Signing Off

Posted in Uncategorized on March 27, 2009 by acfialk

After a lot of thought and consideration, I have decided to bring “Amanda Panda’s NY Rangers Blog” to a close. With increased time commitments in other areas of my life, blogging about the Rangers has become a task which is no longer feasible. I want to thank everyone who has supported my blog. It was so much fun while it lasted. GO RANGERS!!!!

Beating the Wild Trap

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers played a very desperate and trap happy Wild team. Tonight, the Rangers did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by an opponent’s desperation. Tonight, the Rangers were not slowed by an annoying neutral zone trap. Thus, tonight, the Rangers brought themselves two points closer to a playoff berth.

In the first period, a relatively boring period, the Rangers held the territorial advantages, outshootingthe Wild by the wide margin of 10-3. Avery and Clutterbuck dropped the gloves, fighting to a draw, and Orr and Nolan dropped the gloves with Orr getting the better of Nolan. With four seconds left in the period, Zherdev scored the lone goal of the period, when he patiently, and from an awful angle, elevated a Redden rebound over Backstrom and inside the right post.

In the second period there was an increase in physicality and grit, making for a much more entertaining period. In the second period there was also an increase in goal scoring, with both the Wild and NY finding the back of the net. The Wild’s Gaborik scored on a redirect tip in after Zidlicky whiffed on a shot causing Hank to go down early. Less than a minute later the Rangers responded when Gomez scored a very “un-muffin like” goal off a nice backhand pass from Avery, who kept the play alive in the offensive zone with some hard work along the boards.

In the beginning of the third, the Wild had some solid scoring chances, forcing Hank to come up big. Quickly however, the Rangers settled back down into their game, once again gaining control of the pace and play of the game. Thirteen minutes into the period the Rangers were awarded back to back power plays, and a valuable chance to pad their lead, yet they were unable to capitalize. Nonetheless, the Rangers were able to grind out their 22nd 1 goal victory of the season. Final Score: 2-1, Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

Check back later for updates on the following key elements of the game:

1. Hank

2. Power Play

3. Sauer

4. Avery

5. Gomer

6. Zherdev

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Hank

2nd- Avery

3rd – Zherdev and Gomer

A Powerless Power Play = A Loss

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, as the Rangers three game winning streak came to an abrupt end, Tort’s “new” Rangers looked very similar to Renney’s “old” Rangers. Tonight the Rangers looked slow, tepid, and stale and their power play was useless. Most importantly , with tonight’s loss the Rangers blew a glorious opportunity to spring themselves into a fifth place tie with Pittsburgh.

In the first period, the Rangers actually had some jump to their game and they spent a good portion of the period in the Sens zone. Dubi ended his goal scoring drought when he netted a goal from Cally who was quick on the forecheck, throwing Auld out of position. Sjo had a nice period, drawing 2 penalties and consistently driving hard to the net, and the PK was solid killing off two penalties. The power play however, was unable to capitalize on three different opportunities.

In the second period, while the Sens came out strong and hard, the Rangers were slow on the puck andslow on the man. As a result of their lethargic play, the Sens tied the game up during the second. Comrie scored for the Sens, a backhander which eluded Hank, after he outskated Girardi.

In the third period, the Rangers listless, sloppy, and boring play continued. The Rangers looked slow and tired, like they had no legs. After a drop pass from Gomer never made it to Avery, the Sens, Foligno found Shannon who wristed a shot over Hank’s glove from the circle for the go-ahead, and ultimate, game winning goal. In the third, the Rangers were futile on two power play opportunities. Final Score: 2-1, Sens 

Key Elements Of The Game:

1. Sjo – Sjo, making the most of the extra ice time Tort’s has awarded him, was one of the few Ranger’s who played a full 60 minutes of energetic and aggressive hockey. Sjo drew two penalties, was excellent on the PK, and drove hard to the net every shift.

2. Cally – Cally, once again, played a great game tonight, forechecking hard and hitting everything in sight. Cally truly brings it every night in a way that NO other Ranger has this season.

3. Dubi – With a goal tonight, Dubi finally broke out of his scoring drought. In addition to scoring, Dubi, like Cally and Sjo, played with passion and energy throughout the ENTIRE game….too bad the rest of the team did not show up in the same way that Dubi showed up.

4. Power Play – Tonight the power play was 0 for 5. Tonight, the Rangers only managed to pull off FOUR shots on goal in FIVE power play opportunities. This is unacceptable. This is why the Rangers are sitting in 7th place and not in 5th. Tonight, the inept power play cost the Rangers two very valuable points.

5. Dru, Gomer, Nasi – Gomer, Nasi, and Dru, our captains and our leaders, must really step it up a notch in the home stretch. Tonight, our three captains were invisible. Tonight our three captains were slow and lethargic. Tonight, our three captains were not playing like their playoff lives depended on it…..This must change.

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Dubi

2nd – Cally

3rd – Sjo and Hank

Three In A Row and On We Go

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, with the exception of a less than stellar third period, the Rangers won a hard fought game against a desperate Buffalo team. The Rangers have now won three in a row and seven of their last nine. Does anyone want to tell me that the Rangers are not a better team with Sean Avery in the lineup??

The first period, though the Rangers started the period taking two back to back penalties, was an energetic and upbeat period. The Rangers were aggressive on the forecheck, strong along the boards, and smart with the puck. Korpi was awarded a penalty shot, which Lalime robbed him on, after Korpi exploded through neutral ice during a PK. Nasi however, did find the back of the net after Girardi made a strong play in the defensive zone, enabling Antropov to rush the puck up the ice and to throw the puck at the net for Nasi to find.

In the second period, the Rangers continued with their upbeat play and were rewarded with 3 goals. Drury scored the Ranger’s second goal, a power play goal and a deflection off of a nice shot from the point by Mara. Less than thirty second later, Buffalo’s Paille unknowingly found the back of the net when a puck trickled by Hank off of his foot. After receiving a beautiful head-man pass from Dubi, Cally scored the Ranger’s third goal when he went in alone on Lalime on a breakaway, beating Lalime with a nifty move from forehand, to backhand, back to forehand. Zherdev scored the Ranger’s fourth goal through a nice Avery screen in front of the net.

Buffalo started the third period with a goalie change (Tellqvist) and a quick goal. After the Ranger’s could not clear the zone, Buffalo’s MacArthur found the back of the net on a Gaustad rebound. The remainder of the period was evenly played until Buffalo brought the game to within one with 1:19 remaining. After a hard and punishing forecheck, where Buffalo had their way with the Rangers physically, Vanek scooted the puck to Lydman who beat Hank. The Rangers responded however, with an empty netter, (Sjo to Cally) putting the game in the books. Final score: 5-3, Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalties – Simply put; the Rangers must STOP taking so many penalties. While their PK was amazing tonight, proving why they are number one in the league, being shorthanded five times in a game is NOT going to work against teams who have more potent power plays.

2. Avery – Once again, there is never a dull moment when Avery is on the ice. Every minute and every second of every shift he is on the ice, Avery creates at the very least, havoc, and at the very most, genuine and solid scoring chances.

3. Dubi – Dubi was noticeable every time he was on the ice tonight. He was skating hard, hitting, and making smart moves with the puck. While he is in a bit of a scoring rut for the moment, the second he breaks out….watch out!

4. Mara – Mara had a very strong defensive game tonight. He was noticeably the Rangers most physical d-man, hitting everything in sight and establishing a strong presence in front of the net.

5. Cally – What a game Cally had tonight! It always pleases me when the hardest working players are rewarded with goals and assists. Cally may not be the most skilled player, however, he is a gutsy player who makes the absolute most of his skills.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Cally

2nd – Dubi

3rd – Mara

A Thrilling St. Patty’s Road Win

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers did not need the luck of the Irish. Tonight the Rangers played a solid road game and were consequently rewarded with a critical two points, bumping them further up into the playoff bubble.

Though no goals were scored, the first period was fast paced, exciting, and upbeat. The Rangers blockedpasses and shots, had good stick positioning, forced turnovers, and did not give the Habs much in their own end. Hank had a big period, with a couple of key saves. On the negative side, the Rangers did take two penalties in the first, while the Habs took none.

In the second period, the refs, similarly to Sunday’s game vs. Philly, were a bit whistle happy, calling 7 penalties. Antropov, as the late man in, scored for the Rangers during a four on four,  putting away a Drury rebound. Kovalev, with his quick release, scored a power play goal for the Habs off a beautiful cross ice pass from Markov.

The third period, though the Rangers dominated the play and the puck, outshooting the Habs 16-5, ended with the game tied at three a piece. Zherdevscored the Ranger’s second goal after Gomer rushed the puck into the zone and fed Zerdev with a nifty drop pass. Less than a minute later, the Habs, Lapierre, tied the game after Staal could not keep the puck in the zone, giving up a 2 on 1 which Lapierre finished with a great move on Hank. Cally scored the Rangers third goal, after Dubiwent hard to the net, generating a juicy rebound. With five minutes left in the period, the Habs (Markov) once again tied the game, ultimately sending the game to OT, on a shot that Hank should have had, after Drury turned over the puck at the blueline.

In OT, the Habs and Rangers traded chances to no avail, sending the game to a shootout. In the shootout, the Rangers prevailed with Nasi, Antropov, and Dru finding the back of the net. Final score: 4-3 Rangers, SO.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Sjo – Tonight, Sjo was huge on the PK. His punishing work along the boards and his ability to block shots and passes enabled the Rangers to escape numerous penalty kills unscathed.

2. Girardi and Mara – Tonight, Girardi and Mara had huge games. They played positionally sound and physical defensive hockey. They were quick on the puck and quick on the man, leaving the Habs without much to work with in their own zone.

3. Zherdev – Torts most definitely seems to have gotten to Zherdev. Not only was the talented winger getting more shots ON net, additionally he found the back of the net. Zherdev is without a doubt the Ranger’s most naturally skilled forward. If Torts can get the most out of Zherdev’s unquestionable offensive talents, the Rangers will be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

4. Cally – Cally had another big game tonight. In addition to putting away a Dubi rebound, he was fierce on the forecheck and he forced numerous turnovers. Can anyone say Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award???

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Cally

2nd – Zherdev

3rd – Sjo

A Complete Game

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2009 by acfialk

Today, in a matchup between Nittymaki and the King, the Rangers played perhaps their most complete game since Torts took over behind the bench. The Rangers forechecked, played supportive and responsible defense, created traffic in front of the net, and capitalized on power play opportunities. Most importantly, with today’s win, the Rangers are now tiedwith the Habs (80 points each), setting the stage for a fantastic and critical game on Tuesday night.

In the first period the Rangers came out hard, controlling the puck for the majority of the period, generating quality scoring chances, and outshooting the Flyers by the wide margin of 11-5. The Rangers had three power play opportunities in the first period. Avery was able to capitalize on one of those power plays when he got to the front of the net to deflecta nice shot from the point by Morris. In addition to scoring a power play goal, the Rangers also killed off two penalties in the first.

The second period was all about specialty teams play. Seven penalties were called during the second period. The Flyers, Gagne, from Richards, evened the game with a power play goal, when the Rangers, and in particular Redden, were weak in front of the net. The Rangers responded with a power play goal of their own, when Drury cleanly won a faceoff, scooting the puck to Antropov, who rocketed a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.

In the third period, the refs continued to be whistle happy, and the Rangers once again were able to capitalize on their power play opportunities, while holding the Flyers off the board on the PK. Threeminutes into the period Avery scored his secondgoal of the game, a power play goal, on a rebound from a hard working Gomerwrap around attempt. Midway through the period Sjoput the game away when he scored a nice wrap around goal after going in strong on the forecheck behind the net and retrieving the puck. Final score: 4-1 Rangers 

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Specialty Teams – Specialty teams play was ultimately the difference in today’s tightly called game. While the Rangers scored on two of their eight power play opportunities, the Flyers only scored on one of their six power plays.

2. Avery – With 2 goals today, Avery was once again the star of the game. I don’t know what it is about Avery and New York, but he plays for NY like he plays for no other. It is good to have you back Sean!

3. Hank – While Hank was not bombarded with shots today, he did come up big when called upon. Playing the aggressive system that Torts demands is really only possible when a team can rely on its goalie. NY can definitely rely on Hank.

4. Gomer – Gomer had another strong game today. When he skates and is smart with the puck, his playmaking ability is second to none.

5. Korpi and Sjo- Something to take note of; in today’s game, Sjostrom was granted decidedly more ice time playing on the third line, while Korpi’s ice time diminished as he was relegated to fourth line status. While I like Sjo’s speed and tenacity, I also think that we have not seen the best of Korpi yet and that Korpi has some natural goal scoring abilities that Sjo does not possess. It will be interesting to see how Korpi’s fate plays out in the Tort era.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Avery

2nd – Gomer

3rd – Hank

An “A” for Effort Gets Ya Nothing in A Playoff Race

Posted in Uncategorized on March 14, 2009 by acfialk

Today the Rangers were the better team. They outplayed, outshot, and outchanced the Flyers for the majority of the game. The Flyers however, were able to capitalize on ALL opportunities they were afforded, while the Rangers, on the other hand, did NOTHING with the chances they were afforded. Thus, though the Rangers played a solid game and definitely earned an “A” for effort, effort gets you nothing when you are in the middle of a tight playoff race.

The Rangers were on their game for the first 15 minutes of the period, forechecking, driving to the net, and generating opportunities. In the last five minutes of the period, however, the Rangers lost their game, blowing basic defensive coverage situations. The Rangers scored the first goal of the game, when Antropov, on an unassisted, individualized effort, blocked a shot in the defensive zone, used his size and his body to shield andprotect the puck while bringing the puck up the ice, switched from backhandto forehand, and beat Biron with a quick shot. In the final five minutes the Flyers tied the game when Antropov and Staalgotcaught down ice, causing an odd man rush in which Carter let go of a HUGE shot which Hank gave up a juicy rebound on and Hartnell scored into an empty net.   

In the second period, the Rangers picked up their play and dominated the game. The Rangers held the territorial advantages all period and outshot the Flyers 16-8. Biron however, was tremendous in net, keeping the Flyers in the game. Despite being outplayed, the Flyers scored the lone goal of the period when Redden, misread a play and pinched in and was beat at the blueline, creating a 2 on 1 in which Richards foundthe back of the net. Gomez foundthe back of the net in the second period as well, however the goal, was ERRONEOUSLY (my opinion) not allowed.   

In the third period, the Rangers defensive play slipped. The Rangers were guilty of turning over the puck, allowing too many odd man rushes, and being weak in front of their net. As a result, the Flyers scored twice in the third, while the Rangers scored only once. The Flyers scored their third goal after Redden was unable to keep the puck in the zone, leading to an odd man rush where Giroux, from behindthe net, found Asham, who was left alone in front of the net by Redden. Asham also scored the Flyers fourth goal, when he in went in alone on Hank after chipping the puck by Girardi at the Ranger’s blueline. Avery scored for the Rangers, coming in hard and fast on Biron with a quick wrist shot under the glove and inside the post. Avery’s goal however, was too little, too late. Final score: 4-2 Flyers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Avery – Avery had another huge game today and was once again the Ranger’s best forward. Avery, who now has goals in back to back games, was strong on the puck, tough along the boards, and responsible in staying out of the box. Furthermore, the Avery/Gomer tandem really seems to be clicking.

2. Morris – The more I watch Morris, the more I like his game. Morris has an innate ability to get the puck from the point, through traffic, and on net. His ability to shoot the puck is quite helpful on the PP.

3. Zherdev – Whatever was said or not said between Zherdev and Torts definitely had an impact on Zherdev. Today Zherdev played with confidence and passion. If not for Biron’s remarkable play between the pipes Zherdev could easily have scored a goal or two. Zherdev’s continued strong play will be critical to the Rangers through the playoff stretch.

4. Redden – Today Redden was downright horrible. Two of the Flyer’s four goals were directly his fault. It is time for Sather to bite the bullet, admit he made a mistake in signing Redden, send Redden to the minors, and create salary cap space to work with in the off season. I would much rather see Potter, Fahey, or Sanguinetti play hard and make rookie mistakes than continue to watch Redden’s uninspired play.

5. Nasi – Today Nasi continued to struggle. In addition to taking yet another penalty, he seems to be a tad slow, unable to find open ice, and afriad of establishing a presence in front of the net.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Avery

2nd – Zherdev

3rd – Morris

A-Very Big Two Road Points

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, after a rough first period, the Rangers picked up a HUGE two points on the road, bringing them back inside the playoff bubble into 7th place in the East. Tonight the Rangers played like a team with a lot at stake and for the fourth time in five games the Rangers scored at least five goals in a game. Moreover, with tonight’s win, Hank became the 1st goalie in the NHL to win 30 games in each of his first four seasons.

In the beginning of the first period the Rangers came out skating well and forechecking hard. As a result, they were rewarded when Avery found the back of the net, (his first goal back as a Ranger) off a fortunately placed Gomer rebound. After scoring however, the Rangers took three penalties (Zherdev 1 penalty and Nasi2 penalties, one of which was for too many men on the ice), changing the flow and momentum of the game in favor of Nashville. Nashville responded by scoring two goals. Nashville’s first goal was a power play goal by Weber, after some nice give and go passing with Tootoo and Suter, who overpowered Hank with a shot that went in over his arm. Nashville’s second goal was credited to Dumont but actually went in off of Girardi’s skate after a Zherdev turnover in the Rangers zone led to a three on two rush up the ice by Dumont, Sullivan, and Legwand.

The Rangers started the second period on a power play in which they were unable to gain control of the puck in the offensive zone and thus, were futile in their attempt to even up the game. Shortly thereafter, however, the Rangers did find the back of the net after Avery went in hard on the forecheck forcing Ellis to turnover the puck to Cally who scored a nice goal through a Gomer screen. Following Cally’s goal, the Rangers upped their game, taking no penalties and dominating and controlling the play and the puck. In particular, the combination of Gomer, Cally, and Avery were stellar, as their hard work was responsible for the Ranger’s go ahead goal. The Rangers go ahead goal was scored after Avery, Cally, and Gomer created hard pressure in front of the net, enabling Staal to find the puck and score a garbage goal through the pile up in front of the net. Zherdev meanwhile, saw no ice time during the second period.  

In the third period, the Rangers continued with the momentum and domination they established in the second period. They were relentless on the puck, generating scoring chance after scoring chance. The Rangers scored their fourth and final goal of the game while on the penalty kill. Betts, who won a faceoff in the defensive zone, capitalized on a turnover by Suter, rushed the puck up the ice, passed the puck perfectly onto Sjo’s stick, and Sjocompleted the play with a great shot by Ellis. Zherdev again, did not see the ice in the third. Final Score: 4-2 Rangers 

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Avery – Tonight Avery was a beast. He was all over the ice and all over the net. He was responsible with the puck, he was strong on the forecheck, he forced turnovers, and he drew penalties. Avery was the Ranger’s best forward tonight as he was directly involved, if not responsible for, three of the Rangers Four goals.

2. Zherdev, Nasi, Rosi and Accountability – Since he has taken over behind the bench, we have seen that Torts most certainly holds his players accountable for poor and uninspired performances. Tonight Zherdev was definitely in the dog house as he did not see the ice at ALL during the second or third periods. Nasi’s ice time diminished as he was demoted to the third line and Rosi and Redden were split, each seeing less of the ice.

3. Cally – I feel like a broken record sometimes when talking about Cally, but tonight, yet again, Cally had a FANTASTIC game. His aggressive offensive play and strong defensive play forced turnovers and created opportunities. Moreover, tonight, Cally was directly involved in two of the Ranger’s four goals.

4. Gomer – Gomer had a very strong game tonight, collecting 3 points. Gomer’s speed and agility seem to mesh well with Tort’s aggressive system of play. Gomer seems more comfortable with attempting to carry and be creative with the puck. Gomer also seems to have found a little more edge in his game.

5. Penalties – Simply put, when the Ranger’s take penalties, as they did in the first period tonight, they shoot themselves in the feet. The Rangers must learn to play aggressive while at the same time playing disciplined. Tonight, Nasi in particular had a rough game in terms of taking penalties, one of which was a mental error which led to a too many men on the ice penalty.  

Rangers Of The Game

1. Avery

2. Cally

3. Gomer

Honorable Mention: Hank

Special Teams Will Win, and in Tonight’s case, LOSE You Games

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, the Rangers three game winning streak abruptly came to a halt when their specialty teams could not seal the deal. More importantly, tonight’s critical loss vaulted the Rangers straight into 9th place. Thus, for the first time this season, the Rangers are now sitting outside of the playoff bubble.  

In the first period the Rangers were strong and aggressive going up the ice while maintaining good team defense in their own zone. Players were going hard to the net, looking for the garbage goals. Unfortunately however, the Rangers took three penalties in the first (Gomer took two penalties), and thus had to spend way too much time down a man. Vali was sharp in net, enabling the Rangers to escape the first in a scoreless tie despite being down a man three times.

The second period was overall, an evenly played period. The Rangers continued to forecheck hard and drive to the net, generating some quality scoring chances. Cam Ward, however, was solid in net. Carolina scored the lone goal of the period and the first goal of the game when Rosi turned over the puck at the Rangers blueline, creating a 2 on 1,(which Redden was not surprisingly unable to defend) in which Vali stopped a nice shot by Cullen but gave up a rebound which Corvo was able to capitalize on.

In the third period, though they continued to play aggressive, competitive, and physical hockey, the Rangers were unable to find the back of the net at even strength or on the man advantage.  Carolina on the other hand, was able to capitalize on the power play when Brind ‘Amour beat Vali high over the glove.  Ruutu then sealed the deal for Carolina with an empty netter. Final Score: 3-0 Carolina.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalty Kill  – Tonight the Rangers PK was five for six (83%). Typically, this would be considered to be a successful penalty kill. However, when your power play cannot seem to find the back of the net, the PK must be perfect.

2. Penalties – Tonight the Rangers took entirely too many penalties (6 total). It is very difficult to win games when you are down a man for twelve minutes. The Rangers must be more disciplined in this regard.

3. Vali- This loss was in NO way, shape, or form the fault of Vali. In fact, if not for some brilliant goal tending by Vali, who had not started in a game since February 15th, the Rangers could have easily lost this game by five or six goals.

4. Power Play – While overall the power play looks better, generating more chances, cycling the puck, and driving to the net, at the end of the day, the power play cannot be considered a success unless it scores goals. Tonight, the power play was 0 for 4. Tonight, because the power play did not come through, the Rangers lost a critical game.

5. 3rd Line v. 1st and 2nd lines- Tonight the Rangers third line was their most potent line. Cally, Korpi, and Avery all had strong games. They drove to the net, they won battles for the puck, and they challenged Ward every opportunity they got. In order to win games however, the Ranger’s first and second lines must demonstrate the commitment, effort, and passion that the third line demonstrated tonight.  

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Vali

2nd – Avery (despite his 2 penalties)

3rd – Cally

Beating The Best in the East

Posted in Uncategorized on March 8, 2009 by acfialk

Today the Rangers won their 3rd straight game. This win however, was not against the worst in the West. This win was not against the worst in the East. Today, the Rangers beat the best in the East. Today, the Rangers can hold their heads high knowing that they can compete, that they are a contender, and that they have the potential to go far in the playoffs with their new line-up and their new style of play.

In the first period, with the exception of the first 2 minutes of the period when the Rangers were on a penalty kill, the Rangers were flying, generating chances, forechecking with persistence, and looking strong. While no goals were scored during the first, the Rangers held the territorial advantage and the Rangers dominated the physical play.

In the second period the Rangers maintained their strong and aggressive forecheck, finding the back of the net three times. Moreover, in the second, Hank came up with some tremendous saves at all the right times. Antropov scored the first goal  of the game for the Rangers, from Dru and Redden, after some nice give and go passing. Two minutes later, Boston responded with a goal of their own when Dru turned over the puck enabling Kobasew to go in alone on Hank. Gomer scored NY’s secondgoal, a power play goal which he shot from behindthe goal line, after some good puck movement with Antropov and Morris. NY’sthird goal was a gritty goal by Cally, who received the puck from Avery who was tenacious behind the net to gain puck possession. Unfortunately, at the end of the third period, Girardi took a 4 minute double minor high sticking penalty. Thus, after a strong period, the Rangers were headed into the third down a man.

After two very strong periods, in the third period, the Rangers came out looking a bit sluggish and back on their heels. As a result, Boston scored two quick power play goals. Chara scored on a rocket from the point through a screen and Ryder scored, beating Hank by the left post, off a beautiful cross ice pass from Savard. After Boston’s second power play goal, NY refound their game and got back to the aggressive and gritty play that brought them success in the first two periods.  Zherdev scored NY’s fourth goal after Staal joined the rush, brought the puck into the zone, andshot the puck wide leaving Zherdevwith a juicy rebound and a wide open net. In the final two minutes Avery was called for a VERY questionable interference penalty and the Rangers were forced to hold onto their lead with a strong penalty kill. Dubi in particular, was amazing on the PK. Final Score: 4-3 Rangers    

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Hank – Today Hank started in his 13th consecutive game and he certainly did not look worse for the wear. With Tort’s new aggressive system, the Rangers are bound to give up some odd man rushes. Today, Hank showed he is up to the task of negating these odd man rushes with timely saves. For, today, when the Rangers found themselves in trouble Hank came up big.

2. Avery – He’s back!!! And more importantly, he is the same old Sean Avery on the ice. Today Avery had one of his usual spirited games. Avery made good plays both with and without the puck, he was responsible, and he was strong along the boards, winning the small ice battles. Welcome back Sean.

3. Power Play – Since Tort’s has taken over behind the bench the power play has morphed into something which looks better and better. There is more cycling, more movement with the puck, more puck retrieval, more shots on net, and more body’s to the net. Most importantly however, the power play is actually finding the back of the net.

4. Antropov – In two games, Antropov has proven that he is a great acquisition. In addition to his size, which the Rangers desperately needed, he does NOT hesitate to shoot the puck and drive to the net. Today, with a goal and an assist Antropov had a great game, contributing on every shift and adding potency to the power play.

5. Morris – Morris, like Antropov, I feel is a valuable addition to the Rangers blueline. He is CERTAINLY an upgrade from the impotent Kalinin. What I like about Morris is that he does not shy away from taking shots from the point. Today, we saw Morris firing shot after shot, throwing the Fernandez off his game while in turn, creating chances for his own teammates.

6. Dubi – While Dubi is in a bit of a rut in terms of finding the back of the net, ALL other aspects of his game are dead on fire. Dubi was a beast today, hitting everything in site, killing penalties, blocking shots, generating chances, taking abuse in front of the net, and engaging in every small ice battle he could find. Today, when Dubi was on the ice, he was the most visible and potent player on the ice. Great game Dubi!!

Rangers of The Game

1st – Antropov

2nd – Dubi

3rd – Hank

2 Straight Wins Against the Worst in the West and the Worst in the East

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2009 by acfialk

The Rangers are now officially on a two game winning streak, their first two game winning streak since January 20th. Lets not start drinking from the Stanley Cup just yet however, these wins have come against the worst team in the West and the worst team in the East. Nonetheless, I do think that we are beginning to see a new Rangers team under Torts’ aggressive system which demands high intensity and passion.

In the first period, while the Rangers played with energy and spunk, they were a little sloppy defensively, giving up too many odd man rushes against. Hank however, came up with big saves, keeping the Rangers in the game despite their defensive lapses. Zherdev scored the lone goal of the period with a quick wrist shot after Nasi, who was strong on the forecheck, pressured Jackman into turning over the puck. Avery was the same old Avery in the first, running his mouth and causing a ruckus whenever he got the chance.

In the second period the Rangers were outplayed and outshot (12-5) by the Islanders. The Rangers had problems all period clearing their own zone and they let up on their forecheck. Nonetheless, the Rangers escaped the second period maintaining their one goal lead due to Hank’s stellar goaltending. The Rangers and the Islanders each scored during the second. Comeau scored for the Islanders beating Girardi with a strong move to the outside and going hard to the net. Drury scored for the Rangers, a power play goal, on a one timer from the point off a nice pass from Antropov.

In the third period the Rangers came on strong, embracing an aggressive forecheck and driving hard to the net. As a result, the Rangers found the back of the net twice in the third period. Gomer scored the Rangers third goal off a great pass from Zherdevon a two-on-one rush which was generated due to a collision between Hilbert and McAmmond in the Islanders zone. Nasi, from Mara, scored the Rangers fourth and final goal on a shot from the point which deflected off Martinek and Dubi in front of the net. Hank was great once again in the third. Final score: 4-2 Rangers.

Key Elements of The Game:

1. Power Play – Tonight the Rangers had TWO power play goals. This is nothing short of a miracle in Ranger Land.

2. Dubi – Though once again, luck seems to be working against him, and Dubi did not find the back of the net, Dubi had a terrific game in which he was effective, potent, and relentless. Dubi drove hard to the net, went in hard on the forecheck, and generated numerous chances. It is only a matter of time before the bounces start going his way and the points start piling in.

3. Gomer – Gomer had another strong game tonight. He played an in your face game tonight in which he was passing, shooting, and moving at a high pace. Gomer seems to have re-found his game.

4. Drury – Drury had a very effective game tonight and he has started to resemble the player Rangers fans were so excited to sign two years ago. Tonight, not only was Drury strong and responsible defensively, in addition, he drove hard to the net, engaged in the small ice battles, and shot the puck at every opportunity.

5. Zherdev- Tonight, with a goal and an assist, Zherdev was dominant. Zherdev is quite possibly the Rangers most naturally skilled player and if Zherdev is on fire there is no telling what the Rangers will be able to accomplish heading into the playoffs. The question is can Tortorella help Zherdev to hone and maximize his natural skills so that he can emerge as a league leading offensive threat?

6. Hank – Tonight Hank kept the Rangers in the game during the first two periods when they were playing some defensively irresponsible hockey. Some of the saves Hank made tonight served as an in your face reminder as to why he is considered by some to be the best goalie in the league.

 

Rangers of The Game:

1st – Hank

2nd – Zherdev

3rd – Dru

Honorable Mentions: Gomer and Dubi

Utter Dominance

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers played a full 60 minutes of complete hockey and as a result, they decisively beat Colorado. What one must remember however, is that Colorado is the worst in the west and tonight Colorado was downright horrible.

The first period was all about total domination by the Rangers, who played with speed and a willingness to get on the puck and to win every battle to the puck. The Rangers were shooting from good angles, at the right distances while consistently throwing pucks to the net. Consequently, the Rangers found the back of the net 4 times in the first period. Cally scored the first goal for NY after some nice tic tactoe passing with Dru and Dubi.  The second goal came from Zherdev who received a nice backhand pass from Korpi and who prevailed in his battle in front of the net. Prucha scored the Ranger’s third goal, from Korpi and Mara, after engaging in some dirty work in front of the net. Finally, Gomer scored the fourth goal for NY on a nice deflection off a good low point shot by Staal.

In the second period Colorado came out a bit harder while the Rangers sat back on their heels and let up on their forecheck pressure. As a result, Hank was forced to come up with some big saves in the second period as Colorado outshot NY by a margin of 10-9. Drury scored NY’s only goal in the second period,  a power play goal, off a great pass through the crease by Gomer. Smyth scored for Colorado after Kalinin turned over the puck by the blueline.

The third period was one of the more nasty and gritty periods the Rangers have played in quite some time. After Nasi scored NY’s sixth and final goal, from Gomer and Kalinin while Zherdev was creating a screen in front, the end of the period turned into a fighting festival. Orr, Sjo, Dubi, Prucha, Mara, Gomer, Rosi, and Redden all engaged in varying degrees of fights. Even Schoenfeld and Granato got into the fighting mix from behind their respective benches and in the hallway leading to the locker rooms. At the end of the day, the third period was quite entertaining. Final Score: 6-1 Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Hank – Hank looked solid in net tonight. He came up with some very big saves in the second period that were jaw dropping. He seems to have his confidence back under this new aggressive system of play.

2. Dubi – Dubi may not have scored a goal tonight but he was certainly visible every shift he was on the ice. He is constantly generating chances, engaging in all the small ice battles, throwing pucks to the net, protecting the puck along the boards, and playing with passion and heart. I know that Dubi is going to grow and flourish under Tort’s new system.

3. Cally – Once again Cally had a very strong game. It always amazes me how Cally can play night in and night out with all of his energy and might. He consistently plays much bigger than his relatively small frame. And though he might not be the most naturally skilled player, he definitely makes the most of what he has.

4. Gomer – For the past couple of games Gomer seemed to have found his legs. Tonight Gomer found the back of the net. We need Gomer to finish the season this way if we are going to have a shot at making the playoffs.

5. Top Guys Playing Like Top Guys – Tonight Gomer, Zherdev, Nasi, and Dru all scored goals. This must happen regularly for the Rangers to be successful. The Rangers core players must produce.  

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Dubi

2nd – Cally

3rd – Hank

Honorable Mention – Gomer

52 Minutes of Solid Hockey is NOT Enough

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 by acfialk

Despite dominating the game for 52 minutes, the Rangers were unable to finish and gain a very badly needed 2 points. For 52 minutes the Rangers played hard, aggressive, passionate, and smart hockey. For 8 minutes they were lazy, on their heels, and careless. Those 8 minutes ultimately cost them the game.  

In the first period the Rangers came out strong, decisively throwing pucks to the net and crashing and attacking the net. Dubinsky scored a goal, deflecting a point shot by Mara, which was erroneously neither allowed nor reviewed. Nasi, however, did find the back of the net, capitalizing on a Gomer rebound, after Cally had made a strong play in the defensive zone to regain puck possession. At the end of the first period the Rangers outshot Florida by the wide margin of 17-8.

In the second period the Rangers continued to play strong and aggressive hockey, generating numerous quality scoring chances and outshooting Florida 13-8. The Rangers however, were unable to finish, and at the end of the second, despite dominating, the score remained 1-0 Rangers.

In the first half of the third period, despite being unable to convert on a 5 on 3 power play, the Rangers were easily the better team, owning the better chances and the territorial advantages. Midway through the period however, Florida bumped their game up a notch while the Rangers let their game slide. Florida then scored 2 goals within a 1 minute time span. Booth scored Florida’s first goal, after Korpi lost his man coverage. Hank however, probably should have had this goal. Horton, who was not picked up and walked into the slot untouched, scored Florida’s second goal off a nice pass from Zednik who fought off Staal. Final Score; 2-1 Florida 

Key Elements Of The Game

Check in later for updates regarding the key elements of the game listed below:

1. Penalties

2. Power Play

3. An Inability to Finish

4. 3rd Period Woes

5. Trade Deadline Thoughts

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Dubi

2nd – Cally

3rd – Gomer

Different Approach, Same Outcome: Except This Time The Better Team Did Not Win

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 by acfialk

Although the Rangers were unable to pull out a win tonight, tonight the Rangers were the better team, tonight the Rangers showed signs of life, passion and commitment, tonight the Rangers played with dignity, tonight the Rangers were aggressive offensively while being sound defensively. The fact remains however, that one point is not good enough. The Rangers are going to have to figure out a way to finish.

In the first period the Rangers came out strong, embracing a Tortorella aggressive style of hockey, driving hard to the net and getting pucks to the net (Nasi even engaged in an uncharacteristic scrap in front of the net). In playing with increased intensity andaggression the Rangers did find themselves shorthanded three times, however, the penalty kill continued to impress keeping the Leafs off the board. No goals were scored but the Rangers outshot the Leafs 10-3.

In the second period, the Rangers played with even more intensity, purpose, and aggression than they did in the first, generating numerous quality scoring chances and dominating territorially. Redden, from Rosi and Dru, scored a power play goal (his first goal in 58 games) after some good puck movement and cycling on the power play.

In the third period  the Rangers got away from the aggressive play they had established in the first two periods. They stopped getting pucks deep and their forecheck lost its potency. Perhaps the more offensive style of play took the air out of their tires by the third period? The Leafs tied the game (eventually sending it to OT) when Hagman beat Staal and pulled off a quick wrist shot above the glove from in front of the net.

 In OT the Rangers and Leafs exchanged chances until Cally was called for a VERY questionable goalie interference penalty at which point in time the Leafs owned the better OT chances. Hank came up big, bringing the game to a shoot-out. In the shoot out Hank allowed one goal while his teammates were unable to find the back of the net. Final score 2-1 Leafs, SO.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Dubinsky – Dubinsky played strong and hard tonight. He seemed to really embrace Tortorella’s more aggressive system. I predict that he will be one of the players who flourishes under this new system.

2. Prucha – First, it was nice to see Pruchaon the roster. Second, it was even nicer to see Prucha on the power play. Prucha is a proven goal scorer and a proven power play specialist. Under Tortorella it seems that Prucha will FINALLY get the ice time and respect that he deserves. Tonight, Prucha did not disappoint. He was the Rangers best forward.

3. Power Play – In addition to scoring a goal tonight, generally speaking the power play looked better. More shots were generated, players were cycling, and there was more activity in front of the net.

5. Voros – Voros was in his rightful place tonight: In street clothes in the press box.

6. Hank – Hank was solid tonight. More importantly, despite the loss, after the game Hank appeared visibly relieved during interviews; like he saw a light at the end of the tunnel, like he felt like eventually this more aggressive system would result in goals enabling him to not have to be superman night after night.

7. Offensive Woes – Despite playing with increased aggression, assertiveness, and passion and despite generating numerous quality scoring chances, the Rangers STILL were unable to finish. This, in my opinion, is a confidence issue. This team needs to get used to scoring some goals again and unfortunately, this is simply going to take time.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Prucha

2nd – Hank

3rd – Dubi

Free Falling

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, a very fragile Rangers team continued their downward spiral, losing to a team that is not even in the playoff race. The Rangers needed a big game of intensity where players are firm on the man and firm on the puck. Rather, however, the Rangers put together yet another erratic performance that only earned them 1 point, and at the end of the day, the Rangers have now lost 10 of their last 12 games.

In the first period, with the exception of the usual suspects (Dubi, Cally, Korpi), the Rangers looked a bit slow, flat, and vanilla. Moreover, the Rangers took 3 unnecessary penalties, including their 8th too many men on the ice penalty of the season. Hank however, was brilliant, stopping fifteen shots, keeping the score 0-0.

In the second period the Rangers showed signs of a pulse, outshooting the Leafs 19-5. Nonetheless, the power play futility (0 for 2) continued, frustrating the entire Rangers team. No goals were scored during the second.

In the third period, the game suddenly became more active and interesting. Mitchell, from Kubina, scored the first goal of the game for the Leafs after Staal, who was attempting to avoid screening Hank, missed his man coverage leaving Mitchell alone in front of the net. Two minutes later Gomez responded with a goal for NY, attacking the net with speed after some nice passing through the neutral zone with Dubi. Thirty seconds later however, Toronto regained the lead after Drury had a defensive lapse, leaving White to go in all alone on Hank. With 4:12 to go, the Rangers proceeded to take another too many men on the ice penalty and they were unable to capitalize on a power play opportunity awarded to them. With 39 seconds remaining however, Rosi tied up the game as Cally and Dubi established a tough presence in front of the net.

In OT the Rangers had the better of the chances until Betts took an uncharacteristic bad hooking penalty and Toronto’s Kubina scored the game winner with a hard low shot from the point that Hank should have had. Final score 3-2 Leafs, OT.  

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Voros – Voros needs to stop fighting. He cannot fight and every time he does fight and loses the fight, it ends up giving the opposing team momentum. Voros also needs to stop taking penalties and he needs to not be in the lineup over Prucha.

2. Dubi – Dubi was one of the few Rangers who looked good in tonight’s game. He battled, he fought, and he was a catalyst. Dubi plays like more of a leader than many of the so called “leaders.”

3. Too Many Men On The Ice Penalties – Taking 2 too many men on the ice penalties in one game, and 9 for the season is simply inexusable. This is a coaching issue. While the players need to be mentally aware of when they are and are not supposed to be on the ice, with the constant line tinkering between games and during games, it is no wonder there is some confusion.

4. Prucha – Prucha was one of the best players in the game against Buffalo. His reward….being a healthy scratch. Playing Voros over Prucha when your team is having offensive difficulties is ridiculous. Benching a guy like Prucha who always gives it his all, while not benching a guy like Redden who plays with absolutely no heart, is disrespectful.

Rangers Of The Game

 1st – Dubi

2nd – Gomer

3rd – Cally

And The Woes On The Road Continue

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 by acfialk

With tonight’s loss, the Rangers have now officially slid into 8thplace in the standings. With tonight’s loss, the Rangers have now not won eight straight games on the road. Yet, tonight, I saw no passion, alarm, or battle from the Rangers. Things do not look good in Rangerland.

In the first period the Rangers came out hitting hard as they established a strong forecheck and forced turnovers. As the period wore on however, the Rangers energy level diminished and Buffalo tightened their game defensively and began spending more and more time in the Rangers zone. Buffalo was able to find the back of the net twice. Paille scored the first goal for Buffalo after Butler’s cross ice pass was deflected, leaving Staal flat footed and then Roy beat Rosi with a nice move. Sekera scored Buffalo’s second goal on a high shot from the point when Hank was screened.

Despite being down two goals, the Rangers showed neither aggression nor urgency in the second period. The Rangers generated absolutely no offense, failing to forecheck or get pucks to the net. In fact, the Rangers had a mere three shots on goal during the second period. Buffalo, on the other hand, controlled the small and large ice battles and played with passion. Roy scored for Buffalo, off a rebound, when he was left virtually unattended in front of the net by Rosi and Staal.

In the first half of the third period, the Rangers got their heads and their legs back into the game, outshooting Buffalo 12-2. Nasi, from Gomer, scored a power play goal by going hard to the net, bringing the game to within two. Midway through the third period, however, the Rangers once again decompensated. Hecht scored a beautiful goal from Connolly after Redden was caught out of position, thus creating a 2 on 1 odd man rush. Dawes scored for NY off a nice backhand pass from Zherdev, however the goal was too little too late. Final Score: 4-2 Buffalo

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Offense – The Rangers are not scoring goals. In their last eight road games the Rangers have been outscored 30-8. Drury has not scored a goal in 14 games. Nasi is invisible. Zherdev is cold. And Scotty is a playmaker, NOT a goal scorer. The Rangers are in need of some major offensive help.

2. Lack of Passion – While I am not a mind reader, it seems to me that the Rangers have given up on themselves. When I watch them play it seems like there is a lack of battle, a lack of passion, a lack of confidence.

3. Coaching – While Renney has not been give the best roster to work with (thank you Mr. Sather), and although I think Renney is a good, smart man, I think he has lost his team. It is time for a coaching change.

Rangers Of The Game

1st  – Prucha

2nd – Dawes

3rd – Dubi and Cally

A 3-1 Win To Build On

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight was a HUGE game for the Rangers and tonight, for the first time in what seems like forever, the Rangers played a strong game which they can certainly build on.

In the first period the Rangers were strong and active, playing with a sense of urgency. While they still were a bit loose defensively, allowing too many odd man rushes, offensively the Rangers were strong on the forecheck and committed to getting pucks on net. The Rangers (Dawes on a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot) scored the first goal of the period after Dawes, Drury, and Prucha created some nice forecheck pressure.  The Islanders responded with a goal of their own after Rosi and Prucha missed their coverage of Streit in front of the net.  

In the second period the Rangers continued to play aggressive and physical hockey, generating chances off of the forecheck. The Rangers scored the lone goal of the period, a very soft power play goal by Gomerthrough the five hole off the rush. In the second period we were also given another reason to love and respect Prucha: He got into a gutsy fight with Bergenheim, who has at least 25 pounds on him, and fared well.

In the third period the Rangers controlled the play and held the territorial advantages, pinning the Islanders in their own zone. Sjo scored the lone goal of the period, an empty netter from Dru. Final score, 3-1 Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Prucha – I will continue to be baffled by the manner in which the Rangers have misused, or shall I say, NOT used, Prucha all season long. Tonight, like every night he is inserted into the lineup, Prucha played with heart, grit, passion, and determination. Prucha was an offensive threat every time he was on the ice. Now….can we get this kid a regular spot in the lineup?

2. Drury – Drury played like a captain tonight. In addition to his three assists, he appeared to actually care about whether the Rangers won or lost. He drove hard to the net, he battled along the boards, and he was engaged in the small ice battles. This is the way we need Dru to play every night.  

3. Gomez – Tonight the old Gomez came out, the Gomez who is active on the rush, who is fast, who is determined to make things happen, who controls the entire neutral zone. Gomez had a great game. Hopefully he hit his bottom in St Louis and is now back for good.

4. Dawes – Dawes was very visible tonight, especially in the first two periods. He was smart along the boards and he was quick to find open ice. I would like to see the Dawes, Dru, and Prucha line stay together for a couple of games. They were the Rangers strongest line tonight.

5. Hank - Hank kept the Rangers in the game tonight with some huge saves at all of the key times. Hank also contributed to the teams offense with an assist. Hey…at this point in time, the Rangers can use all of the help they can get in terms of offense.  

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Hank

2nd – Gomer

3rd – Prucha

honorable mention: Dawes and Drury

Singing The Blues

Posted in Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 by acfialk

And the offensive scoring woes continue…Tonight, though the Rangers came out looking strong and determined, as the game went on the Rangers spark and passion slowly faded and the mistakes and turnovers started mounting. As a result, the Rangers now have merely one win in their last nine games and are on the cusp of losing their playoff spot.

The Rangers put together a strong road first period. They were active, energetic, and seemed to have more jump in their stride. They were forechecking hard and thus forcing turnovers and generating chances. Hank looked strong and confident in net, maintaining good positioning. No goals however, were scored.

In the second period the Blues picked up their game, owning the territorial advantages andbetter scoring chances. Moreover, in the second period the Rangers power play continued to fail (twice) and Voros decided to drop his gloves once again even though he really cannot fight. The Blues scored the first goal of the game after McDonald beat Drury on the faceoff, drawing the puck back to Colaiacovo, who beat Hank through traffic on the high glove side. Korpi tied the game up after receiving a hard working assist from Gomer behind the net, and patiently switching from his backhand to his forehand to net a wrist shot to the roof.

In the third period the Rangers were outhustled and outmuscled, and while Hank was very good in net, he could not miraculously win the game for NY. Crombeen, left alone in front by Staal and Rosi, scored the lone goal of the period for the Blues when he found the loose change on a point shot from Jackman. Final score 2-1 Blues.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Hank – Hank was a rare bright spot in a disappointing loss. Tonight Hank was sharp and solid. He seemed to put yesterdays horrible showing against the Flyers in the past, rebounding with a strong performance.

2. Voros vs. Prucha- What is Voros doing to earn power play time? What is Prucha not doing to earn power play time, let alone ice time? Renney should really have to give a better answer than “it is about size” when rationalizing his decisions to play Voros over Prucha. Last I checked, Dawes and Cally were also lacking in size.

3. Nasi – Nasi had yet another rough game. Not only has he been completely ineffective offensively, additionally, tonight he took 2 bad penalties, at inopportune times.

4. Cally, Korpi and Dubi- Cally, Korpi, and Dubi are now officially the Rangers best players. With all due respect to these amazing young and developing players…this does not bode well for the Rangers.

5. Power Play – What is really left to say about the power play? Two glorious power play opportunities in the second period and NADA!

Rangers Of The Game

The usual suspects:

1st – Korpi

2nd – Cally

3rd – Dubi and Hank

One Hot Mess

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2009 by acfialk

The Rangers typically tend to play poorly in afternoon games, especially those that air on NBC, and today was no exception. Alarm bells should be ringing and ringing loud in Rangers Land. What is more frustrating than the fact that the Rangers are playing poorly, is that they appear to not care that they are playing poorly. Today, Korpi, Cally, Prucha, and Mara were the only players that seemed like their heads and hearts were really in the game.

In the first period, the Flyers dominated play with their aggressive forecheck. Giroux scored the lone goal of the period after Hank coughed up the puck to Upshall and Reitz had a weak defensive play in back of the net.

In the second period, the Rangers suffered from yet another one of their second period meltdowns, allowing four Flyer goals. Richards scored a soft goal, which Hank should have stopped, while the Flyers were down 2 men, splitting Rosi and Dru to break in alone on Hank. Carle scored beating Hank up high after Dawes lost his man coverage. Metropolit scored the fourth goal for the Flyers by simply throwing the puck at the net from a bad angle; another goal Hank should have had, no doubt leading Renney to pull Hank. Shortly after the goalie change, Knuble tallied a goal for Phili after the Rangers, and their sloppy and lethargic defensive play, allowed yet another odd man rush. Before the end of the period however, the Rangers did manage to find the back of the net after Cally caused a turnover in back of the net, getting the puck to Korpi who patiently waited to shoot into a wide open net.

In the third period, the Rangers showed signs of passion, aggression, and commitment, as they tightened their defensive game. Their efforts however, were too little, too late. The lone goal of the period was scored by Zherdev who tipped in a Redden shot while Prucha was effectively causing havoc in front of the net. Final score, 5-2 Flyers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Cally and Korpi – Cally and Korpi were once again the Rangers strongest offensive threats. Why is it that game after game the rookies and sophomore players outplay the top dollar players? Gomer, Drury, and Nasi were invisible all night, except for their disproportionate amount of ice time. There is absolutely no sense of accountability on this Rangers team.

2. Prucha – I certainly hope that Renney was watching the same game as I was watching and saw what I saw: The Dubinsky/Zherdev line is significantly stronger andmore threatening with Pruchaon it than with Voros on it. Prucha may not be as “big” as Voros but he is faster, more skilled, and despite his smaller frame, more effective in front of the net.

3. 4th Line – It is a very bad sign when your fourth line generates your most potent offensive opportunities. Again, Gomer, Nasi, and Dru…you three must step up to the plate.

4. Power Play – Today the Rangers gave up their league high, 14th short-hander of the season, andon a five-on-three nonetheless. This is down right embarrassing. It is time for Renney to finally admit that his entire power play needs a complete overhaul.

5. Hank – Hank is one of the best and most talented goalies in the entire league, yet, he is having more and more rough games. I wonder whether a lack of confidence in the players in front of him is may be hampering his game?

6. Mara Injury – Mara left the game midway through the third with a shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined for quite some time. This is a big loss for the Rangers. Mara and Staal have been the most consistent blueliners amongst a very underachieving and weak defensive unit.

Rangers Of The Game

 1st – Korpi

2nd – Cally

3rd – Dubi and Mara

At this Point, 1 Point in Florida is Better than Nothing

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2009 by acfialk

While the Rangers played better as the game went on, their mediocre play in the first two periods coupled with their inability to score on the power play, ultimately cost the Rangers this game and a point that they could certainly use.

In the first period the Rangers appeared sluggish, their forecheck was non-existent, and they were guilty of far too many turnovers. Hank however, came up huge all period long. Thus, despite their less than stellar play the Rangers were able to escape the first period with a one goal lead. The Rangers obtained the lead when Sjo, found the back of the net after a nice move to gain the zone by Betts and some hard work in front of the net by Orr.

In the second period the Florida forecheck continued to overwhelm NY, forcing NY to turn over the puck repeatedly. Once again, however, Hank came up with huge saves, keeping the Rangers in the game. Frolik scored Florida’s first goal, and the lone goal of the period, after Rosi turned over the puck to Stillman who got the puck to Frolik in front of the net.

In the third period, the Rangers had more jump to their game as they played with a heightened level of desperation and physicality. Yet, the Rangers were unable to capitalize on two glorious power play opportunities, one at the beginning of the period and one at the end of the period. Hank again made some jaw dropping saves, sending the game to OT.

Overtime was relatively uneventful with neither the Rangers nor the Panthers generating any quality scoring chances. Consequently, the game went to a shoot out. Zednikscored the lone goal of the shoot out in the fourth round with a quick wrist shot which beat Hank through the five hole. Final score 2-1 Florida SO.

Key Elements Of The Game:

1. Power Play – The Rangers power play continues to fail them. They have scored only one power play goal in their last eight games. This, is the difference between winning a game and losing a game in the shoot out. And yet, the power play continues to look the same in substance and in personnel.

2. Reitz – In his minimal ice time, Reitz had a rough game tonight. With that said however, I would still like to see a bit more of him. While I suspect that Renney will bench Reitz on Sunday in favor of Kalinin, I would like to see Reitz play on Sunday and Redden sit.

3. Voros – I am down right confused by the manner in which Renney has decided to utilize Voros. Voros and his inability to skate, brings down the Dubi and Zherdev line. Voros is useless on the power play. While he may be a big body, he is no Sean Avery in front of the net. Voros continues to take undisciplined penalties. Yet Voros plays and Prucha sits?

4. Cally – Tonight Cally once again led the Rangers in shots on goal and in hits. Tonight Cally once again played a full sixty minutes with grit and with passion. Can we bottle up what Cally has and feed it to Gomer and Dru?

5. Korpi – Korpi had another strong game tonight. He drove hard to the net, dug deep in the corners, found open ice, and generated chances. Korpi is earning his place as a regular member of the active roster.

6. Hank – All I can say about Hank and his play between the pipes tonight is; WOW. Hank single handedly kept his team in the game through a miserable first two periods. Some of the saves that he made throughout the course of the game left me utterly speechless. If not for Hank there is no way the Rangers would be leaving Florida with a point.

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – HANK

2nd – Cally

3rd – Dubi

Something to Build On??

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2009 by acfialk

After playing 2 weeks of uninspired and depressing hockey, tonight the Rangers, or at least some of them, seemed to find their game. Tonight the Rangers played with physicality and passion. The got pucks to the net and bodies to the crease. Tonight the Rangers proved that they can be a winning team.

In the first period the Rangers came out with passion, hitting hard and driving to the net. Within the first five minutes there were two fights, Orr and Brashear and Voros and Bradley. Cally scored the first goal of the game for the Rangers off a beautiful assist from Korpi after Cally, Drury, and Rosi contributed to make strong defensive plays in their own end. Washington however, answered with two goals of their own. Fleischman scored the first goal for the Caps after none other than Redden missed his man coverage. Fehr scored the second Cap goal after Reitz lost his footing and was unable to handle a dump in.

The second period was all about goal scoring (a rarity in the Ranger world as of late). Korpi, from Staal and Cally, scored the second Ranger goal after Cally forced a turnover with an aggressive defensive play. Green then scored for the Caps after Sjostrom lost his man coverage. Nasi scored the third goal for the Rangers after Dawes made a nice move to gain the zone and delivered a beautiful pass. Mara, catching Washington on a bad shift change, scored the fourth and go ahead goal for NY with a solid shot from the point. Washington tied the game when Green scored a light goal from the point, which Hank must certainly want back, over the high glove side.

In the third period the Rangers had a man advantage for almost 10 minutes, including a 35 second 5 on 3 power play, and were unable to find the back of the net. The power play looked slow and was unable to generate quality shots on net. Luckily, Washington too was unable to score in the third, thus sending the game to OT.

In OT Washington and NY exchanged odd man rushes andquality scoring chances. Hank came up big for NY sending the game into a shootout. In the shootout Ovechkin was the lone Capital to beat Hank, while both Dawes and Cally scored goals. Final score 5-4 Rangers, shoot out win.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Cally – Tonight Cally was the best player for the Rangers. Cally played hard and strong as he drove to the net, dug for the puck in the corners, and engaged himself in all of the small ice battles. Night in and night out, Cally truly makes the most of his size and his skill. It nice to see his hard work pay off with goals and assists that win his team games.  

2. Korpi – Korpi, like Cally had a very strong game tonight. In fact, it was Drury who was the weak link on the line with Korpi and Cally. Korpi seems to be getting more and more confident with each passing game, enabling him to make better use of his skill and his size.

3. Mara – Mara was by far and away our best defensive man tonight. He fought Ovechkin tooth and nail every opportunity he could. Not only did he help to keep Ovechkin off the scoreboard, additionally he lured him into taking some undisciplined penalties.

4. Power Play – Tonight’s game should have been won in regulation. Tonight the Rangers had a man advantage for almost half of the third period and were unable to capitalize. This is not okay. This must change. Paging Peter Prucha….

5. Gomer and Dru – INVISIBLE

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Cally

2nd – Korpi

3rd – Mara

Honorable Mention – Dubi

And the Downward Slide Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, despite more line tinkering and empty promises by players and personnel to come out strong and to skate hard, the Rangers downward spiral continued. Tonight, the Devils looked bigger, tougher, stronger, and smarter. Tonight the Devils won the small and large ice battles. Tonight the Devils found the back of the net…The Rangers did not.

The first period was a relatively uneventful, yet evenly played period. On the positive side, the Rangers played more defensively sound and passionate hockey than they did in Dallas, and it was nice to see Reitz, a defensiveman, play physical hockey and drop the gloves, something Kalinin and Redden would never do. On the negative side, the Rangers were unable to capitalize on three power plays, they struggled to gain the blueline, and they did not get nearly enough pucks on net.

In the second period, once again, the Rangers were unable to mount a sustained attack. The Rangers neither got pucks to the net, nor created traffic in front of the net. The Devils on the other hand, were able to find the back of the net on two separate occasions. The Devils scored their first goal when Elias beat Rosi in the corner, got the puck to Shanny, who found Holik in front of the net, who beat Mara and got the puck by Hank. The Devils (Parise) scored their second goal, a power play goal, as a direct result of doing what the Rangers do not do; getting pucks and driving hard to the net.

In the third period, the Rangers did nothing different and thus got the same results…no goals. Parise however, scored an empty netter for NJ. Final score 3-0 Devils.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Power Play – Tonight the Rangers were 0 for 5 on the power play. More alarmingly however, tonight, in 5 power play chances the Rangers generated a mere 5 shots on goal. How is the power play going to score goals if it is not even getting shots on net? As I have stated numerous times, the power play is now officially a coaching issue and whoever is ultimately responsible for the power play needs to be held accountable.

2. Gomer Line – Tonight we saw Gomer paired with Dru and Nasi. This in theory is supposed to be the Rangers most skilled and offensively potent line. In reality, the Gomez line was the Rangers weakest line tonight. They looked hesitant with the puck, they looked slow, and they looked indecisive. Yet, at the end of the night it was the Gomez line that saw the most playing time. Again…accountability??

3. Lack Physicality – To me playing physical and playing with passion go hand in hand. When the Rangers play physical and with passion, good things tend to happen. Bounces go their way and pucks go in the net. The Rangers may not be a big team but this does not mean that they cannot be a physical team.

4. Reitz – After seeing Reitz play a handful of games I am thoroughly convinced that he belongs in the lineup over Kalinin. He plays physical, he takes the body, and he is willing to drop the gloves. I have a bad feeling however, in the bottom of my stomach, that once Kalinin is well, Renney will opt to put him on the ice and sit Reitz as a healthy scratch. My confidence in Renney has totally faded.

5. Line Tinkering – Enough is enough. We are more than halfway through the season and the line tinkering continues. Of course the Rangers have no offfensive chemisty, none of the lines stay together for long enough to develop chemistry. I am beginning to think that all the line tinkering is an indicator that Renney has now lost confidence in himself. He cannot even stick with his own decisions. How can the players have confidence in a coach who does not have confidence in himself??

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Betts

2nd – Dubi

3rd – Zherdev

Embarrassed in Dallas

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2009 by acfialk

What an embarrassment! Tonight, the Rangers racked up their fourth consecutive loss, but more importantly, tonight, the Rangers played by far andaway their worst game of the season. Despite their lackluster performance, the Rangers were only down 3-2 with 2 minutes remaining in the second period at which point they had a complete meltdown. Vali went from looking like an all-star goalie to looking like a pee-wee goalie and the defense went from being irresponsible to invisible. Paging Sean Avery……

In the first period, with the exception of the Dubi line, the Rangers were guilty of sloppy turnovers, poor puck management, a lack of physicality, and undisciplined penalties.  While the Rangers scored the first goal of the game when Zherdevwas quick to pick up the puck behind the net, beating Turcoon a wrap around by the post, 35 seconds later, the Stars answered with a goal of their own after Gomer carelessly turned over the puck in the crease for Sutherby to put by Vali. The Rangers then took three careless penalties (Rosi, Redden, Zherdev) andthe Stars added two more goals. The Stars scored their second goal at the tail end of a 5 on 3 penalty when Ribeiro jammed a puck by Vali. The Stars third goal was the direct result of a Gomer turnover at the offensive blueline which Richards capitalized on when he banked an intended cross ice pass off of Reitz and into the back of the Rangers net.  

In the second period, though the Rangers were better in the neutral zone, Dallas continued to hold the territorial advantages, generating the more potent scoring chances.  Zherdevscored his second goal of the game, a power play goal, after Drury made a good defensive play to keep the puck in the zone, slid the puck over to Rosi, who got the puck to Zherdev to bank in off of Turco. The Rangers however, were then unable to capitalize on a 1 minute and45 secondfive on three power play which generated ONLY ONE shot on goal. Upon killing off the five on three power play, Dallas gained a second wind. Dallas scored their fourth goal of the game after Ott hit Staal hard along the boards, causing a turnover which enabled Ribeiro to come in alone on Vali and to beat Vali on the blocker side with a beautiful shot.

In the third period, things went from bad to worse as Dallas found the back of the net SIX times. The Rangers along with Vali suffered from a massive implosion. Lentinen opened the scoring onslaught after a Drury giveaway and a poor defensive play by Girardi. Grossman then scored after a turnover by Orr in the neutral zone. Ottscored a power play goal when he found some open ice and beat Vali up high, Sydor scored a soft goal on a point shot, and Neal scored two power play goals on some nifty moves. Final score 10 – 2 Dallas.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Continued Offensive Woes – For a team which continues to struggle to score goals, can someone please explain to me why Voros is in the lineup, and on the 1st line and on the PP, over Prucha, a proven and natural goal scorer and power play specialist? Voros is a fourth line player. What is Tom Ronney thinking pairing a fourth line player with Gomer, the team’s number one playmaking center? Why is Prucha not afforded all of the playing opportunity afforded to Voros?

2. Vali – Simply put, Vali had a VERY tough night tonight. Seven of the ten goals he allowed in were goals that he should have stopped. With that said however, there was absolutely no defense to speak of backing Vali up.  

3. Gomez – Gomez had his worst game of the season tonight and that is pretty bad considering he has had a handful of lousy games this year. Gomez, who was guilty of numerous irresponsible turnovers, was directly responsible for two of Dallas’ first three goals. If I were Renney I would have sent my team a message and benched Gomer after the first period. Renney however, did the opposite, affording Gomer more playing time during the second and third periods.

4. Zherdev – Well…he scored 2 goals and he played a gutsy game.  

5. Korpi/Cally/Dubi – The Rangers seem to consistently get hard work and effort from rookie and sophomore players like Korpi, Cally, and Dubi. Veteran players on the other hand, such as Redden, Dru, Gomer, and Nasi have been inconsistent and uninspired all season long. Our leaders and our veterans MUST start playing with the heart that our young guys play with. If they do not, we are going nowhere in the playoffs (that is if we even end up making the playoffs).

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Zherdev

2nd – Dubi

3rd – Korpi and Cally

1 Point is NOT Enough

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2009 by acfialk

Due to some technological glitches, I am unable to blog on the game last night against Atlanta. I will be back however, with full coverage of Friday’s game against Dallas.

Close Is Not Enough

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2009 by acfialk

This afternoon in Boston, the Rangers came frustatingly close to beating the 1st place Bruins. Close, however, is not good enough. Close, does not get you two points.

In the first period, while unable to generate sustained offensive pressure, the Rangers were smart defensively putting together a sound road period. Moreover, Hank was solid in net as he was tested early and often. Kalinin went down midway through the 1st in what looked like a possible knee injury. Shots on goal were 9 a piece at the end of the period.

In the second period, Kalinin did not return, thus the Rangers were down to five defensive men. Nonetheless, the Rangers continued to play strong and decisive hockey in their own zone. No goals were scored in the second until there were twenty two seconds left in the period and Savard deflected a shot past Hank. The goal was the direct result of a weak play along the boards by Dawes who was unable to move the puck out of the zone.

In the third period the Rangers picked up their offensive play, holding the territorial advantages and generating numerous quality scoring chances. During the 3rd the Rangers played with desperation and grit. Unfortunately however, while the Rangers hit posts and crossbars, they were never able to find the back of the net. Final score, 1-0 Boston.

Key Elements Of The Game:

1. Too Many Men On The Ice – I would love to see the statistic which tracks the number of times this season that the Rangers have taken a too many men on the ice penalty. Today, the Rangers took this unacceptable penalty while they were on one of the few power plays of the game. Tom Renney needs to be held accountable for this bench mismanagement.

2. Dawes – Make no mistake about it, the Rangers lost today because Dawes, who is perpetually weak along the boards, was unable to clear the zone on a routine breakout. Since the beginning of the season I have commented about Dawes being a one-dimensional player who is weak along the boards andin the corners. I have also stated that if Dawes is not scoring that he should not be in the lineup. I standby all of my thoughts regarding Dawes. I do not understand what Dawes does to earn a spot in the lineup night after night while Prucha sits as a healthy scratch.

3. Zherdev- This afternoon Zherdev tried to single handedly win the game for the Rangers. Zherdev was skating hard  and every time Zherdev had the puck he was a threat. The past couple of games Zherdev has looked wonderful. If he can keep this play up, he may be able to lead the Rangers out of their offensive rut.  

4. Lack Of Offense – When a team is unable to score even one goal against a goalie who is playing in his first NHL game this is a sign of a major problem. Gomez, Drury, Nasi, and Zherdev MUST start to produce on a regular and consistent basis. You cannot win games if you do not score goals.

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Zherdev

2nd – Hank

3rd – Dubinsky

A Third Period Meltdown

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2009 by acfialk

While the Rangers were pretty outstanding and discplined through two periods, forcing Fleury to be wonderful to keep the game close, in the third period, the Rangers suffered a complete meltdown which cost them the game and two points on the road.

In the first period, while they struggled a bit in the neutral zone, overall the Rangers played sound defensive road hockey and Hank was solid in net. In the opening seconds of the period, Orr and Godard dropped the gloves, with Godard getting the best of Orr. The Rangers scored the first goal of the period when Dubi made a strong play in the defensive zone and got the puck to Zherdev, who found the back of the net after a slick move and tricky shot. Pittsburgh answered with a goal of their own (Sykora) after Kalinin was beat in the corner and Minard and Sykora out-muscled the Rangers in front of the net.

The second period was another strong period for the Rangers andfor Hank. Despite the fact that no goals were scored during the second, the Rangers relentlessly shot the puck and drove hard to the net. The Rangers picked up their forecheck, outshootingPittsburgh 18 to 8 in the second period.

In the third period, the Rangers, and in particular Hank, suffered a complete meltdown. The Rangers took undisciplined penalties (Staal, Redden, Kalinin) and strayed from their defensive game. Pittsburgh scored five goals in the third, while the Rangers scored one. Staal scored the go ahead goal for Pittsburgh, a soft goal which Hank should definitely want back, when he simply threw the puck in front of the net. Letang scored Pittsburgh’s third goal, when he was left uncovered and he easily beat Hank up high. Sykora scored Pittsburgh’s fourth goal, another soft goal, which slid under Hank’s pad, during a 5 on 3 power play. Marc Staal then scored for NY off of some nice tic-tac-toe passing with Gomer and Nasi, bringing the game to within two. Pittsburgh responded however, with two more goals, one by Letang after a Kalinin turnover and the other by Crosby after a Girardi turnover. Final score: 6-2 Pittsburgh

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalties – Through the first two periods the Rangers played smart and they played disciplined. Conversely, in the third, the Rangers took bad and untimely penalties which enabled Pittsburgh to find a spark in their game. Undisciplined penalties are unacceptable and the players who take them need to be held accountable.

2. Kalinin – Kalinin was reliably horrible tonight. He took bad penalties, he turned over the puck, and he was guilty of ill-advised cross ice passes. Kalinin needs to sit. This NY Ranger team needs to carry a 7thd-man. This NY Ranger team needs to send a message loud and clear that it is NOT only Prucha who is susceptible to being a healthy scratch.

3. Zherdev – Dubi – Voros- On a night which left a sour taste in the mouth, making it difficult to point to any positive aspects of the game, Zherdev, Dubi, and Voros all looked good tonight. Dubi and Voroswere strong on the puck while driving hard to the net and Zherdev did some pretty fabulous things with the puck.

4. Hank  –  Simply put, Hank had a really rough third period, surrendering 4 soft goals. With that said however, at the end of the night, Hank stood up and took responsibility for his poor performance. Moreover, one cannot expect Hank to be at the top of his game 100% of the time.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Zherdev

2nd – Voros

3rd – Dubi and Prucha

Back From Break With a Win

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2009 by acfialk

With Vali in net, and Prucha a healthy scratch yet again, in their first game after the six day all-star break, the Rangers put together a decisive win against the Caroline Hurricanes.  

In the first period the Rangers came out fast and strong. They were quick on the puck, their forecheck was solid, and they practiced sound defensive play. Korpi scored the first goal of the period when he put away a Gomer rebound. The play however, was started by Nasi who made a strong play in the defensive zone which generated an odd man rush. Gomer scored the second goal of the period when he came flying down the ice on the off side, receiving a nice pass from Nasi, and beating Ward with a solid quick release shot. Carolina then brought the game to within one goal when Brind’Amour knocked Staal off the puck  in the corner and got the puck to Bayda who beat Vali on the left post.

In the second period, as Carolina picked up their game, the Rangers lost their edge. While no goals were scored in the second, the ice was heavily tilted in Carolina’s favor as Carolina won all the small ice battles, out-hitting and out-skating New York.

In the third period the Rangers once again found their game, getting back to the forecheck and physical play which served them well in the first period. Dubi scored the first goal of the period off a beautiful pass from Zherdev. Twenty-five seconds later however, Carolina found the back of the net when Ruutu put away his own rebound on a shot blocked by Redden. The remainder of the period was scoreless as the Rangers played sound defensive hockey. Final score 3-2 Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Nasi – Nasi had a very strong game tonight. He skated hard and drove hard to the net. His passes were crisp as he generated numerous quality scoring chances. If he and Gomer can click during the remainder of the season, the Rangers will have a legitimate shot of being successful in the playoffs.

2. Gomer – Tonight, Gomer looked like the play-making Gomer we know and love. He was flying all night, finding the open ice and driving to the net. Maybe staying in the city over the all-star break, instead of going to Cancun with some of his teammates, to work out at the MSG training facilities served him well.

3. Vali – While Vali did not have to make any tremendous or mind-boggling saves tonight, he was most certainly solid between the pipes. With 33 saves, Vali once again proved that he is an invaluable back-up goalie.

4. Dubi – Dubi seems to have re-found some of his confidence and his scoring touch. Tonight, not only did Dubi skate hard and find the back of the net, in addition, his physical play and willingness to engage in the dirty battles in the corners was superb.

5. Zherdev – While Zherdev did not score tonight, it was quite obvious from his first shift, that he is on a mission to find his spark and to put the puck in the back of the net. Zherdev was shooting all night long. In addition, he played a feisty game. So long as Zherdev continues to battle the way he did tonight, it is only a matter of time before the goals start coming.   

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Gomer

2nd – Nasi

3rd – Dubi and Vali

Heading To Break Proud

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, the Rangers, with the exception of a few bad penalties committed by Voros, played solid hockey, securing a win to be proud of before the All-Star break. The Rangers played physical, aggressive, and gritty hockey as they drove hard to the net, generated quality scoring chances, and asserted themselves physically.

In the first period, for the first two to three minutes, the Ducks came out strong, holding the territorial advantages, establishing a physical presence, and winning battles to the loose pucks. After a solid shift by Orr however, who was hitting hard and going hard to the net, the Rangers gained a spark and the remainder of the period was evenly played, with a good pace. The Rangers scored the first goal of the period, a power play goal by Nasi, who rocketed a shot from the slot where Cally and Gomer pushed him the puck. Sixteen seconds later, Voros took a bad tripping penalty and the Ducks scored a power play goal of their own after Rosi had a defensive lapse which enabled Ryan to find his way into the crease to put away a third poke at the puck.  

 In the second period the Rangers stepped up their game a notch. They were more aggressive on the forecheck and they managed the puck more effectively and decisively. Despite outplaying the Ducks in the second, however, during the second the Rangers and the Ducks each tallied a goal, leaving the game still tied after two. Sjo scored for the Rangers, a shorthander, when he utilized his speed to get to a loose puck cleared into the neutral zone by Rosi and then found the back of the net with a high shot over Hiller’s shoulder. Perry scored, through the five hole, for the Ducks when he beat Kalinin, who refuses to take the body, badly with a brilliant move.

 In the third period the Rangers, or shall I say Voros, almost blew the game by taking a handful of bad penalties which were brilliantly killed off, in particular by Betts. Gomer gave the Rangers thelead when he scored a power play goal, from Zherdev and Nasi, after some very good cycling and puck movement. Betts sealed the win when he scored an empty netter as the Rangers were down 2 men. Final score 4-2 Rangers.  

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Voros- If Voros wants to make a case for staying in the lineup he is going to have to play significantly better than he did tonight. Voros took three horrible and lazy penalties, two of which were in the third period, which could have cost the Rangers the game. Voros has a history of taking bad penalties which I think can be attributed to the fact that he is slow and possibly out of shape. Because he cannot keep up with the opponent, he is forced to hold, hook, and pull down the opponent. Another thing which blows my mind as far as Voros is concerned is how is it that Voros gets power play time, and Prucha does not?

2. Nasi – Nasi had a terrific game tonight. He hustled and he drove to the net with relentless effort. On his power play goal, he demonstrated that he still has one of the most potent shots in the game. I take Nasi over Shanny any day.

3. Too Many Men On The Ice  – Tonight the Rangers took yet another too many men on the ice penalty. This is unacceptable, costly, unnecessary, and happening way too much. This type of penalty in my opinion, is a coaching issue which needs to get resolved immediately.

4. Hank – Hank had another stellar game in which he looked like the all-star that he is. All night long Hank had to deal with killing off penalties and traffic in front of the net. Hank was calm, Hank was composed, and Hank was focused.

5. Zherdev – Zherdev continues to struggle. Not only has he been unable to generate offense, he has been making some questionable and undisciplined plays in the neutral and defensive zones and he has not been dumping the puck deep when doing so is clearly the wise decision. Simply put, Zherdev has been too cutesy with the puck. I think it might be time for another coach to player talk with Zherdev. While he is so immensely talented, the talent goes to waste if it is not honed and utilized appropriately.

6. Betts – Betts was the MVP of the game tonight. Betts single handedly killed off 3 critical penalties in the third period which saved the game for the Rangers. Betts ability to block shots and to instinctively have his stick in the right place at the right time is second to none. Betts is quite possibly the most underrated Ranger.  

Ranger Of The Game

1. Betts

2. Hank

3. Nasi

When You Don’t Show Up, You Lose

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2009 by acfialk

This afternoon the Rangers played at half speed and with neither intensity nor passion. The Penguins did not play good, rather the Rangers played bad. Had they actually showed up to play some hockey, this was a game that the Rangers should have and could have won.  

In the first period the Rangers looked slow and sluggish. Their forecheck was invisible, they did not get pucks deep, and they did not take the body. Pittsburgh, taking advantage of the Rangers lack of spark, scored two goals during the first period. Minard scored the first Penguin goal when he was left uncovered in front of the net to capitalize on a pass from Gill. Kennedy scored the second goal for Pittsburgh, a goal which Hank probably wants back, after Dawes was unable to defend against him coming in alone on Hank.  

In the second period the Rangers slow and lethargic play continued. Moreover, the Rangers took numerous undisciplined penalties (Rosi, Dru, Gomez). Sykora took advantage of Gomez’s penalty, scoring a power play goal, when he snuck in behind Mara and Kalinin to receive a beautiful long pass from Whitney.  

In the third period, the Rangers play did not bode well for a comeback. Rather, they seemed ready to call it a day and head home. Betts and Korpi took penalties giving Pittsburgh their fourth and fifth power plays of the game. No goals were scored in the third and the Rangers continued to shy away from taking the body. Final score 3-0 Pittsburgh.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalties – As horrible as the officiating was in Chicago on Friday night, this afternoon, the Rangers absolutely earned every single penalty that was called against them. Because the Rangers were slow and a half step behind the Penguins all game, they took lazy and undisciplined penalties. It is near impossible to win a game when you are playing shorthanded as much as the Rangers were shorthanded this afternoon.

2. Physicality – In order to beat a team with highly skilled players like Pittsburgh, you need to take the body. This afternoon, the Rangers decided to play passive hockey, as they let the Penguins dictate the flow and pace of the game and as they allowed Pittsburgh to take liberties with them physically.

3. Lack of Offense – To win games you need to score goals. To score goals, you need goal scorers. At the midway point of the season it is becoming more and more apparent that the Rangers are seriously lacking a go to guy who can put the puck in the net and who opposing teams fear. Gomer and Dru, our leaders and our forwards with the big contracts have not filled this role. In my opinion, the Rangers would be best served trying to unload one of these contracts to free up cap space so that they can sign a REAL goal scorer (ie. Hossa).   

Rangers Of The Game

NONE

An OT Win Against The Hawks, Two Refs, and Two Linesmen

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2009 by acfialk

The Rangers were able to pull of a nice and gutsy road win against a strong and talented Chicago team that has only lost one game in regulation all season at home and in spite of some very uneven and questionable officiating.

In the first period the Rangers came out a bit slow and lacking in physicality. While midway through the period the Rangers settled into the game, found their legs, and picked up their offense, they were guilty of numerous turnovers which led to a Hawk goal and a full two minute five on three Hawk power play. The Hawks scored the lone goal of the period after Girardi turned over the puck in the defensive zone. As a result of the Girardi turnover the Hawks were able to pin the Rangers in their zone and Toews, who was left uncovered in front of the net by Girardi and Redden, deflected a Versteey point shot over Hanks shoulder. In the final two minutes of the period, Staal turned over the puck, leading himself and Rosi to take penalties, giving the Hawks a two minute 5 on 3 power play. The Rangers however, and in particular Mara, did a fantastic job killing the power play, and were lucky to escape the period down by only one goal.

The second period was a period all about special teams. The Rangers tied the game up on a 5 on 3 power play goal by Drury. During the 5 on 3 the Rangers were moving the puck well, cycling, and getting shots on net. The remainder of the period consisted of the Rangers killing penalty after penalty after penalty including about 4 minutes of three different 5 on 3 PP’s. Betts, Staal, Redden, and Cally all took penalties, some of which were questionable calls at best.

In the third period the Rangers once again were the victims of some dubious officiating, which got even the usually even keeled Tom Renney hot and bothered. Rosi was called for 2 penalties, including a four minute double minor, and Cally was called for a penalty which led to the fifth 5 on 3 power play of the game for the Hawks. The Rangers and the Hawks both tallied goals in the third. Dubi scored an easy open netter from Korpi, who received a nice outlet pass from Staal and who broke out with an amazing move which caused the Hawks goalie and d-men to commit. The Hawks tied the game up when Seabrook beat Hank inside the post on the 5 on 3 power play.  

In OT the Rangers dominated play as they were strong on the forecheck and aggressive with the puck. Drury scored the game winner, a power play goal, after he started the play with a faceoff win. After Dru won the faceoff, Rosi scooted the puck to Redden, who generated a shot from the point which Drury deflected into the back of the net. Final score 3-2 Rangers, OT.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalty Kill – There are not words to describe the efforts of the PK tonight. The PK won this game for the Rangers. Because of some very horrid officiating the PK was forced to go above and beyond the call of duty tonight. True to form, the PK, as it has all season long, rose to the occasion.

2. Drury – In addition to his outstanding defensive play on the PK, Drury had 2 beautiful power play goals tonight. Drury was all over the ice tonight, successfully filling multiple roles; penalty killer, goal scorer, captain, and leader.

3. Mara – Mara had an outstanding game tonight as he was forced to take on extra ice time minutes when Girardiwas injured in the second period. Mara was superb on the numerous 5 on 3 penalty kills, blocking shots and standing up physically. Moreover, Mara was a potent force on the power play as a strong presence on the blueline with a formidable shot and smart puck cycling.  

4. Hank – Once again and true to form Hank was our “king” between the pipes. Hank was calm and cool during the numerous penalty kills, maintaining his positioning square to the puck and stopping shots that would have eluded many an NHL goalie.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Drury

2nd – Penalty Kill

3rd – Hank

Honorable Mention – Mara

2 Points On The “Road”

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers won a tight game against a marginal Islander team, giving the Rangers back to back wins for the first time since mid December. While the game was a little loose and not necessarily pretty, nonetheless, the Rangers walked away with another 2 points on the road.

In the first period the Rangers came out strong and fast. They managed the puck well, they held territorial advantages, and they generated quality scoring chances. Midway through the period however, Drury took a holding penalty which changed the momentum of the game, enabling the Islanders to gain life and dictate the play. In the second half of the first period the Islanders were getting to all the loose pucks, aggressively forechecking, and pressuring the Rangers defense. Campoli scored for the Islanders, capitalizing on a scramble in front of the net, after Hank stopped a barrage of shots by the Islanders. At the end of the period the Rangers were outshot 19-8 and the Rangers were lucky to escape the period down by only one goal.

In the second period the Rangers, while still struggling a bit in the neutral zone, tightened up their game defensively and created more pressure in the offensive zone, outshooting the Isles 10-6 and scoring two power play goals. Drury, on a nice shot over the right shoulder scored the Rangers first power play goal off of a beautiful pass right on the tape from Gomer. Dawes scored the second power play goal for the Rangers, an easy goal, off a great pass from Cally who faked a shot, getting the d-man and Danis to commit, thus leaving the net wide open for Dawes.

The third period was a bit of a track meet, with the Isles arguably generating the more potent scoring chances. Hank came up with the big saves at the right times however, leading the Rangers to a tight 2-1 win and another two points on the road.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Dubinsky – Dubinsky was flying all night. His physical game and forechecking were second to none. He seems to be doing everything but score. With this kind of play, it is only a matter of time before the goals start pouring in.

2. Dawes – With a goal tonight and 4 points in the last 5 games, with each passing game, Dawes is looking better and better. Tonight, in addition to finding the back of the net, he was hitting and he was defensively responsible. Additionally, he looks stronger, he looks leaner, and he looks more fit.

3. Dru – Tonight Drury played like a captain with a multi-million dollar contract. He scored a nice power play goal and he had a strong defensive game. In order to be an asset to the Rangers, Drury must play like this on a consistent basis.

4. Hank – Hank had a huge game tonight. He made key saves at key moments. He looked solid, calm, and composed. With 33 saves, 18 in the first period, Hank was a star between the pipes tonight.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Dawes

2nd – Hank

3rd – Dubi and Dru

A Complete Road Game

Posted in Uncategorized on January 11, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers put together a complete road game, protecting their own net, getting pucks deep and to the net, and forechecking hard. The Rangers played tough and they played smart, earning 2 points on the road.

The first period was enjoyable, fast paced hockey in which neither team took any penalties. The Rangers played aggressive yet disciplined hockey, scoring the lone goal of the period. Dubinsky found the back of the net, his first goal in 19 games, when he capitalized after Korpi, going hard to the net, pulled off a backhander that left a juicy rebound. The goal however, would not have been possible without Prucha’srelentless work in the corner who battled for the puck on his knees, kept the puck alive, and found Korpi in front of the net.

In the second period the Rangers did not sustain the offensive pressure and overall energy they mounted in the first period. Rather, the Rangers started the period taking back to back penalties (Drury and Kalinin), empowering the Sens to heighten their offensive pressure and physical presence. Hank was forced to be the MVP of the second period, making 14 beautiful saves, and enabling the Rangers to escape the second still leading the game 1-0.

In the third period, the Rangers came out looking particularly revitalized, doing an outstanding job coming back to protect the net, thus mitigating second chance opportunities. Additionally, the Rangers forecheck found its second wind. Korpi scored the only goal of the period when he rocketed a shot by the high glove side off an amazing pass from Zherdev. Final score, 2-1 Rangers.  

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Hank – Hank put together a great bounce back game after a rough game against the Habs.  Hank was the solid all-star goalie we know and expect him to be, deserving of the shutout.

2. Zherdev- Zherdev, with a beautiful assist, was flying all game. He wanted the puck, he chased the puck, and when he got the puck he was creative with the puck. When Zherdev is on his game, as he was tonight, the Rangers suddenly turn into a much more formidable enemy.

3. Korpi – Tonight, Korpi showed why he is much more effective playing along side Dubi and Zherdev than Voros. Korpi is a big body with skill who knows how to go hard to the net and who can finish plays. With a goal and an assist tonight, Korpi was the Rangers best forward on the ice.

4. Dubi – Dubi finally scored a gritty and hard working goal tonight, breaking a 19 game goal drought. The goal seemed to give Dubi an extra jump in his stride. Without a single go to guy who scores the big goals, the Rangers need players like Dubi, Cally, and Dawes to produce. Thus, hopefully this goal will give Dubi some needed confidence and his goal production will once again take-off.

5. Prucha – Prucha, with an assist tonight, does not seem to be letting up on his relentless, energized, and hard working play. It seems like every shift he is a man on a mission to stay in the lineup. If you ask me, he has earned his spot.  

Ranger Of The Game

1st – Korpi

2nd – Dubi

3rd – Prucha, Zherdev, and Hank

A 3rd Period Filled With Penalties Leads To A Bad Loss

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2009 by acfialk

After putting together a solid two periods of hockey and being tied 2-2 at the end of the second, the Rangers took three back to back penalties early in the third which ultimately cost them the game. Thus, the Rangers up and down play continues as they lost6-3 tonight to a very injured Habs team.

In the first period, while unable to establish a convincing forecheck, overall the Rangers played smart and sound defensive hockey. Surprisingly, it was Hank who struggled in the 1st, giving up 2 goals that he would certainly like to have back. Kovalev scored an easy goal for Monteal after Hank gave the puck away to Pacioretty behind the net. The Rangers answered when Drury scored a goal off of some nice passes from Dawes and Prucha. Less than a minute after Dru found the back of the net however, Latendressescored for Montreal capitalizing on the juicy rebound Hank gave up off a Hamrlik shot from the red line.

The second period had a great pace with few whistles as the Rangers stepped up their forecheck and their attack, generating chances and increasing puck pressure. Moreover, Hank regrouped well in the second, stabilizing his game. Cally, from Gomer, scored the lone goal of the period, a rocket from the off wing hitting the inside of the far post.

In the third period, 3 early back to back penalties by Voros, Gomer, and Cally, broke up the flow of the game, led to 2 Hab PP goals, and ultimately cost the Rangers the game. Markov scored the first power play goal for the Habs with a hard wrist shot high andover Hanks shoulder and Lang scored the second power play goal for the Habs, an easy shot, alone in front of the net. Rosi generated some hope for a NY comeback when he scored a goal off a beautiful pass from Zherdev. However, Lang dampened any hopes for a NY comeback when he beat Staal with a nice move and scored a goal which caught Hank too deep in the net, beating Hank on his glove side. Lang then concluded the game with an empty netter – Final score 6-3 Habs.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalties – While the Rangers complained after the game about one-sided officiating, which I do believe was the case, nonetheless, the Rangers have struggled all season with taking too many penalties. In fact, on Monday night against the Penguins, the Rangers were lucky that all of their penalties didn’t come back to bite them. Questionable officiating or not, the Rangers need to play more disciplined. They need to play on their toes and not on their heels. In the third period the Rangers seemedto be on their heels a bit which in turn caused them to take some lazy penalties.

2. Hank – Hank had a rough game tonight, giving up 2 goals in the first which he should have had. With that said, the Rangers cannot expect Hank to be a lifesaver every game. The Rangers need to protect Hank when he is having an off night.

3. Zherdev – Zherdev has been relatively quiet as of late. While he did have a beautiful assist on the Rosi goal tonight, overall his game seems to have dropped a notch. This is worrisome. As I have said before, I STRONGLY feel that the Rangers success is highly dependent upon Zherdev and his production. When Zherdev is on the Rangers win, when he is off they do not. If Zherdev has a big year, so too will the Rangers.

4. Prucha – Prucha once again was the Rangers best player tonight. He is battling and playing with grit and confidence. With his assist tonight he now has 4 straight games with points. Will this be enough to keep him in the lineup for the remainder of the season???

5. Dawes – Dawes, like Prucha, had a very strong game tonight. He was generating chance after chance, and his defensive play in the Rangers zone continues to improve and flourish. Keep proving me wrong Dawes!!

6. Voros – While I do believe that the penalty called on Voros at the beginning of the third was questionable at best, I continue to be baffled by Voros and his play. On the one hand, we know that Voros is capable of playing strong and gritty (yet responsible) hockey while putting the puck in the net. We saw him do as much through the month of October. On the other hand, Voros does have a track record of starting off strong then fizzling out. Right now Voros is definitely fizzling. He looks slow, he looks tired, he is taking too many penalties, and he is the weak link on the “playstation line.” Until he picks up his play either stick Voros on the 4th line and have Sjo play on the line with Dubi and Zherdev or bench him.  

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Prucha

2nd – Dawes

3rd – Cally  

An Aside

So Ruutu bites Peters thumb and gets suspended for TWO games, Avery makes a stupid comment pertaining to “sloppy seconds” and gets suspended for SIX games….this makes sense how!?!?!?!?

A Specialty Team Win

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, with the yet again new line combinations of Cally, Gomer, Nasi; Dawes, Dru, Prucha; Voros, Dubi, Zherdev; and Sjo, Betts, Orr, the Rangers put together a full 60 minutes of complete, aggressive, physical, hard, and smart hockey. Hank recorded his first shutout of the season and the power play found the back of the net TWICE.

In the first period, the Rangers took entirely too many penalties (5), however, specialty teams saved them. The PK was excellent, killing off all five penalties and the PP tallied a point when Dawes, from Rosi and Mara, found the back of the net with a quick five-hole shot.

In the second period, the power play came through yet again when Mara scored with a huge shot from the point off of a faceoff win by Gomer. Also of significance, in the second period Crosby was actually called for TWO penalties.

In the third period the Rangers decisively put away the game scoring an additional two goals. Drury scored a goal after Dawes did some nice work to keep the puck in the zone, getting the puck in deep to Prucha who found Dru in front of the net. Gomer scored the final goal, an empty netter.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Mara – With a goal and an assist, Mara had a great game tonight. He was physical, decisive, and aggressive, while playing smart defensive hockey. Mara has proved himself to be our most physical presence on the blueline and I like seeing him on the point on the PP. His ability to get shots through from the blueline and to keep plays alive at the blueline are superior. With all the talk about how young and fabulous Staal is (which I agree with), Mara, and his invaluable contributions often get unfairly overlooked. Mara, along with Staal, have without a doubt, been our key defenders this season.  

2. Hank – After sitting out a game with the flu, Hank looked sharp in net tonight. His focus and his ability to protect the bottom of the net leave me in awe. He is a world class goaltender who earned his shutout tonight.

3. Dawes – Dawes, with a goal and an assist, once again had a solid game. In addition to re-finding his scoring touch, he also seems to be paying more attention to the defensive side of the game, thus morphing into a more complete player. With his play as of late, Dawes is proving me wrong about deserving a spot in the lineup.

4. Penalties – While the Rangers decisively beat the Penguins tonight, they did so while taking entirely too many penalties. Undisciplined hockey is inexcusable and unacceptable. The Rangers need to stop shooting themselves in the feet, stay out of the box, and give themselves a chance to win some even strength hockey.

5. Voros – Tonight Korpi, after playing some of his best hockey of the season the past couple of games, was taken out of the lineup and replaced by Voros. Voros, looked slow, out of shape, and unengaged. While I agree that his big body can be a positive attribute to the somewhat undersized Rangers, a big body is useless if its feet are not moving and if it is taking careless penalties.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Dawes

2nd – Mara

3rd – Hank

Honorable Mentions – Prucha and Drury

Outplayed By Ovechkin and The Caps

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2009 by acfialk

Tonight, Washington demonstrated why they are now 17-1-1 at home, beating the Rangers in what came down to a battle of special teams. The Rangers, unable to sustain pressure or passion through three periods of play, were overwhelmed by the Caps and their strong and punitive forecheck. Moreover, the Rangers were unable to keep Ovechkin at bay.

In the first period, while the Rangers did not get enough pucks to the net and though the Rangers took too many penalties (Korpi and Dawes), they did play sound defensive hockey, they managed the puck well, they protected Vali (in for Hank who had the flu), and they got pucks deep. No goals were scored in the first period.

In the second period play opened up as the Rangers strayed a bit from the smart defensive hockey they were playing in the first. Moreover, the second period was a bit more feisty than the first with Redden, YES Redden, dropping the gloves with Clark and Gomer and Nylander getting into a little 2 minute roughing tiff. The Rangers scored the first goal of the game when Prucha, driving hard to the net, deflected a shot by Dubi. The Caps responded with two goals of their own. Washington’s first goal was a power play goal scored by Green who came in from the point to put away a brilliant pass by Semin. Washington’s second goal was a shorthander, the Rangers 12th of the season, scored by Ovechkin who easily beat Redden.

In the third period, despite getting some solid chances, the Rangers were unable to mount a comeback. No goals were scored during the third period, and other than a rather entertaining fight between Staal and Semin in which Semin literally continually slapped Staal, the third period was uneventful. Final score – Washington 2, NY 1.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Prucha- In his second consecutive game back in the lineup Prucha continued to play like he was a man on a mission. He scored a goal, he forechecked, he backchecked, he drew 2 penalties, andhe played with passion. Prucha was once again the best player for the Rangers and I like the chemistry that seems to be forming between Prucha, Dubi, and Zherdev. Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that Renney and company will actually keep Prucha in the lineup for a sustained period of time.   

2. Staal – Staal continues to play solid hockey night in and night out. Tonight he was steady with the puck, physical, engaged, and decisive. Moreover, on a couple of occasions Staal demonstrated his ability to carry the puck up the ice.  If only Redden, Kalinin, and Rosi could take some pointers from Staal, we might actually have a defense to be reckoned with…. 

3. The “Leaders” – Gomer, Dru, and Nasi once again tallied 0 points tonight. Our “leaders” are not leading. Our “scorers” are not scoring. We do not have a “go to” guy. Gomer, Dru, and Nasi need to take a close look at themselves and step up to the plate. For, if things do not change, they are all headed for their worst seasons of their careers.  

4. Special Teams –  To put it simply, NY had three power play opportunities. Not only was NY unable to score on any of those power plays and not only was NY unable to generate any meaningful chances on those power plays, NY got scored on, AGAIN, on the power play. Washington on the other hand, had four power play opportunities and was able to score on one of those opportunities. Had NY not given up a shorthander, the game would have been tied at the end of 2 periods. Had the Rangers not given up a shorthander AND scored on the PP, they would have won the game by a goal. The Rangers will not consistently win games until they start winning the battles of the special teams and at this critical point in the season I feel the PP needs a COMPLETE overhaul. By complete overhaul, I mean getting rid of whoever is in charge of this miserable power play. If the person in charge is Perry Pern, he must go. If the person in charge is Renney, he must go. This is beyong ridiculous. It is out of control and unacceptable.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Prucha

2nd – Staal

3rd – Dawes

A White Knuckler

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2008 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers were able to pull off their 2nd regulation win in their last 12 home games against the less capable Islanders. Overall, the Rangers looked abrasive and tenacious as they stepped up their physical game. Additionally, we saw the debut of two new lines: Nasi, Gomer, and Korpi and Prucha, Dubi, and Zherdev.

In the first period, despite outshooting the Isles by a margin of 13 to 6, the Rangers looked a bit sloppy and disconnected. The Rangers struggled with puck management and on the breakout. Orr and Fritz dropped the gloves with Orr decisively getting the best of Fritz and Dawes and Comrie fought to a near draw. The Isles, scored the lone goal of the period when Sillinger capitalized on a wretched turnover by none other than the “turnover master,” Kalinin.

In the second period the Rangers picked up their game, winning the small ice battles and outworking, outplaying, and outchancing the Isles. Despite being dominant however, at the endof the second, the Rangers were still down by a goal. Gomer scored an easy empty netter off of some beautiful passes by Dubi and Zherdev. Oxposo scored for the Isles off a crazy deflection.

The third period brought an onslaught of goal scoring with the Rangers ultimately finding the back of the net more often than the Isles. Prucha scored one for the Rangers by going hard to the net andfinishing off on his own rebound. Less than 1:19 later Rosi scored a soft goal from the point off of a faceoff win by Dru. The Isles responded when Comeau scored after Redden left him all alone in front of the net. Nasi scored the fourth goal for the Rangers off a nice pass from behind the net by Gomer and Dawes scored the fifth goal for the Rangers after Cally forechecked hard to keep the puck alive behind the net. Finally, with 18.7 seconds left, the Isles scored their fourth and final goal when Rosi and Staal left Comrie all alone in front of the net. Final outcome: 5-4 Rangers.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Cally – Cally had yet another very strong game in which he outworked the opponent every chance he got. He hit hard, relentlessly forechecked, and drove to the net. If every player on the Rangers worked as hard as Cally night in and night out, the Rangers would be leading the NHL.

2. Dubi – With 2 assists, Dubi seems to be doing everything but scoring. He is truly playing hard and smart. It is only a matter of time before he starts finding the back of the net.

3. Dawes – Dawes once again had a strong game. In addition to scoring, he seems to be more engaged in the physical play, thus enabling him to win more battles along the boards. Moreover, he seems to be playing with a little more urgency and jump.

4. Prucha – It seems like every chance Prucha is reinserted into the lineup he plays big, seemingly proving why he deserves to be in the lineup. Then, a game or two later, without rhyme or reason, he is once again scratched. Tonight Prucha was the Rangers best player. He was effective in high traffic areas, he drove to the front of the net, and he won key battles along the boards. Please Tom Renney, keep Prucha in the lineup and while you are at it, give him some time on the PP. After all, the PP certainly cannot get any worse.

5. Kalinin – Tonight against the Isles, Kalinin was once again the Rangers WORST player. This seems to be a recurring theme. Kalinin looked absolutely dreadful as he repeatedly turned over the puck. He was predictably not physical and exceedingly skittish. Kalinin needs to SIT. Bring Potter back from Harford…this is insane! 

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Prucha

2nd – Dawes

3rd – Cally

Pathetic

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27, 2008 by acfialk

Tonight NJ, sans Marty, decimated the Rangers. The Rangers were skittish with the puck, disconnected in their own zone, and loose defensively. The Rangers failed to take the body, letting NJ walk in untouched into the crease, and they were unable to establish ANY forecheck.

The first period was a loose period in which the Devils relentlessly pursued the puck in the offensive zone and the Rangers allowed NJ to invade the crease too easily. The Devils outshot and outchanced the Rangers, as the Rangers looked slow and uninspired. The Rangers started the period by taking a too many men on the ice penalty and  the Devils capitalized when Rolston scoreda power play goal through a Clarkson screen with a shot from the point. Shortly thereafter, the Devils scored another goal, a shorthander, when Elias broke in alone on Hank after Dubi mishandled an unwise pass from Drury. Dawes cut the Devils lead in half off a blocked shot by Mara.

In the second period, NJ was once again dominant as the Rangers struggled to establish any semblance of a forecheck. The Rangers continually attempted to be too cute at the blueline to no avail rather than dumping and chasing the puck. The Devils (Zajac) scored the only goal of the period off of a Drury turnover in the neutral zone.

The third period brought more of the same for the Rangers with their slow and disconnected play. Kalinin scored for NY from Potter and Dubi, though the goal was really the result of Korpi’s hard work down low behind the goal. NJ responded with a goal of their own when Parise was left untouched in front of the net.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Gomer Line – Gomez, Nasi, and Zherdev were complete non-factors tonight. This is unacceptable. If the Rangers are to be real contenders, the best players need to step up and be the best players. Gomez in particular, has struggled as of late. His timing looks off and he has been making an abundance of defensively questionable plays.

2. PK – Over the past couple of games, the seemingly invincible PK has not been so invincible. Tonight, they gave up a PP goal largely because they were not physical enough in front of the net.

3. Shorthanders – Tonight the Rangers gave up their 11th shorthanded goal of the season. This is so pathetic it is almost laughable. It is one thing to write about the fact that the PP cannot seem to find the back of the net, it is another thing to write about the PP being vulnerable to being scored on.

4. Korpi – On the bright side, Korpi had one of his best games as a Ranger tonight. He utilized his speed and size to mount an aggressive forecheck, he drew penalties, and he drove hard to the net. I would be curious to see what a line of Dubi, Korpi, and Prucha would look like.

5. Dawes – Dawes has picked up his game over the past week. He has looked stronger along the boards and faster in open ice. While I am still not convinced that he is a second line winger, Dawes’ play as of late has left me more open to the idea that he deserves a space on the Rangers roster.

6. Potter – After seeing him play 2 full NHL games, I feel safe saying that I would MUCH rather see Potter on the ice than Kalinin (or Redden for that matter).

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Korpi

2nd – Dawes

3rd – Cally

1 Point is Really NOT the Point

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2008 by acfialk

Last night, the Rangers blew a 4-0 lead at home to a very injured and undermanned Washington team. While Ovechkin was unbelievable, doing everything possible to empower his team to mount a massive comeback, the Rangers simply stopped playing hockey half way through the game. Third period penalties, poor puck management, bad decisions with the puck, turnovers, an inability to sustain forecheck pressure for 60 minutes, a lack of production on the PP, and straying from their game plan all led to an embarrassing loss.

In the first period the Rangers looked strong, fast, and confident, scoring 3 goals on 7 shots. Nasi scored a goal off an amazing spinorama pass from Zherdev. Rosi scored a soft goal on a shot from the point. Cally scored a goal, driving to the net and putting away a Drury rebound. After the Rangers scored 2 goals in 11 seconds, Theodore was pulled out of the net and was replaced by Johnson.

In the second period, Theodore was once again between the pipes (Johnson had the flu and could not finish the game). Cally scored a highlight reel goal when a great pass from Dawes allowed him to go in alone on Theodore, beating him with a nice deek. After Cally scored however, the Rangers play dropped a notch while Washington picked up their game. The Rangers began to look very loose and irresponsible defensively and Ovechkin scored a goal, deflecting a shot off of Rosi.

The Rangers started the third period on the power play, however, they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity to put the game away. Following a strong PK by Washington to open the period, came an onslaught of Washington goals. Fleischmann scored a power play goal (Rosi penalty), deflecting in a big shot from the point by Backstrom. Kozlov scored a power play goal (Betts penalty) off of a nice pass on the tape from Backstrom. Finally, Ovechkin tied the game, after Dawes made an ill advised lateral pass to Drury at the Ranger blueline which got picked off by Ovechkin who went in all alone on Hank.

In overtime Washington scored quickly when Drury, Girardi, and Redden did not stand up to Morrison at the blueline. Consequently, Morrison, who had received a beautiful pass from Nylander, was able to blast a shot by Hank going virtually untouched.  

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Cally – In a game where it is difficult to point to anything positive, Cally, was the one bright spot. Cally, with 2 goals, played a complete game last night. He skated hard, he hit, he forechecked, he backchecked, and he drove hard to the net. With 11 goals thus far this season, Cally, is proving to be an invaluable asset to the Rangers. Cally is one of the few players who shows up night in and night out to play a FULL 60 minutes of rough and tough hockey.

2. Speciality Teams – Special teams were ultimately the difference maker last night. While Washington scored 2 power play goals, the Rangers scored none. As I have said over and over, something has got to change with the NY power play. The Rangers will NOT be a serious contender unless their power play numbers improve.

3. Defense – While Staal, Girardi, and Mara are consistently solid  on D, the other half of our blueline leaves a LOT to be desired. Are Redden, Kalinin, and Rosi ever going to actually throw a hit? When is Corey Potter going to get a chance? Why all the loyalty to veteran d-men who are not doing their job on the ice?

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Cally

2nd – Nobody

3rd – Nobody

Good Was Not Good Enough

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2008 by acfialk

With last night’s loss in San Jose, the Rangers completed their California road trip collecting four of six points. This, I dare say, is not too shabby for a team who could barely manage to win against any western conference team last year.

While losing to San Jose is not ideal, the good news is that after last night’s game, NY can be confident that they absolutely can compete with San Jose, the number 1 team in the league. In fact, at even strength, NY was decisively the better team last night.

In the first period, early penalties by Bettsand Mara kept the Rangers back on their heels. In the first five minutes of the period, Boyle scored a 5 on 3 power play goal for San Jose and Clowe scored a 5 on 4 power play goal for San Jose. After the San Jose power play goals, the Rangers took a time out which enabled them to regain their composure and to find their forecheck. Toward the end of the period, Zherdev, with his quick release, cut the Sharks lead in half when he scored an unassisted shorthander.

The second period was an evenly played period with both NY and San Jose aggressively forechecking. Marleauscored for San Jose after Redden turned over the puck and Nasi was taken out of the play due to an injury. Cally scored for NY when he crashed the net and capitalized on a Dubi rebound.

The third period, though they were unable to find the back of the net, was all Rangers. The Rangers created pressure all period and held the territorial advantages, pinning San Jose in their zone for long periods of time. NY controlled the puck and controlled the pace of play. NYgenerated numerous quality chances off of the cycle. In the end however, NY did everything but score and Nabakov was the hero of the game.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Dubi – Dubi had a great game last night as he chased down the puck in all areas of the ice with vengeance. He was forechecking and hitting hard and he seemed to be winning all of his battles along the boards. It would be nice to see Dubi on a line once again with a winger who has more of a scoring touch thanVoros and Sjo.

2. Cally – Cally, like Dubi had a terrific game last night. He was always first in on the forecheck, he hit eveything in sight, he crashed the net over and over, he generated scoring chances, and he found the back of the net. Over the past couple of games Cally seems to have found his offensive touch.

3. Zherdev – Zhedev and his amazing hands, never cease to amaze me. What impresses me even more than his ability to do ridiculous things with the puck in the offensive zone however, is his commitment to taking care of business in the defensive zone. For instance, last night, on a repeated basis, Zherdev was the first to backcheck hard after a turnover. This is precisely why I take Zherdev over Kovalev any day.  

4. Voros – Voros seems to have lost his game. While I never expected Voros to keep up with the point production he was generating in October, I do expect Voros to play an edgey game night in and night out and I do expect Voros and his big body to be a pest in front of the net. I have seen neither from Voros over the past bunch of games. Rather, I have seen a big guy who is slow, who is weak along the boards, and who takes unnecessary penalties. Voros, in my opinion, is playing his way right onto the fourth line (at best).

5. Gomer Line – The Gomer line was strong all night, generating quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance. We are finally beginning to see what happens when you place your best play making center on a line with your top scoring wingers.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Cally

2nd – Zherdev

3rd – Dubi

Sometimes The Better Team Does Not Win

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2008 by acfialk

Tonight the Kings were the better team. The Kings carried the play all game. The Kings outskated, outchanced, outhit, and outplayed the Rangers. But…the Rangers found a way to win, collecting another 2 points on the road.

Despite the 1-1 tie at the end of the first, in the first period the Rangers looked flat as they struggled to generate offense, as they lacked a forecheck, and as they were decisively outplayed.  O’Sullivan scored a power play goal for LA after some nice tic-tac-toe passing with Brown and Kopitar. Drury scored an unassisted goal for NY with 43 seconds remaining in the period after Dawes forced a turnover.

For the first half of the second period, similarly to the first period, the Rangers were outskated, outhit, and outplayed. The Rangers took lazy penalties and if not for Vally and his spectacular play between the pipes, the Rangers easily could have been behind by two or three goals. Midway through the second period, however, Rosi was awarded a penalty shot when O’Donnell shot his stick into Rosi, and Rosi, pulling out a bucket full of moves, scored on the penalty shot. After Rosi scored on the penalty shot the Rangers gained a renewed sense of life and jump in their game and the Rangers finished the second period playing a more complete hockey game.

The third period was dominated by LA. The Rangers seemed a step behind LA all period long. Brown tied the game when he scored for LA after pressure was created in front of Vally causing Vally to lose his stick.

Overtime was basically a track meet with LA getting the better quality chances. Vally however, made all the big saves and in the end the Rangers found the back of the net and won the game when Rosi scored a rocket of a goal after Staal won a hard fought battle for the puck in the corner.

Key Elements Of The Game:

1. Vally – Make no mistake, this win was 100% Vally’s win. If not for Vally’s brilliant play between the pipes the Rangers would have lost this game by a landslide. So thank you Vally for your 39 quality saves and thank you Vally for being such a reliable back-up to our King.

2. Rosi – See what happens when you shoot the puck???

3. Kalinin – Kalinin continues to be a defensive liability who refuses to to take the body in front of the net. When is Renney gonna say enough is enough and give Potter a real chance to show us what he has got?

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Vally

2nd – Rosi

3rd – Dru

A Win…In Regulation!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2008 by acfialk

Last night the Rangers won their second game in a row, putting together an outstanding road game. More, importantly, last night was a win to build on. The Rangers were responsible and smart with the puck. They forechecked hard, generating pressure, which in turn created turnovers. They were engaged in all the small ice battles, they drove to the net, they controlled the flow and pace of the game, and they managed their shifts well.

The first period, while relatively uneventful (no goals were scored), was a solid road period for the Rangers. The Rangers were defensively sound and demonstrated good puck management. Drury and Cally were forechecking hard and Dubi drew a penalty at the end of the period.

In the second period the Rangers continued with their smart and strong play, generating numerous scoring chances. Drurytallied the first goal of the game, an unassisted goal, after Korpi forced a Niedermayer turnover. The Rangers were unable however, to capitalize on two power play opportunities in the second period and after a strong PK toward the end of the period, the Ducks tallied a goal when Kunitz found the back of the net.

In the third period the Rangers again controlled the pace of the game, out-chancing the Ducks. With 3:16 left in the period the Rangers hard work paid off when Dawes beat Pronger with a nifty move, scoring an unassisted goal after Cally forced Huskins to turnover the puck. Zherdev ended the game with an empty netter.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Drury – Drury had a fantastic game last night. Not only was he strong defensively, both during even play and on the PK, he was forechecking extremely hard, forcing turnovers and generating numerous quality scoring chances. It seems as if scoring the game winner in the shootout against Carolina has restored some of his possibly waning offensive confidence.

2. Dawes – To be honest, until the point when he scored the game winner with 3:16 left in the third, I was unimpressed with Dawes’ game. He was unable to finish on chance after chance generated by Cally and Dru, he was guilty of a couple of turnovers, and he was weak along the boards. At the end of the day however, Dawes did what numerous Rangers have been unable to do, he SCORED. Dawes now has 2 goals in his last 5 games. Thus, while I think Dawes is a one-dimensional player, who is weak defensively and unable to win battles for the puck along the boards, it is hard for me to argue taking him out of the line-up when he is finding the back of the net.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Drury

2nd – Dawes

3rd – Hank

A Shut Out In The Shoot Out

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2008 by acfialk

While the Rangers got the win they desperately needed last night, they were certainly far from perfect andif not for Hank in the shootout, this game could have gone either way. With another shootout win, it seems more and more as if the Rangers cannot win in regulation. In fact, the Rangers have only managed to win 2 of their last 17 games in regulation. At the end of the day however, 2 points is 2 points, and the Rangers effort against Carolina was certainly a step up from their effort in NJ.

The first period, while somewhat of a penalty parade (Mara, Gomer, and Redden all took penalties), was evenly played as Hank was stellar in the net. Moreover, the Gomer in line in particular was skating hard and generating chances. Nasi scored the first goal of the game, a power play goal, after some good puck movement and cycling between he, Gomer, and Zherdev. Twenty seconds later however, Carolina responded with a goal of their own when Ruutu capitalized on a Rosi turnover. Toward the end of the period the Rangers were able to regain the lead when Betts, from Sjo, scored a shorthander after Mara made a strong defensive play at the Ranger blueline.

In the second period Carolina controlled the play, out-shooting and out-chancing the Rangers. The Rangers seemed a bit slow and sluggish as they were playing on their heels. Carolina scored the lone goal of the somewhat boring period when Nasi left Whitney alone in front of the net to finish off on some beautiful tic-tac-toe passing across the blueline.

The third period, similarly to the first period, was again a penalty parade, with the PK coming to the rescue. Rosi, Gomer, Dru, and Redden all took penalties. At one point the Rangers had to fight off a 5 on 3 for a full two minutes. No goals were scored in the third.

Overtime was a track meet, with Carolina and NY trading chance after chance. Neither NY nor Carolina however, were able to capitalize on their chances and the game went to a shootout. In the 5th roundof the shootout the Rangers prevailed when Dru found the back of the net after a nice deekto the backhand. Hank stopped all of the shots he faced.  

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Penalties – The Rangers took entirely too many penalties against Carolina last night. For a team that has enough difficulty finding the back of the net, playing half of a game down a man is not going to help the offensive cause. This undisciplined play is inexcusable and avoidable.

2. The Penalty Kill – The PK won the game last night for the Rangers. Not only did they prevent Carolina from scoring, in addition, they managed to tally a shorthander. Betts and Sjoin particular were amazing on the PK last night. They both played gritty and tough, engaging in all the battles away from the puck and along the boards.

3. Hank – After a rough game in NJ, Hank last night proved why he is the “king.” He was focused and he was determined. He kept the Rangers in the game when the Rangers started to look slow and sluggish. He was one of our best penalty killers during the inordinate number of PK’s. And in the end, he was our savior in the shootout.

Ranger Of The Game

1st – Betts

2nd – Hank

3rd – Sjo

A Defensive Collapse

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2008 by acfialk

Last night was by far and away the most painful game of the season to watch. The Rangers looked sloppy, the Rangers did not battle, the Rangers lacked a decent forecheck, the Rangers abandoned the slot and defensive zone coverage assignments, the Rangers could not score a power play goal and they gave up two short handers, and the Rangers left Hank alone as their entire defensive system collapsed. The Rangers have now lost four of their last six games and they are looking like less and less of a Stanley Cup contender, let alone a playoff team.

In the first period the Rangers seemed to be off to a good road start. They were skating hard, forechecking, and generating chances. Then, the Rangers went on a dreaded power play and gave up a short handed goal, the 9th shorthander of the season, when Madden fed Pandolfo and Pandolfo found the back of the net after Rosiover-committedtoMadden. The remainder of the period was filled with specialty team play, fights, and up and down exchanging of chances. RuppandOrrdropped the gloves with Rupp getting the best of Orr and VorosandClarksondropped the gloves with Clarkson getting the best of Voros. Nasi scored a nice goal off of some brilliant up ice passing between he, Gomer, and Zherdev and Zajak scored a power play goal for the Devils off of a two on one which was generated when Staal got beat by Elias.

The secondperiod, similarly to the first, was a track meet withanabundance of specialty team play. Moreover, in the second period, like in the first period, the Rangers were guilty of numerous defensive errors. Zajac, Oduya, and Zubrus scored for the Devils. Zajac scored when he was left alone in front of the net after Rosi was left flat footed and while Dawes simply stood watching. Oduya scored a shorthanded goal, the 10th shorthander allowed by the Rangers this season, after Mara mishandled a pass at the blueline. Zubrus scored off of a nice feed from Gionta after Gomer turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Zherdev and Gomer scored for the Rangers; Zherdevona beautiful wrap around and Gomer by throwing the puck at the net. Finally, Zajac and Girardidroppedtheir gloves in the second with Girardi decisively winning that battle.

In the third period the Rangers came out strong and seemingly poised for a massive comeback. In the first half of the period they controlled the play, the puck, and the pace of the game. Mara scored a goal off a blast from the point and Cally tied the game at five a piece when he scored a soft goal off a feed from Zherdev. Within eleven seconds however, the Rangers saw their comeback chances evaporate into thin air when their defense once again collapsed, allowing 3 goals in 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Elias scored a goal after a Mara and Kalinin defensive miscommunication, Gionta scored a goal after a Rosi give away, and Langenbrunner scored as a result of man coverage problems. In the end, the Devils humiliated the Rangers with a final score of 8-5.

Key Elements Of The Game

1. Power Play – Not only is the power play not scoring goals, it is giving up goals…two goals, to be precise in last night’s game against the Devils. The power play problem has now reached the point where it is a coaching and management problem. Someone in coaching/management needs to take responsibility for the horrid power play and do something about it. I don’t know if this means getting rid of Perry Pern or if this means getting rid of Renney. What I do know is that something has got to give.

2. Kalinin – Simply put, Kalinin needs to go. He is a defensive mess and he brings down whoever happens to be on the ice with him. Potter is less expensive and more defensively sound than Kalinin (and Rosi and Redden for that matter)….so why did Potter get sent back to Harford? Ranger management needs to admit they made a mistake in signing Kalinin and cut their losses.

3. Hank – While Hank did look a bit off in net, giving up a few too many rebounds, 8 goals is NOT representative of how he played. Rather, 8 goals is representative of how horrible the Rangers played defensively in front of Hank. If the Rangers continue to leave Hank high and dry, I am concerned about his confidence and spirit plummeting.

Rangers Of The Game

1st – Nobody

2nd- Nobody

3rd – Nobody

Good Things Happen When You Go To The Net

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2008 by acfialk

After scoring only four goals in their last four games, the Rangers were able to put together a decisive 3-2 win over Atlanta tonight in overtime. Tonight’s game was entertaining. Tonight’s game was good solid hockey. Tonight, the Ranger found some offense by scoring some dirty goals and driving hard to the net.

The first period, while no goals were scored, had a good pace with both the Gomer line and the Dubi line skating hard, controlling the puck, and generating chances. The Rangers controlled much of the play, creating offense off of defense in the neutral zone, and generating numerous odd man breaks. Vally made big saves at all the right times.  

The second period was a bit more wide open and chippy than the first. For instance, we got to witness Gomer get into yet another scrap, this time with Kovalchuck who he bloodied up a bit with a nice right hook. Similarly to the first however, the goaltending was solid and the Dubi line was the most effective Ranger line. Most importantly, the second period brought 2 goals; one for Atlanta and one for the Rangers. Orr scored the goal for the Rangers off of a nice assist from Voros who was working hard in front of the net after Hedberg broke his stick. Crabb scored the goal for Atlanta when he was allowed to go in alone (thank you Kalinin) on Vally after a bad line change by the Rangers (which is starting to become a bad trend).

In the third period two more goals were scored, and Vally was again forced to come up with some big saves. Callahan, going hard to the net, scored a short handed goal for the Rangers after making a strong defensive play along the boards in the Rangers zone which enabled Dubinksy to start the rush up the ice. Kovalchuck scored a nice deflection for Atlanta when Rosi was unable to pick him up in front of the net after being hit hard in the foot with a shot.

In overtime, NOT the shootout, the Rangers were able to put away the game off of an innocent looking play. Nasi got off a soft shot on net, Gomer drove hard to the net, capitalized when Hedberg bobbled the puck, and scored the game winning OT goal.

Key Elements Of The Game:

1. Dubi - In addition to his assist on the Callahan goal in the third period, tonight, Dubinksy skated hard, hit everything in sight, was agressive, attacked the net, was quick on the forecheck, caused turnovers, and was shooting the puck. Tonight, Dubi was back to his early season form, which is the way we need Dubi to be.

2. Penalty Kill – Tonight, as it has been for the past 5 games, the penalty kill was perfect (4 for 4). Just as I have said that the PP can win or lose games, so too can the PK. Tonight, not only did the PK shut down Atlanta, tonight,  the PK tallied a huge goal for the Rangers in the third.

3. Power Play – Once again, our power play continues to be disastrous. You know you have a major problem when your PP cannot score a goal against a team that has played only 4 games this season in which it has NOT allowed a PP goal.

4. Orr – Nice goal Orr!!!!

5. Gomer – Gomer, the “four minute man,” seemed to be back on his game tonight. He was much more responsible with the puck in the neutral zone, his passes were crisp, he was hunting down pucks and driving to the net, and he played with an edge. In addition to his game winning goal in OT, it was fun watching him drop the gloves and draw some blood.

6. Cally – Cally has been one of our most consistently hard working forwards all season and tonight was no exception. Tonight Cally played a gritty game, as he forechecked hard and battled for the puck. He scored a huge shorthander in the second as a result of his hard work along the boards and his driving hard to the net. If all of the Ranger forwards played with the heart that Cally plays with night in and night out, we would have a much stronger and more competitive Ranger team.

7. Bad Line Changes – Tonight a bad line change cost the Rangers a goal in the second and if not for Vally would have cost them another goal at the end of the first period. Over the past two or three games I have been noticing a lot of bad line changes which have resulted in odd man rushes for the opposing team. I do not know if this is a coaching issue or if this is a communication issue between players on the bench. Whatever the cause, it must be fixed and fixed immediately. These types of unforced errors are unacceptable.

8. Vally – What a game Vally had tonight. He came up with huge saves at all the right times. He looked solid and he looked confident. Not to take away anything from Hank, who I think is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and who is definitely the Rangers #1 goalie, but given Vally’s performance tonight, I might start him again against NJ on Friday night.

Rangers Of The Game:

1st – Vally

2nd – Cally

3rd – Gomer

Honorable Mention: Dubi and Orr

Shut Out On Home Ice…Again!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 8, 2008 by acfialk

While on the whole the Rangers may have been the better team last night, they dropped another shut out loss to a streaking Calgary Flames who have won 6 of their last 8 games. The Rangers, on the other hand, have now been shut out in 2 of their last 4 games.

The Rangers played strong and sound defensive hockey through two periods of hockey last night. Their forecheck looked good andthey did a great job of protecting the front of the net. The Rangers lost last night because they were unable to find any semblance of offense. Simply put…they could not score goals.

The Rangers came out strong and hard in a fast paced first period of solid hockey. Cally and Prucha in particular were relentless on the puck, driving hard to the net and hitting anyone in their path. The Rangers as a collective whole demonstrated good puck support down low and in front of Hank. Despite their hard work and effort, however, after one, the game was scoreless.   

In the second period the Rangers once again played sound defensive hockey. In fact, Calgary was unable to register a shot on goal until nearly 16 minutes into the period and they were only able to register 2 total shots on goal during the entire period. Despite limiting Calgary’s chances however, Calgary, unlike the Rangers, was able to finish on 1 of their 2 chances when Iginla beat Kalinin and put away a goal after a bad line change which resulted in a 4 on 2 break.

In the third period there was a plethora of line tinkering, in an attempt, I assume, to find some offense. Rather than finding offense however, the Rangers lost their defense, allowing the Flames to score two more goals. Moss scored a goal after a bad turnover by Gomez in the neutral zone and Bourque scored a short handed goal after he beat Mara along the boards.

Key Elements of the Game

1. Cally and Prucha – Cally and Pruchawere the best forwards on the ice for the Rangers last night. They were both involved, driving to the net, physical, constantly around the puck, and generating chances. What neither could do however, was finish.

2. Potter – Despite being paired with the defensively “challenged” Kalinin, Potter looked good in his Rangers debut. Potter moved the puck nicely, made smart choices with the puck, and played with poise. If Redden is able to play on Wednesday night, I say, sit Kalinin and let Potter play another game.

3. Kalinin – Kalinin, who was on the ice for two of the three Calgary goals, is now a -15 for the season. Kalinin has been a consistent defensive liability all season long and he seems to drag down whoever has the misfortune of being paired with him. He misreads plays, misses man assignments, and he has no idea how to take the body. Kalinin needs to go.

4. Line Juggling – Larry Brooks commented in his article in today’s post that Renney has used 31 different line combinations in game opening rotations this season. 31 different line combinations!! I cannot help but feel that this constant line tinkering has stood in the way of the development of chemistry between players. Case in point: The fourth line, the one line that has stayed together all season, is also the one line that has played consistently well this season. I do think that the Rangers have the complementary pieces to construct a compelling forward unit, I just think that the pieces need time to mesh.

5. Misuse of Gomer – Last night, Gomer, our best playmakingcenter, was once again placed on a line with 2 players whose fortes are not “finishing.” Why wasour best center and our two best wingers (Zherdev and Nasi) all on different lines? If we want to generate offense, we need our most talented center to play with at LEAST one of our most talented wingers.

6. Power Play – The only thing I have to say about our power play is what an embarrassment! The Rangers are certainly not making their opponents pay for taking penalties, and this has numerous and far reaching ramifications. In addition for being 0 for 4 on the power play last night, the Rangers yielded their 8th short handed goal of the season…an NHL high.

7. Gomer and Dru – Gomer and Dru must step up to the plate and produce! Unfortunately, this is not happening. Dru has 0 goals in his last 8 games while Gomer has 1 goal in his last 13 games. While Dru is at least playing defensively sound hockey, Gomer has been guilty of turnovers and bad penalties and his timing seems a bit off. We need these two top guys to start playing like top guys.

Rangers of the Game

1st – Cally

2nd – Prucha

3rd – PK

A Meltdown In Montreal

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2008 by acfialk

One night after an impressive and exhilarating performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins, rather than building off that victory, the Rangers put together a miserable and half-hearted performance against the Habs. Simply put; the Rangers were outmatched and outplayed by the Habs. While the Habs played hard, fast, and smart, controlling play and taking advantage of every mistake committed by the Rangers, the Rangers played with a lack of poise, passion, confidence, and physicality. All night long the Rangers stood around, did not finish their checks, turned over the puck in their own zone, abandoned any sense of commitment to defense, and allowed odd man rushes.

In the first period Montreal came out strong and forechecked hard. The Rangers on the other hand, did not take the body and consistently left men alone in their own zone, enabling Montreal to tally 3 unstoppable goals in the first period. The Habs first goal was scored by Kostitsyn who was left untouched in front of the net by Redden and Girardi. The Habs second goal was scored by Begin after Kalinin was beat badly at the Rangers blueline. The Habs third goal was scored by Tanguay who was left alone to handle the puck as Gomer and Cally simply watched. Price was not tested all period and Voros was benched after taking a bad penalty.

In the second period the Habs (Lapierre) scored a quick goal after Nasi turned over the puck in the Rangers zone and Girardi failed to take Lapierre’s body in front of the net. The Rangers however, instilling some hope in the possibility of a comeback, responded with two goals and two strange fights. The Rangers first goal was a power play goal by Nasi off a strong and hard shot by Mara. The Rangers second goal was scored by Dawes who was able to put away a beautiful and patient pass by Zherdev after Dru had made a strong defensive play to start  the rush up the ice. Both Gomer and Prucha dropped their gloves in the second and while neither engaged in a draw dropping fight, it was entertaining to watch these two most unlikely combatants. Redden left the ice in the second with a lower body injury and did not return for the duration of the game.

In the third period, the Rangers were unable to build on the life they gained in the second, and it became quite clear that a comeback was not in the cards as the Rangers reverted to their sloppy and lackluster play. The Habs scored two easy goals in the third; Lang scored when he was left alone in front of the net by Rosi and D’Agostini scored after a Dawes turnover in the Rangers zone.

Key Elements of the Game:

1. Hank – Yes, he allowed 6 goals, NO the goals and loss were not his fault. Hank was completely abandoned by his entire team. He was left alone to fight off odd man rush after odd man rush. The goals that he allowed in (with the possible exception of one goal) were NOT his fault…they were unstoppable goals. In fact, if not for Hank this could have easily been a 12-2 game. Hank has the right to be very angry with his team after this brutal loss.

2. Gomer – Gomez probably had his worst game as a Ranger last night. His play was sloppy and lazy. He did not forecheck and he certainly did not backcheck. He committed turnovers and took a bad penalty toward the end of the third. With a -4 last night, Gomer needs to step up his play big time for Sunday nights game against the Flames.

3. Girardi – Girardi also had one of his weakest games as a Ranger last night. One of Girardi’s best traits as a d-man is that he knows how to play the body and how to take the body. Last night he did neither. In fact, play after play and goal after goal, Girardi simply stood by and watched as Habs stationed themselves right in front of Hank.

4. Shots on Goal – Last night the Rangers were outshot by a margin of 39 to 20. Of their mere 20 shots on goal, probably about half were legitimate scoring chances. The Rangers need to get it through their heads that if you do not shoot the puck you will not score goals and if you do not score goals, you will not win games. The Rangers need to start driving to the net and getting more pucks to the net.

5. A 7th D-man – For two reasons, all season long, I have been arguing that the Rangers should really be carrying a 7th d-man. First, having a 7th d-man puts pressure on the starting d-men to perform and holds them accountable for poor performance. Second, having a 7th d-man protects the Rangers in the case of an unforseen injury. Now, with Redden hurt, the Rangers are going to need to call someone up (I would guess Potter). Whomever is called up is not going to be familiar with the system because he will not have been practicing with the Rangers all along. Thus, the transition will not be seamless. This, in my opinion, is an issue that could have been avoided.

Rangers of the Game:

1st – Hank – For having the self-control to not crucify his teammates on the spot for abandoning him in the net.

2nd – Nobody

3rd – Nobody

A Feisty Win

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2008 by acfialk

Tonight the Rangers rallied for a feisty and decisive win against the talented and capable Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers were spirited and physical, as they played good old fashioned dump and chase hockey. Malkin was shut down and Crosby was limited to one assist. All in all, tonight’s win was one the Rangers should be proud of.

The first period the Rangers came out with strength and intensity. They played solid hockey, sustaining a potent forecheck. Other than taking a stupid ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty which negated an opportune 4 minute double minor penalty to Pittsburgh and a horrible turnover by Kalinin which led to a Pittsburgh goal by Eaton, the Rangers looked good in the first period.

In the Second period the Rangers once again forechecked hard and played with sustained energy. While Staaldeflected a nice goal for Pittsburgh, the Rangers immediately answered with a goal of their own when Zherdev deflected a hard and low shot by Gomez. Moreover, while the Rangers power play did not score, it did generate shots and both PP units were attacking the net hard.

In the third period the Rangers played strong, hard, and smart. They had the territorial advantages all period and they out-chanced Pittsburgh. The Rangers hard work down low and puck possession eventually enabled them to tie the game up when Prucha put away a Gomer shot that went wide after Redden kept the puck alive at the blueline.

Neither Pittsburgh nor the Rangers were able to find the back of the net in OT and it was the Rangers who were the victors in the shootout. Nasi, Zherdev, and Sjo all scored in the shootout and Hank stopped 1 of 2.  

Key Elements of the Game

1. Too many Men on the Ice Penalty – When the Rangers took a too many men on the ice penalty midway through the 1st after having drawn a 4 minute double minor penalty I almost lost it. Taking this type of penalty, at any point in a game, is absolutely negligent and it has happened to the Rangers numerous times this season. Taking this penalty when you are up with a man advantage and thus are at a potential turning point in a game is inexcusable.

2.  Mara/Girardi/Staal – Mara, Girardi, and Staal all had a wonderful game tonight. They all played defensively sound and responsible hockey while at the same time playing with grit and playing physical. These three d-men, our lowest paid d-men, have by far and away been our most reliable d-men.

3. Gomer – All night long Gomer’s legs were moving. He was strong on the puck anddominant through the neutral zone, setting up his wingers withchance after chance. With 2 assists in the game (and his 400th career assist), Gomer had his best game back since being injured.

4. Zherdev – I have said it before and I will say it again, when Zherdev has a good game, this team wins. Zherdev will be THE KEY factor in determining how far this team goes.

5. Prucha – How can you not root for Prucha? After turning down a conditioning assignment in Hartford and after being sat for 10 consecutive games, Prucha put on quite a show tonight. In addition to his goal which tied the game late in the third, Prucha hustled, Prucha hit, Prucha drove hard to the net, Prucha forechecked, Prucha backchecked, Prucha battled, and Prucha hunted down the puck. Let’s play this kid for 10 consecutive games and see what happens!!

6. Orr – Orr, despite his comparably little ice time, was one of the most visible and effective players for the Rangers. He made it his business to agitate and get under Crosby’s skin, disrupting Crosby and throwing Crosby off his game. He was ruthless with good and clean hits, while managing to stay out of the penalty box. Watching him get Terrien all worked up was pretty entertaining as well. Keep up the good work Orr!

Rangers of the Game

1st – Zherdev

2nd – Prucha

3rd – Hank

Honorable Mentions – Gomez and Orr

A Disgusting Loss

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30, 2008 by acfialk

This afternoon there was no overtime. This afternoon there was no shootout. This afternoon there was certainly no victory. After starting the game with a strong first period, yet failing to capitalize on some quality scoring chances, the Rangers looked fatigued, lazy, disconnected, slow, and outworked and midway through the second period the Rangers totally decompensated.

This afternoon’s loss, which snapped a three game Rangers winning streak, was the Rangers first shutout loss of the season. The Rangers are now 7-6-1 for the month of November.

The first period was all Rangers. While Dubi, Cally, and Dru were unable to convert on some quality scoring chances, the Rangers as a whole looked strong and intense. They were going hard to the net, hitting, and getting shots through to the net.

The first half of the second period was somewhat of a track meet with Florida and NY trading scoring opportunities. Midway through the second period however, Florida took over the game when the Rangers abandoned all semblance of a commitment to team defense. Florida scored their first goal after Nasi fanned on a Dubi pass in front of the net and Staal lost an edge trying to defend the up ice rush. Six minutes later Florida scored 2 goals within 12 seconds. One goal was the result of Rosi and Betts being badly beaten in the corner and in front of the net by Frolik. The other goal was the result of a defensive breakdown which left Campbell all alone in front of the Rangers net.  After the 3rd Florida goal Hank was pulled.

The  third period was one of the most boring periods I have ever watched in my life.  One minute into the period Florida scored their 4th and final goal after another Ranger defensive lapse which left Frolik all alone in front of the net to put away a Weiss rebound.  After this goal was scored the Rangers continued to look slow, disorganized, and lethargic, making it quite clear that a comeback was not in the cards.

Key Elements of the Game:

1. Pulling Hank – While none of the three goals which Hank let in were totally “soft” goals, I agree one hundred percent with the decision to pull Hank. By the end of the second period it was quite clear that if the Rangers were to have the slightest chance of a comeback they would need a major momentum change. Pulling a goalie can do just that…change the entire feel of a game. Unfortunately for the Rangers, it did not quite work out that way this afternoon.

2. Drury – The past two games it seems like Dru has had chance after chance, and hit post after post, yet he has been unable to find the back of the net. Despite stating in interviews that he is not frustrated by his inability to finish as of late, today on the ice, his actions showed us otherwise. Drury was clearly frustrated when his stick broke as he was attempting a clear shot from the top of the circle. He was so frustrated that he threw his broken stick across the ice almost decapitating a referee. I like this frustration cause it shows passion and it shows intensity, two things which the Rangers as a whole lacked this afternoon.  

3. Power Play – The power play was 0 for 5 this afternoon, including a 5 on 3 which lasted for 1:45. The ability of a power play to win or lose games was best depicted this afternoon in the second period. Immediately following Florida’s first goal, Zherdevdrew a penalty. The Rangers of course did nothing on this power play and minutes later, after gaining some confidence off of a good penalty kill, Florida scored 2 quick goals. Had the Rangers scored on that power play, it could have been a completely different game with a different outcome. Perry Pern, what are we going to do about this dreadful power play?

4. Prucha – This afternoon Prucha, who has not played since November 8th, was scratched for his 10th consecutive game. Prucha has played in only 8 games this season and he has never played in more than 3 consecutive games. Prucha, in my opinion, could be the missing piece to two of the Rangers puzzles: The power play and the lack of scoring woes. We know from experience that Prucha can be potent on the power play (flashback to his rookie season). We also know that generally speaking Prucha is a natural and skilled goal scorer. Why is Renney not giving Prucha the chance to help this team? The more time passes and the more I see players like Fritsche and Korpi getting opportunities that were never given to Prucha, the more I think that Renney, for some reason, has something against Prucha…what a shame…and what a waste of talent.

Rangers of the Game:

NONE – but I will give Drury an honorable mention

Another Shootout Victory in Florida

Posted in Uncategorized on November 28, 2008 by acfialk

While the Rangers did not play as consistent and decisive a game against the Panthers as they did against Tampa, the result was nonetheless the same…a shootout win.

In the first period, after a horrible first shift, where Dru, Gomer, Cally, Girardi, and Redden were pinned in their own zone for what seemed like an eternity, the Rangers scored two quick goals. The first goal was scored by Zherdev off of a Rosi rebound. While Dubi was not credited with an assist on this goal, the goal was a direct result of Dubi’s amazing and speedy rush up the ice. The second goal, his first of the season, was scored by Fritsche, from Voros and Rosi, after a bad defensive play by Florida at their blueline. After scoring 2 quick goals however, the Rangers seemed to take their energy level down a notch and Florida dominated the second half of the first period. Dvorak scored a nice goal for Florida when Fritsche was beat in the corner and Kalinin was beat in front of the net.

In the second period the Rangers looked great until they decided to start taking unnecessary penalties. Rosi, Mara, and Nasi took back to back penalties at the end of the second period and Bouwmeester capitalized on a man advantage opportunity with a solid shot from the point.

The third period, similarly to the second period, was filled with uncalled for penalties. While the Rangers were able to regain the lead during the third period when Voros scored a goal after Orr executed a strong defensive play at the Ranger blueline and gritty work along the boards in the Ranger zone, the Rangers then took three penalties (Voros, Staal, and Betts). As a result, the Rangers had to kill of a 5 on 3 for 1:47. After a wonderful 5 on 3 penalty kill, with 1:30 left in the game, Booth tied the game up when Redden got caught up ice enabling Florida to generate a odd man rush.

In OT the the Rangers were unable to capitalize on their 5th power play opportunity and they gave up a couple of shorthanded opportunities. In the shootout however, the Rangers once again were dominant. Hank stopped 1 of 2 and both Nasi and Zherdev found the back of the net.

Key Elements of the Game:

1. Hank – With 38 saves, numerous of which were shorthanded opportunities, Hank was a huge difference maker in this win against Florida. Now with a 6-1 shootout record Hank can most certainly be deemed our shootout master.

2. Power Play – The power play was 0 for 5 tonight and they looked miserable, giving up way too many shorthanded opportunities. Shots were not being taken from the point, or from anywhere for that matter and there was no movement, no cycling. The Rangers will not be a legitimate stanley cup contender without a power play unit that can put the puck in the net.

3. Penalty Kill – As bad as a the power play was, the penalty kill looked solid and saved this game for the Rangers when they killed off almost 2 minutes of a 5 on 3 advantage.

Rangers of the Game:

1st - Zherdev

2nd – Hank

3rd – The Penalty Kill

A Job Well Done on the Road Against the “Bolts”

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2008 by acfialk

Tonight against Tampa the Rangers played 65 minutes of intense, poised, aggressive, physical, and responsible hockey, notching another shootout victory. Despite their sub-500 record, Tampa was a formidable opponent, forcing the Rangers to bring their “A” game.  All in all, the Rangers feisty win against Tampa is one to be proud of and to build on.

In the first period the Rangers, for the first time in what seems like forever, came out strong and hard. No goals were scored but both teams played physical and chippy. While Tampa Bay outhit the Rangers by a margin of 12 to 4, the Rangers outshotTampa 11 to 5. Hank was strong in net and Kalinin and Rosi both looked like real defensive men. The highlight of the first period however, came when Zherdev and Stamkos dropped the gloves.

The second period was another evenly played period as the Rangers began to match Tampa’s intensity and physicality. The Dubi-Nasi-Zherdev line was hot controlling the play in the offensive zone, while the Fritsche-Korpi-Voros line was the Rangers weak link. Naslund, from Rosi and Zherdev, scored a tremendous goal when his patience with the puck forced Smith out of the net (this was the first time in 9 games that the Rangers scored the first goal). Tampa responded with a goal of their own when Malone was quick to a rebound in front of the net. Before the period was over however, the Rangers regained the lead when Nasi, from Rosi and Zherdev, scored a hard working power play goal off a Rosi rebound.

In the third period both goaltenders were absolutely phenomenal. Hank made some huge saves on the penalty kill at the beginning of the period and Smith robbed Nasi of a goal toward the end of the period. Just when the Rangers looked like they had this game wrapped up, with 49.6 seconds left in the game, St Louis scored a mid-air deflection goal.

OT was exciting and entertaining with the early chances favoring Tampa Bay and the late chances favoring the Rangers. During OT Smith made a huge save on a Drury breakaway, however, in the shootout the Rangers once again prevailed with Nasi and Zherdev both finding the back of the net and Hank stopping 2 for 2.  

Key Elements of the Game

1. Artykhin is a beast – Would love to have him on our team!

2. Rosi- Tonight against Tampa, Rosi had by far and away his best game of the season as he was instrumental in the Rangers win. With 2 assists, he looked significantly more comfortable and decisive with the puck than he has in a very long time. He got shots through to the net and he held the blueline effectively on numerous occasions. Tonight, he earned his paycheck.

3. Betts – Betts had another very strong and impressive game tonight. Not only did I see Betts hustle and sacrifice himself on the PK, in addition, once again I saw some of Betts’ offensive skills shine through. Betts can skate and Betts can handle the puck. I wonder what would happen if he had 2 wingers who could do the same playing by his side?

4. Nasi – With 2 regulation goals and a shootout goal, what a night Nasi had! On his first goal, you could really see just how skilled of a player he is. His great hands and uncanny patience with the puck enabled him to lure Smith out of the net and to then beat Smith with a nice deek. 

5. Hank – The Rangers are 5 and 1 on the shootout this year. Thank you Hank! It is so nice to know that if you can make it through OT and to the shootout, chances are, you are going to win.

6. Zherdev – With 2 assists, and the deciding goal in the shootout, in back to back games Zherdev has been something else. All night long Zherdev carried the puck and got into and found open spaces. Zherdev is a competitor. You can see the desire to win in his eyes. Moreover, it is so refreshing to see a skilled played stand up for himself and engage in physical play. When Zherdev dropped the gloves with Stamkos he made a very clear statement that he could and he would fight when necessary….Zherdev is no Kovalev.

Rangers of the Game:

1st – Nasi

2nd – Zherdev

3rd – Hank

Honorable Mention – Rosi

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