Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYI 2, NYR 4

"DP su-ucks!"

I had the distinct pleasure of watching tonight's game at Madison Square Garden, where the familiar "Potvin sucks" was second in popularity only to taunting Rick DiPietro. Emboldened by their team's win over the rival Islanders, after the game chants could be heard on Seventh Avenue, aimed at anyone in visitor colors.

Oh, how I miss games at the Garden!

The Rangers really are a better team than the Islanders, despite being down 1-3 so far in the season series. Tonight the Blueshirts didn't allow Brendan Witt, Chris Simon, et al to throw them off their game. They contained their emotions - even after Colton Orr made quick work of Simon in the only fight of the night - stuck with their game plan and didn't allow themselves to be outworked.

Tomorrow I'm off to the NHL Store to complete my Manhattan hockey tour.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYR 2, TAM 1

Two posts and a video review helped the Rangers to victory over the Lightning. Tampa Bay had their chances, and the game could have easily gone the other way. Instead, Fedor Tyutin (with the fifth straight goal from a defenseman) and Colton Orr (goal three in 110 career games) were the unlikely heroes, along with another stellar performance from King Henrik.

Coach Tom Renney continued to fiddle with his lines. Tonight Chris Drury was bumped up from third line center to first line winger along side Jaromir Jagr and Brandon Dubinsky. Drury looked good on wing getting some quality shots on net but continued to be snake bitten.

Is it just me or does Dubinsky remind you of Adam Graves? That’s much more of a compliment than I intended, but their skating style and aggressive forecheck are similar.

Tonight was the first taste of the NHL for Greg Moore and Ivan Baranka, call ups to replace the demoted Nigel Dawes (he’ll be back) and injured Michal Rozsival respectively. Moore was so-so and barely saw ice time, if any, in the third period. Baranka looked good, keeping it simple and earning an assist on Orr's goal.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Monday, November 19, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYR 1, NYI 2

The Islanders had the Rangers number tonight, just as they have in their previous two meetings this season. Every time these two teams face off, the emotion runs high. But while the Islanders feed off that kind of wild energy, the Rangers are handcuffed by it.

And so it went. The Blueshirts couldn't get much going offensively, kept to the perimeter most of the night, that is when they successfully got the puck deep. The opportunity to carry it over the blue line was few and far between and so were the Rangers' scoring chances.

Henrik Lundqvist was the only bright spot of the evening. Without his heroics, the score would have been a lot worse.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sherwood to outsource wood stick production

Sherwood-Drolet, manufacturer of the classic PMP 5030 wood stick, has announced it will cease producing its wood products in Quebec and instead outsource manufacturing to countries like China. Watch out for the lead paint, kids.

While wood sticks are still used by a fair number of youth and adult rec players (though those numbers are diminishing), they've virtually disappeared from the pro ranks. A recent survey by The Hockey News had only 17 players - under 3% - using lumber.

The players, if you're curious, are Adrian Aucoin, Patrice Breisbois, Pavol Demitra, Joe DiPenta, Roman Hamrlik, Bobby Holik, Sami Kapanen, Georges Laraque, Ladislav Nagy, Markus Naslund, Yanic Perreault, Martin Rucisnsky, Jason Spezza, Paul Stasny, Jozef Stumpel, David Vyborny, and Josef Vasicek.

The company says they will continue to make custom wood sticks for pro players in its Quebec factory, but the common man is out of luck. So go to your local pro shop and buy up your favorite Sherwood twig while they're still made of ash wood and proudly stamped "Fabrique au Canada".


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Bryz moves to Phoenix

Love him or hate him, you almost have to respect what Ducks GM Brian Burke did for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

Stuck behind J-S Giguere and his freshly inked long-term, no-trade contract, Bryz was never going to get the chance to be a number one in Anaheim. Burke tried to deal him, but as an impending UFA there weren't any teams willing to give up much (or anything as it turns out) for Bryzgalov.

Burke could have held onto Bryz and just not resigned him at the end of the season. A perhaps selfish act but one any GM would do in a heartbeat, cap permitting. Instead he put Byrzgalov on waivers.

Perhaps Burke wanted to do a solid for a likable player or maybe he just wants Jonas Hiller as their backup. We may never know.
“We’re making this move, first and foremost, to give Ilya Bryzgalov a chance to play,” Burke said. “He’s a good guy who’s played well for us, but we’ve committed to the other goaltender.

“I promised Bryz I would find him a place to play. He’s been great. He has not asked for a trade. This whole schematic here is mine. He never came to me and said ‘I want out.’ His agent never did. When we signed Hiller, when we re-signed Jiggy, we never heard a word out of Bryz...

“We’re committed to Jonas Hiller,” Burke said. "We think he’s the real deal. We didn’t sign Jonas Hiller to play in Portland.”

- OC Register

Kinda sounds like when you don't want to insult the mother of your children but you're still leaving her for another woman.

If you think this is about cap space, you're wrong. Yes, Hiller makes $500K less than Bryzgalov, but his hefty $2.35M signing bonus hits the books with his call-up.

So how does Bryz celebrate his new starter status? A 1-0 shutout against the rival Kings, of course. Maybe things are looking up again for Phoenix.

Interesting to note that the Oilers had waiver priority over the Coyotes. How pissed would Burke have been if Kevin Lowe had claimed Bryzgalov?

Labels: ,

Rangers Watch: NYR 4, PIT 3 (OT)

Despite the score, it was all defense for the Rangers tonight. All four goals came from D-men to extend New York's win streak to five, their longest of the season. After starting the season 0-5-1 on the road, the Rangers have won their last four in opposing arenas.

The night didn't start off great for the Blueshirts. They had trouble handling the Penguins speed, losing almost every race for loose pucks and struggling against Pittsburgh's forecheck. They were lucky to get out of the first period down only 2-0.

I'm not quite sure what coach Tom Renney was thinking to start the game. You're riding a win streak and you start futzing with the lines? I know Chris Drury is the most expensive third line center in the league, but if the team's winning, who cares?

A couple adjustments during the first break seemed to do the trick. Renney basically returned to what's worked for him so far: getting Fedor Tyutin and Dan Giradi out as much as possible against the other team's best players and restoring the top line of Jagr-Dubinsky-Hossa.

Jason Strudwick got his first point in two years and it was a doozy. He converted a feed from D partner Paul Mara to win it in overtime. (Was anyone else nervous about what was going to happen the other way if Marc-Andre Fleury had made the save?)

BTW, what's up with Mark Recchi's visor? I know he's worn it for years but it just struck me today how big it is. He might as well wear a bubble.

Recaps: Y!/AP


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just when things were looking up

Phoenix had won 4 of their last 5 games before starting a the scheduling anomaly that brought three games in a row against San Jose. I'm sure coach Wayne Gretzky hope to vault his team above .500 against a team that had gone 2-3 in that same span. The Sharks were barely holding on to their perch atop the Pacific division.

Instead, the Yotes managed to score just one goal during the three-game stretch and were shutout over eight consecutive periods. To add insult to injury, none of the games were even close. San Jose outscored Phoenix 15-1.

And I thought the Rangers had trouble scoring. In fact, New York has only scored one more goal than Phoenix this season. What a difference a little defense and goaltending makes.


Rangers Watch: NYR 4, PHI 3 (SO)

October seems so long ago. After an awful 2-5-1 start to the season, the Rangers now share first place in the Atlantic with the Flyers.

Philadelphia was undefeated at home before New York rolled into Wachovia Center. Despite leading for a good portion of the game, the Rangers were lucky to get to the shootout. Philly rookie Denis Tolpeko's game tying goal in the third precipitated a momentum swing the Blueshirts were lucky to survive.

It was Tolpeko's first NHL goal and a beauty. He kicked a rebound towards net being sure to get his stick on it before Lundqvist could recover. I loved this kid when he played junior in Seattle, and he was possibly Philly's best player tonight. I'm just glad Tolpeko couldn't pot another to keep the Flyers' home undefeated streak alive.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYR 4, NJD 2

That little Nigel Dawes is a sniper, eh?

It was Rookie Night in the Rangers' first visit to the Prudential Center. Youngsters Nigel Dawes, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal, along with vet Jaromir Jagr, all tallied to beat the Devils.

Not a great night for Fedor Tyutin. He seemed to have problems winning the puck in the corners. But everyone is allowed a bad night now and then - unless your name's Marek Malik of course.

Boy, those Devils are quick to the puck! They penned New York in their own zone for a fair bit of the first period, but they couldn't get much else going otherwise. I thought coach Brent Sutter's head was going to explode at one point. It'd have been worse if they hadn't gotten Jamie Langenbrunner back from injury. His two goals kept New Jersey in the game.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hull yeah!

One the heels of Doug Armstrong's firing, the Stars have named Brett Hull interim GM along with Les Jackson.

I suppose this means Hull won't reprise his Don Cherry-esque role with NBC. Bummer.

On the plus side, if Dallas continues to stink it up, we should be treated to some choice post-game quotes from The Golden Brett.

Labels: ,

USA-Russia end medal game with line brawl

Interesting note in Greg Drinnan's blog today:
Russia beat the U.S. 2-1 in the under-17 Four Nations Cup that ended in Dmitrov, Russia, on Sunday. The big news is that the teams engaged in a post-game bench-clearing – yes, bench-clearing – brawl. There are some photos here . . . There is some grainy video here . . . Don’t bother looking for any mention of this on USA Hockey’s website because, well, there isn’t any . . .
Sure enough the USA Hockey game report conveniently omits the penalty recap. The video may be inconclusive as to who started the brouhaha, but the omission speaks volumes.

This doesn't equal the Canada-Russia line brawl at the 1987 World Juniors but it's still a black eye on international competition. Even less classy, USA wasn't on the ice when Russia received their gold medals. Russia had won the final game 2-1.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Canada blanks US to win women's Four Nations Cup

The four powerhouses in women's hockey faced off in the women's Four Nations Cup. (OK, the two powerhouses, Canada and USA, and their nearest contenders, Sweden and Finland.) Predictably, the Canucks and the Americans faced off in the final where Canada again won the spoils to take home their fifth gold medal in six years.

The final score was 2-0, with an empty netter. The medal game was much tighter than their round robin match up, which Canada took 6-3.

It'd be nice to see another team get a chance at gold but, like the Olympics in Turin, it would probably be at the expense of USA Hockey. Team Canada has no equal.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Week in the NHL

It's been a pretty busy week in the league. Here's some of the highlights:

Rangers Watch: NYR 3, TOR 2 (SO)

It was Sean Avery night at the Air Canada Centre. In case you missed his Gordie Howe hat trick, you can see the highlights here. I particularly like where Avery acted like he'd been shot after a sucker love tap from Mark Bell.

Stephen Valiquette had been doing his best Scott Clemmenson imitation all week and was rewarded with his first start of the season. Valiquette came out from behind King Henrik's shadow, stoning the Leafs in the shootout and earning New York their first road victory. Even sweeter, it was in his hometown.

Unlike last year, when the Rangers painfully squandered a number of two-goal leads, they were able to hold on and get both points. Call it the Mark Messier effect. (He and fellow HHOF inductees Ron Francis, Scott Stevens and Al McInnis were on hand.) If Mess' mere presence can inspire the team, maybe Slats can get him to go on the road with them more often.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rangers Watch: PIT 2, NYR 4

4 goals
3 posts
2 points
1st goal for Brandon Dubinsky

Hallelujah! The Rangers finally won a game with offense. Since opening night, New York hadn't been able to win a game where their opponent scored two or more goals. Their scoreless drought is well documented so I won't review it here.

The Rangers seem to have found their groove at MSG, pushing themselves over .500 for the first time this season. Away from home, however, they're still winless. With a four game road trip next on tap, they'll need to find a way to earn points in order to keep the train moving forward.

Until then, let's enjoy last night's win over Pittsburgh, or what I've dubbed "Gary Roberts Gone Wild". As long as he's been in the league, you'd figure he wouldn't let a-holes like Sean Avery get under his skin anymore.
"A guy like that takes it as a little bit of an insult. How dare you disrespect them and all they've done for the game and how great they are?"

- Sean Avery

Just when you think there's no method to his madness.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rangers Watch: NYR 2, NYI 3

It was another radio game for me tonight. I listened two first two periods at work before hitting rush hour home. If I'm too cheap to upgrade my satellite package to get Vs., you can imagine I don't have XM in the car either.

Needless to say, I missed the third period and it's probably better that way. Tonight's wire recap and various independent scouting reports tell me what I already know: the Rangers have trouble scoring and their defense has been overperforming to this point. This loss was bound to catch up with them.

Opening night was the only win where the Rangers came from behind (and that was merely a single goal deficit). At risk of stating the obvious again, they need find a way to play from behind to be any sort of threat this season.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Monday, November 05, 2007

Rangers Watch: PHI 0, NYR 2

And it's another 2-0 victory for the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist's 4th shutout on the season. The King is no Marty Brodeur when it comes to handling the puck, but other than that there appears to be no flaw in his game right now.

Unfortunately, the Rangers still lack confidence in finding the back of the net. Martin Biron made some nifty saves for the Flyers, but New York padded his save percentage with some easy shots and little traffic.

If the Rangers can keep the defense up, they won't need to score more than a couple goals a night. They can afford to be patient when striking first (which they did each game of their extended homestand going 5-1). But what about when they don't pot the first one? Can they come from behind? That's a test New York still needs to pass before graduating.

Here's my idea from for a new revenue stream: Mic up Sean Avery and charge fans to subscribe to the feed. At risk of calling the Blueshirts' current style boring, listening to Avery would definitely liven up the games.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rangers Watch: NJD 1, NYR 2 (SO)

Tonight the Rangers beat the Devils at their own game. Both teams play a similar defensive, aggressive forechecking style. It came down to the shootout - no longer the most exciting thing in hockey - where Tom Renney went with the young(er) guns over the big boys.

Renney also juggled the lines this evening, this time without completely destroying the team's fragile equilibrium. The Devils aren't quite deep enough to handle the three scoring lines New York iced tonight. Fortunately for New Jersey, the Rangers' scoring lines don't actually score.

And so it was another low-scoring affair. Kinda boring hockey but when it comes to the Rangers, I'll take a winning team over an exciting one. There are 29 other teams I can watch if I want to be entertained and I won't be cussing them out if they lose.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rangers Watch: WSH 0, NYR 2

If you were tuning in tonight to watch Brendan Shanahan score his 1300th career point, you're too late. After a meticulous review, it was determined that Jagr's game-winning goal against Tampa nicked Shanny's skate on the way in. They're still looking at the tape to determine if Brett Hull's skate was in the crease.

So when did the Wild move into MSG? Defense and a couple goals earned the Rangers a 2-0 victory over the Capitals. Not quite the offensive juggernaut Glen Sather thought he cobbled together but two points is two points.

Tough break for Washington. John Erskine and Brian Sutherby take penalties in the same shift and it results in a 5-on-3 insurance goal for New York. Fedor Tyutin takes two penalties and it's a double minor, much easier to kill. Doesn't quite seem fair, but I'm not rooting for the Caps.

The Rangers' first back-to-back wins of the season give fans some hope. If they can beat the Devils on Saturday, New York's back to .500 - a do over of sorts - and hopefully we can pretend like October never happened.

Recaps: Y!/AP, TSN Broadband