Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Kids fight right in as Rangers spend night in Box. Lose one to Philly /Jagr, 4-3

The Sin Bin was "Standing Room Only" last night in Philly.

 To be fair the officials were on both teams last night as far indiscretions go. It was one of those games where it was fairly obviously that in order to have a fighting chance, we needed to stay out of the box.  We didn’t.

Read the official recap here.

Now before we get started. I know this is only pre season. I know half of these kids won’t make the team. I know our biggest offensive players weren’t on the ice last night.  That being said, to watch these two teams go at it last night, it felt like the post season and some of those penalties I think were more than justified.  What? Were there preseason boarding workshops added to the Flyer’s camp this season? Much respect goes to Dman Stu Bickel, who looked more like Travis Bickel, when he went Taxi driver on the player that blind sided and boarded his teammate, Devaux, with a late hit. Bickel wasted no time in tearing in Sestito and that’s what Ranger fans had been looking for in years past when guys not versed in fisticuffs, were left to fend for themselves against knuckle dragging meatheads. That one incident, set off a melee and gloves and helmets flew.. and rangers and flyers fans alike drooled at the thought of the winter classic and seeing similar carnage on an outdoor rink.

We came from behind 3 times, which was a symbol of our resiliency but also evidence than we didn’t seem to grasp that we needed to stay out of the box. Errant sticks and guys trying to set picks put us at a deficit of defensive players while, new flyers and roaming cannon for hire Jagr, just circled looking for vacancy where they could set up and unload on one timers. His free wheeling days over, a player like Jagr is happy to be forgotten about on the ice so he can net some easy goal without having to shake off half a team first. This was recipe for disaster on our penalty kill.  I’ll go out on a limb and say in a game like last nights, it probably showed the coaching staff more when a young guy managed to stay out of the box when everyone is getting called, rather than getting over excited and committing that crucial penalty. 

As it was, after the last goal was scored against us, the team finally became conscious of penalties and then became snake bitten as they coasted for the last few minutes hoping to catch a break or a gift goal.  It was a little backwards. Maybe in the back of their minds, some of the kids mulled over that they might not be making the trip overseas and their prospects of making the team as guys like Prust and Staal looked closer to suiting up, would be dwindling. The exception for the new guys  was Jon Mitchell who didn’t seem at all gun shy and was aware of the fact you’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t  take.

As for the vets, Brian Boyle continues to impress and be the bridging influence between the majors and minors for some of the prospects. Avery showed he still has the ability under the opponent’s skin, Dubinsky still plays with attitude and Christiansen still plays like the team needs him rather than the other way around. The team caught a plane to Europe after the game last night.

Till Next Time Ranger Fans,

P.S. – Does anyone else think that the next time Dale Weise gets the urge to fight, he should just pull his own jersey over his head and flail till he gets punched/and or taken down? It would save a lot of time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bell Ringer - Brendan's Late Goal Leads Rangers to 4-3 Victory in NJ | NYR 4 at NJD 3

It's so nice to watch an exhibition hockey game because it reminds you how different it is from  baseball and football.  You know the NFL -- the sport that charges outrageous prices so you can watch stars play a couple of series or two before they sit down and work the steroid pumps (I mean weight room and saunas).

Or baseball where you may be lucky to catch an A squad under the Floria sun or in the Arizona smog for a couple of innings before they have to rest their tender groins, elbows or whatever else those pseudo-athletes try to protect.

If you were lucky enough to go to the Rock or watch MSG you got to see Brad Richards score a goal early in the first period in his debut for the Blueshirts and work on chemistry with his first linemates.  Martin Brodeur played the entire game.  Ilya Kovalchuk hauled ass over the ice for the entire game.

All in all, despite some ragged play, you ended up with an entertaining 4-3 win by the Rangers. The recap (such that it is sits here).
Hallmark moment -- Brendan Bell getting the #1
Star for scoring the game-winner with 4:54 left. 

Some observations:
  • When the Rangers defensemen avoided the penalty box, we got to see the promise the first line has.  There was some slick passing among the crew, a Wolski and Richards engineered a pretty give and go at the blue line. 
  • Brad Richards certainly displayed that he knows what he is doing and will definitely show Ranger fans what we have been missing on a nightly basis while he was on Tampa and Dallas. 
Brad Richards in what should be a familiar
picture -- leading the rush up ice.
  • When Rangers Kris Newbury and Tim Erixson led a parade in the 2nd period to the sin bin, Ranger offensive momentum died as the first line was not on the ice for approximately 10 straight minutes and the Devils took advantage to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 3-3 thanks to 2 power play goals.  
  • That impact was evidenced by the Rangers having a 20-8 shot advantage midway through the game before the Devils out-shot them 18-11 the rest of the way.  I was hard pressed to remember any shots after the Newbury (2 penalties leading to Devils goals) and Erixon (provided a 5 on 3 advantage) took their penalties. Amazing the patience the Devils showed as they set up Kovalchuk to score with 1 second on the 5 on 3 so that the Devils still had the man advantage.  Fortunately, they would not score again in the game.
  • The Devils, under Peter Deboer, employed an uptempo offense that Kovalchuk was enjoying.  You can tell when the whole team is together (Parise did not play), they will not have the same slow start they did last season.
  • Martin Brodeur -- hard to believe it is his 20th season in Devils' goal.  You do have to admire his longevity.  What is noticeable is that he is not the same Brodeur.  Yes, he was beaten on 2 deflections including the game winner last night by Brendan Bell but he was also clearly beaten by Gaborik (but for the puck being on its side) and Callahan (a pass slid under his stick).  If you are a Devil fan, you have to be worried that Martin's side-to-side movement may not be what it once was.  This season is also the last year of his contract so that will become an interesting story as we proceed.
  • Goalies were beaten high all night -- Derek Stepan beat Brodeur with a beautiful shot to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Blueshirts as they scored 2 goals within 81 seconds after Brad Richards scored his first goal as a Ranger on a deflection.  
  • Marty Biron was beaten high all 3 times including quite the rocket shot by Kolvachuk to tie the score 3-3 near the end of the 2nd period.
  • The game was ragged in stretches especially on the defensive side.  The fact that Girardi and Staal were not playing did not help secure the defense.  The Rangers also were missing Dubinski and Prust so the overall forechecking was not at the level we have come to expect.
  • The third period was outstanding for the Devils offensive pushes and the Rangers' defenses.  Chad Johnson replaced Marty Biron in goal and was up to the task.  The Rangers worked hard to keep the crease clear.  Both teams threw their bodies around.  Dale Weise had a crunching but clean check behind Brodeur as both teams got more physical as the tentativeness wore off.
After Bell scored with 3 minutes to go on a simple shot thrown from the blue line at Brodeur that was deflected past him, the Devils had the tying goal called off thanks to goalie interference with 2:22 to go.  They pulled Brodeur but then Martin Gaborik was called for an interference penalty with 1:55 remaining.  That killed the Rangers power play that could have ended the game and put the Devils on the offensive.

The Devils immediately took residence in the Ranger defensive zone like evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome for the remaining 100+ seconds of the game.  The Rangers could not get a change as the Devils kept the puck in the zone.  Finally, the Rangers were able to get possession of the puck for a moment and threw it into the corner where the final 6 seconds mercifully ticked away.

Mike Rupp introduces himself to Jacob Josefson.
The things to take away from this game are: (i) the first line of Gaborik, Wolski and Richards certainly looks like it will be fun, (ii) there ought to be a trickle down effect because the next two lines will blend skill and speed and energy that should payoff against other teams' defenses, (iii) when the Rangers' full roster is healthy enough for everyone to play, the team should be a lot of fun to watch; and (iv) the East is going to be loaded -- there is no doubt that the Devils will pick up on their season-ending push from this past Spring.  They have Bryce Salvador back, Parise is back, and they have the hint of great young talent in Jacob Josefson and Adam Larrson.  Besides Kovalchuk and Sykora.  It is unlikely, unless a catastrophic injury rears its head, that they will start off as poorly as last year. 

Next up -- the Rangers renew acquaintances with the Flyers on Monday night in Philly.  A scorecard will be necessary to see who is now on that team.

Your eyes may glaze when you see who is wearing #68, if he plays.  If he comes out in this uniform, it will certainly be news.  This is his picture from the Flyers' website.  http://flyers.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8448208

Apparently, the orange and black could not be photoshopped in.  Nice to see that JJ still bleeds blue. 

Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing  - PHI

-- The Graying Mantis

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pre Season... The Continuation of Last Season.

The preseason is underway. Aside from the huge hole left in ranger fans hearts for a fallen Enforcer (RIP Boogey) and the fact that our stadium is still not finished yet. We've trudged on and arrived at the doorstep of another season. One game in, I have to tell you.... I'm already getting flashbacks to last season.

Get the official recap of the game here.

Its not the 2-1 loss but all the factors surrounding this soon to be jet lagged start to the season. Staal's still got his headache (only now he has 2, he just got married over the summer-- just kidding, ladies), Prusty's  shoulder needs a little more time, we have a superstar reassuring us that the groin soreness he feels is nothing to worry about. Sean Avery's buried even further down the line and its still the smallish guys that will probably define our offense as hope Henrik can continue to keep us alive. After one game:

Some observations.
  • We have lots of candidates and few opportunities for spots on the roster. So we'll have a better chance of finding the right or right-ish guys for the job. The kids seem eager to impress and full of energy and effort, but they're still on the small side which means, they were getting out muscled and lined up for hits all nights.
  • Talbot showed some good potential in Goal. Especially in robbing Sykora on the second chance attempt. I won't get high on him yet. Potential is good but it goes nowhere unless you get some practice in the big time. Ask Chad Johnson.
  • We netted some Second Gen guys like Erixon and Borgue have that little bit of extra guidance which has helped their maturity as players. While Lou Lamoriello is still calling their houses asking if their dads wanna suit up and play and digging up guys like Sykora and returning meathead, Cam Janssen.
  • Bigger bodies could be on the way. While were happy to have Rupp. We need to start home growing some bigger kids of our own. A kid like McIlrath showed he knows how to use his size showed me more in 60 minutes than Jessiman did in his whole time with the Rangers. Is it too early for fans to start sending this kid some protein powder?
  • Dubinsky is still playing strong and hasn't seemed adversely affected by being overlooked for captaincy. He still speaks up on behalf of his team.
  • Girardi, Christensen looked a little ho hum. Probably still looking to shake off the cobwebs.
  • Emminger shows he'll still be the heavier hitter on a the defensive squad.
  • This team seems to be conforming well to the NHL benchmark (penguins) image forced on the teams by the league. Young captain, more skate than hate, star goalie, aging vet,  agitator,  and the lunch pail  4th line. 
A special thanks to all of you Dark Fans for your patience with us over the summer.... Welcome back.   Next Game Friday..

Till Next Time, 
This site/blog is not affiliated with the New York Rangers or The National Hockey League in any manner whatsoever. Some photos on this site are used w/out permission but are hosted on the blogger server, therefore not interfering with the profit or bandwidth of the original owner. If you are the owner of a specific image that we have used in our blog , please email me at amv613@hotmail.com to have it removed - we will gladly remove it immediately.

If you have a hockey blog/website and would like to place a link on our site, please contact me & we can do a link exchange (the best way to get more traffic to our blogs).

Any offer of 'tickets at cost' is exactly that -- I have season tickets and will sell them for what I paid --- so no mark-ups.

The Dark Ranger is a not-for-profit site, not officially, but we derive no income at all from anything on this site; in fact, DARK at his own expense enjoys the freedom of having no sponsors and speaking his f*cking mind.