Monday, October 24, 2011

Rangers End Road-Trip With Win Thanks To Biron Goaltending, Callahan Game-Winner

The New York Rangers still are not playing well by any stretch of the imagination, but a Ryan Callahan power play goal at 8:41 of the third period and 27 saves from Martin Biron were enough to give them a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.  The Rangers wrapped up a seven-game road trip with a solid 3-2-2 record including a 3-1 trip to Western Canada.  We can focus on how the team has yet to play a good game, but to have those results on the board is something you have to be happy with, even if the level has to rise massively in the future.  Take the points and worry about fixing things as they go.

Martin Biron came up huge repeatedly tonight, with no bigger sequence than the one before the Callahan winning goal.  The Jets pinned the Rangers in their own end for nearly two straight minutes, but Biron was able to keep the puck out of the net and the Rangers were actually able to get a power play out of it when Ruslan Fedotenko was taken down on the other end of the ice.  During the ensuing power play the Rangers got some more luck when Ryan Callahan’s “shot” deflected off the skate of Zach Bogosian behind Chris Mason into the net.  Callahan drove into the Winnipeg zone down the right wing and fired the puck towards the front of the net looking for Fedotenko to finish it off, but Bogosian did the work for New York. 

The Callahan goal was the Rangers second of the night with the man advantage.  Ruslan Fedotenko had the other tally when he re-directed a Dan Girardi shot-pass from the high slot past Mason to give the Rangers the 1-0 lead in the second period.  After entering the game one for their first 23 on the power play they converted two of five opportunities on the night.

The Jets lone goal on the night came from former Ranger Nik Antropov.  Dan Girardi’s clearing attempt ended up in the skates of Brandon Prust and after the failed clear it would end up with Antropov at the left circle.
  • Martin Biron showed again that resting Henrik Lundqvist does not necessarily mean a drop in the quality of the man between the pipes.
  • Ryan Callahan played much more like Ryan Callahan tonight with his battle level, blocking shots like a monster and looking to shoot the puck as well.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko was the Rangers best forward tonight.  He was all over the ice, scored the opening goal and was rewarded with time on the top line late in the game.
  • Marian Gaborik was a threat all night, even though he didn’t end up on the score sheet and saw limited action in the final period.
  • Dan Girardi continued to be a beast playing at an All-Star level right now.
  • Rangers managed to stay out of the box much better tonight only taking one penalty. 

Rangers Announcement on Winter Classic Tickets

Eric Roitman over at 5-Hole shared the email he got as a season subscriber from the New York Rangers concerning Winter Classic tickets.  Here is the key excerpt...

Based on the number of tickets we have available to offer our Season Subscriber family, we will be reaching out to you via email the week of October 24th, 2011. At that time, you will receive detailed information on the seating configuration and a questionnaire that asks you to rank all available price points in order of preference. Please note that as the visiting team, we will be unable to accommodate all Rangers Season Subscribers with an offer to purchase Tickets. As such, we will be contacting you in order of your Subscription tenure with an offer. Those Subscribers that wish to purchase tickets and receive an offer will be assigned a maximum of 2 seats based upon availability.

Tough to fault the Rangers for offering the tickets based on seniority of subscription to season tickets, but a lot of season ticket holders are going to be left without an opportunity to purchase tickets.  For those who don't own season tickets, the secondary market is your only hope to get tickets and the cost is going to be steep.

Be sure to check out the rest of the email over at 5-hole and if you aren't already, continue to check back there for his great work.  

Biron Starting, Wolski, Woywitka In; Christensen, Bell Out

The New York Rangers lineup will have some new faces in it tonight as they look to rebound from their loss at Edmonton and finish their Western Canada trip 3-1.  The Rangers official twitter announced that Martin Biron will make his first start of the season along with the return of both Wojtek Wolski and Jeff Woywitka to the lineup.  Biron getting the start tonight should not be seen as anything to do with Lundqvist leaving the game early the other night, but simply giving Biron some action.

Wolski, who has been out since the season opener with a sore groin that has plagued him for about a month takes the place of Erik Christensen in the lineup.  Woywitka is swapped for Bell, who took his place last game. 

Mike Rupp is playing despite missing the morning skate and being said to have some knee issues right now.

Dubinsky Again Taking Heat While Callahan Gets Mostly Free Pass

With the New York Rangers offense struggling to generate consistently, as usual, to start the season the focus has shifted to specific players who are underachieving.  The main player seeming to take the brunt of the discussion is Brandon Dubinsky, who has zero goals in the Rangers opening six games.  Coming off a career year, plus a new contract, much is expected of Dubinsky offensively this season, so it is not surprising to see his lack of goals make him a target.  Dubinsky being a target for the New York fan base is nothing new as he has been a consistent player turned to as underachieving over his career for whatever reason.  What has always been more interesting is that while Dubinsky is normally taking heat, Ryan Callahan always seems to get a free pass and is getting one again from many who follow the team. 

Dubinsky has zero goals and too many bad penalties, but he also has three assists while getting 19:09 of ice time per game.  Callahan on the other hand has one point, a goal in the season opener, while playing 20:56 a night.  Where are the cries of Callahan underachieving on his new contract as there are for Dubinsky?  In the past Callahan’s free pass for lack of offense was always about the fact that he was bringing energy to the team through his hitting and shot blocking, but even that has been severely lacking this year, outside of the opener. 

The fact is that both of the Rangers heart and soul forwards have failed to live up to the way they played last season and the contracts they got this summer so far.  Their line, along with Artem Anisimov, after being the top line on the team last season seemingly has been left over in Sweden as there impact has been negative thus far.  All three are struggling individually and together they are not the factor the Rangers need them to be if they are going to be successful. 

Two years ago the Rangers had primary scoring and no secondary scoring.  Last season all the secondary players had career years and the primary one, Marian Gaborik, had a down year.  Now the Rangers have reverted to two years ago with Gaborik and Richards doing their part while secondary offense has dried up once again.  The problem goes beyond Dubinsky and Callahan as Stepan, Fedotenko and Anisimov all have no goals and Brian Boyle has one, however the focus of the blame seems to be resting on the shoulders of Dubinsky alone.  There is no justifiable reason to single him out while giving the rest a pass on their play thus far.  They all need to be better if the Rangers are going to succeed this season, so let us hold them all accountable when they fail to do so.