Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dan Girardi All-Star Campaign Must Continue

Earlier I shared the All-Star balloting results that were released today and no Rangers really have a realistic chance to be voted into the game.  There is no getting around that fact, but that does not mean that the campaign spearheaded by Kevin DeLury of TheNYRBlog should fail to go forth as planned.  No denying the discouragement at Dan Girardi being 72K votes behind Zdeno Chara for the final defensive spot in fan voting, but the campaign was not one of winning or bust for me.

To me the purpose of the campaign for Girardi was to get him a piece of the recognition that he deserves and that can be accomplished regardless of whether he actually gets voted into the game.  Girardi deserves to have his name amongst the top defenders in the league and even if he is not going to get voted in by fan ballots this year, the continued voting by Rangers' fans will keep his name on that list as he deserves to be.  Beyond that the goal can change to have Girardi be the number one player overall in write-in votes.  In that particular race he is only 3,607 votes behind Bruins forward Tyler Seguin.

Senators Dominate Early Balloting, Girardi 18th Amongst Defense

The first round of All Star voting results were released today and the home town Ottawa Senators dominated the balloting.  Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson were three of the top four in voting with Milan Michalek also coming fourth amongst forwards.  The only player to sneak between the Senators was Toronto forward Phil Kessel who is leading the league in goals (16) and points (29).

Amongst the New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist was the leading vote getting with 65,441 votes, which placed him fifth in goaltending.  Marian Gaborik was the only Rangers' forward to crack the list in 21st for forwards with 47,980 votes.  Finally Dan Girardi placed 18th amongst the defense voting with an impressive
37,836 write-in votes. The vote total for Girardi was the second highest amongst all write-in candidates.

Girardi's write-in total was the second highest of any write-in candidate thus far.  A large sum of the credit for that feat goes to Kevin DeLury of TheNYRBlog for his relentless campaigning to get Girardi the recognition he deserves with an All-Star appearance.

Turris Ends Holdout Signing Two-Year Deal With Phoenix, But Will He Play There?

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger Kyle Turris and the Phoenix Coyotes have finally solved their contract dispute and have agreed to a two-year, $2.8 million deal.  Turris will earn $1.2 million this season and $1.6 million under the terms of the agreement.  Those numbers are way below the reported figures that Turris was seeking earlier in negotiations.  Despite the new contract the question still remains whether Turris next game will be with Phoenix or for another franchise.  The 22-year-old forward had requested a trade out of the organization in the midst of his holdout while Coyotes GM Don Maloney is on record saying he would not trade the player this season.

Turris signing now should not be surprising as he only had until Dec. 1 to sign if he wanted to play at all this season.  Having the deadline as leverage certainly appears to have made Don Maloney the winner in the contract battle as he got Turris for the price he wanted to pay and now has all the cards in what happens next.  By adding the second year to the deal it could increase the odds of a trade happening as the acquiring team would not have to go through a negotiation with Turris this summer.  The Flames have been the most discussed trade possibility for the young forward, but they have little to offer in terms of cheap, young talent.  When Phoenix is involved you always have to consider the possibility of the New York Rangers getting involved in the discussions as Don Maloney’s familiarity and relationships in his former organization have made them common trading partners.

Stralman On First PP Unit As Rangers Search For Answers

The New York Rangers are once again searching for answers to solve their power play woes.  According to the team's official twitter Anton Stralman got a chance to show what he can do on special teams today practicing with a first unit that included Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Eric Christensen.  Interesting to see Christensen and Dubinsky on the top unit, but no Marian Gaborik.

There was no reporting on the second unit but Stepan, Gaborik, Del Zotto and possibly Girardi seem like safe bets to be on the other unit.  I have no problem with shaking up the groupings as it is clearly not working.  Hopefully Stralman can use his shot to create chances down low for Dubinsky and Callahan based on these groups.

While there has been no official word on the lineup for tomorrow, with Stralman practicing on the top power play unit, I would expect him to be in there.

Video: ESPN Bleeps Crosby Goal Celebration

After missing the past 10 months recovering from a concussion, Sidney Crosby was rightfully excited when he scored 5:24 into the first period.  During his goal celebration Crosby screamed "F-ck yeah," but apparently that was too controversial for the folks over at ESPN as they blurred out Crosby's mouth when showing the highlights on SportsCenter this morning. 

H/T to ThePensBlog

Kris Newbury Suspended Four Games

According to Jesse Spector of the Sporting News, Connecticut Whale center Kris Newbury has been suspended for four games.  The suspension stems from an illegal hit to the head he delivered last Friday night during the second period against Bridgeport left winger Justin DiBenedetto.  Newbury was given a two minute minor for the hit.

Video: Fan Brawl In Montreal Late In Bruins/Habs

When longtime rivals like the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins get together the rivalry creates an added level of energy in the building.  Last night the fans took that one too far as there was a brawl in the stands late in the third period between fans of the two teams.

Via Puck Daddy:

Crosby Return Shows Rangers Right To Take Cautious Approach With Staal

The return of Sidney Crosby last night is a reason for the New York Rangers to be both hopeful and cautious in the recovery of Marc Staal from his concussion.  Crosby was forced to miss 320 days of action, but it was the time that he needed to full heal from his injury and return at his previous level.  New York has been taking the cautious approach with Staal this season, though it is still unclear if that happened late last season after the initial injury on February 22.

Staal has just begun light workouts after being shut down for a month, which leaves any return to action likely months away.  The lesson from Crosby, at least for one game, is that the willingness to wait on one of your star players until they are fully right is worth it.  The absence of Staal puts a deeper strain on the rest of the defense corps, but the Rangers are handling that as well as can be expected thus far, just as the Penguins had to find ways to score without their captain and league’s best player.  The added responsibility for the others on defense will only make them better for when Staal is fully ready to return and play at the level that Marc Staal expects of himself.

Obviously with concussions there is no blueprint and there is no guarantee of what path is the best one because they are one hit away from suffering another one, but the cautious approach is the one the Rangers should remain on with Staal.  Hope should be taken from just how well Crosby played in his return as he did not miss a beat from where he was before, even if it took longer than all involved would have hoped.  There is no reason to give up hope that Marc Staal will return at some point this season, but the long-term health and ability of Staal should be first and foremost in the decision making process because rushing him back only makes him more susceptible to another injury.