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Thoughts And Musings

Hello all. Let’s dive right in.

-I don’t like these proposed rule changes. Although 2-on-2 hockey would be exciting, it would just be weird. I say to keep it the way it is.

-I know he has absolutely no leverage, and it will probably play out like the Dubinsky situation last season, but let’s get Marc Staal signed. He’s our best defenseman. We need him.

-I’ve said this before, but I don’t believe Wade Redden will be in Hartford until he’s actually wearing a Wolfpack sweater. Then I’ll believe it.

-If Redden does go to Hartford, it opens up the number 6. I’ve always liked that as a number. Good, solid number. Maybe McDonagh will take it?

-What do y’all think the odds are of Stepan making the team? 30%? More?

-Same question for Grachev. 70% Lower?

-Annoyance interlude: I was at the bank today, just to do a quick deposit. I was offered cookies and coffee. While I appreciate the gesture, what were the odds of me accepting? Since there was no line the deposit was going to take 2 minutes, probably less. I wasn’t going to be able to finish a cookie in that time, much less coffee. If there was a line, I’d maybe take them up on their offer. But, she offered it to me as she was depositing the money. Just didn’t make sense. But, deposit lady, if you are reading, I do appreciate the offer.

-The Hockey News came out with which teams won’t make the playoffs. The Rangers are among them. They have them finishing 13th in the East. Their reasoning:

Why: Missing the playoffs on the last day of the regular season must still be stinging the Rangers and it won’t help we’ve slotted them in at unlucky No. 13 for 2010-11. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is about the only reason the Rangers are still afloat and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes Marian Gaborik will make it through another season untouched by injury.

Yes, if Gaborik gets hurt, the Rangers are screwed. But is that an analysis? Finding anyone who believes Gaborik won’t get hurt is not a reason why they won’t make the playoffs. If Sidney Crosby gets hurt, are the Penguins making the playoffs? Probably not. What about Ovechkin? Ryan Miller? It’s not an analysis. It’s lazy. I can respect that they don’t think the Ranger will make the playoffs, but at least tell me why. Tell me that the scoring depth isn’t enough, or the defense corp is too young. But saying that they don’t believe Gaborik will stay healthy? Please.

-Personally, I think the Rangers are going to make the playoffs. They’ll sneak in as the 7th or 8th seed, but they’ll be there. Nothing like playoff hockey at the Garden.

-Speaking of nothing like playoff hockey, the one playoff hockey like game at home last year (the one against Philly, the last home game) was awesome. One of the top 5 games I’ve been to. Crowd was electric.

-Every time I think about the Rangers, I think about the need for Sean Avery to produce. Both as a pest and as a scorer. We know he can score. He just didn’t do it much last year. They are a better team when he’s playing well. I think Torts has to let go of the leash.

-Another annoyance interlude: A nail salon opened up in the my town (more on my town later). Nothing wrong with that. Except, it’s right across the street from THE OTHER NAIL SALON!! Literally, right across the street. What’s the point of that? I mean, when they were thinking of opening up a nail salon, did they not realize there is one across the street? Or the fact that there’s another one a few blocks away?And another one a few more blocks away. There’s 4 in my very small town.  You only need one nail salon in a town. 4 in a county. 16 in a state. There’s two in one of the neighboring towns, 3 in the other. I just don’t get it. Isn’t one enough? Maybe it’s me, but a nail salon is a nail salon. You just need one. They all do the same thing.

-I do need a new jersey. I have a Drury, but it’s a bit outdated. Who should I get?

-Frolov will score at least 25 goals. You read it here first. Or second. But I think first.

-Callahan will score 25 goals.

-Dubi will score 28

-Boogaard will score zero.

-Personal interlude: So, I’m moving to Allentown, PA a week from today. New job. Excited. But, as I adjust to a new job, new place, new city, new life, etc, I’m taking a little hiatus from BSB. It won’t be too long. I’ll be back mid-to-late September. Knowing how I operate, I need to focus wholly on adjusting, or I won’t. It’s life. Can’t do much about it. But, I will miss the site. It’s great posting here, with a great community. Don’t miss me too much.

The Importance of Marty Biron

On July 1st, the Rangers made perhaps their best signing in years. Yeah, Marian Gaborik has been terrific. And signings like Marty Straka and Michael Nylander a few years back were golden. But Marty Biron brings something that the Rangers haven’t had in a while: A backup goalie

We all know Henrik Lundqvist is one of the top 5 goalies in the world. It’s the reason we’re competitive every single year.  As long as he’s healthy, the Rangers will be in the hunt. But, without a competent backup the past few years, Henrik has had to shoulder the load all by himself. Since 2007: 72 games, 70 games, 73 games. It’s a lot.

The reason he’s had to play so much is because the guy behind him hasn’t been capable of winning games consistently. That changes with Marty Biron.

The 33 year older veteran has had a pretty good career. Even playing with the horrible Islanders last year, Biron put up a 3.27 GAA. On a pretty good Philly team the year before, a 2.76 GAA. The guy can play.

Even though Steve Valliquette was a good guy, he wasn’t the best goalie. A long time starter, Biron can get hot over a stretch of games. Or, he can come in and give Hank a rest.

Marty Biron is not the best goalie in the world. But, he’s an important Ranger. Giving Henrik 15-20 games off will keep him fresh for the stretch run. A fresh Henrik is a good thing for the Rangers. With a lot of young talent around him, Henrik can carry this team to the playoffs. He’ll get an assist from Marty Biron.

Thoughts And Musings

Welcome to another edition of Thoughts And Musings, where it’s mostly Rangers, a little pop culture, and few random non-sequiturs. Let’s dig right in.

-It really sucks having no hockey. I need my hockey fix

-This is definitely the lull period for hockey. Unless  Kovalchuk  signs with us, then it’s boring city for awhile.

-Speaking of Kovy, if the Devils knew the contract was not going to be accepted, why offer it? And what are the chances that they try to re-sign him?

-Let’s sign Marc Staal. He’s our best defenseman. Play hardball, play soft, do whatever you have to do to get him signed.

-What’s the over/under for Gaborik goals this year? 40?

-I’ve said it before, but the Marty Biron signing is going to be huge. He’ll let Henrik breathe a bit, and he finally, finally adds a French-Canadian flair to the team.

-A buddy and I joke that, with all the French-Canadian players, you could start a law firm: Biron, Briere, Huet, Giguere, Letourneau-Leblond, Fleury and Gagne.

-I’m starting to think that Todd White isn’t just destined for the minors. Call me crazy, but he played so well with Kovalchuk, that is has to be worth a shot to try him with Gaborik.

-TV interlude: The trailer for “Boardwalk Empire” looks amazing:

-It would not surprise me if Artem Anisimov is the number one center by seasons end. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he STARTED the season as the number one center.

-Where they play Dubi and Prospal will affect a lot of people. If Dubi is a center, that’s one less center spot. Drury may have to play wing. If Dubi plays wing, that’s one less spot for someone like Grachev, or MZA. Same with Prospal.

-I know the scenario of “Wade Redden playing inspired hockey in camp, can’t send him down” exists, but you saw him play the past couple years? There ain’t no inspiration or urgency in his game.

-Travel interlude: Heading to Minneapolis on the 20th to take in a few Twins games, as part me and my dad’s annual: Travel the country, see a game, see a city. Last year was Milwaukee. For the people who’ve been: Where are the places to eat/see?

-Playing in the Atlantic sucks. Pittsburgh got better. Devils (with or without Kovalchuk) got better. Flyers were in the Stanley Cup. We’re at least a fourth place team in that division.

-I know Tortorella causes many different opinions, but there is nothing, nothing, better than a Torts freakout (warning: NSFW):

-I’m hoping to see more of the glimpses of greatness from Erik Christensen. There were times last year when he was dazzling.

-When you think of flashy, you think of Ovechkin. But Gaborik does it by a)being faster than most and b)being in the right place at the right time. He’s not flashy. He’s just really good.

-Idea for t-shirt: Let Avery Be Avery!

-Tech interlude: Why does Facebook recommend people for me to friend that I’ve never met, or aren’t friends with any of my friends? Do they want me to be friends with these people? Are they bored?

Thinking About The Power Play

Ever since Jaromir Jagr left, and even a bit before, the power play has sucked. The Rangers have offensive stars like Marian Gaborik, but they just can’t put the biscuit in the hole. This is extremely frustrating.

The one thing that the Rangers don’t do well is setting up. From the rush to setting up in the zone, the Rangers can never get settled. Any good power play has to be set up in the zone. You can’t have one shot and have to set up again.

Once they get set up, they have trouble hitting the net, or after a few attempts, the puck will be cleared. There’s no consistent attack.

You want a power play that, as a fan, makes you jump out you seat because they get so many good chances, and then, after a while, they capitalize on it. That’s a good power play. Rangers don’t have that.

So how can we fix this? Let’s dive right in.

The first problem is getting set up. Usually, MDZ will start with the puck behind the net. He’ll skate up the middle of the ice, and right past his own blueline, he’s fire a pass to a streaking Gaborik or Callahan. This works some of the time. When it does, it’s great. But it can’t be used every single time. It becomes predictable. Defenses can pick off the pass. And you’re not setting up.

The Rangers don’t do well with dump and chase, either. Here’s what they need to do. Have a defenseman bring it up. Have his partner next to him. Let’s get a center leading two wings in the pursuit. D drops it in, center and wings chase after it, not just a wing. Get the puck, walk it out, and get it to the point.

Now that it’s on the point, what next? Well, let’s talk spacing and layout. I love the drawing feature on Google Docs, and since you can share it and embed it, all the more fun. Here’s how the Rangers PP should look like:

That’s just some sample players. But let’s break it down. We’ll start with MDZ

MDZ should move either to his right, or in a bit. Moving in to his right brings the defense over. He can the rifle a pass off to Frolov, who’s streaking to the net. If he moves in a bit, defense collapses, pass it back out to Rosy, and he takes a bomb from the point. Rosy follows the same pattern.

Drury stays in front of the net. The Rangers never have this. Pluck his ass right in front of the goalie. Take a defender away from the box. Give Gabby and Frolov more room to operate. And gobble up loose pucks.

I want Frolov and Gaborik mirroring each other. Moving without the puck a lot. Let’s say Frolov has it. He’s by the boards, holding. Now, Gaborik shouldn’t stay still. He should break for the net. Frolov can pass it. He can shoot it. Or, as the defense collapses, pass it back out to MDZ. Gaborik can do the same. These two can fish for rebounds as well.

Moving a lot, with and without the puck, is key. The spacing here allows them to do this. Penalty killers usually stay in a box, or a square. The box moves with the puck. But, with movement, especially without the pick, the box has to collapse. The Rangers spent too much time standing still. No more. Move around. Make the defense move. Fire shots off. Get bodies in front of the net. And shoot the puck, dammit!

Thursday Thoughts And Musings

Welcome to our new, regular feature. I’ve done this a few times here before, but expect a lot more of it. Sorry.

-I like the Todd White pickup. Sure, he relegates Dubi and Prospal to the wing. But, White, when paired with top line talent does really well.  A line of Frolov-White-Gaborik or Dubinsky-White-Gaborik is a legit top line. Oh happy day.

-I’ve focused on line combos, but never D-pairings. So here goes:

Staal-Girardi

Rosival-Del Zotto

Eminger-Gilroy

I think McDonagh spends a little time in the AHL. Redden has to be going to the AHL too. Just a money thing now.

-I know Todd White didn’t fit in their plans, but seriously, is there any reason for the Thrashers to take Donald Brashear? I mean, seriously, does Glen Sather has nude photos of all the GMs?

-Music interlude: This song is awesome (note: NSFW)

-Are we expecting the same leadership group as last year? I know it’s hard to take away an ‘A’ or ‘C’, but maybe it’s necessary. I love Prospal, but is he ‘A’ worthy? I think Cally is perfect, and Drury is Drury. I would like to see Gaborik get one. He carries this team.

-Actually, I’d like to see Lundqvist get a letter. I mean, come on. He is the team.

-Over/under: How many years till the Rangers win another cup?

-I know there was money issues, but essentially trading Antti Niemi for Marty Turco? Really, Chicago? That’s a rookie goalie who won you a Cup. And, Turco? Who’s lost his game? Find other ways to save money.

-Would like to see Avery score more. He’s great at being a pain in the ass. But, putting the biscuit in the net a little more often wouldn’t hurt.

-I really miss the Olympics. That USA team was awesome. We’ll have to wait until 2014.

-I don’t buy Boogaard not getting playing time. He’s going to be on the fourth line. He’s going to beat the crap out of people. That’s his job. Deal with it.

-Tech interlude: Anyone have Slingbox? Is it any good?

-What are your PP combos? Here’s mine:

Gaborik-White-Frolov-MDZ-Rosival

Callahan-Dubinsky-Prospal-Gilroy-Drury

-PK forward combos:

Drury-Callahan

Anisimov-Dubinsky

Prust-Prospal

-I think the Rangers are going to be pretty physical. Boogaard. Prust. Avery. Callahan. Dubinsky. Weise (maybe). Eminger. It’s a better position to be in than last year.

-Who’s your candidate for first AHL callup?

-Food interlude: This recipe is off the hook. The sauce is killer.

On Involving Youngsters

The Rangers are pretty lucky to have a lot of youngsters who are contributing,ready to contribute, or are on the verge of contributing. It seems like it’s been forever since the Rangers have had this. You know the names: MDZ, AA, Gilroy, McDonagh, Stepan, Grachev, Krieder, MZA, . These guys are very close to being contributors to a championship team.

But, how do you know when they’re ready? How do you know when it’s time to let them loose at the NHL level? That’s what I’m here to talk about.

Each player is different. A formula for one player won’t necessarily work for another. Grachev has spent a year in the AHL. Stepan, Krieder and McDonagh are all college kids. MDZ came straight from juniors. MZA came from overseas. We can’t know for sure when one player is ready over another.

The best way is to see him play. We can’t see Krieder yet–he’s still in school. But, we’re going to get a great look at most of these guys in camp and in preseason. Here’s what I’m looking for:

Stepan: With any forward, you want to see if they have scoring ability. Can he tear it up against AHLers and junior players in preseason? Or does he just blend in? If he’s going to make the team, you want to see him dominate the lower level of competition in preseason, much like Anisimov did last year. Stepan is more than experienced. He captained the USA juniors team that won the world Championship team. The question is: Does he need seasoning? If he’s dominating, then he won’t.

Grachev: He scored 12 goals in Hartford last season. For him, much like Stepan, I want to see him dominate. If you can’t dominate at the AHL level, you’re not going to dominate at the NHL level. Can Grachev be the best player on the ice? We know he has the talent. Can he put it all together?

MZA: The guy can score. 23 goals in the Swedish Elite League. The one thing I’m looking for is can he transition? The European game is different from the NHL game. There’s a smaller ice surface here. Can his small, 5-7 frame handle the punishment he’s going to get? Remains to be seen. He’s the most NHL ready of the bunch, just because he’s done it on a very high level. The big question is transition.

McDonagh: The savior. Or at least the guy who could replace Wade Redden. He’s the one I’m most interested in. Can he be physical? Can he be responsible in his own end? Can he make the outlet pass? Can he join the rush?

With youngsters, you have to tread carefully. But, above all, you have to see them on the ice. See them in action. If they can do it in preseason, they can probably do it in the regular season.

Link Dump

It’s Sunday. That means Link Dump.

-Patrick Hoffman at KuklasKorner looks at where the Rangers may finish this year

-Patrick Hoffman interviews The Rangers Tribunes’ Nick Montemagno

-The Dark Ranger gives us this slice of heaven

-The Rangers are still not close with Marc Staal

-The 50 greatest TV shows of all-time

-The Hockey Suit Discusses our fearless leader, John Tortorella

-The only scene from Training Day that I could find on YouTube that’s safe for work

Early, Early, Early Line Predictions

Now that Alex Frolov is in the fold, I think it’s safe to say that the Rangers are done with free agent signings. They have to re-sign Marc Staal, and I think they will. They may demote Wade Redden. They may sign an AHLer. But, for the big club. this is about it.

With training camp getting closer each day, I thought it would time to look at line combos. Yes, it’s early. A lot’s going to change. Players will  find chemistry, a breakout star will emerge, someone will get hurt. So this is very preliminary. But it’s fun. And I’m all about fun. So here goes:

Frolov-Prospal-Gaborik

A very Eastern European flair there. I think you have to put Frolov with Gaborik. You can talk about “separating the scoring” but the Rangers don’t have enough scoring to do that. Give Gabby a legit winger on his other side. All Prospal has to do is feed the puck somewhere.

Dubinsky-Christensen-Callahan

I like this line. Christensen has a lot of skill. Dubi and Cally work the corners, get in the dirty areas. Could be a high scoring line. It’s an actual 2nd line. These are 2nd line players. We’re used to 3rd liners getting 2nd line minutes. No more.

Avery-Anisimov-Prust

Do I love this line? Not really, but there aren’t many other options. We know AA has a lot of skill, and so does Sean Avery. It’s a gritty line. We saw how Prust and AA fit together. Avery is another natural fit. Two rough and tumble guys, one really skilled guy. Christensen and Anisimov could switch, easily.

Boogaard-Drury-Weise

Drury is probably a fourth line center, and I know that’s hard with his contract, but he brings so much in PK and leadership that you deal with it. I think Weise is all but guaranteed to make the team. They really like him. The Boogey man is the Boogey man: He’s gonna rough some people up and stand in front of the net.

MZA, Grachev and Stepan will spend at least half a year in the AHL. I think, of the three, MZA has the best chance to make the team. He’d probably be on the third line, and Prust would move to the fourth. What do y’all think?

Thoughts And Musings

Hello friends. It’s been awhile, I know. But that’s what having surgery will do to you. Everything went well, and I was out of the hospital in 36 hours (modern medicine is amazing). I’m pretty much 100% and by the end of the weekend I will be. Once again, I love modern medicine.

I do a feature called Thoughts And Musings on my other blog, GiantsGab, and while it’s a shameless plug, it gets great reaction there, so here we are. Let’s do it: Thoughts And Musings, post-surgery style.

-I think people will stop hating the Derek Boogaard signing when he protects Hank in the crease. Look, the years are long, but the money isn’t much, and he’s only 28. Besides, his nickname is The Boogeyman. I mean, c’mon people! The Boogeyman!

-Steve Eminger was a shrewd pickup. I heard about it from my cousin who was visiting me in the hospital, and it took my post-anesthesia, morphine induced haze a little while to realize who he was, but when I did, I realized he’s going to be a good player. Solid defensively, willing to take the body, block shots. He’s a perfect 3rd pairing. I don’t want to say this is the end of Wade Redden, but it’s looking that way. Potential defense corp:

Staal-Girard

Rosival-Del Zotto

McDonagh/Gilroy-Eminger

Not bad. Not bad at all.

-I think we can expect a big jump offensively from Anisimov. He showed flashes of brilliance, and I think by the end of the season, you saw him start to get more comfortable. Big things from AA this year.

-Same with Dubinsky and Callahan. You can only expect them to keep growing and developing.

-Things That I Remembered Wrong From My Childhood interlude: When did Chips Ahoy cookies become bad? They used to taste good, right?

-My very early stab at lines:

Dubinsky-Christensen-Gaborik

Avery-AA-Callahan

Prospal-Drury-Grachev

Boogaard-Boyle-Prust

-Camp is going to change all those lines

-The real issue: Is Dubinsky a wing or center? If he’s a wing, then there isn’t an excess of centers. If he is a center, then Drury is a fourth liner, and Boyle is on the bench. Decisions, decisions.

-Let’s get Staal signed, umkay Slats?

-I consider MZA a midseason call-up. Which isn’t  bad thing.

-I think Grachev and MZA could be switching places.

-I can’t wait for Marty Biron. Besides finally having a French-Canadian presence on the team, it’s nice to have a quality backup for Hank.

-I think this team will be picked to finish towards the bottom of the East, but they’re going to surprise. Just a hunch.

-Food interlude: When you’re post surgery, the only thing you’re in the mood for is toast with butter. And it’s amazing. Seriously. Completely under appreciated meal.

-Last thing: If the Rangers don’t make the playoffs, Torts will be fired.

Free Agency Prediction

Free Agency is almost here, and while the rest of sporting world will be focused on the LeBron watch, we here are BSB will be focused on what the NHL free agency period looks like (ah, who I am kidding. We’re all watching to see where LeBron goes. And hockey. But, LeBron too)

We’ve been profiling potential free agent targets for the Rangers. Read about them here.

Here’s what I think the Rangers are going to do.  Read it, and see what you think:

I don’t think the Rangers will be that active. I think they’ll resign Prospal. Christensen is as good as gone (and really, why did he not take that offer?). This team will be younger, but I don’t think that’s bad. Here’s my take on potential lines

Dubinsky-AA-Gaborik
Avery-Prospal-Callahan
Grachev-Drury-Weise
Prust-Stepan-Boyle
I really think Stepan makes this team. I think he makes an impact too.
Now, we all care about scoring.
Gaborik: 40 goals
Dubi: 25
AA: 20
Cally: 20
Avery: 10
Prospal: 15
Grachev: 12
Drury:10
Weise: 5
Prust: 8
Stepan: 10
Boyle: 2
That’s 177 goals, just by the forwards. Rangers scored 219 goals last season, and that included contributions from PA Parenteau, Dane Byers, Chris Higgins, Ales Kotalik and the defensemen. Goals will come from injury call-ups etc. Rangers got 32 goals from the standard 6 d-men. That, combined with our rough total of 177, is 209. Add goals from call-ups and you get to that 219 number pretty easily. It’s the same team as last year. But, it’s younger. It’s more hungry. And it’s cheaper. I’d rather they give kids the chance, instead of overpaying a veteran. But this is Glen Sather we’re talking about.
SO, those are my predictions. What are yours?