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Posts Tagged ‘Sjostrom’

Take a look at the Rangers projected roster for 2008-2009.  The top 3 lines and the defense are pretty much set, but there seem to be too many forwards.

Zherdev-Gomez-Naslund
Prucha-Drury-Dawes
Callahan-Dubinsky-Sjostrom
Voros-Fritsche/Rissmiller-[Anisimov?]
Hollweg/[Byers?]-Betts-Orr/[Moore?]

Redden-Staal
Rozsival-Girardi
Mara-Kalinin-[Sanguinetti?]

By my calculations the Rangers have an excess of 3 NHL forwards plus 3 more NHL-caliber forwards currently in Hartford.  Because of this, it might be a good idea to make a salary-clearing trade for draft picks.   It’s safe to say that the Rangers still have interest in signing a proven goal-scorer either during the off-season or before the trade deadline next year.  If the Rangers can add some cap space to the $3.3 million they currently have, they would be in the running to make a play for a top-quality winger.

 

Update: Forgot about Kalinin. Thanks to the commenter “Jagr”.

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Let’s go through a projection of how the Rangers roster might shape up:

Zherdev-Gomez-[Jagr or some UFA]
Dawes-Drury-Callahan
Sjostrom-Dubinsky-Prucha
Hollweg-Betts-Orr
Fritsche-Rissmiller-Voros
Shanahan?

Rozsival-Staal
Redden-Girardi
Pock?-Strudwick?-Sanguinetti?

The Rangers have $14.5 million in cap space but that number does not include Dawes, Sjostrom, Fritsche, Rissmiller, Voros, or Strudwick.

Assuming the Rangers will spend roughly $4 or $5 million between those players, they will have about $9 or $10 million to spend on Jagr, Shanahan, and any UFA’s the Rangers might desire.

That doesn’t leave much wiggle room.  Decision time for Slats.

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As if coming back from 0-3 in the series wasn’t going to be hard enough, the Rangers are going to have to do with it without Sean Avery (lacerated spleen), Blair Betts (broken bone in face), and without a 100% Chris Drury (torso injury). Drury is probable but after watching him skate at half speed and not taking any faceoffs in the 3rd period of game 3, I have to think he’s playing hurt.

So, where does that leave the Rangers? Well, the situation is not very good. Betts and Drury are the team’s top penalty killers, and the Penguins power play was destroying the Rangers despite Betts and Drury’s best efforts. I would be surprised to see Drury on the penalty kill even if he does play tonight. Now, without their services, it will be up to Scott Gomez, Ryan Callahan, and possibly Brandon Dubinsky to really step up their penalty killing.

Who is going to fill the empty spots in the lineup? Hartford call-up Lauri Korpikoski is going to play center for the 4th line but it’s not clear who will play wing and it’s also not clear who will play on the 2nd line in place of Sean Avery. It will be some combination of Prucha, Orr, and Hollweg. Korpikoski, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft, will be making his NHL debut tonight. Hopefully he can make the most of his 2-3 shifts per period. I think Prucha makes the most sense to fill in on the 2nd line. On Defense, Jason Strudwick will play along side Paul Mara in place of Christian Backman.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the situation does not look very good. But, there is still some hope. The Rangers have lost 3 in a row, but the Pens haven’t exactly dominated the Rangers in this series. The Rangers let a 3-goal lead slip through their fingers in game 1, and in game 3 the Rangers dominated the flow of the game but couldn’t capitalize on scoring chances as effectively as the Penguins.

It’s possible, right?

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I have to admit I completely underestimated the Penguins before this series. I look back at my series preview and I can’t believe I gave the edge to the Rangers offense. I let the flashy shot totals from the regular season get to my head. What I didn’t take into account was which team was going to capitalize on their scoring chances.

These Penguins certainly know how to put the puck into the net, scoring on 5 out of 17 shots in this game. You can’t fault Lundqvist. His save percentage looks terrible on paper, but not one of those goals was his fault. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t bad either.

How did the Penguins score 5 goals? It’s as simple as this: The Penguins offense was faster than the Rangers defense with and without the puck. The Rangers defense was burned several times, and frequently coughed up the puck throughout the game.

In the 2nd period, the Rangers seemed to have stolen the momentum after tying the game at 3 and keeping possession deep in the Penguins zone for well over a minute and a half. Then, Ryan Hollweg took a braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.  The Penguins power play, which was absolutely killer, capitalized to make it 4-3. The Pens only had 2 power play chances, but scored on both. (The Rangers went 0 for 5).

So where do the Rangers go from here? The series isn’t technically over, but really, it is.

I’d be surprised if the Rangers can even pull out a win in game 4.

Game notes: I’m not sure what happened to Drury, but he’s definitely hurt. After missing most of the 2nd period, he came back in the 3rd but wasn’t taking faceoffs. (Avery skated at center with Drury on the wing). Blair Betts might be seriously hurt after blocking a slapshot. Renney tried a number of different line combinations, but none of them seemed to work. I really don’t like seeing Brendan Shanahan on the 4th line. Gomez and Avery did not generate any scoring chances with Sjostrom on their line. If Renney was going to keep Shanny on the 4th line, why wouldn’t he dress Prucha instead of Hollweg?? I just don’t get it. I’d really like to see someone, anyone, other than Hollweg after that braindead momentum killing boarding penalty.

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On the front lines, Petr Prucha and Brendan Shanahan switched spots, meaning Prucha skated on the 2nd line with Scott Gomez and Sean Avery, while Shanny skated on the 4th line with Blair Betts and Fred Sjostrom.  The Rangers used this lineup in the last game of the regular season against the Devils.

On D, Jason Strudwick skated in place of Christian Backman, and Paul Mara looks to be the D-man who will take over Backman’s duties playing point on the power play.

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In a game that could have locked up 5th place as a lowest possible finish, the Rangers came out and went 0 for 8 on the Power Play and also gave up a shorthanded goal while on a 5-on-3 advantage. Seriously.

The Rangers still managed to force a shootout, but quickly fell behind 2-0. The Rangers managed to fight back to even the shootout at 2 goals apiece. (After Sjostrom punched in the 2nd shootout goal, MSG was in a frenzy). But, the Islanders scored a 3rd shootout goal in their 4th attempt and that was that.

I’d run through the playoff scenarios, but Steve Zipay aleady did a pretty good job, so I’m just going to copy and paste what he said here:

Some of the Rangers permutations.
A regulation win against the Devs gives them fourth and home-ice advantage.
A regulation loss could put them in sixth against either Carolina or Washington. A point or an overtime win or a Boston loss to Buffalo gives them fifth and a visit to Newark. A Bruins win and a Rangers loss in regulation would give Boston fifth place because the Bruins own the tie-breaker.

There you have it. I’ll be watching the Final Four tonight but keeping a close eye on the Bruins/Sabres game. If Buffalo wins, the Rangers can’t finish lower than 5th place.

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The Rangers and Penguins will meet again tonight for the 2nd day in a row in what is the 8th and final matchup of the season between the two teams. After yesterday’s 3-1 loss, the Rangers are 4-3-0 on the season against the Penguins, with three of those wins coming at MSG.

I don’t want to jump on the “Crosby dives” bandwagon, but did anyone else think that the alleged high stick penalty perpetrated by Gomez seemed to catch Crosby in the chest, followed by a slight delay, then an over-exaggerated reaction from Sid?

Anyway, in the standings, wow is this thing getting crowded or what! This will be a real battle for 6th place. If you’re going to be in the bottom half of the standings, 6th place is the place to be. Even though you don’t have home-ice advantage, you open the playoffs against the 3-seed, which is the weakest of the division leaders.

The Rangers line-up will remain the same tonight. Blair Betts skated for the first time since his surgery, and should be ready to come back soon. Colton Orr is wearing a boot on his foot and will be out for at least another game. I liked the 4th line with Prucha, Sjostrom, and Hollweg. They had a couple of scoring chances and looked like our best line for much of the 3rd period.

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Scott Gomez will be on the ice for warm-ups but will make a game-time decision as to whether he can play against his former team. If Gomez plays, the three scoring lines should return to “normal”. That is:

Avery-Dubinsky-Jagr
Dawes-Gomez-Shanahan
Straka-Drury-Callahan

For the 4th line, I’d like to see Prucha and Hollweg stay in the lineup with Sjostrom joining them. Prucha showed enough feistiness and a willingness to throw a hit on Tuesday that I think placing the little guy on the 4th line is not too much of a stretch. Plus, having a 4th line that might actually score a goal would be nice for a change. This would leave Colton Orr as the odd man out, which certainly brings down the team’s toughness quotient, but in a game that has such big playoff implications, I think fighting and toughness take a back seat to scoring goals.

Speaking of playoff implications, a win tonight does not move the Rangers up the standings, but they can equal the Devils at 91 points if they win in regulation. (Devils have the tie-break with more wins)

Having Michal Rozsival back will be a big plus for the team. With a much slower Defense on display Tuesday against the Flyers, the Rangers played a conservative game in an effort to keep a Blueshirt between the Flyers speedy forwards and Mr. Lundqvist. It worked fairly well until we were exposed in the 4-on-4 extra frame. Having Rozsival in the lineup gives the Rangers the luxury of being more aggressive moving the puck up the ice.

The biggest question for Rangers tonight, (aside from whether Gomez will be in the lineup), is if the Rangers can generate some offense and put some pucks behind Marty Brodeur.

Marek Malik and Jason Strudwick will be healthy scratches.

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After a 13-game streak of aggressive, hard-nosed, and winning hockey, the Rangers returned to their pre-All-Star-break ineptitude in this weekend’s losses to the Panthers and Lightning — two teams outside of the playoff picture.

The Rangers showed no energy whatsoever in the two games.  The Eastern Conference is so tight that going into the weekend, it looked as if 1st place might have been within reach.  Now, the Rangers might struggle to hold on to their playoff spot.

It is frustrating to watch a hockey game where the players refuse to forecheck,  refuse to finish hits along the boards, and miss FOUR open-nets in the 3rd period!  I can deal with Sjostrom getting robbed by the stick of Tampa’s goalie Mike Smith, but Jaromir Jagr should be ashamed for letting a Defenseman slide across and block his shot.  No question that puck should have been ripped to the upper half of the net.  Instead, he unleashed a flittering misfire along the ice. Just horrible.

Anyway, the Rangers had better figure out where to find some energy, and quick.  They have three games this week against Atlantic Division foes: Pittsburgh on Tuesday, New Jersey on Wednesday, and Philadelphia on Friday.  I, for one, would really like to see Ryan Hollweg back in the lineup Tuesday.  And I know Eric (and our sister Melissa) would love to see Petr Prucha back on the ice.  We shall see.

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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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