Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
- Tortorella has been telling his team to "Shut Up And Play" when last year's primary player spokesman was Drury
- Chris who in past years was gracious with the New York Press - is now disappearing after games. This preseason, instead of holding court at his locker he's darting out the door.
- Tortorella has been talking about almost every player on the roster - and many not on the roster - but has been strangely silent about his team Captain lately.
- Drury's pre-season stats have been pretty much non-existent. He's not producing like the Chris Drury we know and love. In fact, he's not producing... period.
- Torotrella has been trying out Gaborik with the newcomer Prospal - and later on with Dubinski But Torts is not giving the veteran Captain a chance with the team's lone offensive superstar. It looks to us like a deliberate snub - and a way to push the Captain further out of the limelight.
And then - for the final preseason game against Washington - Tortorella makes Chris a healthy scratch. And Torts offers no explanation to the media about why he did this. Chris Drury spent the game up in the press box for the game - and looked quite unhappy about it.
Monday, September 28, 2009
And it was our worst fears realized. Unlike our previous game - we now look like all our post-season work has netted us nothing - that the new Rangers are no closer to beating our Playoff rival Capitals than they were last spring.
But then - the third period arrived and gave us a little bit of hope. It was like a different hockey game - and here is the best of it - the Bright Side:
- Our conditioning is paying off - we're winning the 3rd periods.
- We outshot the Caps 20-4
- We outscored them 3-0
- Hank outplayed Varlamov
- We got goals from Anisimov, Grachev, and (are you kidding me?) Don Brashear.
- We got 2 assists from Stahl
- We got an assist from Wade Redden
- Over the whole game the PK was perfect
- Over the whole game the powerplay was 1 of 6 - so we outplayed them on Special Teams
So it's a loss in a meaningless game - with the regular season right around the corner. And it's a reminder about how fragile success can be - if we don't work at it - it ain't happening.
Tortorella's analysis was typically to the point. He had a few choice words to say:
- "Everybody was bad" - no argument there
- "There were turnovers" - For Torts - that's understatement
- "I think they thought it was a 7 o’clock start" - that may be the problem - the Rangers didn't show up until about 2 pm.
- "Those were the worst two periods of the exhibition" - again - he's right
- "We’ll use the tape of the first two periods as a teaching tool." -Now that seems like a fitting punishment for his players. make them watch those first 40 minutes over and over until they're ready to do anything to keep them from ever happening again
It does seem like we saved the worst for last. But the bounce-back third period goes a long way in the right direction. The pre-season is now over. It didn't count.
But the next game does.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
- New Ranger Marian Gaborik showed why he's worth $7.5 million and was Sather's first off-season target. Gabby showed speed and lightning quick stick work in scoring two big goals - one shorthanded. He was a constant threat tonight. And on the winning goal Gaborik skated into a crowd and flipped a beautiful no look pass to the exact spot where Dubinsky could get it and attack the net. This can't be overstated: Without Gaborik the Rangers lose this hockey game. With him - we can rock and roll with the big kids.
- Chris Higgins - another Sather-Torts addition, is a big strong player who can hold his position around the opposing net in traffic. So when Dubinsky was stopped in his tracks - Chris grabbed the soft pass and slid it under Theodore for the game winner. Last year we had no one like that - and it hurt us. Higgins was a difference maker tonight. In addition to the goal he also added an assist on one of Gaborik's goals.
- Kotalik may not have scored a goal - but he showed a really cannon of a shot on the tonight that is going to be a huge threat on the power play. Let him blast from the point with Higgins screening the goalie and fishing for rebounds - and we will stop being the worst PP in the league.
- Prospal - another new Ranger - looked good as a playmaker and contributed an assist of his own.
- Brashear may not have intimidated the Caps - but now that he's on our side he kept us from being intimidated. (Wasn't it really weird to see him in a Ranger uniform skating - and punching - against the Caps? And by the way - do pre-season fights "count"? I mean - the guys are actually hitting each other, right?)
So - to sum this up:
New Rangers last night: 3 goals, 3 assists. Returning Rangers: 1 assist.
Look, Glen and Tort's off season moves may not always look like gems. But last night those two guys looked like geniuses.
And Hank looked very sharp. And Dubinsky looks like all the off-season rust fell off in a hurry.
Add it all up and I am getting very very pumped for this season to get underway.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
On special teams we finally showed something special. We were 2-8 on the PP and held Detroit scoreless on 4 attempts. So special teams were the difference - and for once - it was in our favor. In all fairness - in our first few games the Rangers didn't even practice powerplay - so give the fellows some time to come up to speed in this area.
Henrik played the first half and looked very Hank-like, coming up with some nice saves stopping 12 of 13 shots. And Steve V. played well also - stopping 16 of the 17 he faced.
The win improves the Rangers to 2-2-1 (not that pre-season matters). Let's hope Avery's knee will be okay.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
First of all it is great to have my fellow Blueshirt Brother - Nugman - back on the blog. As our newcomers will quickly see - he feels the Rangers more deeply than anyone I know - and you'll see his emotional peaks and valleys pour out on these blog pages over the next few months. I also appreciate the chance for a weekend day off - but I did want to poke my head out of the ground for a few major events that surfaced while I was away.
Dubinsky Signs! It was pretty simple really. Despite what everyone was saying - Brandon did have some leverage. He was the 2nd best free agent Center on the market. And once Phil Kessel ended up on the Maple Leafs - Dubi suddenly became the best free agent Center on the market - and available for offer sheets. So the Rangers did the right thing in moving quickly and re-upping Brandon for 2 years - $3.7. Nice raise for Dubi and I hope everyone is happy now.
Rangers Win. Just preseason but we finally outscored somebody - the Bruins - by a score of 5-2. And in what looked to me like a fight for the 2nd goalie slot - Johnson again looked super in shutting down the Bruins and Valiquette let up the two goals. Anisimov had a shorthander, got 2 points for the 2nd straight game - and apparently - made the Ranger's roster this year.
That's all for me - I'll fade back into my weekend off and leave the keys with Nugman until Monday.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
(I still am in shock that he is a ranger....man I hate sather)
From what I have heard from Dave Pucks on my hiatus, this blog of ours is growing by leaps and bounds every day. I can only assume this is because there are a LOT of mets fans out there looking for some meaningful sport to follow, since meaningful games at citi field stop sometime in early august. As a Yankee fan, I will be burdened with watching baseball deep into October, so I have avoided the annual mess known as the "Rangers offseason".
I can not provide a tremendous amount of opinion on the rangers pre-season, since I have watched only about 8 seconds of it. I turned on some of the game against detroit, and it just so happened the exact moment I turned on I heard rosen say "Brashear heads onto the ice", and that was enough pre-season for me. Still in shock.
For those of our new fans that don't know me, I am the Nugman. I am the heart to Dave Puck's soul. I am the morning after pill to your broken condom. I am die hard blueshirts (just not in the pre-season because honestly, as much as I love hockey, we have to do something about this 14 month season thing) While I will not officially be back active until the first puck drops on the regular season, I want you to know I am thinking about all of you, and I am wearing a Henrik t-shirt (and nothing else), while doing it. My pre-season predictions will come in the next week or so, once I get a better feel for this new team of ours (isn't it fun to have a completely new roster EVERY season? Who cares about chemistry, we get to buy a whole new set of jerseys! Maybe that is Sather's plan, just keep overhauling, if something works, great, if not, big merchandise sales.)
There is never a bad time for that link. Ever.
Okay - Bright Side - Dark Side recap;
The Bright side
- Lundqvist looked very good. His new pads must be working. I'm expecting a big bounce back year from him this year - not that he wasn't great last year - he just wasn't Lundqvist-great.
- Sanguinetti finally got on the ice and looked good - as a defenseman - though we didn't see the offensive skills he is reported to have.
- we scored 3 goals for the first time in a long time.
The Dark Side
- we lost. Again.
- the Power Play? Nothing.
- the Penalty Kill? Killing us. 2 more goals against - again specials were the difference in a loss.
- Potter was no wizard out there.
- Zaba looks like our 4th best goalie. Maybe 5th.
- Redden. Enough said.
And there you have it. There's good and bad. When, exactly are we going to win a hockey game?
Friday, September 18, 2009
And now, at 41 years old - clean and sober for the past several years - Fluery is trying the impossible - another chance at the NHL - a shot at redemption. Theo worked diligently with a trainer to get his 41 year old body back in hockey shape - using the same personal drive and passion he used to clean up his life several years ago.
Next, the National Hockey League met with him, deliberated, and ultimately re-instated him - lifting his ban and clearing the way for him to get to a training camp invite.
I was hoping the Rangers would step forward - but it was Calgary - another of Fluery's former teams that made the classy move - inviting the former great forward into their training camp. Last night Calgary took on the Islanders at Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Canada. And after 6 years away from the NHL, at the improbable age of 41, Theo Fluery returned to the game he loves.
"I don't know at this point how I'm going to react to that situation and react to the crowd. It's going to be emotional," Fluery told a reporter before the game began.
It was emotional. The Calgary fans cheered him on the ice in the warm ups and during the game roared their approval every time he jumped on the ice. In regulation he was plus-one on the night with a shot on goal.
But then came the Shoot Out, a part of NHL hockey that didn't even exist back when Theo last skated on NHL ice. In Fluery's former playing days - hockey games that were tied at the end of regulation just stayed tied. Back then, everyone just went home - none of this 4-on-4 OT and Shoot Out business.So, after the OT period ended without a tie breaking goal - the teams lined up for the Shoot Out.
After Nigel Dawes missed for Calgary - sandwiched by two failed Islander attempts by Moulson and Smith - the Flames sent Theoren Fluery out on the ice out for his first ever NHL Shoot Out attempt.
Theo took the puck, moved up the ice at Islander goalie Kevin Poulin and launched a blazing six foot wrister.
He beats Poulin! The light goes on, the buzzer sounds and it is bedlam in the Saddledome.
It's like something out of a movie. Moments later the Islanders missed again and it was over. Fluery had won the game with the only goal of the Shoot Out. He was the first one back on the ice to congratulate the Flame's goaltender as he was mobbed by his teammates. The crowd stood and cheered - what a night!
There are not a lot of 40+ hockey players in the tough, lightning-fast NHL. The odds against an old man like Theo sticking with the Flames are still quite slim. So there's no telling how long this ride will last.
But for one night - for one shining moment - Theoren Fluery came all the way back. Back from exile. Back from addiction. Back from forced retirement. And back from his own troubled past.
For one night at least - Theo Fluery is back in the NHL.
Welcome home, warrior. And, wow, I wish I'd been there to see it.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Matt Gilroy accomplished 3 things:
He made an impact on the game
He made a statement with his play
He made the Rangers final roster
Gilroy was here –there and everywhere on the ice last night. He defended well, moved with the puck well, skated well, scored a pretty goal, and looked like the best parts of defenseman and forward at times. He rang the buzzer twice – once on a stunning backhand that got plenty of lift in a very short distance – and again in the shoot out. In short – the rookie – although a 25 year old rookie – showed that he belongs on the Rangers this season.
Okay – that’s the headline. Now on to the Bright Side – Dark Side recap:
The Bright Side
After losing game seven to the Caps 2-1 and losing earlier this week to the Bruins by the same score – it sure felt good to get a second goal and tie a game 2-2. At least until we lost later on…
Gilroy – as we mentioned was a one man show last night
Goalie Chad Johnson took over for Hank at halftime (not that the NHL has half time – but that’s another story) and after the very first shot beat him – settled all the way down and looked like a seasoned pro from then on. He stopped the next 19 shots – standing tall – eliminating rebounds – and doing some nice work with the glove hand.
Conditioning – again we seemed to get stronger as we went along.
Mike Del Zotto played another strong game and looks like he could be part of our defense rotation this year.
That’s the Bright Side - But there is also the Dark Side
Another loss. I know these don’t count – but since game 4 of the Caps playoff series we’ve been pretty much starved for a victory
And Again- Special Teams are killing us! Our powerplay was shut out again going 0-6 on the night. We had an off-season to address this – but no improvement so far. And what used to be our strength – our Penalty Kill – let up a pair of goals that were the difference again. Someone explain to me why there is no place for Blair Betts on this team? Of course – a little Marian Gaborik in the mix might help here.
Before we head to Detroit and take on the Red Wings Friday night – the Rangers will be planning to travel light. That is – they plan to cut about a third of the Training Camp roster – down to about 30 players – probably today. The guys left aren’t on the final team yet – but they still have a shot.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
There was one little quote of his that jumped out at us here at Blueshirt Brothers:
"who knows what happens to the center position in the next couple of days..."
I know most people are assuming this quote is about one player - Brandon Dubinsky. But I don't think so. At least - I think it's not only about him.
I think there's still a deal out there for another center about to be made. I think John Tortorella thinks his top line center may not even be a Ranger yet. I think Glen Sather still has cards he ain't showing.
Of course - we will see.
As for our unsigned Ranger, Dubi is in a mighty uncomfortable position. Without a signed deal he can either;
1 - Accept the Ranger qualifying offer - which would amount to a salary cut - to below the 600K level, or
2 - Sign an offer sheet from another team. But if that happens the Rangers do have the right to match the offer and keep their young centerman.
All this uncertainty has resulted in Dubi sitting out the start of training camp. (I'll bet he doesn't mind missing that 3 mile run and the wind sprints that Torts has announced).
It's touchy. Dubi doesn't want to risk injury before he signs. And the Rangers don't want him skating with them when a potential Offer Sheet could arrive any moment.
It all amounts to a growing rift and a deteriorating situation between the player and his team. Even if Dubi does come out and play - for the qualifying offer - will he do it with a whole heart?
Actually - looming free agency can be a big motivator - so I think we'd be fine for this year in that case - but then in the off season we'd lose him for sure.
But I still say there's one more deal out there for Glen Sather. But then again - as Torts said;
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Theme Number Three - Marian Gaborik: Is it injured yet?
(Again no, and again, give it a few days and we'll probably have something there also)
But in all these redundant news stories, where in the world is our resident outrageous quote man? Where is our consistent controversy machine? Where is our bad boy media magnet? Where is that dark heart and soul of the New York Rangers?
Where is Sean Avery?
It turns out Seanny is hiding in plain sight - skating the optional pre-camp training sessions - keeping out of trouble.
But finally - amid the Gaborik/Dubinsky/Heatley noise - for a few sloppy seconds a little bit of Avery News snuck by the media goalie:
According to our hero Steve Zipay - Avery broke free in front of Goaltender Matt Zaba earlier this week and tried to tip one by him. The young goalie was good on the stop - denying Avery.
The reaction? Typical Sean. Even though this is camp and Matt is his teammate - Sean will be Sean.
As an apparent act of kindness he helped wipe some ice and dirt off Zaba's mask with his glove. He rubbed then mask pretty hard. That is - while Zaba's face was still in it.
To Sean, this is like a welcome-to-the-Rangers gift basket.
And Matt Zaba quickly returned the favor, offering Sean his stick. That is - the butt end of his stick. At high velocity.
Just a few seconds of a shift. But from it a little glimmer of light. Mr. Sean Avery is in the building. The fancy suits are off - the Ranger colors are on - and our favorite pest is back in business.
We missed you Sean. Welcome back. And Let's Go Rangers.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
- In just 70 games, he scored 36 goals and added 24 assists for 60 points.
- His plus minus was an awesome +23.
- And my favorite stat - the goals-per-shot-on goal was over 15%
All three of those stats would have led the New York Rangers last year in those categories.
And with opening night just about 3 weeks away (feels great to say that) the pressure is on the Boss-town GM to fix his salary cap mess. A trade for his young winger coming off a career year may be his only option. He certainly doesn't sound like he's going to dump other players to sign Phil:
“While you like to bring along players of skill and youth and keep them in your organization, I also have to be cognizant of other dynamics,’’ he told the Boston Globe yesterday.
Chiarelli also described the contract situation as an "impasse", adding: “I’d like to have him in the mix, but obviously he’s not . . . and obviously teams are interested.’’
Who are those other teams? Rumors have three teams in the mix - the Predators, the Leafs (who don't have much to trade and may go the offer sheet route), and the New York Rangers.
Does he fit Tortorella's ideal mold for a player? Let's see:
- Youth - he's just 21 years old.
- Size - not huge but 6 feet and 195 pounds
- Speed - he's known for his skate ability
- American - he's born in Madison Wisconsin - and yes, the Ranger's do favor US-born players
So, yes - he'd be a huge addition here and would look pretty good as the 2nd option on the Gaborik line.
The word is that Toronto - who is talent poor but cap rich - is working on an offer sheet for the RFA right now. That means Boston will have to act fast if they want to get the most value they can for their player - because they can't match offer sheet and stay under the cap.
This means a small window of opportunity for Glen Sather and John Tortorella to jump in and grab the player.
We like Kessel's game and we like the Ranger's interest. Good hunting fellas.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Earlier this week, although the various collective bargaining agreements and NHL rules stipulate that training camp does not open for another week or so - most of the Ranger players have taken it upon themselves to gather and scrimmage against one another - to get themselves sharp and in hockey shape before camp officially opens.
The Ranger coaches are - by rule - not permitted to be with the players until the training camp officially opens. They can't even come in and watch them.
Imagine this happening in football. Would the New York Giants get together on a field, slap some pads on and start playing each other with no coaches around? Not in a million years. A few years back Shockey and Plaxico wouldn't even show up for the supervised workouts.
Would the Yankees start a pick up game? Never.
But your Ranger Hockey team - they are out there this week scrimmaging - just for "shots and giggles". And they only had one goalie show up last Monday so - get this - they set up a screen with gaps in it across one of the nets to simulate the other goalie.
A lifeless sheet with obvious holes it it taking the place of a real live goal tender? If those exist why is someone like Jose Theodore still drawing a salary?
All kidding aside, it is pretty cool that in 2009 our NHL players still show up voluntarily for pick-up games and to scrimmage as a team.
But please guys - don't let Gaborik hurt himself out there.