Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rangers Acquire More Youth

The Rangers have acquired right winger Pierre Parenteau from Chicago in exchange for a conditional 2008 7th round draft pick. Parenteau is 24, 5'11-195, and was drafted by Anaheim in the ninth round in 2001. This appears to be a trade that has more to do with the Rangers affiliates, Hartford or Charlotte, than the parent club itself.

Rangers Workout Scratchard

The Rangers practice had a new face today. They are presently having 31-year old center Dave Scratchard in for a tryout. Apparently he played for Tom Renney in Vancouver and had talked to the Rangers over the summer about signing in New York. It looks like the Brandon Dubinsky experiment is ending quicker than anyone thought or maybe the club thinks they need a little more depth at center. Lets see if he signs.

Rangers Fall to Islanders 2-1

Saying that the Rangers are struggling is definitely and understatement. Gomez and Drury are not showing chemistry with their respective wingers and the only two players that have showed a ton of energy, Prucha and Callahan, have the least offensive center on the team centering them. I can't say that I am surprised about the start, but I didn't quite think that the chemistry would be that bad.

My observations:
1) Malik had a terrible game... the type of game that warrants the abuse that he gets.
2) Gomez played a pretty good final half of the game, but he still tends to be on his own out there.
3) Rosival needs to shoot the puck more, but that is nothing new.
4) I reiterate that Hollweg is biggest pile of garbage out there. Call up a younger player that is just as gritty, takes less terrible penalties, can actually fight, and at least has some scoring ability.

My suggestion for lines:
Orr-Betts-Anybody but Hollweg

Monday, October 8, 2007

Avery Out a Month

Sean Avery has a grade two shoulder separation that will keep him out of the lineup for 4 weeks. Expect the team to either bring Marcel Hossa into the lineup to replace him or call up Nigel Dawes. Also don't be surprised if Renney shakes up the lines a bit.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rangers Fall to Ottawa 2-0

All you really need to know about this game occured early in the first period when the Rangers gave up two terrible goals. First, shorthanded, Alfredsson beats out two Rangers defenseman to the puck and throws the puck through the middle of the ice. None of the Ranger forwards decided to help out and an Ottawa defenseman was wide open directly in front of Lundqvist for the score. Soon thereafter, Drury was trying to rush up ice when he decided to backtrack because of a Rangers line change. Unfortunately, he backtracks right into the group of changing players and gets knocked over (by his own team). It looked terrible and Ottawa capitalized after a breakaway save by Lundqvist and another terrible defensive breakdown. Guess who... Alfredsson... he is just an unreal player. Renney follows with a timeout. Avery also hurt his shoulder on a terrible Chris Neil hit in the first and never returned.

For the remainder of the game, the Rangers had short bursts of offense, but not any glorious scoring chances. Tyutin did hit the post on what seemed like a harmless, bad angle shot. Ottawa pretty much shut down New York with their version of the trap. Ottawa's group of talented forwards had several pretty good scoring chances, but Lundqvist stopped everything for the rest of the game. The unbearable early goals were tough to swallow when you see that this game should have been a scoreless tie going into overtime.

My observations:
1) Staal looked pretty darn good out there. He was put in all situations including on the penalty kill against Ottawa's number one unit.
2) Gomez just doesn't look like he belongs. He has some great rushes into the zone, but there is never anyone there with him, so he always loses the puck to the opposing defense. But even when somebody happens to be around him, he can't keep the puck on this stick or even make a pass. I'm sure it will get better but he has been unbearable to watch.
3) Drury had a rough game, producing nothing on offense himself or for his teammates.
4) Jagr was visibly frustrated all night, because he has zero chemistry with any center on the team so far. He created a couple of his own scoring chances, but otherwise there was nothing.
5) The Rangers didn't play like five-man defensive unit like they were at the end of last year. The forwards, especially Jagr and Shanny, are leaving the zone extremely early and not helping out the defense.
6) The best player on the ice was Callahan, but he didn't get any help.
7) Hollweg is a waste of roster space. All his does is hit... he doesn't fight... he doesn't score. And most of the time he gets penalized for his hits. So what is the point in having him?

Next game @ NY Islanders (7 pm)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Rangers Down Panthers 5-2

In an interesting twist, Michael Rosival scored 37 seconds into the game (much like Jagr did last year at the 20 second mark) on a bang-bang play from the slot. At that point, I think that a lot of Ranger fans thought that this was going to be a blowout, but that was pretty much the only good scoring chance the team got for the first two periods. Although the team did not play necessarily bad in the first period, it seemed that both teams were getting a feel for each other... which resulted in a period with very little flow of any kind. The first period ended at 1-0.

The Panthers came out in the second period and skated circles around a very slow, low energy Rangers squad. It was so tough to watch, that the fans almost booed the Ranger's players out of the building as Florida built a 2-1 lead. Think about when Nylander and Jagr used to own the puck in the offensive zone in some games and that is what was happening to the Rangers. When the second period ended, thankfully the Panthers didn't build on that lead due to Lundqvist's solid goaltending.

You could see that the dynamic of the game started to change when the teams came out in the third period. The Rangers started pressuring the younger Panthers into giveaways, but still weren't getting clean scoring chances. The big fluctuation in momentum occured at about 6 minutes into the third when Marek Malik (of all people) intercepts a Florida pass at mid-ice and counters into the offensive zone (a 3 on 2) with Callahan and Prucha to his right. Malik then fed Prucha with a beautiful backhand pass through Callahan and his man. Prucha was basically all alone to the left of the goaltender and shot the puck under Vokoun's left arm for a goal. MSG when absolutely ballistic and the whole dynamic of the game changed. All of a sudden the Rangers start pressuring Florida into horrible passes. Two minutes later, Drury scores his first off a rebound from Jagr's backhand shot... it is 3-2. Twelve seconds later (yes 12), Callahan intercepts a terrible pass by a Flordia defenseman through center ice, fakes a shot to get the defenseman out of the way and the goalie to commit... then blasts a major league wrist shot over Vokoun's left shoulder for a 4-2 lead. Straka put the game away with a knock in goal off a beautiful feed from Malik off the boards to the left of the goal. What a game!

Important things about the game that I noticed:
1) Malik had a fantastic game, with the exception of one stick-handling move into this own crease that would have put him on the first train out of gotham if it resulted in a goal against.
2) Dubinsky was plain terrible in his first game as third line center. Betts took his spot in the third period. He just couldn't get anything going.
3) Both Drury and Gomez and a difficult time meshing with their respective lines, which is pretty much to be expected. In some way, I would have hoped that there was some natural chemistry, but there clearly wasn't. Individually, each looked pretty good with Gomez darting up and down the ice with tremendous speed and Drury doing all the little things right.
4) Staal got beat a couple times and gave the puck away a couple times, but he made the right plays just as much. He should get better and better.
5) Jagr and Shanny were invisible for the whole game.
6) Prucha and Calahan were energy juggernauts. They are part of the reason why the Rangers won the game. If Dubinsky could match them, that would be quite a line.
7) Avery instigated and played well, but couldn't finish off a couple of excellent goal scoring opportunities given to him by Gomez.

Next game is Saturday @ Ottawa (7 pm). Tough matchup!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Third Defenseman Pairing (update)

After the previous, confusing pairings of Mara/Pock and Strudwick/Staal, practice yesterday revealed what most likely will be the team's third defenseman pairing tonight... Mara and Staal. I was hoping that Staal got his shot.