Thursday, September 30, 2010

No Further Cuts Until After Sunday's Game

Here is the exact tweet:

"Next cuts won't come until after Sunday's game, Tortoreella says, after meeting with Sather and Schoenfeld... "


ake over the next four days.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Detroit Muscle No Match For NY Hustle.

With still more trimming to do, the decisions don't appear to be getting any easier for the Ranger brass. A romp over the Wings for some sweet revenge, has shined a light on some of the facets of the preseason roster.

Official Recap here.

The first period was all Blueshirts as it appeared that just getting pucks to the net and attacking would be enough to keep a Detroit team on its heels for most of the game. The Wings wouldn't have an answer till the second when they out-shot the Rangers and threw a monkey wrench into the system that left much of the defense scrambling; fortunately, the offense heard the call and played two-way hockey and managed to get back for defensive assignments.(yes, OUR offense!). Weathering the storm in the second to put the nail in coffin and finish strong in the third was something Ranger fans weren't treated to much last season. Good thing for us, this stands to be a largely different team than it was.

Notes and Observations:

- The Frolov/ Gaborik/ Center Du jour (tonight,Christensen) continues to cause havoc for the opposing defense and makes scoring look easy. On the power play, Gabbys got the touch and I think he could top his best season totals, even if he doesn't have us to play against for 8 goals a night.

- Sean Avery continues to have a strong preseason, this time adding a Pavel Datsyuk imitation to his act, with better than usual puck handling, behind the back passes, and through the legs passing.

- Derek Stepan sliding back between Avery and Fedotenko, required a little adjusting on his part, but as the game went on he became more comfortable. Soft hands and smooth skating... I'd say "get this kid a Whey Powder IV drip around the clock" and he could be a monster by December.

- Can we just sign Fedotenko already?  Call it premature on my part, but I'll dare to say right now this guy is integral to the new team dynamic. I'd keep him paired with Avery.  It could either A)keep Avery more grounded, in that acting out is kind of hard to do when there's constantly a guy feeding you the puck around the net. or B) Make Avery even more obnoxious out there after he converts on those passes, feeds his ego and thinks of new goal celebrations to annoy the opposing teams with. I'm personally hoping he brings back the celebration push-ups. Classic! - Let's not forget that Fedotenko can net a few goals of his own.

- Sauer's goal and muscling along the boards kind of warmed me up to the guy, but I don't think he's going to make the cut. I'm kind of surprised he's been here longer than Semenov and Exelby, but if he make make it as a 7th... more power to him.

- Speaking of which, I'm pondering the possibilities of shipping Roszival out too after tonight's game. Yeesh...

- Lastly, I think it's the new guys that will determine what kind of team we have come playoff time. Watching Fedotenko , Kennedy and Frolov work with intensity and focus near or away from the puck, makes me think we stand a real chance at the new guys upping the team culture, rather than the usual practice of the guys that are already here convincing the new player that they needn't try so hard and stomping out the fire under a guy's ass when he comes to NYC to impress.

The Next round of cuts are guaranteed to have one or two heartbreaker decisions.

- J_Undisputed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Healthy Gaborik

Here we go Rangers fans -- the world around us is waiting for Marian Gaborik to get injured this season -- but let us not think such heresy as " are our only hope!"  With all this talk just before the season opener, let us optimistically celebrate 'A Healthy Gabs'.

Redden Is Not A Cap Casualty

It's hard to admit, but Larry Brooks nailed it in The Post this morning.  He wrote what every Ranger fan has been thinking.  Everyone else (TSN, CBC, Yahoo Sports, etc.) over the last 48 hours has been criticizing the Rangers organization for taking advantage of the salary cap situation by burying Wade Redden in the minors, suggesting that if Redden were a $3 million dollar a year player that this never would be happening.  How wrong they are and Brooks says it nicely:

Let's be clear about this: Wade Redden earned yesterday's demotion to the AHL for his two miserable seasons on Broadway after signing with the Rangers as a free agent out of Ottawa. 
If he were making $3 million rather the average of $6.5 million that he is getting under his six-year, $39 million contract -- which may represent the worst free-agent signing in the history of hard-cap pro sports -- he still would have had those two miserable seasons and he still would be in Hartford this season instead of Manhattan.

Redden, who will report to the AHL Wolf Pack tomorrow after clearing waivers at noon yesterday, is not a cap casualty.
Rather, Redden is a casualty of his own deterioration as a player that ranged from a steady decline his final couple of seasons with the Senators to a complete collapse with the Rangers. No doubt, this is a player who had a distinguished career in Ottawa and who seems to be an exemplary individual, but he brought next to nothing to the ice upon his arrival in New York.
 (full article here)

We've all lived through this level of criticism -- yeah, yeah...Glen Sather overspends, Glen Sather awards big contracts....this is all true, but if any of these critics dared to watch any game with Wade Redden it would be obvious that he was not able to keep up with the game any longer - and three days of training camp was obvious enough to make room for some younger, fitter prospects.

The NHL is faster and smarter -- and some are left behind, Redden being one of them.  Not since Marek Malik has the Blueshirt faithful boo'ed one of our own at The Garden in the starting lineup for two seasons straight.  We as fans make it known when we can no longer stand behind someone who plays substandard hockey.  Ice Darwinism, folks!  His fate to Hartford was pre-determined, well before camp.

For Jimmy Dolan and his management puppets, just think how horrible it must have been for them to watch Wade Redden's progress as a Ranger over two seasons - and then to eat $25 million plus in the minors just to improve the team.  If he were actually a $2 - 3 million dollar asset (and still paying $6.5) he would be used on this team... but he's not even that.  29 other teams were unwilling to even consider picking him up even at a discount.  Hhhmmm......

The most unfortunate event now is that the AHL affiliate Hartford Whale now has a bloated contract veteran on it's books, and it's not allowing a younger and faster defenseman to have his shot....

More later on how those Hartford games go...


Cut Me, Mick...err Torts..

The first major cuts have been made to the team. Some of them could be seen a mile away. Others might seem a little premature. Still others could be seen as borderline. For right now its hard for many of us to complain as we have been screaming YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH for the last couple of seasons... and it could appear that management is listening. At at any rate, it appears Wade will have company in Hartford...

Chad Johnson - I've been pulling for this kid, since I first saw him play. Hes got a great glove hand, but there's no way he'd get enough playing time here anyway. None expected him to outshine Biron for the backup position. That softy let in against the Devils probably didn't help, especially when Torts had no faith in him to begin with. Hang in there "veint y nueve", shine in Hartford.

Dane Byers - Another kid, I've been pulling for to make the team for a while now. Better skills than he usually gets credit for; Stands up for teammates (even though he's not much of a scrapper), and he knows the basics of working around the net. Unfortunately, camp isn't a situation that favors him...Team guys often look lost when everyone's out for themselves and stepping all over each other to impress the coach... The scrap with Clarkson was night the highlight material Torts was looking for. Better to come up later into a more stable dynamic where he knows whats going on, though I will say between the injury bug and cuts like this... its starting to look bleak for Dane.

Evgeny Grachev - Lots of people had high hopes for this kid. Me, I really didn't see what the big deal was about this kid, for the limited time he was in camp. He didn't look that steady on his skates or like he really knew where he fit in. I'll chalk it up to nerves, but color me less than optimistic at this point, based on what I saw so far.

Dale Weise - He seemed to have a lot of energy in the games he played and was kind of all over the place. For as much as much as I saw of him during the game, I hardly remember any of it. He looks like he had an idea of what he wanted to bring to camp, only brought the basics and and tried to oversell.

Mats Zuccarello - For what little I saw of Zuccs, he looked like another young kid with some heart and was trying to play in a way that made everyone forget how small he was. Its the right attitude, but there's a lot of kids that will fill the camps of every team like that in the upcoming years. The best small guys never made anyone forget they were small, but they made everyone see how good they were at using what they had. Like using their size to squeeze through spaces and battle for the puck or go unnoticed around the crease, chip like crazy at rebounds.

Kris Newbury - Not really mind blowing that he got cut. He's an energy guy and not high on the depth chart in terms of skill. I loved watching him pummel Salvador and the fire he showed. Unfortunately, it won't impress Tortorella.

Jeremy Williams - Another no-brainer. I barely even noticed this kid was out there.

Brandon Manning - who? exactly...

Garnet Exelby - Hmm. This is kind of tough. I have to admit that I was never really a fan of Exelby as he always seemed like a bit of a cheap-shotting hick to me... or a better version of Ryan Hollweg. Good for an occasional hard hit, but many times questionable. The reason its difficult is that in the preseason games so far, hes the only Dman that seemed to have a clue about protecting his Goaltender. Ah well I suppose its ok, I mean Jim Ramsey is a really good medical trainer, right? Looking at it for what it was, Exelby was never really brought in as a viable option (it would take him a lot to earn a contract and if he did, he would be asking for more than entry level salary for a kid with that same potential) but more as control subject to up the stakes for the kids playing for a contract or guys paid more than their worth *Cough*Rosival*Cough* but who's salary would raise another red flag if they were waived after Redden.

Alexei Semenov - I don't think he was horrible. Hes a big body and he's fairly agile for a big guy. He's thrown down once or twice to stand up for a teammate last preseason, if I am remember correctly (that already gives him an edge on Girardi-- Yes, I'm still pissed about that) I think Semenov could be a cheaper version of Roszival.

Till the next round of cuts,


P.S. - I know noone's got any sympathy for Redds because of his salary, but I have to say I think it was kind of $hitty to not even let the guy get in a preseason game or two. Ok he probably wasn't going to be any different, but at least spare the guy that bull$hit of "its up to Wade, whether he stays or goes.. and he's going to have to show us something...." I understand that its business, and that either way, he's still collecting a hell of a lot of money from the team... but as an athlete, a family man (congrats to him and his wife).. allow him to compete and give the guy a chance at redemption and dignity. Looking at how quickly some of these guys were cut, how hard would that really have been?

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Of The Same

Two preseason games this weekend - as they were just that - two preseason games. One of them we won, the other we lost. 

Ultimately they don't matter in the standings, but are as important in defining what the team will look like in Buffalo on opening night a couple of weeks from now.   Both games were played very differently, but they shared a common theme -  'grit' comes to mind when watching both games.  Playing the Devils at The Prudential showed more emotion and fisticuffs than I can remember -- Sean Avery was on his game, even taking a run at Ilya Kovalchuk (hilarious!) and refusing to drop his gloves to anyone else on the team.  Clearly, the Blueshirts were defending their own and every whistle was another chance to shove a the old Rangers.....the retired Rangers.  Don't mess with us.  

The kids are making an impression.

The Utopian Torts system of two-way players, speed and 'defending your own' has never been more apparent this season.  With the contract-heavy Wade Redden placed on waivers Saturday at noon, it was a Rangers-wide wake-up call that "contracts don't matter" if you're not willing to put forth your best effort.  Even Mickey Rozsival has played a different level of game.  

Go here as our friend the Ranger Pundit did a nice recap on the NJ Devils game and here Scotty Hockey did a clear recap of our loss to the Detroit Red Wings yesterday.  We play a home game against Detroit this Wednesday and hopefully we'll see the same level of physicality brought to the Red Wings yesterday.

Is it me or are you feeling like Lundqvist and Biron have been letting in some extremely soft goals?  It worries me a little. 

Short and sweet folks -- gearing up for the opening and feeling pretty excited.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rangers Fall To Evil Red Wings, NYR 3, Detroit 5

Official recap here.   Dark Ranger recap on it's way...


NYR 5, NJ 4 OT Preseason rematch

More later on last night's game, but the weekend's second game begins at 5pm today.

See you later.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dead Redden Walking??? -- Redden Placed On Waivers

On this quiet September Saturday morning, news reports, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and the rest of Ranger world is reporting that Wade Redden will be waived today (around noon) by the Rangers.

Apparently, he had shown enough in camp (or the youth had shown enough) to convince the Rangers that the time to act was now.

Larry Brooks at the Post tweeted the story early this morning.

TSN has reported it as well.

Obviously, we will know more as the day progresses.

Vacancy on the back line and in payroll?

It will make tonight's game against the Devils interesting because Redden was expected to play.

More later. . . .


Official Rangers' announcement is here that the Blueshirts waived Redden. If no team claims him, he is required to report to Hartford if he wants to keep his contract.

According to the article, Glen Sather told reporters that placing Redden on waivers -- and thereby removing his salary from the Rangers' salary-cap picture -- was the right thing to do for the team and will help the organization pursue its goal of giving younger players an opportunity to make the roster out of training camp.

Redden advised that he will take a couple of days off to consider his options.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Two Words For Rangers Fans

Frolov & Stepan.

Aside from the sloppy and uncoordinated play during last night's first pre-season game at MSG, the half-rookie/half-veteran Rangers scored a win against the almost-fully-loaded NJ Devils of Newark in overtime, NYR 4, NJ Devils 3 OT.  Nothing feels better than the hockey season opening and a handful of rookies taking it to Fatty Brodeur.   Marty Biron was in goal for the Blueshirts, and later replaced by Chad Johnson.

It was a fine game.  It was a crappy game.  Its pre-season!!  So there isn't much to criticize, but some thoughts on the game in general:

With sniper Marian Gaborik scoring two goals last night, including the overtime game winning goal -- it was a pleasure seeing Frolov on the same line feeding both to Gabs, with Derek Stepan stepping up during the second period with confidence and belonging -- he opened the night hesitant and conservative, but that all changed once he realized there were hardly any fans throughout MSG to 'boo' him if he didn't deliver.  It all changed from that point forward -- if last night was any indication, we could have a natural first line that scores goals often.  (It's been a long time since we had 3 who could deliver on the same line, I dare to say pre-lockout? ) 

Fighting to make the team as a rookie, Derek Stepan didn't make Erik Christensen look good, as both are fighting for the top line center between Frolov and Gaborik.   As a buddy of mine said of Stepan's debut, "this guy could be our #1 Center!!", and though it's hard to know this early in the game, between what coach Tortorella has been saying about the kid throughout camp, what scouts and beat reporters have reported, and last night's taste of what he brings to the ice -- he could fill the vacancy.   This is a positive result of the Rangers organization vesting in the youth and the prospects for years now -- one of the best ways to legally circumvent the salary cap restrictions, 'get em while they're young and don't go broke during free agency.'

Both Dan Girardi, and especially, Marc Staal did their best impressions of the Tin Man -- as you could see the rust falling off them.  Ryan McDonagh has arrived as promised, delivering a solid, conservative performance that will certainly make the Rangers-Brass think about not using another defender's $6.5 million toward the cap this coming season.  Who could that be?

Everything else about the game felt pedestrian and 'as-would-be-expected' for a pre-season opener.  The game could have gone either way -- but some of these highlights made it worth showing up.

Unrelated to last night's game, I am reminded that New York Rangers fans are the best in the world --- when we are playing our hardest, we know it.  That's why we show up.  To support and criticize the team we love.  But we also know that pre-season games are an extension of camp, where coaches introduce new players and the wins/losses are secondary in the big picture.  We are a civilized bunch.  On the other hand, across the land of Canada -- freak-like Toronto Maple Leaf fans and even scary-French-Canadien Hab-fans treat their hockey a little differently, holding their beloved teams to the highest degree even during these pre-season games.   See here for the Leafs.   See here for the Habs.   Although any clinical pyschologist might consider this fan reaction of 'having to win' a form of addiction (or maybe alcoholism?), you should probably take the casual advice of Damien Cox of The Star and Carey Price and......CHILL (THE F*CK) OUT!

So, see you at The Rock on Saturday night as we face Farty Brodeur a second time this week.  If you happen to pass a large carcass of rotting meat in the Prudential Center prior to the game, just let it be as Marty will later engulf his prize; if any of you are new to the NJ Devils, it is widely known that goaltender Marty Brodeur eats large amounts of meat when he loses.  It's a fact.   ;)     Some teams throw octopus on the ice, some throw Grade B loin scraps. That's Marty for ya.

It's great to be back in Ranger Land, folks and we look forward to your commentary and continued readership.

Let's Go Rangers!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

(Pre-season), NYR 4, NJ Devils 3 OT

Rangers Top Devils  
Official recap here.   Official DARK recap coming...


Monday, September 20, 2010

Drury's Broken Finger

Jim Cerney tweeted this morning from camp:

Just learned that #NYR captain Chris Drury broke a finger blocking a shot this morning and will miss 4 weeks of action.

Terrific way to start the season!!?  Ggrrr....let's go Rangers!

A Weekend With Wade

So with John Tortorella literally skating all 400 invitees to camp (just kidding, more around 60), one player named Wade Redden is proceeding as planned - making $6.5 million, told that he could lose his spot on this season's roster, but reassured by the brass that if he proves himself in camp he will remain a Ranger.

Knowing that the entire blogosphere and any fan of the Blueshirts wants this guy buried in the minors, and the very fact that on the first day Mr. Redden was buckled over and winded 2/3 through the suicide sprints, one would think he'd be trying on Wolfpack jersies to accommodate the new shoes (or skates for that matter) for his inevitable trip north to Hartford - leaving behind his NHL career, 29 other NHL teams unwilling to give him a look or consider a trade. Sucks to be him.


Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy feels different than you and I, so I share in full his take on the Redden that we all know and loathe.  Maybe Yahoo is right or maybe Ryan is a Yahoo for daring to challenge the faithful.  Give it a look: 

Rangers fans vs. Inevitability
 I know it's a difficult truth to wrap one's head around, but there's almost no way Wade Redden(notes) sets foot in Hartford this year, unless Madison Square Garden burns to the ground two hours before a scheduled game.
The Rangers rumor mill, which always specializes in a particular brand of wishful thinking, heated up this summer as several emerging defensemen appeared poised to at least compete for a spot with the big club. This, many decided, was the year Redden's contract -- which has for so long hung around the club's neck like Coleridge's albatross -- got muscled out of the lineup and down to three years of bus-riding.
But this isn't going to be the year for Ryan McDonagh(notes) or Matt Gilroy(notes), at least not at Redden's expense. He's owed $6.5 million for each of the next four seasons, and while ownership might have been able to justify burying that much in the minors for one season, the term and money are both too long to stuff it in the minors.

Whether or not you find the idea repulsive (and you should), Redden is going to be a part of the Rangers' blue line for the rest of his comical contract. You may as well start dealing with it now.

How are you feeling now Rangers fan? Shoot me a note and let me know how this makes you feel. (I know already). If you ask me, I think he's wrong and Redden is already preparing his Russian hockey career.

Some other nice posts regarding camp this weekend:

* Frolov dominating the first couple of scrimmages here.

* Great recap of Day Two at camp here.

* Derek Stepan centering Frolov and Gaborik making an impression here.

This Thursday marks the first pre-season game as the Blueshirts will meet the NJ Devils and it'll be the first hockey in a long time -- it will be fun to watch what combinations work and don't work -- one thing to look out for is how hard these kids will play for the Garden faithful, the true test of how NHL ready any of them truly are.

Let youth be served this week and let Wade Redden determine his own fate. Let's Go Rangers!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let The Trading Begin?

Nick over at The Rangers Tribune points out the obvious now that Marc Staal is locked-and-loaded.  Trades will probably happen over the next week for some of the Ranger prospects --- expect Sather to make some minor depth changes.

When it happens, you'll hear it here.      tdr

Camp Redden Begins Friday

Welcome to Camp Wade Redden, or should we call it another season of Survivor - Special Edition Wade Redden?

New York Rangers camp begins tomorrow and for months now we've heard that veterans and highly paid Rangers will have to compete for a spot on the 2010 starting roster.  All bets are off as Coach John Tortorella has made it clear that no one is safe and youth may be served.  Recently, this now includes some 'camp invitations to veterans' who want to play and could provide some depth (Fedotenko, Semenov, Exelby).

So that can only mean that Wade Redden this afternoon will be overdosing on Pepto-Bismol and Tums - he will have to compete to even make the roster.  The disappointing defenseman will continue to make $6.5 million a year through 2014 in the NHL or buried in the minors, but more importantly, if AHL-bound, will Glen Sather actually aknowledge that he screwed up and awarded the most bloated contract in NHL history?  Blueshirt Banter did a nice analysis of the effect of burying Redden to the minors here - also here for a realistically replacing post at BB.  (nice job guys)

Redden has an impossible feat ahead of him as he is not the player of 'long ago' and will be competing against recent minted players (i.e. Girardi, Staal), some upcoming newbies (Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko) and some 'over-the-hill' veterans that could probably outperform him as well (Semenov, Exelby).   So sad for overpaid Wade.

 I do think Wade Redden is collectively in all our thoughts --- and though I am certain he's a nice guy off the ice, we are all tired of boo'ing someone on our starting roster.  Think Hartford.  Think Wade.  (repeat over and over)...

The NY Rangers Training Camp Roster (here) has been released and things are looking up.

See you over the weekend. It's been a long off-season and is back.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marc My Words, No More Staaling (UPDATE)

MARC STAAL IS A RANGER, for a multi-year deal - alleged terms for a five-year contract worth a reported $19.875 million (annual cap hit of $3.975 million). Short & sweet and just wanted everyone to have the good news. 

Just in time for camp.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can The Blueshirts Break the Bad?

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde (perhaps referring to all New York Rangers fans)

With training camp approaching September 17, we are all gearing up our constitutions and dusting off our hockey jersies for another Glen Sather season of 'this is the year'.  Some firepower and grit has been added to the team during the off-season (albeit for large contracts - business as usual), but regardless of where we left off (not making the playoffs for the first time post-lockout) the core of last year's team is intact.

Here is the roster signed as of this post. 

There have recently been some new player additions added to the roster - Steve Eminger here, Todd White here and Tim Kennedy here.  Henrik Lundqvist finally has backup Marty Biron to take some of the weight off his shoulders, salary-heavy slaughterhouse Derek Boogaard was hired largely as part of the MSG renovation, to re-create a modern Rome Colosseum, including mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions and spontaneous face crushing.  The fans will love him. 

 In addition to "The Boogeyman" the Rangers have kept Brandon Prust and rabble-rouser Sean Avery will continue to agitate everyone in the NHL, providing Coach Torts allows him to do his thing.  Regardless, opponents will not enjoy playing against the Rangers this season.   I like that.

The elephant in the room is the absence of a Marc Staal contract.

Our number one defenseman, a restricted free agent, is yet to come to terms with Slats & Co.  Management has stressed with the press (and fans) that they will match any other offer that comes his way, but there is always more to the story.  There have been multiple rumors of 'Marc-Staal-as-trade-bait' (i.e. trade with Anaheim for Bobby Ryan, trade with Boston for Marc Savard, etc.), but I do think this really comes down to the cash.  As the number one D-man, beat writers have speculated Staal wants $5 mill a year for multiple years and the Rangers want to pay him $3 mill a year.

As to the coach, John Tortorella wants all of this done and is rightfully pressuring Marc Staal's agent through the media and fanbase with some of the following quotes:

"If a player is not signed, I don't want him in camp," coach John Tortorella told the Bergen Record earlier this summer.  "I just think it's nothing but a distraction. I don't have full say, but I think if Marc Staal is not signed, I don't think he should be at camp.  I'm hopeful and confident.  This is all part of the process.   He's a very big piece to the puzzle. But a player has to understand there is a business aspect and there is a domino effect."
Does this all ring a bell?

The key to this season is the unknowing at this point.  Just look at the bookends of last season, we opened with an incredible winning surge and we closed with the same (except for that damn shootout) -- so you never know which version of our team will show up come October.  Perhaps the young guys demote Wade Redden during training camp (please,please,please!), Matts Zuccarello Aasen (The Hobbit) adapts to the smaller rink, Matt Gilroy, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan knock out some veteran spots during training camp!!?  All of this is possible.

As much BAD there is to break, there is as much GOOD on this roster.  The key now is John Tortorella and his sticking to the system: Two-way playing, forward puck moving and lots of dirty goals is the key.  So hang in there Rangers fans --- the off-season is nearing an end.

Here at The Dark Ranger we'll be covering all the games as usual, with the occasional opinion piece now and again.  If the season absolutely sucks, we'll get even DARKer.

Happy 'Summer Is Over' folks, and we'll see you at training camp.

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