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Archive for February, 2008

Maybe the defense was asleep. Maybe the refs forgot the rules of hockey. Maybe Christian Backman got 10 penalty minutes (6 officially but it was him that made Cole’s face bleed, not Marc Staal. See second “maybe.”).

But does that really matter? Henrik played pretty well and Malik of all people had a sound game. He threw at least TWO HITS! And, oh yeah, we won!
The young’uns again showed us why they are still playing in the big leagues. Dubinsky completely fooled Ward with a beautiful deke to his backhand that he buried top shelf (Props to Jagr for the steal and the blind drop pass to set the whole thing up). Callahan stood up for himself by fighting Conboy. Dawes looked like he knew where everyone was on the ice at all times. Especially when he set up Shanny for the go-ahead-by-two goal.

***

Fredrik Sjostrom and Christian Backman played their first games as Rangers last night. Sjostrom played on the fourth line with Betts and Hollweg and played very well. He even made a nice drive to the net that needed a fair bit of effort on the part of Cam Ward.

Backman played alright except that he took quite a few penalties. He was the cause of 10 penalty minutes even though he was only charged with 6.

Now this doesn’t mean that I’m throwing him under the bus. I’m just waiting to see him play a few more games. For all we know, he was a nervous wreck last night. Hell, I would’ve been.

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After a three day break, the Rangers get back to work tonight in Carolina. The Hurricanes are playing pretty well going 7-2-1 in their last 10 and 3-1-1 in their last 5.

Two of the four newest Rangers will be in the lineup tonight. Fredrik Sjostrom will take Colton Orr’s (chest pain) place on the 4th line and Christian Backman will skate in Paul Mara’s (head) place next to Marc Staal.

The last two times the Rangers have had a long break, the first team they played after was the Sabres. The Rangers won both games (5-1 and 4-3). Before that, their last long break came during the All-Star break. They played the Hurricanes and lost 3-1. The Rangers are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and 4-0-1 in their last 5 with that “one” being the game against Montreal.

The lineup should look something like this:

Avery-Dubinsky-Jagr

Dawes-Gomez-Shanahan

Straka-Drury-Callahan

Hollweg-Betts-Sjostrom

Rozsival-Malik

Tyutin-Girardi

Staal-Backman

Lundqvist

Petr Prucha is “good to go” but coach Tom Renney says, “we want to give our new guys a chance to play.”

Maybe Sunday against Philly?

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Colton Orr vs. Josh Gratton

Check out this 2005 battle between Colton Orr and Josh Gratton from when they were both in the AHL. Maybe this will be how they decide who gets the roster spot on the Rangers.

Rangers @ Hurricanes Preview coming in a few!

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Remember that time we won the Gold Medal?Lundqvist, Backman, Sjostrom, oh my!

Or as Jagr joked, “Swedes everywhere.” As the Rangers get ready for their first game without Malik Jagr Mara Prucha Hossa, we find out that two of the recent acquisitions may very well be playing tomorrow in Carolina. According to Sam Weinman at Rangers Report, Christian Backman skated with Marc Staal (replacing the injured Mara) and Fredrik Sjostrom was skating in place of Colton Orr on the fourth line.

Don’t worry Jagr, Czechs still outnumber Swedes five to three.

Beat Writers boycott Avery?

Recently, Sean Avery has been avoiding the press. Not just avoiding, but making an art of it. At one point he claimed to have laryngitis. Magical laryngitis that disappeared when he hit the ice but reappeared when reporters got near him.

Today during practice, he skated over to the corner of the rink where the writers were stationed. He pointed to John Dellapina of the Daily News, asking him if he wanted to talk saying, “We’ll do a rotation. One guy a week.” Dellapina declined so Avery turned to Weinman saying, “OK, what do you want to ask me? Is there really anything earth-shattering you need to know?” Weinman also declined.

Tired of waiting his turn, Steve Zipay from Newsday asked, “Is there a reason you haven’t talked for three weeks?”

“No comment.”

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I don’t have much to say about the Rangers trade deadline moves, but here’s what I got.

The 2 names the Rangers picked up that might have an impact in the NHL this year are Fredrik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton.

The word on 24-year-old Sjostrom is that he’s a solid defensive Right Wing. I suppose that means he’s an instant upgrade from Hossa because this guy might actually back-check. Also, he’s Swedish. That’s a good thing.

Gratton is an enforcer, and will probably end up in Hartford if Colton Orr gets back in the lineup. That is, unless the Rangers decide to dress Fulton Reed Gratton and Dean Portman Orr in a move reminiscent of the Mighty Ducks’ Bash Brothers.

The Rangers also picked up G David LeNeveu, and D Christian Backman, a 27-year-old Swede.  Both will probably be assigned to Hartford.

The Rangers gave up Marcel Hossa (best described as underwhelming) and Al Montoya (best described as superfluous). Both of these guys had some promise at some point, and hopefully they can recapture that promise in Phoenix.

Here’s a rundown of all the trade deadline deals from yesterday.

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Pittsburgh = Scary

Not only do they get Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to plug into their already dangerous offense, they go out and get Hal Gill to solidify their D. Uh oh. Now they’ve got a line with Crosby and Hossa, a line with Malkin and Malone, and they’ve got Jordan Staal to fill in on the wing. Then, you add Gill, who has the ability to shut down opposing teams’ top forwards. I believe Jagr once called Hal Gill the best Defenseman in the world. This team is going to be really good scary.

Montreal = North of the Border-line retarded?

I really don’t get this move. Montreal unloads their #1 goalie, Cristobal Huet, to the Capitals for a 2nd round pick. What? Somebody please explain this move to me. Where is the sense? Huet has been a solid backstop all year, and management up in Montreal has to think they have a chance at a Cup run. Why get rid of your #1 netminder? I understand that Carey Price is the goalie of the future, but he hasn’t exactly been a brick wall this year, and he is definitely untested. Unless they plan on scoring 4 goals a game, I could see them going out in the 1st round.

 

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According to ESPN.com, Forsberg agreed to a $5 million, one-year deal Monday with the Colorado Avalanche.  The deal is prorated over the rest of the NHL season for about $1 million

This is after an announcement from his agent, Don Baizley, less than one week ago that he would not return to the NHL this season. Baizley said, “The prospect of Peter having enough confidence in the foot-skate issue to commit to being able to play in the NHL this season isn’t where it needs to be at this moment”

Two days later, Forsberg re-opened the sweepstakes for his services, as he was quoted in the Philadelphia Daily News telling Swedish national television, “The foot doesn’t feel 100 percent, but there is still a week left until the deadline.”

Now, he returns to the team where he won Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001

The Avalanche are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference, 4 points behind Forsberg’s last team, 8th place Nashville. The Avs are certainly hoping that the signing of their former star will catapult them into the playoffs, and with better results than his mediocre run last year with the Predators.

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avery1.jpgIn the Buffalo game, Sean Avery accomplished one my favorite hockey feats: a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

With a few seconds left in the first period, he fought Patrick Katela. Then, halfway through the 2nd period, he had an assist on Michael Rozsival’s game-tying-goal. And, of course, Avery scored the game-winner late in the 3rd.

Nice job!

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The Rangers are looking good.

How about Marek Malik? I didn’t hear anyone at the Garden booing the much-maligned defenseman after he scored a goal and an assist. He received a loud ovation when he was announced as the second star of the game in what might have been his Rangers curtain-call. Hey Rangers fans: stop booing your own players! We are not the Knicks!

How about Jaromir Jagr? He scored a sweet goal, tucking the puck inside the post while going full speed past the net. After going most of the season without making much noise, he is finally starting to look like the Rangers best player (which is what he is).

How about Scott Gomez? Finally looking comfortable on this side of the Hudson, Gomez scored a goal and 2 assists.

How about Tom Renney?  He looks like a genius.  The new line combos have been awesome.  This is the Rangers team everyone wanted to see before the season started.  The top 3 lines are capable of scoring any time they are on the ice, and the 4th line provides a few solid shifts every period.  The Defense looks solid, and with Henrik starting to look like his old self in the net, this Rangers team certainly looks like they can be competitive with any team in the East.

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UPDATE: Paul Mara and Colton Orr were both injured in last night’s game against the Sabres and will not play tonight.  They have been replaced by Jason Strudwick and Marcel Hossa.  Hossa will play on the 4th line with Betts and Hollweg.  Strudwick will most likely skate with Marc Staal.
-Eric

The surging Rangers look to keep their 6-game unbeaten-in-regulation streak alive tonight against the Panthers. (As an aside, the Rangers are 4-0-2 in their last 6, but I’m not really sure what to call the streak. I can’t say just “unbeaten” because they’ve lost twice. “Points” streak just sounds weird to me. So I’m going with unbeaten-in-regulation until someone gives me a better idea. Does anyone out there have an idea? Leave it in the comments.)

It was just a few weeks ago when the Rangers were sitting in the cellar of the Atlantic division. The race was so tight, however, that after rattling off a few wins, the Rangers are back within range. We will have a better idea of their position after tonight. The Devils and Penguins are both in action this afternoon. (As I write this, the Devils and Capitals are tied 1-1 early in the 3rd period, while the Penguins and Sharks are tied 0-0 in the 2nd intermission).

The Panthers did their part for the Rangers cause yesterday in Philadelphia, scoring with 4 seconds left in the 3rd period to force OT, then winning the game in the extra frame to prevent the Flyers from gaining the precious 2 points. The Panthers are a talented team and should not be taken lightly. Their Defense, while ranked among the worst in the NHL, is bolstered by the talented Jay Bouwmeester, who leads the NHL in ice time (more than 27 mins/game). Olli Jokinen, a.k.a. the guy who sliced Zednik’s neck open, leads the Panthers in scoring. If the Rangers can contain Jokinen’s line, which includes shifty youngster Nathan Horton, (and that’s a big IF), I expect the Rangers to win.

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