Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yeah Sean!

For those who don't read the Rangers board (and I don't blame you), that man above is Sean Avery. Apparently he spent much of the third period hanging out up in the blue seats (section 420) signing autos, watching the game and talking to fans. That's just fantastic. Is there any wonder he has become a fan favourite here? Here's to hoping that he comes back with a vengeance and that he's resigned in the offseason ...

4-6-1: Rangers Beat Bolts 3-1

Well that was refreshing. Even though it was Monday, even though the Garden was far from capacity, even though there was almost no physical play, that game was refreshing, The Rangers played some solid hockey, found the back of the net, and won. My Puerto Rican friend brought the luck of the Irish and we actually won. How can you not enjoy that? Onto the observations:

*Dude, I can't tell the difference between boooooo and Druuuuu for Chris Drury. Usually I can tell and get into these things (PRUUUUUUUU or BOOOOOOOO Malik) but for some reason Druuuu just didn't click for me. Maybe its because I have been ready to booing the Little Leaguer of late because he hasn't done too much, maybe its because I am a putz, I don't know. But I coulda sworn they booed him even though he got an assist tonight (actually two).

*HO-ssa!!!!!! Suh-uh-cks! What a waste of a jersey. If they weren't so desperate for warm bodies on the penalty kill I would hope that he would be tossed in the East River. He has no hockey sense at all and blows chance after chance. Unless he does something to show he has the skill he showed during those five-six games at the end of last season before he got hurt, I say we throw him off the plank.

*Vinny Lecavalier is a whiney bitch. Now I can see why they took the C away from him. The lack of responsibility has allowed him to become a better player though ... I think we should try that with a certain Czech fellow.

*Speaking of such, Jagr wasn't nearly as horrid as he has been lately. Granted, he still looked a bit disinterested, but he must have gotten a boost of confidence from his Toronto goal and shot a bit more. Definitely nice to see, even though he blew a beautiful breakaway.

*For 55 bucks they will iron on cloth letters onto your jersey while you wait. I brought in my old black Rangers jersey and got SCOTTY HOCKEY put on, with #26. That is my hockey number whenever I am given a choice; it is always the number of a good team guy, from Joey Kocur on the Rangers in the 90s to Jere Lehtinen on Dallas and Erik Cole on Carolina now. So if you see an idiot wearing a black Scotty Hockey jersey, that is yours truly. Say hi; buy me a beer.

*Speaking of the team store, they inexplicably do not carry the pink Rangers Hockey Fights Cancer hats. That sucks and is a big mistake.

*Back to the game itself: I have no reason to get on Marek Malik right now. Ever since he was benched he has played a pretty solid game. He is still a big sissy, but the guy has been responsible and definitely less stupid. I am still waiting for the day they sit Rozy.

*The kids are still alright. For everyone who wanted us to sign Sheldon Souray or Mike Peca, time to shut up. Nigel Dawes, Toots, Girardi, Staal, Dubi, Pru ... all of them deserve recognition for jobs well done. They have been fun to watch and will only get better. I can't wait until Cally and the biggest kid of all, Avery, get back on the ice.

*Danny Boyle returned for the Bolts after that horrid skate accident and I am thankful to say I barely noticed him out there. When he is noticeable he commands the game from their blueline, He is also a free agent after this season and someone to watch for, as there will be a spot or two open on our defense come next season (bye bye Mara, you overpaid sieve).

*I know I don't really have to say it again, but Hank has been great this season. All hail ...

*The Rangers coaches desperately have to devote practice time to showing Hollweg and Bettsy how to score. They both have incredible work ethic and really good wheels that get them chances but damned if they can't see any other part of the net aside from the logo on the goaltender's jersey.

*The 30 Games in 30 Days guy was in the Garden. I had emailed him before the game that if he wanted a beer to give me a call. He didn't call, so I didn't talk to him. Its probably better that way because I would try to kick his ass and take all of his plane tickets and spend the next month going from arena to arena. So cool; so not fair.

*I have to say that I can't wait for the injury bug to go away so they can take Jason Strudwick out of the lineup. Yes he is a great role model, yes he is the ultimate team guy, no he can't play a lick. Just make him a player/coach already so he can contribute from behind the bench, not on it. That way he will be able to step in and play the next time we are decimated by injury and won't need to fight to find him a role to keep him involved.

*Call it a hunch, but I think Avery will work great with Gomez. We'll see ...

*And before I get to the three stars I just want to ask for someone to call Nicky Fotiu up and get him to the Garden. I love how the players who get honoured as stars grab pucks and give them to fans but come on! Both Hank and Jagr handed theirs to kids hanging over the railing and Shanny tossed his a few rows up. The yuppies who get the low seats by the hallway aren't the only ones who should be able to get a puck. Nicky should give them lessons on how to throw to the upper levels... but without futher ado:
PHW Three Stars:

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Marc Staal - Another quiet, solid performance.
2-Hank - He still should never leave the crease but the man can stop the puck.
1-Shanny - He made some powerful statements in the press and I think he backed them up with a strong performance.

And I and considering making steps towards serious journalism and attempt to get an interview or two with some players or alum. What do you think? Lemme know in the comments ... Let's Go Rangers!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Food, Folks n' Fun

So I am typing this from behind the bench at the Garden, how cool is that?

The Rangers are holding their annual Rangers Season Subscriber Skating Party at the Garden, allowing shmucks like me to take the Garden ice. It is a great event that is fun for the whole family. Of course, the teams wheels out the usual suspects (alum) to pose with the fans and to sign autographs.

This particular afternoon shift is Gresch and Glen Anderson with Adam Graves floating around. While not quite as impressive as Nicky Fotiu and Ron Duguay (who were at last year's event when I went), they are fantastic with the kids and everyone is having a great time.

Sorry for the lack of current pictures but when I get home I will dig up the shot my exgirlfriend took of me sitting in the penalty box last year. I gotta tell you, it was awesome.

Kudos to the Rangers for holding the event and hopefully they will have another later in the season with some of the current players!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

3-6-1: Rangers Get Raked By The Leafs 4-1

So, I, uhhh, wrote that post this afternoon never imagining that the Rangers defense would fall to pieces to Toronto of all teams. I was unable to make it to this home game due to work but thanks to Rangers Rewind I still caught this massacre so onto what I saw:

*The offense still isn't working. No shock there.

*The defense was suspect, and that hurts where it counts. Stupid turnovers and soft play in the Rangers zone cost them the game. Not to mention that Hank should never, ever, EVER come out of the crease to play the puck.

*I love seeing Prucha and Dubi on the power play but definitely on alongside Jagr. They add speed and energy while he kills all momentum.

*At what point does Renney start giving ice time based on how the players are playing rather than how they played in the past? Reputation only goes so far.

*Goddammit take the f-ing C off of Jagr's jersey. Listen to the post-game sound on MSG (they have Shanny's here). Jagr just mumbles how they need to score more while Shanny calls the team out.

*Big Nik Antropov went from human disaster to Leafs scoring ace. There is hope for Malik yet.

*All of Chris Drury's best scoring chances this season have come while on special teams, particularly shorthanded. He truly does need some sense of urgency to step up his game. And unfortunately, I don't know if that is a good thing anymore considering the dearth of offense right now.

*Speaking of such, when Gomez was knocked into the Leafs net by Sundin, he hit his head on the crossbar as he fell over Toskala. It didn't show itself tonight, but maybe the blow knocked some sense (some offense?) into him.

*Paul Mara is getting paid good money to play the point on the power play but for his salary he should at least be serviceable in his own end. I would rather see Andrew Hutchinson because he brings the same things to the game at a much cheaper pricetag.

*Marcel Hossa was the only Ranger to come through the game +1 -- further evidence that plus/minus means nothing.

*Speaking of no skill players, you are down two goals, why the hell isn't your enforcer trying to pick a fight?

*At least the Islanders were embarrassed 8-3 tonight. That makes me smile.

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Jagr - lone Rangers goal.
2-Toskala - 32 saves.
1-Kaberle - he had two assists, big deal, they should have gone to Rangers players.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Hal Gill - 25 solid minutes and pissed off Jagr every shift.
2-Pavel Kubina - 26 minutes, goal, assist, good luck to get +3 for his fantasy owners.
1-Toskala - He covered the bottom of the net, which was all he had to do as the Rangers couldn't get a shot in the air on net.

Broad Street Boneheads

You would think that after Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice the Philly Flyers would be more cautious where it comes to dirty play. But, of course, that isn't the case.

Against the Bruins just now they had two early, pointless fights (you suck Eager) and then Randy Jones boarded Patrice Bergeron. The young Bruins star was going after the puck in the corner, looked over his shoulder and saw Jones before chasing the puck right to the boards. Jones finished his check and Bergeron, who was already bent over, went head-first into the top of the boards/lower glass. Bergeron went down like a ton of bricks and looked like he may have broken his neck. The first update said that he lost consciousness on the ice, which is why he didn't move. The diagnoses from the hospital has him with just a broken nose and a concussion. Finally here is the video:

Now here comes my commentary, and not everyone will agree: The check was the definition of boarding, but the play was Bergeron's fault. He saw Jones coming, and still went right into the boards, away from the Philly defender. Should Jones have pulled up rather than finished his check? Absolutely. That is utterly without question. But Bergeron intentionally left his back to the Flyer and put himself in a very vulnerable position.

This is a horrible trend in the NHL where guys are turning towards the boards, either thinking that they won't get hit or if they will, they will at least draw a penalty on the other team. It is stupid and dangerous. And this time it resulted in a horrible-looking and what may be career-threatening injury.

It is unacceptable and the league must do something. Maybe by calling diving when the guys do that or even by getting rid of the instigator, I don't know. I do know that that kind of play was awful to watch.

Will You Stop?


For all of those people who harassed me because I was not about to dump on the Rangers after their meek start to the season, I revel in the sound of silence that I am hearing right now. The Rangers played much the same game that they had in previous games yet managed to defeat a major rival at home. What changed?


Marty Brodeur and the Devils played a solid game, no matter how many MAAAAAAAARRRRRTTTTTYYYYY chants there were.

The Rangers defense was solid; aside from some bad bounces and a mental mistake or two, the blueline has been solid all season. And don't even look at Hank, he has been making his case for the Vezina.

So what does that leave?

Yes, the offense; thanks for playing along.

But you know what? Not even the Rangers offense changed. The high-priced superstars still played like individuals. The grinders still grinded and the kids still played with youthful exuberance.

So two bounces finally go our way and you guys are all jumping back on the bandwagon? You shouldn't have jumped off. As I said, I didn't dump on this team early because if is the beginning of the season. The scoring line are still trying to feel their way along, and are doing so without several major pieces. So stop panicking already the second something goes wrong.

Yes the Eastern Conference has improved top to bottom and will be tough -- particularly the Patrick, I mean Atlantic, Division -- but still, unless the Rangers allow themselves to get into a terrible situation (like the Avalanche and the Leafs did last year) where one game really did mean the playoffs, this slow start will amount to a learning experience and that's it. Should it end up coming to one game, then the team really doesn't deserve a chance at the playoffs.

Aside from the fact that low-seeded teams rarely, if ever, make it to the Cup Finals, anyone who has raised the Cup will tell you how much commitment it takes from an entire team to get it. If it comes down to one point or one game for the Rangers, then the team clearly won't have what it takes and the earlier exit will give them more time to dedicate to making a legitimate run next year.

Next year, I already am mentioning this year. Geez, look at what you people did.

Stop it!

Things aren't that bad so be quiet and leave me alone; keep your pessimism to yourself!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

3-5-1: Rangers Beat Devils 2-0

Ok, so I stayed at the bar late celebrating the win and talking hockey so this will have to be a bit brief ... my thoughts and observations on the game.

*Ok, yes, I said that Nigel Dawes had "no place on the Rangers" but that was because he didn't stand up for his teammates and hammer XLB after his holiganism in that Thrashers game. I have always advocated him for a spot on the team over Marcel Hossa based on skill and potential ...

*Speaking of skill and potential, I loved watching Dawes skate with Dubi and Prucha on the power play. So fun to watch. And they all came up through the system rather than were signed for a stupid, waste of money (I'm looking at you Gomer).

*Jagr still looks disinterested out there, and he is supposed to be the captain. I said it once, I will say it again, Take the C away!!!

*Hank is so good. So very, very good. But Marty's save was fantasic. Donno if it was better than Hank's on Marc Savard from the other day but it was close ...

*Ryan Hollweg played one of his better games but still got called for a bullsh-t penalty. With the refs clearly out to get him, maybe its time to bench/trade/demote the guy.

*Marek Malik played his third straight solid game. I managed not to boo him a single time. Again, when does Renney finally bench Rozy too? Especially if it can get this kind of turnaround ... ???

*Paul Mara had better shape up soon or be shipped out. He looked sloppy and ineffective, especially compared to young Marc Staal who was playing alongside him. Several times I was asked if Staal was playing and that is exactly it - when a steady defensive defenseman is doing his job well, he is virtually invisible on the ice. Good game by the kid.

*Fantastic game by the pairing of Girardi and Tyutin. If you just watched Tyutin in the third period, he gave a flawless demonstration of how to play defense, a la former Ranger Mattias Norstrom. It was awesome to watch.

*I know I should take heart in the win but this very same night had several strange surprising results - Toronto beat Pittsburgh, Edmonton beat Minnesota, Phoenix over Anaheim and LA beat Dallas ... who'da thunk it?!?

*In further good news, Jed had an assist tonight as the Preds beat the Thrashers. We heart Jed here at Scotty Hockey.

*And finally, the PHW 3 Stars:
3-Marty - interesting info from the AP: Brodeur has played in 69 of 71 Devils games against the Rangers, dating to Dec. 26, 1993. (but I found out that he played two other games before then as well, which is weird or just makes one of the sites wrong ...

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-The pairing of Tyutin-Girardi
2-Dubi-Pru-Dawes on the power play
1-Hank, even though he should never, ever come out of the crease to handle the puck

Bedtime for me, Let's Go Rangers!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hmm, What To Expect ... ???

So the boys are back at the Garden tonight, but is that necessarily a good thing?

They are taking on the Devils, so there is sure to be a significant obnoxious b&t Jersey contingent - like the old folks right here, lol. Now for the team that isn't a bad thing, but if the Rangers come out halfheartedly -- or even worse gets behind by two or three goals quickly -- there would be some fisticuffs, and I don't mean Colton Orr dropping the gloves. Granted, Jersey fans aren't as loathed in Penn Plaza as Islander or Flyer fans, but right now the Blueshirt faithful are tense and tempers could flare. Thankfully the game is not on a Friday, or the booze would flow even more and make things worse.

Speaking of fighting, random sidenote, here is a good story on the history and philosophy of televising hockey fights up in Canada. As someone who has watched thousands of games and even worked in a TV truck, I was intrigued and will probably buy the book they speak of.

But back to the Rangers ... no Cally, which sucks as he has been the most entertaining player on the ice for us not named Hank - who, btw, was 3-0-1 against the Devs last season. I bet poor Prucha will get abused again by the hard-hitting Sutter squad. Keep an eye on David Clarkson as he will be the main offender with our boy Janssen out. Who knows, maybe something like that can spark the team but after what happened with XLB, I am not quite sure ...

All I know is that I am excited to get to the Garden, so Let's Go Rangers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2-5-1: Rangers Lose 1-Zip To Penguins

Well, the Rangers fell flat.


I really don't have much new to say as the pattern continues. Hank plays great. Kids play great. Stars play like crap. Rangers try to play possession game and lose possession. When Rangers shoot, they make opposing goaltender look like Ken Dryden. Rangers hugely-expensive power play has no electricity. Rangers lose.


Now maybe all it takes is one good shift, a lucky bounce at the right time that will reinvigorate the team. Who knows? These last two dead-puck losses were both on the road, maybe being at the mercy of us lunatics at the Garden on Thursday will put the Rangers on their toes. I don't think so, but we will see. After all, we will only be playing a trapping team with limited offensive capabilities and a solid goaltender.


Last time Boston won 1-0. Wanna bet that Thursday will be a similar barnburner? I didn't think so. I don't think I will be able to take it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here's Something To Try

He's 32.
He's moody.
He's injury prone.
Fans in several cites hate him.
He may just be the best option for the New York Rangers.
He is Jason Allison.

Now, for those out there that don't know me, I am loathe to plug in veterans over kids. But in this case, why the hell not? We have given Mark Smith and Dave Scatchard tryouts and neither have come close to putting up the career Allison had before sitting last year. Allison was once a top offensive pivot in the NHL and averaged just less than a point per game over 552 games (485 points).

Allison may be the perfect cure for the offensive drought that the Rangers are suffering. He can slide into the top center slot and should he play like he did on the LAPD line when he was on the Kings, he would be phenominal. He used to center Adam Deadmarsh and Ziggy Palffy and did so with a style that should blend better with Jaromir Jagr than anyone else on the Rangers roster. Allison plays a slow, puck possession game. Allison sees the ice well. Allison works the boards and does some dirty work. Take a look.

So why haven't we given him a shot yet?? All of his attributes should compliment Jagr's play and let's face it, at the moment anything could help.

Over the summer Allison told Canadian Press reporters that he is mentally and physically healthy and he is ready to make a comeback. He also said that all he wanted was a one-year, incentive-laden contract.

I say we give it to him.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2-4-1: Rangers Fall To Bruins In A Shootout

Well this was miserable. Not just because the Rangers lost, but because I spent 11 hours on trains to get to and from Boston to watch the travesty. As I am exhausted, I will add photos later and get right to my observations:

*The Rangers may have been playing a team wearing the black and yellow of the Bruins, but don't be fooled, they took on the New Jersey Devils and lost. Claude Julien had the B's playing the Devs system to perfection and the Rangers couldn't break the trap.

*Marty Straka is my hero. You may have heard he is now out for a few weeks with a busted digit. It happened when he blocked a Chara slapshot on the pk. Did Marty fall to the ice, roll in pain and cry for a trainer? Nope. He stayed in the play, dug the puck off the boards, went down to block another shot, and made sure the puck was cleared before going to the bench. Yeah, you guys try to tell me that baseball players are men. 'Ooo, a blister! I can't play!' Sissy marys. Marty's hard work and dedication is often overlooked but he epitomises everything a Ranger should be.

*Hank's save on Marc Savard was utterly unbelievable. I almost went down the stairs jumping up and down.

*Chris Drury took part in the pregame puck drop with his friend Travis Roy. If you have no idea who he is, look Roy up. Here is the link to his foundation. When life is kicking your ass, think about what he has gone through and how he has dealt with it. Amazing and inspiring.

*Drury actually had some nice scoring chances on the power play ... when the Rangers started shooting the damn puck. When they reverted back to their power play of last year - pass it to Jagr, wait, wait, wait, skate back because the puck was turned over - nothing happened and nothing worked. When they shot it, they got chances.

*Speaking of Jagr, the guy baffles me. He battles through a ton of dirty play and doesn't bitch or stand up for himself. Instead, he takes lazy, sloppy penalties that put his team down. When he is into the game, he is unstoppable. When discouraged, he is horrendous: late in the game with Chara in the box Jagr skated the puck into the Bruins zone then turned it over. He didn't even flinch. It was astounding and infuriating.

*As for someone who has been utterly infuriating his entire Rangers career, Marek Malik actually had a pretty good game. Man does it feel weird to type that. He still played a bit soft but made no mistakes. However, his partner Rozy played like crap again and should get the same reward - a game in the press box.

*There were more people wearing Red Sox gear than Bruins stuff. And for that matter, there were a ton of drunk, obnoxious college kids who did their best to ruin the experience for everyone around them. Also, as a nice slap in the face to the city, there was a sizable Rangers contingent and we got some good Let's Go Rangers chants and even a pair of Potvin Sucks.

*The few real B's fans there seem to worship Milan Lucic and the game showed why - the kid is a junkyard dog and could turn into a helluva player a la Cam Neely.

*Scott Gomez tossed a puck to a little kid next to me during warm ups, then saw my jersey and went to toss me one but couldn't get it over the glass. Wuss, lol. But seriously, at least the kid got one - it was a very nice gesture.

*And with that, the Professional Hockey Writers three stars:
3-Hank - Kept the Rangers in the game, yet again.
2-Phil Kessel - One nut scored to win the game in a shootout. Big deal.
1-Manny Fernandez - yeah he had a shutout, but I don't think the Rangers made him work all that hard to get it.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Straka - To quote Kellen Winslow, he is a "f-ckin' soldier!"
2-Hank - What a save, what a save!
1-Claude Julien - Turned the B's from a joke into a contender by reforming them into the Devils. Yeah, Gary Bettman did a good job opening up the game and getting rid of the trap ...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Me Take Pretty Pikturs

So I had a photo pass to the Isles Caps game back on October 7th.

I uploaded a few shots to my new Flickr account so feel free to take a look and lemme know what you think!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

2-4: Rangers Embarassed By Atlanta 5-3

Well, wasn't that a disgrace?

First period observations
*First off, the camera work is utterly horrendous in Atlanta.

*Joe Michaletti is a joke. He incorrectly called two plays, including the first goal against. I hate him and feel confident that I can do much better.

*Rangers defense is getting beaten outside time and time again by speedy forwards. This is hard to watch.

*Even though he got hurt already for Edmonton, the lack of a stud like Sheldon Souray on the blueline is glaringly apparent - especially on this anemic power play.

*Bettsy would be sooooo good if he saw the empty parts of the net when he shoots, rather than the logo on the goaltender's jersey.

*Atlanta is truly the place where goaltender's go to die. Kari Lehtonen out with another groin strain. I think I've heard this before ... Damian Rhodes, Byron Dafoe, Pasi Nurminen ... ugh.

*2-0 after one isn't a huge deficit, but it won't be easy the way the Rangers are playing ...

Second period
*As Sam and Joe just mentioned before the break, Jagr has not been a factor but I don't think that that is due to the diligence of the Thrashers, rather, it seems like the big guy has Czeched out and doesn't care anymore. He floated through the Ottawa games too ...

*So they benched Malik for this one to send a message, they need to bench Rosy next game. He has been out of position and wayyy sloppy.

*Again, Ryan Callahan seems to be the only Ranger skater going balls-to-the-wall. Gotta love the kid's passion.

*That shorthanded goal was brutal. Hey Chris Drury, I know you are set for the next six years and don't have to fight for a contract, but we here in New York expect you to live up to it. Time to actually put on that Ranger jersey and play.

*Poor Hank. Another solid period. As my dad said, they should pull him and let Vally play. The only thing that gets served right now is another blow to his confidence as the team plays like ass in front of him.

*Pascal Dupuis' eyebrows are still scarier than his play on the ice but he still scored tonight. Ugh.

*I do believe that Renney is picking lines nursery rhymes style -- you know, duck, duck, goose!

Third period
*Nigel Dawes has no place on the New York Rangers. He let Garnet Exelby slip right past him with barely a yell after the Atlanta defenseman charged at Prucha.

*Colton Orr took his sweet time going after Exelby, then didn't get a single good shot in as that p*ssy tried to weasel out of his deserved punishment. Yes doing more would have risked suspension, but seriously, its Colton Orr. If he gets suspended five, 10 games, who is going to miss him? At least he would go out defending the honour of the Chiefs, I mean, the Rangers.

*Brendan Shanahan is incredible. The guy is a true veteran and statesman of the game. He hasn't been able to score and yet he kept throwing pucks at the net. Not to mention him standing up for Jagr with Exelby where the 'captain' did not stand up for himself.

*Hank ... poor bastard. Aside from the usual criticism I have for him that he shouldn't ever come out of the crease, I don't fault him for a single of the five goals against tonight.

*Marian Hossa's goal was sweeeeeeet. Definitely got all of the talent in that family.

*Dan Girardi had another all-around solid game. Rosy did not - time for him to ride the pine like his buddy Malik.

*Amazing how the Rangers power play scores when the guys *gasp* actually shoot the puck on the net.

*And I thought Mexicans were supposed to bust their asses working for money? Gomez is making a ton and barely showed up, collecting a late garbage goal.

Scotty Hockey note: I am heading up to Boston to watch these guys on Saturday, so I likely won't post again until Sunday when I get to work, lol. But seriously, feel bad for me and hope that just as I am showing up to the game, the team does as well ...

Cel-lebrate Good Times, C'mon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry to get all Kool & The Gang on you but I am so happy I am at a loss for words.

John Dellapina from the Daily News is reporting the Rangers are benching Marek Malik.

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Rangers!!!!!!!!!!!

BOOOOOOOOOOOO Malik!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bye Bye Bob

Isn't this a nice turn of events?

The Atlanta Thrashers just canned head coach Bob Hartley. Atlanta started 0-6 and then finally decided to make the change; although they should have fired him last season after lifting Kari Lehtonen from the Rangers series after just one game. So, technically, the Thrashers lost 10 straight games that counted and ditched Hartley, who took them to the playoffs after being a laughingstock for some many years. Don Waddell, the GM who wasted their franchise's future in several bad moves to make a run last year, will temporarily take the helm.

Now that means one of two things for the Rangers - they will either a) face a team in disarray tomorrow night or b) play a bunch of guys who will do whatever it takes to impress the boss and keep their jobs. Sometimes that works (Darryl Sutter in 2004), but more often it fails (see Lou Lamoriello last year, or Doug MacLean any year). And since Atlanta is, well, Atlanta, I will take option b.

Side note on the Rangers for tomorrow: Sam is writing that Nigel Dawes will likely take Hossa's spot tomorrow on the first line. Gotta love the Rangers - like with Isbister last year, they have guys who are first line or press box players. Also, if you click on the link, Sam also gives us the (likely) false hope that Marek Malik will be benched in favour of Tom Pock. One can only pray ...

Let's Go Rangers!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Calm Down ... Calmmmmm Downnnn

The NHL schedule gurus saw fit to give the Rangers back-to-back games Friday and Saturday before leaving us fans sitting, watching, waiting, bitching, moaning, whining, complaining, hand-wrenching until Thursday, when the boys in blue play next.

This sucks.

What do we know now?

I think first off, we should relax. Then, if you have Versus, watch the Flyers beat on the Thrashers so you can see what the Rangers aren't doing right when they play them on Thursday. If you don't have Versus, look around online and watch whatever highlights you can so you can see that, five games in, the Rangers are in utter disarray. But, and this is a big but, there is absolutely no reason to give up hope yet.

The Rangers have lost three games, two to Ottawa. The Sens are the class of the conference right now and were Stanley Cup Finalists before getting bitchslapped by the bigger, stronger, quackier Ducks. In both games the Rangers lost, the Sens scored a blitzkrieg of goals and then trapped like hell the rest of the game to hold onto them. The Blueshirts simply couldn't break that trap, not without playing like a team - which they aren't. The talent is certainly there, but the chemistry and dedication to a team game predominantly is not. Sure there are some guys that have done their job to the letter - Hank, Callahan, Prucha, Girardi, Bettsy - but without the entire team playing as a unit, they won't be able to hang with top tier teams. As for the lower ones, as we saw in the Islanders game, the New York Rangers have to be physical and - above all - cannot be outworked. The Islanders have a quarter of the skill that the Rangers do, but each one of the grunts on their roster battles every shift. Even that pansy Satan (what a misnamed guy he is).

So right now the Rangers are below 500. So what? Its five games in an 82 game season and if every point ends up counting come April, then we will have bigger problems to worry about. That is why I am not panicking just yet. I am not calling for anyone's head ... well, except for Malik but that was to be expected since he played the Tin Man last season and a few months off for the summer won't help him find a heart. He is a UFA at the end of the year so let's just hope he picks up his play a bit so some other team signs him.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

2-3: Rangers lose to the Sens; Deja Vu

So last week I did a in-game analysis of the Rangers Sens tilt, tonight I won't do that. I was there so I will just reflect and offer up some observations.

*Just like that other game, the Rangers played decently, got good goaltending from Hank and slipped up momentarily and lost the game. Three goals in less than a minute. Jesus. It was a lightning fast, horrifying mugging.

*Two of the three were thanks to the stellar efforts of Marek Malik, yet, of course, the first was a power play goal against so he comes out of the game only a -1. He couldn't keep pucks in the offensive zone, he couldn't skate with the faster Sens, he couldn't hit anyone on the boards, he couldn't connect with half of his short passes ... and some idiot at the game on Friday said he was our best defenseman and held up his plus minus as evidence of that. I hope that guy, and Malik, shuts the hell up and goes as far away from the Garden and my sight FOREVER. Malik = BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

*Side note 1: Jed got into a fight tonight, taking on Adrian Aucoin 25 seconds into the 3rd period of the Flames, Pred game. I can't wait to see the video.

*There were two fights in the Rangers game. The battle between Colton Orr and Brian McGrattan was pretty good but essentially useless. It came just after the goal blitzkrieg and failed to reinvigorate the Rangers bench. The other fight was Brandon Dubinsky against Luke Richardson. Now I have been an advocate for Dubi, but this was just stupid of the kid. Richardson was drafted when Dubi was one year old. Just a bit of an unfair fight but at least it shows Dubi has the meddle to stand up for himself. Maybe not the brains but the meddle ...

*Side note 2: I pointed out that the NHL store had three lousy teams represented in the front of their store earlier in the week after attending a media-only unveiling of the place. Then, after complaining that local or at least better teams should be center stage, I was e-mailed that they would rotate to represent all the teams in the league. Amazingly, just a day after officially opening, today the front of the store had the Rangers, Isles and Senators in front instead of Flames, Bolts and Blues. Coincidence? I think not.

*The Rangers will have to face those Sens two more times this year, and thankfully both are before New Years. Something to be thankful for although, unfortunately, that may lead to some form of complacency if the team picks up some steam while beating on divisional rivals.

*Side note 3: Devils won, but at least the Isles lost tonight. Granted that meant that the Flyers won, but thankfully it didn't go to OT and become a three point game between two teams we are likely going to battling with for a playoff spot. Simon the Barbarian returned from suspension again (preseason counts in my book) and shockingly got into a fight. What a goon.

*I say that we are likely to battle the Isles and the Flyers for a spot fully knowing that some of you are going 'Nahhhhhh' but this team had better get its act together and fast because remember, it took a miracle run at the end of last season to get in and I am not sure that this group of (overpaid) guys has it in them. The Flyers will make the playoffs the way they are playing, even with half their team suspended for months on end. And Ted Nolan won't let the Isles roll over ...

*Side note 4: Former Ranger Jan Hlavac scored for Tampa Bay in their loss to the Panthers tonight. Welcome back to the NHL ... how soon till we deal for him to make Jagr happy?

*Speaking of Jagr, I love how he shows up with less than two minutes left in the game. He made a few amazing moves, lost the puck, and then when the Rangers regained possession, he had a part in their lone goal of the game. Its like a A-Rod performance: only play well when it doesn't matter ...

*As the Rangers are apt to do, they made the other goaltender look damn good. Martin Gerber had 36 saves in the game yet got ridiculously lucky that the Rangers couldn't bury loose pucks sitting in the crease, multiple times (that damn 5-on-3 early in the third).

*And with that, onto the three stars.
PHW Three Stars
3-Chris Phillips - gwg goal
2-Jason Spezza - one assist; doesn't make sense to me

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - another stellar effort; without him it was a 6-1 game tonight
2-Ottawa's defense - a total effort, yes Phillips got a goal but Corvo handled the puck well, Meszaros got an assist, Redden was solid, and Volchenkov played 25 minutes, threw four hits and blocked six shots ...
1-Daniel Alfredsson - he was Visa for the Sens - everywhere they needed him to be
I should put Malik in that top spot, as he deserved two assists for the Sens but instead will just give him another hearty BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

2-2: Rangers Beat Caps

For this week's Slap Shot movie quote, as you can see above, I picked "You guys gotta stop losin'. Get the power play together." And you know what? Last night the Rangers did. Three first period power play goals, wow.

How did they do it? They shot the f-ing puck and went to the net! Jagr was on the ice and assisted on all three goals playing entirely unlike Jagr. Instead of burying his head and skating in circles in the corner, he picked his head up, cycled a bit and got the play moving. The power play last night was the perfect combination of Jagr's puck possession and Shanny's just shoot the damn thing mentality. It was impressive. It also helped that the referees continued their inconsistent, lousy work this season and it actually went in the Rangers favour.

Some other quick notes before I get ready to head in to stop at the NHL store and go to tonight's game vs the Sens (which promises to be a real battle):

*Colton Orr refrained from fighting Garbage, I mean Brashear, several times in the third period last night. Even as an advocate of fighting in the game, it was the right move. There was no reason to fight and it could only result in hurting the team.

*Ollie the Goalie is still a helluva goaltender, even at 73, I mean 37 years old. The Caps have been so bad lately that they forget that he carried them to the Stanley Cup final. He won't end up in the Hall of Fame, but he has had a helluva solid career. And he is a real good guy.

*Alex Ovechkin is in-f-ing-credible. He scored a great goal and was a threat every shift. Probably my favourite nonRanger (who isn't a former Ranger; still much love for Manny and Jed).

*Dubinsky got five more minutes than he did on the Island and did pretty well, even though he was playing with Hollweg and Orr. Again, he wasn't great defensively but that is youth working its way out of his body. Besides, he needed to be all over the ice to cover for the slower Orr and Hollweg, who is fast as hell but pulls himself out of position with late hits.

*Marc Staal looked pretty good even though they took his tutor away and replaced him with Paul Mara, who looked a little rusty.

*Tom Poti still sucks.

*So does Marek Malik. BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

*Blair Betts would be one of the top 10 centers in the league if he could buy himself a pair of hands. Fantastic in the faceoff dot, responsible defensively, great shot blocker, incredible speed ... no hands. He gets these awesome breakaways and then shoots the puck into the logo on the goalie's jersey.

*And finally for now:
PHW Three Stars
3-Kolzig - 38 saves
2-Gomez - first goal
1-Jagr - assisted on all three goals

Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - 24 solid saves and the one goal he allowed was the beaut by Ovie.
2-Jagr - He gets a star not for the three saves, but for swallowing his ego and playing a team game.
1-Ollie The Goalie - He kept the Caps in the game and could not be faulted for at least two, if not all three power play goals against him. The guy is a rock.

Let's Go Rangers!

Friday, October 12, 2007

So Much For The Plan ...

Dave Scatchard skated with the Rangers yesterday, trying out for a spot on the roster -- likely the third line center job. Larry Brooks talks about it here.

This really, really pisses me off.

And its not just because Scatchard is a former Islander. Its because the Rangers went back on their word and didn't really give the kids a shot. When Dubi skated alongside Pru and Calley the line was high energy and fun to watch. But, they weren't responsible defensively (as kids are apt to be) so Renney panicked and put Blair Betts on that line and gave Dubi less than three minutes of ice time despite solid play. So we are back to Sather's old formula of throwing a veteran on the fire rather than trusting the youth crew. This is ridiculous and will likely end up blowing up in the Rangers faces - although it will be hard to tell as everyone will be upset and booing the top two lines because there is no chemistry ... We'll see ...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Two Sides Of Hockey Violence

If you haven't seen the Jesse Boulerice/Ryan Kesler incident, you have to take a look. Here it is:

Now, hmmm, what does that remind you of?? Maybe Simon The Barbarian? At least Boulerice was a man about it, immediately saying, "I reacted in a bad way — the wrong way" where Simon initially made no comment. Eventually The Barbarian was forced to talk to the media by his team after the suspension was handed out by the league saying "There is absolutely no place in hockey for what I did" in a clearly prepared statement (although it was clearly not written by him). Boulerice is sure to get 20 games, and likely more than Simon as Boulerice is a young player and Simon a member of the old guard. EDIT - Boulerice got 25 games, the same as Simon so I guess that's fair ...

Between this and the Steve Downie incident, the league is getting horribly bad PR just as it is trying to make waves with the games in London and the opening of its midtown Manhattan store. So what should they do? Listen to me. But whatever ...

On the other side of the coin from the above hooliganism, watch the below fight between D.J. King and Darcy Hordichuk; it shows a lot of why I love this sport.

Guy makes big, slightly dirty hit on weaker skill player, teammate of said skill player steps in to defend him, hitter accepts the fight as retribution, guys duke it out, teammate figher (who won I think) taps the other guy for a fight well fought (watch for it with 38 seconds left in the clip), crowd goes wild. It wasn't premeditated, it was good hockey and shows the class and respect of some of the players in the league. A Scotty Hockey attaboy goes out to D.J. King. Of course the FSN got the wrong guy in the fight in their graphic, but the broadcasters for this league are a joke.

It is for players like King that violence should never be removed from the game, just the meathead goons that turn it into something barbaric.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1-2: Rangers fall to Isles (of all teams)

Well, that was depressing. Here are some quick notes before I head to bed:

*Good atmosphere in the Mausoleum. Lotsa fans on both teams and everyone had a sense of humour so it was fun.

*The Isles were more physical all night long while the Rangers relegated Hollweg and Orr to the bench petrified that they would get called for silly penalties due to reputation (and Hollweg did).

*Ryan Callahan was the best Ranger on the ice, bar none. He was everywhere, doing everything.

*Everything I said about Jagr this summer appears to be coming true. He has not found any chemistry with Chris Drury or Scott Gomez (who has no chemistry with anyone on this team as of yet) and it seems like he is out there moping because his buddy Nylander isn't there to skate around in circles with him. He is taking lazy penalties, and only seemed to go full bore twice, and that was late in the game.

*The Rangers experiment of Marc Staal and Jason Strudwick needs to come to an end. I get it, veteran teaching rookie. They would both be better spent doing it in the AHL.

*Brandon Dubinsky must have slept with Renney's daughter or something. The kid played 2:58 of the game ... that's it. That is less than most goons get. And when he was out there, he tried to bang and get involved every second. Did it take him out of position once, yes. Can you blame him? Absolutely not. He has to do what he can with the time he gets. Total mistake by Tom Renney.


*I can admit that I actually saw glimmers of the potential that Marcel Hossa possesses. He had his moments, few and far between but they were there.

*When Jon Sim comes back, the Islanders will actually have the makings of a good junkyard dog of a team. Goddamn it.

*DP rarely had to make a great save, the Rangers barely tested him and they put 37 shots on net. Kinda sad. Hank on the other hand made an utterly gorgeous save, but still probably could have stopped Bergeron's goal off the faceoff (no matter how beautiful it was).

*I still don't understand how referees can call diving and then call the original penalty. Callahan got called for dive on a Berard hook, but the ref's arm didn't go up until after Callahan went down. A friend said Cally embellished, but if that is the case, wouldn't the ref have his hand up already for the first penalty?

*And finally, the PHW Three Stars:
3-Bergeron - goal and an assist
2-Berard - gwg
1-DP - 36 saves

And the Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Callahan - see above.
2-Brendan Witt/Radek Martinek - They entirely eliminated the Rangers first line; altho without any chemistry, I am not sure how much there was, but still ...
1-Bergeron - his goal was sweeeeeet and he was solid on both ends of the ice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Well, There Goes My Savings

Today your's truly was invited to a special media tour of the new NHL store in midtown Manhattan. Located at 47th and 6th, the store actually was much better than I expected.

There is the obligatory Reebok sneakers and homage to poster girl Cindy Crosby, but there are some cool things. Rather than post all of the photos here, I started one of those Flickr accounts and you can see some of the pics I took there. They have some of the RBK stuff (eh) but flush out the selection with a lot of Vintage NHL products and that is pretty awesome. I have my sights set on the original Senators t-shirt with the big O, 'cause we all want a big O, right?

But for all of the cool stuff that will sap money out of my wallet, the place has its issues. The picture above is the first thing you see when you walk into the store. That's right, Bolts, Blues and Flames players. Because the way to draw New York City hockey fans and tourists is to promote small market teams devoid of superstars - sorry Jarome, outside of hockey nuts and Calgary, the average person has no idea of who you are. So the regular Joe off the street is going to curiously come in and go, who the hell are they?

Can the NHL do anything right??

On a side note, I am sorry about the lack of posts, life has been a bit hectic. I will post more Caps Isles pics sooner or later and likely on that Flickr page, I just have to get some time to sort through them. Oh, and as for the Rangers, Sean Avery is out, but of course rather than give promising youth Nigel Dawes a chance, we will get re-tread Marcel Hossa tomorrow night. Incidentally, I am heading out to the Mausoleum again tomorrow for the Rangers Isles battle -- I hope I don't catch an STD from one of their surgically-enhanced ice girls ... wish me luck!!

EDIT: The NHL got back to me on the players in the front saying: "The three players in the front will rotate from different teams from around the league. The focus is to be a store that represents the entire league, not just the three locals (though their importance is not to be taken for granted, I assure you). " While that is reassuring, I do think that at least one needs to be of a local team at all times.

Food, Folks and Fun

As you can see from the above Alexander Ovechkin photo that I took, the Caps beat the Isles yesterday 2-1.

The game itself was pretty blase -- day game so the players didn't seem to have the same energy, three goals, no fights, just 12 shots for the Isles -- but the atmosphere was impressive as the Isles called it Kids Opening Day and gave away free DP jerseys to all kids. There were several mascots from around the league, lots of SpongeBob and plenty of fun.

More later, I gotta run to work!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Going Somewhere

So today, thanks to the graciousness of some of the *gasp* Islander brass, I will be photographing the Isles Caps game at Fort Never-win, I mean, the Mausoleum, I mean Nassau Coliseum. Gotta be nice ...

As you can see, I have shot there once before, and managed to catch your friend and mine, Tom Poti in the action of putting his team shorthanded. What an idiot.

I will also be bringing my camera along tomorrow to NYC as the NHL is holding an exclusive media preview to the NHL/RBK store in midtown. Hopefully my boss lets me out for lunch so I can attend. I should be able to so expect more info and pics in this very space.

And I don't think I will bring my camera but I will be back in Uniondale Wednesday to watch the Rangers go for win number two. As I will have a quick turnaround for work, my thoughts/observations/rants will likely be delayed until sometime Thursday. Sorry.

Sorry also to cut this short, but I gotta go find my Potvin Sucks tee shirt ...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Web War

So, from all I can see, it looks like the Rangers will win their lawsuit against the league. The Toronto Star's Rick Westhead broke down the history in cases mirroring this one and there is definitely precedent for the Rangers to win.

It appears that the league will grasp at straws and make nonsensical claims to defend their mandate that the teams have to be unified: "This isn't a case of the Rangers competing against the Devils, the league will argue. This is a case where NHL.com and its splinter websites are competing against the likes of ESPN.com, and cbs.sportsline.com." I wrote Mr. Westhead and brought up the fact that the league makes no illusions that it is objective on its page - they use NHL.com as a PR machine and avoid coverage of violent acts (they never posted the Simon/Hollweg or Downie/McAmmond video). At least ESPN maintains -- falsely -- that they are an unbiased source of sports news.

So what does this mean for us, the Rangers fans? Not a whole helluva lot. The current template of the site should remain the same. I have word from a very good source that the On Demand video player will undergo a major upgrade with more content -- but that was likely to happen no matter the result of the lawsuit. Merchandise costs will remain the same, but there may be more MSG-specific items - all of that playoff stuff that was only available at the team stores will likely be available online.

But seriously, how many people are buying this overpriced crap? Even the players are complaining about the jerseys. This week the new NHL/Reebok store will open in the city and I will be getting an exclusive media preview. Something tells me the place will have lots of glitz and little substance.

So once the league loses this, other teams may break away from the template that the NHL forced upon them and there will be a return to anarchy! Dogs and cats, living together - mass hysteria!!!!!!!

No, not really. But it was fun to say (Ghostbusters was a great movie), and is likely what the NHL thinks. They feel that there is strength in numbers which is completely untrue in this case as this is business. At the end of the day teams are in it to make money and why should powerful owners relinquish that opportunity for the sake of other teams in other markets? The game is strong, its the league that isn't and until the Board of Governors realize that they will continue to attempt to prop up the Nashville's and Atlanta's at the cost of the Leafs and the Rangers -- which is the biggest mistake that they can make as the popularity of the sport as a whole hinges on the strength of the big market teams.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

1-1: Rangers vs. Senators 10-6-07

Train of thought observations:

Two minutes in: Jagr has already taken a stupid hooking penalty; I love how our captain leads by example.

1-0: Malik went after Fisher in the corner after Rozy went down, which was the wrong play to make with a second Senator coming into the zone. Shockingly Malik didn't even know he was there and easy goal for Meszaros.

2-0: Strudwick and Staal were exploited, Drury tried to stickhandle back into the Rangers zone and hit Strudwick coming off of the bench. Then neither defenseman bothered to stay in the slot and Alfredsson exploited it. That's what you get for chasing the puck.

7 min in: Chris Neil railroaded Sean Avery, sending him off with what looks like a separated shoulder. Greeeaaaaat. Second look, at least to me, shows intent to injure as Avery was hunched over and Neil raised his elbow to go in for the hit. I guarantee you there won't be a suspension or fine.

12 min in: Malik is standing behind the net. Just standing there. I think he finally grew roots.

14 min in: The Senators are far and away too good for the Rangers defense to contain. As I typed that, Strudwick is trying to fight Neil. Tis a helluva battle but I don't see why Orr didn't go after him, I thought that is why we keep that goon in the lineup?

15 min in: Goddammit Malik. Stupid ass hooking penalty. And you people give me a hard time for booing him? Down 2-0 to a top team and he takes a bad penalty. SMRT.

19 min in: Henrik made two great saves in the last minute of the period, the second coming after Malik was caught following the puck rather than watching the most dangerous player on the ice. Genius. I really hope someone grabs him in the locker room and collects the reward for finding Big Foot.

End of 1st: Hank played a really good period. That's about the only good thing I can say about that. Lurch was just interviewed and to his credit he didn't try to figure out why the Rangers fans boo, he just tries to ignore it and focus on his game. I would say he needs to focus more. If he was a fourth line winger, I wouldn't hate him as much, but he is the number two defenseman and he is utterly incompetent in his own zone. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Stan Fishler just agreed with me that it should have been Colton Orr to go after Chris Neil.

2 min in: Henrik has already made a few good saves. And in Washington former Ranger Michael Nylander just scored a pretty deflection goal to put the Caps up 2-0. I still think he was a better option than Scott Gomez.

4 min in: Man do the Sens pass smoothly and tape-to-tape. Totally impressive.

6 min in: The Senators are playing a box+1 in their own zone and totally marginalizing the Rangers offense to the outside.

7 min in: The youngster line is doing what they need to do and forcing play, looking much more impressive than the other Rangers units.

8 min in: Jagr looks like he is joking with Dany Heatley. So much for hating your opponent. I just hope he isn't getting driving tips (btw - the fourth anniversary of Dan Snyder's death was this week, so sad).

10 min in: Staal is playing on the penalty kill and actually doing ok, except he is a little jumpy. I guess its the rookie jitters.

16 min in: Henrik just made yet another clutch save as Malik did his tree impression in front. Hank really looks like he is in prime form, too bad that if play like this keeps up, he will be burnt out long before the playoffs.

18 min in: Dan Girardi just made a great defensive play, pretty much sealing the fact that I will get a #5 jersey this season.

End of 2nd: Well, at least the Rangers were able to skate with the Sens this period. However, without Henrik, this game should be at least 5-0 at this point.

As per family tradition, I did the trivia with my dad and I got it right, as per usual. Oh yeah!!!!!!!!

3 min in: Girardi is sound positionally, and blocks a nice shot, I love it.

5 min in: Neil just took a run at Petr Prucha, I love how he deliberately attempts to injure a player and is still allowed to stay in the game. When he gets out of the box, Colt better kick his ass. EDIT - he never did, what an enforcer we have.

6 min in: Scott Gomez just turned over the puck twice on the power play. Either his confidence is shot, or he is as bad as his 60-whatever points last season indicated.

Missed 10 minutes while working, but it looks like Gerber has been solid as the Rangers have peppered him with shots.

1 min left: Why do the Rangers seem to play with more confidence with an empty net? I don't get it. Too bad this is a two goal game, otherwise I would say Drury would tie the game.

17 seconds left: Rozy took a penalty, nothing like going off in shame. Quite a disappointing game that showed how much farther the Rangers have to go to even come close to the Eastern Conference Champions. If not for a spectacular effort by Henrik, this game was a disgrace.

Our defense was exposed for what it is, soft and slow. The Sens played a great game in their own zone all night, keeping the Rangers out of the scoring areas, blocking shots and making picture-perfect transitions up-ice. Perhaps Renney/Sather will give Pock a crack at playing. I think he would be good alongside Girardi, and Toots could then move up to play alongside Rozy while Malik is released back into the wild.

And just a sidenote - Jed had an assist tonight for the Preds as they beat the Stars 5-1, yay Jed!

Well, That's A Thought

I don't know if you guys ever read the Google links on the right of this page but at this moment there is a link to an article in Slate on how the NHL should adopt a relegation system similar to that of British soccer.

It is an interesting concept but flawed nonetheless. The writer, Nate DiMeo, makes a good point in saying that hockey's popularity would likely grow with a smaller league. There would be a higher concentration of talent, and the markets that were left would be stronger after not having to prop up the weaker ones.

However, Mr. DiMeo goes on to say that television ratings would improve as the battle against relegation to a lower league would increase interest in losing teams. It may, but only if they came down to one final game, and that game didn't coincide with any big NBA games or the beginning of baseball season. Oh yeah, and it wasn't on Versus.

He believes that 'minor' teams that would battle for promotion into the NHL would "be going crazy." Unfortunately he used WHL powerhouse Vancouver Giants as an example even though they are a junior level team, so that is completely flawed. But he also threw Hersey and Providence out there - AHL cities that physically can't accommodate 15,000 fans. Granted there are some that could (Bring Back The Whale!) but most could not and let's face it, its hard enough to get a draw when you are playing a city like Atlanta, could you imagine Manchester, New Hampshire? Try selling a really small market like Wilkes Barre, PA to corporate sponsors. It just doesn't work.

As I mentioned in a post this summer, one of my solutions to improve the league would be to move the struggling teams to Canada. There are big corporate dollars in our neighbor to the north, granted many not as big as the ones in the states, but something is better than nothing.

I would rather the NHL sign a big deal with Canadian National or RBC than a nickle and dime contract with Southwest Airlines or whomever. Home Depot and McDonalds already are Canada-only sponsors of the league and imagine the increase in their deals if the NHL put another two teams north of the border (say, a team in Hamilton and one back in Winnipeg). Not to mention the draw for multinational corporations if the NHL ever moved globally.

So back to the original point, a relegation system just wouldn't fit the NHL today. There is no way the owners or (more importantly) the sponsors would allow team contraction and relegation. Yes, it would make for a better game on the ice, but it wouldn't help the flawed television product or the all-important bottom line.

EDIT - Wow was I out of it while at work yesterday, apparently this topic has been covered in a few places with BMR thinking it isn't that bad an idea and Mirtle calling it "compelling".

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Great Booing Debate

The above picture is not of me, but of Mario Dileo, another Rangers fan. I do not know him, nor speak for him, just appreciate his passion.

Ok, onto the subject at hand, the Great Booing Debate. This battle has roared its ugly head again thanks to the play -- well, very presence of -- Rangers defenseman Marek Malik.

I will get back to him in a bit, but the two sides of the debate are basically this:
SIDE A - You are a fan of the team, so you support the team, no matter what they do.
SIDE B - You cheer when the team does well, but are quick to voice your displeasure when they do not, usually in the form of booing.

There is some grey area, but those in each side feel quite strongly that they are correct and that the other are not "real fans."

The one thing that I have found, after being part of argument after argument on the matter, is that you have to agree to disagree because there is no right answer. People express their passion in different ways, and you just have to respect that. I am not going to pry you out of your seat to yell and cheer when I do, but you shouldn't chastise me when I boo or yell. Different strokes, for different folks. The only time I take exception is when people curse endlessly. Even though they are often priced out of it, professional sports are still family entertainment. However, that does not include the occasional "Asshole" chants directed towards players on the other team or the officials.

As for me, I yell and I boo but I also am the first to yell encouragement when a guy lays down to block a shot, or cheer when the team kills a penalty or does the little things that show they care and are putting in maximum effort.

And on that note, I take it back to the impetus for this post, Marek Malik. You cannot watch Malik play and say he appears to give it everything he has. He waves at skaters as they pass by, sometimes swinging his purse at them, sometimes going so far as to try to shove them into the boards but rarely does he knock them off the puck despite the fact that he often at least three inches taller than them.

I didn't boo his introduction at the home opener (as many fans did), but I did start booing him when he started playing like a pylon in the Rangers end. Malik was his usual lousy self playing soft not pushing people off the puck, waving his stick senselessly and showing his complete lack of agility while letting skaters have free warrant to do what they want in the Rangers zone. Yes, he put up three assists (two of which I find to be incidental rather than based on deft passing skills) but that does not change the fact that he put up a poor performance doing his job as a defenseman.

Yes I booed him, and joined in a 'M-A-LIK, Malik You Suck' chant at one point. Did that stop me from cheering when he got his assists? No. Did that stop me from laughing hysterically when he was named third star? No. Does that not make me a 'true fan'? Well, that's for you to decide. I believe I am, but what you think is what you think and thankfully (?) that can't be changed. At the end of the day we are both rooting for the same team, and I hope we will be cheering and high-fiving together at the end of the season. If not, your loss.



Well that was a nice start to the season.

For those that didn't watch the game ... you suck. No seriously, you suck. You missed out. The Rangers played a period and a half of fantastic hockey, resulting in a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers.

As I celebrated the win in our first game a little bit late at the bar and I have to be up for work, I will cut to the chase and go right to the three stars.
The Professional Hockey Writers had:
3. Marek Malik - he had three assists and still doesn't know how to skate or play defense. It is utterly amazing watching him rack up points and pluses while being entirely inept in his own end.
2. Jaromir Jagr - two assists and the fact that he is Jagr, but I really don't think he played like Jagr, he wasn't a dominant force that you notice every shift.
1. Chris Drury - the game winner and two assists give him the nod, and it was hilarious watching him come out and do the shortest spin and salute in recognition.

Now the Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3. Ryan Callahan/Petr Prucha/Brandon Dubinski - I put their entire line because they all were great, banging, digging and shooting. Callahan's goal was particularly gorgeous and he was just throwing it at the net.
2. Dan Girardi - easily the best Rangers defender of the night, he hit, he played his position and he even went deep to help create offense. It was a pleasure watching him.
1. Chris Drury - Gotta give it to him, the guy is almost invisible most times out there until you need him, and then, bam, there he is.

All in all a nice start to the season, I shudder to think of the potential of this team once they play three periods of hockey, once Scott Gomez gets his timing right, and once they figure out a better third pairing than Paul Mara and Marc Staal. They just do not mesh well together. Mara works good with Toots, who works better with Girardi. Maybe try Mara and Pock, or Staal and Strudwick - that kinda worked in preseason.

Whatever, time to crash, Let's Go Rangers!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

OMG, OMG, OMG, It's Here!!

Its the most, wonderfuuuuull time of the yeaaarrrrrrrrr ...

Opening day baby!!!

So tonight's the night, Rangers vs. Panthers, opening the 2007-08 NHL season for Madison Square Garden. I am positively giddy.

I think it will be a good game as the Panthers have something to prove - young, hungry teams are always dangerous - but I will not make any predictions on the final outcome, just that the Garden atmosphere will be awesome.

As I have yet to get the laptop I have been looking towards, don't expect an immediate post-game update. Sorry; besides, its opening night, I plan on celebrating! =op

Let's Go Rangers!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

One ... More ... Day ...

Just one day until the Rangers open their season at home against the Florida Panthers. I, for one, can't freakin' wait!!!!!!!!

Sorry about no updates yesterday, I was quite busy at work.

So now that I am done with the excuses, some notes:

*Steve Downie was banned by the AHL for a month, who are being all tough upholding the NHL's suspension (but shorter). Funnily enough, he can come back to play in the AHL three days before Mark Bell, who was cleared by doctors to play. So a drunk driving substance abuser can come back to the NHL months faster than a kid who made a helluva hit that incidentally/accidentally injured someone ...

*A slew of new captains have been named this season. The Philadelphia Flyers listened to me and named Jason Smith captain. Ethan Moreau took will be Edmonton's new captain, which is great because he is a heart guy who battles every shift and will do anything for the team. The Thrashers, who so nicely rolled over for the Rangers in the playoffs last season, gave the C to Bobby Holik, which may not be a bad move, but only if he returns to form as a top shutdown center. That idiot goon Chris Pronger will lead the Ducks since Scotty Niedermayer hasn't decided about retiring, still. The Blackhawks, Blues, Bolts and Devils still have yet to name one.

*The Boston Bruins signed Glen Metropolit, who had 14 goals and 19 assists in 77 games with two teams last season. He probably won't do much for the B's but I care because he is the lone Long Island Jawz player to make the NHL.

*Tonight there are four season openers. Two games will be on Versus, if you actually have it (the first two I mention):

Anaheim vs Detroit - Todd Bertuzzi returns to Detroit! Who cares, he only guested there last season. Matt Schneider is hurt. The Ducks already played two games so they should be in better form earlier, if a bit jetlagged.

Dallas vs Colorado - Best defensive corps in the league vs. a reloaded Colorado offense. Joe Sakic looked awesome last year and now he has Ryan Smyth and some great young talent around him. Should be the best game of the night ...

Montreal vs Carolina - I think Montreal will surprise some teams this year. We know about their top notch goaltending (Huet and Price) but their offense isn't that horrid, even without Sheldon Souray. It will come down to Roman Hamrlik to replace him somehow. Carolina is overrated but they do believe in a system and we all know from the Devils, that is a scary thing.

Ottawa vs Toronto - Ah, the first loss of the season for the Leafs. Martin Gerber is expected to start for the Sens, who barely changed from last season's Stanley Cup Final visit. Even with a new coach, they should smack around the limp Leafs.