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Archive for April, 2008

This might get your blood boiling. I came across this article written by an annoying Pittsburgh sportswriter.

My favorite line:

“Coach Tom Renney implied through a protracted silence that he was disgusted with the call.”

What are you, friggin clairvoyant? Send Joe an email to remind him of his lack of journalistic talent.

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Petr Prucha skated today in practice on the 4th line with Blair Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom. Renney didn’t say definitively whether Prucha was in, but it seems to be the way he is leaning. I am very much in favor of this move. That line will be fast on the ice, and with 3 solid back-checkers it should provide the Rangers with a few shifts per period to counter Crosby’s line or Malkin’s line (and give Gomez and Drury an extra breather).

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I’m not sure why Michel Therrien is so ticked off, especially after a game in which the referees did not hesitate to blow the whistle when Crosby hit the ice, but he had some interesting comments for the Rangers today.

“And where I’m kind of disappointed is that there’s gamesmanship before the series about Sidney drawing penalties. And I’m disappointed. I’m kind of disappointed about that.”

“And we all know what Tom Renney’s trying to do. He tried to do it before we started the series. He tried to do it last night, I saw his comments today. He’s trying to get attention to the referees and complaining about the penalty last night at the end of the game.”

“[Sidney’s] not going to go to the outside. That’s the way he is. He’s not going to take the easy road. He’s going to take the tough road and try to succeed. And yesterday, on that play, he had a step on [Straka] and if he didn’t get hooked, we’re probably going to go on a breakaway. And he drew a penalty.”

I’m pretty confused about that last part. I’m not sure what Therrien was watching if he thought Sid was going to end up on a breakaway on that play. Gomez made a great recovery to dive and sweep the puck away from Hossa, and the penalty was called well behind the play. If no penalty was called, the play would have continued with the Rangers in possession of the puck.

As for Therrien’s claim that Renney is trying to draw the refs attention, well, I have to wonder what Therrien is reading. Renney has been pretty quiet on the subject and today he refused to respond to what Therrien said.

Brendan Shanahan, however, did respond. “I haven’t read the papers today but I feel like the only thing our team did last night was defend Martin Straka. . . We certainly didn’t come into the room and throw down our equipment and say we got hosed by the refs. So I’m kind of surprised that Therrien’s making a big issue today. I’m actually really surprised. But if he wants to bring the referee’s attention to it, that’s fine.”

I’m not a psychologist, but do you think Therrien might be feeling a little guilty?

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Watching that game, I felt like I had just been punched in the gut. Recapping it feels like something not as bad as passing a kidney stone but not as good as slipping on an icy sidewalk and cracking your head. I also have a massive hangover, so I’ll try to keep this short.

It would be easy to blame the referees for some of the Rangers problems, but let’s be honest, the Rangers defense looked terrible. The Penguins were faster and caused about 10,000 turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones. The Rangers need to be more confident with the puck and, as my Canadian college hockey coach would say, they also need to stop treating the puck like a “hot potato.” There were stretches where 3 or 4 shifts went by with the puck spending 90% of the time in the Rangers zone. The other 10% consisted of the Rangers softly dumping the puck to be picked up by the Pens defense in the neutral zone and rushed back towards the overwhelmed Rangers defense and the suddenly vulnerable Lundqvist… not exactly a winning strategy.

Still, the Rangers managed to build a 3 goal lead… only to see it disappear in about the time it takes my buddy Spivack to pound an Irish car bomb. But I digress.

And you know what, while I’m on a roll, I think I will complain about the officiating. My problem is that it was inconsistent, and it has been throughout the playoffs (not just in Rangers games). Sometimes it looks like a classic playoff hockey game, with the refs swallowing the whistle to allow 2 elite teams to really play some hard-nosed hockey. But, at other times, the refs suddenly decide to call the game like its a November matchup between Tampa Bay and Atlanta. It’s completely inexplicable and there’s no way to know when they make this transition. It’s almost like the refs slip into their usual playoff mode for a chunk of the game until they realize, “oh crap… If I want to keep my job, I better start calling penalties.” The result is the weak penalty called on Martin Straka at a crucial point of the game. 3 minutes left in a tie game and you call that? Really?!? The same thing happened in Montreal on Thursday. No penalties for a while, then they call a questionable one and change the outcome of the game. Why is it so difficult for the NHL to let these guys play 5-on-5? [I’ll be right back. I have to go slam my head against the wall for 10 minutes]

[Okay, I’m back]. Here’s what Brendan Shanahan said. “I think it’s a weak call at that time in the game. Sidney embellished and you could make the call that he was interfering with Martin Straka. . . I think it was a tough call for the referee to make at that time in the game.” Ding ding ding.

Oh, and one more thing… Jarkko Ruutu is a [expletive deleted]. Now I know how other teams feel about Sean Avery. There’s no doubt that Ruutu waving his stick in Rozsival’s face during a faceoff should have been an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe I’m missing something, but didn’t they just make a rule about that? The ref went over and actually pushed Ruutu’s stick down but didn’t call a penalty! What’s up with that? Then he scored. I have to go slam my head against the wall again. See you tomorrow.

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Here once again is the definitive series preview, brought to you by a joint effort of the creators of this blog. The Rangers posted a 5-3 record against the Penguins this season. Can Henrik Lundqvist keep Sid the Kid and his cronies from punching the Rangers out of the playoffs? The only way to find out is to keep reading.

It’s on the long side, so click the “more” link below to continue reading.

(more…)

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Game 1
Friday, April 25, 7:00 PM
Mellon Arena

Game 2
Sunday, April 27, 2:00 PM
Mellon Arena

Game 3
Tuesday, April 29, 7:00 PM
Madison Square Garden

Game 4
Thursday, May 1, 7:00 PM
Madison Square Garden

Game 5*
Sunday, May 4 2:00 PM
Mellon Arena

Game 6*
Monday, May 5, 7:00 PM
Madison Square Garden

Game 7*
Wednesday, May 7, Time TBA
Mellon Arena

*if necessary

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son of a bitchAfter the refs swallowed their wistles for the second half of the second period and all of the third, who else but Tom Poti would get called for tripping in OT? That’s just what happened and the Flyers scored a Power Play goal just 9 seconds before the penalty was over. Oh well.

Now the second round matchups are set and it will be the #1 Montreal Canadiens against the #6 Philadelphia Flyers and the #2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the #5 New York Rangers.

We’ll update once the NHL releases the schedule. Steve Zipay thinks that the first two games will be Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

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Check out this skit from Letterman last night starring Brendan Shanahan, Sean Avery, Scott Gomez, Henrik Lundqvist, and Fredrik Sjostrom.

Unfortunately, Chris Elliot is not funny. But, if you’re bored, this video is worth a look. I giggled once or twice.

I’m not sure when this was filmed, but judging from Avery’s face (no black eye), I would say it was definitely before the playoffs.

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The second round of the Stanley Cup playoff picture is starting to come into focus after Montreal put the hurt on the Bruins in game 7.  But everybody in the East is still waiting on the Flyers and the Caps.

After a big time game 6 road win, and after fighting their way out of a 3-1 hole, the Capitals have earned the right to play in a game 7 in Washington tomorrow night.

If the Capitals win, it will be Rangers-Canadiens and Caps-Pens. (haha, pen caps!)

If the Flyers win, it will be Rangers-Penguins and Flyers-Canadiens.

Whenever we figure out the matchup, we will bring you another series preview.

P.S. I don’t want to gloat or anything, but I totally got Round 1 right.

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Henrik Lundqvist, along with Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov, has been named as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. The Vezina goes to the NHL’s top goaltender during the Regular Season.

Evgeni Nabokov finished the regular season with a 46-21-8 record, a 2.14 GAA, a .910 SV% and 6 shutouts. This is Nabokov’s first nomination as a Vezina Finalist.

Martin Brodeur has now been nominated as a Vezina Finalist 8 times. He has won it 3 times in his career. Brodeur finished the regular season with a 44-27-6 record, a 2.17 GAA, a .920 SV% and 4 shutouts.

Henrik Lundqvist has now been nominated as a Vezina Finalist 3 years in a row. That is, every year he has played in the NHL. Maybe third time’s the charm? Lundqvist finished the regular season with 37-24-10 record with a 2.23 GAA and a .912 SV%. He finished the season with 10 shutouts to lead the league.

Here’s how the fans are voting at ESPN.com.

1) Who should win the Vezina Trophy?
42.5% Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
36.3% Evgeni Nabokov, Sharks
21.2% Martin Brodeur, Devils
Total Votes: 21,096

You can cast your vote by clicking here.

All 30 NHL GMs vote for the Vezina Trophy and the Winner will be announced on June 12, 2008 in Toronto.

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