Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
In other words - we're going to do our 4th installment of some Ranger second-guessing - and look at the worries - the concerns - in short: the dark side of our Ranger thoughts with the season less than four weeks away. But because it's still summer and we believe in optimism in our life and our sports-rooting (and our blogs) we're going to balance all that negativity with a little positive energy. So here we go once again with - Ranger Dark Side-Bright Side:
Dark Side: General Manager Glen Sather and Coach John Tortorella have cleaned out almost half of last year's team. That is no way to build consistency.
Bright Side: Last year's team was not one you wanted to preserve. We couldn't score, we didn't pressure the puck, and we didn't defend all that well. Not exactly a winning combination - and exactly the kind of consistency you don't want. Sometime you need to throw stuff out and start over - and this is one of those times
Dark Side: The Olympics this year are going to make it harder on the Rangers. The compressed schedule makes it tough on the players in Tortorella's up-tempo game. More games in less nights will exhaust our players
Bright Side: Our opponents are also playing a compressed schedule. So that means they will also have more games in less days and will also be tired - and so our pressure-the-puck style will be more effective against them - if we don't collapse while running it.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The idea is to explore some of those deep seated, pit-of-the-stomach fears (or complaints) you have about the upcoming Ranger team. But then - in the spirit of staying positive we'll also look at why we think those issues may not be so bad after all.
Dark Side - Letting Zherdev walk and getting nothing in return was a huge blunder. Nik is a young proven 50 point player on the upside of his career and losing him takes away a lot of the positive effect of getting Gaborik
Bright Side - evidence was showing that Nik was not going to be a 50 point player under Tortorella. As the kind of player who can take a night off and disappear for shifts or games at a time - he sets a bad example for the rest of the team and hurt team spirit. At the arbitrator's $3.9 million he is no bargain. We think the Rangers can spend that money better elsewhere. And admitting Nik was a mistake and moving on is a very positive sign from Sather.
Dark Side - hiring Donald Brashear - a classless thug and bully - after what he did to Blair Betts is a bad ethical move for the Rangers and sends a terrible message.
Bright Side - Like it or not - physical intimidation is a part of hockey. And as long as that is true you can either defend your players or leave them out there unprotected, swivel-headed, and on edge. The Rangers are looking to protect their stars this year - and that's a good thing.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I'll leave the beer terminology to Nugman, who is too busy downing lager and watching his beloved New York Yankees to get his butt over to his own website site - and I'll focus on the NHL word.
Accountability, in hockey terms means that a player's performance on the ice - his hustle - his work ethic - his results - are the determining factor in his ice time. It means that a player who plays poorly, who doesn't go the extra ice-mile, sits and watches his more determined teammates.
Because if instead of accountability you do the opposite and award ice time to players based on (1) the size of their contract, (2) their popularity, or (3) achievements in season's past - you send a very bad message to your players. You are telling them how they play doesn't matter to you.
Think of it this way. If your boss told you that your performance this year would have no effect on your compensation - wouldn't you find it easier to slack off some days and not give it your full effort? Especially when you co-workers were doing the same?
That unfortunate downward spiral is exactly what happened to your New York Rangers during those horrific seven no-playoffs years.
Here's what Tortorella says about accountability:
"Every player will be held accountable. I believe so strongly in the team concept. Players will get time through merit and they will need to understand what 'merit' is right away."
It sounds like a man with a plan. And it sounds like a coach who knows what accountability is.
Now if only someone could explain drinkability to me. Excuse me while I do some independent research on that one - all in the name of science of course.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Patient? Well, unfortunately Blair has no choice. I can only imagine how confusing and hurtful this must feel to him. He gets head-hunted by the Capitals in the playoffs - injured in the line of duty - and instead of the Rangers standing behind him - they release him and sign the guy that hurt him to double his salary.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
He's had a mess with the salary cap. He's had a mess with the hiring of the thug Don Brashear. He's had a mess with the ridiculously over-priced salaries of Redden and Rozsival and ... (Don't get me started). He's had a mess with the handling of Nik Zherdev. He's had a mess with the dismantling of the league leading penalty kill team of Betts and Sjostrom (and why was that done?).
But finally - Slats has finally put a new mess in the front office that we can approve of. That's because the Rangers have named Mark "Mess" Messier as Special Assistant to Glen Sather.
The move brings our Stanley Cup winning champion - our former Captain - back to the Ranger family. And for those of us who remember 1994 - Mess was the leader - the catalyst - the man who changed the team chemistry to a winner - the captain who led us into battle - the superstar who made the pledge and single-handedly made it come true. And he is the leader who brought home the Stanley Cup.
So Messier will always have a special place in our Ranger hearts.
Is this a perfect front office strategic move? Well, let's just leave the pros and cons to another day. For today - we're just feeling happy over here at BlueShirt Brothers.
The Captain is back on board.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
A Washington Post Story this morning quotes Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau as picking Jose "Three-or-more" Theodore - not Semyon Varlamov - as the Capitals number one goalie. Here's the full quote from Boudreau:
"Right now José is the number one guy and the other two young men [here he means Varlamov and another young goalie - Michal Neuvirth] have got to come in and play the way they did last year and try to push him out,"
"José won games for us last year, and like the year before when Cristobal Huet got hot down the stretch, Varly came in and did a great job where we just couldn't take him out."
"But that was 13 games. It doesn't make up for 12 years of experience. I've seen an awful lot of goalies come in at a young age and go into a slump for a year or two. I think José has earned and deserves the right [to be] the number one guy."
To me - this is crazy. Every Ranger fan knows that Varlamov was the difference in that series. And I'm sure if we had faced Theodore for all seven games we would have found a way to win at least one more. Its a bad decision and it's bad for a few reasons:
1 - A goalie controversy is like a quarterback controversy. It divides the team. It makes the players second guess every goal, every rebound, and every game. When you get scored on - you want your players thinking about how to come back and win - you don;t want them thinking that they wish they had a different goalie.
2 - The message you've already sent to Theodore is that if he messes up he's yanked. So his confidence and loyalty are already damaged. So this year he plays with one eye on the puck and the other looking at the bench to see if the coach is about to bench him again.
3 - And now you're telling the young Varlamov the same thing - that you benched him for his play against the Penguins in the playoffs. The goalie position is about confidence. Semyon rode a wave of it against the Rangers and then lost it in the big barrage thrown at him by the (eventual) world champion Penguins. Tossing him back on the bench now further erodes his confidence. He's very young and very talented - the more you play him - the better he will get.
Hey - I've got an even better idea for Boudreau. Why not put Theo and Varly in goal at the same time? Then they can both try to make saves and the hotter goalie will always be on the ice. And with Ovechkin - do you really need four other skaters?
Seriously - Boudreau humiliated Theodore by pulling him for a rookie after one playoff game. But it payed off brilliantly for the Caps and for Varlamov - who came up huge. But picking Theo now is like benching Varly - who is under 21 and has a chance to be a great one. By playing it this way, Coach Boudreau risks losing both players.And from a Ranger standpoint - that's just fine with me.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Theo's story was compelling and ultimately heartbreaking. He was an exciting player to watch - he gave all he had for the Ranger Blue - and had true moments of brilliance as a hockey player - but in the end he fell victim to his own inner demons. After fighting his drug and alcohol addictions and failing - multiple times - the league had no choice but to ban Fleury for violating the league's drug policy.
Theo is reportedly clean and sober now and started his own clothing line. He's been off of drugs and alcohol for several years now- and his hockey story would likely have ended there.
Well, he's 41. There are very few players who can produce at the NHL level at that age. Especially when the player has had substance abuse issues and has been out of hockey for years.
Plus there's the NHL ban to overcome.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
That means they are bottom feeding - ladelling through the vast gumbo of NHL unsigned (and largely unwanted) players, looking for some tasty bargains. And from this soup the Rangers are looking at Bouillon - at least according to rumor.
All kidding aside, Bullion has a reputation as a tough and determined defenseman. And he's 5'8" and 200 pounds. Now, your pal Dave Pucks is also 5' 8", but I tip the Blueshirt Brothers Medical Plan scales at 156 pounds - and no one ever calls me skinny (certainly not Mrs. Pucks!).
So if a 6' 3" 190 pound winger is on a collision course with a 5' 8" 200 pounder - guess what happens? The lower center of gravity wins.
Anyway - so far it's just a rumor about interest - not a signed contract - so hold off on ordering those Bouillon jerseys for now.
-Will the acquisition of the short aging "Soupy" put our defense in hot water?
-How in the world will the Canadians replace those 5 lost goals?
Monday, August 10, 2009
The Dark Side: The Rangers, by essentially swapping Gomez for Gaborik on the salary cap - have gone from a team with a center who had no one to pass it to - to a team with someone to pass to but no Center to do it
Sunday, August 9, 2009
So our thought drift back to the last time we heard from our lone remaining Restricted Free Agent - Brandon Dubinsky.
It was breakup day and the Rangers were dejectedly cleaning out their lockers after a 3-1 series lead crashed and burned against the Washington Capitals. Brandon was gracious enough to speak to the media.
“We’ve just got to find a way to put it together a little better, and I think with Torts coming in next year and having a full year with us, I think it’s going to be good for us and it’s going to be something we look forward to.”
That makes sense to us. Last year Tortorella came in to a situation where he didn't pick the team, he didn't train the team, and he had little time to make changes. Next year it seems like he's got all three: a say in player selection - he'll set the training schedule - and he's got a whole season to work with.
Dubinsky had more to say:
“We definitely had our spurts where we could have used a little more energy (due to conditioning) but I don’t think there’s going to be a lack of that next year. That’s going to be a main focal point."
He's got that right also. Tortorella was disappointed and a little surprised at how exhausted the Rangers looked at crunch time. Tort's teams tend to be in shape and they win by outworking the other guys. He's already contacted every player on the roster about getting in shape - from his rookie camp we know he still believes in working his players hard. He's the kind of coach that players don't like playing for during camp - but appreciate as they get in shape - the season wears on and they don't wear out.
So Brandon gets it. So why haven't the Rangers gotten him?
Saturday, August 8, 2009
And so - we didn't talk about the rumours - and there was one guy we didn't mention by name before - for fear of jinxing it.
Well, we can't take it anymore - so we're going to break radio silence (Internet silence?) and say his name:
There. We said it. It feels good. Liberating in a way.
We want Heatley. We want Heatley skating on Marian Gaborik's line.
Heatley can score - when motivated he is a constant threat out there. He's had 50 goals twice in his career. His goals-per-shots-on-goal is an absurdly good 16% lifetime. Put him on the ice with Gaborik and they will give the other teams fits. It let's us skate with the big dogs. It let's us face the Cup Champion Penguins with Malkin and Crosby without falling back and cowering.We need someone like Heatley. But - can we get him? Can we fit him in the cap? Can we get him and fit him in the cap and get enough players under the cap to play competitive hockey?
Good question. And here in August as our minds are thinking about the weekend, Slats and Torts are working on that right now.
At least I hope they are.
[Editor's note - in our first version of this article - Dave Pucks - in an apparent drunken haze - mistakenly tabbed Heatley as a center - apologies all around for the error and thanks to one of our readers for pointing this out]
Friday, August 7, 2009
And that one guy is Brandon Dubinsky.
Last year he made $633,000. He's a 23 year old centerman from Alaska with 2 years of NHL experience on the upswing of his career. He has worked hard and well for the Ranger Blue. He had 13 goals and 41 points last year. In the playoffs he gave us 4 points and was +1.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
- Sign Nik for $3.9
- Release him
- Sign and look for a trade. In fact - the Rangers may have been working the trade angle for days.
Conventional wisdom (at least the wisdom at the drunken conventions Dave Pucks attends) is that the Rangers have no intention of keeping Zherdev at $3.9 million for the season. So we're expecting to hear something soon.
A few weeks ago I wondered if the Rangers would keep Antropov or Zherdev (both enigmatic Russians named Nik). Nik A. is gone, and Nik Z may not be far behind him.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
- The Rangers - after strongly considering cutting him loose for nothing - opted to make a qualifying offer to Nik.
- Nik rejected the offer and asked for binding arbitration.
- No deal was reached leading up to the July 31st arbitration date. During the same period the Rangers sought after and signed Ryan Callahan before his arbitration hearing date came up.
- The arbitration hearing was this morning - both sides presented their sides of the story - and now we wait for a decision.
The Arbitrator can take up to 3 days. Which means we should know something soon. Unlike baseball and football, the arbitrator can choose a dollar figure between the Rangers and Zherdev's offer. When that's done the puck is in the Ranger's corner - they can accept or reject the arbitrator's decision - even if he picks the figure the Rangers proposed in the first place. If that happens Nik Zherdev is an unrestricted free agent and is gone. Arbitration can get very nasty with the Rangers forced to denigrate their own player to make their case.
Common sense tells us that Zherdev did poorly under Tortorella. He was benched by John for not hustling back on defense after his own giveaway. And down the stretch and in the playoff Nik disappeared off the face of the earth - contributing zero points in seven playoff games.
It's pretty clear to us that the Rangers no longer want him. So why go through the arbitration process? Good question. As near as we can figure - the Rangers may still hope to sign and trade the enigmatic Russian, who despite everything, led the Blueshirts in points last year.
So - for now - we wait. But in our hearts we think Nik's time in NY is growing shorter by the hour.