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Posts Tagged ‘marcus naslund’

Hello!  Yes I’m alive and so are Marc and Rory.  They say hi.

The Rangers are 17-8-2 right now which places them atop the Eastern conference.  But are they really as good as their record would suggest?

Some days I watch them play and I would argue that they are just as good, if not better than their record suggests.  On other days (Oct 15, Nov 8*, Nov 22, Nov 30) they play terrible, uninspired games.  Why is it that there is such a large swing from game to game?  How can the Rangers right the ship and keep it that way?

*What happened to  “Every goal of every game,” NHL.com?

1. Fix the Power Play. Yes, I know. dead-horseBut seriously, something must be done about this.  The Rangers have the most power play opportunities in the entire league, their offense is what some would call stacked, yet they are ranked 11th in the Eastern conference.  Let me just throw out a few teams that have a better power play.  The Islanders, the Thrashers, the Lightning.  In the last five games, the Rangers are just 2 for 21 with the man advantage.  At least Tom Renney is now admitting that there is something wrong and is even considering putting a forward at the point. aaaaaaah

I think there’s forwards who can do that job. There’s defensemen, too. They just have to do it with a certain level of confidence and assertiveness.  We can look at a number of different guys. What would Zherdev be like back there? Chris (Drury) we’ve tried. What would Scott (Gomez) be like back there? What would Nazzy be like? That’s a short list of guys.

The problem I have with putting a forward at the point is that the Rangers are already leading the league in short handed goals against and they’ve been playing with two defensemen on the power play the entire season.  By putting 4 forwards on the ice, you’re conceding that your PP unit will not be as defensively sound.  Look how easily Chris Drury pounces on the defensive mistake of Martin St. Louis, caught out of position along the boards during a Lightning power play.

So, what do you do if the defensemen on the PP have not been effective but adding a 4th forward would add to the risk of shorthanded goals for a team that already gives up too many shorthanded goals?  Take the defensemen that aren’t working *cough*Rozsival*cough* on the PP off of the PP and put a different defenseman on the point.  Marc Staal doesn’t need the perfect pass to rip a slap shot.

Scott Gomez, please stop hanging around at the half boards and pretending to be Jaromir Jagr.  Cycle the puck and get some low, hard shots to the net with a man set up right in front.  Rebounds and deflections galore!

76074654CM010_NEW_YORK_RANG2. Give Petr Prucha a chance. Dear Tom Renney, Why is it that Dan Fritsche is allowed to have so many games to be consistently invisible yet Petr Prucha gets very few games to play hard, throw the body around, and draw some penalties?  You recently allowed Fritsche to play 10 games in a row.  He scored 1 goal against the Panthers and got 3 assists against the Devils (2) and the Bruins (1).  He scored his first goal of the season in his 9th game in a row.  I wonder if his goal came as a mix of playing against an inferior team plus getting more comfortable playing as he was playing on a more consistent basis.

Please, please allow Prucha 10 games in a row to show you that he is the better player and that he deserves much more ice time than you give him.  Why not try him on the Power Play?  Nothing else seems to be working so far.  Don’t forget, the teams you will be facing in the next couple weeks are much stronger opponents than the ones you faced in the last two weeks.

3. Stop stumbling out of the gate. The Rangers played 13 games in October. They scored first in eight of those games and had a record of 10-2-1.  They played 14 games in November and scored first in only four of those games.  Their record in November was 7-6-1.  In fact, before the game in Tampa, the Rangers had gone eight games without scoring first.

It might be alright to play catch up with a team like the Lightning or the Brodeur-less Devils.  Especially when you have a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist to keep you in it, but what happens when you stumble so hard that you can’t get up in time and give up 4 goals in the first 23 mintues of a game?  You need to come out of the gate strong and finish strong as well.

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OK they lost.  It was bound to happen eventually.  Let’s just move on and see if they can rebound from such a terrible outing.

There are a few roster changes to note:

  • Stephen Valiquette will get the start tonight to give Henrik Lundqvist a break for tomorrow’s game in Detroit.
  • Lauri Korpikoski will be scratched with an arm or shoulder injury.
  • Nigel Dawes and Dan Fritsche will most likely be the wingers on the third line centered by Ryan Callahan.
    • This would be Ryan’s first game as a Center for the Rangers.
  • Patrick Rissmiller and Petr Prucha are the healthy scratches.

There will be no changes made to line of Naslund-Gomez-Drury.  I think Renney is going to give them 1 or 2 more games before he breaks them up.

Look for fatigue to start playing a bigger role in games.  This is the Rangers’ 5th game in 8 nights and is their 7th game of the season.  The Maple Leafs are only playing their 4th game of the season and 3rd game in the same 8 days.  Their last game was on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.  They lost 5-4 in the skills competition.

Ryan Hollweg will not play tonight as he is serving his second suspension this season.

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I guess you could call this a Season Preview but we’ll just call it the Game Preview. Also, today is my birthday!

Back on October 5, 2005, the New York Rangers played a game for the first time in over a year. The NHL was finally back after a lock-out that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

It had been 8 years since the Rangers had last made the playoffs–when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals–and the idea that the Rangers were going to end the drought was ludicrous. That year, almost every “expert” had picked the Rangers to finish 30th in the NHL.

Honestly, did you have much faith in that team? Look at the lineup they sported for the 2005-2006 season opener against the Flyers:

Rucinsky-Nylander-Jagr
Straka-Ruccin-Hossa
Moore-Betts-Ward
Hollweg-Lundmark-Ortmeyer

Rozsival-Malik
Poti-Strudwick
Tyutin-Kasparaitis

Weekes
Lundqvist

Admit it. You looked at that team and thought, “We’re screwed!” But Slats was keeping his word; the Rangers were rebuilding. We couldn’t expect greatness in the first year. Honestly, I would have been content no matter what happened that season. But what happened that year stunned everybody.

The Rangers sat in first place in the Atlantic Division until the very last day of the season when they were passed by both the Devils and the Flyers. More importantly, for the first time since 1997, the Rangers had made the playoffs and Jaromir Jagr broke the Rangers single season records for both goals (54) and points (123).

Now fast forward to this season. The Rangers come into the game with a 2-0-0 record with two wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning last weekend in Prague.

Here is the line up that the Rangers sported for the first two games of the season:

Naslund-Gomez-Drury
Dawes-Dubinsky-Zherdev
Prucha-Korpikoski-Callahan
Voros-Betts-Orr

Rozsival-Redden
Girardi-Kalinin
Staal-Mara

Lundqvist
Valiquette

Only two, yes two, players from the 2005 opening night roster are still on the team. Only one of them actually played in that game! Petr Prucha was called up from Hartford soon after the start of the season and stayed up for most of it. But still that is only 3 players that remain from the October 5, 2005 to October 4, 2008. Speaking of Petr Prucha, of all the players currently on the roster, he has the most games played and most goals scored as a Ranger.

Looking ahead to this season, the Rangers are a younger, faster, more offensive minded team that can still shut things down when needed. The problem is that almost every offseason move the Rangers made is counting on the player playing better because of a change in scenery. So far, Naslund and Redden have scored goals. Zherdev has shown how wonderfully he can control the puck but has not finished. He does have the potential to set up many goals for Brandon Dubinsky. I really hope Zherdev doesn’t end up like Matt Cullen did with the Rangers.

There were some questions heading into this season about Dubinsky. Would he have the dreaded sophomore slump? Would he be able to produce without Jagr on his wing? We’re only 2 games into the season, but Dubinsky doesn’t look like he’s going to hit the proverbial wall any time soon. He was arguably the best player on the Rangers throughout the Preseason and has skated very well with new linemate Nikolai Zherdev.

Some other young players that must prove themselves are Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, and believe it or not, Petr Prucha. Dawes and Callahan will most likely thrive in a faster and more offensive minded environment. As will Prucha who is scratched for tonights game. But Tom Renney has to give Prucha more ice time. At least some more time on the Power Play.

As for any predictions, I think the Rangers will fight for control of the Atlantic with the Penguins for the majority of the Season. They will probably end up finishing in second place in the division which is good enough for 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight, the Rangers will hold their true home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. This team made a big splash in the free agency market by signing Brian Campbell to an 8 year contract for about $56.8 million. They also improved in goal with the addition of Cristobal Huet. This team is young and looking to prove themselves. They were very close to making the playoffs last season and you can be sure that New Captain Jonathan Toews and Sophomore Patrick Kane will skate circles around our defense at least once.

Hopefully the Rangers can find their scoring and break out against Huet who they have been fairly good against in recent memory.

I will be at the game and I might snap some pictures. I’ll post them later tonight if I can along with the recap.

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I actually look like this.

I actually look like this.

Is this introduction and season preview horribly late? Yes. Is this probably not going to be published until after the season technically begins? Yes. But do you care all that much? Probably not. If you’re that pissed, blame Eric.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rory, and I’m an angry, sarcastic, die-hard, 3rd-generation Ranger fan born in New York and raised in New Jersey. In addition to the Rangers, I love coffee, stiletto heels, and curly fries. Most likely due to my Ranger-fan-in-Jersey upbringing, the New Jersey Devils are the bane of my existence, and it is my personal belief that one of the most important things Lundqvist can do in his career will be to pummel Marty Brodeur in a team brawl until he oozes donut jelly from his man boobs chiseled athletic form.

That being said, I do hope y’all will find what I write, at the very least, amusing, as I do love ranting and raving about my beloved Rangers to anyone who can hear me, whether they want to listen or not. And this is a Rangers blog, so if you’re here and don’t want to hear(read) it, then, um, yeah that’s your business.

So anywhoozle, you’ve all read all summer about every reason why or why not we should or shouldn’t have let Jagr, Avery, and Shanahan go; and the same goes for signing Naslund, Redden, Zherdev, and blah blah blah. So I’m not going to bore the piss out of you by rehashing what you already know. But, since you are taking the time to read this, I’ll at least sum up my overall feelings. In bullet points! Yay!

  • I loved Jags. I don’t care about the prima-donna reputation or him sitting out in shootouts. I loved that man for everything he did for this team: bringing us back from being a league-wide joke. Not to mention his willingness to be open and honest about how the team was doing, good or bad, his humor, and, yes, that massive ass. So Naslund is going to have to work extra hard to win me over, which is his ultimate goal, of course.
  • Last year’s power play was basically a piece of butt crack lint with some spray glitter on it, so if Redden ends up blowing (Ed. Note: Not shooting the puck), oh well. How much worse could things get?
  • Love him or hate him, Sean Avery was, at the very least, entertaining. I’ll miss his borderline unsportsmanlike ass.
  • We signed a lot of key guys and spent a lot of money on the premise of them “benefiting from a change of scenery”. Not exactly a good plan, if you ask me.
  • In dumping both Marek Malik and Christian Backman, us fans have no immediate option for booing at MSG. I nominate Dimitri Kalinin, he seems to be shaping up pretty well for it.
  • The Rangers owe Brendan Shanahan an official ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Just letting it drift away and not saying anything is like breaking up with someone by just not calling them anymore and resetting your Facebook status to ‘Single’. Uncool, and super un-classy.
  • Lundqvist’s preseason had been somewhat worrisome, as is the situation with his knees slowly deteriorating. But the last couple of games he’s gotten his form back, and looks Kingly for the start of the season, so I’m willing to push that worried feeling to the backburner for now. He’s poised to make NHL history this season, potentially the first NHL goalie to post 30 wins in his first 4 seasons. Pretty awesome.
  • Speaking of Lundqvist, on an un-Ranger-related note, Eric made fun of me for drafting him to my fantasy team (go Bea Arthurs on Ice!), but I think this is Joel’s year to bust out and have an awesome year. You can quote me on that. But only if it comes true. (Ed. Note: Great Success will have great success this season.)

Alright, I’ve rambled enough. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you. I’m very excited to be here at 5-Hole, and I hope y’all are just as excited as I am for this upcoming season.

LET’S GO RANGERS!

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