Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video: Martin Biron Coaches Wojtek Wolski To Shootout Winning Success

Each time the New York Rangers go to the shootout you will see the shooters go over and talk with Martin Biron about strategy and sort of holds court on the end of the bench.  Well tonight in Carolina there was no room for Biron on the bench so he was in the tunnel to the visitor's dressing room.  After overtime ended Wojtek Wolski made sure to skate over and talk with Biron and he was the only one to score.  You tell me if it is just a coincidence.

Wolski Ties It Late, Wins It In Shootout To Give Rangers Critical Points

Phil Ellsworth/NHLI via Getty Images
Tonight was a huge game in so many ways for the New York Rangers.  Coming in the game was going to be about whether the Rangers could find a way to turn things around in time to stay out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.  Combine that with the fact they were without their most explosive scorer and this was going to be yet another gut check game for this team and as they have all season, they responded. 
New York would come out flat early in the third and it would cost them the lead, but they would not quit on the game and this time they would get some bounces and be rewarded for the effort.  After pressing the action for a number of opportunities late in the game the Rangers were rewarded with the tying goal from Wojtek Wolski with just 1:50 to go.  On the play Wolski displayed unbelievable patience with the puck and while everyone crashed the net he threw the puck across and it would deflect off Jay Harrison’s stick and in.
In the shootout it would be Wolski again, as he was the only shooter to solve the two tremendous goaltenders and he would solidify this as his best game as a Ranger.  Tonight he showed off the multitude of skills that made people so excited about the trade when he was acquired for Michal Rozsival.  This is the kind of elite skill the Rangers do not have enough of and Wolski for all the talk about the team record since the trade has been everything they could have asked for.  With the goal tonight Wolski now has five goals and seven assists in 19 games as a Ranger and he has not had the defensive or effort issues people were worried about when the deal was made.  Congrats to Wolski.
Rest of the action and player thoughts after the jump

Gaborik To See Doctor Today, Timeline on Concussion, Tonight's Lines

Rather than jump back and forth between beat writers today, Jesse Spector gets all the credit for the lineup news.  We knew that Marian Gaborik was going to be out for the game and will miss the road trip.  Jesse reports that the lines in practice looked like this:

The first two lines are exactly what I think most people would have expected considering both of these lines have had success in the past and the Stepan line has been the Rangers best one since the calendar turned to 2011.  As is usually the case with the lines there are lines that make little sense to me, but then I have to remind myself that John Tortorella is the coach and the lines will likely be different by the end of the first period.  Personally I have seen very little from Prospal and Christensen of late and would have just left the Avery, Boyle, Prust line together as the third line.
Ruslan Fedotenko took part in practice today, but will not play tonight and he will be joined by Steve Eminger who will be a healthy scratch for 10th time in the last 11 games.
In terms of Marian Gaborik and his concussion there is no update on his actual condition, but he will see a specialist this afternoon in Manhattan.  What the Rangers did seek to do today though was to bring some clarity to the concussion timeline which to this point has been a little blurry.  The belief is that the hit which Gaborik was initially injured during the game against Pittsburgh on Sunday February 13th. 
The rest of the timeline is as follows based on reporting from Andrew Gross:
- Last Tuesday, Gaborik said he wasn’t feeling right. At the time, the team and Gaborik thought he might have the flu.
- Thursday, Gaborik played against the Kings without symptoms.
- Friday, Gaborik plays against the Devils without symptoms, though he’s held without a shot for the first time this season.
- Sunday, Gaborik plays 4:39 with one shot in the first period. Tortorella wants to show him some video during the first intermission. At that time, Gaborik tells Tortorella he’s having trouble concentrating, so Tortorella sends him right to trainer Jim Ramsey and the decision is made to shut Gaborik down.
This accounting might strike some as questionable since there is no memorable shot to pinpoint when he suffered the concussion, but there is a level plausibility to the timeline of events.  Concussions can manifest differently in different people and nausea, headache, fatigue can all be among them and resemble the flu.  The issue I would have is why not check just to be sure even if there was no memorable headshot to make them think concussion? 
The fact that Gaborik displayed no symptoms through the Kings and Devils games is curious to then have them manifest themselves a full week after the believed initially point of injury.  For now you certainly have to give the benefit of the doubt to the team and the player, but just hope for more caution to be exercised in checking even if it seems excessive and unnecessary for things like concussions.
There might be a timeline on his recovery following the game tonight.

Is Bryan McCabe Worth The Assumed Pricetag?

The chatter that surrounds the New York Rangers and their connection to Bryan McCabe continue to intensify with each passing day.  Today’s talk has the two teams heavily involved in negotiations for the Panthers captain.  Many of us have gone on record predicting that if the transaction does happen that it will likely cost the Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy and a second round pick in the upcoming draft.  In a bit of comic relief to the proceedings for a little while this afternoon Bryan McCabe’e Wikipedia page actually had him being traded to the Rangers for that afore mentioned package.  My question today is not whether the deal will happen, but what is McCabe worth to the Rangers and is the predicted package a good value or not?
At this stage in his career McCabe, 35, is still a solid offensive defenseman with a big shot from the point and some physical play to his game.  He would bring veteran experience to the defense core, give coach John Tortorella more faith in a third defense pair and help out the Rangers struggling power play with a shooter from the point. 
There is also no questioning the toughness of McCabe who broke his jaw during a game in January, went into the locker room put the cage on and came back out missing only one shift.  He would miss less than five weeks with the broken jaw, and has been back for the Panthers last three games.  The warrior aspect of McCabe would certainly blend right in to the Rangers mentality this season.
Let me be clear that I love the fit of McCabe for the Rangers and have since I first started thinking about it back in December.  My issue is also not with dealing away Matt Gilroy who while having improved this year is unlikely to be qualified at the necessary 1.925 million and for me is eminently expendable.  I am just not sure what McCabe is worth to the Rangers on the ice.  I do not believe he is the difference between winning and losing a first round playoff series, though he could help ensure the team makes the playoffs. 
My concern is whether McCabe truly makes enough of a difference in the last 20 games to be worth giving up a second round pick when we are in a rebuilding mode.   The success the organization has had in the second round also gives me reason for pause as Dubinsky, Sauer, Anisimov, Stepan were all second round picks and highly regarded prospects Ethan Werek and Christian Thomas were as well.
In the end I would likely pull the trigger on the deal even if begrudgingly.  The main reason I would do it, as Dave Shapiro of Blue Seat Blogs pointed out in our twitter conversation, is the hope that McCabe can mentor struggling second year defender Michael Del Zotto.  If that was the outcome of the trade, regardless of the difference it makes to the Rangers this season, then a second round pick would be more than worth it.

Rumor: Rangers Thought They Had Blockbuster Trade with Stars For Richards, Neal Done?

Over the course of the last week while other teams have been making moves to alter their rosters the New York Rangers have been very quiet to the consternation of many fans as they see the team continue to struggle in their attempt to make the playoffs this season.  The rumors around the Rangers have certainly been plentiful, which is nothing new, but there has been no action taken and some have wondered what Glen Sather had up his sleeve or if he had decided to sit this one out.  Apparently Sather had been in the midst of working his trade voodoo magic quietly behind the scenes over the last couple of weeks and thought he was on the verge of a blockbuster deal with the Dallas Stars centered around two pieces that would have made Rangers fans very happy; Brad Richards and the recently traded James Neal.
Here is the framework of the deal as Incarcerated Bob reported it early this morning
Source: Rangers thought they had deal with Stars all wrapped up on Monday : Gaborik & Gilroy for Richards + Neal
I asked him if that was all that was involved in the deal and got the following reply:
Could have been picks back and forth but the main players where the 4 (Gaborik + Gilroy / Richards + Neal) Rangers giving a 2nd
Apparently the Stars got cold feet on the proposed deal and decided to instead deal James Neal and Matt Niskanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Normally I would speculate that the Gaborik concussion had something to do with them having cold feet on the deal, and it still might have, but the fact that the deal was supposedly worked on Monday after the concussion was known would dispel that to some extent.  It will almost certainly raise the conspiracy theories though that the concussion for Gaborik and maybe even Richards were some sort of rouse so the players could be quietly shopped.  Let me be clear in saying that I do not believe that is the case for a moment.

In terms of the the rumored deal between the Rangers and Stars that is listed, I am going to be totally honest and say it makes absolutely no sense to me from the Dallas perspective.  They would get Marian Gaborik who has been a proven scorer in this league and is locked up long term which Brad Richards is not, but they would be better off keeping Richards and looking to sign him to a similar contract than dealing for Gaborik in the midst of a down season at that kind of price.  In addition even if you believe that Gaborik for Richards is an even swap the idea that Matt Gilroy and a pick could get you James Neal means that the Stars did not value Neal all that highly.   From the Rangers perspective it would be a coup as they get a number one center they have coveted and a young emerging power forward who already knows how to play with Richards.  The concern obviously is they do not have a true sniper in giving up Gaborik.

Also, key to point out that there is no mention of whether Gaborik or Richards was asked to actually or potentially waive their no-trade clauses.  The no-trade clause is not seen as an obstacle for Richards when it comes to New York, but one would wonder if Gaborik would waive to go to Dallas. 

Normally I would sit here and say that this does not pass the smell test, and this could be totally wrong, which I will not discount as possible, but the track record of his sources on recent trades, in having good information long before other have had it gives a level of credibility to the rumor that other people would not have.

If Sather had pulled this deal off as the rumor says it would have gone down then many Rangers might have forgiven him for at least most of the multitude of sins he has inflicted on them over the years. In the wake of this not happening, later today, I am going to talk about a guy Sather should look into dealing for.

Update:  New tweets on the subject: 
2nd Source: Confirms Rangers had deal with Stars until early Monday morning when Stars got cold feet on Gaborik
Source: Stars went with Pittsburgh deal cause of fear that Gaborik had been playing with concussion 4more then a week
Source: Rangers still think they can re-work talks in regards 2acquiring Richards w/o including Gaborik -Still in play
Still do not see why the Stars would have made the deal in the first place, but trading prospects/young players for Richards would be a mistake.