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22rangers2190OMG PETR PRUCHA’S PLAYING TONIGHT!

But Ryan Callahan isn’t because he has the flu. (more…)
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83370146JM010_CALGARY_FLAMEThe Rangers have just three regulation wins in 17 games since the start of November with two goals or fewer in 12 of those 17 games. They have been shutout twice on home ice in the last three games and have only scored 2.33 goals per game, second-to-last in the NHL, better than only Tampa Bay.  The Rangers have had the benefit of a fairly easy schedule through the early part of the season.  Now that they’re playing better teams, their true colors are showing. The stars are not playing up to their abilities and the young players have all plateaued.

Scott Gomez has 1 goal in his last 13 games.  Chris Drury has no goals in his last 8, Dubinsky has 1 in his last 20 and Ryan Callahan has 1 in his last 14

Last night’s game against the Flames was not the worst game this season but it was up there (down there?).  They actually played well through the first period and were sticking to the defense first mentality that has worked so well in years past.  They even held the Flames to just 2 shots in the second period.  Those two shots were the shot that led to the rebound which was Jarome Iginla’s goal.

Dear NHL, can you please make a rule change that allows teams to decline penalties?  Honestly, the Rangers’ power play is so bad that they would be better off just playing at even strength.  They had a better chance scoring short handed last night then they did up a man and they now lead the league in short handed goals against.

How is it that a team that has the best penalty kill in the entire league can be so dreadful on the power play?  It’s not like the players are that different.  Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Ryan Callahan all had time on both the power play and the penalty kill.  And it’s not like we play with four forwards on the power play.  Why then, can we not defend our net when we have more players on the ice than they do!?!

The highlights of the night were when the crowd started chanting “sloppy seconds” at Dion Phaneuf and when my brother mentioned that the guy sitting behind us sounded exactly like Zoidberg from “Futurama.”  That was the gift that kept on giving.

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Notes

  • The more I watch this team, the more they remind me of last year’s Ottawa Senators.
  • The Lightning just waived Radim Vrbata.  If they try to bring him back up, the Rangers should snag him at half the price.  This guy had a great year with the Coyotes last season and I think he would play wonderfully next to Brandon Dubinsky and Petr Prucha.
  • Michal Rozsival played his best game of the season last night.  Hopefully he can make a habit of it.
  • Corey Potter played very well in his first NHL game and reminded me of Dan Girardi when he was first called up.  Defensively sound.

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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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It’s finally here.

The moment you’ve all been waiting for.

Here is the definitive Rangers/Devils series preview, brought to you by a joint effort of the creators of this blog. Can Sean Avery and the Rangers expect more of the same against the Devils during 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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Petr is very excited to be playing a gamePrucha that is. According to Sam Weinman, Petr Prucha was skating with Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan. That would put Martin Straka on the first line with Brandon Dubinsky and Jaromir Jagr. No word who will center the second line. My guess is Sean Avery.

In related news, our sister Melissa is extremely happy.

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After going 0-7-2 against Western Conference teams this season, the Rangers have finally won one and more importantly, they avenged Marc by defeating the Sharks by the score of 3-1. After going down 1-0 early on what some might call a weak goal, the Rangers bounced back and tied it a little more than half-way through the first period. On that note, Ryan Callahan has been playing out of his mind since coming back from his stint in Hartford.

After going 10 home games without scoring a power play goal, the Rangers’ power play came up big when Chris Drury fired a shot over Nabokov’s glove and under the crossbar to take the lead. Drury now has 11 points in the last 9 games.

Check out the Video Highlights from today’s game:

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The Rangers new 3rd line has been very impressive since coach Tom Renney decided to switch up the lines for the final playoff push. Originally, Marc and I thought that putting Straka on a line with Callahan and Drury would hold them back. After today’s game, Marc came up with this as an explanation as to why the opposite is happening. “Have you ever seen an old dog that kind of just lays around all day, not really doing anything? Then, you bring home a new puppy, and suddenly the old dog starts running around and wanting to play again. Straka is the old dog, and Callahan is the puppy.” Up until now, game after game, Straka has been passing up golden shooting opportunities and making cross-ice passes at the blueline that are easily intercepted. Suddenly, he’s skating hard and shooting the puck which has led to 3 assists and some rebound goals scored by his linemates in these past two games.

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After announcing the signing of a new contract with Dan Girardi during yesterday’s game, the Rangers announced during today’s game that they signed a deal with Fedor Tyutin that, according to John Dellapina at the Daily News, is worth $11.4 Million over four years. The Rangers have had a pretty expensive weekend, haven’t they?

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