Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Semenov Earns His Pay Day

According to Rangers/NHL.com, the New York Rangers have inked veteran D Alexei Semenov to a one-year deal for roughly 600k. To read the full article, click the link above ^

Semenov has worked his way into this Rangers defense corps. He showed up to camp on a try-out basis and went about his business. He has bought into the team concept and will be an asset to the younger defense men (Gilroy, Staal, Del Zotto). Good signing. 

5 Keys To Success


Andrew Gross has an article today explaining the 5 keys to the New York Rangers success this season. Here's the link


"Marian Gaborik’s health: The right wing, who left the Wild for a five-year, $37.5 million deal, is needed to play at least 70 games — something he hasn’t done since 2002-03.


Improving the power play: The Rangers were 29th in the NHL last season largely because of very tentative puck management.


Blue line consistency: Rookie Matt Gilroy was the team’s best defenseman in the preseason but that can’t be the case in the regular season.


Same old Henrik Lundqvist: The goalie has won 112 games over the past three seasons and was a Vezina Trophy finalist in his first three. He’ll see more shots with the Rangers pushing the puck up ice more aggressively.


Brandon Dubinsky’s development: The Rangers don’t have a true No. 1 center and need somebody to click with Gaborik."



I'll go a step further; Sean Avery. If he can play right on the edge and be an effective, in-your-face, disruptive force without taking penalties it'll make playing against the Rangers that much harder. Assuming he's healthy of course. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

And So It Ends...Theo Fleury Announces Retirement


For the full article click here

"Theoren Fleury's career is ending in the same place it began.


The 41-year-old has decided not to try and pursue a comeback with another NHL team, choosing instead to retire as a member of the Calgary Flames.


"I could not sign with another team," he said. "I retire a Calgary Flame."


- This is a un-hollywood like ending to a rather unique and interesting story. Fleury showed in his preseason games he had the potential to put up points for the Flames. But, Calgary just simply didn't have a spot for him. It's an end to a talented yet tumultuous career. All the best, Theo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Salary Cap = "Fiscal Responsibility"

Larry Brooks of the NY Post has an article out today. Here are some excerpts:

"Let's stipulate that Henrik Lundqvist and Steve Valiquette have spots in goal; that Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Matt Gilroy have five spots on defense; that Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury have three spots at center; and that Avery, Lisin, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Christopher Higgins, Ales Kotalik and Donald Brashear have seven spots on the wing.


Those 17 players account for approximately $52.455 million under the $56.8 million cap."

- Don't worry. It gets better. Trust me.


"Michael Del Zotto is in for a $1,087,500 cap charge, including Entry Level bonuses. Teams theoretically could exceed the cap by up to $4.26 million by deferring bonuses into next year, but no team intends to do that. If Alexei Semenov signs, it likely will be for approximately $550,000.

Thus, adding Del Zotto and Semenov would increase the cap number to $54.092 million.
Evgeni Grachev carries a $933,333 cap charge, and Artem Anisimov's is $821,666, with both including Entry Level bonuses. If Avery is out, it's likely Tortorella would prefer both be on the roster. That would increase the cap number to $55.847 million.
And that would leave no room for Aaron Voros, who has a cap charge of $1 million, and might create a temporary spot as 12th forward (minus Avery) for Brian Boyle, whose number is $525,000.
But Voros would have to clear waivers to go down and re-entry to come back up. It's unlikely the Rangers would risk a recall that would cost $500,000 or dead cap space this year and next. So if Voros goes to Hartford, he almost certainly stays there for the duration."


For the full article click here


- This has to scare you if you're a Rangers fan. This is a prime example of what happens when you don't make shrewd, sound FA signings and trades. Redden and Rosival's contracts have absolutely hampered the Rangers' financial flexibility and maneuverability and it might cost someone (Voros) who deserves a roster spot. Good luck working out of this one, Glen. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Avery Speaks, We Listen

Courtesy of Brett Cyrgalis (not Larry Brooks??) at the NY Post,

"I think there was a lot of smoke and mirrors with the team," Avery said. "I don't think it was as close as a lot of people indicated."
Whether the team was as close as it led on or not, Avery's sense of timing is impeccable.
He made the comments in plain clothes, having missed action since Monday with a knee sprain, the result of a collision with Ryan Callahan during that day's morning skate. He said the MRI came back "clean," and he will be getting more treatment today in hopes of being ready to play in the Oct. 2 season opener in Pittsburgh."

for the full article click here

...Wow I wonder just how fractioned the Rangers were last season. To the average viewer of the team, they looked fine. But we don't know what goes on in the locker room. Maybe this is was what led to the ultimate demise of Tom Renney, having too many players on the team in different directions?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thoughts on the Roster

With the regular season right around the corner a lot of discussion across the internet has been made about what the opening night roster in Pittsburgh Oct 2nd is going to look like. The roster has been reduced from 54 to 24 in a matter of weeks so let's take a look at what I believe will shake out with the Rangers...


Forwards:


- Players such as Enver Lisin, Artem Anisimov, and even Aaron Voros has made strong cases to make the lineup and have the best chance of making it. Lisin has showed excellent speed and a bit of offensive flair. He was traded for Lauri Korpikoski and plays a similar speed game and if he can pot the occasional goal it will help out tremedously. Anisimov has showed periods of brilliance and periods of invisibility (sadly it seems like all young talented Russian players are like this, Zherdev??) But, I like his size and i like his 2-way game, and with the Rangers being rather paltry at center, Anisimov could be an asset. As for Voros, I'll admit he was not one of my favorite players last season. He was misused under Tom Renney, mainly due to a lack of true talent up front. After starting the season of hot (9pts in 8 games) he finished the season with 16 points and, once Tortorella came in as coach, was scratched for 19 of 21 games. However, Voros has come back this preseason with a mission and has played like it. He seems better on his skates, shown a feisty edge, and played with energy. Voros is a perfect fit for a 4th line winger and that's where he should be opening night.


- I'm still on the fence about Brian Boyle and Evgeny Grachev. He hasn't distinguished himself enough during preseason games. He's still young and has good size and likes to mix it up physically, which is needed for a 4th line center. However, part of that responsibility is to be defensively conscience and be disciplined and I think it's those 2 areas where Boyle needs a bit of improvement. Having said that, I think he'll be in the lineup to start the season. As for Grachev, he gives the Rangers a glimpse into the future and it could be bright. Although, he has looked a bit overmatched and hasn't really gotten an offensive game going. Look for Grachev to start the season in Hartford where he can log tons of minutes and valuable experience.


- The new additions have looked intriguing. Chris Higgins will be loved by Ranger fans. He goes in to the areas needed to get the job done and has good speed. Ales Kotalik could be the key to the Rangers success on the PP this year. Kotalik has a cannon for a shot and will start off the season at one of the points during the PP. Vinny Prospal has shown deft passing and could very well be No. 1 center (although Brandon Dubinsky might have something to say about that). Donald Brashear will be one of the key reasons it will be tough to play against New York this season. You don't mess with his teammates without Brashear saying or doing something about it. Finally, there's the prized jewel of the off-season; Marion Gaborik. Hampered with a sore groin for most of the pre-season, he's been taking it slow and has only appeared in 1 game so far. This season's success rides on him; he is the focal point. If he's healthy, which I think he will be despite this groin issue, he can easily pot 40 goals this season.


Higgins-Prospal-Gaborik
Kotalik-Drury-Callahan
Dubinsky-Anisimov-Lisin/Avery
Voros-Boyle-Brashear


Defense:


- This is one of the more exciting parts of the team to talk about for 2 main reasons; Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto. Both have shown up to training camp and done nothing but impress John Tortorella and the fans. Gilroy looks to be a lock for a defensive spot. However, the last 2 spots (Rangers will carry 7 D-men most likely) is where the difficulty lies. Del Zotto has been great (could be the PP QB we need) and has showed you he can play at the NHL level. But is he ready for an entire NHL season? The Rangers have 9 NHL games to answer that question before they need to make a decision; send him to juniors for the season or stay with the big team.


- Alexei Semenov has been a surprise. Invited on a tryout basis, Semenov has provided grit and consistency on the back line and enough so to garner thoughts about him being the 6th or 7th defenseman. The Rangers were looking for a veteran on D as so to not have 2 rookies in the starting 6 and Alexei Semenov could be that person.


- New Jersey native Bobby Sanguinetti in all likelihood will start the year in Hartford. After starting off training camp on the wrong foot (literally, reported to camp out of shape and had trouble with Tortorella's conditioning drills), Sanguinetti hasn't given up and has worked hard. He's another offensive first defenseman but has also been responsible defensively and could QB a PP unit as well. The thought of having Gilroy, Del Zotto, and Sanguinetti all potentially contributing to the Rangers has got to make fans elated.


- Michal Rosival and Wade Redden could definitely take a page out of the younger defensemen in camp. They are the 2 veteran leaders on the blue line, yet, haven't played rather well at all so far in preseason. Hopefully they are shaking off all the bad games now because for the Rangers to be a playoff team this year both Redden and Rosival have to produce and play smart.


- It's true that a defenseman is playing well when he doesn't stand out; he's doing all the little things that go unnoticed. Marc Staal and Dan Giardi, while not getting style points for their play, have been playing solidly.


Redden-Rosival
Staal-Girardi
Semenov-Gilroy/Del Zotto


Goalies:


- There's been some talk about Steve Valiquette not looking as sharp as he should before the season starts. But, there shouldn't be any reason to panic. Valiquette is nothing short of a professional and will be looking forward to more playing time this season due to the Olympic break.


- Chad Johnson stood out in his time here. Acquired by Pittsburgh, Johnson showed poise in the Devils and Bruins games and could make a run at the backup job next season (Vally will be a FA after this season).


- I'm sure Henrik Lundqvist cannot wait for Oct 2nd. He's looked sharp and focused. I think he sees not only olympic gold but the glisten of Lord Stanley's cup as well in his sights. If that is to happen, Lundqvist needs to carry this team all year.


Lundqvist
Valliquette


Next preseason game is Thurs 7pm. vs Washington...let's see who stands out


j.M.w

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rangers Season Preview Snippet

Courtesy of MSGOnline...



...October 2nd can't come soon enough.

Rangers 4 Red Wings 2

For a full game re-cap and post game comments click here, courtesy of TSN

DET/NYR:

(Unfortunately, due to class, was not able to catch the game therefore I will skip commenting)

Next game Thursday 7pm vs. Alex Ovechkin & the Washington Caps


j.M.w

Monday, September 21, 2009

2-Game Wrap Up

In their last 2 games, the New York Rangers were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Friday night and were victorious over the Boston Bruins 5-2 on Saturday. For full game re-caps, click here and here.

NYR/DET:


- Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch this game or catch any highlights so I will not be commenting on it.


NYR/BOS:
- For a preseason affair, this was a very solid game to watch. There was solid play, a nasty edge to it, and fights. What more could you want?


- Speaking of fights, apparently Aaron Voros doesn't read blogs online. I beg of you Aaron, stop fighting....


- This was the first game where the Rangers actually played 60 minutes of Tortorella hockey and not waiting till the 3rd period to respond. 


- I sound like a broken record, however, who were arguably the 2 biggest standouts from the game? Gilroy and Del Zotto. Especially Del Zotto, he looked poised QB'ing the PP today and set up a beauty of a goal by Ales Kotalik. Wait, did I say PP goal?! New York got its 1st PP goal of the preseason. It lives!


- This was sort of a make-or-break game for P.A. Parenteau, whose fighting for a roster spot. His goal certainly helps him, although, I still think he remains on the edge of making the team or starting the year in Hartford.


- Sean Avery owns.


- Finally, I leave you with this.


With this highlight reel goal, and the dandy he scored in Detroit, Artem Anisimov seems to have found his offensive touch. I think he's taken serious strides to making the big club this season. I hope there's more goals like that to come.

Next game: Mon Sep 21 vs. DET 7:00pm

j.M.w

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Season Predicitions

Courtesy of Brad Kurtzberg at MaxHockey.com

"Top Defenseman—Marc Staal continues to get improve at the age of 21. Staal is not much of an offensive threat, but he makes a smart first pass out of his own zone and uses his 6’4”, 210-pound frame to take opponents out of the play. The best is yet to come for Staal who should be a fixture on Broadway for the next decade.
Unsung hero—Last year, Blair Betts was easily the winner in this category. Look for defenseman Dan Girardi to fit the bill this season. Girardi doesn’t score a lot of points, but he plays steady defense and knows when to step up and join the attack.
Breakout player (any position) – Ryan Callahan scored 22 goals last season for the Broadway Blueshirts. New York needs him to increase that total if they hope to score enough goals to make a run at the playoffs. Callahan has the raw talent but needs to find consistency to jump to the next level.
Divisional Finish: Fourth. A lack of offensive firepower remains the Rangers biggest problem. They still remain too dependent on Henrik Lundqvist to win low scoring games for them. If Gaborik stays healthy and the younger forwards step up and grow into top scoring roles, the Rangers have a chance. If not, it could be a long year on Broadway."


click here for more, including other team previews


...Our season rides right along side how healthy Gaborik is. But I do recall the last time "experts" picked us to finish dead last and somehow overcoming them...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

2 Game Wrap-Up

During the first 2 Preseason games, the New York Rangers have lost to the Boston Bruins 2-1 and were defeated in a shootout by the New Jersey Devils 3-2. If you like you can get full game wrap-ups at NY Rangers Re-caps

BOS/NYR:

- After a opening minute turnover along the boards, Matt Gilroy played a solid game and made a case for him to be on this team. Actually I think that turnover helped him. It got him involved right away.


- Michael Del Zotto had a good showing for himself and especially played well during the PP's the Rangers had. PP QB maybe??


- Ryan Callahan skating around hitting everything in sight is always great to see.


-  It looked like the Rangers were  fighting themselves through the 1st 2 periods and then turned it on in the 3rd. It has NOTHING to do with the training camp hell John Tortorella is putting them through. Nothing at all.


- I thought the line of Higgins-Drury-Kotalik played well together, with Higgins potting the lone NYR goal. Look for that to be a line in the regular season.


NYR/NJD:

- Del Zotto took a minor step backwards in this game but otherwise played a decent game. I think he has Rosival-itis, he seems hesitant to shoot sometimes. 


- David Clarkson will score 25 for New Jersey this season. Write it down.


- Matt Gilroy was exceptional. His goal was something special to watch and also was the only Ranger to score in the shootout.


- Once again it took New York 2 periods before they woke up. 


- Vinny Prospal showed some sleek passing ability. Maybe Marian Gaborik will enjoy this. We'll see.


- The top 2 money getters on defense (Rosival, Redden) played like they need to start in Hartford to get their game together and then wait for their call-up back to the big club. Too bad this cant actually happen...


- Aaron Voros has no business fighting anyone, at any time, at any place. 


Next preseason game is Friday night in Detroit to take on the Western Conference Champion Detriot Red Wings at 7:30pm on MSG

j.M.w

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Comeback Kid

If you haven't read, ex-NHL great Theo Fluery, who has been campaigning to make a comeback in NHL, met with commish Gary Bettmen and deputy officer Bill Daly on Tuesday and was granted reinstatement. You can read the full article here   http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=290651


...Personally, I'm happy for Theo Fluery. He has dealt with some major demons in his lifetime, including substance abuse. And, as the trend lately with celebrities and athletes, he deserves a second chance (Michael Vick?) Now, whether or not a team is willing to invite him into training camp for a roster spot is a whole other story. At 41, his skills are not what they used to be and the game has changed since his last season (2002-03). However, if someone takes a flyer on him it'll sure be an interesting story to watch...


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Until next time...

j.M.w

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Show...it's back!

UPDATE: The show time for "The Neutral Zone" will Wednesday's from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm. Tune in, 90.3FM is where it's at.
Looks like the show will be Wednesday mornings from 10:30-12:30. A good way to wake up and get your sports fix on campus. Tune in to 90.3FM and enjoy.
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I'm going to change up the way I blog on here by adding some new elements (i.e. video clips, websites, video blogs) to try and give it some more depth, more quality. Hopefully it works out and makes it a better reading experience. There will be plenty to cover this upcoming semester: The Rise and Tragic Fall of the Mets, John Tavares possibly being the Islanders saving grace this season, Rangers/Devils season previews, The Mark Sanchez Hype etc.
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First post should be coming in the next few days...
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Until then,
j.M.w