41 Skidoo

After the home stand from hell, the Rangers are quite unbelievably one game over .500  and -8 points on the 6 points in 5 games playoff clinching paradigm. For all the gloom,  doom and bellyaching I’ve heard from coming from some quarters, that’s really not to shabby.

As of this posting, the Rangers, with 42 points, are two back in the Eastern Conference Wild Card Race right behind Toronto with 47 points and Detroit with 46 points.  The Devils are tied with the Rangers in points (42) but Rangers have 3 more regulation wins.

Coming in closely from behind respectively are Ottawa 41 , Carolina 39, Columbus 38. Florida 36, Islanders 33 and Buffalo 26 are bringing up the rear.

The Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist MUST be better in the second half of the season. Five hundred hockey ain’t gonna get it done. What with this being an Olympic year, it’s not going to be easy to pick up the points the Rangers squandered in December.

While Henrik hasn’t been overworked so far this season, the Rangers may find themselves up against the wall because Lundqvist will be “the” starter for Team Sweden. Remember what happened in 2006? I’m praying for Sweden’s early elimination (not likely).

If Cam Talbot can’t get it done and help Henke, Lundqvist will bear the load down the stretch. Since Lundqvist has been less than stellar, in truth mediocre so far this season, the Rangers must be better defenseivly and they MUST score more goals.

Compound Lundqvist playing for Sweden with Callahan, Stepan and McDonagh being chosen for Team USA and the Rangers need to pick up all the points they can before the Olympic break. How does the selection committee pick Callahan and Stepan over a Bobby Ryan or Kyle Okposo?

Fortunately, the Rangers do not have as a demanding a schedule (travel wise and rest wise) down the stretch as they did at the beginning of the season.

If you want an accurate picture of the Rangers chances in the last 41 games, of how the rest of the season should play out, visit the HockeyRodent’s RealSchedules and RealStandings.

http://hockeyrodent.com/rodent.htm6

http://hockeyrodent.com/rodent.htm22

Rodent doesn’t show the Rangers making the playoffs. Let’s hope the Tree Rat is wrong. Rodent’s projections are scientific and weighted and there’s pretty colors on his graphs, too. :)

Happy New Year

Let’s Go Rangers!

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The Toughest Job in Sport?

With the recent news that the Premiership club West Bromwich Albion, one of the favourites to be relegated with Unibet, have sacked their manager Steve Clarke, we ask is the role of the Premier League Manager the toughest job in sport?

The West Brom manager, and his assistant Kevin Keen, have both been sacked after the 1-0 defeat at Cardiff, which was their fourth straight loss in a Premier League run that has seen them win only seven games from the 34 that they have played in 2013.

The 50-year old Scot was placed on gardening leave with immediate effect, and he becomes the fourth Premiership Manager to lose his position after just 16 weeks of the campaign done and dusted.

Sure the Baggies have been on a bad run of late, but this is still the same manager that took WBA to an eighth place finish last season. Where is the patience, in what is turning out to be a Russian Roulette of a job.

Paulo Di Canio was the first Premier League manager to be fired after publicly criticising his players after a woeful start to the season. They have since replaced the over emotional foreign manager with another…over emotional foreign manager in Gus Poyet.

Ian Holloway left struggling Crystal Palace a month later…I mean come on, if you stuck Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm Crystal Palace are still going down. Then Martin Jol left his position after his players well and truly let him down at Fulham.

If the bookmakers are to be believed Sam Allardyce is the next manager being prepared for the chopping block at West Ham with odds of 7/4 that he will be axed next, with Norwich City’s Chris Hughton just behind that at 3/1,

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Priceless

While many naysayers out there are blasting Glen Sather for paying a 31 year old goalie $8.5 million dollars over the next 7 years, I say STFU! These people are bitter. They are jealous. And, they are stupid.

There are some things just you cannot put a price on. Some things cannot be quantified by money. Some people cannot be measured by what they make. In our what have you done for me lately, show me the money society, there are people whose value truly is invaluable.

The New York Ranger’s organization learned their lesson when they traded away Eddie Giacomin to Detroit all those years ago. Eddie was far from finished. He was still a damn good goalie. It was more heart breaking to me then when they traded Ratelle and Park to Boston. The fans were so angry they booed the Rangers and cheered for Detroit the first time Giacomin returned to Garden wearing the Winged Wheel.

Henrik Lundqvist has been the one constant for the last eight seasons that has kept asses in the seats of the World’s Most Renovated Arena. He’s stood on his head in good times and bad to keep the Rangers in the playoff hunt. He’s been a rock of consistency in a virtual sea of mediocrity. He’s earned this contract. He’s the Eddie Giacomin of this millenium.

Lundqivist has backed up Ranger teams with little defense, less offense and no powerplay. He’s celebrated victories and suffered defeats and done it all with good grace. (Better then Fatso across the river whom some refer to as the “greatest goalie of all time”).

Screw what the rest of the NHL and the hockey world think. They don’t know our Henke. We do. To know Henrik Lundqvist is to love him. He’s not only a great goaltender but a lovely person. He’s good to the fans. He hasn’t changed since the day I met him in Bryant Park all those years ago when he was Kevin Week’s backup.

Henrik Lundqvist is worth his weight in gold. If there is justice in this world, his name will one day be on the Stanley Cup. He’ll go into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot as a New York Ranger.

Henrik Lundqvist will be a Ranger for life. That is how it had to be. Congratulations to Glen Sather and James Dolan for having the balls to make it happen.

Thanks to Henke for keeping the faith with the Garden Faithful. It’s an early Christmas gift to all Ranger fans.

Henrik Lundqvist – Priceless

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Talking Turkey To Torts

As if it were scripted, Chris Kreider unleashed the Kraken against the Canucks by scoring a hat trick to welcome John Tortorella back to Madison Square Garden.

After missing the check leading to Kreider’s first goal, Tortorella screamed abuse at Alex Elder on the Canucks bench. Sad to see that some things don’t change.

If the Rangers could play so well this afternoon as to get puck to Kid Kreider for the hat trick, how do they blow a lead and lose in Boston a mere 24 hours before.

Alain Vigneualt called it a lackluster effort in Boston. Whatever he said to the team between yesterday afternoon and this afternoon must have had some impact. Oh to be a fly on the wall. Somehow I have a feeling that whatever he did say was not in the form of a torrent of abuse.

Benching Del Zotto seems to be having a desired effect. Maybe AV should try it with some others. Is it Staal’s vision or is he just not seeing the ice well? When Stralman is playing better defense then Staal and Girardi, that’s a problem.

I didn’t see Richards’ or Callahan’s picture on my milk carton. Maybe they should be there. With Callahan, I think he may be nursing another injury. Richards just needs to be bought out. He’s as slow as Hagelin and Zuccarello are fast. One third of the way through the season and Richards is out of gas. It’s not the tryptophan. He’s a flightless bird, a turkey.

Two weeks ago when I was talking to Tom Renney at the Mausoleum before the Detroit game, he told me to have faith in Vigneault, that AV was a great coach. Takes one to know one, Tom.

All I could say in response was how glad I was when I found out Torts was fired. I didn’t say anything more. It would not have been appropriate. Tom didn’t say anything negative either. He’s too much the gentleman.

Chris Kreider is also a gentleman. Kreider took the high road when asked if he felt avenged by scoring a hat trick on Torts, the coach who banished him to Hartford. When asked about Torts not trusting him last year  Krieder replied, “I struggled trusting me, too.”

I know I’m always beating my drum for Mats Zuccarello but the Hobbit makes this team fun to watch. He’s so quick. He reads and sees the play so well. His height in inches may be low but his hockey IQ is so high it’s off the charts.

 

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Old Friends/Bookends

Old Friends
Old Friends
Sat on their park bench like bookends …

A time it was
It was a time
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

-Paul Simon

This weekend Saturday and Sunday nights were hockey bookends for myself and Mr. Hurley. Saturday night we went to see the Detroit Red Wings play the Icelanders at the Mausoleum. Sunday we went to the Garden to watch the Rangers stumble through their second game in two nights against the LA Kings.

Whether at the Garden or on the Island, I always try to see the Wings when they come to town. Now, having moved from the Western to the Eastern Conference, I’ll be getting to see my second favorite team play more often. More Mule, more Zetterberg and especially more DATSYUK!

What a barn burner it was! Every time one team scored, the other answered back. The Icelanders went up 4 -3 at the 4:43 mark of the third period. It looked like the Fishsticks would prevail. Detroit pulled their goaltender and Pavel Datsyuk tied it with 43 seconds left in the third period for his second goal of the game.

The game went to the shoot out. Neither Datsyuk, Zetterberg or Bertuzzi could beat Poulin. Franz Neilson won it for the home team, scoring the only goal.

…from excitement to ennui in 24 hours…

The Rangers had a bookend weekend of their own. They shut out the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal for the first time since 1967. It was the first time the Rangers won in Montreal in their last 8 games at Le Centre Belle.

This was no mean feat for as we all know the calls usually go the way of Blu, Blanc et Rouge at home. It was a shut out for our new sensation, rookie netminder and Quebec native, Cam Talbot.

A mere 24 hours later and the Rangers lost by a score of 0-1 to the LA Kings.

As well as the Rangers played in Hab town, they played equally as badly in Rangertown. Not even a tribute to their biggest cheerleader, Dancing Larry, could rally the Rangers to put a puck behind Kings backup goalie, Ben Scrivens.

If it weren’t for our King, the score would have been at least 4-0. Granted, it was the Rangers second game in two nights. To make matters worse, fog delayed the Rangers return flight from Montreal and they didn’t get home until after 3 am.

Still, it’s early in the season. They just had three days off before the Montreal game. One set of back to back games this early in the season shouldn’t tire them out that much. No excuses. Perhaps Alain Vigneualt doesn’t demand the same level of conditioning as did his predecessor.

Speaking of predecessors, I had a nice pre-game conversation with my all time favorite Ranger coach, Tom Renney, at the Mausoleum on Saturday. Tom currently assists Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

We chatted for a few minutes about the Wings, the Rangers and our families. Tom looks great. So much less stress being out of the red hot spotlight that shines on NHL head coaches. So nice to see an old friend doing well. We are both a little older and a lot grayer but happy and healthy.

Speaking of old friends, I’d like to thank Rob Kowal of New York Hockey Talk for including me in on the group tickets his Long Island Dragons got for the Red Wing game. Sorry we couldn’t stay to watch the Dragons play. I’m sure we’ll pass each other in the night as we leave/arrive at some Long Island rink. :)

 

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Rangers Legends Cruise to Bermuda

The Rangers Legends Cruise is a seven-night modern luxury vacation to Bermuda on board the Celebrity Summit departing August 3, 2014 from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Featuring Rangers greats Ron Duguay, Adam Graves, Ron Greschner and Stephane Matteau this rare vacation package will include unprecedented access to Rangers stars, as well as exciting activities onboard and ashore, including meet and greet events, shore excursions featuring quintessential Bermuda experiences, private receptions, such as a sunset barbecue on the ship’s pool deck, and more.

AAA Travel has shipboard credit, VIP embarkation and more…

To book your cabin call Margaret at AAA New York
631-265-5809


.

 

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Hagelin, Hobbits and Hat Tricks

The Day of the Dead saw a Ranger team that is alive and well and prospering from their return home to the completely renovated Madison Square Garden.

Granted, they lost the home opener. It was a lackluster performance compounded by the ice being tilted against them. Last Monday was more about the new Garden and less about the Rangers.

But, the next three home games (I count the game at Nassau as a home game) saw this Ranger team start to come together under the puck possession, shoot first system Alain Vigneault has been preaching. The choir is starting to listen.

In my opinion, these last three victories have more to do with chemistry and less to do with systems. If you want to a fire you need a spark. If you want the fire to spread, you need a accelerant. In the last three games, Mats Zuccarello and Carl Hagelin are the accelerants. Being at home in front of the their own fans is the spark.

An accelerant can be any substance that can bond, mix, or disturb another substance and cause an increase in the speed of a natural, or artificial chemical process.

Hagelin’s first goal was a backhand shot. Not only does Hagelin have speed, he’s stealthy. In today’s NHL we see a plethora of slapshots and wristshots and not much else. Creative players are few and far between. How many times do we see players miss out on good scoring opportunities because they have to get the puck on their forehand and tee up the shot. Yawn.

Hagelin, Kreider and Zuccarello are fast and creative. They enable other players around them to excel. If I were Vigneault, I’d keep the Kreider/Stepan/Zuccarello line together until they start to run cold, returning Callahan and Nash be damned.

For all the whining I hear about Mats Zuccarello being too small, he doesn’t belong on the top lines, he’s a borderline NHLer, yada, yada, yada, last night’s performance should shut the naysayers up. The Hobbit is here for the duration.

Zucca assisted on all three of Stepan’s goals. The kid is a playmaker. He’s got incredible foot speed, as does Hagelin. He sees the ice like few others on the team. He’s creative. He and Kreider certainly brought out the best in Stepan.

Zuccarello and Kreider, two kids Torts threw under the bus. Torts can keep the Sedin twins. They just signed a four year contract in Vancouver. They’ll probably be there long after Torts gets the ax again.

I love some of the moron “Torts Supporters” out there in Rangerland. When the Rangers were struggling, the “Tort-ites” were asking if we missed winning under Tort’s “safe is death/shot blocking/no powerplay/two line only” system.

After watching the last three games, the Tort-ites need to STFU. Vigneault and the Rangers may have gotten off to a slow start. Hagelin and the Hobbit are anything but slow. Speed kills. The Rangers just need to keep their foot on the accelerator.

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Don’t Even Get Me Started…

How was Galchenyuk’s goal tonight allowed if Miller’s goal in Philadephia the other night was not? Would someone in Toronto like to show us replays of the two goals side by side and explain the difference to the fans in the stands that pay their hard earned money to watch their team get hosed?

Granted, the Rangers failed to score on their powerplay opportunities. But, again the officials on the ice at MSG and in Toronto determined the outcome of the game, not the players.

James Dolan should take note on how Bettman and his henchmen shit on his housewarming party tonight at the newly renovated Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena…for patsies.

I’m sure Colin Campbell is smiling in Toronto. He and his staff of incompetent officials were able to effectively job the Rangers at home.  It’s a given that they can, and do, get away with it in Montreal. The Rangers should concede defeat whenever they play Montreal and save their time, our money and their energy.

How long is this vendetta going to go on? As long as Colin Campbell is in charge of officiating and Gary Bettman is the Commissioner. The Rangers aren’t the only team to be victimized by Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Ask any team that has to play Montreal, Toronto and Pittsburgh regularly.

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A Bientot, Marty Biron

Here’s a big Bon Chance from this Ranger fan to GoodMarty. A few of us took to calling Biron GoodMarty as opposed to the EvilMarty who lives across the river under a rock.

Marty Biron is a good egg and had a hell of an NHL career. He was especially effective in Buffalo where he was at the top of his game for 5+ seasons until he had himself traded into goaltender hell in Philadelphia. What is it with the Flyers? They change goalies the way Paris Hilton changes boyfriends.

Marty then went to the Islanders who mistreated him in favor of the “never coming back” DiPietro. They should have had Marty at number one instead of Roloson.

The Islanders loss was the Rangers gain. GoodMarty came in as the perfect backup to Lundqvist. Steve Valiquette was not a major league backup. Too bad cheapo Sather didn’t pull the trigger on Marty before the Fishsticks did. Biron served the Rangers well and was great in the room to boot. A class act.

I think putting Marty on waivers was premature. The Rangers have been playing terrible defensively. Even the King is struggling early in this season. New pads, off season rust and a ridiculous road schedule have conspired to squeeze Marty Biron out.

I hope the hell Cam Talbot is up to the job of backing up Henrik in this Olympic year. The back up this season needs to play at least 25 games. Waiving Biron may come back to bit Sather in the ass. It’s always something, eh.

Good Luck to GoodMarty. He’s knowledgeable, entertaining and God knows he’s loquacious. He’s perfect for broadcasting. The NHL network needs a new francophone. Pierre Maguire is boring. They need an upgrade on the mic between the benches.

Marty Biron and a microphone. Perfect together.

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Rangers Need To Right Ship

Maybe John Tortorella was more important than anyone thought.

The former crusty coach of the New York Rangers had his flaws, but at least the team played hard. Now under Alain Vigneault, there is no discipline and no identity.

At least not yet. And the 1-3 record shows it.

And the last two 9-2 drubbing on Tuesday in San Jose and last night’s 6-0 shutout in Anaheim show it.

“The execution, making a tape-to-tape pass, has nothing do with systems,” Vigneault said. “Coming through the neutral zone and reading the other team’s pressuring gap and making the play with the puck has nothing to do with the system. These are all things these players have done their whole lives and that I’m confident they can still do.”

The Rangers seem lost. It may be because their training camp took them on the road and then opening the season with 10 games away from the newly renovated Madison Square Garden.

It also could be because Derek Stepan missed camp and now Rich Nash is out with a concussion.

None of this would have been predicted by williamhill betting.

Very well, but it is getting early fast. It’s not as dire as say, the New York Giants, but something needs to happen.

And they need to start with the simple things.

“We’re obviously trying new things here, a different look,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “But hockey’s about – we talked about it after last game – it’s about all the small details in the game, and if you don’t do that right, it’s going to be a tough game …. If you lose the puck in the wrong areas, it’s going to cost you, and it did today. Probably four of the goals were we just lost the puck in the wrong area, and it’s deadly.”

It’s the first time since December 2006, when Tom Renney was the coach and Jaromir Jagr was the Captain the Rangers gave up 14 or more goals in two consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That happened on a back-to-back, Dec. 16 in a 9-2 loss in Toronto, followed by a 6-1 loss the next night to New Jersey. The Rangers’ franchise record for most goals surrendered in consecutive games, according to Elias, is 21, set in 1944 with a 15-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 23, followed by a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 27.

Fortunately the Rangers didn’t match that record last night and they did even out the game. But it was too little too late.

“I thought our effort was a little bit better, still not where it needs to be,” said current captain Ryan Callahan. “It’s disappointing. It definitely is. I expected a little bit more out of the group after what happened in San Jose, and we didn’t get that.”

Fortunately it’s only four games and the Rangers have a chance to turn it around. But they need to do it soon or risk the season falling into an abyss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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