Friday, December 30, 2011


The Rangers have waived Sean Avery. Much more to follow - but let me say that I'm heartbroken and angry.

But not at all surprised.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Washington’s Way – Rangers fall 4-1 to Caps

You know – we never could beat the Ovechkin Capitals.

Since taking a 3-1 lead in the playoff series 4 years ago, the Caps have owned us. We’ve won a few here and there – but all the meaningful ones have gone Washington’s way. The Rangers are the only team to have lost a playoff series to the Capitals in the last 4 years – and we managed to do it twice. And your old pal Dave Pucks is still haunted by an Ovechkin goal against a long-forgotten backup goaltender (Valliquette?). Ovie swooped in to the right, and came all the way around the back of the net to slam it in the opposite side. Not good.

Anyhoo – this season, the Rangers are unexpectedly good – like “first place in the East” good. And the Caps are unexpectedly bad – like “get your fat coach fired” bad. So here in the Dave Pucks homestead Pucks Junior, Grandma Pucks and I started to think that maybe this season would be different. And so we hunted through Cablevision channels looking for Versus last night with a little hope and confidence that things would be better last night.

We was wrong!

The Caps came all psyched to play the first place Rangers – an enthusiasm which we did not share.

As coach John Tortorella himself put it: “We didn’t defend”. Of course – with Staal and Sauer all concussed and stuff we are forced to put our natural 7th and 8th defensemen out there on the ice every night – and sometimes it’s going to come back and bite us just behind the 5 hole. And so Woywika and Stalman (who?) found themselves way up ice (past the red line) when the puck found its way to Semin . And Semin looked up and saw - in the Ranger goal – not King Henrik Lundqvist – but rather his more easy-access backup Marty Biron. Marty is good – but he’s human and so Semin buried his chance to put the Caps up 3-1, and a little later – did it again to finalize the score at 4-1.

On the positive side Dubinsky continued his resurgence with a goal assisted by Callahan. Cally had a goal reversed by the Toronto goal judge – who ruled correctly that Cap-Call had kicked it in.

So it was our first loss in 6 games – and it remains to be seen if the streaky Rangers can avoid dropping two in a row – as they have done several times this season. Still, things are looking up this year – it looks like we’re going to make the playoffs.

I just hope we don’t have to play the Caps when we get there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Captain and the Kid - Rangers in 1st after downing Islanders 3-0

For the past few seasons the New York Rangers have been scrambling to make the playoffs. Each year since John Tortorella took over, the Rangers have set their sights on 8th place - the final playoff spot.

They're not looking at 8th place this year.

This year your New York Rangers - fresh off a 3-0 shutout of the rival Islanders - have climbed to impossible heights - first place in the Eastern Conference.

Yes - go back and read that again. First Place. Eastern Conference.

Ahead of the Flyers. Ahead of the Penguins. Ahead of the Canadians. Ahead of the Bruins.

Ahead of everybody.

Go ahead: Print out the standings. Get a nice frame. Hang it on your wall. Because 2 days after Christmas - Gaborik, Lundqvist and the rest of your heroes are a first place hockey team.

And they got there last night by doing what the 2011 Rangers do:

They shut down our opponent. They got an all star performance from our goaltender. And they "scored the puck". Put that together and you have a 3-0 win, our fifth in a row.

In the 2nd period and again in the third it was the Captain (Callahan) assisting the Kid (Hagelin) on the rookie's 5th and 6th goals of the season. And young defenseman Michael Del Zotto got assists on both goals, featuring prominently on the first one - dekeing the 'slanders out of position in deep on the left side of the offensive zone and setting a perfect holiday table for Hags. (Yes – Dave Pucks just nicknamed Carl Hagelin "Hags" and you heard it here first.)

The final tally was an empty netter by the league leading scorer Marian Gaborik - his 22nd - tying his goal total for last year.

And Hank - what can we say? Consistent - quiet - excellence in goal. 28 saves. A perfect 1.000 save percentage. A brick wall in the crease.

And the Rangers are rolling once again. Right now we're a perfect mix of experience, talent, and up-and-coming youth.

The Captain and the kids. The New York Rangers. First place in the East.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hockey Christmas everyone!

By popular demand -we are repeating our Christmas post from 2009.  I hope all of you are with loved ones this holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all you Ranger Fans. This is Sam Rosen from Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day. This afternoon we're in for a rare treat – an Exhibition Game between the New York Rangers – and your Holiday Favorites.

Here's the opening face off Dubinsky stands in against – it looks like – yes it is Saint Nick himself – Santa Claus will be centering the first line. They drop the puck and we're off. Santa wins the draw and passes to Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer on the right side. Rudolph gets right by Redden – that Rudolph can fly.

Rudolph behind the net – passes out to Hanukkah Harry in the right circle. Harry with the shot – save Lundqvist – Del Zotto's got it – tries to clear – one of the Radio City Rockettes keeps the puck in – I think she kicked it. Puck loose in the corner. Avery and Santa go after it. Some pushing and shoving in the corner. Avery doesn't like it. Santa throwing his weight around behind the Ranger net. Sean with an elbow.

And here they go. Sean Avery and Santa drop the gloves. Saint Nick with a wicked right that caught Seanny. Avery pulls Santa's red velvet jersey half way over his head. Avery's really unloading now. Blood on the ice everywhere. Avery throwing punch after punch. Oh the humanity. The Linesmen can't stop it. Ladies and Gentleman, in my 40 years of broadcasting I have never witnessed a more horrific spectacle.

I cannot continue.... “

Merry Christmas everyone from BlueShirt Brothers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dubinsky! Biron! Rangers win 4-2


In the fifteenth minute of what had been a scoreless first period, Brandon Dubinsky took the puck in the corner of his own defensive zone.

And then - he did what great centers do. He did what Dubinsky used to do.

He started up the ice, eluding P. A. Parenteau and another Islander. Out of his zone - through center ice - crossing blue and red lines and still retaining the puck.

Finally - he unleashed a shot from the right circle and at 14;53 he suddenly accomplished many things at once:

-He scored - for just the 2nd time all year
-He broke a scoreless tie.
-He shifted the momentum to the New York Rangers in a game they would go on to win 4-2.
-And perhaps most of all - he showed us what Dubie can be at his best - a coast to coast big time centerman.

It was great to see and long overdue. But now Dubs, we just need to see it more often.

There were also goals by Gaborik (of course) and Del Zotto (who's plus-minus is re-donk-ulous right now) and Mitchell (to an empty net).

Assists for Biron (!), Bickel (who?), Anisimov, Prust, and 2 for Stralman (!!).

And as Torts said afterwards - Marty Biron is playing like a number one goalie (he called Marty "1a" to Henrik's 1. Marty stopped 24 of 26 shots and won his 7th game of the year.

So things are looking good right now - and if we can get Dubinsky re-started, well, watch out!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Heroes - Rangers win 4-1

The Rangers rallied Tuesday from a 1-0 deficit after 1 period to come back and defeat their hated rivals the New Jersey Devils by a holiday feel-good score of 4-1.

The Devils had won four straight – and dominated the Rangers in the first period. Outshot 12 to 4, only the mighty play of Henrik Lundqvist kept the Rangers from falling behind by more than a one goal deficit.

After withstanding the Devils onslaught, the Rangers fought back in the 2nd period as the red hot GAS line evened the score. A perfect pass by Marian Gaborik found Artem Anisimov in front of Martin Brodeur and the surging Russian buried an 8 footer to knot the game at one. Having learned an important lesson from the Lightning game, Anisimov's after-goal celebration did NOT include a pretend rifle shot this time.

In the third period – King Henrik increasingly frustrated the rival Devils and the ice began tilting in the Rangers favor. 2 Gaborik goals – including an empty netter - book-ending a shorthanded back-breaker by Rookie Hagelin and the Rangers had their 4-1 victory.

A big night for the Gas Line as The Gifted One had 2 goals and an assist and was a back-checking force as well. Anisimov had his goal plus an assist. And Stepan had 3 assists on the night.

Hagelin had the huge short-hander. And there was an assist for Steve Bickel as well.

Girardi once again led the team in minutes with 29:09. Captain Callahan had 4 hits and Dubinsky had 3.

Man Up – Man Down: The Rangers were 0-1 on the powerplay – but shut the Devil's down in 3 PK situations and got the shorty besides.

In end we were outshot 31-21, outhit 15-14 and lost 27 of 47 faceoffs, but came away with the victory.

Between the Pipes: It was another great example of Henrik Lundqvist out playing the fading Brodeur and making all the difference. Our star goaltender had a .968 save percentage, repelling 30 shots, while the rapidly aging Devils netminder saved an ordinary .850 with only 17 saves.

Avery-o-meter: Not good. The Rangers had an impressive win without our favorite player – providing absolutely no reason to activate our hero. Still – we're hoping for a Christmas Miracle (on ice).

Festive Fisticuffs: The returning Mike Rupp started fighting at the opening gun – netting a 5 minute major that stopped play after only 3 seconds in the first.

A great holiday win and the Ranger appear to be back on track. Next up - the Islanders!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ranger Holiday Cheer

With tonight the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas just around the corner - it's time for some feel good holiday special type Ranger news.

Okay - here's the first one:

Staal may be cleared for contact by Christmas. Now - the Rangers aren't saying anything officially - but Dave Puck's highly places source (a hidden microphone in the Broadway Hat) tells us that Marc may be cleared to resume contact drills as soon as later this week.

As evidence we offer the following: on the player skate Monday, Staal, for the first time all year, was wearing the same red practice shirt as the other Rangers. Before this he was strictly in green. So here's hoping that Staal can continue to improve and can get himself back on the team.

And here's your 2nd Holiday Special:

The NHL has instituted their annual Holiday Roster Freeze. This is not a delicious frozen beverage made from shaved arena ice - but rather a rule that prevents all NHL teams from making trades or sending players to the Minor leagues from midnight last night through December 27th.

Why is this a big deal? It means that the Rangers cannot demote Sean Avery back to the Hartford Whale until next week at the earliest. We're thankful for small favors.

And our third Holiday item. At first we were going with the Rangers getting exclusive rights to bid for the Japanese player Yu Darvish - but that turned out to be a baseball story (Texas Rangers). So we're going with Mike Rupp:

Sidelined by a knee injury only 7 games into the season - Big Mike finally makes it back into the lineup. Good to see he's feeling fit and healthy enough to start injuring opponents with his fists once again.

Happy Holidays Folks!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Rangers: a little love in the morning

It was very good to hear some actual hockey talk on the radio this morning.

(Especially good when compared to the Football talk - which was all bad news today after our local teams forgot to show up this past Sunday)

Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason talked New York Rangers for about a minute. Not great but much better than nothing.

First they talked about Brad Richards' remarkable game winning goal with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. That is worth talking about - it was something we may never witness again for the rest of our lives - a game winner that crosses the line - not at the last possible second - but much later than that.

And then, Boomer said exactly what we've all been thinking. That the Rangers are clearly missing something without Sean Avery. You can call it "drive" or "jam" or energy or competitive spirit. But without Ave's the Rangers just don't have it. And John Tortorella just doesn't get it. Unless he gets Sean.

So a big shout out to Boomer (or "Booms" as Craigy like to call him) on saying exactly what so many of us are feeling - on the air - and straight to the point. It's great to know you love Aves as much as we do. Keep up the good work Booms - you're doing us all a solid - and we'll be listening.

Because it's great to get a little love in the morning.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Richards Goal wins it at 19:59:9 of the Third Period.

0:1 seconds to go.

Not a lot of time. One tenth of one second. But really less than that.

Brad Richards came storming onto the ice with 20 seconds remaining – and in his own words he “tried to make something happen.”

Well – guess what? He did. With about a second left on the clock he launched a nasty backhander at the net from deep on the left side. Did the shot head toward the Coyote net?

Not exactly. It was headed for Kieth Yandle’s right leg. And it hit Yandle – and deflected right toward goalie Mike Smith and the Coyote net.
The next thing anybody knew – the buzzer sounded – ending the third period. Was it overtime?
Well – the puck was in the net.

But - The referee blew his whistle and uncrossed his arms – indicating that time had expired before the Ranger shot crossed the goal line.

Was it overtime?

Well - the goal judge took another look at the replay. A long look.

Meanwhile – we started seeing the replays on our TV. And guess what – the puck gets to the goalline at 0.1 seconds. It started crossing the line at 0.21 seconds. And them – miraculously – it crosses the line just as 0.1 becomes 0.0.

The goal judge’s verdict:

Was it overtime?

No. Goal. Ranger goal. Ranger goal with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Less really – probably 0.01 seconds. But that was enough.

Score the goal – credit Richards – and end the hockey game with a come-from-behind 3-2 thrilling Ranger win – breaking a 2 game losing streak and notching yet another win for backup netminder Martin Biron.

But making the win possible was a pair of goals from Marian Gaborik – the 299th and 300th of his career.

The first was on the powerplay- and came off a perfect thread-the-needle pass from the resurgent Michael Del Zotto. Delzy turned a cluster at the blue line into a off man rush for The Gifetd One – who buries the puck in the upper left hand side of the net.

And that one goal was all the Rangers had until early in the third, when trailing 2-1 Marian Gaborik again came up huge – stealing the puck from Goalie Mike Smith and slamming it in to tie the score at 2 all.

Besides Del; Zotto - there were also assists for Callahan, McDonaugh, and Stepan. Giradi registered 6 hits, with 5 for Boyle and another 4 for Prust.

While the Rangers outshot Phoenix 30 to 23, they were outhit 35 to 29 and lost 40 of 59 face offs. Our powerplay went 1 for 6 and let up a shorty. Our PK unit filed on 1 of just 2 Coyote attempts.

In the end Biron outdueled Smith with a .913 save oercentage to .900 for the Coyote netmionder.

The game featured Mike Rupp’s return to the lineup after injury. The Punch sepcialst had 2 shots on goal, 2 hits, and 2 penalty minutes.

Our beloved Sean Avery was a healthy scratch – making this win somewhat bittersweet.

Still – nice to get a win after those 2 loses. Especially when we only had to protect that lead for less than 0.1 seconds.

Thrilling win. One we needed. And one we’ll take.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Avery-less Rangers feeling The Blues

Could it be any more obvious?

You take Sean Avery off a team that lost only twice with him in the lineup and what do you get?

You get 2 straight losses.

The Rangers suddenly look dazed and confused on offense and less than perfect on defense - falling to the St. Louis Blues last night 4-1.

We were outshot 37-26. We were out-hit. And we were out face-off-ed 40 to 26 (and yes – I know "face-off-ed" is not a word). We lost. And frankly - the Sean-less Rangers are not nearly as fun to watch. We not just losing - we're losing boring.

Tortorella sees what we're seeing. But he doesn't like Sean Avery. He resents Glen Sather imposing Aves on his team. And he sure doesn't want Sean looking like a star on the HBO 24-7 series leading up to the Jan 2nd outdoor game in Philly.

And - if Torts thinks Mike Rupp is just about ready to play - he'd love to give Sean's spot to Rupp. But the best way – in John's angry eyes - is to ease Avery out before easing Rupp back in. Christensen is just a placeholder in Tortorella's scheme - keeping the slot occupied as a Not-Sean for the time being.

So we watch. And wait. And hope that Glen can convince John T. to do the right thing. For Avery. For the fans. And for the NY Rangers.

Get our favorite sparkplug back in the engine!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Retreat, No Surrender (No Avery - no goals - no points)

In the 2nd period, Souray of the Dallas Stars found enough time and space in the Ranger defense to do a full wind up from the left circle.

The result was a massive shot on goal. A cannon blast. A kill shot.

And it was headed, like a ballistic missile, directly at the head of Henrik Lundqvist.

Hank didn't have much time to do anything. But he did have that tiny faction of a second. We're talking nano-seconds. (Like the time between the light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn...)

So Hank - with his nanoseconds - jumped.

He tried to get his head out of the way. He wanted the puck to strike his body - instead of his head. Good thinking, because the head is kind of important.

And Lundqvist being Lundqvist - he got there. And so, the puck struck him directly in the collar bone. Direct hit. The kind of shot that ended Marty Biron's season last year

And Henrik was hurt.

He fell to his knees and slumped forward. And being Henrik Lundqvist - he collapsed into crippled version of a goalie stance - hugging the left post.

It was soldier staying at his post to the end. No retreat. No surrender.

Impressive. Valient, even.

Eventually the refs blew the whistle and - after a long session with the team's trainers - Lundqvist was able to return to - and finish - the game.

When it was over, Hank had stopped 28 of the 29 shots that came his way - a .964 save percentage - usually good enough to win.

Not last night though. The Dallas Stars were in the process of shutting the Rangers out.

We were 0-4 on the powerplay. We out hit the stars 28-24 and outshot them 34-28. We played well defensively - even without the concussed Sauer (and the concussed Staal).

But there was one defensive breakdown in the third period that led to an odd man rush and the one shot Hank couldn't handle. So we lose 1-0.

But - this bodes well for the healthly scratch of Sean Avery. Make no mistake - Tortorella doesn't want Sean. Sather does. So Glen insists and John quietly tries to sneak him off the team. The Rangers are now 1-1 in this latest non-Sean stretch. This might give Glen the leverage he needs to get Aves back in uniform.

At least I hope so.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Avery scratched

The lines look the same tonight against the Stars as they did Sunday against the Panthers.

Meaning that our favorite Sean Avery is scratched from the lineup.

I don't like this. I really do not like this.

And so I'll root tonight with mixed emotions as Richards takes in his former team - without his former teammate Aves.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Good for the Rangers. Bad for Avery

I'll get to the good stuff in a few inches of column space. But first - what was a great night for the New York Rangers was a bad night for our favorite player Sean Avery.

Why? Because John Tortorella has been slowly dropping Sean off the team.

Looking back over this season, Aves had climbed all the way from Hartford to the Richards line. But that lasted half a game. From there Sean was on the third line with Prust and, eventually the somewhat out-of-shape Dubinsky. But then - with the emergence of rookies Hagalen and Mitchell - Sean's line became the de facto (yes I know what that means) 4th line. And then – another step down - Avery was only getting half of his line's shifts.

And finally last night - our heart-and-soul forward was a healthy scratch so that Christiansen (what?) could get in the lineup.

So if you're a Sean fan - you have to half root against your own team - so that they'll see they need Seanny to win.

What happened, unfortunately, was the exact opposite.

With Avery scratched from the lineup - the Rangers put in their best performance of the season - dismantling the Florida Panther 6-1 despite playing their 3rd game in 4 nights and their 2nd in a row. And Christensen, Sean's (evil?) replacement, ended up with an assist - that was really just the rebound off a shot that
Theodore initially saved.

Okay - now the good:

We outshot the Panthers 33-21 and outhit them 30-24. 4 hits each for Coyle, Callahan, Del Zotto, and Dubinsky (3 for Prust).

Steve Eminger had a career night with a plus 4! He had a goal, a hit and 2 blocked shots.

What a night for the first line. Derek Stepan had 2 goals and an assist for a plus 3. His first goal was a thrilling end-to-end rush that gave us another glimpse of the potential upside this young Ranger may have. Center Anisimov had a goal and assist, and a plus 2. As for the Gifted One: Marian Gaborik had a goal, and assist and a plus 2.

Richards also had a goal – and there were also assist for Mitchell, Stralman, Del Zotto, Christensen (boo), Callahan and Boyle.

It was just a dominating win – our first in a while. Our suddenly potent Powerplay was 2 for3 and our Penalty Kill perfect in 7 tries. And our defense – still missing Mike Sauer (not to mention Staal) held Florida to just 7 shots a period. The Panthers were forced to pull "Three-or-more" Theodore after 2 periods, 6 goals versus just 16 saves for and a .727 save percentage. Hank, benefitting from a night off last night had another great night with a .952% save percentage. Lundqvist keeps us in every hockey game and allows us to dominate when the offense is clicking (like it is right now)

Great win. A great night. I just wish it was better for Sean.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rangers break 2 game slide with franchise win number 2,500

This is good. This is really good.

The Rangers have stopped their losing streak at 2 games – and have won their 2500th as a franchise – and have given Hank a good night's rest while getting Marty Biron his 4th win of the season. And the Rangers have once again righted their little ship - with a dominating 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Whenever some Rangers go into a little scoring slump – the others seem to perk up and take up the slack. I've never seen it this good in a long long time.

Man-Up: our specials flat-out won this hockey game. Our PowerPlay scored a goal in four tries – but more importantly – our Penalty Kill team scored two shorthanded goals while shutting down the Sabres on 3 tries. We were 1-1 at even strength, but won the game 4-1, so you tell me – how did we do on Special teams tonight?

Hagelin – the rookie looks more and more like he belongs in the NHL every game. The U of Michigan star had not one, but two goals tonight – his 2nd and 3rd of the season. Both were blasts – 41 and 54 feet that beat Enroth from the left side. 2 goals in 3 shots, a plus 3 on the night, 2 take-aways and a hit. One of the rare starring roles for a 4th liner.

Biron out-dueled Enroth, posting a .970 save percentage and beating his former team by stopping 32 shots. Marty also got a well deserved assist on Callahan's goal. And now Lundqvist comes in rested to the 2nd night of back to back games.

It was, however, Captain Callahan who came through with the back-breaking game winner. Late in the 2nd period, with the game tied at one, Ryan Callahan steals the puck in deep on the Sabre defense and did a series of moves with his back to the goal (and the Sabre defenseman) that resembled school-yard 1-on-1 basketball more than anything I've ever seen on the ice before. Utterly guarded by his man, Ryan dekes and jukes like Michael Jordan and gets off a 14 foot wrister that like a guided missile finds this tiny opening in the five hole of Enroth to sneak into the net. This was a shorthanded goal – the Rangers' 2nd of the period, with 69 seconds left before the 2nd intermission. When you figure in the cumulative psychological effects on Buffalo of giving up a late goal, a shorthanded goal, a stolen puck goal, the lead, and a highlight reel goal all at once – well, they might as well have staying in the locker room after that one. Cally's biggest goal of the year.

Marian Gaborik notched his 14th of the season with a powerplay goal in the 3rd to ice the game with a 43 foot slapshot.

Mitchell got an assist on Gabby's goal.

Offense on Defense – the Blueliners were huge on offense Saturday night. 2 assists and a plus 2 for Del Zotto – and for Eminger. If you throw in Biron's that would be 5 assists for the defensive core.

SeanWatch: The bad news is that Avery is quickly falling to the bottom of the heap. He trailed all other Rangers in ice time with 3:28, not shots and not hits in 6 shifts. The PAD line (Prust, Aves, and Dubinsky has really become the 4th line on this hockey team.

Still, we take comfort in a businesslike bounce back victory on the road. Our Rangers can score, they can defend, they can goaltend. It's fun to watch. We can only hope it keeps building from here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rangers fall to Lightning 3-2 in Shoot Out

And this is the downside of streaky.

The Rangers for the third time in 4 tries - could not stop a losing streak at 1. Despite carrying a 2-1 lead deep into the third period - ex-Ranger Dominic Moore rose up to bite them twice - with a late tying goal and the winner in the shoot out. It was some redemption for Moore - who earlier in the day had accidentally injured the Lightning's best player - Marty St. Louis - by shooting a puck that struck him in the face - putting St. Louis out of the game and stopping his personal consecutive game streak at 499.

Still - as losing efforts go - this was the good kind. The Rangers salvaged a point - and the game itself was very entertaining. In the OT the Rangers came in waves - but just couldn't find the back of the Lightning net.

Artem Anisimov looked like a first line center - scoring a huge goal to put the Rangers ahead 2-1, but immediately followed it with a bonehead celebration that incited and ignited the Lightning to come all the way back. Artem pointed his stick at Goalie Matieu Garon like a rifle and pretended to squeeze off a shot.

Tampa Bay didn't like the looks of that.

Fighting ensued - and the Lightning, who could have been lulled into another loss - woke up and fought hard the rest if the way.

There were goals by Anisimov and Callahan, and assists by Del Zotto, Dubinsky (who we hear is a bit overweight), Richards and Stepan. Mitchell, Richards and Gabby all missed in the shootout. In the end we were out hit, out shot, and lost 28 of 50 faceoffs.

It's heard to beat the same team twice in a short period of time. And we did get 3 of a possible 4 points. And we fought hard. So we take the point and move on. Our next task - stop the losing streak at 2.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Streaky Rangers

Something I can't help noticing this season:

John Tortorella's Rangers are winning games - and losing games - in bunches.

In other words - they're streaky.

This year - they opened the season with 3 losses. In a row.

Then they won 2 - in a row.

And then for the only time all season they posted a single loss and a single win. After that - the streaks resumed:

Another 2 loses in a row. Followed by 7 wins in a row.

Followed - of course - by 2 consecutive losses.

And then another win streak - 5 this time.

And that gets us to December and the latest loss to the Maple Leafs.

So the question is - will they continue to be streaky with another loss - or can they get right back in the win column? If they can win against the Lightning tonight it will be only the 2nd time all season the Rangers followed a single loss with a win.

Of course - being streaky is not a bad thing. You can win the Stanley Cup on a hot streak.

As long as it's a winning streak.

- - - - -

On another note - we noticed that Sean Avery got 14 seconds on the power play recently. We can't help but wonder what goes into a coaching decision like that? Why pick Seanny at all if it's going to be on ice for such a short time? Is Tortorella saying that Aves earned 14 seconds, but not, say 25 seconds?

Just wondering.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rangers yield first goal for 4th straight game - lose this time 4-2 in Toronto

It had to end sometime.

For the 4th straight game the Rangers were playing with fire - letting their opponents score an early first goal. But this time they, not satisfied being down one goal, they let up 2 more. And for the 4th straight game - they came roaring back from a deficit.

Using their bodies to slam and slow the speedier Leafs – the Rangers began to tilt the ice back in their favor.

Then, finally, with exactly 7 minutes left in the 2nd period they broke through. It was Avery's line – but Seanny had taken the line change and Artem Anisimov had charged onto the ice. Prust had worked the puck down low and passed it in front to Anisimov who snapped a 25 foot shot past Jonas Gustavsson to get the Rangers on the board.

20 seconds later Anisimov drew a penalty – Stekel for interference – and the Rangers were on the powerplay. Then, the Maple Leafs' Bozak hooked Derek Stepan and the Rangers had a 5 on 3. This time Stepan got Gaborik the puck on the doorstep and Gabby dunked the 8 footer.

Suddenly the 3-0 deficit was 3-2.

From then on the Rangers came with everything they had. They hustled. They hit. They got shots off. But they could never quite get the equalizer. Up a man in the game's final minute – and pulling Lundqvist to skate 6 on 4 – the Ranger's forced Gustavsson to make a couple of key saves before yielding the empty netter to end the game 4-2.

The question is – how healthy did we come out of this one? Mike Sauer had to leave the game. Del Zotto took a nasty header into the boards and looked badly hurt but returned to the game. And Gaborik had to get his leg taped – but kept on playing.

Anisimov ended up with 7 shots and one goal. Del Zotto had an assist and is hopefully okay after his injury. Gaborik had the one goal. There were also assists by Prust, Richards and Stepan.

Our Plus-Minus victims were Callahan and Richards at -2. Only Prust and Dubin sky were +1.

Our Rangers clearly tried last night. But winning 4 games in a row where you trail 1-0 is nearly impossible. Still they won 5 in a row overall and have played really well this year so far.

We knew the streak would have to end sometime. They key is to shake this one off and keep on coming.

We'll find out if the Rangers can do that starting Thursday night when the Lightning come to town.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rangers Come From Behind for 3rd Straight game - Beat Tampa 4-2

December 3rd, Tampa Florida – stunning.

The New York Rangers have won their 5th straight and 12th of their last 14. And for the 3rd consecutive game they have done it the hard way:

For the 3rd straight game they have surrendered an early goal to fall behind. They were all of 84 seconds in when a 54 foot slapshot somehow eluded a screened Henrik Lundqvist to give Tampa Bay a lighting-quick 1-0 lead. It was the longest goal against Hank in quite some time and our superstar Swede was visibly furious. But after that King Henrik settled all the way down finished with 24 stops and a .923 save percentage. That's good enough to win most nights - and it was tonight, out-dueling a .914 save percentage by Garon. Hank's finest moment came late in the first when he stopped Pyatt”s wrap around with the left sake and then – almost instantly got his right skate over to rob Thompson on the doorstep

For the 3rd straight game they have let up a late period goal – this one with 2:18 left in the 2nd period to fall behind 2-1. These are supposed to be back-breaking goals – but the Rangers just keep fighting back.

Stat City: The Rangers out hit Tampa 26-13. They won more faceoffs at 34-29. And they outshot their opponent 36-26.

Alumni Night: was in full swing as Coach Tortorella, who won a Stanley cup with the Lightning came out the winner – helped in large part by ex-Lightning Cup winner Fedotenko who scored the Ranger's first goal – a point blank dunk set up by a perfect centering pass from the right side by ex-Lightning Cup winner Brad Richards, who not only assisted on Fed's goal but also later sealed the win with an empty netter at 19:34 of the 3rd.

Anisimov had a great night with the goal that tied in 2-2 in the 3rd.. Stepan rockets a shot that squirted a rebound directly to Anis on the left side who buried it. And Artem also had an assist on Stepan's game winner. Our top line Center – who is miraculously growing into that role – had 5 shots on goal, and 3 takeaways in 16:12 minutes of ice time.

Captain Callahan had a monster game of his own. He was +2 on the night, leading all Ranger forwards in that stat, and added an assist, blocked a shot and registered 6 hits. His forechecking forced the puck in deep on Anisimov's tying goal.

Ryan McDonagh led all defenseman with a +2 and 2 assists.

Derek Stepan had the game winner at 16:41 of the Third Period, and had an assist and 4 shots on goal. It was his shot that set up Anisimov's tying goal – and it was a close shot from Anisimov that created the rebound that Step rifled in from 25 feet with 3:19 left in the third to grab the Ranger's first lead.

Jeff Wowitka let Pyatt get behind him late in the 2nd to give the Lighning their 2nd and last lead of the night.

Avery Watch: Not good – the dark spot on a great win. Our Seanny was given on 5:28 of ice time and had a blank board – not shots, no hits – nothing. A step backward for Avery – at least in Tortorella's eyes.

Man-Up: The Rangers only committed one penalty and killed off the ensuing shorthanded 2 minutes. They got 2 PowerPlay opportunities of their own and failed to score – but the 2nd one with 11 seconds to go and the Rangers leading – so that one doesn't really count.

In Conclusion: Hard to believe – fun to watch. The Rangers are rolling and we're glad to be along for the ride. We're scoring – we're defending – we're tending goal. And we're suddenly very hard to beat. 4th place in the playoff seeding – but hey -we're getting way ahead pf ourselves.

We know it's early – but good early is so much better than bad early.  Let's Go Rangers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

As Good As It Gets - Ranger's take 4th straight - beat the Hurricane 5-3

My Brothers! Our New York Rangers are playing as well as I can EVER remember them playing. And that goes back a long while - when Dave Pucks was a little Puck himself I can remember watching a black and white TV as Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert skated the Garden ice.

Last night - for the 2nd straight game - our heroes surrendered the first goal. And then - for the 2nd straight game - they committed the mortal Hockey sin of giving up a goal very late in a period. And they didn't have their best player Henrik Lundqvist in net.

They won anyway,

Sean Again: our resurgent Sean Avery got the game winner - wristing in a nice rising shot off a wonderful Gaborik-al (yes I'm making up a word) feed in the slot.

Gift of Gab: Marian got a goal and an assist and is continuing to have a great bounce-back season (scoring points for the 10th game - when last year he "pointed" in only 14 contests all season.

Richards - on fire right now and making Glen Stather look like a genius for acquiring him (not an easy task this milenium for Slats). Another assist - another night with points.

Man-Up! 4th straight game with a Powerplay Goal. And a perfect 1-1 on the penalty kill. Win this battle and you'll win a lot of games. Rangers did exactly that last night.

Other Goals For: Callahan - the Captain's catch!, and Sauer,

Other Assists: Del Zotto - Dubinxly - Girardi, Anisimov, Woyitka, Stepan, Boyle and Hagalin.

So enjoy it Ranger Fans because's no telling when this streak will end.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rangers may grab Golden Goose from Ducks

Rumors are flying around like, uh, Ducks.

The Anaheim (formerly mighty) Ducks have been busy aquatic fowls of late. They may or may not be ready to trade Bobby Ryan this week. Ryan, a Collingswood New Jersey native, if traded – would probably end up out of the Duck's division, and so – could easily splash down somewhere in the East.

Bobby had 31 goals and 26 assists in his first full NHL season and 35+29 last year. He's a 24 year old rising star and signed through 2015. He would help the Rangers immediately and for years to come.

The rumors are that the Rangers are in the hunt, along with Montreal, Toronto, Carolina, and possible others. It could take us trading Dubinsky and a defenseman –not Girardi – but everyone else is possible.

But then – last night – another rumor – that the Ducks fired their coach - Randy Carlyle and – it get's weirder – hired the tubby ex-Washington Capital coach Bruce Boudreau – who has been unemployed a total of about 2 days.

So maybe the coaching change stops the Ryan trade – or maybe not. Or maybe none of this is even happening – it's all just rumors at this point.

Still – kind of cool to think about Richards being flanked by Gaborik and Ryan. We'll see what happens…

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hope and Crosby: Rangers don't give up - hang on to beat Penguins 4-3

It takes Hope to beat Crosby. 

It takes belief.  It takes effort.  It takes 60 minutes of determination and guts.  And on Tuesday night - the Rangers showed just enough of each of those qualities to win 4-3 in a streaky up-and-down contest.

Once again there was trouble from the start - the good kind of trouble.  Sean got into it with Kennedy 16 seconds into the contest.

Than, as Pucks Junior so aptly put it, Sean Avery, embarrassed by having his initial fight downgraded to a roughing penalty, rushed out of the box and earned himself an official 5 minute fighting major at 5:21.  Each of those penalties were offset by Kennedy in the box - but the Rangers did suffer through 4 penalties in period 1.  They killed the first 3, but when Lundqvist himself got tagged for roughing at 16:36, this time the Penalty Kill unit couldn't get through their 4th kill.  One Crosby assist later and the Pen had a 1-0 lead at the first break.

Trailing at home after one, the Blueshirt Brothers rose up against a quality Penguin team in a 10 minute span in the the 2nd to notch 4 unanswered goals:

1 - the first was by Captain Callahan off a great feed by the Gifted One Marian Gaborik.  It was, as Sam Rosen likes to say, a powerplay goal.

2 - Mitchell!  Welcome to the NHL.  The rookie center - off a great hand off by Hagelin - notches his first tally in the big leagues.  I can't believe how this duo has jumped from Hartford to the House like they always belonged here,

3 - Richards netted his 9th and the Rangers were rolling at 3-1

4 -  And the Gifted One notched his 11th - once again on the powerplay.  And for the briefest of moments it looked like the route was on.

Of course - nothing comes easily in Rangerland - so of course the fellow let up a goal with just 7 seconds left in the 2nd and we're at 4-2 in the break.

The third period, predictably, featured another Crosby assist, and a nervous 4-3 lead with 16:21 to play. But a funny thing happened on the way to a Ranger collapse:

They didn't. They hung tough.

Instead it was the Penguins who got sloppy, committing 4 straight penalties in the last 8 minutes to prevent themselves from generating any kind of offensive momentum. By the time the last Pittsburgh penalty expired – the Rangers had just 54 seconds to muddle through to hang on for the victory. In the third we couldn't score 5 on 3, and we missed an empty net, but somehow we held on – limiting the penguins to just 3 shots on goal in the final frame.

It was something of a great win for New York – because like a pitcher who doesn't have his best stuff -
we proved we could win anyway over a quality opponent. Hank was mortal tonight - stopping only . 889 percent of the shots he faced. But the team rallied in front of him – outhitting the Aquatic Birds 43 to 23, winning a stunning 40 of 57 faceoffs, and, in the end, outshooting the shooters 30 to 27.

A great win for what appears to be a very good hockey team on the rise. Will they keep it up? Can they achieve greatness?

Well, we'll never have Crosby – but right now we've got hope.


You start your season with a 7-0 run and get to 12-9-1, 2nd place, 3 points behind the red hot Panthers. Your team has the 5th highest goals per game average in the NHL. So, if you're a General Manager, what do you do? You fire your coach of course.

That is exactly what GM George McOhee did to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on the Monday after Thanksgiving. And so the bold and portly Capitals coach is out – after parts of 5 seasons as Ovechkin's coach. Bruce was hoisted aboard around Thanksgiving of 2007, and now, at the same time of year 4 years later, he's tossed over the side rail.

Did he deserve it? There's not much of a case

1 – The Capitals are the 29th team in goals-against average, letting up 3.3 tally's a game.

2 - Four exits from the playoffs – twice in the semifinals and twice in the quarters.

And that's it really.

So the main reason Bruce was let go is this: The Capitals have Alex Ovechkin. The Capitals have won the SouthEast division 4 straight years. And so – the expectation is that they should win the Stanley Cup. They haven't.

It's a simple as that. Boudreau is a victim of raised expectations.

Still, Bruce was an inspiration to older fatter balder men everywhere. We'll kind of miss him.

Good luck Bruce.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brawling Etiquette, or Did I Just See What I Think I Saw?

I didn't notice it the first time.

 Or the second.

But the third time I watched the replay of Brandon Prust take on Zac Rinaldo - causing a stoppage just 4 seconds into Saturday afternoon's game with the Flyers - I finally saw it.

"Pruster" as Ranger coach John Tortorella affectionately calls him and Rinaldo first exchange words. Then they drop their gloves - and then the really odd thing happens:

They both take off their helmets.

I don't recall ever seeing that before. I've seen one player take another player's helmet off - to make it easier to punch the other guy in the head. In fact, Mike Rupp (before he got hurt) in a fight this year pulled off his opponent's headgear deliberately and clinically before he began throwing punches - like he was literally opening a can of "whoop-ass".

But players dropping their own helmets after dropping the gloves? That I have not seen before.

What is it? Fighting etiquette? An act of common courtesy – directed at the guy you're about to punch in the face? A show of courage? An attempt to protect a fellow fighter's hands by offering your own softer head for him to pummel?

Whatever it was - probably some weird combination of the above, Prust and Rinaldo both did it simultaneously. Then they proceeded to swing each other around and hit each other in their un-helmeted heads.

And in doing so, Prust accomplished several things at once:

1 - He sent a message to Zac Rinaldo – the same guy who gave Mike Sauer a separated shoulder back in September.

2 – He kept Sean from entering a fight of his own. Seanny is still on shaky ice right now - so this is good.

3- He totally pumped up the Rangers (not to mention the MGS crowd) to get the game started.

4 – He served notice to the tough Flyer team that our Rangers would not get pushed around.

I know that in my Ideal Hockey World – there would be no fighting. What kind of message does this send Pucks Junior as he watches his heroes settle their disputes by escalating the violence?

But – in the jaded, complex, shades-of-grey NHL world we live in – the sport polices itself- and brave smaller guys like Prust show their courage through willingness to take on all comers. I don't pretend to understand it all – especially this taking off your protective headgear prior to fisticuffs stuff – but I can see how Brandon Prust's fight inspired and ignited his team. And I can see that the coach approves.

So – I will learn to adjust to this Helmets-Off Etiquette thing - but for God's sake, Brandon - please keep your Hockey Pants on at all times!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

From Hartford to Hat for Hagelin - Rangers beat Flyers!

When the Rangers played the Flyers on Saturday afternoon, one big question was how long the bitter rivals could go without a fight breaking out.

The official answer? 4 seconds.

Our man Sean Avery looked like he was about to get into a scuffle of his own at the opening face off – but the small but feisty Brandon Prust beat him to the punch (Editor – literally) by taking on Zac Rinaldo, throwing a series of circling bombs, earning himself a 5 minute major and, eventually, the 3rd star of the game honors.

Facing a Flyers team who had only lost twice on the road all year, playing a day game after a night game Friday, the NHL's league leading defensive team grabbed a 1-0 lead on Brad Richard's powerplay goal, and never looked back.

GAS Line – after a hot night in DC Friday – Gabs, Artem and Stepan were shut out Saturday – which is okay when their teammates pick them up.

Man-Up! - Special teams often make the difference in NHL games, and this time – the Rangers had the advantage. Our powerplay was 1 of 2 – and the Rangers scored early in the 2nd period on a great powerplay sequence. First of all – the Rangers remembered to SHOOT THE PUCK for a change, getting 5 shots to the net in 26 second span that the start of the 2nd period. At the end of that barrage (Editor – what is a barrage?) (Dave Pucks – it means lots of shots), Girardi and Del Zotto delivered puck perfectly to Brad Richards and the Rangers newest sniper buried a 19 foot one-timer past Sergei Bobrovshy to get the Rangers on the scoreboard. And as it tuned out...

Between the Pipes: …that one goal was all we would need. The Ranger's league leading defense (Editor – is that correct?) (Dave Pucks – you're the editor – check it) (Ed – I can't believe it – but it's true) never let the Flyers score. Henrik Lundqvist was his MVP self once again, stopping all 29 shots that came his way. Bobrovshy saved .938 of the 32 shots the Rangers launched at him – enough to win most games against most teams – but not Saturday night. This was the first Ranger win on Special teams since November 6, scoring once in two tries with the man advantage and killing off all 3 shorthanded situations. The Richards goals would have been enough but the Rangers got a huge second goal from....

Ranger Rookies: Carl Hagalin, who scored his first NHL goal in just his second game since being called up from Hartford. Assisted by Whaler linemate John Mitchell and Ryan McDonagh, the rooks played well and received praise from John Tortorella in the port game press conference. And best of all – Carl earned the Ranger victory hat! What an amazing climb – from Hartford to his first NHL goal and Hat honors – in less than a week.

Say what you will about Sather and Torts – if they don't like what they're seeing on the ice they will not stand pat. It wasn't all that long ago that the Connecticut Rail line was closed – with no rookies ever getting to the top club – but more recently our farm system has been called on over and over again and has produced.

Minute Men: Girardi again led the way with 27:26 of ice time and 29 shifts. And Captain Callahan led the forwards with 19:04.

Offensive Defenseman: This was a night for the back liners: Assists for Del Zotto, Girardi, and McDonagh. When the defensive unit shuts down the opponent and generate s 3 points – they are going to win a lot of hockey games.

Avery Watch: One shot, one hit, playing on a line with Prust - and Dubinsky!. It was Eric Christensen who had the healthy scratch. We're cautiously optimistic that Sean has earned a spot on the team – at least for the moment.  And yes - we are 9-2-0 with Seanny.  

Also of note: Several seconds before Richards scored - Ryan Callahan also nearly had a goal of his own – but the replay correctly ruled that his had used his hand – rather than his stick – to direct the puck in.

So – two very nice wins over quality teams and rivals to get us back in track. We close out November on Tuesday when Concussion Crybaby Sidney Crosby and the Penguins come to town.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

1 Goal, 50 Hits, and Lots of Errors - Ranger fall to Panthers


The Ranger's 7 game win streak suddenly seems like something that happened to a different team in a different, better, season. It's been 9 days now since the Rangers have beaten anyone. Our hockey team lost 2-1 last night to the Florida Panthers – scoring just 1 goal against Jose “Three-Or-More” Theodore and casting doubts about our offense, our identity, and our season. For today's analysis – we'll go with The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: There were several bright spots:

1 – Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers' best player once again kept them in a hockey game where they were badly outshot. Hank made 36 saves with a .947 save percentage – letting up one one even strength goal. Another wasted stellar performance, more than good enough to win most hockey games for most teams on most nights – but again not enough for this hockey team to win with last night.

2 – Marian Gaborik made a nice play to grab an assist on the Lone Ranger goal – stick handling in the offensive zone, drawing skaters to him and making a perfect feed to...

3 – Derek Stepan – who took the Gabroric pass and found the upper right corner of the net to open and close out the Ranger scoring for the night. And for the week, actually.

4 – Hits. The Rangers delivered 50 hits last night – most of them legal (we'll explain later) – with Dubinsky leading the attack with 10 of his own. The aggressiveness is good – the opportunity to hit is partially due to the long stretches where we don't have the puck.

The Bad:

1 – Artem Anisimov was running on empty – dragging the GAS line down with him. The top line center (for the moment) looked silly as he got faked out by Flieschmann down low to Lundqvist's left for the Cat's only even strength goal of the night.

2 - Ryan Callahan - the Captain keeps committing harmful penalties and it was during his 4 minutes (not Deveaux's major) that the Rangers gave up their special team's difference-making goal.

The Ugly:

1 - Andre Deveaux collected 10 of the Rangers 16 minutes in penalties last night – all in one nasty dangerous elbow-to-the-head of the Panther's Fleischmann midway through the 2nd period at center ice. Tomas was down on the ice for several scarey minutes before getting up under his own power – and even eventually returning to the game. Deveaux was correctly assessed a 10 minute Match Penalty – and will likely face suspension by the league office. This was exactly the type of head shot the NHL is finally getting around to caring about. Panther coach Kevin Dineen called it a perfect example of “what's really wrong with the game”. If you want Dave Pucks opinion – I don't like intent-to-injure tactics by anyone in any league and I was very unhappy to see a Ranger do something like this

2 – Man-Up! Ranger Special teams lost the game last night. When we started the game the Rangers had the 28th worst powerplay unit in the NHL.  And when the game was over?  We dropped to 29th!  The PowerPlay was a pointless 0-4 including some 5-on-3 time. And our Penalty kill was 3-4, not terrible, but when you get outscored on special teams in the NHL you lose. We did, and so we did.

A Few More Notes:

Avery Watch: Just: 7:07 of ice time. Not good. No shots. No hits. 1 take-away, 1 give-away. (In Biblical terms: Sean giveth and Sean Taketh Away). 2 Penalty minutes. And an even plus-minus. Oh, and when someone had to serve the 10 minute Match Penalty for Deveaux, who do you think Torts sent to the penalty box? Our Seanny.

Stralman - finally - got his first Ranger ice time – after waiting since November 5th to play in a game. 10:26 of ice time, 3:25 on the powerplay, a plus-minus of +1, and 2 hits.

So as they eat their Thanksgiving Dinner, the Rangers can think about what went wrong in their last two games. Is it the natural ebb and flow of the season, or is it something much worse? Did the Rangers look good against weak competition, and is their poor special teams play exposing them against the better teams? We'll all find out together as the season rolls on.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dave Pucks, Pucks Junior, and the whole Pucks family! We hope you come out of the that nasty scramble in the corner with a drumstick or two.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Bye Week is Over! Rangers Finally Face Florida

Hey – there's a Ranger Hockey game tonight. Just like in the old days.

After playing – and winning - 7 games in 16 days – your Rangers have played exactly one game – a loss to Montreal – since a week ago Tuesday. It felt a little like the bye week in the National Football League. Let's hope out heroes made good use of the time off, resting the injured, and practicing the Power Play and their offense in general

But finally – we have a real live opponent to face off against: the Florida Panthers.

Our warm weather foes lead the Southwest Division with a record of 11-6-3. Their last game was a thoroughly enjoyable come-from-behind win over Martin Brodeur and that Newark team named after Satan (New Jersey Devils). The Panthers were down 3-0 and stormed back to win 4-3.

Florida has the leagues 8th highest Goals per game average at 3.0. Their goals against is 11th best at 2.4 . We would love to have their power play stats: they are 7th in the league with a 20% scoring rate. Their Penalty kill is middling at 82.1% (16th overall).

The Rangers brought some wounded teammates along on the Florida trip. Mike Rupp, Wojtek Wolski and – for the first time – Marc Staal – flew down with the team. This is really the first ray of sunshine on Staal for the longest time. He's been cleared for light activity – and now is at least able to walk around and talk with his teammates. It took about 10 months for Crosby to return to the Penguins – but for Staal we have no idea. The thing with Marc is – we don't know where the clock starts – from the Eric Staal hit, from the end of last season, or what?

Anyway – having him along with the team on this trip was a very classy move by John Tortorella. He may not be long on patience or one-on-one people skills – but he respects and protects his players in important ways. I don't have to work with the man every day – but form this distance – I like him as our coach.

Stralman Watch: Anton Stralman – who the Rangers signed November 5th and seem to have forgotten about since then – practiced with the team on Tuesday – most notably with the powerplay unit. Considering that we are 28th in the NHL on powerplay goals – I'd say we should try anything and everything at this point. But if I could add a small suggestion, Stralman or otherwise, it might help the Rangers to SHOOT THE PUCK a little more often in the Man-Up situations. Just putting it out there.

So, on to Florida to see if we can snap this brutal stretch of 7 days without a victory (just one game of course, but still) and get moving again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Avery demoted to 4th (The BAD Line)

That didn't take long.

Ranger GM Glen Sather and the man he hired, Ranger Coach John Tortorella, agree on many things. But Sean Avery has never been one of them.

Back in 2008, when Sean was kicked off the Dallas Stars for using the term “sloppy seconds” to describe two of his famous ex-girlfriends (Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter), John Tortorella, whom was a commentator for TSN at the time, had this to say:

"Enough is enough. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the league."

And when Glen Sather re-hired Avery the Ranger GM had this prediction for John Tortorella's relationship with Sean:

“Over time you learn to love him.”

It is now November 2011 and where Sean Avery is concerned, Torts is a slow learner.

John cut Sean in training camp – and sent him down to Hartford, the Ranger's AHL affiliate. We thought we'd seen the last of Avery as a Ranger – but when the Blueshirts skidded to 3-3-3, Glen pulled the trigger one more time and Sean was a Ranger once again.

And after scoring goals in consecutive games Sean was rewarded with ice time and a promotion to the 3rd line.

But, over the weekend – the Rangers were shut out by the Canadiens. Sean Avery had a shot on goal and a plus minus of zero – about as well as you can do in a 4-0 defeat.

The result: John Tortorella demoted Sean from the 3rd to the 4th line.

In practice Monday, the Rangers 4th line looked like this:


Yes – we see that by arranging the initials we can call this the BAD line – and it is a bad step in Sean Avery's season. Because, after a series of positive steps – from Hartford to a healthy scratch on the Rangers, to the 4th line to the 3rd line – Sean has slipped down a notch. And at this tenuous moment in his career – there aren't a lot of notches left.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heading in the right direction: Marc Staal cleared for light physical activity

The Rangers won't confirm any of this - they never do - but we are reading that Ranger defenseman Marc Staal - who has missed the entire season with post concussion syndrome - has finally been cleared by concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu to resume "light physical activity".

The NHL in general - and the New York Rangers in particular - do not like to give a lot of information about player injuries - often keeping the public diagnosis as general as "upper body" or "lower body" injury.

It always seems kind of over-secretive and silly. But there is an unfortunate logic to this tactic. It's a league where players hit one another - slash each other with sticks - and get in lengthy fist fights with each other during games - it puts your players at a distinct disadvantage to tell their opponents where their injuries are located. (It's like placing a sign on the injury that reads "hit me here")

In the case of Marc Staal - there is not a whole lot of information flowing out of midtown. But if Marc is cleared for light activity this is very very good news,

Still - if you're thinking Marc is close to resuming his season - think again. Sidney Crosby is finally getting set to return 6 weeks after getting cleared for contact. Marc Stall is NOT cleared to get hit - only to skate around.

So we are looking at months and months before any possible return for our top defender.

Still - it's great news - not just for the Hockey player - but for the human being. (And yes - there is a difference)

Because we can guess that Marc's life has been a living hell. There's nowhere to hide from a brain injury - you can be in a distressing mental fog for months. If Marc can skate again it means his symptoms are starting to subside - at least when he's sitting still. And that's a very welcome turn of events - even if Staal never gets back on the ice this season - or - well, let's not go there just yet.

Anyway - good luck Marc - and continued improvement.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

To Hab and Hab Not - Win Streak ends at 7 as Rangers fall 4-0

Well - it was fun while it lasted.

What had been a 7 game Ranger winning streak ended in with a 4-0 defeat in Montreal to the Scott Gomez Canadiens. We ran into a northern buzz saw tonight – a red hot Hab team that extended goaltender Carey Price's shut out streak to 132 minutes at our heroes' expense. Ex-Ranger Scotty Gomez, who has been on the hot seat in cold Canada recently for not producing enough for his top line status and Salary Cap hit, had a bounce back day with a pair of assists. The Rangers have traditionally had troulbe in the Canadiens home ice – and tonight was no different.

So - suddenly - our Rangers have gone from the hottest team in the NHL to a club that hasn't scored a goal since Tuesday.

Torts gave the net tonight to Marty Biron. A smart move actually, as this gives Hank more than a week off - a rare opportunity in the NHL where they play 10 months of meaningful hockey games - usually 3 time a week. Even in retrospect – if Hank had been there we might have lost 2-0 instead of 4-0, but a loss is a loss (of course of course).


Really? If you're looking for highlights in a 4-0 defeat, well, okay - I'll see what I can do:

- Your Ranger officially out hit the Habs 28-15. There. So at least we didn't go quietly.

Beyond that - uh, not so much.

Sean Avery had a shot on goal and had a plus minus of zero on the night - that's about as well as you can play in a shutout loss

Low Lights: If you're looking for the bad – there's plenty. For starters the Rangers had only 17 shots on goal. You won't win many games like that. Marty Biron had a save percentage under .900 (stopping 27 of 31 for .871). The Ranger PK let up 2 goals on 6 tries and our Powerplay was shut out in 3 attempts.

John Tortorella summed it up this way:

"Don't look at our goalie, I'll tell you that," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Our whole crew in front of him never had the puck and we were chasing the game. We never caught up to it."

What John means is that the Rangers didn't have the puck much on offense – didn't defend as well as we needed to – and didn't do much offensively when we did have opportunity.

Worst of the worst: Gabby, Richards, and Del Zotto and minus 2. Deveaux with 9 penalty minutes.

So, we'll have to let the win streak go at 7.

Final analysis: Our 2 main strengths this year - Penalty Kill and Team Defense – both let us down tonight. It's hard to win when you...

1 – get out shot by your opponent
2 – only get off 17 shots
3 – Don't score
4 – Let up 4 goals
5 – Get shut out on the powerplay
6- Let up 2 goals on the penalty kill

Still, we're 10-4-3, and we'll take it.

Next Up: We play the Florida Panthers on Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday). Let see if we can get the road trip to 2-1.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stralman: "A Ways Away"

The New York Rangers went to the trouble of locating, wooing, (editor - "wooing"?) (Dave Pucks - you know what I mean) and then signing a journeyman defensive player - Anton Stralman - to shore up a perceived weakness in their defensive top six.

Stralman played for the Toronto "Make-Believes" for about half of 2 seasons from 2007-2009, then played for Columbus the last 2 seasons. Unloved as a free agent, Stralman tried out for the (hated) Devils in camp this year but failed to make the team. So naturally Glen Sather pounced, and the former Blue Jacket is now a Blueshirt.

And then as soon as Sather signed Anton - on November 5th - he took this new weapon in the Ranger's arsenal and did....


Absolutely Nothing. For close to 2 weeks now.

Anton certainly hasn't seen any ice time. Or bench time for that matter.

Anton has been working out with Ranger staff - but not with the actual hockey team.

And how have the Rangers done without him? Uh - perfectly. Seven straight victories. A goals-against average well under 2 goals a game. A defensive performance that is clearly superior to what we had last year (when we had a healthy Marc Staal).

So is Stralman close to joining the Rangers team? Let's see what John Tortorella has to say:

"He's still a ways away. I still think there's some work to do there. I don't know what the lineup will be in Montreal, but I still think we have a number of things to accomplish with him."

So there you have it – Stralman is signed, sealed, and delivered – but not exactly ours. At least not yet. But if the Rangers ever lose another hockey game – expect Torts and Sather to start pushing whatever buttons they have.

And right now – one of those buttons is named Anton.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aaron Voros? Seriously?

Aaron Voros?

Dude, Seriously?

How is that for a blast from the ghost of Ranger past? (Editor - you're mixing metaphors) (Dave Pucks - you're ugly - leave me alone)

What Happened: The Rangers announced Tuesday that their minor league AHL affiliate - the Hartford Whale - has signed former Ranger Aaron Voros to a 21 day PTO. (Editor - a PTO is a professional try out).

During the 3 weeks, Aaron will have a chance to show he's still got enough talent to play in the NHL. And if the Rangers don't sign him, other NHL teams will have that chance as well.

For those of you who don't remember – Aaron Voros was a Ranger forward for 2 seasons: 2008-09 and 2009-10. He appeared in 95 games, amassing 211 penalty minutes (more than 2 minutes a game). He also managed 11 goals and 12 assists in that span. After that Glen Sather traded Voros for Defenseman Steve Eminger (who scored a goal for us in the Islander game - by the way).

What Does It Mean: it could mean one or more of the following things:

1 - that Rupp is a long way from returning to the Rangers and another tough guy is needed.

2 - that Tortorella is still unhappy with his 4th line and wants some more choices - even if it's just to manipulate some better play out of Christensen and Deveaux.

3 - it's just doing a solid for a former Ranger - to showcase him for a job elsewhere.

What Does It Mean For Sean Avery: that's the bigger question to Sean-atics like me. Well let's see:

The Voros signing could be bad for Sean - he's brings that same toughness the Rangers get from Aves. And any competition for forward spots is not good.

But let me stop myself right there - I'm probably worrying about nothing here:

Voros is one of Sean Avery's best friends. He and Sean and Lundqvist own a restaurant-bar together Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs that opened last year. The restaurant is located at 135 West Broadway in the Tribeca district of southern Manhattan. So it may have been Avery who asked the Rangers to give Aaron a showcase at the Whale – to give him a chance to catch on with an NHL club - maybe even the Rangers.

Voros replace Avery? I can't see it happening. But we will be watching and hoping for the best for an old friend who once pulled on the Blue Jersey, fulfilling his childhood dream, and skated for our New York Rangers.

Good Luck Aaron. The Blueshirt Brothers will be rooting for you.