Thursday, November 29, 2007
Captain Jagr of The New York Rangers must have read my previous posts and decided to do something about it tonight against the NY Islanders. Jags lead and delivered for the Blueshirts tonight punching home his sixth goal of the season and first goal of the game eight minutes into the first period. Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Brandon "Dubie" Dubinsky scored the subsequent goals, beating our rival New York Islanders 4-2 - the first win of four meetings this season. A pleasant surprise seeing our free agents and veterans dominating the scoring sheet for once. Whew...
Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves for the Rangers, who closed the season's second month with a strong 10-3-1 record and with this victory moved back into a first-place tie atop the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia. Both are three points ahead of the Islanders.
The Rangers ended with 2 of the 5 power plays, a huge improvement over our dreadful PP record this season.
Huge kudos to Ryan Callahan, though not scoring any points, gave everything he could in his debut return from injury-land setting up plays, taking the hits, crashing the DiPietro head first and getting back up to attempt the rebounds. This kid is the real deal and as long as Slats and Co. can keep him on the roster, our future is going places. Ditto to Dan Girardi and Marc Staal -- a.k.a. Mr. Cool and Mr. Collected -- who have provided those gifts we've asked Santa for this fine holiday season -- Marek Malik, our defensive starter continues to be out on injured reserve, and despite his injuries will be receiving a stocking full of coal. Jason Strudwick deserves special attention as he played a marvelous game of hockey. Impressive.
This Saturday the Blueshirts have our third meeting against the now-semi-struggling Ottawa Senators, the Rangers having lost two close matches earlier this season. New York brings an improved team to the table and we all expect our top game leaving the "Canadian Capital the Blues".
Jaromir Jagr deserves "the most improved player" award from The Dark Ranger, but I wouldn't go as far as saying 'he is back' -- for God's sake, tonights win was only the Islanders!!?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Asked about the paucity of shots he got during his five-game pointless streak (only five total), Jagr said, "I didn’t even get any scoring chances." Pressed about specific chances that he passed up looking for a pass, he conceded, "OK, when you don’t finish often enough, you lose your instincts. It takes a while to get them back." He also conceded that his self-confidence has waned. "Sure," he responded when asked about it. "I need to play my game. I can’t dump and chase the puck -- I don’t know how to do that. When my linemates send it up the ice, I’m suddenly on the other side of the rink. That wears you out a lot! No matter how well-conditioned you are. You’re flying up and down the ice without the puck. I felt like I was in an elevator -- up, down. I could conform. I could dump the puck in and chase it. But I’d be late. Seriously, without the puck I’m useless out there."
At this point, Jagr is unsure where he stands for next season. "If they don’t want me on the team, what should I do here? Take out the trash?" he quipped. He is not even sure where he stands on the team this season. "If I don't play well, I’ll lose my position," he said. "But that’s normal." Asked if it’s like his days with the Penguins when he jumped on the ice when he wanted no matter what the coach said, Jagr responded, "Those times are long gone!" And looking ahead to the Rangers possibly opening next season in Prague, Jagr, who put in a good word for the event, said, "I have no idea what’s going on right now. It’s even possible that there won’t be one single Czech on the team next year."THE DARK RANGERS SAYS: Any player committed to a team does NOT reveal this. I admire his honesty but he is validating everything we are criticizing him of. He is the Captain of the New York Rangers and he is NOT instilling a confidence in the teammates. Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to THE JAGR SHOW! ALL JAGR, ALL THE TIME. 24/7. YOU'RE LOOKIN' AT IT KIDS FROM HARTFORD....ALL JARO-me OF IT!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Here are the game notes (press here).
It was great to see Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan finally scoring and lighting up the game, but to no victory.
The dreaded NY Islanders are at MSG this Thursday, a franchise we are afraid of and haven't beaten this season. The Islanders are creeping up in the ranks and the Atlantic Division is turning out to be one of the more competitive divisions to date -- fun to watch because the teams are all over the place. Three days off for the Rangers to work on the worst power-play unit in the NHL - maybe it's time for Renney to start coaching.
It is frightening that in the New York Times this morning, Coach Tom Renney, having just lost to Dallas was referring to Scott Gomez and the Rangers as a team, quoted as saying, “I really have to be firm now and say, I want X number of shots." This pretty much says it all for now.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Last night in Tampa, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 32-of-33 shots and Colton Orr scored his first goal of the season to give the New York Rangers a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Fedor Tyutin also scored and Petr Prucha added an assist, as New York won for the sixth time in its past seven outings.
Another goal by our defense (Tyutin) and now a goal credited to our resident enforcer (Orr). Largely absent from the game were the regular glamorous no-hitters Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Brendan Shanahan and Chris Drury.
This was a lucky one for the Rangers. Not much to say except for the standings below, with the win keeping us in first place in the Atlantic and now second place in the Eastern Conference.
Thanks to Henrik for another great performance. Lastly, thanks to our metal goal post that blocked two close Tampa shots.
|1. Ottawa *||20||16||4||0||32||63||43||10-2-0||6-2-0||16-4-0||7-3-0||1L|
|2. NY Rangers *||22||13||8||1||27||49||41||8-3-0||5-5-1||13-8-1||8-2-0||1W|
|3. Carolina *||22||12||7||3||27||74||64||6-4-1||6-3-2||11-7-3||5-5-0||1L|
|6. NY Islanders||18||11||7||0||22||46||49||7-3-0||4-4-0||11-7-0||6-4-0||1L|
|9. Tampa Bay||21||10||9||2||22||69||63||8-2-1||2-7-1||10-9-2||5-4-1||2L|
|12. New Jersey||21||9||10||2||20||50||57||3-4-0||6-6-2||9-10-2||5-4-1||2W|
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Captain Jaromir Jagr didn't show up to work last night, though he played most of the game. Our Czech wonder was slow moving, turned over possession a couple of times for no reason and is solely responsible for the strained, tired and beaten-up looking Ranger squad that played The Garden last night.
"SHOOT THE DAMN PUCK!!!!" In section 118, my neighborly Blueshirt fans were screaming "Let's Go Islanders" hoping that the reverse pyschology would boost the Ranger's scoring opportunities to no avail.
The New York Rangers lost 2-1 to the New York Islanders...AGAIN. We haven't beat this team this season, now 0-3. The Dark Ranger attended the frustrating game at The Garden last night and marveled at how we again morphed into that defensive-only minded team we lived through the first 10 games. Didn't the Rangers begin scoring goals drawing 9 out of 10 wins when coach Tom Renney mandated that every player WILL shoot to the net...often? With Shanny planted in front of the net, weren't we supposed to shoot and knock in the rebounds? Our European perimeter game burden reappeared again last night -- thanks Jags - and we waited for the perfect goals that never came.
There wasn't a breakaway star on the "Long-ga-Eye-lind" - even Ricky D.P. played well but not great, and the Rangers lost because of flaws in our defensive lines and the Islanders were there every time to capitalize on every turnover. Our 'special power play unit' is just plain bad. Of all the opportunities last night, we couldn't have shot more than twice. Maybe the Blueshirts were affected by the Broadway theater strike! ;)
One thing is for sure this season, you never know what team is going to show up on any given night - we are not a middle-ground team, the one where you walk away from the loss feeling like they played a great game and were simply outplayed. The Blueshirts either control and shoot the puck or they play mediocre, shaky defense without goal scoring.
The Dark Ranger will feel better when we can expect some level of consistency. No one can expect a win every game, but that consistency should come in the form of leadership -and only Jags can speak to that.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Prior to last night's game, Penguins goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury sold his soul and made a deal with the God of Hockey. He was promised not to be scored on by New York Rangers All-Stars' Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Gomez, or Chris Drury - he was even promised once not to be pestered by Sean "Kill Me" Avery. He was granted all of these wishes.
Even so, the Rangers took the game in overtime 4 to 3.
No one could have predicted when the Rangers were down 0-2 after the first period, that all of the subsequent goals would be scored by defensemen - two goals by Michal Rozsival, one by Brandon Dubinsky and the final overtime goal assisted by Paul Mara's perfectly placed cross-crease pass to Jason Strudwick for the win.
In addition to the stellar defensive offense, The Rangers clamped down defensively behind Henrik Lundqvist, who made 20 saves, to win their ninth in 10 games and send the slumping Penguins to their fifth loss in six games and seventh in nine. The Rangers are solely leading the Atlantic Division at 12-7-1.
One of the low points of the game came in the form of Brandon Dubinsky attempting another NHL fight seriously (picture below for your visual enjoyment) - not bad for a beginner, while earlier at practice both Paul Mara and Jason Strudwick were giving him hints on the best positioning for a fight. He wanted it. The opportunity came. He fought. He lost. But...he scored a goal and continued onward with a marvelous 'playing hockey' performance.
Tomorrow's game against the New York Islanders is one of revenge, as this is one rivalry that threatens our Rangers-glory the most. The 'laughable in pre-season Islanders' are a team to be reckoned with - one full of hard-hitting 'Nolen-ites' willing to distract our Blueshirts with pretty 'long-ah-land' ice-girls, high sticks to the neck and shitty jersies - anything for the win. The good news is this meeting is at MSG with the home crowd ready to support.
As for Marc-Andre Fleury on the Penguins side of things, he is out of big wishes and, unfortunately, Pittsburgh will continue to lose games. His goaltending is not up to par and as we've seen on our side, a King Goalkeeper can keep you in the running.
Beer-me. Tomorrow night.
"Work on that hook Dubie..."
Friday, November 16, 2007
Last night The New York Rangers overtook the Philadelphia Flyers again, this time in a shutout shootout credited to our Blueshirt goalkeeping Savior King Lundqvist and NYR second shooter, Brendan Shanahan with the only goal of the shootout. Prior to, Chris Drury suggested to Henrik that his former Buffalo Sabre co-captain Danny "Boy" Briere would shoot low on his approach to the goal; this turned out to be a saving grace as "The King" threw his stick forward to prevent "The Boy" from scoring. It worked and it seemed to disorient the new 'High Flyer." Oh Danny Boy, the pipes the pipes are calling you....
Another win folks and things are looking up for our New York Blueshirts, the Rangers having won four straight games and eight of their last nine. Now tied for first place with Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, our veterans players are serving the newbies and the true needed chemistry this season has been found in a mix of both. With Brandon Dubinsky on the first line, Jaromir Jagr is coming alive again. Our 'kill him' Sean Avery has enlightened and motivated our Rangers again - a 'need-to-re-sign' valuable asset to New York. The Dark Ranger is declaring Brendan Shanahan "not quite dead yet" for all the naysayers (thanks HH), extending his team goal-scoring lead with his sixth goal of the season last night. Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha, with Chris Drury centering on the third line has been one of the most effective & unexpected line configurations to boot!
Why didn't we play Ottawa later in the season? This may be a hindsight question asked my many Rangers fans as the team has found a new confidence, the lines appear to be working and outsiders are now looking in as we hope to stay on top of the division. The Atlantic Division remains one of the more evenly divided in all the NHL - brutal rivalries, brutal fans and a scrappy physical play.
Though, there is one thing that the New York Rangers have that no other team has:
The Dark Ranger!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
|From the New York Rangers Official Website: |
There was no way the Rangers were going to allow Devils goalie Martin Brodeur to win his 500th career NHL game at their expense on Wednesday night. Jaromir Jagr and the rookie trio of Nigel Dawes, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal made sure of that, as each player scored in a 4-2 win in Newark that gave the Rangers a chance to take the division lead on Thursday.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The sideshow antics of Toronto's Maple Leafs agitator Darcy Tucker & our very own New York Ranger's Sean Avery weren't enough to take the evening away from our 'now legitimate' backup goalkeeper Stephen Valiquette. In his first game of the season against Toronto last night, after sixteen games of sitting on the bench - he defensively handed the NY Rangers their first win on the road leaving the Blueshirts with an amazing 9-7-1. The Rangers have won six of their last seven games.
The offense was controlled by Sean Avery, who assisted Brendan Shanahan on the first goal in the second period, shortly after flipping roles as Shanny assisted Avery for the second goal of the evening. During the third period, all went 'to hell in a hand basket' as Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice on Valiquette, tying the game which ultimately led to a scoreless overtime and eventual shootout. The decisive shootout goal is credited to Marcel Hossa - which 'made up' for a terrible turnover in overtime (what is it with this guy?).
Go here for the official recap.
The team is getting the 'moxy' with an unexpected mix of rookies and veterans playing on all three lines in different configurations. The offense is regenerating and it appears that over the last two or three games The Rangers have rotated that lone offensive player into the opponent's net....waiting. Terrific to see Hockey For Dummies is at work on the Renney staff!
Look forward to some time off from BlueshirtLand as the boys have three days until they meet our adversaries across the Hudson River, the New Jersey Devils of Newark at the newly opened and lowly-attended Prudential Center on Wednesday evening, 7pm EST.
Henrik The Benched, who awards his fellow-best-playing teammates with a bottle of wine after every game tomorrow will surely be sending a case to his 'mini-me' - the 'Valley Boy' himself, Stephen Valiquette. Cheers!
Friday, November 9, 2007
Since the loss to the New York Islanders, Tom Renney's approach with the locker room has been one of the basics. Shoot the damn puck. It won't always hit the post. You won't always miss. You can only score if you try. Well last night, The New York Rangers scored four goals against the Pittsburgh Penguin's two goals - many shots hitting the post and many missed scoring opportunities excluded. It is sad that my fantasy hockey league doesn't categorize shots taken, because the Blueshirts would own it.
Go here for a recap of the game against Pittsburgh. One special honorable mention goes to "Brilliant Backhander Brandon Dubinsky," whose first NHL goal was like butter.
The Rangers are now 8-7-1, placing second in the Atlantic Division - one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers. Nice to see the Blueshirt front lines working together, with a hint of chemistry. Who would have ever guessed "Dubie the Rookie" would be playing on the same line as Jaromir Jagr?
All is fair in love & hockey, folks -- another win at MSG. Look forward to another out-of-town game this Saturday evening at The Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs; our NY Rangers still haven't won a game on the road. We will probably see the debut of Stephen Valiquette replacing our much-used Henrik Lundqvist as goaltender for the evening - ensuring a disadvantaged evening of hockey.
This Saturday I wanted to see the long awaited rematch fight between Sean Avery and Darcy Tucker, but alas, Mr. Tucker is hurt and on injured reserve -- so instead I will settle for team New York slightly beating on team Toronto.
Away Game = The _______smashes The _______.
Here goes nothing and here's hoping.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Miroslav Satan scored the winner for the second straight game, and the New York Islanders - with three goals in the final period - snapped the New York Rangers' winning streak at four with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night. The Rangers, who went 5-1 on a homestand that concluded Monday with a 2-0 victory against Philadelphia, scored only 12 goals during that stretch but managed to keep winning on the back of Henrik Lundqvist's strong goaltending. Lundqvist has played in every game this season and allowed more than one goal for the first time in five games. That was enough to drop the Rangers to 0-5-1 on the road.
Home game win this Thursday (according to our season thus far) against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Monday, November 5, 2007
The Blueshirts are now 7-6-1, second place in the Atlantic Division - one point away from taking the first position in the division. As the diehard meathead in Section 317 said after the game, "They may actually be getting their shit together!!!" A prolific sentiment shared by Rangers fans across the land.
Our "defensive strong", "proficient but low-scoring offense" controlled most of the game from start to finish. The Flyers were massively outshot in the first and second periods, but put the heat back on the Rangers in the third, until Brendan Shanahan locked in the second insurance goal with just over three minutes left in the game. The last goal solidified the win. Martin Biron, goalkeeper of the Flyers, deserves a special honorable mention for preventing a 6-0 loss.
...and again, the true hero of the night. The King. Henrik Lundquist. Simply the best goalkeeper in the NHL.
Tonight will be another test - as a 'win' against the New York Islanders will ensure a first place ranking in the Atlantic Division -- a pleasant distant place from the opening of the season.
Maybe Jagr knew something when he said "be patient, it will happen."
Going for five straight.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
With a little bit of luck our defense held the Devils scoreless in three power play opportunities to extend their current streak to 19 consecutive successful penalty kills. Not bad on paper; so why does it look so shaky?
Our confidence tonight may have come in the form of a particular Swedish goaltender named Henrik Lundquist, the Rangers superhero. Our 'King' stopped all three shots in the shootout, turned aside 28 of 29 shots in regulation/overtime to record his third consecutive win and sixth of the season.
Scott Gomez scored the lone Rangers goal in regulation during the first period, his first against his former Devils teammates. During the shootout, The Dark Ranger's favorite Petr Prucha froze New Jersey goaltender Marty Brodeur, with a chip-high shot and score - a chin low moment for 'New Joisey Devils of Newark' fans. Marty, Marty, Marty!!!! Hah.
The New York Rangers are now 6-6-1, looking to take on the Atlantic Divisions leaders, the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night. This will be the first official meeting for former Buffalo co-captains, Ranger's Chris Drury and Philly's Daniel Brierre. I wish I could say that droopy Drury is playing at the same level as Dancin' Danny Briere, but there have been improvements with the Rangers front lines - they are connecting, still conservative, but playing toward the net more than games past.
Tune in folks, as the first division meeting of this NY Rangers-Philadelphia Flyers rivalry is always a bloody one. With Philly currently in first place, superior level of play this season and the New York Rangers on a run, three for three, the Blueshirts will be looking to take their game to a new level on Monday night. Look for Jagr to actually drop his gloves! LOL.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
After tonight's 31 saves and third shutout of the season, I asked him what he thought of winning two in a row and the team's defensive dependency on him, he stated, "I see all of this as a great challenge. There were a lot of people in front of me tonight. Tonight I had to challenge myself and work harder and it paid off. Cover as much as possible, puck kept hitting me, it's fun. Great team, great players, fun to be around them all the time. We have to keep winning. Everything is so much easier when you're winning, everyone shows up to practice. Don't over think and get lucky."
Though I didn't quite understand his broken English, I sure was happy to meet The King, take the win and take off this friggin cape for the night.
Chris Drury took his second goal of the season in the second period, the next and final goal went to Rozsival in the third period.
On my way out, I ran into Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig, who made 26 saves, but when questioned about Henrik's game tonight he actually (and honestly) responded, "He's definitely on his game. He's the reason the Rangers have won five games. They'll be scary (the Rangers) if they ever get their offense together."
So from Washington's losing goaltender's point of view, he let up two goals and ultimately lost the game to our shitty offense. Nice Olie - keep up the good work. Though, point taken, if we can forget about the Ranger's performance in the first period, our offense and defense was even paced, controlled and a team that appeared more confident. They looked 'winning' tonight.
The Blueshirts take on the New Joisey Devils of Newark this Saturday at 7pm, EST at MSG. See you then and go have a beer.
Strange little mascot....we need to kick his ass!