For the New York Rangers this afternoon, history repeated itself, because the last time they played on a Super Bowl Sunday, they won on the same day that the New York Giants and New England Patriots squared off in one of the most memorable football games in recent history, four years ago. With the atmosphere in New York swelling around the big game on February 3, 2008, the Rangers headed up to Montreal where they got off to a very slow start, falling behind 3-0. But very quickly, the game started to turn around, and the Rangers made sure that the Giants were not the only New York team to win that day. After goals by Michal Rozsival, Brandon Dubinsky, and Scott Gomez to tie the game after two periods, the Rangers then went ahead and steamrolled the Canadiens in their home building (an extreme rarity) with two third period goals, scored by Chris Drury and Martin Straka. The feeling we felt after this game was complete elation, because Montreal’s arena had (and still has) always proved to be a House of Horrors. The happy feeling would only be eclipsed for Giants’ fans later in the day, as they defeated the Patriots, ending their incredible undefeated season.
Say what you want about Glen Sather, but at least when he makes a mistake, he also makes it disappear. In recent years, the New York Rangers have been plagued by enormous contracts that have detracted not only from the team’s play, but their maneuverability with the salary cap. Regardless of what Sather can accomplish in his remaining years here, he will be remembered for five things: Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Michal Rozsival, and Wade Redden. Of those five, only one had positive implications, while the other four served to cripple the team’s ability to find cap space. But over the last three seasons, the Rangers have found a way to deal with them. Gomez was shipped to Montreal for prospect Ryan McDonagh, who had a breakout rookie campaign this season. Rozsival was dealt to Phoenix this past year for Wojtek Wolski, who the Rangers have confirmed will not be bought out. And of course, last September, the worst contract of them all came off the books, when Redden was banished to the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford.
Drury has remained the last of these, even as his play seemed to deteriorate with each passing season. But today, we have learned that the Rangers plan to buy out the final year of his contract. This decision was proposed, and expected, by most of the fan base over the last year or so, and now it will finally come to fruition. This transaction will still cost the Rangers some money, but it will free up even more, and also frees up a roster spot that can go to a free agent acquisition who will hopefully have some offensive talent. To my knowledge, the Rangers do not have a budding center prospect who is ready to come in and play this season.
Now, Drury’s tenure in New York was not all bad, by any means. In his first two seasons, he put up exactly what his career averages suggested he would do. 58 and 56 points, respectively, were right in his neighborhood, as were the 25 and 22 goals. However, because fans have a habit of expecting players to double their career highs when they put on a Rangers’ jersey, he was going to be a failure no matter what, especially with a team struggling to score goals. He was a victim of circumstance as much as he was a victim of his own play, which saw him sink down to only 14 goals and 18 assists in the 2009/10 season. This past year was muddled by injuries, and he recorded only 1 goal in 24 games. Although supposedly a great leader in the locker room, and we know of his great defensive ability, there was just no reason to keep him around any longer, not with a $7 million cap hit.
According to CapGeek’s buyout calculator, the Rangers will be charged $1.6 million both this season and next, while saving $3.3 million this season, and losing money next. Even so, this adds to the Rangers cap room that they will need if they want to pursue a upper-tier free agent such as Brad Richards this summer.
I am happy to see this move in the works, though I admit it is unfortunate it had to end this way. I remember July 1, 2007 like it was yesterday, and was elated when I heard the news the Rangers were getting both Drury and Gomez. I was upset that Michael Nylander could not have been retained, but it was not going to matter. The Rangers were finally going to move into that upper echelon of teams. Four years later, my, how wrong we all were. I wish Drury all the best, and hope he will find a job with another NHL team.
If I had the time, I would photo-shop a wanted poster for New York Rangers’ General Manager Glen Sather. Crime committed? Robbery. For the second time in as many months, the Rangers have stolen unwanted parts from teams in an attempt to rejuvenate a struggling squad that started out hot out of the gate, but has since fizzled over. Wojtek Wolski was the first acquisition, and has settled in nicely since coming over from the Phoenix Coyotes for defenseman Michal Rozsival. This afternoon, the Rangers have added veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe, to the youngest defensive core in the league, whose oldest player is 27-year old Steve Eminger.
McCabe, 35, is renowned for his lethal slap-shot and powerplay ability, though his defensive struggles are well documented. With the way the Rangers have been playing, though, defense has not seemed to be an issue (with the exception of Michael Del Zotto would could very well find himself elsewhere after Monday), so if the Rangers paired McCabe with the rookie Ryan McDonagh, or even Michael Sauer, who have really impressed me, it could prove to be quite an effective pair. McCabe has also missed some time this season due to injury, and only has five goals and 17 assists, but a change of scenery could bring back the one-time feared point man that scored 19 goals and 68 points in 2005/06.
Even if McCabe does not pan out, the Rangers do n0t lose much here, because all they gave up was a third round pick and Connecticut Whale forward Tim Kennedy, who was not going to see the light of day any way, and McCabe’s contract expires after this season. The only person I can see having a problem with this is Larry Brooks, because we all remember his fondness for third round picks last season, when he ripped into Sather for trading one for Brian Boyle (how’s that looking now, Larry?).
Joe Aiello and I were even discussing this before, and Joe still believes that the Rangers are still going to get Brad Richards from the Stars, and for dirt cheap. If Sather calls Nieuwendyk’s bluff, that Richards is not going to re-sign in Dallas, then the Rangers can make a move for him. With the way Sather makes trades, don’t be surprised if they get him for Christensen, Gilroy, and a draft pick, because it seems old Glen just calls up teams and tells them what he wants, then gets it.
Bryan McCabe is a veteran of 1116 NHL games for the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, and Panthers, with 143 goals and 379 assists for 522 points. He has also has racked up 1729 penalty minutes, though he does not fight often any more.
Looks like someone owes Don Maloney a nice steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris.
This is breaking news, as the New York Rangers have traded defenseman Michal Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes for left-wing Wojtek Wolski. This is a trade that is completely mind-boggling to me, at least from the Coyotes end as Rozsival is a struggling defenseman who has a cap-hit of $5 million dollars while Wolski is a young, sizable forward with a hit of only $3.8 million.
Wolski has been struggling this season as well, nearly as bad as Alex Frolov was. In 36 games this season, he has only six goals and ten assists for 16 points, but the 24-year-old will provide much more than that, he will serve as cap relief. The Rangers pick up an additional $1.2 million here, combined with approximately $1.5 million they lost due to Frolov’s injury. It’s funny that the Rangers lose these two players, but their needs stay exactly the same. The team sorely lacks a veteran defenseman who can eat up minutes, and a playmaking center. These were the same needs they had with both Frolov and Rozsival in the lineup. The Rangers now have some flexibility to try to pursue these types of players.
I do not know much about Wolski, but I would like to think that he can provide what Frolov didn’t, and that’s secondary scoring. His large six-foot, three-inch frame could be a welcome sight on the top line with Gaborik, or even on the second line. Chris Hoeler, a Coyotes fan, tells me that he is not a checker, so his is either a top-six forward or bust.
Just as a warning, do not expect much out of Wolski. He has already fallen out of favor on two different teams, and actually has only one more point than Rozsival, who put up three goals and 12 assists in four fewer games. In other words, see this move as cap relief and not the solution to an offensive problem.
As much as everyone loved to hate on Rozsival, he really was not that bad and if they cannot acquire a veteran defenseman at some point this season, trading his presence may cause more harm than good. He has his slip-ups, like we all do, but he was basically made scapegoat for some bad teams in the past few years. He had an excellent shot from the point which he did not use enough, and combined with his slower stride and susceptibility to giveaways, made him an easy target for the fan base. I won’t miss him, but it could come back to bite the team. In 432 games with the Rangers, he scored 42 goals and recorded 134 assists for 176 points; he was also a +44. Those are not bad numbers at all.
We will just have to wait and see how the deal works out. If the Rangers acquire a defenseman, then it is a win-win situation. If they don’t, then this may not be the amazing trade that we all think it is.
Glen Sather has now gotten rid of three of the four terrible contracts that people thought would forever plague this franchise. For a GM as smart as he is, in orchestrating such deals, it’s amazing that he even signed them to begin with.
I originally published this in December of 2009 for my old blog, Metro-Hockey. I sent it around to a few people and it was actually NHL analyst and 100 Ranger Greats co-author Russ Cohen who enjoyed it so much, he asked for my address so he could send me a “reward”. Turns out, about a week later, an Eric Lindros jersey card showed up in the mail. I could not help but laugh when I saw it, though it did contribute to my rather large memorabilia-card collection. It’s amazing that even though this is from last season, some of these still hold true. I hope you enjoy!
On the first day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the second day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the third day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, eight gallons of agita, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, nine Gaborik hat-tricks, eight gallons of agita, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, ten Michelletti exaggerations, nine Gaborik hat-tricks, eight gallons of agita, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, eleven Eklund Kovalchuk predictions, ten Michelletti exaggerations, nine Gaborik hat-tricks, eight gallons of agita, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my season ticket rep gave to me, twelve Crosby’s crying, eleven Eklund Kovalchuk predictions, ten Michelletti exaggerations, nine Gaborik hat-tricks, eight gallons of agita, seven Gilroy’s pinching, six Rozsival’s falling, FIVE SHOTS GONE WIDE! Four announcing Rosen’s, three softies let in by Lundqvist, two Voros punching bags, and a coach that made me miss Tom Renney.
In case I can’t get on here tomorrow to wish everyone a formal Christmas greeting, I would like to extend to all of my readers and their families the very Merriest of Christmases!
While the New Jersey Devils have blamed unrelenting injuries for their tank to the bottom of the standings this season, the New York Rangers have fought through injuries to three of their top forwards to land in the number five-spot in the Eastern Conference at the 33 game mark. Top penalty killer and faceoff man Chris Drury had missed 31 games, last year’s top-line center Vinny Prospal has missed the entire season, and their superstar winger Marian Gaborik missed 13 games. Michal Rozsival, who had upped his play on defense this also saw some time with the doctor, as he missed nine games. The Rangers were also dealt a blow last night, as Drury returned only to see them lose spark plug Ryan Callahan for at least six weeks with a broken hand.
It seems the hockey gods are throwing whatever they can at the Rangers, trying to throw them off course, and while this season has by no means been a masterpiece, their grit, hard work, and new-found team toughness has created a special bond, one that has catapulted them into good standing in the east.
Coming of wins against two of the top four teams in the conference, 7-0 over Washington and 4-1 over Pittsburgh last night, the Rangers gave fans some hope that with a solid 60-minute effort every night, everything and anything is possible. Should the Rangers find some consistency (they have yet to win more than four games in a row) then the Rangers can be considered one of the top teams in the east. The team really came into their own, ironically enough, without the prowess of Marian Gaborik, and have finally settled in since his return to the lineup. The Rangers have also shown that they can overcome adversity, as their play in tight-scoring games and comeback ability has raised some eyebrows.
I am still hesitant to call this team a contender, though. The Rangers are getting scoring from all over the place, including 14 goals from Brandon Dubinsky and 12 from Brian Boyle, who had only 12 goals in 107 games prior to the start of this season. The now injured Callahan has chipped in 10 goals and Gaborik has 9, even after missing so much time. It seems whenever they need a goal, they get one, whether it’s from hard work by scrapper Brandon Prust, or a nifty wrist shot by Erik Christensen.
But how long will all this last? How long before Boyle’s hot streak goes cold? How long before Dubinsky comes back down to earth? What if Gaborik gets injured again? These are all questions facing the Rangers, and it is because of this that the Rangers need to get themselves another legitimate threat. The name Brad Richards has been tossed around, and the rumor was that the Rangers not only showed an interest, but inquired about him but ran from Dallas’ wanting of Callahan and Dubinsky. Say what you want about his signings, but Glen Sather is a magician at trades, and if there is a solution to the problem of secondary scoring, he’ll find it.
Richards’ price tag may be an issue, because at nearly $8 million, the Rangers could not even afford to trade for his ice skates at this present time. Other than him, there are really no other forwards out there that have an affordable rate and are free agents next season, a combination that teams love to acquire mid-season.
However, the one player the Rangers need may be currently skating with them, and his name is Alex Frolov. I have harped on him all season long, and he has quickly put himself in the old Chateau Bow-Wow (as John Davidson would call it) with fans. Every time he has a good game and looks like he is going to break out, he goes on a ten game goal drought. The goal he scored last night was his first goal in twelve games, and he has only three points during that span. But last night, there was just something about him that looked different—he had a jump in his step and for the first time all season, it looked as if he wasn’t skating through mud. Before he scored what stood to be the game winning goal, he got off a quick shot on a one-timer on a feed from Brandon Prust and Johnson knocked down, but it caught my attention nonetheless.
No one has been harder on Frolov than I have, and maybe I’m just being led by false hope, but I truly believe that last night will be the game where he turned it all around. I’m not expecting a 30 goal season out of him, especially after he only put up six goals in the first 33 games, but to finish with 20+ goals on the season is not a ridiculous expectation, and I think if he can get his confidence up (and knock off the wrap-arounds!) he will be the scorer that the Rangers signed him to be.
In regards to Chris Drury’s return to the lineup, John Tortorella in the post game press conference noted that he has, “Balls as big as the building”, because he returned to blocking shots and being an excellent defensive forward, despite missing 31 games this season.
Originally I wasn’t planning on writing a game recap, since I had to work until 8:30, but thankfully the Rangers decided to score all their goals in the third, and I was able to see the final twenty minutes. Coming off a convincing 7-0 win over the Washington Capitals, the Rangers looked like they were going to have a let-down loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, having only generated 12 shots in the first two period, and not starting the third with any conviction. But after a fight by Avery that seemed to spark the team, and a stupid, borderline slew-foot penalty by Matt Cooke, the Rangers not only tied the game at one a piece, but poured it on for a 4-1 victory.
The Penguins would open the score in the first period on a late goal by Evgeni Malkin. This would be all the scoring until the third period, before which the Rangers lacked flow and were doubled off in shots 24-12. But as Sam Rosen noted, the Rangers began to pick up their game in the second. After an uneasy start to the third, with not much flow for either team, Arron Asham would take a few extra chops at Henrik Lundqvist, and Sean Avery skated right over and dropped the gloves with him. This seemed to be the little spark the Rangers needed as they picked up their game and put more shots on an untested Brent Johnson.
With a little less than ten minutes remaining, and the Rangers still trailing by one, the puck would be sent down to the Rangers’ end of the rink. Derek Stepan and Matt Cooke would chase for it, when Cooke knocked the feet out from under Stepan, causing him to fall to the ice hard. It was not exactly a slew foot, but perhaps that was Cooke’s intention, since he is a dirty player. He would be penalized for tripping, and 20 seconds later, the Rangers would tie the game on a powerplay goal by Erik Christensen (6). Marian Gaborik would get the lone assist on the laser of a wrist shot which went off the crossbar and post before bouncing in. 15 seconds later, Alex Frolov (6) would break out of his funk with a rebound goal on assists from Brian Boyle and Dan Girardi.
Four minutes would then pass by and the Rangers would strike again. Artem Anisimov (9) came skating down the center of the ice, and with a snap of the wrist, it was 3-1 Rangers. Assists would go to Michal Rozsival and Michael Del Zotto. Less than two minutes later, the Rangers would put the icing on the cake with yet another fantastic wrist shot, this time by Brian Boyle (12), from Frolov and Staal. Three of the Rangers four goals would be by terrific shots, but it still makes me wonder if they would have scored them if Marc Andre Fleury was in net, but nevertheless, the Rangers and their fans should be very happy about this win.
The team stayed close, fought back and got themselves a big win. I’m also loving the toughness, as Avery did a good job in sticking up for Lundqvist by fighting Asham, and Boyle got into it with Malkin late in the third period. There is finally some cohesion from these Rangers and they are actually playing like a team now.
One sour note on a happy evening, though, would be the loss of Ryan Callahan who left in the first period with a broken hand. It is ironic because Chris Drury just returned to the lineup after missing virtually the entire season with a broken finger. The hockey gods giveth, the hockey gods taketh away.
Finally, it is also worthy to note the officiating in tonight’s game. Because biased calls against the Rangers were subjects in the last two game recaps between these teams, I must say that the referees behaved themselves tonight, including giving the Rangers a very blatant benefit-of-the-doubt call. Late in the third period, with the Rangers up 3-1, the Penguins seemed to have scored, but it was quickly waved off, citing that Pascal Dupuis had made contact with Henrik Lundqvist. Though he did touch him and possibly contribute to him not making the save, I have seen much worse go uncalled. The play was deemed “incidental contact” and not goaltender interference, which was why there was no penalty on the play. For all the times the Rangers have been screwed, I’ll definitely take it.
The New York Rangers found themselves trailing three times tonight, but each time they fell behind, they fought back, and ultimately found a way to defeat the Ottawa Senators tonight 5-3 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. It was not pretty, and the Rangers found themselves stuck in stretches of clumsy play, but they needed a win tonight after playing horribly against these same Senators Saturday night. In the end, they would have an unlikely hero as one of their young defensemen would score his first NHL goal, and send the Rangers to victory.
- First Period: The Rangers were looking to have a better start to the game than their last, which included an awful first period. They would not get started off on the right foot, as the Senators would score on an early powerplay less than three minutes in. Henrik Lundqvist would make a terrific stop on Nick Foligno before Mike Fisher netted home the rebound. But from there on out, the Rangers would pick up their game and tie the score nearly two minutes later, when Derek Stepan (7) found a fanned shot attempt by Marian Gaborik land on his stick, and shot it past Brian Elliot. The Rangers would not play a great period, but they had a lot more jump in their step than Sunday night’s game. Late in the period, Matt Carkner would fight Derek Boogaard and land a massive punch square in the face of Boogaard, and taking him down to the ice moments later. For the first time all season, an opponent landed a perfect punch to his face. The Rangers would exit the period tied at one a piece, despite taking three minor penalties, including one by Alex Frolov, which resulted in the Senators’ goal.
- Second Period: Once again the Senators would get the early goal, as Jason Spezza would tally one with the man advantage 34 seconds in. And once again, the Rangers would quickly counter, with a goal at an even faster minute and nine seconds later. This one would be from newly placed first liner Ruslan Fedotenko (5), from Gaborik, who got his second assist of the night, and Rozsival whose slapshot hit the post just seconds earlier. Minutes later, it would appear that the Senators had retaken the lead, when Mike Fisher took a shot from the circle that the referee signaled went in just under the crossbar. But the replay would show a miraculous example of physics that kept the puck out of the net—first it struck the crossbar, then bounced straight down off the goal line, and then sideways off the post, before bouncing forward, and directly between the leg of Lundqvist and an oncoming skate of Rozsival. Just moments later, though, Fisher would have retribution when he scored a breakaway goal on assists from Foligno and Campoli. The Rangers powerplay would fail twice more in the second period, and their lack of discipline cost them yet another goal.
- Third Period: With the Rangers trailing by one heading into the third, they needed to hunker down and play a solid period of hockey. The Rangers would shut down the Senators and put some goals up on the board. For the third time in the game, they tied the score, when Erik Christensen (5) wound up for a shot in the corner along the goal line, and somehow, the puck trickled past Elliot—it was a horribly angled goal, and for the first time in a while, the Rangers are beneficiaries of such luck. With five and a half minutes remaining in the period, the Rangers once again found themselves on the powerplay. With only seconds remaining on the advantage, and it seeming like the Rangers were going to waste another opportunity, Tortorella sent out his grinders, and among the makeshift unit, defenseman Michael Sauer (1), who ripped a slapshot that found its way through a maze of people and into the net. It would be his first NHL goal, on assists from Prust, and Avery, who now has 13 on the season. The goal would stand to be the game winner, and Brandon Dubinsky (13) would tack on an empty net goal when the Ottawa defenseman playing the puck fell down, giving it away to Dubinsky. It was not a masterpiece, but the Rangers got a very important bounce back win.
Over the last few off days, the Rangers practiced a lot of different things, emphasizing the powerplay. Up until the Sauer goal, one could hardly tell that, and even so, the powerplay is cause for concern. They are not even generating chances, but spend much of the two minutes skating up and down the rink after they allow their opponents to clear the puck.
Ruslan Fedotenko looked very good on the first line with Gaborik and Stepan, that is, when Tortorella wasn’t experimenting with and reverting back to old line combinations. The Rangers’ offense is still not getting nearly enough shots, but Fedotenko’s checking and backchecking will be a welcome sight on the top line should he stay there.
Regarding the Boogaard-Carkner fight, it was originally Tweeted by Darren Dreger of TSN that Carkner flicked blood off his fingers at players on the Rangers’ bench. No one watching the telecast noticed this, though Carkner did get a ten minute misconduct. It could be possible that was the reason. If this is true, he should face further discipline from the league. Showboating after winning a fight is one thing, but to flick a bodily fluid at someone? Not only is it disgusting and immature, but it is dangerous as well. I truly hope this was all a misunderstanding, because that would be a new low for a hockey player to have stooped to.
The New York Rangers stand deadlocked for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference one-third into their regular season campaign. Given their hard work ethic, the Rangers have created an identity of a team who will work for an entire 60 minutes. At times, the scheduling has caught up to them, but all in all one cannot be disappointed with the efforts of the club.
Complacency from top to bottom is the one nagging issue with the team this season. Players like Alex Frolov and Ruslan Fedotenko have been invisible way too often. Many Ranger fans are already calling for the head of Frolov, but I am not keen on cutting ties with the struggling winger just yet. In fairness to Frolov, the Rangers do not have a remedy at the number one center position to get him going. John Tortorella and company can say as they please, but the number one center by committee rotation has not and will not work for the coming games in store.
Erik Christensen is not a top line center. He is a player I would not want on my club, even if his cap hit were $0. Christensen has no self confidence—he talks about himself in the third person when interviewed in a negative manner. Players like this will never be able to bring their A game every night when mentally they do not believe in themselves. Christensen has the talent; its just too bad the Rangers still believe he can be a pivot between Gaborik and whomever else Tortorella puts on the opposite wing.
The Rangers’ defense has been one that I really do not have an issue with. Michael Sauer, for the most part, has been a pleasant surprise alongside Steve Eminger. The third pairing defenders are playing into their defined roles well. Marc Staal at times has looked great and at others dismal, but when you are going up against top players on a nightly basis the mistakes will only be magnified. Veteran mainstay Michael Rozsival started the season off with a bang, but has steadied off. The Rangers’ defense looked more poised without him for a few games when he sat out with injury. I’m still steadfast in my belief that Rozsival is way too much of a liability to have out on the ice—the defenseman he is paired with has his play regress. Matt Gilroy has not been a surprise; when he was inserted into the lineup he was decent given his seven minutes of ice time. Gilroy will not finish the season out with the club if management were smart, as he is clearly not happy here.
The Rangers do have a fighting chance in the East if they decide to make a trade for number one center Brad Richards. Richards will be able to give the Rangers a true pivot for Gaborik and would redefine the power play. If the Rangers can do this without parting with any of their core (Dubinsky, Callahan, Stepan, Staal, Del Zotto) they must make this move. I would not rule out moving Girardi to Dallas in the event the Rangers can bring along a defenseman in a deal for Brad Richards. Artem Anisimov is another Ranger player that I would be open in moving for Richards. It would not be a popular move by dealing Anisimov, but lets be real here: Anisimov will never be Brad Richards.
I leave you all with this proposal for Brad Richards:
Rangers trade: Anisimov, Gilroy, Prospect, 2nd
Stars trade: Richards, Daley
The Dallas Stars are going to lose Richards no matter what, via either trade or free agency after next season. The Rangers and Stars have reportedly been in contact, with Dallas demanding Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. The proposal was immediately shot down by Sather, who will no part with any of his core.
The officiating picked up right where it left off the last time the New York Rangers squared off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was just weeks ago at the Consol Energy Center in Steel Town where the Penguins were handed six powerplays to the Rangers’ zero, all while the referees missed several offenses against the Blueshirts that almost caused the Rangers to lose the game. Luckily, they responded and defeated the Penguins 3-2 in overtime.
Tonight, though, the Rangers would not be so lucky. Even though the officiating did not directly result in the Rangers losing this game, 3-1, it is worthy to note of a horrendous call made against Ryan Callahan in the first period, to be explained below. The Rangers looked very tired tonight, on the heels of a 17 games in 30 days stretch. But that is no excuse, and the Rangers could not generate even the slightest hint of offense.
- First period: Maxime Talbot would open the scoring a little more than five minutes in on a very odd play. The puck had deflected up into the air and was temporarily gloved by Ruslan Fedotenko. The puck would then fall out of his glove and roll right to Talbot, who quickly shot it past Lundqvist. Aside from that goal, the period was offensively stagnant and shots were only 8-6 in favor of the Rangers. However, this period would also see one of the most ridiculous and hysterically bad calls of the season, if not since the Crosby era began in Pittsburgh. This was a call so bad that it made the last time these two teams played against each other look like child’s play. With five minutes remaining, Crosby became entangled with Ryan Callahan, who he then slew-footed to the ice. Rather than call Crosby for a dangerously bad penalty, the officials decide to call Callahan for interference. Brandon Dubinsky, in his intermission interview would tell John Giannone, “That’s the type of player he is.” and “Yeah, I mean that’s just a dirty play.…he tries to get away with all that kind of nonsense and complains a lot.” Truer words have never been spoken to laughably bad interviewer John Gianonne.
- Second period: If the Rangers play looked bad in the first, it would get even worse in the second. Still, neither team would look too hot on offense, though around the midway point, the teams traded chances with the Penguins getting several odd-man rushes. With eight minutes remaining, Kris Letang would put the Penguins up by a deuce, and just over a minute later, Chris Conner would score their third goal of the game. Conner now has three goals on five shots in his career against Henrik Lundqvist. Three seconds after the third goal, Sean Avery would drop the gloves with Tyler Kennedy, handily defeating him and knocking him to the ice. Late in the period, the Rangers would finally break through, when Michal Rozsival hit Marian Gaborik (5) with a pass mid-stride, who then skated in and flicked his deadly wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury.
- Third period: Tonight’s game would end with the same score that was on the board heading into the period. The Rangers would have plenty of chances, including two powerplays, but they failed on both and did not even garner a good scoring chance. They would record a game-high 12 shots in the third period, but way too many missed the net, including some with the man advantage. This would lead to their downfall tonight, as Fleury was having problems with rebound control all game long, and the Rangers could only muster up 26 shots on goal. It seems that has been the theme of late—don’t shoot if it looks like the opposing goalie is having an off-night.
The Rangers showed tonight that they desperately need to practice two things: the powerplay and taking faceoffs. Watching the Rangers a man up is like watching the Keystone Cops on ice. They do not generate any chances, they pass until they’re blue in the face, and when they get an opportunity, they shoot it wide. As for faceoffs, they rank 29th in the league; nothing else needs to be said in that regard.
The Messiah was also finally called for a penalty in the third period. Of course, the referees had to send Brandon Prust to the box at the same time for elbowing, making the penalties coincidental.
Consistency still seems to be this season’s quest, as they have yet to find any. There really is not anything else to say—the Rangers play games like night and say. Some are good, others are like tonight.