Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Video: Did Crosby Top Ovie Playing With Dolls Taking on Puck Pyramid?

You can love him, you can hate him, but without question right now Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player in the world and this clip for Reebok shows that in spades.  Last week it was Ovechkin against the Russian dolls in a great display of skill and accuracy, but once again Crosby might have come out on top in their battle.

Watch as Crosby stacks pucks into pyramid formation on the top of the team bench and from approximately 30 feet away and picks off the top two pucks, misses with the third, uses the fourth to blast the rest and most impressively uses his fifth shot to clip one of the pucks as it is rolling down the bench wall.

Personally still cannot stand some of the antics, and the move at the end typifies that, but you cannot deny the sick skill on display here.

Video: Wild Win On Whacky Goal Setting New Low For Devils

As if this season has not been embarrassing enough for the New Jersey Devils it got even worse tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Clayton Stoner of the Wild, he of 0 previous career NHL goals, would intend to dump the puck in from the neutral zone to start a forecheck and Johan Hedberg would anticipate the play and head behind the net to play the puck. It was at that point the curse of Kovalchuk would take over and have the dump in attempt deflect off of Ilya’s stick and then the glass at the Prudential Center and make a direct line for the Devils net where Hedberg could not get back to in time. Fittingly this would end up being the deciding goal in the game which would see the Devils tie last year’s total for losses from last season in only game 39.

Fedotenko Back Tomorrow?; McDonagh Talks Redden; Del Zotto New Number

When Ruslan Fedotenko went down on Sunday after taking a puck off his hand all New York Rangers fans collectively, “not again,” when it comes to another player going down with a broken hand having just lost Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury twice this season and Brandon Dubinsky in similar scenarios.  Everyone would take a sigh of relief after the game when it was announced that it was just a bad bruise and nothing was broken.  The news continues to get better as Fedotenko was able to practice today with his typical line and is expected to play tomorrow against the Hurricanes.

Fedotenko, 31, was originally brought to New York as a tryout player mainly due to his history with coach John Tortorella but he has made the most of his opportunity and become a vital part of the Rangers lineup.  If you missed the play from Sunday’s game here is the video of not only Fedotenko blocking the initial McCabe shot, getting injured, but how he got back up and continued to drop down to block more shots.  That is the kind of play the Rangers have been getting from him all season and why having him available for tomorrow’s game against Carolina is very good news.

In terms of recent recall Ryan McDonagh, Andrew Gross, has quality as always in the wide ranging discussion that touched on his relationship with Stepan both at Wisconsin and this season while they have been separated and further evidence of what we have talked about before concerning the mentoring that Wade Redden has done in Hartford.

The article talks about how not only have McDonagh and Redden played on the ice together, but been roommates on the road allowing McDonagh to inundate Redden with questions which has helped in the transition in all facets of the game; particularly the mental ones.  Gross also addresses the issue of whether McDonagh will actually get to play and it is not at all surprising having followed McDonagh from his Wisconsin days to see the way he handled himself in answering questions on the topic and his philosophy on how to play the game in general.  Check out the link, it is worth it as always.

Finally as always Bruce Berlet and the crew over at Howlings do a great job covering the Whale and he discusses among other things Michael Del Zotto and his adjustment to being down in the minors.  Del Zotto is saying all the right things today about doing the work and what he has to change in his game, but personally I am going to wait until he shows it this time to believe he fully understands playing simple is what is necessary.  The quotes and work are worth the read and there is also discussion of the change in McDonagh’s game from the beginning of the year to where it is now.

The only bit of news from the article I will spoil is that Del Zotto has chosen a number for the Whale and it will not be his typical number 4 as Stu Bickel already had the number 4.  It will be the number 2 which is not a way to lessen the pressure on the young man, but Rangers fans do not get excited it is not in ode to Brian Leetch it is still about Bobby Orr as it was the number Orr wore while he was in Junior hockey.

Video: Derek Stepan NHL Overtime Interview; Talks WJC, USA Hockey, Rangers

Last night Derek Stepan called in for a phone interview during the NHL Overtime broadcast and while he did not say anything to make headlines from the real takeaway is as most Stepan interviews is the poise with which he speaks for a rookie who is still only 20 years old.

Trade Buzz: Rangers Scout Leafs For Third Time in Week; Who Could they Want? Versteeg?

David Pagnotta of TheFourthPeriod reported via twitter last night that the New York Rangers were in attendance for the Leafs game against the Bruins.  Normally I would think little of that as just about every team scouts every other team, but since the Rangers do not have the Leafs on the schedule in the near future it was somewhat curious.  Add to that his follow-up which he had this tweet:
Food for thought... same 2 Rangers pro scouts here tonight were here last Tuesday, and 1 was here last Thursday.
That is a lot of time to spend scouting a team unless you are at least considering some of their players and with the time in the season it would have to be via a trade.  The obvious question at that point becomes who on the Leafs would the Rangers be scouting and/or looking to acquire in a trade?  The name I can predict pops to the front of most heads in terms of who the Rangers should go after will be one that is already in trade rumors; Kris Versteeg.  There is a lot to like about Versteeg as the 24 year old winger has playoff experience, a championship ring and plays a gritty all-around game with offensive skill.  I said two years ago that he is a lot like Callahan and we all know how beloved Ryan Callahan is in Rangerland. 

As I said Versteeg is a name that has been coming up of late in rumors from the likes of Pierre LeBrun to he who shall not be named.  In his story Pierre LeBrun kept the details vague other than to say that Burke was not shopping Versteeg but had received a hard offer that caused him to pause and consider a move he had not planned on making.  The fuzz on the other hand stuck a name on the idea of moving Versteeg, which was that of Brayden Schenn from the L.A. Kings and if that is the hard offer that LeBrun is speaking of and Burke did not immediately say yes to the deal he has lost his mind and should quit or be fired.

There are a lot of good things about Versteeg as a I referenced before, but if you have a lot of teams seeking a player it forces a bidding war and you are bound to overpay.  With all the good that Versteeg brings also realize he is not a first liner on a good team, but more of a second or third liner as he was in Chicago and as Callahan should be.  Versteeg is likely a 20-25 goal 45-55 point guy at his peak and really if the Rangers are going to give up anything legit you need first line player.

Other guys from Toronto that the Rangers could be interested in might include Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, and always the possibility of Tomas Kaberle. 

Grabovski, 26, is a highly skilled player that has good speed, but has never fully put it together over long stretches.  Right now he is having a very solid season with a 14-14-28 line and while not spectacular has been effective in the faceoff circle winning at a 47.1% rate.   Grabovski has one year remaining on his deal at 2.9 million against the cap.

Kulemin, 24, is a good skater with good speed while working hard on both ends and being willing to take the body and play in the dirty areas.  He would actually be a very good fit for the system the Rangers are running in the mold of a Fedotenko type player with more scoring ability.  He currently has contributed 13-11-24 on the season and has one season at 2.35 million left on his deal.

Kaberle, 32, is a player that has long been rumored to be traded and still never has been, so I will not believe anything involving him until a trade is done.  The upside to Kaberle is obvious in that he clearly solves the power play quarterback problem considered on a lacking team he has 14 power play assists as part of a 1-23-24 line.  The big negative is that he would cost a decent return though that seems to diminish as they get closer to the end of his deal in which he is below market value.

Some will say Kessel but cannot see them moving him with all they gave up to get him; Beauchmin is solid but not worth 3.8 on the cap next year and Komisarek is vastly overpaid.  Personally none of these names based on the combination of money and prospects it would take to obtain them really excite me, but Kulemin is probably the one if I had to pick one who should be available for a mid-prospect or a pick and has a reasonable contract.  Maybe I am missing something entirely, but I do not really see why the Rangers are scouting the Leafs at all unless it is a big move where they send Gaborik there and get players like Kadri and Luke Schenn back.  Nothing Toronto has really elevates the Rangers above where they are, so overall I pass, but as always trades depend on the cost of what you are getting so I am sure some combination could make me want to say yes.

Video: Ovechkin "Russian Spy" Sportscenter Commercial: File Under Hilarious

ESPN and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin teamed up for this Sportscenter commercial and it reminds me why I miss ESPN covering the NHL. As much as that desire for ESPN to have hockey again is about the sport itself it is as much for the way they can promote the sport through their commercials. Check it out: When you have a recognizable player at the level of Ovechkin who has his playful personality you should be doing more of these fun commericals to make the game more accessible to the average sports fan. The way he goes from laughing and joking to that stone cold spy face was tremendous and getting help from fellow Russian, Semyon Varlamov to "escape" only adds to it. Great work

Daily Recap: Del Zotto Demoted/Upset; McDonagh Up To Not Play?; Callahan Void Widens; Prucha Back?; McIlrath Fight

The big news of the day with the New York Rangers was Michael Del Zotto being sent down to the Connecticut Whale and Ryan McDonagh being called up in his stead.  There have been differing opinions on the merits of this move and analysis of the positives and negatives over the past week or so once it became very apparent the option was on the table.  Obviously now that the demotion has happened there will be plenty more and I certainly offer mine and the reasons why right now even if I was not always certain of late this appears to be the best move for Del Zotto.  Also in the article I give some background on the season Ryan McDonagh has had for the Whale in the AHL, the adjustment period he went through and what kind of defender I see him as at this level.

In that article detailing the move to send one down and call up the other I finished it by opining that I hoped in calling McDonagh to the Rangers they were going to play him and not put him in the press box and maybe it was instinct/intuition or maybe it was  just having been jaded by the organization in the past.  Either way it turns out that nagging feeling was accurate as it was announced that even with him coming up he will not be playing on Wednesday.  Personally I do not understand calling McDonagh up to not play and ranted on that along with wondering if based on quotes if Del Zotto rejected the premises presented to him in his demotion discussion.  The tone of the quotes seems to suggest that an at least disagreeable meeting occurred between Torts and Del Zotto when he was informed he was being sent down.  I have no problem with him being upset because as a competitor he should be.  Maybe the cause of the problem was Torts gave him the same excuses he gave the rest of us like we are retarded and cannot understand the real causes of why Del Zotto was demoted.  Discussion of that also in the post.

In other news Petr Pruch was put on re-entry waivers and that has excited some of his diehard fans about the possibility of him coming back to the Rangers.  I think it is more likely with all the injuries than it would otherwise be, but not sure if it would happen.  I give my thoughts on why I believe it should or should not happen inside.

Today’s main article was about how the loss of Ryan Callahan is really starting to show not necessarily in the win/loss column but in the way the Rangers are going about their business in games in terms of their forecheck and energy level.  Really it seems that in Callahan’s absence the team is getting away from their identity.  I propose some reasons for that as well as a player who might be able to change some of the aspects of what appears to missing from the club right now without Callahan and turn that mentality back around to where it was for so long this season.

In the video section today there are three items:
There is video of the Ruslan Fedotenko injury and the reason to watch it is not to see the injury, but to appreciate the level of dedication to the team shown by Fed on the play to get up from it and continue to put his body in harm’s way going down to block more shots on the shift.
Rangers 2010 1st round pick Dylan McIlrath got into a fight Sunday night with Sena Acolaste so check out that video.
Finally there is a Toews crazy/wacky goal winner in the Chicago LA game this evening when the puck played ping-pong off the goalie in multiple spots and then on a clear the puck was played in the net off Toews skate.

Video: Toews Scores Crazy Game Winner; Just Like They Drew It Up

In one of the weirdest sequences I can remember Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews would be credited with the game winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings without ever having his stick come near the puck. From behind the net as he was being taken to the ice Chicago defender Brent Seabrook fired the puck towards the net where it would bank off the back of Jonathan Quick's neck, climb up over his head off the helmet falling into the crease where Drew Doughty would attempt to clear it right off Toews skate and in.

They all count for the same amount and the Hawks will certainly take it. Some people are just lucky, but for Toews his lucky is born out of not only his natural skill but his tremendous work ethic and leadership which had him on the ice a week earlier than expected. If not for that then he is never there for the crazy goal to happen so is all luck?