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Posts Tagged ‘Brodeur’

This is an obvious statement, but the Rangers have to win this game tonight. If they get the series back to 2-1, they are still alive. 3-0 is a different story.

You won’t see me quote a basketball coach too often in a hockey blog, but Doc Rivers had a great quote last night after the Celtics lost game 4. He said, “I could hear them in the locker room, saying ‘hey, guys we’re going back home, it’s going to be okay.’ I told them, ‘You have to go make it okay.’ We have to go make it okay.”

Since falling into the 0-2 hole, the Rangers have all been saying that they were still in this series because they were heading home to MSG. I just hope they remember that nothing magical happens when you take your home ice that suddenly makes you play better. The team is going to have to earn these wins. Playing at MSG with 18,000 fans at your back is going to help, but nothing is automatic.

A few game notes:

Remember that lineup shuffle from yesterday? Scratch that. Petr Prucha will be scratched in favor of Ryan Hollweg, which presumably means that Shanahan will skate in his usual spot with Gomez and Avery. Strudwick will also be scratched, which means the fans at MSG will see plenty of Christian Backman tonight. Renney said that Paul Mara will probably see some time on the power play unit, so we got that right.

Despite Therrien’s comments yesterday that suggest otherwise, the Rangers feel they have done very little this series to make it hard for Marc-Andre Fleury to see the puck. Renney’s reaction to hearing Therrien’s comments: “Really?” The Rangers beat up on Martin Brodeur in round 1 by putting bodies in front for screens and deflections. Look for a return to that form tonight at MSG.

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Ok, so that’s not an exact quote. But in all seriousness, the Penguins coach just won’t stop complaining. Earlier in the series he was complaining about the Rangers raising the issue of Sidney Crosby’s alleged diving. Yesterday, Therrien felt the need to complain about the Rangers getting too close to Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He said:

“They tried to put pressure on Marc-Andre, they tried to get in the crease, and we discussed it with the referees; they’re not supposed to stand there and if there’s a goal, it’s not a goal. . . . It’s tough to give penalties if they’re really close to the crease, but if Fleury’s in the crease and he can’t play the puck, it’s no goal. This is what the referees told us. . . . I noticed what Shanahan did. Guys with experience, they try to find that line, and I addressed it with the referees. They were saying that they were going to pay attention, there’s no doubt, you can’t obstruct the goalies.”

The Devils complained about the Rangers crashing the net on Brodeur, and the response from the Rangers (and the refs) was “That’s hockey.” They aren’t breaking any rules, and last time I checked it was still okay to screen the goalie (at least if your back is to him). The Shanahan play in the 1st period that Therrien referred to looked to me like a pretty standard screen in front of the goalie. But Therrien said he spoke to the refs between the 1st and 2nd periods about it and they assured him that if the Rangers were interfering with Fleury during a goal, it would be disallowed.

If the Penguins had their way, the NHL would go back to the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs where virtually every goal was reviewed to see if 1 inch of a player’s skate was in the crease.

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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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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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Here’s a youtube video of the Sean Avery interview we talked about in this earlier post.

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I highly recommend you watch the replay of Game 5 on MSG, if only for the post game show featuring John Giannone’s interview of Sean Avery. Some gems from the interview

In response to whether the Devils were targeting him, Avery said, “Guys like Clarkson, who’s not much of a player, and really is not that effective. He was trying to play with me, and we know he can’t.”

On how much the Rangers physical play impacted Brodeur, Avery said, “I think he probably did it to himself more than anything. I think, you know, if you watch the games, he dove and was out of position a lot. It’s just us playing hard and playing hockey.”

On whether he was surprised that Brodeur didn’t want to shake his hand, Avery offered this gem, “Well, everyone talks about how classy or un-classy I am, and fatso there just forgot to shake my hand I guess. . . We outplayed him. I outplayed him. We’re going to the second round.”

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After jumping out to a 4-1 lead, the Rangers held on for 5-3 victory.

I don’t have much to say about the game itself other than the Rangers really dominated play throughout the game and seemed to fall victim to a few unlucky bounces. Let’s hope that’s out of their system and we stop bouncing pucks into our own net. Also, the 3rd period was a superb performance by Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers defense. But especially Lundqvist. That penalty shot save was a thing of beauty.

Best unintentional comedy of the night: 14:45 left in the 1st period, the Devils P.A. announcer starts to announce the Devils first goal in that super-excited announcer voice. “a NEW Jersey DEVVVVIIILLLLS goalll scored by NUMBER 14, Brrrrrrr-ian, Gionnnnnntaaaaa.” Meanwhile, the Rangers had already tied it up and were starting a power play on which they were about to take the lead. Maybe a little bit more sense of the moment would be appropriate there?

As for handshake-gate, I think it’s a little childish of Brodeur to pass Avery by. The handshake line in hockey is supposed to be a beautiful display of sportsmanship, where 2 teams who have been beating the hell out of each other for 2 weeks can shake hands and say job well done. It’s disappointing to see a future hall-of-famer like Marty disrespect the tradition like that. Here’s how I think the Avery/Brodeur exchange on the handshake line went.

  • Brodeur: I’m not going to shake your hand. You have no class.
  • Avery: Are you upset because I scored 3 goals on you this series?
  • Brodeur: NO! [starts crying]. I played like crap. I gave up a bad goal in EVERY game. Plus, I got called for diving. I suck 😦
  • Avery: Whatever, fatso.

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Nobody was blaming Marc Staal after the Devils overtime winner in game 3 ricocheted off his foot past Henrik Lundqvist. But you can bet Staal wasn’t too happy about it, especially after the play earlier in the game where he couldn’t clear the puck and Elias scored. But wow, the kid played awesome tonight. The game winner was sweet, but that wasn’t the only bright spot about Staal’s game. He was solid through all 3 periods. Along with his partner Rozsival, Staal was very effective breaking the puck out of the Rangers zone, and when Staal and Rozsival were on the ice, the Devils barely got a sniff at the net. Plus that game winner was sweet. Did I mention that his game winner was really sweet?

My favorite public address announcement of the night came 13:36 into the 2nd period. It was, “Devils penalty on #30, Martin Brodeur. 2 minutes for diving.” HAHAHA. FINALLY. If a referee gives you a penalty for diving, he is basically calling you a little bitch. That probably didn’t sit well with Marrrrrrrrr-teeeeeee. Brodeur is a flopper, plain and simple.

Game highlights can be found here.

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Just a few snippets of Rangers reactions today at the morning skate.

  • Chris Drury, who had skated over to Avery while he was face-guarding Brodeur, explained that what he said to Avery during the incident (see youtube clip at 2:15) was that he was trying to get Avery to keep his stick down. “I didn’t want to lose the 5 on 3, you don’t want it all of a sudden, to be 4 on 3. He was just trying to distract him.” He also added, “It’s hockey. Not moral or philosophical. It wasn’t a rule. Now it’s a rule.”
  • Henrik Lundqvist discussed how effective that tactic would be to prevent the goalie from seeing the puck, and said it was “smart”. Backup Stephen Valiquette, on the other hand, did not approve.
  • Jaromir Jagr, in his usual humor, seemed to be amused by Avery’s antics, and said they were cool. He did, however, express his wish that Avery would have saved the tactic for later in the playoffs.
  • Brandon Dubinsky didn’t speak much about the actual incident, but reiterated to the reporters present that Avery will be key to how far the Rangers go in the playoffs. “He’s one of those guys who you can count on every night. He brings that energy, intensity, and effort that you need to win on a daily basis.”

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What does Sean Avery have in common with Rob Ray, Trent Tucker, and Roy Williams?

In a reaction to Avery’s actions in a game, which were completely within the rules at the time, the NHL has changed its rules! As reported at ESPN.com, the NHL has issued a directive that changes the interpretation of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, effective immediately, to include the following situation:

“When an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender’s face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play.”

Allow me to put on my goalie pads for a second and say that if I was in net, I would have punched Avery directly in the face. This rule is probably an attempt by the NHL to prevent actions that they don’t approve of from becoming widespread.

Now, let me put on my lawyer pants for a second. The key phrase in that directive is “for the purpose of improperly interfering with.” That simple phrase says 2 important things. 1) The refs now have to discern a purpose from the player’s actions before they can call a penalty, and 2) the NHL thought Avery’s actions were “improper”.

In general, I am opposed to additional rule-making. Is it the job of the league office to arbitrarily decide what is the proper way to play hockey? As the rule says, if a player is face-guarding the goalie, he is not in position to make a play. Therefore, players have a choice. On the one hand, they can face-guard and distract the goalie (and perhaps this distraction is more effective than a traditional screen). But in doing so, he takes himself out of the play. Given this choice, is the rule really necessary?

The NHL is essentially saying that they think Avery’s creative play was extremely effective — so effective that it would catch on in the NHL if no rule was enacted — and would alter the product on the ice. I don’t think many players would opt for that kind of positioning, but if a player wants to sacrifice position, it should be his choice.

Hockey is a beautiful sport because of its fluidity. Unlike basketball and football, the referees in hockey play a minimal role in the game play. I think the NHL front office should take a similar stance and let the game develop naturally.

If you didn’t see the play, check out the video on youtube.

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