Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sun Sets on A Disappointing Season...

So here we are... left to pick up the pieces after a hard fought series losing Game 7 last night to the hands of Sergei Federov's game winning goal with 5 minutes to play in regulation to break a 1-1 tie. All we can do now is speculate on what could have happened:

After the promising start to the season (10-2-1), the Rangers were never able to regain their form after a 3-1 loss to Buffalo early on, where, for the 1st time at that point in the season, they were systematically shut down and, in their defeat, gave a blue print for the rest of the league on how to defend them with success. The Rangers simply didn't have enough offensive firepower and talent to overcome.

Not being able to establish a formidable power play also haunted the Rangers all season long. Only Columbus had a worse power play during the regular season. Sadly, the Rangers were never able to find a working system between 2 head coaches despite having an abundance of talent and experience to work with. They lacked a PP QB; someone who wanted the puck and to take charge (and we paid Wade Redden 6.5 mil for that title). They lacked the desire to get shots on net, where garbage goals live. And, when they did get shots on net they always seemed out of position for rebounds, either being too deep behind the goal line or not close enough to the net.

One of the biggest disappointments all season long was the enigmatic season of Nikolai Zherdev. The 23 yr old outcast of the Columbus Blue Jackets was brought in to be somewhat of a replacement offensively for the departed Jaromir Jagr for not only this season, but beyond as well. The Rangers brass thought a change of scenery could revitalize him. However, bringing him in to a defense-first system ultimately stymied his offensive ability ands was never able to combine a conscious defensive effort with his offensive potential. He ended the regular season with a troubling 58 points (tied for the team lead...really?) and 0 points and a -3 in the post-season while not cashing in on bountiful scoring chances he did have. Zherdev is a RFA this offseason and the Rangers have a big dilemma on their hands; re-sign him in hopes he rebounds to a better season, or let him walk? Personally, I'd let him walk, he doesn't seem to fit into Tortorella's system.

New York has a lot of decisions to make this offseason on who stays, who goes, and who to bring in. Glen Sather has crippled the Rangers with virtually no cap room maneuverability with big-time contracts (43 mil committed to 11 players) and with 11 FA's to negotiate with. Suffice to say, the Rangers will once again have a much different look to them going into next season. We'll see what Glen Sather is made of; his job might start to depend on it.

Until next time and next season...


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Call to Arms

How fitting that both local teams in the playoffs, the Rangers and Devils, will have elimination Game 7's tonight to play for a chance to move on in Lord Stanley's playoffs. For the Rangers, a multitude of questions hang in the balance:

Will New York withstand the Capitals initial offensive onslaught? Or will they fold under the immense pressure?

Will Henrik Lundqvist continue his concerning play of late? Or will he rise up and perform a miracle of biblical proportions only seen rarely on frozen surfaces?

Will Ovechkin run wild over the Rangers D? Or will they dig deep and find a way to stymie the offensive juggernaut?

Will the likes of Gomez, Dury, Naslund, and Redden live up to their expensive reputations and lead their team to a victory? Or wilt in the face of adversity?


It's a call to arms - to not only the Rangers, but to the fans. Unite for your team around the world where ever you may be. Believe as one that your team will find a way tonight to pull out a victory many think belongs in the hands of the Capitals. Faith is paramount here - no other will do. Fight with them, not against them. Glory awaits for the ones who yearn the most.


Game 7 @ WSH 7:00pm start

Until next time....


Monday, April 20, 2009

Varlamov does his best Tikanov, Caps blank 4-0

I apologize or no Game 2 re-cap, I didn't see the game and I'm almost sadden to say I saw all of tonight's Game 3 fizzling of the Rangers.


Quick Hits:

- My hat is off to Simeone Varlamov. Although not severely tested all game, the rookie netminder posted his first ever win in the postseason with a shutout. To be able to go into MSG, down 2-0, and get a win like that deserves big time credit and puts Washington right back in the series.

- Rangers had no offensive flow all game. Most of that can be contributed to all the time New York spent killing penalties.

- Speaking of which, this had to have been one of the worst officiated playoff games I've seen. The Callahan high-sticking penalty, the Avery goalie interference. I have a hard time biting my lip when refs try to decide the outcome of a game by getting whistle happy. It goes to a completely different level when it occurs in the playoffs.

- Ryan Callahan has hit 3 posts so far in this series. Had he buried his chance tonight it would have been a 1-1 game, and not the 2-0 game it came to be 10 seconds after hitting iron.

- The Rangers power play has gone beyond scary to watch. The team once again had plenty of chances to get a goal and couldn't generate a lick of offense. It will make or break them in the playoffs.

Game 4 is back at MSG Wednesday night 7pm start.

Until next time...


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jose Three-or-more lives up to his name; Rangers win 4-3 in Game 1

^ John Gianonne gets credit for that nickname. During the 2nd intermission, Gianonne uttered that nickname and I immediately chuckled. Then I realized it's absolutely true and not just meant in a joking manner.

Quick Hits:

- This was as exciting as a playoff game can get. Back and forth action from both teams. Superstars displaying their offensive talents. Henrik Lundqvist marveling in the net. I had heart palpitations every time Ovechkin had the puck in the Rangers zone.

- Give credit to the Rangers playing a man down who just so happens to be their captain Chris Drury. He skated in warm-ups but left shortly after and is still day-to-day. Voros played in his place. If the Rangers want a shot at winning this series; they will need Chris Dury.

- Speaking of Drury, Brandon Dubinsky did his best "Captain Clutch" impression, scoring the game-winning goal late in the 3rd. A welcomed sight for the Rangers. Hopefully, Dubi can gain some momentum from it.

- Marc Staal did an admirable job against Ovechkin (0 goals,2 assists, 13 shots!).

-Rangers scored 2 power play goals... WHAT?

- Big guns Gomez, Naslund, and Antropov combined for 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists).

Game 2 1pm NBC game.. tune in!


Until next time....


Monday, April 13, 2009

Rangers End Season On High Note; Beat Flyers 4-3

Quick Hits:

- It's always good for a team's morale and confidence to end the season with a win, especially when it takes two 3rd period goals (a rarity lately) to overcome a deficit and get the win. Tortorella has got his team ready for the playoffs.

- Speaking of morale, what better time for Brandon Dubinsky to pot 2 goals. It's kind of ironic the youngster, entrenched in the typical "sophomore slump," ended the season with an unlucky 13 goals.

- Sean Avery and Blair Betts (WHAT?) were the players who put 2 to the twine in the final frame. A welcomed sign.

- Jofferey Lupul better hope Sean Avery has a short memory for his late game cheap shot. Not only was it unsportsmanlike but it could have proved costly had Avery been injured.


Now, the Rangers will prepare for their 1st round playoff match-up with the Capitals, a team NYR hasn't faced in the playoffs since 1994. However, these ain't your daddy's Capitals team. New York sported a 1-2-1 record against them in the regular season, including a 5-4 OT loss back on Christmas eve; a game the Rangers had a 4-0 lead in. Suffice to say; Washington is dangerous with Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alex Semin, etc. However, I think Washington can be had and heres why:

1) GOALTENDING....we all know it's goal tending and defense that wins Stanley cups and Jose Theodore is no Henrik Lundqvist. NYR has the advantage in between the pipes and it will take some miracle working on Theodore's part to keep Washington close. That, and Ovechkin scoring a hat trick a game.

2) I'll give the edge in defense to the Rangers as well. NYR starting 6 D play a more systematic, team-first game than Washington's D. But, Mike Green scares me, and will be a factor in this series. The Rangers will need to contain him if they have any hopes of making it out alive in the 1st round.

3) The Capitals get the edge in offense and will give the Rangers fits. They come at you with different weapons up and down the line-up. The Rangers lack of a true sniper will be felt here so it'll be crucial for someone to step up (Zherdev anyone?)

Prediction: Rangers in 6. I cant get past Washington's mediocre goal tending. It'll be their downfall.

1st game is Wednesday in D.C. 7pm.

Until then...


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chris Drury, You're So Money and You Don't Even Know It

Reference to the classic line for the underrated gem "Swingers." Great flick.

Quick Hits:

- Biggest game of the year and you couldn't have asked for a better venue to secure a much needed win; MSG. The only place where the Rangers have been playing well recently.

- Captain Clutch lived up to his name on this day, scoring 2 critical goals for not only his team but for his confidence. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come because it doesn't get any easier from here.

- Kudos to Nik Antropov for not only playing well with a suspect knee but full-out diving to poke a goal in an open net.

- Congratulations to Ryan Callahan for winning the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award this season. Although, was there really anyone else to consider besides Callahan? Maybe Redden?

Rangers control their collective playoff fates. Win on Thursday at MSG vs. the Flyers and they secure a playoff spot for the 4th consecutive season. Lose, and they might as well worry about their vacation plans rather than the playoffs; they will need enormous help to get in to Lord Stanley's playoffs.

Until next time...


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bruins Edge Rangers 1-0

2nd consecutive game I did not get to watch due to employment obligations. Quite frankly, I have nothing to add to the aftermath of this game that would contribute to much of anything.

The Rangers are in big trouble and I'm sure they know it. 3 games remain and they need help to outlast Florida for the 8th spot (which looks like the only spot left for NYR to get at this point).

Consequently, an 8th seeding would put the Rangers up against the Bruins in the 1st round, a potentially scary prospect. I did a little research and found out over the last 4 games at TD Banknorth Garden over the past 2 seasons, The Rangers have lost to Boston 1-0 three times, once in OT.

Until next time...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Rangers Blown Away By Hurricanes 4-2

Didn't get the pleasure of watching this game from start to finish. However, I did see highlights.

The Rangers blew a golden opportunity to get some breathing room with teams below them in the standings. Disregard Carolina winning 6 straight games and 9 straight at home, New York had 4 1st period PP's and came away with nothing. A goal there changes the whole complexion of the game.

I'm not even going to comment from what I saw in the highlights. It's a self-explanatory choke on the Rangers part. Especially by our esteemed veteran core.

Things do not get easier from here; Blueshirts are in Boston Saturday for another NBC matinee (OH BOY). Is it too much to ask the Rangers to get 2 points against the best in the East?

Until next time...