage.  Jason Spezza would make them pay with a beautiful shot from the point to get the Senators within one. 
Milan Michalek tied the game as the Rangers defenders just watched him shoot, collect his own rebound and shoot again with just 2:50 left.
Richards and Gaborik were everything offensively that Rangers fans have been hoping for.  Richards however needs to stop being used in his own zone when you are trying to hold a lead.
Callahan and Dubinsky are getting back to playing more like themselves
Eminger needs to learn how to win a battle in front of the net or go sit in the press box.  Too often replays show him standing in the crease with a player of the opposing team while the puck goes in the net behind Lundqvist.

Avery Get Empty Netter In Whale Debut, Still Not Answer For What Ails Rangers

Sean Avery made his debut for the Connecticut Whale last night, scoring an empty net goal and immediately having a fight as the CT Whale defeated the Adirondack Phantoms 4-2 to take over first place in the division.  The news of Avery being back on the ice and scoring, even if an empty-netter, was welcomed by Avery's Army of fans.  Glad Sean is back on the ice, but he still is not the answer for what ails the New York Rangers. 

Avery at his best plays on the edge in all facets of the game.  He has shown that in flashes over the past couple of seasons, but whether it be Avery himself or coach John Tortorella restraining him there has not been enough of that version on the ice.  When Avery plays without his edge he serves little purpose to the team.  He can still bring some energy and work the cycle down low, if the Rangers establish a forecheck, but it is not enough to warrant the level of cries for his return.  At this stage in his career Avery is likely a fourth line or at best bottom six winger in the NHL.  Yes, Avery can bring energy to a seemingly listless Rangers team at time, but when he is likely going to sit on the bench for 80% of the game it is questionable what if any difference he would tangibly make.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Video: Michael Sauer Makes Sliding Save To Rob Grabovski

In the second period against Toronto, Michael Sauer showed just how the New York Rangers when he missed the previous five games with this spectacular defensive play.  Welcome back Sauer, we all missed you.

Surprise, Surprise Christensen Finds Himself On Top Line With Gaborik Again

The New York Rangers are known for their consistently inconsistent offense.  One thing you can always count on when the team fails to score is that coach John Tortorella will put the lines in the blender and start over again, which he did today at practice. Katie Strang of ESPN New York tweeted the lines:


There are few nice things to say about these line combinations.  What it really shows is how discombobulated the Rangers skill set is throughout their lineup as they have two elite talents that can show up each night, two that have it and no heart, five grinders they rely on and two young players looking to keep developing.

The Boyle line was the only one to survive this time, which is not surprising with Tortorella as that line is foundational for him.  Seeing Wolksi get a chance with Gaborik is something many have called for, but I doubt few if any wanted to see it happen with Christensen as the third member of the top line.  Seeing Christensen get yet another shot on the top line is painful and something that was supposed to end when Brad Richards signed with New York over the summer.  Having Anisimov and Stepan toiling on the fourth line, even if both are struggling, is also frustrating because they are not going to develop or snap out of their funk playing the limited minutes Tortorella uses his fourth line.

Gretzky Not Joining Rangers Winter Classic Alumni Team?

When it comes to the New York Rangers alumni game there are the expected inclusions of Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and Adam Grave. Beyond that the biggest hope for some has been that Wayne Gretzky would lace them up in Philadelphia, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

According to Pierre LeBrun at Wayne Gretzky told him the following via text…

"No, I'll be with my family for the holidays,'' Gretzky said. "Plus, they don't need to see a 50-year-old slow guy out there!''