Friday, January 7, 2011

Video: Artem Anisimov Picture Perfect Shot To Tie Dallas

Ben Eager Sucker Punches Armstrong; Leafs Get 4 Goals; Suspension Likely Coming (Video)

Blow-out games often lead to stupid plays and we saw that once again tonight as Ben Eager of the Atlanta Thrashers sucker punched Colby Armstrong of the Toronto Maple Leafs at 17:05 of the second period with the game already 5-1 Toronto.

On the ensuing major power play for the match penalty the Leafs would tally four times and make it 9-1. The goals for the Leafs were Nikolai Kulemin (18:00), Clarke MacArthurt twice (19:14, 19:49) during the second period and Phil Kessel at 1:32 of the third. If that was not bad enough Eager would take another double minor for a crosscheck in third that would lead to a Mikahil Grabovski goal in the 9-3 Leafs rout.

You have to expect not only will there be a suspension for this, but a rather lengthy one is possible. Jody Shelley just got 2 games for sucker punching Andrew Alberts so that should be the minimum in this case.

Video: Dale Weise Fights Steve Ott

Dale Weise trying to show something to the coaching staff and get back in the good graces of coach Tortorella challenged Steve Ott to a scrap. Overall it was a good scrap with Ott landing a few good rights and Weise getting in one of his own before the hugging started.

McDonagh Debuts on D In Big D.

As per Andrew Gross, yesterday’s conversation regarding the possibility of Michal Rozsival sitting out with the rib issue has come to pass and rookie Ryan McDonagh will make his NHL debut this evening.  Making his debut against the Stars will give McDonagh a little of the shock treatment as tonight’s pregame says the Stars are a lot deeper than just Brad Richards in terms of talent.

The Rangers have adjusted the pairs having Staal and Giradi continue together, moving up Sauer to play with Eminger and slotting McDonagh in at LD with Gilroy, which is exactly how I would have done it.  The promotion for Sauer is long overdue as he has shown tremendous consistency and attention to detail on the defensive side and is more than ready for some increased responsibility.  McDonagh being a defense first defender will help Gilroy out, maybe not as much as Sauer has, and moving Gilroy back to his natural right side gives better balance to the Rangers defense as well. 

Speaking of praising Sauer expect a lot of the same qualities from McDonagh as Sauer in that he will not bring flash to the game, but he will be steady and fit in with the Rangers mentality of blocking shots, hitting and being sound in his position. 

Rangers Links: Mid-term Grades; Drury Needs New Pants; Lundqvist Pending Nuptials

In something I have not done enough of in the first couple months of this blog, here are some links to phenomenal stories on other sites today.

Dave Shapiro of Blue Seat Blogs,  my other posting home, gives out his mid-season take on all the Rangers players as the professor he is.  Great job breaking down each guy, only gripe is that he was a little soft on some of the grades, but maybe he is just student friendly.  Certainly check it out and see which ones you agree or disagree with.

Eric of 5-Hole  shares a photo of Chris Drury that shows just how badly the captain could use some new pants.  Maybe we need to give him a raise or go to his restaurant some more so he could afford the investment.  Credit to @njrobnyf as well for being the source.

Finally, his longtime girlfriend, Therese.

All of these sites do great work each day in disseminating information and giving their opinions about what is going on with the Rangers and should all be on a daily to do list for you as they are for me.

Does Langenbrunner Trade Take Brad Richards Off Market?

Harry How/Getty Images
The most talked about rumor all season long has been the idea that somehow and at some point the New York Rangers would deal for star center Brad Richards.  I know today everyone is focused on what this morning’s trade of Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars means both for him and demise of the team from Newark, being someone who follows the New York Rangers I want to look a little closer to home and see what impact it has on the Rangers and that rumor.

For the Stars this was an easy move to make for it is a very low risk move to bring in a character guy like Langenbrunner to bolster the chances of your surprising team and to get him for half the season only improves the chances of maintaining their current standing.  The move also sends a message to the fans and the league that the Stars are in this to compete for a title, not become sellers.  Does it also signal the end of the Brad Richards trade rumors?

With Richards, 30, in the final year of his contract which pays him 7.8 million this season and the cash strapped nature of Stars ownership the assumption out there has been the team would at some point fade or even if they did not they would realize they were not going to be able to keep Richards in Dallas so they would sell him off to make sure they obtained a return for him.  That assumption must be taken into doubt now that they have made a buyers move even if deemed a small one in bringing back a championship caliber leader into their fold.  The Stars are currently in third in the Western Conference and Richards is playing like an MVP finalist (18-29-47) this season and with ownership on the way out dealing him away does not add value to the team, but keeping him and making a run in the playoffs would and it add current money to pockets via ticket and merchandise sales.

It is certainly true as Mike Heika wrote this morning in the Dallas Morning News, that until the ownership issues are resolved with the Dallas Stars it will be difficult to hammer out a long term deal with Richards, but that does not mean parameters cannot be set that would allow a new owner to come in and sign him quickly once the change occurs.

For many Rangers fans, including myself, the end of Richards trade rumors would be a welcomed event not because we do not want to obtain a top talent in the NHL, but because of what the cost would be in terms of the young assets the Rangers have built up over the past number of years.  Let the Stars play the season out and see what happens and then come July 1 if the Rangers can work out their own cap issues and want to go after Richards, then by all means, but as of today I believe it means he is off the market during the season.  Obviously Brad Richards was the golden goose out there for fans of many franchises to hope was coming as reinforcements for a title run but instead the Stars threw all their chips in and hope once again this star hoists Stanley's Cup.

Trade Rumor: New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens Talking; Frolov Involved?

The last time New York Rangers got together on a trade with the Montreal Canadiens the results were Gomez and his bloated contract went one way while the key pieces coming the other way were Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko and the cap space that allowed for the signing of Gaborik.  Today there is some “buzz” that the two sides might be dancing once again on a trade. 

Usually I avoid the rumors from Eklund because they have about a 1% chance of being accurate, but for some reason this one actually seems to make some sense, so let’s flush it out and see how real the possibility might be.

A source today told me to be on the lookout once again for the Canadiens to make a move, noting, "They have been carefully setting up a deal for the last 15 days." This time however, the deal is for a forward, and a familiar name...Alexandre Frolov has struggled this season. "His ice time was barely ten minutes last night."

Yet the chemistry Frolov once had with Cammalleri in Los Angeles has not been forgotten and there is a movement among some in Montreal's organization that Frolov could find that touch again if re-united with Mike.
A later update added, “Oh and I am hearing more and more about the Rangers and Habs talking. Based on what I have gotten I feel save to suggest Frolov is absolutely involved...”

Personally still not buying it unless I see someone else at least hint at something similar but conceptually it makes some sense for both sides.  Frolov has been a waste in New York and was once again moved to the fourth line last night as he has never found any semblance of his past form this season.  The only thing he has done this season is drive Rangers fans around the bend with his constant attempts at post spin moves and wraparounds.  Based on that the Rangers looking to move him is an obvious.

On the Montreal side they have failed to generate consistent offense have been looking for a potential top six type forward both in and outside the organization.  Personally I think Frolov’s days as that type of player are behind him, but if they believe that putting him back with Cammalleri could spark his old form or even just a better form than he currently has it could be a great chance to buy low.

Now that we looked at the Rangers wanting to move him and why the Canadiens might have interest there should at least be a discussion of what the Rangers would either get or have to take in order to do this.  Off the bat the Rangers should reject any scenario that has them getting Jaroslav Spacek as he has an extra year at 3.8 million against the cap unless Montreal is feeling generous and wants to take Rozsival back.  Personally I would love to deal Frolov just for a pick, but the Canadiens do not have the cap space to make a move like that nor do they have the ability to trade an huge expiring like Hamrlik with the injury to Georges. With that injury I could see Eminger having some appeal to them, but Torts seems enamored with him.

There is always trading enigma for enigma in Frolov for Kostitsyn though the Rangers would have to kick in something extra because Andrei’s upside is even if wildly inconsistent.  Kostitsyn could work very well with Gaborik, but he has as much potential to be the next member of Tortorella’s doghouse.  Overall I see some merit to the idea of Frolov to Montreal, but am not seeing a natural fit to come back the other way.  Guess we will find out if this was another one of Ek’s fantasy moves or if the squirrel found a nut.

Daily Recap: McDonagh Debut in Dallas?; Rangers Scout Leafs Again; Del Zotto, Grachev Key Whale; Best of 1st Half;

With no game today there was not a lot of news out, but there was more fuel added to the story of the other day concerning the Rangers and Leafs possibly making a deal as the Rangers scouted there for fourth time in the last 9 days.  Here is the story of from the other day about the Rangers continually scouting the Leafs and my analysis of who they might be looking at acquiring.  Being in attendance tonight they saw one of the guys I discussed, Grabovski, have a magical shootout attempt that could have raised his price some. On the play he  showed off his skill with a beautiful shootout goal that featured not only a spin-o-rama but a move back to his forehand and a sharp angle lift to score.

In terms of official news there was some interesting news out of practice that could impact tomorrow’s game.  Both Brandon Prust and Michal Rozsival were absent from practice with Prust being because of his shoulder that has been a recurring issue and Rozi being out with his newest ailment, an injury in the rib area.  It is expected that Prust will play with the injury again tomorrow, but the status of Rozsival is less certain.  With Rozi hurting Ryan McDonagh might make his NHL debut against the Stars.  The full article gives the details of when Rozi sustained this injury originally, when it was aggravated and what the team is trying to do in order to determine his availability for the game against Dallas.  Beyond that there are my thoughts on whether Rozsival should sit regardless of if he heals enough to play and how I would shape the defense if Rozi cannot go.

Speaking of the game against the Stars, I previewed the game, in terms of the quality of the two teams, what players are going to be crucial for each team’s success and even a prediction on the score.  Certainly give me your thoughts on if someone else might be the key player in the game, what you think the score will be.  There will be a lot of storylines going into the game with Avery returning to Dallas and the Rangers taking on Brad Richards, but the team will have to focus on the two points above all else.

This morning I took a look back at the first half from an individual standpoint to see what worked and some things that failed in the first 41 games for the team.  With that there are awards to be handed out, so see which players picked up the prizes both good and bad as we hit the new starting point on the year.  Let me know which guys you think can maintain the level they had in the first half, which guys cannot keep their career years going, the ones that will turn things around and finally the ones you have lost all hope for.

For those of you who are unaware of what went on in Michael Del Zotto’s debut for the Connecticut Whale he had the primary assist on Tim Kennedy’s PPG that would be the game winner.  The play was one where Tim Kennedy drove hard to the net and Michael Del Zotto spotted him, they made eye contact and DZ then fired the pass right on Kennedy’s stick for the finish.  The pass was one of those that DZ has had little confidence to make and no completions on at the NHL level this season.  The general consensus was that after a slow start to the game Del Zotto got better as it went along and played well at the end.

In other Whale news Evgeny Grachev continued to show some signs of life with a SHG on a play that I saw described as Jagr like in the way he used his massive frame to shield the puck and despite the defenders best efforts, which had him going to the penalty box, Grachev managed to force the puck in low.  Great to see two more young guys have an impact along with all the ones that are doing it for the Rangers right now.

In the video section today we have Rangers and non-Rangers material.
  • For the Rangers there are the interviews for Mats Zuccarello (postgame) and Artem Anisimov (pregame) from the Carolina game
  • We have Tuukka Rask doing his best to try and outdo his fellow Boston netminder in the save of the year race with his leaping save.