Saturday, January 15, 2011

Video: Tortorella Snaps on Fan Incident Question, "Ask A Question About the Game, G-d D*mn It"

Coach John Tortorella followed the lead of his goaltender tonight when he snapped at the press when asked about a supposed incident between him and some fans behind the New York Rangers bench during the second period. As you can see in the video Torts fires back, "Ask a question about the game , god---- it."

Furthering the story Steve Zipay tweets, that as he walked away Tortorella said: "Bleepin clowns."

According to twitter accounts of the incident in question from @snowkitten35 and @the_nange the incident itself was no big deal in that a couple of Montreal fans were heckling Torts from behind the bench and he ignored it.  If anyone has other accounts of what went on or video of it feel free to send it over.

Rangers Fall Short In Montreal, 3-2

For the New York Rangers tonight was a dangerous game when you combine the high of beating Vancouver on Thursday with the awful history they have had of late in Montreal and you just knew something was bound to happen tonight. 
Reality is the Rangers had no business even being in the game after forty minutes, but it was the stellar work and the fight in Henrik Lundqvist that had them with even a chance to just come up short in this one.  After stoning the Canadiens four times one power play Henrik Lundqvist gone run into by Max Pacioretty and after all the time he had been run coupled with the frustration of the game, Lundqvist snapped.  Henrik went all Ron Hextall on Pacioretty jumping on top of him and smashing him in the face with his blocker (video).
The team finally showed some life after that went on with 2:20 remaining in the second and played an excellent last 20 minutes, but it was too little too late in the grand scheme.  A goal by Mats Zuccarello made it 3-2 and they had chances late to tie, but could not get all the way back.  
Now for what went wrong before that point.  After playing a decent first 12 minutes that saw the Rangers get the only goal of the game to that point the wheels would fall off thanks to awful penalties.  The Rangers scored 6:58 into the game when a hardworking shift by Fedotenko, Boyle and Prust ended with Brian Boyle jamming the puck through Carey Price to make it 1-0.
The point where the game fell apart for the Rangers was 12:10 into the first when Brandon Dubinsky let P.K. Subban get too far into his head and took an awful penalty after the whistle.  On the ensuing power play Roman Hamrlik would drive one from the point off Dan Girardi and in at 13:19.
Following that Michael Sauer took a bad penalty on Scott Gomez at 14:02 which would see the Canadiens capitalize again this time from Tomas Plekanec at the side of the net off a feed from James Wisniewski to make it 2-1 Habs 14:50 into the first.
The final goal in the trio came at 16:03 when Andrei Kostitsyn following a faceoff win by the Rangers but a turnover where Kostitsyn ended up wide open in the slot for a slapper and in 2:44 it went from 1-0 Rangers to 3-1 Montreal.
  • The only guys who showed up for the entire game were Boyle, Prust, Fedotenko, Newbury, Avery, Lundqvist
  • Dubinsky was awful tonight and selfish to boot
  • Gaborik excuses must end now
  • Wolski was invisible as well
  • On bright side as bad as they were for half the game they were inches away from tying it up

Video: Lundqvist Goes Ron Hextall Punching Max Pacioretty With Blocker

Over the past few seasons New York Rangers fans have seen Henrik Lundqvist run into by the opposition on countless occasions and all wondered at what point Henrik would just snap and go after a guy for doing it and it turns out the answer was January 15, 2011 in Montreal.

With 2:20 left in the second period and being one of the only players on his team to show up to that point in the game Henrik Lundqvist just flew off the handle after being run into by Max Pacioretty.  Lundqvist got up jumped on top of Pacioretty and proceeded to punch him in the face with his blocker.  In Pacioretty's defense he was pushed into Lundqvist by Dubinsky, but with the series of circumstances that would not have mattered to Lundqvist as he did his best imitation of Ron Hextall.  For the play Lundqvist was given two minutes for roughing, but if it means that he gets run even one less time in the future the penalty is more than worth it as keeping him healthy must be the number one priority of the organization.

If only his team had shown that much fight the first 38 minutes maybe they would have won tonight.  Good for Henrik for finally saying if the team will not stand up for him as they should, he will do it himself.

Update: New video from @Cathybytes

Video: NCAA Hockey Bench Clearing Brawl Between North Dakota vs Minnesota

Everyone loves a good hockey brawl and the Minnesota Golden Gophers and North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Turns out the the Gophers were the ones who were fighting mad after a clean by Brad Malone on Minnesota's Kevin Wehrs as the horn blew to end the second period.

Fighting after clean hits is sadly becoming all too common, especially in the NHL and now we have it in the college game as well. The reaction prompted both benches to empty and while the face cages prevented a lot of punching there were some nice greco-roman wrestling moves on display.

Speaking of the NHL there were a number of general manager's holding their breath due to some of the names involved in this scuffle.  You had Nick Bjugstad (FLA), Derek Forbort (LA) Danny Kristo (Mon), Brad Malone (COL), Jake Hansen (CBJ) all involved.

Lundqvist Starting; Newbury In, Weise Out; Callahan Set Target Date; Team Talks Cheap Shots

Andrew Gross tweets that the goaltending match-up will be Lundqvist vs. Price.  There had been some wonder if Biron was going to get the call tonight partially with the Flyers tomorrow and with Henrik’s struggles of late in Montreal but this is the right move to go with the hot hand.  For the record I would go with Henrik tomorrow as well vs Philly.  Should be a good matchup with the All-Star netminders and maybe at the end it will be Henrik’s turn to pose in Montreal since I hear that has been going around.
Steve Zipay tweets Kris Newbury will be in the lineup this evening and centering the fourth line while Dale Weise will be tonight’s healthy scratch.  Starting to see that getting praised by Torts in the press is not always a good thing for player’s as Tortorella talked about how Weise was improving, but then he scratches him for Newbury tonight.  What makes it worse for Weise is that Montreal was his favorite team growing up.  Main reason I see for this is to get Newbury a game since Weise will be needed tomorrow against the Flyers.

In discussing Newbury @NYRangers reports Torts said, “Torts on Newbury: "he adds some bite...played well in the American League, put up some points...want to take a look at him"  Not sure what it is but every metaphor that Torts uses has a food connotation to it; bite, jam, grind.
Another tweet from Steve Zipay talks about how Ryan Callahan is setting his sights on returning right after the All-Star break which would be February 1st against the Penguins.  The would certainly be a heck of a trade made by Sather over the break to bring in a player like Callahan.

Obviously the Rangers are frustrated about the cheap shots the last two games with the Subban slewfoot on Dubinsky, Subban stick to Boyle nose, and Burrows spear but the team is taking the right approach at least with the media in talking about getting the points first.  Jesse Spector (NYDNRangers) tweets to that topic as well as @NYRangers.

Is Fedotenko-Boyle-Prust Rangers Most Important Line?

Lou Capozzola/Getty Images
When a team is going to have a surprising season there have to be unexpected players that rise within a year to make that possible.  In the case of the New York Rangers they have three players who are doing that on the same line.  The decimation of the Rangers forwards this season via injury is no secret, but what has been underreported is just how good the line of Ruslan  Ruslan Fedotenko, Brian Boyle, and Brandon Prust have been as a unit.  On many nights this trio which consists of a free-agent tryout, bubble player to make the roster and an enforcer, or at least those were the thoughts heading into camp, has become the Rangers most consistent line over the course of the season.  Dare I say this trio has been the Rangers most important this year? Even more have they become the best checking line in the NHL?
This trio has become the most trusted group of forwards for Rangers coach John Tortorella as he has made this “checking line” his version of a shutdown line routinely matching them up against the best offensive line of the opposing team.  In a five man unit with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi they shut down the Sedin line the other night, but do not take that as a one-off event.  This line has been doing that consistently all season against the likes of Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos and the other top lines/players in the league.
Initially the move to match this trio up against the best lines in the NHL was one that was born out of necessity while injuries forced the Rangers to mix and match their “scoring” lines, but it has been that success which has given Tortorella the proof he needed to continue to go with that formulation.  Each time coach Tortorella has tried moving players around he has attempted to leave this trio together.  There were times where Fedotenko was taken off the grouping, notably to try and get Gaborik going, but you could sense the pain he felt in breaking up his best unit.  He would quickly rectify that situation and this line has been unbreakable since.
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
What has made this line one of the best checking lines in the league is that they are not limited to only defense.  The line has a combined 27 goals and 28 assists in the 45 games the Rangers have played this season.  The scoring side has been led by Brian Boyle who has 14 goals, which ranks him second on the team.  Beyond the statistics on the offensive side this line has been the epitome of the new Rangers style on offense as a forecheck, puck possession, grind it out type line.  Add that to their shutdown defense, penalty killing and you can understand why the Rangers have changed expectations so much over the course of the season. 
This line has had big examples of the sacrifices each has made for the team.  For Fedotenko it was staying out to block shots after hurting his hand.  With Prust it was playing the next game after nearly getting a stick in the eye along with fighting through a charleyhorse that would not let him straighten his leg after the game.  On Boyle it was him noticeably limping after blocking a for numerous shifts a few games back but continuing to battle.  Each guy on this line has shown on every shift this season the definition of this new identity the team on both ends of the ice and their sacrifice has not only made the team’s results better but forced others to do the same.  Pardon the pun but when you have a line that can produce 55 points, 328 hits, 100 blocked shots and play in all critical situations while maintaining a plus 21 for the combined cost of 2.325 million that is plenty of bang for your buck.  That is yet another symbol of the way things are changing in the culture of the New York Rangers.
There may certainly be more talented lines on the Rangers themselves or third lines/checking lines around the league, but there is not one that is more valuable to the success of this team or their team than that of Fedotenko, Boyle and Prust.  There is no telling where the Rangers would be right now if this line had never gotten together this season.

Pregame: Rangers at Canadiens, 1/15/11

Tonight's game against the Montreal gives the New York Rangers an opportunity to gain a measure of payback for Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at home and build on the momentum of their huge win against Vancouver.  With a record of 26-16-3, the Blueshirts currently sit in fifth place in the East with 55 points.  The key for the Rangers tonight as strange as it might seem is to forget all about their huge win Thursday night.  This team in the past, though less this season, has had trouble carrying over big wins to the following game and that would be a problem against Montreal tonight.  As fun as looking to see how far ahead X team is of the Rangers one must realize they are still only seven points ahead of ninth place Carolina, so every game is critical.
New York Rangers (26-16-3) at Montreal Candiens (24-17-3)
Key Opposition Player: Tomas Plekanec (13-21-34)
Rangers Lineup:
Dubinsky - Stepan - Zuccarello
Wolski - Anisimov - Gaborik
Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust
Avery - Drury - Weise

Staal - Girardi
Eminger - Sauer
McDonagh - Gilroy

Scratches: Kris Newbury (healthy)
Up front the Rangers will still be looking for their star Marian Gaborik to get it going and he certainly seems to be getting closer to that finally happening.  His linemate, the newly acquired Wojtek Wolski did score his first as a Ranger in the last game and has shown good chemistry with Gaborik in the two games.  In addition the Rangers will be relying on Brandon Dubinsky to play the complete game he has been all season and for the line of Fedotenko, Boyle and Prust to be the consistent force they have this year.
Defensively the Rangers do not have to change anything from how they played against Vancouver as all six defenders played a very solid game once again.  Rookie Ryan McDonagh seems to be getting more and more comfortable with each passing game and that fact might be the key to determining how the defense of the Rangers looks by the time the end of the year rolls around. 
In net there are few if any goaltenders as hot as Henrik Lundqvist right now.  Since November 26, 2010 Lundqvist is 12-5-2 with a 1.71 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.  Numbers like that are why Lundqvist is not only an All-Star but is climbing up the Vezina standings. 
On the other side the Canadiens are likely to bring more weapons to tonight’s game as opposed to the meeting earlier in the week as All-Star goaltender Carey Price and sniper Mike Cammalleri are expected to be in the lineup.  Price boasts a 21-15-3 overall record with a  2.38 goals against average and .919 save percentage.  Price has had to be stellar this season because the offense has struggled to score goals ranking 27th in the league with just 2.46 goals per game.  Contrast that with their number 5 ranking in goals against average at 2.39 and the Canadiens are playing a lot like Rangers teams of the past. 
Most interesting dynamic in the game might be Montreal’s stellar14-6-3 home record against the Rangers excellent 15-7-1 road mark.

Daily Recap: Practice; Burrows No Punishment; Young Defense Is Ready; Rangers New Devils?; European Opener?

Following last night’s huge win over Vancouver the New York Rangers had practice before heading out for tomorrow's road game.  In practice six of the most used players: Dubinsky, Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust, Staal and Girardi were all given the day off to rest and recuperate before being abused again tomorrow.  It is a smart move by coach Tortorella to take those who have been carrying the team in terms of minutes and key situations and give them time off with the back-to-back games this weekend.

In terms of last night's game there was news regarding Alex Burrows blatant spear of Marc Staal’s genitals that found the league deciding no suspension was warranted for the play.  It is ridiculous for the league to not penalize such a blatant use of the stick as a weapon, which was no different than the kind of dirty plays they are trying to get out of the game in terms of headshots.  In the aftermath of the decision there was discussion about whether the fact that the play happened against the Rangers had some part in why there was no punishment.  Beyond that there was discussion of if certain players had done it or it had been done to certain others the severity of the punishment that would have been handed down.  Obviously there is not proof for those discussions, but what is obvious at the moment is the complete lack of consistency on what is and what is not a suspension worthy offense.

As for the list, first was this concern all week since the trade of Rozsival about the youth that is in the defense core.  The talk has been about if because of their combination of youth and inexperience as a group there was a need for a veteran to be brought in. I believe this group has proven that despite the youth they are ready for the challenges they will face the rest of the way.  I looked at the rationale on both sides of making or not making a move and where these specific players have shown that they can handle the task relieving the pressure to make a move and even causing the ability to make the Rozsival move in the first place.

Beyond the defense I passed along a link to an article today that hit on something I noticed watching the Vancouver game in the similarities between these Rangers and the old Devils.  Like many Rangers fans the idea of being in the same sentence with anything Devil related is unpleasant for me, and there are still differences between the two teams, but if it means the Rangers start winning championships like those Devil teams then I can live with it.

Turns out that the injury to prospect Ethan Werek that started out as a day-to-day thing and has lasted over a month is actually a torn ligament in his wrist.

E.J. Hradek passed along a tweet saying that the Rangers are under consideration to once again open the season in Europe next season.  I am not a big fan of doing that as it can become a hindrance to the club both in camp and to start the season, but with the right matchups it could be fun.  See who the other teams are, let me know if you want the Rangers to go and what matchups you want to see inside the story.

Finally there is video of a scary moment in the Colorado Minnesota game when Ryan O’Reilly went crashing head/neck first into the boards and had to be taken off on a stretcher.   Luckily reports later indicated that he had movement in his extremities and was also making the team trip back this evening.