Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stupid Hockey Tricks - Our Top 10 List for the Rangers on Letterman Tonight

Yes it's true - tonight ten of the New York Rangers will be on the Dave Letterman show - to read tonight's Top Ten List. But first - we here at Blueshirt Brothers would like to submit a Top Ten list of our own:

By the way - the ten Rangers scheduled to appear will be: Henrik Lundqvist, Sean Avery, Marian Gaborik, Marc Staal, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Donald Brashear, Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky, Christopher Higgins.

Probable lines tonight would be Gabby - Drury - Higgins.... just kidding. Besides - Torts would never put Drury with Gaborik...

Okay - here we go:

The Official Blueshirt Brothers Top Ten Strangest Things That Will Happen To The Rangers This Year

Number 10: Rangers win Stanley Cup - but John Tortorella gets mad and throws it at The New York Post's Larry Brooks

Number 9: Donald Brashear will get confused during a fight with the Washington Capitals and will start punching himself

Number 8: In an effort to be worthy of his ridiculously overpriced contract, Wade Redden will begin driving the Zamboni machine between periods and serving cappuccinos to fans behind the bench.

Number 7: Injury prone Marian Gaborik, while singing along with the national anthem, will sprain his tongue.

Number 6: Del Zotto - the teenage Ranger - will get grounded by Tortorella for texting his girlfriend during shifts.

Number 5: Henrik Lundqvist will get caught up in the Ranger's attacking style and will spontaneously join in the forecheck

Number 4: During Rangers victory salute - whistle-happy referees will call Sean Avery for High Sticking.
Number 3: John Tortorella will reveal that the reason he sent Ilkka Heikkinen back to the minor leagues is that the Rangers couldn't find the four letter "K"s needed to sew his name on his jersey.

Number 2: Wikipedia will sue Miika Wiikman for having a name "materially similar" to theirs. Miika Wiikman will change his name to Malka Walkman...

And the Number 1 Strangest Things That Will Happen To The Rangers This Year:

Marian Gaborik will get a game misconduct for publicly "Tweaking his Groin"

Thanks everyone - drive safely.
And speaking of Dave Letterman - a quick shout out to one of Dave Puck's heroes: Mike McIntee - the amazing writer of (1) David Letterman's official daily blog - the Wahoo Gazette and (2) those Blue Cards Letterman always is reading from. If you've never read Wahoo - one of the longest running continuous blogs in the world - you really should.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Something's Up With Drury - part 2

We wrote about it Saturday - and we hoped we were wrong or that it would all blow over. But the news continues to be bad. The New York Rangers' Captain - Chris Drury - and Coach John Tortorella seem to be having some kind of issue with each other. And with the regular season almost here - there's not a lot of time left to fix it.

Let's start at the beginning. John Tortorella in his first full season with the Rangers - seems determined to re-make the club in his own image. Let's recap last years leading scorers:

1 - Gomez - 58 points - Traded away - to Canadians

2 - Zherdev - 58 points - sent to arbitration - then sent away

3 - Drury - 56 points - ?????????????

4 - Naslund - 46 points - preferred to retire rather than return

Over the summer we got some good news - the Coach and the Captain were reportedly doing the phone thing - feeling each other out - building some kind of bond - working on that BFF thing.

But this pre-season - here's what we're seeing:

  • 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.

What's wrong? We can only guess at this point. But John Tortorella is a coach who likes to be in charge. He's brought in a bunch of new players and is trying to rapidly and totally change the team culture. Chris was a major lynch pin of Tom Renney's team - the old Rangers - and he has been a vocal and visible presence. Is Tortorella trying to make a point? Is he trying to show who's boss?

At this point - we just don't know. But unfortunately - there seems to be trouble brewing between the Captain and the Coach.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Torts: "Everybody Was Bad"

Just when we started to feel good about our Rangers - they throw a clunker.

John Tortorella was right in saying periods 1 and 2 were the worst two periods of the entire Ranger pre-season:

Here's the recap. First the Dark Side - the first 40 minutes.

We were outshot 24-11

  • We were outscored 4-0

  • Varlamov outplayed Hank

  • Hank faced 24 shots and saved only 20 of them.

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

Something up between Drury and Tortorella?

I've got a bad feeling about this one. I think we may have trouble between our Coach and our Captain.

Chris Drury has worn the Rangers "C" with pride and represented us well. He's played hurt. He's played hard every shift. He's taken each loss more personally than most players ever seem to. Like us - Chris lives and dies with the New York Rangers every night.

And Drury has always made time for the Press. He's always been available after games to talk to reporters. Good games - bad games - Chris gets it that the reporters are the Rangers link to us - their fan base - and he always goes out of his way to cooperate.

That is, until now.

As Newsday reporter Steve Zipay and others have noticed - something's wrong with Drury this year. He's not making himself available, he's not hanging out at his lockers and he's not talking to the Press. And on the ice - Chris has been scarce as well - not scoring - not notching assists - not being an integral part of the Ranger team.

Now, Coach Tortorella has not complained or said a bad word about Drury this year. But on the other hand - he hasn't mentioned him much at all.

Tortorella has made no secret of the fact that he dislikes the New York media - something he's actually pointed out to them on more than one occasion already this year - and the season hasn't even started yet. So with Tortorella feuding with reporters - Drury's positive relationship with the press is now clashing with his boss's attitude.

We've all heard that Tortorella's motto for this season is "Shut Up And Play". But what I never thought about before is who is Torts telling this to? Because the Ranger who does most of the public talking is his Captain - Chris Drury.

I hope I'm way off base here. Tortorella and Drury have reportedly been in communication over the off season and were supposedly building a bond. But the sequence of events is clear:
1 - In the Tom Renney era - Drury is named Captain
2 - Drury acts as public spokesman for the Rangers
3 - Tort's says "Shut Up And Play"
4 - Drury stops talking to reporters - he "shuts up".
And there's no missing the fact that something's definitely wrong with Drury all of a sudden. And until we see our Captain looking like his old self - on and off the ice - we're going to worry

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fluery - The Dream Ends

Well, it makes us sad - but life isn't like the Movies. Theo Fleury gave it everything he had - but his improbable comeback fell short and the Calgary Flames released the aging forward this week.

He certainly had his moments - scoring the game winner in a shoot out as we chronicled last week - and putting together 4 points - including a goal in the preseason.

But 41 years old is just too old for most people to play in the NHL and Theo - despite a valiant effort - could not beat Father Time to the puck.

Fleury released the following statement:

“I am very thankful to Darryl [Sutter] and the Flames organization for following through on the commitment to provide me with this opportunity. I said in the beginning that no matter what the outcome, this would be a success story. I intend to take the next few days to review this experience and make decisions with my family regarding next steps in my life.”

Fleury may not have made it back to the NHL - but he's come all the way back from addiction - and has proven himself to be a top notch person - even if he's not a top 6 forward.

Theo - all of us here at Blueshirt Brothers wish you well.

Torts Blames... Me?


Help me out here readers. Is Ranger Coach John Tortorella angry at poor old Dave Pucks? It doesn't seem possible - I've never even met the man - but here's what happened.

Speaking to reporters about Donald Brashear - who was booed by Ranger fans on Thursday night whenever he touched the puck - Tortorella said this:

"Donald Brashear's gonna be a big part of this hockey club. I just don't think he needs to be disrespected. I think you guys disrespected him when we brought him in here. I think that's what started the ball rolling"

Torts is saying that the fans booed Brashear because the media incited them. I would think Brashear's own behavior on the ice as a thug who purposely went after Ranger Blair Betts with intent to injure - might have played a role in the fans reaction - but apparently Tortorella disagrees. According to the Ranger's coach - reporters stirred up the whole thing.

Here at Blueshirt Brothers we have certainly expressed some disappointment at the Rangers for hiring the guy who went after and injured Betts.

But here's where I'm confused. I'm just not sure if Tortorella meant to include blogs like this when he said "You Guys". Because if he did, that means that Torts is both (1) mad at me and (2) completely unaware of who I am - at the exact same time. And that is a pretty odd occurrence if you think about it. As for me - I never met Tortorella - and I like him (which is not the exact same thing in reverse - it's normal to form opinions about people we see on TV - it's not normal for people on TV to form opinions about us). But anyway - I do like John Tortorella. He's been good for the Rangers - he clearly cares about winning - he's a good coach - and he refreshingly says exactly what he's feeling.

And of course, expressing your true feelings in real time is pretty much what happens when fans boo. And, so, to all of you, and all Ranger fans, let me say this:

Don't let anyone - Coaches or the Media - tell you what to do or how to feel. Go ahead and boo when you want to - it's your right. After all, you paid for your seats - which pays Tortorella's salary. And, if you ask me, booing the guy who hurt Blair Betts isn't disrespectful.

It's just paying attention.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finally! We Beat The Caps!

Last night at The Garden did not sound like, look like, or feel like a pre-season game. To be honest it felt like more than a run-of-the-mill regular season game too.

It felt like a rematch.

There's been a hole in our Ranger hearts ever since Ovechkin and the Capitals came storming back in the playoffs to erase a 3-1 game deficit and send the Blueshirts home for the summer. Well, pre-season or not - last night's exciting 3-2 win went a long way toward healing those wounds.

There was so much to like tonight. It was as if Sather and Tortorella thought all off-season about how to remake the Rangers into a team that could defeat the Capitals - and friends - they passed that first test. Here are the Ranger changes this season and how they looked tonight

  • 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

That Special Feeling is Missing

Somebody please tell the Rangers what everybody else already seems to know. Most other hockey teams know it. Ranger fans sure seem to know it. The Stanley Cup winning Crosbys know it. Heck - even the New York Giants' Lawrence Tynes (whose game-winning field goal in Dallas made Dave Pucks one happy guy) knows it.

What everyone but the Rangers know is this: Special Teams win games.

Last year our New York Rangers excelled on the Penalty Kill - at least they did until Brashear nearly separated Blair Betts from his noggin. The Rangers league-leading PK skill kept them in hockey games and got a low scoring team into the playoffs.

On the flip side though - last year's Rangers were horrendous on the Power Play. This man-advantage shortcoming proved to be their undoing. They languished as a low scoring team - mounting the pressure on their lone superstar - Henrik - until in the end he faltered under the crushing load.

The lesson here is obvious: Special teams win games.

So what is the John Tortorella - Glen Sather braintrust doing about it? (Maybe I should call the two of them John-Glen for short)

Step one: they dismantle the Penalty Kill - refusing to make any sort of overture to Blair Betts - they just cleaned his blood off the ice and pretended he was never here in the first place. And Sjostrom was likewise dispatched without even a quick thanks for all his hard work.

And Step Two: they wheel and deal all off season but still manage to arrive at training camp with no true Power Play quarterback.

And how has this played out through pre-season? Three of the first five contests were decided by Special teams - with two of those resulting in Ranger loses.

Now it's still pretty early. And to be fair, Tortorella is just now starting to focus on Special Team play. And believe me, he is pushing his squad to improve their power play.

But it stands to reason that without Betts and "Shoe" our Penalty Kill unit will be taking a step back - how could it not? And so the PP team will need to take a step forward just to break even. Look - we're very excited about this year's team. We even like most of the off-season moves by the John-Glen duo. But if this is going to be a special year - we'll need our Special Teams to step up.
Because Special Teams win games.

Just ask Lawrence Tynes.
In other news - The Washington Capitals will be re-entering MSG tomorrow night for the first meeting between us and them since the playoffs. It's still pre-season - but I have a feeling it's not going to feel that way tonight. But to confuse matters - much of the bad blood would be directed at Brashear - but he switched teams. Puck drops at 7:00. Gloves to drop soon after?
[An assist and Thank You to our reader who pointed out I misspelled the Giant's Place Kicker's name - it's fixed now.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prospal prospers at Center? We're DUBI-ous

This, my friends, is messed up.

For months now - ever since Gaborik tweaked into town and Gomez skedaddled (and yes - I was able to spell check that word) we've all been fretting about Brandon Dubinsky's return. That's because the Rangers are short handed in the Center Position and we need somebody to get Gaborik - and others - the puck.

So, after we sweated our way through the negotiations - from qualified offers to arbitration wavers to Tortorella agent-bashing to Heatley and Kessel trades elsewhere - to hold outs and equipment held hostage. And finally, at the end of all this drama - the Rangers sign Brandon Dubinsky, our young Center arrives at camp and Tortorella immediately installs him - at Wing?


It seems odd - weird - and confusing - but there it is. Totorella has told reporters that he has likes Vaclav Prospal (who he calls Vinne) at center and that he will try Dubi at center and wing and will decide where to keep Brandon as this season progresses. It makes no sense on the surface - but I think there is an underlying logic to it:

First of all, Dubinsky's holdout made Tortorella mad. Coach is just plain torqued off (should we say "Torted" off?) at Brandon, his agent, and the fact that an RFA with no leverage was able to force the Rangers to make the deal. And John is an emotional guy - so don't ever discount his emotional state when trying to figure out why he's doing whatever it is he's doing.

Second - without Dubi in camp, Tortorella had to go to the next option. Prospal has played Center in the past - for Torts at Tampa Bay - and he seemed like a logical guy to try in that slot. Tort's also knew that the better Vaclav did, the more the hold-out Dubi would feel some pressure to get his skates back on.

Third - once Prospal started playing Center - the event took on a life of it's own. Having gone with him - Tortorella clearly wouldn't have said to Prospal "Hey, look, just keep the spot warm for Brandon, because when he shows - you're out of there". The opposite is true - he'd have to let his player know he has a real shot at the spot. Because there was no guarantee that Dubi would ever sign.

So, now that Dubinsky is back in camp - Torts can't just yank Prospal and throw Dubs in. He's got to at least make it seem like he's having a competition there. And who knows - maybe he is. If Dubinsky doesn't look like the better Center - why wouldn't John go with the hotter hand? And by respecting Propsal - he shows his team that he's backing up the loyal players who show up on time to camp and have been working hard since day 1.

So really it's either

1 - An elaborate show of respect for Prospal - rewarding team loyalty

2 - A conspicuous show of disdain to Dubi, his agent, and any players who might be thinking about future holdouts, or

3 - An honest competition to find the best Centers the Rangers have available.

Most likely it's a combination of all three. But it's certainly something to keep our eyes on as the pre-season winds down and October 2nd sneaks up on us. Let's hope the final result of this is some high quality play from our Centers - whoever they are.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gaborik: "I Think It Went Pretty Good"

The rumors are true - Marian Gaborik is a New York Ranger! (I'd read the papers - but until he actually appeared in Ranger colors I wasn't sure). But last night - he was in uniform and on the Madison Square Garden Ice to help the Rangers face the Detroit Red Wings - last year's Stanley Cup runner-up.

After being a pre-season no show with nagging groin injuries (and I'll have to type Nagging Groin into WebMD someday soon) Gabby was a week or more behind the other players in terms of getting into the flow of real NHL action - and it showed. Still, the Ranger's new addition was able to launch five shots on goal, got rocked with an early check to the body - survived without injury and notched a pretty assist on a stunning no-look pass for a goal by Enver Lisin.

Gaborik later told ESPN:

"I felt pretty good out there for the first game. A new team, new arena, new fans, it was definitely my first game. I think it went pretty good."

And anyway Gabby has a few pre-season contests left to get himself into game shape.

As for the actual game, the Rangers won, this time beating the Red Wings (or some of them) 4-2. Most of the good news came early. The first period was a triumph for your heroes. We outshot the Wings 18-4 and outscored them 3-1 on goals by Lisin, Prospal, and Callahan. Cally's goal came from his collision at the net - his 2nd big hit of the day. Unfortunately his first collision was in practice with Sean Avery - sidelining Seanny with a sprained knee that we are praying is nothing worse.

Detroit later added a 2nd goal and at the end of the 3rd Anisimov added an empty netter to notch the Ranger's 4th goal and seal the win.

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

Rangers Leave Chad Hanging

On the surface - it seems awfully unfair. The Rangers want to keep 2 goalies. The first of course is Henrik. But the second?

Chad Johnson (and no - we won't be making Ocho Cinco jokes today - thanks for asking) has been really something to watch in goal. In two outings he let in just one goal - but more than that - he's looked really in command between the pipes. He's shown himself to be the kind of goaltender that settles down his club - displaying confidence - limiting rebounds - showing great skill with the glove hand - and just kind of taking charge back there.

And Saturday night against the Bruins - Tortotrella set it up as a long look a Chad and Steve Valliquette - and may the best man win. The result?

Steve Valliquette - 14 shots, 12 saves - two goals in half a hockey game.
Chad Johnson - 12 shots - 12 saves.

I other words - Chad was perfect. So how do you send him down to the minors after that? What did you want him to do? Score a goal? Make 20 save on 12 shots?

I mean - nothing at all against Steve - but I think we all have seen what Steve can do. We know his upside. Chad, on the other hand - is still improving. It just seems like a bad move to me. But on the other hand - Johnson will get more work in the minors and will have more chance to improve his game.

Also getting cut and going to Hartford are:

Matt Zaba - no argument there
Cory Potter - we agree

Heikkinen - we would have liked to have seen more of the K-man

Crowder - who we frankly have no opinion about.
There are more cuts to come - but with this latest round the Rangers are getting closer to their final roster. And tomorrow night they face Detroit again - this time at home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

While I Was Out....

Dubinsky signs - the Rangers win - and Nugman returns to the blog - all's right with the world

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

The Return of the Nugman...sort of

It's that time of year again, another religious holiday, another reason for DP to look to get out of blogging on the blueshirts. Of course, being the good christian, and borderline hero that I am, I am willing to step up and add some offensive fire power to this blog, just like Donald Brashear will to the rangers offense this.....oh wait, that's right, I forgot, he will add nothing. Nevermind.

(I still am in shock that he is a 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.

Another Day - Another PK failure - Another Loss

The Rangers extended their streak last night. They haven't won since Blair Betts was injured by Don Brashear in last year's Capitals series. Detroit beat us 4-3 and again - failure on special teams was the difference

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


For those of us who remember Theo Fleury as a New York Ranger - last night was a very special night. Fleury was a man of special talent but also a man consumed by his own demons. His addictions forced him out of the game he loved - but while he was here he wore the Ranger colors with pride and played hard and with distinction for us.

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


There are a lot of things to say about the Rangers –Devils game last night, a 3-2 shoot out pre-season loss – but here’s our headline:

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.

Next up:

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

And We're Off!

Yes! We're off and skating! There was plenty to like - and dislike - last night as our Rangers once again took the ice at Madison Square Garden - their first home action since a game six loss to the Washington Capitals in last year's playoffs.

It was clearly pre-season hockey - no sign of Gaborik or Lundqvist - lots of youth and some sloppy but spirited play. But it was great to see those Blueshirts (and those never-mentioned red pants) skating around the home ice surface again.

And here's our Bright Side - Dark Side recap

First - the Bright Side

- Our Young Defenders looked very good. Gilroy and Del Zotto both looked at times like they can be NHL defensemen. And that's very good - because we may need them both to be exactly that. Gilroy looked the better of the two and launched 4 shots on goal as well.

-Higgins looked sharp. Chris Higgins our new winger played very well with the puck and scored the Rangers lone goal. Tortorella mentioned afterwards that the Rangers are counting on him to score goals and be a "top six forward" - and the early election day returns are good.

-I love that the Garden crowd was into it. Some real life on the building s - which feeds in part - from the attacking style of the team. And I like the booing of Brashear. We may embrace the guy eventually (his first fight with the Devils or 'slanders will probably do it) but I like the fact that the Garden fans do not give the guy a free ride - he doesn't deserve one.

-Valiquette looked pretty good. 18 saves on 19 shots in just over half a game.

-And overall we got better as the game went along. The pressing style, if nothing else, is fun to watch. It will generate some chances on offense and take the pressure off the goaltenders. 32 shots. Artem "Anis" Anisimov won 9 of 16 faceoffs

And now - The Dark Side

-Penalty Kill - we told you so. We used to be great at the Penalty Kill. Then we dumped Sjostrom and Betts and guess what? We let up 2 goals on 6 power plays and lose 2-1. It is, of course, ridiculously early but, so far - so bad.

-Power Play - terrible last year and this year we picked up where we left off. 0-2. In a league where special teams are the difference most nights we had a poor showing and it was the difference in a 2-1 loss.

-Early slump - we looked slow and lethargic at the start - but that may be because Torts has been working the guys so hard. It did get better as we went along

-Penalties - we got called for six!

Next Game:

The Devils tonight in Newark at 7pm. It's only pre-season, but then again, against the Devils its never just pre-season. Great to be underway!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tweaked Groin? WebMD says: No Such Injury!

Okay - as you know - Marian Gaborik missed the first two days of Ranger practice with what the Rangers reported as a "Tweaked Groin". I personally don't think there is such an injury. So I typed it into WebMD. Here's what they said:

We're Sorry. We found no results matching your search. Make sure your spelling is correct or try broadening your keywords.

Interesting. Gaborik has an injury that WebMD has never heard of. So I went a step further and looked up "Tweak" at the Webster online dictionary. Below are the actual definitions - with my observations in Ranger blue

Main Entry: tweak
Pronunciation: \ˈtwēk\
1 : to pinch and pull with a sudden jerk and twist

(No argument there. I'd say that anyone pinching or pulling anything in Gaborick's groin region would qualify as a "jerk" in my book. Or are they saying Gabby hurt himself doing the twist?)

2 : to pinch (a person or a body part) lightly or playfully

(Uh... playfully? Now I'm getting uncomfortable. I sure hope this was NOT what the Rangers were getting at.)

3 : to make usually small adjustments in or to. Fine tune;

(Now that sounds better. Maybe the Rangers are making fine tuning adjustments to their star winger. But what ever happened to the old fashioned back rub - do they really need to be tweaking his groin? How exactly is that supposed to work?)

4 a : annoy, bother <tweaking the establishment> b : to criticize especially in a sly or sharp manner c : to poke fun at

(I don't like the references to "poking" and "groin" together like that. Anyway - this definition seems more like Sean Avery than Gaborik.)

5 : to injure slightly

(Bingo - we have a winner. On the 5th and final definition we have a positive match. Gaborik has slightly injured his groin. It may not be on WebMD - but at least it's in the dictionary.
What a relief. And I'm sure glad it's not definition number two.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gaborik Hurt? Dubi "stupid"? Nick Z wants back in? Here come the Rangers!

Hang on to your Pucks folks - Ranger Training camp is open - We play a pre-season game tomorrow(!) and we've got news out the five-hole.

First of all - we were going to set up a counter on to log the minutes that Marian Gaborik could go without getting hurt. But before we could get anything set up - Gabby beat us to the punch. According to your New York Rangers - Gaborik has "tweaked his groin" and has been held out of John Tortorella's first two days of grueling practice. Poor Marian has missed the three mile run and the endurance skate. Tweaked his groin? Tweaked his groin? (Look - I don't even have to make an off color joke here - just fill in your own).

You know, when everyone else said that Gaborik was fragile - I didn't believe it. But if he's going to be healthy this year - well, this is a pretty bad start.

Moving on - Ranger coach John Tortorella, hoping to diplomatically smooth over a contract dispute with his number 2 center Brandon Dubinsky - announced "I think his agent's stupid".

Way to go John - that should really help move this toward a quick and amiable resolution. This is now a very bad situation with Dubinsky holding out and the Rangers getting madder and madder about it. I never thought we could really lose Brandon - but it is starting to look more and more likely.

And finally - get this - Nik Zherdev - after seeking arbitration with the Rangers - is now offering to play for the amount the Rangers originally asked for (and had been rejected by the arbitrator). And the Rangers - after seeing that no other teams whats Nik for that money - or close to it - are saying no.

And all of this is coinciding with the first Rangers pre-season game - scheduled for Tuesday night. The sleepy off-season is long gone now folks - and Ranger Hockey is back in action - on and off the ice!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If you can't stand the Heatley...

We don't really like to toot our own goal buzzer here at Blueshirt Brothers (although in the privacy of your own home there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing that once in a while). As our readers know - we went out on a limb back on September 2nd to predict that Heatley would be out of Ottawa by September 12 and here we are - and there he goes.

In the end, Ottawa just couldn't stand Dany Heatley - so they got him out of their kitchen, sending him to the San Jose Sharks. In return, the Santors will get Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo (the hands-down best name in the NHL) and a second-round pick.

Of course - we were told Dany was traded once before - in a three way deal - that apparently fell through. But as my fellow blogger Nugman will tell you from his adventures in the New York singles scene - it's always pretty tough putting a three-way together.

In any event - Ottawa GM Bryan Murray had no choice. Dany had asked out of town because he felt slighted by being taken off the first line power play. Then Ottawa's management inexplicably went public with Dany's demand - weakening their bargaining position. And after that, too many harsh words were flying back and forth to let Ottawa keep the high scoring forward in a Senator's uniform. GM Bryan Murray did all he could and waited as long as possible but in the end he had to pull the trigger. Had Heatley shown up in camp it would have been an ugly picture for the media - a total circus that Murray wanted to avoid at all costs.

Of course that also means that Heatley will not be coming to the New York Rangers. Sather was in there pitching - but in the end this is a deal he was Smart for Not Making. Ottawa was demanding Brandon Dubinsky plus a whole lot more. We can assume from the Sharks deal it would have taken the Rangers Dubinsky - plus another scorer - plus a draft pick.

And for a team already thin at Center - losing the young and talented Dubi would have been a big move in a bad direction. Still - wouldn't it have been nice to see Gaborik and Heatley out there against Crosby and Malkin? But then again, with no Center to get them the puck - what would be the point?

Two Days till Rangers-Bruins PreSeason Hockey!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Torts: "Who Knows what happens to the Center Position"

John Tortorella spoke to the media yesterday. Among the injured were....

Just kidding.

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;

Who knows?

Friday, September 11, 2009

We're On The Clock

It's true. The Rangers are on the clock - and it's ticking.

The season is approaching - there are less than 9 days until the Bruins and Rangers have a pre-season match. Less than two weeks (say Stevie "Weeks" and Kevin "Weekes") until we watch real Rangers on the ice against a real opponent. After an long summer of hot weather and Ranger-less speculation and waiting - it will be mighty cool to have a little hockey in the house again.

And the Heatley thing - that should resolve by Saturday [Editor's note: ESPN is saying it has resolved today]. He'll either be a Ranger - or somewhere else. But it's going to happen soon. And the clock is ticking...

And Dubinsky. The clock is ticking (or is it sticking?) on that. Can the Rangers get a deal done for their up and coming center? Or will we have a UFA in the making? Only time and the clock will tell....

And Phil Kessel. The disgruntled Bruins Forward has said he won't talk to the Bruins any more. They can't afford him - so the puck is in the Rangers court. But the clock is ticking...

And Theo Fluery. The NHL reinstated him Thursday. Good for them. But now - will the Rangers do the right thing for their former player and give him the courtesy of an invitation to camp? The clock is ticking.

And all those Ranger prospects with young fresh legs. A few will push hard to make this club and Tortorella will give them a long hard look. But they only have a short training camp to make an impression. And the clock....

Yes - that clock. It keeps ticking. And soon we'll know a whole lot more about all the items above.

Only time will tell. And the clock is... well, you know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Finally - Mr. Avery Checks In

This pre-season has had a bunch of recurring themes:

Theme Number One - Mr. Brandan Dubinsky: Is he signed yet?

(no - but give it a few days and we'll probably have something)

Theme Number Two - Mr. Dany Heatley: Is he a Ranger Yet?

(no, but give that another day or two and we may very well have something there as well)

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.

Our Favorite Flyer? Philly Betts on Blair

In baseball people "get it" when a shortstop is a Gold Glove in the field but can't hit. They know a run prevented on defense is a good as a run scored on offense. But in the NHL - a superstar penalty killer like Blair Betts - can't get a job. But at least Philadelphia has stepped up and invited Betts to their training camp. I really hate to say anything nice about Philly - but it is a classy move and smart hockey by the Flyers.

Why are guys like Blair under appreciated? For one thing, Hockey statistics (like goals, assists, points, and even plus-minus) do not tell the real story. The value of a great player on the Penatly Kill gets lost. We have all seen how, when a team can't score on the Power Play, they get demoralized, their even-strength play begins to suffer, and even the refs get involved. The Zebras swallow their whistles - figuring what's the point of calling a penalty if the team can't convert them? We have all seen this happen to our opponents - and to the Rangers themselves.

What the NHL needs is a new stat to track this. Somebody please try to get this going in this. Something like Short-Handed-Opponent-Tallys-Each-Minute (SHOTEM?)

So the contribution of a valuable player like Betts get lost. Worse than lost really. What was the result of the brutal hit by Don Brashear on Betts in the playoffs?

Here's your result: The Rangers hire the thug for $1.4 million and dump his victim who was earning far less. And Betts gets no offers from the Rangers or anyone else. Just an invite to the Flyers camp. Think about it. The Ranger's player gets hurt from a dirty hit and the Rangers don't even invite him to camp - the hated Flyers are the one's to step up.

And Brasher's reaction to his nearly putting a hard working player out of the NHL? He's told the Daily News that his hit turned the series around. His quote:

"It certainly gave our team some wings. In the playoffs, you want to get that extra edge, and sometimes it's things like that that make a difference. That extra spark got the guys going on the bench."

I love the Rangers - but at Blueshirt Brothers we have say what we're thinking. And what we're thinking is that dumping Betts and hiring Brashear is an ugly, classless, move.

So - we wish Blair well and hope he sticks in Philly. And if he takes the ice against our Rangers next season - we're going to have a hard time not giving a little cheer for our favorite Flyer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rangers Targeting Boston's Phil Kessel

The Boston Globe today published a story putting the New York Rangers in the hunt for Bruin's forward Phil Kessel, an unsigned Restricted Free Agent.

Boston's problems in signing the right winger are obvious. Their payroll is already at $55 million, just about $1.8 below the salary cap line. Their young star forward is looking for a multi-year deal. If they give him anything approaching what he wants - around $4 million per - it will put them well over the cap. This is actually permissible for the next few weeks - but would force Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to have to trade or demote to the minors a current roster player by October 1st.

Would Kessel help the Rangers? You bet. Look at his stats for last season:
  • 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

Ottawa Captain: Trading Heatley "The Best Scenario"

We said here last Wednesday that Dany Heatley would be out of Ottawa by September 12th. And now Daniel Alfredsson, the Senator's team Captain apparently agrees with us.

Yesterday, reporters asked Alfredsson point blank if Heatley should be traded before camp opens on Saturday. Daniel's response was clear:

That would be the best scenario for everybody," the Captain admitted. You can't get much clearer than that.

And so, Senator's GM Bryan Murray has a growing problem on his hands. He wants to deal the disgruntled goal scorer - but only the San Jose Sharks and your New York Rangers have shown any kind of significant interest. And Murry isn't satisfied with what either team is offering.

But what alternative does he have?

After Ottawa went public with Heatley's trade demands (and it does seem that the team - not the player - leaked that information), the Senator's can't easily bring Dany back into the fold.

And it will get very ugly if Heatley walks into training camp on Saturday September 12th.

Murry will have a full blown - Ringling Brothers - elephant poop enhanced - Media Circus on his hands. You'd have reporters getting fresh quotes from Heatley about why he doesn't want to be there and how upset he is that the Senators leaked the story. You'd have every player forced to respond to reporters' questions about a teammate that wants out.

And you'd have to figure out what exactly to do about that "A" on Heatley's jersey. He's not exactly Alternate Captain material anymore - is he? But pulling off the "A" is likely to spark off another round of bad feelings and sniping quotes all around.

Plus - what exactly will happen between the players themselves when they encounter Heatley in their locker room - and scrimmage against him?

"You can’t just wipe it under the rug and go on", explained the team Captain, “You’re going to have to address the situation.”

Alfredsson's quotes to the press provide yet another reason to get Dany out of town. For GM Murray, the pressure is on, the clock is ticking...

...and the Rangers are still in the mix.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Aaron Voros - Hard Working Ranger (or wanted criminal?)

Aaron Voros as a Ranger last year was not an offensive juggernaut. His numbers?

55 Games - 8 Goals - 8 Assists (at least he has a balanced attack) - 122 Penalty minutes. His Goals-per-shots-on-goals an unlikely 12.1%.

And here are his fight stats (and yes - there are people who track this -

10 fights. Record: 2 wins, 3 losses, 5 ties. (By comparison Brashear was 6-2-3 with one of his two losses coming against a certain Colton Orr).

Like his other teammates, Aaron got the offseason letters from Tortorella (with lots of Capitalizations and Exclamation Points!!!) urging him to get in shape.

And so, according to Voros, he has stayed close to the Rangers Training camp center all summer - working out the entire off-season. The 200 pound, 6-4 left winger who turned 28 in July wants to try his hardest to stay part of this Ranger team.

In fact, Voros told Steve Zipay at Newsday this week that he's been at camp so many weeks that last week was "like Groundhog Day...but with more people this week". Voros also said, of his physical condition:

"I'm in the best shape of my life."

That is good news - unless...

We don't know how to say this exactly - but there were police reports this summer of a robbery in Rochester on August 30th. A convenience store on North Main Street was robbed at knife point in broad daylight.

Why am I mentioning this terrible event? As you can see in the photo - the suspect was wearing... well, I will quote the local paper Fosters Daily Democrat here:

Police released a photograph of the suspect from a surveillance camera at the store and describe the suspect as a white male who was wearing a New York Rangers hockey jersey bearing the number 34. The jersey is mostly white in color, with red and blue lettering, police said.

The suspect wore a Ranger Jersey? Number 34? But that's ... Aaron Voros' number!

But that's impossible. Aaron is no criminal. He has no history of violence. I mean he's a professional hockey player. A player with 122 penalty minutes and 10 fights last year and....
And, anyway, Aaron has made a special point of telling reporters that he was at Ranger Training camp. All summer. And Westchester is 5 hours away from Rochester. Why would he make a special point of saying he was in Westchester? It's not like he needed an alibi.
Did he?

Uh oh. This can't be happening.

Anyway - let's keep it on the down-low. The Rochester police haven't checked roster numbers yet - so we're still in the clear.
And hey, in the future, to anyone thinking of committing an armed robbery in Rochester - we urge you to reconsider. If nothing else - please leave the Ranger Jersey at home.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Just for Shots and Giggles

The more I look at it - the more I realize that the NHL is not like any other league in the world.

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.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Boullion not in the soup - Wiikman on Wikipedia - Rangers Release their Roster

We love this. After a long hot summer the pre-season opener is just two weekends away - there are real New York Rangers skating around on real ice in camp and the team has released their official Training Camp Roster.

You can take a peek for yourself right here on the Ranger's official site. And keep in mind that a few of younger players are still in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament and will be joining the squad later on.

This is just the first go-round, let everybody play, open up the doors list. Fully half of these guys will not be on the final squad - I mean, there are six - count'em - six Goaltenders on the list.

For example - check out goaltender Miika Wiikman on Wikipedia. I think the four "i"s in Miika's name tops the four "k"s in Ilkka Heikkinen (also on the squad) to make him the new best name in the organization.

But seriously, the biggest news of a wide open roster list like this is not who is here but who isn't.

Frances Boullion - the mighty tough, but not not mighty tall (or mighty young) defenseman, who we had speculated could compete for a roster spot here is notably missing.

Theo Fleury - the compelling, tragic, former Ranger - who had been working out and attempting an unlikely but spirited comeback - is not listed here. This is disappointing. An invite, even if short lived - would have been a wonderful gesture from Sather and company.

And there are even a surprise among the guys who did make the Training Camp Squad:

Kyle McLaren - the former San Jose Shark (and former Boston Bruin) is a big (6'- 4") 219 pounds was out of the NHL last year after failing his physical with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 32 year old defenseman is most famous for violent physical play. He was suspended three games in the playoffs for an over-the-top elbow to Montreal's Richard Zednik in 2002. Ranger fans may remember a hip check to Petr Prucha from Kyle that was so violent it was rumored to have knocked the 2nd "e" loose from Petr's name. All kidding aside - it is clear that Tortorella is looking for intimidating physical play from his team and that Don Brashear won't be the only manifestation [Editor - when Dave Pucks says "manifestation" he means "example" ] of that.

And I am glad to see young defenseman Mike Sauer on the squad. I know he disgraced himself in Coach Tortorella's eyes with a horrific couple of shifts against the Penguins late last year - but he deserves a second chance and I'm glad he's getting one.

Brandon Dubinsky is here - which we expected - confirming that he is in this year's Ranger plans.

The other big news - Gaborik has not yet been injured! Let's hope that streak keeps going.
And speaking of injuries - here's a shout out and a "Get Well Soon" to Jess Rubenstein who runs a great blog called Prospect Park (check the link in the "blogs we like" section on the right side of this page). Jess unfortunately tore his MCL - leaving him in a lot of discomfort as he keeps us updated on the younger Rangers. Thanks for playing hurt Jess and we hope you feel better quickly.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nik and Nik - Reunited in Atlanta?

Very interesting rumor flying around from several sources that ex-Ranger Nik Zherdev may be signing with the Atlanta Thrashers.

This would reunite Zherdev with another ex-Ranger, fellow Russian Nik Antropov, who already signed with Atlanta. In fact - these two would probably play together on the Thrashers' top line.

Funny - at the end of last year we wondered if the two enigmatic Niks would be paired together on a line - but we thought it would be on the Rangers. But neither player seemed like an ideal fit for John Tortorella - who wants players that show up in body and spirit every single night - never a specialty of Zherdev or Antropov who could disappear in plain sight some nights.

The other interesting part of this is that the salary rumors for Zherdev as a Atlanta Thrasher are in the $1 to $2 million dollar range. This is a far cry from the $3.9 million awarded Nik by an Arbitrator - and also well below the $3.25 million qualifying offer the Rangers made for him.

So, once again, against all odds and recent history - the Rangers, in walking away from Zherdev at $3.9 million - there's no other way to say this - look smart. Score one for Glen Sather and company - they did not overpay for this player.

And if Atlanta does sign Zherdev - circle that first Atlanta game at MSG - where Nik and Nik will reunite on Garden ice for that opening faceoff. You won't want to miss it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heatley Trade Deadline - September 12

The Dany Heatley situation is, for lack of a better term Heating all the way up. It is now clear to us here at BlueShirt Brothers that Dany will be traded by September 12th. Here's why:

Ottawa Senators General Manager Bryan Murray has become increasingly frustrated with his attempts to trade his disgruntled high scoring forward. Murray updated the Canadian National Post yesterday about his attempts to trade Heatley:

"Teams have indicated some interest -- a couple of teams only. But we've never been able even to get what I would consider an offer that I could consider, so, for the moment, I'm not very optimistic."

"I keep trying, we keep talking. We don't seem to be going very far,"

But here's where it gets interesting. Reporters asked Murray if he planned to set a deadline to make a Heatley trade. His response:

"I think we have to, fairly soon, make a statement or declaration that if we're not going to get a deal done, that Dany is coming back to training camp and to the Senators," he said. "I don't know if I can say [exactly when], but we've got to look at training camp coming fairly quickly here. I'd like the coaches and the players to know that we have a certain group of people coming in."

Murray is saying that if they don't trade Dany soon - they have to stop trying and get ready to start the regular season with him. But the way this has played out - that seem increasingly unlikely - for three reasons:

1 - Murray publicly denounced his forward - asking the coach to pull the Alternate Captain's "A" off his jersey.

2 - Heatley continues to talk to the press and blames Ottawa for making his trade request public.

3 - Ottawa's owner Eugene Melnyk has admitted being "antsy" about a possible Heatley return to the Senators. he was quoted saying: "I think everybody wants to just move on"

And so, for all the above reasons, it looks to us like there's no way Dany and the Senators can reconcile and no way he will be back.

But then, if Dany will be gone by Ottawa's self-imposed deadline, when exactly will that deadline arrive?

We've got a pretty good guess. Training camp for the veteran players starts September 12th. If Murray doesn't want his players fielding endless questions about Heatley on that day - he'll have to get a deal done by then.

So, to us - it's obvious - Heatley will be traded by September 12th. And from the rumors we're hearing - the Rangers are one of two teams still in the hunt.

Of course we've been wrong before...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dubinsky: "I Want To Be A Ranger"

The quote in the title above is from Brandon Dubinsky, speaking yesterday at an informal players scrimmage. Here's the full statement he made to reporters yesterday:

“I want to be a Ranger. The Rangers want me here; something’s gonna get done real quick and this will all be an afterthought. I’m in here working hard, getting ready for the season, not worrying about that; everything falls into place eventually, so I’m not losing any sleep over it. Obviously there’s been a lot of speculation and stuff, but I know where we’re at and where we’re gonna be…It might be 12 days away from camp, but 12 days is a long time, you can have a lot of conversations in 12 days, it only takes one.”

This is all good news, but we hope the Rangers feel the same way.

The other news of the day is that for the most part the Rangers looked to be in better shape than they were a year ago. That is most probably due to the warning letters sent to each player by John Tortorella during the off season urging them to exercise and report to camp in good physical condition.

Defenseman Corey Potter commented on Tortorella's fitness warnings:

"We all got the letter. There were lots of capitals and exclamation points."

And several Rangers stayed long after the voluntary workout - no coaches are around yet - to hit the weight room - including Wade "over-paid" Redden, Marc "my career is starting to..." Stahl, and Evgeny "not worth a nickname" Grachev.

A good start - and it's good after a long offseason to have actual Rangers on actual ice to write about.