Thursday, January 29, 2009

Erik Reitz Supporting the Blueshirt Blueline Trade


New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Erik Reitz from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Dan Fritsche.

Defenseman Erik Reitz had found a full-time NHL roster spot with the Wild this season. He wore No. 2 in Minnesota but will wear No. 4 for the Blueshirts.
Reitz, 26, has appeared in 31 games with Minnesota this season, registering one goal and one assist for two points, along with 41 penalty minutes. He was tied for fourth among Minnesota defensemen in goals (one), and tied for third on the club overall in penalty minutes (41). Reitz also ranked second on the Wild with 58 hits. He notched his first NHL point with a goal on November 15 vs. Columbus. He also tallied his first career assist on November 22 vs. St. Louis.

The 6-2, 215-pounder has appeared in 37 career regular season contests with Minnesota, recording one goal and one assist for two points, along with 45 penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut on April 7, 2006, at Calgary.

Reitz has also skated in two career post-season contests with Minnesota. In 363 career AHL games with the Houston Aeros, he registered 35 goals and 118 assists for 153 points, along with 721 penalty minutes. He established an AHL career-high with 26 assists and tied his AHL career-high with 34 points in 49 games last season. He also set his AHL career-high with nine goals during the 2006-07 season.

Reitz was named the Ontario Hockey League’s Outstanding Defenseman and an OHL All-Star First Team in 2002 as a member of the Barrie Colts. Additionally, he was named to the Memorial Cup Tournament All-Star Team in 2000. Internationally, he represented Team USA in the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championships, collecting one assist and 12 penalty minutes in seven games.

The Detroit, Michigan native was originally Minnesota’s sixth round choice, 170th overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

"I Don't Know What Happened...."

"...but right now, I could destroy this locker room!"

- were the first words out of NYR goalkeeper "The Prince" Henrik Lundqvist after dropping six goals to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins last night, most zooming through during the third period. NYR 2, Pittsburgh 6. Ugly night indeed.

Official recap here.

The Rangers fell to 5-2 in their last seven games, with both losses coming at this cavernous rink that has become a house of Blueshirt horrors. They are 1-9 in their last 10 visits to The Igloo and for whatever reason, the Penguins have our number. With the exception of one home shutout this season, we now know how the NJ Devils might have felt last season every game against the Rangers -- both relatively good teams (or good standings for that matter), but completely one-sided. Perhaps it's the 'ole Jagr Curse that was given to Slats and Tom for not re-signing him...

Henrik later continued,
"I just played terrible. That's what happened. I can't explain it. As a team we played great the first two (periods) and I played pretty good, I think, and I make a mistake on the second goal and then they get another one on the power play. I just lost my game in the third, totally, and that's definitely not good enough. I didn't stop the puck in the third. I'm upset with myself right now."

Uh oh.

With Henrik shrugging off another disaster -- including the meaningless All-Star game -- a loss of confidence at this stage of the season could be a very, very bad thing, as we cannot rely on superstar Wade Redden and Kalinen ( ;) ) to tighten up the blueline.

Without Hank in net performing miracles, as my 3-year old says while Dad is in net... 'me no play no playoffs'.


Monday, January 26, 2009

SinKING Feeling...

Yikes. Anyone else cringe as much as I did at all those top shelf wristers for the west in the second period. I know... I was the guy that just a few weeks ago was telling people to take it easy on Henrik. In his defense, it would appear that almost all goalies were having trouble stopping shots and the excuse could be the same for them on all star night as it his for Henrik every night... with no defensive support, even the best of goalies can be victims of circumstance.

What alarmed me the most about the ones that got past Henrik, was that about 5 of 6 were over the pads. Now there will be many that disagree with me but I remember a King in a breakout season, that was never this weak up high. A better glove and an aggressive willingness to come out of the net, piled onto some already amazing butterfly goaltending ... all that had Kevin Weekes out of a job. What happened? Well its anyone's guess.

  • Some have attributed the change in style to Benoit Allaire's input and coaching influences as those kind of traits have seemed to filter down to the Hartford Goalies according a few pack fans.
  • The downsizing of goalie equipment in the bettman league has the goalies feeling less protected and less capable of stopping pucks that they have previously.
  • Our Horrendous Defense. Nuff said.
I previously went with the last, but my guess now...would be a little of each. Its still obvious, that Henriks been a little hesitant to come out and challenge with noone to watch the back door for cross crease passes and dangling cuties that like to go around a goaltender with no fear of their clock being cleaned by a hulking d-man. What else is obvious though is that Henrik seems to feel compelled to play deeper and deeper in net to give himself an extra second to pick up the puck in traffic as the rules prohibit d-men from sweeping forwards out of the crease from time to time. Still I have noticed other teams d-men learning to do so discretely without penalty, so why hasn't ours? Lastly, Call it the pace of the game, the coaching staff insisting on keeping the play moving or a smaller glove that has Henrik knocking the puck down with his glove and looking for it in the crease rather than gloving and holding the puck. The pucks come pretty fast these days and its kind of tough to close the door before a puck ricochets off the inside of a hard-line pocked and bounces out. Still its rare that I even see the king attempt to close the glove, rather than holding it up like a big leather paddle of sorts to cover more of the net. I sincerely hope this isn't an attempt by the Renney and Co to streamline the transfer of a puck to teammate to ultimately lead someone racing across the neutral zone to create some offense. That might be stretching it, but I wouldn't put any shortcuts past this team and coaching staff after what I have seen in my lifetime as New York Ranger fan.

Whatever the case, forwards all over the league are grinning and licking their chops as they heat their sticks for some extra curve and angle this morning.

- J_Undisputed

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Special-Teams of the House

Forgive the tardiness of this post. The extra time enabled me to give further thought to Tuesday night's game and the overall status of the team.

In the Rangers' final game before a week-long All-Star game break, the Anaheim Ducks (one of the few Western teams the Rangers are playing twice this season) was the competition. Lundqvist started for the Rangers, Jonas Hiller for the Ducks. For Anaheim, it is a pivotal point in the season. The team has 51 points and is eighth in the playoff race. GM Brian Murray is faced with interesting trading deadline decisions (sell, buy, stay pat) as half of the team will be free agents at the end of the season.

Coach Renney wanted a bigger lineup to face the more physical Ducks so that meant to the sorrow of the fans, Petr Prucha and the Korpedo were being scratched in favor of Aaron Voros and Dan Fritsche. No one reported how much WD-40 was required to get the rust off them. Fritsche was not a factor; Voros was a mixed bag – he took 3 penalties but did try to renew his early season magic of being a strong presence in front of the opposing goalie.

For the Rangers, the more pressing question was who would show up – the sleepwalking bunch from Sunday's Pittsburgh game or the more energetic crew from the past week or so. At first, it looked like Pittsburgh again but then Markus Naslund and the Rangers 4th line led the team to an entertaining 4-2 win. The official recap is here.

The Blueshirts were scrambling after the Ducks came out flying to start the game. Fortunately, Henrik had his eye on the puck instead of the plane schedule to the all-star game in Montreal. He repelled several early Duck scoring attempts including a nifty one-timer blast from between the circles by Pronger after a beautiful feed by Scott Niedermayer. Those stops kept the Rangers in the game early and let his teammates know he was ready to play.

Meanwhile, the Rangers special teams got plenty of work with noteworthy success – 2 PPG and 2 SHG, thanks to several errors by the Ducks. For example, in the first period, after Kunitz was whistled for goalie interference, the Ducks failed to clear the puck, and Naslund jumped on the opportunity to zing a shot from between the circles past Hiller for a 1-0 lead. In the 2nd period, the Ducks lost control of the puck in the offensive zone on a power play leading to a cross ice pass from Roszival that sprung Sjostrom on a 2 on 1 for beautiful wrist shot for a SHG that gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Naslund was energetic during the entire game often finding himself in the slot with opportunities to score. As the game progressed, other Rangers followed his example. Naslund and Drury had several good opportunities to score but could not convert. Gomez scored his game winner in the 3rd period after Naslund took control of the slot and seeing he could not shoot slipped a pass to Gomez for a pretty PPG. In the defensive zone, the Rangers did a good job of clearing the defensive slot, a key to recent success.

To their credit, the Ducks made several beautiful plays only to be thwarted by Henrik including an outrageous give-and-go leading to a Bob Ryan shot. Overall, Lundqvist had a solid game, controlling rebounds, playing angles well and using his stick for passes with confidence. Granted, a post and a crossbar saved him on a couple of shots but sometimes that is the only place a puck can when the angles are covered correctly. The 2 goals the Ducks scored were not his fault. The first (that tied the score 1-1) was the result of the Rangers’ inability to clear the puck during a penalty kill. The Ducks had 3 or 4 unguarded shots from close in before Bobby Ryan finally converted. The second goal (coming late in the 2nd that tied the score at 2-2) was the result of a spectacular move by Corey Perry, as he totally undressed Kalinin and then shot a seeing eye puck inside Henrik’s left knee. That goal came after Lunqvist stopped a similar breakout a minute earlier. In defense of Kalinin, he continues to show improvement as he has been skating confidently, taking an occasional body and not panicking. Granted, he was toasted on Perry's beautiful move, but for every Sportscenter-type highlight, someone gets victimized.

Once again the 4th line was the one to watch against Anaheim. Doesn’t every team wish it had a unit of Betts, Orr and Sjostrom? Betts has demonstrated the entire season that he is the anchor of the defense among forwards and the king of the PK unit. He earns every penny night in and night out and deservedly received a #1 star for this game. He also has 5 goals and his empty netter SHG to close the scoring was a well-deserved reward. His desire to block a shot with his body during a Ducks PP after losing his stick was reminiscent of Straka’s efforts last season and just as successful. Sjostrom is a joy to watch skate and his effort was rewarded on the 2 on 1 SHG opportunity he converted. How many times (a baker's dozen but who's counting) have we seen the Rangers get burned for SHG on similar plays this season? Orr made some nice offensive moves and should not be overlooked. While physical, he stays in control of his emotions unlike the boneheaded Hollweg.

When the season began, I predicted that the 4th line would produce 20 goals because I believe in these guys and I suspected Sjostrom would elevate that line’s offense. So far, a little more than halfway through the season – the line has 9 goals (including half of the Rangers 6 SHG) and 8 assists, so my prediction is nearly on the mark. Putting this line on the ice is no longer a white flag surrender – I know, it’s not the old GAG line, but I hear fans at MSG remark how much fun the line is to watch.

Some of the youngsters, Girardi, Dubi and Callahan showed an edge that provoked the Ducks into 2 fights and a dumb penalty (Getzlaff’s hit to the back of Girardi’s noggin). These guys play clean, hit hard and get under the skin of opponents. Girardi has recently been checking opponents off their feet (let’s not forget the dumping of Crosby several weeks ago) and opponents are distracting themselves to the point of retaliating.

That last point illustrates the difference between the Rangers from Tuesday night and the team on Sunday vs the Pens. When they skate as if they are gliding through a sea of rose petals as in Pittsburgh, the team has no traction and no chance for success as the losses against the Habs and Pens vividly demonstrate. Victories come when they disrupt other teams rhythms by bringing their lunch pails and doing the dirty work. It is obvious that this is not a team filled with "stars" of the Jagr, Messier, Gretzky variety. The roster lacks the skill players you see populating the Red Wings and Sharks rosters. Instead, the lineup is a patchwork of singles and doubles hitters (just look at the stats – no player has yet reached 40 points.) that needs contributions from several players to succeed on any given night. Tuesday night, Naslund, Henrik and the 4th line led the way.

After the win, more good news arrived as the Caps, Penguins, Canadiens all lost so the Rangers gained 2 points on each. Unfortunately, with their win against Montreal on Wednesday night, the Devils (curse them) are on a 5 game winning streak and now lead the Atlantic division. And everyone's favorite goalie is starting to skate in preparing for his return. Thankfully, most of the Eastern conference teams have just about caught up to the Rangers in games played so the point totals are more accurate as to where teams are in the standings.

Coming into the break, some players are noticeably improving or emerging from slumps -- Drury, Dubinsky, Naslund and Kalinin being the notable examples. Despite his game winner, Gomez remains an enigma (he has one PP goal all season?) and an underachiever (he has one PP goal all season!), while Redden, Zherdev and Voros are not contributing.

The Rangers are 28-16-4 at the break, good enough for 60 points (garnering 5 points for every 4 games) and 5th place in the conference. Despite the ups and downs I think many of us would have signed up for those results so far.

-- Tony

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb!

The Penguins shutout the NY Rangers the other night -- my fingers couldn't even write about it I was so upset; I still don't understand how the Blueshirts can play a game on the level of the Chicago Blackhawks win and turn around to become an AHL team against our rival Penguins. We haven't even had a good-loss this season -- "they played hard, but that was one hellava hockey game!" --- as fans we haven't said that once.

Brendan Shanahan was never re-signed as a Ranger and half-way-through the season, the NJ Devils nab him. In his debut as a Devil last night he scores on the power play - "Fan-f**king-tastic!"

Tonight against Anaheim, Petr Prucha is a scratch. Voros will replace him. Mistake.

General Manager Glen Sather and Coach Tom Renney are spoiling the season for us all! Like the ancient Chinese water torture, our beloved Blueshirts will soon be letting it all go -- the sum of it's parts slowly deteriorating.

Tonight Anaheim at MSG. May the force be with us -- as the DARK-ness is creaping in and the Rangers need a boost (or a real coach, or better management, or a power play unit, or a someone who can score a goal, or......OY!)


Saturday, January 17, 2009

"C"oming Out Party in Chi-town

What to say about Friday's game? How about -- too bad if you missed it. Perhaps one of the most entertaining games in some time. NYR 3, Hawks 2 OT

The Rangers arrived with their fathers along (it's father's weekend for the team) to face the feel-good story of the NHL this season -- the rising Blackhawks in the Windy City. The Blackhawks are a top team in the Western Conference, led by their rising young stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and lead the league in attendance. More than 22,600 were on hand to support them against the Blueshirts. Goalkeepers' NYR Lundqvist (23-12-3) and Hawk's Nikolai Khabibulin (13-2) started.

What the fans witnessed either live or on t.v. (but not in HD) were the efforts of Captain Chris Drury who demonstrated why on this night he is the captain. His overall skating was tremendous. His work on the penalty kills was magnificent (and he got a lot of work in), his 2 powerplay goals were wonderful -- a laser shot in the 2nd and a deflection in OT. He skated for 19:52 and was awarded the first star but made a strong case for having a star named for him.

In the face of a hostile environment, the Rangers came to play and nearly every player brought their "A" game. A for attitude, that is. Lots of hitting came from the Rangers. Dan Girardi (my personal favorite, I wear his jersey) threw his body around like he was auditioning for The Wrestler. But it had its consequences. He pummeled Dustin Byfuglien late in the first period and clobbered Kris Versteeg in the second. After that one, Cam Barker took exception to the checks being delivered by Girardi and attacked the usually peaceful Girardi (who does not play dirty) and body slammed him headfirst into the ice after a brief but energetic fight. Dan did not return and you get the feeling he will be out for a while if he has a concussion. Barker received 17 penalty minutes for his efforts.

Early on, it looked like the refs wanted to call penalties to get control of the game. Still, the first period was pretty even with the Rangers skating well (especially Gomez) and some nice chances were not converted. The Blackhawks scored late in the first period on a deflection by Jonathan Toews that hit the crossbar and dropped in behind Henrik.

In the second period, it looked like the refs wanted to tilt the ice to the home team. Staal said some magic words to the refs after Roszival was penalized and drew a 10 minute misconduct. So the Rangers were down to 3 defensemen (with Girardi hurt) for a sizable portion of the 2nd period. During the 2nd period, the Rangers defended for 4:15 being down 2 men five separate times (and down 2 defensemen for a good portion of the time). The Blackhawks did not score, much to the vocal dismay of their fans. The penalty killing led by Drury, the skating of Gomez, the backstopping by Lundqvist and work of all the defensemen (with kudos to Redden and Kalinin) were simply fantastic. Unbelievably, only the Rangers scored in the 2nd period thanks to Drury's pinpoint laser beam of a shot during a Rangers powerplay, the Rangers scored the only maker in the 2nd period and the game was tied 1-1.

During the game, the Rangers mustered only 22 shots v. Chicago's 34 -- in the third period, the Rangers made their first one almost last. The Korpedo led a rush from the left side and broke free for a nice shot that was stopped by Khabibulin but Dubi was there to knock in the rebound for a 2 -1 lead.

The defense had succeeded all night long especially in the face of penalty kills by clearing slots, giving Henrik clear views, deflecting numerous passes during penalty kills and clearing the puck regularly (Mara, Roszival and Redden had more than 25 minutes of ice time). Henrik was particularly aggressive at times (no stickhandling fortunately) but he came out to the top of the crease on one sequence to block a shot and then retreated to the goal line to guard the post. Recently, it seemed he had been hiding at or behind the goal line. The Blackhawks were shut down for nearly the entire game. The question became whether the Rangers would have the legs to last.

Unfortunately, the Rangers were called for a 4 minute minor (Rozsival high-stick) and then a 2 minute slash on Callahan -- both questionable calls -- with less than 7 minutes to go. So the Rangers had to face a lengthy 5 on 3 starting with 6 minutes to go. The Blackhawks tied the score on some nice passing leading to a Brent Seabrook slapshot from the left point that eluded Henrik's right foot into the corner of the net.

Instead of a letdown, the goal ignited the Rangers led by of all people, Coach Renney. After the recent home loss to Montreal (a game that turned on 2 PP goals for the Habs early in the 3rd), Coach Renney told the press that perhaps he shouldn't be so gentlemanly to the refs during games. During the Blackhawk game, you saw his mild demeanor turn into something less placid. After the game-tying goal (the result of a 2 man advantage), the camera was trained on Renney marching over to the team's gate by the penalty box, throwing it open and delivering a diatribe of the type that he is rumored to give his players behind closed doors after lackluster play. I thought he was going to march out on the ice like Lou Piniella and throw sticks or overturn the goals.

The Blackhawks still had the man advantage but Renney's anger may have influenced the refs because Brian Campbell was called for a penalty after tackling two Rangers in the offensive zone. That penalty negated the remainder of the Chicago powerplay. That turned out to be a bad mistake as the game went into overtime.

In the overtime, Andrew Ladd drew a slashing penalty. The Rangers passed the puck smartly and Drury batted in (a skill honed in his Little League days) a nice shot form the point by Redden for the game-winner about halfway into the overtime.

In the home stretch of the road trip, the Rangers easily could have been excused for losing this game -- they were playing an inspired team in front of a full house. Referee calls were curious (some would say outrageously in favor of the home team), and you can accept a bad game after several stellar efforts.

Instead, led by their captain, the team displayed character, grit, perseverance and guts that we have come to associate with the team during this campaign. The PK unit successfully defended 10 out of 11 Blackhawk powerplays. They successfully defended 5 out of 6 (yes, 6) Chicago 5-on-3 advantages, totaling nearly 7 minutes. Only late in the game, did they finally succumb - but they at least had the lead so instead of a heartbreaking loss, the teams went to overtime. And for another game, the powerplay scored for the 2nd straight game, 2 PPG including the game winner.

I have to admit that after the game finished (I was watching it at the food bar at my local pizzeria), I was exhilarated because of how the Rangers played. To be honest, for this one game on a Friday night on a freezing cold day, I could not find much, if anything, to criticize -- their overall effort was that good. So now it's on to Pittsburgh for a Sunday noontime game. The Rangers have collected 7 out of an 8 possible points on the road trip and remain in first place. Right now, I have nothing to complain about other than the weather.

- Tony

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rangers Regain First Place in the Atlantic

Tonight's game against the Islanders represented the halfway mark of the Rangers' 5 game road trip and gave the Blueshirts an opportunity to garner against their Uniondale rivals 5 out of a possible 6 points.

Some questions sticking in my mind before the game – how competitive would the Isles be given their owner's comments that certain players are now available. Also, which Henrik would show up – the troubled one from the Montreal game or the more solid one from the Ottawa game? The answers are below.

Despite the Isles residing in last place, no one should have expected a rout or easy victory given the Rangers' general scoring deficiencies and propensity of playing down to their competition. In fact, as events played out, it would have been foolhardy to think otherwise.

The Isles played hard all night long as evidenced by Tim Jackman pounding the living daylights out of Rosival and Staal with classic clean checks leaving them woozy in the first period. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense did little even when backup goalie Joey MacDonald was replaced by their 3d goalie, Yann Danis.

While the Rangers carried the initial play, a penalty on Chris Drury awoke the Isles midway in the first. The Isles proceed to launch a barrage of rubber against Lunqvist out-shooting the Rangers at one point by a margin of 16 to 1 during a period where the Isles out-shot the Rangers, 19-8. The Isles' pressure paid off with a goal by Chris Campoli who snapped a loose puck from the left circle and beat Henrik in the 5 hole with a little over a minute remaining.

In the 2nd period, the Rangers asserted themselves defensively and took advantage of 2 power play opportunities. The Rangers' first goal came on a nifty pass from Gomez to Drury with about 7 ½ minutes left in the period. Within 2 minutes, Dawes scored on a 2 on 1 assisted by Callahan. During that sequence, Blake Comeau had driven up ice aggressively looking for a shorthanded chance (recently, every team is taking chances against the Rangers when killing a penalty) but he committed the cardinal sin of missing the net, and the puck sailed around the boards and flew down the ice toward the Isles goal. (Whereas Callahan had done the same on Saturday vs. Ottawa, to his credit he scrambled back to break up a shot opportunity that could have turned that game around.) Here, the Rangers capitalized. Callahan picked up the puck, spotted Dawes on his left and he beat Danis cleanly. This play was the turning point of the game.

After that, the Rangers settled into a boring but ultimately effective defensive shell. Final score: 2-1.

The Blueshirts, while victorious, demonstrated their season lack of a killer instinct by failing to take charge of a last place team being backstopped by their 3rd goalie. Reminds me of the Ottawa game from Saturday night. Again, despite their lowly record, the Isles proved to be stiff competition for the Rangers.

Moreover, coach Renney's observation that the Rangers are a 2-1 team is becoming gospel as evidenced by recent games: 2-1 (shootout loss) in Buffalo, 2-0 victory in Ottawa and the 2-1 win last night. Not pretty, but they are points.

Again, as in recent games, the kids were the story -- Callahan and Dawes were noteworthy with their play. Lundqvist's slump seems to be fading away in the rear view mirror. As in recent seasons under Renney, the Rangers have started the new year by tightening up the defense (albeit against inept offenses) and doing the necessary slot-clearing to give their goalies clear views of the puck. It's still a work in progress.

The final 2 games of the road trip are difficult -- the rejuvenated Blackhawks await and then the initial NBC broadcast against the Pens. One is tempted to write that one off as a loss given the fact that the Rangers were awful last year home and away on these Sunday matinees. The Pens did the Rangers a favor by beating the Flyers last night so the Rangers are back on top of the Atlantic.

- Tony

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scooby 'Dubie' Does, NYR 2, Senators 0

Call it the return to scoring for New York Ranger young'en Brandon "Dubie" Dubinsky, who scored his sixth goal of the season, his first since November 24, as the Blueshirts blanked the struggling Ottawa Senators 2-0 last night in Ottawa. The Rangers are now 25-15-4 for the season sitting in second place in the division, one point behind the raging and rising Philadephia Flyers.

But the highlight of the game was watching a flawless goaltender Henrik "The King" Lundqvist who owned the night. This game was in anyone's corner, but Hank took control in goal and made up for his semi-performing blueline (including 'turn over'er Wade Redden). It wasn't until recently benched Lauri Korpikoski scored the game winner midway through the third period, off of an awe-inspiring feed from Nikolai Zherdev. Even on television, the silent Canadian crowd "oooh'ed and aaawww'ed" when Nicky Z deeked their defense with a behind the back feed. The "Amazing Zherdev" is an appropriate knickname for the Russian as half of the time he is invisible and the other half, last night.

Official recap here.

In other news, to my dismay -- former (2 season) New York Ranger Brendan Shanahan is now officiallly a New Jersey Devil. Last night Lucky Louie of the 'Devils of Newark' finalized Shanny's return, terms not disclosed. Shanny stated again to the press that he wanted up until yesterday to be a NY Ranger, but cap issues got in the way and he had put his trust in NY Ranger GM Glenn Sather to work it out. Not to be. So he comes full circle -- the team that drafted him in 1987 will have another shot with him. Best of luck to you Brendan. I will always be a fan -- you did a lot for the team, but now I have to dislike you. Have fun in Newark!!!

"Omsk My God!" - in other Ranger-related news, Jaromir Jagr publicly admitted yesterday that he wouldn't mind coming back to the NHL next season as a Penguin -- and completely willing to do that under the minimal salary requirements (meaning $350,000 per season) as Mario is his mentor and he owes everything professionally to him. Jags could teach a thing or two to The Diver. He'd also be killer in line with Malkin. Or not.

Tipping the glass for another Hank shutout, another win and the possibility that an offense is emerging.


Friday, January 9, 2009

If You've Been In A Cave and Haven't Seen This......

I have received numerous emails from obvious Pittsburgh fans over the last week based on some comments a couple posts ago here on The Dark Ranger site. All of them defend their hero, Sidney Crosby, as one of the best hockey players out there and one "who doesn't dive". There are too many moments, pictures and video to prove the legitimacy of the DIVING, but...

Rather than document more diving on the site, I just wanted to clearly state that, although Sid in reality is one talented hockey player, he is a wimp and wussbag at heart.

So with that, may I reprise that special BRETT MCLEAN (FL) vs SIDNEY CROSBY (PITTS) fight on January 3, 2009.

Note that as stated in the press post-fight, Brett McLean (FL) was NEVER challenged to fight by Sid the Kid!!? During the faceoff - the KID UNLEASHED. Watch mid-way through the video to the faceoff replay and you'll see that if McLean was ever aware of an upcoming spar with "THE FARRAH FAWCETT OF THE NHL" than he would have looked ready to launch back. There was never any forewarning that they were going to fight.

Sid must have been thinking, "Pick a player who's pinky finger brushed up against my hair, and GET HIM WHEN HE'S NOT LOOKING."

I am certain the next time he meets Florida, someone will return the favor. Until then, more coverage here, here, here and Fox Sports here.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hab mercy on Henrik...

With most of their star players on the injury list, the Habs still proved they had what it took to outgun the blueshirts 6-3 (with the empty netter). In, fact, formerly impressive Robert lang almost did it all by himself. It didn't appear to be the typical star effort by 'Swede-Sexy' aka Henrik Lundqvist, who played the puck behind his own net and inadvertantly turned it over for an easy tap in goal that put Montreal up 1-0, as the netminder scrambled to get back into position. But hey... even Zoolander an off night on the runways, right? Ok, enough poking fun at the goalie named "sexiest iceman" by the New York post.

Last night is a night that Henrik is struggling with his conscience to forget. While, Tom Renney and company are quick to point out the fact that the penalties weren't evenly distributed between the two teams, its still wishful thinking that the Refs will play fair and your nonexistent powerplay will net you a goal on every attempt and that your goaltender will save you every night it doesn't. Its more troubling how this team could be offensively anemic, that they expect goaltending to save them on a nightly basis without returning the favor on games like the one against the Habs last night.

To the people that will point out that Henrik has let in more goals in the last several games than is his average and use that as a basis for him being a part of the problem, I say hogwash. It stands to reason that even the best of goalies eventually succumb to the pressures of having to carry a team that hangs him out to dry and shows very little firepower. In the NHL, you either carry a few big guns or lots of little ones. Regardless of the size or number of guns we have, we lack the passion to pull any trigger(s). Under those circumstances, even the best of armor will only get you thing in a fire fight. Shot.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Diver Falls Deeper While The King Lives! (UPDATED)

Sidney Crosby - the NHL's poster child and alleged fake-diving-penalty-drawing leader - was held without a point for the third straight game, and Evgeni Malkin - the NHL scoring leader - has only two assists in seven games. HA HA AHA HA AH AHA Ha.

The New York Rangers spanked the Pittsburgh Penguins blanking them 4-0, in a surprising display of 'playing like a real hockey team.' Everything clicked. We gave the slumping Penguins a real treat in the form of power play points (really?), scoring more than 1-2 goals and shutting down "The Diver" Sid Crosby and the menacing E. Malkin.

Official recap here.

The Garden was wild last night and it was undoubtedly the best performance we've seen from our Blueshirts this season. By the fourth goal, section 118 was harmonizing the 'Goal Song' (we are a creative bunch!) and some Dad showed up parading around in a full diving outfit. The game was foreshadowed by some 80-year old dude in front of me wearing a Colton Orr jersey. Now THAT is 'f*ck-you money'.

The Dark Ranger is thrilled with the win. Don't get me wrong - I love our team. Though, I still feel that Coach Tom Renney and his gum chewing needs to depart from MSG and find new employment; even with last night's stellar performance, we remain an inconsistent team with a horrible track record on the power play and a consistent team that loses two to four goal advantages. Despite our own DARK-stats, the Penguins were 0-for-24 on the power play in their previous six games and failed on all eight chances against the Rangers last night- including five in the first period when they fell behind 1-0. Pittsburgh had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:59 that generated only one shot. Cringe worthy at best. S-I-D-N-E-Y S-U-C-K-S.....

Regardless, kudos to goaltender extraordinaire "The King" Henrik Lundqvist - who had a brilliant game with 27 saves, and has already achieved 20-wins this season. Nigel Dawes (and it hurts to say this) played an aggressive game and looked like he belonged on the ice. Drury had a goal and played like a pro. Scott Gomez and his speed scored on the 4th empty net, and huge kudos to secondary players Paul Mara and Colton Orr for enforcing nothing except fighting other enforcers -- and doing a damn good job of it. Even Tom Renney's power play coaches deserve a nod (once).

The only invisible player was Nik Zherdev. I don't understand this, but...

Here's to a great game that will, in all probability, not be repeated against Montreal tomorrow night at MSG. Looking forward to another win as our mediocre New York Rangers again take back the first place spot in the Atlantic Division.

Who knew? Who knows...


(For your enjoyment, various internet shots of SIDNEY THE DIVER....cheers! and LOOK OUT!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fire Tom Renney & Fire His Special Teams Coaches!

It is time. Make it a Happy New Year for all. Last night's defeat against the Washington Caps (again) provided another unwatchable power play and an apparent lack of motivation for the Rangers - especially during the last three minutes of the game, down one-goal 2-1 and continuing to play defensively.

Official recap here.

Light a fire, Dolan Family! With all the fire power on this team - play to score goals, not to prevent them. Fire Tom Renney, Mr. Dolan. Think about replacing Slats as well -- the current management overspent and should be responsible for it.

We are a devoted following of Blueshirt Faithful, but there are limits to how much 'pain & hurt' we are willing to pay for.

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