Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brodeur Allegedly Lacerates Avery's Spleen!!!

Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that forward Sean Avery suffered a lacerated spleen in Tuesday night’s game, and will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

He was taken to St. Vincent’s hospital after the game, and was admitted following a CT scan. He is expected to make a full recovery during the off-season.

The Rangers return to action tomorrow, May 1, when they face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Four of their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.)

Rumor has it that Marty Brodeur of the Newark Devils may have had something to do with it and could not be reached for comment and has not been able to provide a reasonable alibi.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Crushed! NYR 3, Penguins 5

The New York Rangers 2008 Dynasty may have come to an end this evening as the Pittsburgh Penguins grabbed the third in a row in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The fourth (and potentially last) game this upcoming Thursday feels like an exercise, and for us season ticket holders, an expensive one at that.

Referee calls aside, the Penguins outplayed the Rangers this time and what was most evident in this series thus far was what all Rangers fans knew going into the blueline! Where is Darius Kasparitis when you needed him the most? Our power play unit fumbled on two turning-point 5-on-3 opportunities and remains one of the worst PP units I have ever witnessed (unless you are used to watching The Blue Jackets or St. Louis Blues). We lack defense. We are lucky to have made it this far with our 'Rock in goal'.

The King remains defeated, but strong. We have no Brian Leetch. Instead we have Christian Backman and Marek Malik (and some disappointing dude referred to as "Toots"). Maybe that is a problem in itself.

The better team won the game tonight and they contained and pinned the Rangers in their own zone for the remaining 15 minutes. Maybe our dear coach, Tom Renney, might have had some nice words for the team on how to beat their third period rut, but instead opted to teach them a lesson. Losing hurts. Thanks Tom.

It's closing in on us dear Blueshirts and another chapter is near. We'll bring it with everything we got (have) on Thursday. Honor. Courage. Resilience. Who needs golf when there is an important game to be played this week?

I salute you Rangers fans and team for the first round against the Newark Devils - that might have been worth everything. I also salute you for the entire season behind us and, most importantly, for never actually enjoying Sidney Crosby play hockey. I am also proud to not properly pronounce Malkin's first name. But most of all, one thing if for sure toward the end......

"I am a Dark Ranger!"


P.S. Ryan Hollweg deserves a permanent boarding penalty after tonight's treachery. Cut the damn beard too.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Am Still Exhausted

Sorry no posting. I am still exhausted from yesterday's loss. Will be at the Garden tomorrow night with my referee shirt and cape calling the game as I see it. Maybe teach 'Crosby-the-Diver' a thing or two about 'going up against the boards.'

Henrik salute!!! Keep us in it, as you attempted to do yesterday. Awesome goaltending. You did the best you could.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rangers Lose To Montreal., NYR 4, Habs 5......Um....I Mean To Pittsburgh

Strangely, the opening of the playoffs second round last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins felt eerily reminiscent of a similar game in-season against the Montreal Habs, where the Blueshirts were leading by three or four goals, only to lose it all in the third period.. Well, well, well. Full circle, folks!

Overall, it wasn't a good start to the series. The game opened well filling me with exuberance and disbelief when leading 3-to-0 against the 'all and powerful" Pittsburgh Penguins, led by the 'Somewhat Great One' Sid Crosby. These were the Rangers I dreamed of. I saw the Cup for a fleeting moment. Of course, come the middle of the second period when Pittsburgh scored twice within a minute of each other, I was again filled with exuberance and disbelief (in a bad way) as I watched the Rangers fall apart at the seams. This team, my fellow Rangers fans, was the team that we've grown to love this season. A complete blueline breakdown, and worst of all, a debunking of confidence.

This was one ugly game for all.

NY Ranger goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist couldn't manage - and should never be expected to - the deluge of offensive Penguin advance, without Ranger blueline support. He was simply overwhelmed and every defensiveman on the Rangers side played sub-par, unable to clear the zone. As my wife likes to say, now with a 3-year old and a 6-week old newborn,..."IT WAS A SHIT-SHOW!". That about sums it up.

Sean Avery, who in the first half played a great game, should next time think twice after scoring the then-leading-third goal about pumping his fists at the Pittsburgh bench and coaching staff. Not that this could have been the reasons for our loss, but it doesn't sit well in the karma department.

Our front lines were awesome. I have grown to enjoy the delicate mastery of their skills, but it is too bad they have to make-up for our blueline and constantly support our own zone rather than charging our opponents net.

Christian Backman simply blows. Rozzy and Toots forgot how to play defense 101 last night, and the only figure deserving of praise is Marc Staal. Parents in the house; Staal brother love all around!

I keep saying to myself this is only one game, but it was an important one -- it set the tone that any amount of lead we might have in this series doesn't mean a damn thing. This will motivate us or this will sink us.

Last night's loss to Pittsburgh I rest to bad luck and coaching. Tom Renney sat back to let them sink in their own failures, and this is not what a playoffs coach should allow. There are no lessons to learn now. If they are doing something wrong, tell them how to fix it. Coach them, Coach!

Tomorrow we will take it back. I promise. If not, it's going to get very Dark in here.


Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dark Ranger Predicts

Because everyone else is going on the line, here are my solid predictions for the second round:
Rangers in 6
Red Wings in 6
Flyers in 7
Sharks in 7

(sorry Jibbles)


Hours Before The Big Game

As all Blueshirts fans eagerly await tonight's game, The Dark Ranger wanted to suggest some pre-game reading....see you tonight.

One of my favorites here, here, and here. From a Rangers point of view look no further than here, here , here, here, here and here.

Gary Bettman is sure to be looking for my League rule changes as NYR Sean Avery will be sure to pull some new tricks tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

May the force be with us - or if not, maybe just a better defense. Good luck Blueshirts......


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Glen Sather Speaks!!!


nuff said, bluenationleafs

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Congrats Blueshirts!

The first round against the New Jersey Devils is over. I haven't posted, as life always has a way of sucking away needed hockey viewing!!!!

Obviously, The New York Rangers won it in five games and articles galore are, and only for a moment, putting Sean Avery over Marty Brodeur. For now, he earned it.

Short and sweet, The Dark Ranger couldn't be more thrilled with the efforts of Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers' old and (mostly) young, and I might even give Coach Tom Renney a thumbs up.

I do hope we meet Montreal over Pittsburgh in the second round, because we would have better confidence. Either way, see you next week and....

Let's Go Rangers!!!!!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Staal Scores Winning Goal and The Hockey Rabbi Speaks, NYR 5, NJ 3

Call it 'Rookie Ranger Redemption' or just simply call it 'Making Marty Brodeur Eat Dirt.' Whatever suits your fancy, newcomer Marc Staal scored the third and goal-winning goal, a beautiful slapshot that slipped underneath NJ Devil goaltender Marty Brodeur's pads -- even this one MAAARRRTTTTYYyyyyy admitted to the press was a good shot and "sometimes they get past us", referring to the plural use of 'us' - meaning the entire team let a great shot through, not Brodeur himself. Typical.

Official recap here. The game last night was solid 'old-time' hockey -- good hits, going to the net for dirty goals and high scoring, despite what most people expect from these defensive-mind franchises. Unlike the first and second games of this series, Coach Tom Renney let the Blueshirts take to the net -- special mention goes to our rookies out there: Staal with his first playoff goal against the 'Greatest Goaltender Ever...and ever...and ever....', Dan Girardi contributed remarkable blueline coverage, and Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky were everywhere the puck was -- relentless, physical and a threat to those 'Sutter Demons of Louie.' NJ Devil General Manager 'Lucky Louie Face' may be ready to fire Sutter before the fifth game, sending a negative message to all AHL coaches throughout the land. Place your bets.

The New York Rangers now lead the first-round of the post-season 3-1, the fifth game tomorrow night; we all hope our Blueshirts will close the series Friday at the beautiful 'Prudential' home of the Newark Devils (when walking from the train to the arena, speak softly and carry a big hockey stick).

If we close out the series, we can expect to meet the 'red-hot' Pittsburgh Penguins, starring the second-biggest-whiner-to-Brodeur, The Kid Known as Sid (Crosby). No one could have expected the in-season powerhouse of the Ottawa Senators would have been sweeped by the Penguins in the first-round, when most expected Ottawa to take the Eastern Conference and be a true contender in the final round. Truth hurts. Weak goaltending (Gerber) will end any playoff run.

Some comments on the officiating:

The Hockey Rabbi says:
The atrocious officiating, on the other hand, absolutely erodes the integrity of the game. The Devils' 3rd goal in game 4 should have never occurred. The play should have been blown dead when Parise clearly and intentionally interfered with Lundqvist by knocking Lundqvist's stick out of his hands. Instead, the Devils are allowed to tie a pivotal game relatively late in regulation. This non-call could have easily changed the out come of the game AND the series. That's just unacceptable.

I couldn't agree more, Rabbi. I do think Joisey's had a 'bug up their turnpike' since the first playoff game in Newark, when in the last minute of play they were unfairly called for hooking. That may have changed the course of the series in their favor, but that is the Devil's Advocate point of view- and who cares about anything related to the Devils anyway?

Tune in tomorrow night on MSG (7pm EST) when the New York Rangers hopefully close-out the first round and force all of us to absorb the double-cost of the second-round playoff tickets. Worth every penny.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brodeur Not Amused By Avery's Chicken Dance

Turns out after the Rangers loss on Sunday was only half of the news. The Canadian media has had a field day with Sean Avery's face-to-face shield dance with NJ goaltender Marty Brodeur, and Devils coach Sutter didn't like it one bit.

So much that he personally called NHL Commissioner Bettman to complain about it. And guess what? The League actually created a new rule (from now on) to prohibit such behavior. You can imagine how relieved goaltenders across the world must now feel?

The Avery Rule Principle.

As long as Sean Avery continues to score goals throughout the playoffs (3 goals in 3 games), I don't give a damn at how he embarrasses himself. He is a good hockey player and an exceptional theatrical magician. If players were to avoid him, he wouldn't be effective.

Let them play hockey, Bettman, even if it's at the street level. You are more radical than Avery by bowing to the Canadian press and changing the Leagues laws, and your Utopian self-righteous 'vanilla and honey' hockey league will not hold the fans in the long run. What's next? Ban fighting?

Let 'em play Bettman...let 'em play!!!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Overtime Goal 'Staals' Romp of New Jersey, NYR 3, Devils 4

Well what can one say about the overtime goal bouncing off of New York Ranger Marc Staal's skate and into our own net? This is the playoffs and any goal is a good one. It was a fluke. It was anti-climatic & it sucked. Move on.... Official recap here.

Disappointment aside, the New York Rangers played with verve throughout the game (with the exception of the second period) and they were a force to be reckoned with. We still go into our second home game on Wednesday with home-ice and leading the series 2-1. Unlike both games in Newark at 'The Pebble', both teams came out strong offensively crashing the net and looking for the right bounces. Not one to complain about the officiating, but in reviewing the broadcast later last night after attending MSG, the calls did not go the Rangers direction and there were questionable & ridiculous calls against my Blueshirts. "Closing the hand on the puck?" -- when was the last time that rule was called? The refs were inconsistent -- at times allowing both teams to physically play post-season hockey and, strangely, at times 'cherry-picking' minor calls that led to power play goals.

Outstanding performances by Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, Sean Avery and, of course, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist should be celebrated, as they are the ones who will take us as far as we may go... Scotty Gomez was quick as usual, but not the monster we saw in the previous two games in Newark. Brandon Dubinsky continues to amaze me, as he scored two goals and controlled the best of them -- he is strong and I don't think any defensive opponents expect this young-looking lad to beat on them as he does. As sad as Marc Staal must feel scoring the OT winning goal for New Jersey - I have to hand it to the kid -- here we have a 21-year old kid rookie who is playing like a blueline veteran. The Blueshirts need him and we salute him.

Then there were other standouts last night. WE NEED TO SEND HIM 'BACK, MAN.' Christian Backman needs to get off of this team -- his comrades in Blue must be entirely frustrated in his AHL-level of play and his continual stupid mistakes. You can see the penalties coming a mile away, "Oh can see it in his eyes, look ...he's going to push him into the boards head-first.....BINGO." Score for the other team! (I know we have a terrific penalty kill unit, but for crying out loud!)

Wednesday will be the deciding factor in this first-round, as both teams are evenly matched. Whiner NJ Goaltender Marty Brodeur played a solid game -- chants of MAAAARRRTTTTTTYYYYY throughout the Garden were funny until they won in OT, and chants of BOOOORRRIING from MSG fans I didn't understand, as it was one of the most exciting games of hockey I've seen between these two rivalries.

One thing is for sure -- we have ourselves an exciting first-round playoff run (as expected), and The Dark Ranger will take the loss last night. It was good, solid hockey -- though, it didn't go the way we wanted, I still appreciate what both teams brought to the ice.

Let's Go Rangers!!!! Let's Go Avery!!!! Henrik's Better....!!!!!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Marty Brodeur Still Declares Himself Greatest Goaltender!

Well, wasn't that special? Official recap here.

The New York Rangers continued their goaltender dominance over the New Jersey Devils of Newark as we picked up the second win in the first-round 'Battle of the Hudson' playoff series, (2-1).

NJ goalkeeper Marty Brodeur continues to make excuses for the Blueshirts now winning 9 of 10 games this season thus far, including the two in the playoffs. Not surprising that he called NYR Jaromir Jagr's stunning goal a "lucky goal" and Sean Avery's goal 30 seconds later as "our own defense's fault.".

What a dick.

Our NYR goalkeeper, King Henrik Lundqvist, with the exception of the only Jersey goal given in the last two minutes, played remarkably well. He is now playing up to expectations and, in fact, the entire Rangers squad last night improved their performance by locking 'em down. When some would call it 'boring hockey' as the first two periods went scoreless, The Dark Ranger would call it "giving lucky Lou a taste of his own potions.". At the very least, thank God Lundqvist admits his faults.

Next up home-ice advantage tomorrow night as we take on the third game against the Devils at MSG (7pm EST). The Dark Ranger will be there with black-bells on ready to roll in another peace offering to Marty Brodeur.

"HENRIK's BETTER......HENRIK'S BETTER.....(Repeat until fade after the fourth game)


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The King Rocks The Rock, NYR 4, Devils 1

Well, The Dark Ranger visited The Prudential Center (a.k.a. The Rock) and I couldn't be more thrilled that New York Ranger goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist stole the game away from Jersey in the first of the first-round playoffs this evening. Sha-Bing....!

Before I comment on the game, let me state that Devils fans ought to get out of the house a little more, as 25 percent of the house were Blueshirts (plus one very Dark looking character with a cape near the scoreboard). I bought tickets - really good tickets - yesterday, and a real franchise wouldn't have tickets available to the first home-advantage game. I was surrounded by 'my peeps in blue' and we were 12 rows behind Brodeur chanting loudly, "HENRIK's BETTER, clap, clap.....Henrik's.....(blatantly suggesting to Marty that Henrik is a better goaltender) get the idea. Let's just say it irked him! (Enjoy the pix of Marty Brodeur on his ass last half of the game).

Lundqvist deserves the night, as he made up for every garbled Christian Backman play and a weak defense unable to clear our own zone when it mattered. Thanks Renney! Great system - one built on defense without a Brian Leetch. Needless to say, Henrik made up for all these faults and our forwards managed to make a game of it.

Second honors go to Scott Gomez who not only rose to the resounding "boo's" he received from his former NJ fan base every time he touched the puck, he earned 'an assist hat-trick' - and provided the necessary threat to Marty Brodeur. He knows their tricks.

Special honorable mention to Brendan Shanahan who selflessly gave the open net fourth goal to Nigel Dawes - a gentleman's gesture, All-Star to rookie. Also, scoring the Rangers' second goal, this guy showed his playoff experience tonight - working Marty in net, keeping him on his toes. Thanks Shanny for showing up tonight!

Sean Avery played hard, Captain Jagr was strong and immortal, and the invisible Chris Drury played a great 'behind the scenes' act that allowed for at least two goals. Brandon Dubinsky continues to throw himself physically into impossible plays, and literally Callahan performed a miraculous wrap-around-Brodeur goal, the game-winning goal, which again pissed off Brodeur who subsequently banged his stick on the ice a number of times. Funny. Our section reiterated our "HENRIK'S.....BETTER......." chant again for full theatrical effect.

Four to one is a great start in the series, the second meeting again at The Pebble in Newark this Friday! More to come, on the Path train home bound, and finally....



Western Conference-Rooting interests

Jibblescribbits here.

I know this is Eastern Hockey territory here, and some of you fine Right coasters will be watching your first bit of Western conference hockey over the next couple weeks. I thought I'd give a quick guide on who to root for in these series (borrowed heavily from my own post on the subject):

#1 Detroit vs #8 Nashville:
This one is pretty easy. Even though the Red Wings are way less hate-able today than they were 10 years ago they are still pretty hate-able. More so though this year's Nashville team is pretty likable. They were gutted in the offseason for ownership issues but have managed to survive and make the playoffs. Almost a real life Major League. Despite having a pretty bland personality (I call them the Beige Wings) they do have Dominik Hasek-The Floppinator who is easy to hate.
Blogs to follow Detroit: Behind the Jersey Nashville: On the Forecheck

#2 San Jose vs #7 Calgary:
Another very easy one to choose. San Jose has Joe Thornton, as humble a superstar as there is. Captain Patrick Marleau overcame a pitiful first half to have a decent season. Jeremy Roenick, like him or hate him, is still entertaining and had a respectable season. They also have Sandis Ozolinch, a guy who nearly threw it all away and overcame some personal demons to be back in the NHL. On the other hand there's the Flames. I am a huge Iginla fan, but Mike Keenan and Dion Phaneuf are enough to make any team pretty despicable. (Personally I like having hockey be a big topic around the water cooler, and since I live in San Jose, it makes rooting for the Sharks easier). To me this one is easy...root for the Sharks.
Blogs to follow: SJ: We bleed Teal Calgary: Five Hole Fanatics

#3 Minnesota vs #6 Colorado:
Everyone knows where I'm going with this so here's why you should make the Avs your Western Conference team: The Avs mirror the Rangers in a lot of ways. They have star power (Sakic, Forsberg, Foote, Hejduk, Smyth Hannan like Jagr, Lundqzit, Shanahan, Drury and Gomez) yet the fate of the team really relies on the young stars that no one pays enough attention too (Wolski, Finger, Stastny, Liles mirror Dawes, Staal, and Dubinsky) and Even though this season the Avs reverted to the trap out of necessity at times, at full power they do play a more exciting brand of hockey. They are at full power now. So the Avs could be kind of considered Rangers-West.

If the Avs are Ranger's West, The Wild are the NJ Devils-West. Jaques LeMaire is the trap czar, and he won a cup with the Devils employing that style. Gaborik is a more talented Elias, Backstrom is Brodeur-lite. Really you could switch the teams uniforms and no one would notice the difference.

Blogs to watch: Minnesota: Wild Puck Banter Colorado: I've pimped my site enough.. so we'll go with In the Cheap Seats

#4 Anaheim vs #5 Dallas:
The Ducks are, quite frankly, the easiest team to hate in the NHL right now. I'll let Greg Wyshanski, from Deadspin, sum it up:
Selanne and Scott Niedermayer are lazy veterans whose procrastination and eventual success may lead to a rewriting of the NHL rulebook; the Ducks are viewed as a collection of physical brutes, led by perhaps the most talented thug this side of Tupac in Chris Pronger; heck, even Parros's mustache doesn't turn the key anymore.
. Brad May, Chris Pronger, Todd Bertuzzi. Add in the most loathsome general manager in sports today (outside Isaiah Thomas I guess) in one Brian Burke and honestly, I can't think of a team I would not cheer for against the Ducks. (I don't really like the Stars either, but the Ducks leave me no choice)
Blogs to watch: Anaheim: Girl with a Puck Dallas: Dallas Stars Hockey Thoughts

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Definitive Playoffs Prediction

Just before the playoffs, there is nothing better than some 'hockey expert' willing to put it all on the line - the loner - who wants to predict who will win it all in the first, second, third and final rounds. Leave The Hockey News, TSN, ESPN on the shelf, because this is the definitive guide to this week. Well, despite this someone being a Leafs fan, this someone also happens to be the guy that won the Grand Prize in my eBay fantasy hockey pool - 1st place out of 92,000 participants one year ago, so The Dark Ranger wanted to introduce a fellow blogger - The Blue Nation Leafs (a.k.a. Adam) and his take on our favorite time of the year....where your team stands in the playoffs. He may be 'dead on'....or he may stand alone. You be the judge:


Canadians (1) versus Bruins (8) -
Prediction – Montreal in 6

This should be a much closer series than the statistics show. Montreal was undefeated in 8 games this season against the Bruins but that was with a healthy Koivu and Huet between the pipes. Boston is missing their top 2 centers in Savard and Bergeron in addition to their top goaltender and top free agent acquisition in Fernandez. Montreal lacks several key ingredients that lead to a Stanley Cup in a Stud defenseman and a “Canadian” born Captain. Seven players in Montreal with over 50 points and a strong power play are too much to handle.

Penguins (2) versus Senators (7) -
Prediction – Penguins in 5

This series could be a four game sweep by the offensive giants in the Penguins or a hard fought battle with the Senators Gerber and company stepping up in the absence of Alfredsson and Fisher the team’s top centers. The Penguins are hot; they possess two scoring lines led by Crosby and Malkin. A key deadline deal picking up Hall Gill who has played Jagr well over the years. The return of Gary Roberts can only help. 5 months ago I would have predicted a Senator sweep of the Penguins but this franchise has headed south early this season.

Capitals (3) versus Flyers. (6) -
Prediction – Capitals in 6

Only in the NHL can a team with an inferior record have home ice in the playoffs. The Flyers are hot going 7-2-1 in the past 10 but are in tough with the blazing Capitals going 9-1 in the past 10. Ovechkin locked up the Art Ross trophy and Maurice Richard trophy this season. He will have to wait for the end of the playoffs to be crowned the Hart trophy 2007-2008. Huet has played great since the deadline deal with the Habs, as have Cooke and Federov. Semin and Kozlov make this Russian force deep and tough to beat. Could this be Kolzig’s swan song? The Flyers get great props for the huge changes in 12 months. Well Done! The loss of Gagne with head injuries will be felt in the playoffs although Prospal helps bridge the drop-off. This is a young team with great potential but their team is a season or two away from truly contending. The inexperience of Biron between the pipes could be the difference.

Devils (4) versus Rangers (5) -
Prediction – Rangers in 6

This has the makings of a great battle with Gomez playing a huge role. After a slow start the Rangers are in the zone and Jagr is playing brilliant. I believe that a huge playoff by this first ballet hall of famer will have many critics shaking their heads and apologizing. Youth will be served by the strong twenty something’s and the King will shut the door between the pipes. Jersey struggled all season with the Rangers going 1-7 but won the key final game of the season for home ice advantage. Throw out all the stats because Mr. Brodeur doesn’t lose back-to-back games in the playoffs. Jersey lacks the scoring punch in a long series and if the Rangers stay out of the box they should come through this round.


Red Wings (1) versus Predators (8) -
Prediction – Wings in 4

A huge shout out to the Predators for coming back this season after an off season sell off by Management. Timmonen, Hartnell, Kariya, Forsberg and Vokoun all left and Steve Sullivan was hurt all season. The Red Wings once again the top team during the regular season have much to prove come the playoffs. Brad Stuart acquired at the deadline brings depth and McCarthy back from retirement returns to the grind line with Maltby and Draper. Will Datsyuk step up this year and contribute offensively? Lidstrom provided 30 minutes a game of great hockey and the depth in goal by Detroit is incredible.

Sharks (2) versus Flames (7) -
Prediction- Flames in 6

The Sharks are once again one of the top 3 teams favored to win Lord Stanley. I believe that this series has all the makings off a big first round upset. Nabakov played much off the regular season without rest and could be tired. Marleau needs to lead or will be gone with the coach Ron Wilson in the off-season. The Sharks gave up some great assets to acquire Brian Campbell who has yet to sign. Mike Kennan has the Flames playing his style of game A big time power forward in 50 goal man Iginla, a minute munching, bone crushing, future Norris trophy winner in Phaneuf and a goalie he can ride in Kipper. If Calgary can get secondary scoring from Lombardi, Huselius, Tanguay and Langkow this team can go far.

Wild (3) versus Avalanche (6) -
Prediction - Avalanche in 5

Another first round upset if you can really consider the Wild to be the favorites. Colorado played much of the season without Sakic, Stastny, Smyth and Forsberg. Ryan Smyth and Adam Foote will bring great playoff grit to the table. Losing Svatos hurts but this team has great depth up front and on the backend with Hannan, Leopold and Salei. Welcome back to the NHL Theodore! It took a while to rid himself of the Paris Hilton fallout but he is back to stay. Look for Theodore to resign with Colorado in the off-season. The Wild are fast and talented but even with one of the best players in the game, Gaborik, it isn’t enough to stop the Avalanche.

Ducks (4) versus Stars (5) -
Prediction – Stars in 7

This will be the best first round series. I hate the NHL format as this could headline the Stanley Cup. The Ducks are so deep on their defense but have some holes up front. Bertuzzi needs to show Brian Burke he was worth his 2-year contract. Corey Perry needs to get healthy and quick. Doug Weight has also not played to expectations and Bobby Ryan has to show his second overall stature. The Stars are also deep with their forwards and defenseman. Landing Brad Richards was the best deadline deal and secures this teams success in the future. Riberio, Morrow and Modano creates two strong lines and Turco proved last season what he can do in the playoffs. 3 shutouts in 7 games – Nuff Said!

"Looking forward to the Playoffs and more to come in the second round!

The Marty & Sean Show, Part II

It's playoffs time, folks and coming off a ridiculous SO loss to the New Jersey Devils yesterday, our New York Rangers do not have home-ice-advantage going into the first round this week and we end the regular season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Official recap here.

Beyond that, the game was a wash - a preemptive look at what this first-round NY Rangers/NJ Devils will look like: defensive hockey, stellar goaltending, and Sean Avery grating on Marty Brodeur! Though Avery was 'below the radar' during most of the game, this week should see the return of the most famous instigator/goaltender rivalry we've ever seen between these two organizations. We should also look toward some pretty hard hitting from the start. The first period of yesterday's game the Devils dominated with physical force, which the Blueshirts immediately adjusted to come the second period.

With the Blueshirts winning 7 of the 8 meetings this season against the NJ Devils, and with Marty Brodeur looking mortal lately, it should be a fantastic series in the world of professional hockey. With the first games in Newark this upcoming Wednesday, April 9 (first game) and Friday, April 11 (second game), MSG will look forward to it's first home games on Sunday, April 13 (third game) and April 16 (fourth game). Hopefully, the Rangers will not need more than the first four games to close out the series (IT'S OKAY TO BE WILDLY OPTIMISTIC......WE MADE THE PLAYOFFS FOR GOD'S SAKE). Let's go Rangers!

As The Dark Ranger is wildly bias these days, especially at the opening throngs of the first round - I share with you a terrific hockey blogger Faux Rumors' comments that put into perspective how Rangers fans are feeling these days:

Faux says, "If we were Ranger fans we'd be happy with our matchup. Sure we'd be wary of any team led by Brodeur, but he's human. Just do what worked 7 times this year. Also, last year Marty started to look a bit weary from all the work. Perhaps it'll happen again? This Ranger team is NOT the same as last season. Drury is on your side this time, AND there are some very hungry young guys. Should be a great series!"

It is exciting stuff and I am confident that Coach Tom Renney will remember to bench Marek Malik (after slamming our own goaltender Henrik Lundqvist yesterday) and, mostly, allow our forwards to break from the defensive posture and score some goals (exactly what they did after our system broke down after the first horrible period yesterday). The young guys will give it their all - we can count on that - the veterans have decided something is worth fighting for (i.e. Chris Drury body checking to make a point & Jagr scoring goals lately) and our goaltender has recently found his old self in net - the key to our Stanley Cup run. There.....I said it. The SC words.

Possible? Simply, yes.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Eight Is Enough (for now)

After a much needed Marty Brodeur benching after giving up three goals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night, and after losing to the Rangers seven times this season alone, we can expect in our final and eighth meeting this afternoon (3pm EST) a New Jersey goaltender with something to prove. When the heat is up is when Marty comes alive!

This is why our kick-ass New York Rangers need to deflate him fast, taking it to their home net quickly, outnumberring them with shots on goal and take our Blueshirts message to Brodeur. Make him understand that when you whine about losing, it doesn't get you 'wins', when you complain to the press, it doesn't get you sympathy from the fan base.

In our final regular season game in NJ at The Prudential Center and home-ice advantage against this very team in the first round at stake, this game may come to symbolically represent how both teams will meet later in the week.

All cylinders ahead Rangers young and old. Today is when it means the most and it all starts with hitting Marty over the head! With the playoffs ahead, eight wins will not be enough.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Pinch Me! NYR ...THREE, Isles......ZERO!

We clinched it.

The Blueshirts are going to the playoffs for the third year in a row - thanks to the "off/one-again" hustle from our Captain Jaromir Jagr, with the Rangers currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. Tonight we will play the second in a row of the Islanders home-and-home, this time at MSG -- so the Garden should be psyched! We dominated play at all times against the Isles, not much more to say about the non-qualifying and ailing AHL NY Islanders. Though, ten shutouts for The King! Bravo! Official recap here.

With the 'anything can happen' playoff race happening over the next three days, it is looking likely that we will be meeting the NJ Devils of Newark in the first round of playoffs. Assuming everyone continues to win games - home ice advantage will come down to our beating the Islanders again tonight and capturing our eighth of eight meeting on Sunday, our final game of the season...against the Devils. With the Rangers 7-0 against New Jersey this season, one would think this is a good thing - unless you've ever played against Marty Brodeur during the playoffs. With the exception of last year, Brodeur is one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league, especially during the playoffs - someone to fear. Home ice advantage with Brodeur in net would be thrilling as we all know how much he hates the Rangers, and even moreso, the fans.

"Hey Marty, your left knee pad is loose..." or "Hey Marty, how many Vezina's does it take to win a game against the Rangers?....." will be heard from every angle, so it will be up to The Dark Ranger and his minions to shake things up a bit. This 'aint no job for Dancing Larry/Grandma -- this is real business, true hockey. Some other things...

Coach Tom Renney needs to allow our players to offensively throw themselves into the Devils defensive system -- let them loose and make the dirty goals. Most of our meetings this season were due to our penetrating their defensive system -- allowing our rookies and sharpshooters to get into the net, get Sean Avery back into Marty's face, shaking them up in their zone, etc. If Renney employs our defensive zone system against the 'king of defensive zone' Devils - then we will be at a disadvantage throughout the first round.

It is time to let loose and play some playoff hockey. Dark lurks above the Garden, ready to take on anyone at the Garden wearing red & white, but let's sweep these Isles and build up a tad more confidence for Sunday.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"All Hail The King & Our New Captain!" NYR, 2, Pittsburgh 1 OT

With four minutes left in the third period, after watching the New York Rangers play an electric game of playoff-style hockey against the Pittsburgh Penguins last evening (their second meeting in two days) - hard checking, smashing hits, breakaways, super duper goaltending, post-hit shooting, Avery fighting giants - a familiar feeling was creeping into The Dark Ranger's belly, that feeling that something was going to go wrong and the Penguins were going to capitalize on some Backman or Rozzy turnover....

I couldn't have been more wrong. Official recap

The game belonged to Chris Drury and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Drury scored a power-play goal 1:46 into overtime, giving the New York Rangers a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday night. Drury has scored in overtime four times and has notched 44 NHL game-winners, including seven this season. The Dark Ranger declares Chris Drury our unofficial Captain of the New York Rangers, as he is someone to build the franchise around. Many in the blogosphere criticized Dark for breaking ranks and celebrating Drury and his potential mid-way through the fall -- at the time, he wasn't scoring goals, but he was doing everything else that didn't register in the stats. He remains the ultimate playmaker and, most
likely, our future "Captain of the Blueshirts" (no relation to another Rangers superhero - The Dark Ranger).

"The King" was the master yesterday. It is obvious Henrik's magic is gaining momentum and hopefully he will sustain it through a successful playoff run. (crossing fingers) I am beginning to believe again, willing to go on the edge and wait. Hank...don't let me down!

Our Blueshirts (41-27-11) were eliminated from the division race Sunday when they lost the opener of the home-and-home series in Pittsburgh, after last evening's victory we jumped to fifth in the Eastern Conference - one point ahead of the Ottawa Senators. We are tied in points with the fourth-place New Jersey Devils, but are behind because they have two fewer

This week we go to the Island to capture two more wins (optimism, folks!) and ending the regular season against our cross-Hudson rivals, The NJ Devils of Newark. We are 7-0 against NJ this season and another win would likely just piss-them-off going into a potential first-round playoff run against them. It's possible and that would make for some great hockey.

Three more to go....we might actually do something right this week.

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