Saturday, January 1, 2011

Video: Torts Post-game: Calls Out Gaborik Again?; Testy With Giannone

Following the Rangers loss tonight in his post-game press conference John Tortorella quickly shot back at John Giannone for using the word satisfied in terms of getting a point out of tonight's game to which Giannone corrected his awful word choice to accurately describe the player's thoughts as it being a big point.

Later on he appeared to call out Marian Gaborik again saying the team needs more from him, which it does, then he talks about Gaborik battling confidence and finally praises the work of everyone else on the play.  Personally I think what he said about Gaborik was right in terms of the team needing more from him, but if you believe a guy is is having confidence issues why put that out there in public and not just talk up the goal itself to boost him?

Lundqvist, Late Goal Get Rangers Point They Don't Deserve Against Lightning

The New York Rangers took the ice looking for their third straight win, but you would not know they were playing that well based on the display they put out there this evening.  Simple fact of the matter is the Rangers did not deserve to even get one point tonight, so I guess there is that positive to take out of this performance.  Only a few Rangers players even bothered to show up tonight and thankfully for the team Henrik Lundqvist was at the top of that list.  Henrik was stellar again and other than the flukey goal and the easy tap-in in OT he stood on his head to keep the team in the game.  What he has to witness on the other end was his offense making a goalie making his second career start look like a Vezina trophy winner.  To Desjardins credit he did make some very good saves in the game, but he also had a lot of help from the Rangers shooters as everything was either low or to the glove.  There was not one shot high to the blocker side and there was little to no traffic in front of the net all night.  

The Rangers would finally see a sign that their star player actually felt like showing up tonight when with 46 seconds left he would score the tying goal.  I know the fact he scored will make a lot of people feel better, but I still believe it was a pitiful performance.  The goal itself was created mainly by Dan Girardi with help from Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov.  Girardi pinches in when the puck was played around by Tampa, takes the hit to keep the play alive, then Anisimov helped along the boards.  Once Tampa had control again it went to Martin St. Louis, but as he was going to clear Brandon Dubinsky stopped him with a great stick play which caused the turnover.  Girardi gets the puck along the wall fires a pass to the slot where Gaborik partially flubs a wrister but beats Desjardins for the goal at 19:14.

The Rangers get the game to OT based on the late goal and then immediately give the game away when Dana Tyrell comes down the boards into the Rangers zone and Sauer has him pretty well covered but Matt Gilroy inexplicably hurls himself across the ice supposedly attempting to block the centering attempt, misses, and in the process left Nate Thompson wide-open in front for the tap-in 19 seconds into OT.

Another game, so of course another lousy first period effort put up by the Rangers.  The team was completely dominated as they were flat from the start and it never seemed to get better.  The highlight of the period other than Lundqvist was a defensive play by Michal Rozsival to break up a two-on-one for Steven Stamkos.  In the low-lights section there were plenty of odd-man rushes surrendered and overall awful puck management. 

The Lightning would score at 13:03 when after a lousy play in the offensive zone in which Gaborik gave instead of tracking back stepped up and instead of actually trying to hit the guy he sticks his knee out and gets nothing leading the Lightning the other way.  Dana Tyrell finally breaks in and looks towards the middle where Michael Sauer had taken away the pass option and Tyrell gets lucky as the puck slides off his stick and finds its way through the legs of Lundqvist.

The team would play somewhat better in the second, but the stars were the goaltenders as Lundqvist was stellar at his end and while he had some help from the Rangers typical inability to lift the puck Desjardins would make some very good saves of his own. 
  • Anisimov, Boyle, Dubinsky, Prust were the only positively noticeable forwards.  Stepan and Zuke had some flashes as well.
  • Staal, Girardi and Rozsival played very for the defense and the team did hold the big three scoreless though that was mainly due to Henrik..
  • Personally I am tired of Marian "the magician's" disappearing act and will have more on that tomorrow.
  • I did enjoy the Rangers team taking turns defending Lundqvist against Dominic  Moore as Dubinsky, Boyle, Rozsival and Eminger all took their turn.

Rollie The Missing Piece for TB? Islanders Trade Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay for Ty Wishart

Per Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank  (great work by Chris in breaking this story) the New York Islanders have traded goalie Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defensive prospect Ty Wishart. 

Roloson, 41, played in 20 games for the Islanders this season, compiling a record of 6-13-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and .916 save percentage.  The overall numbers do not speak to the improved play of late for Roloson who won four of his last five starts and other than a blow-up against the Rangers has been very good in each game. 

The move helps the Lightning in getting a goaltender to sure up their weakest link at the moment, but also means the Lightning are likely to make other goaltending moves with Dan Ellis, Mike Smith and now strong play from rookie Cedrick Desjardins all on the roster.  Desjardins likely goes back to the minors but something will have to be done with one of the other two veterans.  Excellent move by Steve Yzerman to get a veteran goalie to sure up his team without having to give anyone on his current roster or one of his upper prospects.

For the Islanders Wishart is a former 1st round draft pick in 2006 by San Jose and was sent to Tampa Bay as a part of the Dan Boyle trade in 2008.  This season Wishart has four goals, eighteen assists in 31 games in the AHL this season.  Wishart was ranked 6th by Hockey's Future among Tampa Bay Prospects heading into this season.  Have to believe that the Islanders could have gotten more for Roloson than Wishart at this point, even though there is still a lot of upside to Wishart.

At some point the NHL must start looking into the Islanders and their utter lack of interest in putting a competitive product on the ice as this move puts them even further below the salary cap floor.

Is Roloson the missing piece to make the Lightning a contender?

Video: Rupp vs Erskine Throw Haymakers in Classic Fight

Pregame: Rangers At Lightning

The Rangers will take the ice looking for their third straight win and to avenge two previous losses against Tampa this evening.  New York comes into the new year at 22-14-2 which is good enough for 6th in the East, but they are looking up at the first place Lightning who are currently 22-11-5 and in 2nd in the conference.  The Rangers took care of the business they had to last month and beat some good teams along the way to end 2010 with an impressive 8-3-1 December and tonight will look to start 2011 off right. 

The two meetings between these two clubs have been very strange games in that the first time it was one of the worst performances the Rangers put on all season in Tampa losing 5-3 in a game that was not that close.  The game last week took eleven rounds in the shootout before Ryan Malone finally ended what for the most part was an ugly event that saw few good attempts after the first few. 

Key Opposing Player: Steven Stamkos (31-25-56)

Rangers Lineup:
Dubinsky - Stepan - Gaborik

Frolov - Anisimov - Zuccarello
Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust
Avery - Drury - Weise

Staal - Girardi

Rozsival - Eminger
Gilroy - Sauer



: Michael Del Zotto (healthy), Erik Christensen (knee), Derek Boogaard (concussion)

Scouting Report on Cedrick Desjardins

This evening the Tampa Bay Lighting will start rookie Cedrick Desjardins in his second career appearance.  In his debut vs Montreal on Thursday Desjardins stopped 27 of 28 shots for the win, so Boucher is going to stick with the hot hand and give Desjardins a chance to show what he has while Mike Smith is still coming back from injury and Dan Ellis has been erratic at times this year.  The 25-year-old goaltender is officially listed as a butterfly style, but he is predominantly a battler in the mold of a Tim Thomas more than a clinical tactician in the net.  His strengths are his movement and quick glove.  His best quality though is his battle and his mental resilience which were both tested in his debut when he gave a soft goal only 58 seconds into his NHL debut but rebounded beautifully to stop the last 27.

Part of the reason for that resilence is the very circuitous route to the NHL Desjardins has had to travel proving himself at every level.  Being force to take that kind of route will always instill and expose a level of mental resilience that can bode well for a player once they get here.  After being the goaltender for Crosby and Rimouski Oceanic as they won a Memorial Cup Desjardins was just another undrafted goaltender looking for a job.  The Montreal Canadiens took a chance on him and he would start the battle all over again working on his game for two years in ECHL putting up stellar numbers and then winning another title in 2008 he finally moved up to the AHL.

It would be another two years in the AHL and last season with Hamilton while in the Candiens system he posted an impressive 29-9-4 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.   When Guy Boucher, who coached Hamilton, became the coach of the Lightning he had the team trade for his former goalie and now he is giving him his chance at the NHL level.  This season in Norfolk Desjardins posted a 12-5-1 record with a 2.63 goals against average and .900 save percentage.     

Del Zotto Sitting Fourth Straight; Time to Play Him Or Send Him Down Has Come

Over the past 24 hours there had been some speculation among the beat writers that defenseman Michael Del Zotto would be back in the lineup and that veteran defender Michal Rozsival might see a night in the press box for the New York Rangers but that is not going to be the case for tonight at least.  Per Steve Zipay, who reportd it first, it will be Del Zotto who sits for his fourth straight game even though he is back among the healthy for tonight's lineup.  The reason for the speculation on Rozi potentially sitting happened is because at practice yesterday Del Zotto was paired with Steve Eminger while Rozsival was not among a steady pair.

With Del Zotto out again it is clear that at some point in the near future the Rangers are going to have to decide to either put Del Zotto back in the lineup or send him down to the AHL.  As important as him learning lessons and correcting his mistakes are right now for the success of the NHL club on the ice, at his age he needs to play and get experience just as much.  If that means going down to the Whale where his mistakes "matter less" in terms of winning and losing and developing him becomes the focus again then so be it.  I discussed more in depth whether sending Del Zotto to the minors was a good thing in the linked article.  The biggest downside to sending him down has been the idea of it messing with his head and his confidence, well sitting out four straight is doing that already without the potential benefit of actually playing.

Personally even if he does stay and come back Eminger is not the answer for a partner to Del Zotto even though they played together during Rozi's injury earlier in the year.  Eminger has seen his own play slip and the best partner for Del Zotto is Sauer and throwing him back in against second line competition is not the answer either.  Part of the reason DZ continues to fail is because he keeps getting put back in the same exact situations as before and we all know it is the definition of insanity to do the same things over and over and expect different results.  If Torts wants to critcize DZ for making those same mistakes over and over as he did a few days back then he needs to also look in the mirror at himself for putting him in the exact same spots.  The job as a coach is to put your players in the best possible situations to succeed not watch them fail and then punish them for it.  Let him play against weaker competition to get his game back and then you can move him back up when he EARNS it.

Brian Boyle Striding To Rangers MVP Thus Far?

Lou Capozzola/Getty Images
The New York Rangers acquired center Brian Boyle before last season for a third round pick and after his first season with the club that looked like an atrocious trade.  Boyle played well in penalty killing situations and was a decent fourth line player, but he was awful in the faceoff circle and seemed reluctant to use his size as a weapon and play a physical game.  Those things led to Boyle coming into camp as a bubble guy to even make the roster this season, but from the opening days of training camp it was clear that this year’s version of Brian Boyle would play more like a first round draft pick.  During preseason it was evident there was a different personality to Boyle’s game this year, but no one could have foreseen this kind of play through the team’s first 38 games.  It is not a stretch to say that Brian Boyle has gone from on the outside looking in to make the club to the team’s MVP so far this season.

To truly understand the transformation one must go back to last season and put numbers to the description of his year I laid out above.  Boyle recorded four goals and two assists in 71 games.  Those stats are bad but some of the others are even worse where Boyle played to a -6 rating, won 38.7% of his faceoffs and only garnered 8:25 a game of ice time.  So what changed?