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Rangers Salvage California Trip With Critical Shootout Win In San Jose

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Coming off arguably their worst performance of the season Wednesday in Anaheim the Rangers took the ice tonight in San Jose looking for redemption.  It took them all the way to the shootout and six rounds later Brandon Dubinsky sent the Rangers home with a hard fought two points when he beat Anti Niemi five-hole.  If not for Wojtek Wolski coming up with a clutch goal in the third round of the shootout the Rangers lose as Dan Boyle had the Sharks poised for the win with his beautiful goal on the backhand against Lundqvist, but Wolski kept it alive and Dubinsky finally cashed it in.

The shootout winner by Dubinsky pushed the Rangers record to 8-3 in the skills competition, which while it might hurt them in tiebreakers later has been critical to their current standing.  With the win the Rangers moved back into seventh in the Eastern Conference with a four point “cushion” on ninth place Carolina.

Dubinsky might have gotten the winner, but tonight was all about Henrik Lundqvist as he stole two points for the Blueshirts.  Henrik while solid many nights has not stolen too many of late, but tonight was certainly one of those as he stopped 31 shots, numerous of the top notch variety and both goals that beat him were once again deflected.

The Rangers came out sluggish in the first period and were controlled for much of the first period, but were able to keep it even until Ryan Clowe scored off Marc Staal and over Henrik Lundqvist’s glove.  The Sharks were on the power play after Matt Gilroy fumbled the puck behind the net and eventually took a hooking penalty.  Off the ensuing faceoff Marc Staal was hit with a high stick and no call was made with the play eventually working back to Clowe would shoot it off Staal and in.  It was a horrible missed call and more bad luck for the team on deflected goals.

New York answered 4:27 later when Erik Christensen finished off a beautiful feed from Vinny Prospal.  The play was a great cycling shift, but the end of the play was setup by a crucial pinch by Michael Sauer who kept it in the zone and played it back down the boards to Gaborik who dropped it behind the net for Prospal.  Overall the Rangers had to be happy to be tied after one considering they were outplayed for much of the period.

The Rangers carried over the late momentum from the first period into the start of the second and Michael Sauer gave them a 2-1 lead just 1:16 into the frame.  This play was a beautiful read from Sauer who noticed that a San Jose player was without a stick and so he moved up into the high slot and fired the shot through traffic and by Niemi.

Though New York would carry most of the play in the period it would be San Jose that took late momentum with Ben Eager scoring yet another deflected goal with just 3:34 left in the period to tie the game.  The Eager goal would begin as a shot by Torrey Mitchell and then deflected off Artem Anisimov, Dan Girardi and finally Eager before going in.

San Jose dominated the third period, but it would be Lundqvist making some huge saves to get the team to OT.

  • Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov were the best Rangers forwards for me tonight.
  • Michael Sauer was phenomenal in this game in every facet
  • Marc Staal had a tremendous bounce back effort and laid out Kyle Wellwood with a huge hit
  • Dan Girardi also responded well with nine blocked shots.
Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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The Rangers are who we thought they were.  They are a team that can put up huge goal totals in one game and fail to finish in the next.  They are a team that does not handle momentum type wins very well as they destroyed a nemesis on Sunday and came out tonight and put in an awful effort in a 5-2 loss to the Ducks.  They were outhustled and out skilled all night by Anaheim in one the worst performances this team has put on all season.  Tonight you really saw the difference between the Rangers as a team that tries to grind out everything and rely on committee offense versus a team that truly has elite skill.  The line of Ryan, Getzlaf, and Perry dominated the Rangers all night long combining for three goals, five assists and a plus 10, while the Rangers line of Dubinsky, Anisimov, Callahan had one goal and were a minus 10.

The first period started very well with an excellent opening five minutes.  The Rangers struck first with Brandon Dubinsky netting his 20th goal on the season just 3:30 into the game.  The play was a beautiful setup by Ryan Callahan that saw Dubinsky walk in all alone on a busted defensive play by Cam Fowler and he finished it off.  Things went straight downhill from there.

The Ducks tallied three goals before the end of the first and each one was off a Rangers player.  Corey Perry would get the first 7:34 in when he threw the puck toward the crease and it banked off the skate of Dan Girardi.  Next up was Lubomir Visnovsky firing one from the point off Marc Staal’s arm and in to give the Ducks the lead.  Visnovsky was not done as he got another deflected goal late in the first.  This time off Artem Anisimov’s stick turning it into a knuckle puck that bounced off the ice and over Lundqvist’s shoulder.

The Rangers were dominated again in the second period, but there were no goals.  The third period was a combination of Rangers failures and Anaheim showing how finishing is done by top players in this league.  Brandon Dubinsky had a wide open net to shoot at early in the third but instead of burying the chance he shot it back across the net into Dan Ellis paddle.  Of course the Ducks would take the puck the other way on a two-on-one and show the Rangers how it is done with Bobby Ryan burying the chance to turn what could have been a 3-2 deficit immediately into a 4-1 hole.  On the play Girardi did not take away the shot or the pass and Perry found Ryan for the finish.

Marian Gaborik scored a meaningless power play goal 5:31 into the third after being invisible for the first two plus periods of action.  With the score still 4-2 Gaborik would have a similar chance with at least three feet of the net to work with and he too shot it back across into Ellis instead of burying it and making it a game.

Anaheim would cap it with just over five minutes remaining when Bobby Ryan walked around Dan Girardi, who once again dove on the ice and got nothing, and fed the puck across to Corey Perry who made it 5-2.

  • Marian Gaborik getting a meaningless goal for me was nothing more than stat padding and I don’t take it as any sort of sign that he is headed in the right direction.  His invisibility when the game was even in question was ridiculous.
  • Dan Girardi was abysmal tonight
Categories : Game Wrap-ups
Comments (2)

Frustration and impatience with young players who take some time to develop is nothing new for New York Rangers fans. One of the targets for the frustration and impatience for many fans has been second year forward Artem Anisimov. The 22-year-old center has 16 goals and 19 assists in 68 games this season, which puts him on pace for 19-23-42 which is a very respectable second year and a 50% jump in all statistical categories. Even with those facts many have been very willing to include him in trade talks for Brad Richards or immediately deem him the odd-man out if Richards were to join the Rangers this summer. I know it is difficult to have patience with young players, especially when it seems other guys are making the transition easier, but it is time we have some for Anisimov.

I don’t see Anisimov as an expendable piece, but as an asset that if given time and patience will develop into a solid second line center capable of 60 point seasons. He has already exhibited an ability to play against opposing teams top lines have done so in large doses this season and he equated himself nicely. There is no denying that after the hot start his game and the entire line of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Callahan dipped in their production, but it seems in many respects the first one who got the attention for the decline was Artem.

This week much of the talk has been about Ryan Callahan, as it should be, courtesy of his four goal game against Philly, but what gets lost in that performance is just how well Anisimov has been playing of late and that his offense is coming back around. Since the passing of the trade deadline and the end to the rumors of him being dealt Anisimov has three goals and one assist in four games. I am not here to excuse his lack of offensive production before the deadline as solely related to the rumors, but with a young player who already has admitted to confidence issues in the past, the rumors can have an impact on the ice. The key difference I see in Anisimov over the past week as opposed to before is that he is back to aggressively skating the puck to the net. The goals he scored against Ottawa and Philly were both on drives to the net in which he used his skill to beat the goaltenders.

Just as impressive as those two plays were, the one that shows the confidence was one he did not score on yesterday. In the third period, with the game well in hand, Anisimov came down the right side on a 2-on-1 with Brandon Dubinsky and instead of deferring and looking for the pass he drove the net looking for his own offense. Those are the kind of developmental things that need to be seen from Anisimov in order to continue believing not only that the potential exists, but that he will get there.

He has not shown enough of that offensive aggressiveness this season, at least on a consistent basis, in part because he seems so focused on being defensively responsible. His attention to the other side of the ice is admirable in a player of his age and at this stage of development, and one he is not given enough credit for by the fans. That focus does remove aggressiveness from looking for his offense and then it snowballs back to his confidence level. The Rangers already do this, but mostly when players are injured, but with a player like Anisimov, who has admitted to confidence issues in the past, maybe using him more frequently on the penalty kill would help in terms of both confidence and focus. This is one approach that seems to have helped without young players around the league in keeping them engaged in the game and keeping an aggressive mentality.

There are obviously things that Anisimov must work on his game, most notably his strength, faceoff ability and consistency on the offensive side of the ice. The strides he has made from year one to this season give strong hope for what the future holds for Artem and his work ethic makes me believe that he will get there. The consistency with offense is something he has to learn and before he gets written off, let us remember that Brandon Dubinsky, the team’s leading scorer this season put up nearly identical numbers point totals to those that Anisimov is on pace for, though with less goal scoring touch (13-28-41). Anisimov is clearly a work in progress and it will take time and patience for him to reach that ultimate level, but I believe it will be worth the wait when he puts it altogether and starts playing consistently how he can in spurts right now.

Tell me what you think: Is it worth the wait?

Categories : Analysis
Comments (2)

Normally I agree with George Ays of Tracking the Rangers when he says, “Numbers don’t lie, they just don’t agree with you.”  One place where I don’t agree, at least not yet, is in terms of the impact Bryan McCabe has had on the New York Rangers power play.  It has been five games and the stats say the man advantage is still struggling only converting on 3 of 20 (15%) power plays.  The numbers say that the impact has been negligible to this point.  I do not get that same feel in watching the Rangers when they have the advantage since he has been here.

The willingness to shoot the puck and hit the net has created something opponents have not had to account for all season.  He has yet to score with his bombs from the point, but it has created a number of rebound opportunities and beyond that has made other players on the ice more aggressive and that aggression has been utterly lacking for this team all season.  More players are willing to pull the trigger on their own shots, with more space to do so and some are even heading to the front of the net for a change.  All of these things are critical to getting the final reward.

Along with his shot the biggest help to the power play has been his ability to keep the puck in the zone.  For much of the year the Rangers would spend half the power play chasing the puck down to the other end of the ice and starting over because they were unable to hold the line, but McCabe has been a virtual vacuum back there sucking up clearing attempts and continuing possession for the offense.

His understanding and comfort running a power play also shows in how he walks the line at the point to create angles for both his own shot and passing lanes.  These are the types of things that a power play quarterback does and the things that McCabe should be imparting to the rest of the Rangers defense core.  The results are not there yet, but I believe that between the movement, the aggression, the puck possession and the big shot from the point those results will come in short order.

So, do the numbers lie or my eyes?  Given the small sample size we might not find out the answer until the year is over.

Categories : Analysis
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How Rangers Position Compares to Other East Playoff Competitors

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When the New York Rangers lost their third straight at home earlier this week not only had they lost a chance at points once again, but they had lost all control over their playoff destiny. With their wins against Ottawa and Philadelphia the past few days the team has taken destiny back in its own hands to a large extent. In these final fourteen games the only team currently outside the playoffs that can beat out the Rangers if they take care of their own business is the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes currently sit three points behind New York with two games in hand. Here is a breakdown of the schedules of the top five contenders for the last two spots in the East.


Current Points

Games Remaining

Vs. Current Playoff Teams


New York




















New Jersey





New York obviously has the fewest amount of games of any these teams remaining, but then again they have the most points and points in the bank are always better than just having extra games.  On paper Buffalo appears to have the easiest schedule playing only seven opponents currently in the playoffs and the most games. Toronto appears to have the toughest road with points to make up, a tough schedule and few home games. As I said though, these last fourteen games are not about any other team, they are about the Rangers handling their own business. If New York plays with the same mindset they have in these last two they will do that despite a pretty tough schedule.

The Rangers schedule feature seven games against playoff teams with San Jose, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Boston twice, Buffalo and rematch with Flyers. Beyond those games they play the red-hot Devils, two games against the improving Islanders and their next bout comes against a very good Anaheim team who is their own playoff battle. There really are only three games the team should lock in and likely count if they show up that night: Ottawa, Florida and Atlanta, then again the Rangers have shown there is no such thing as a lock of a win. If the team handles their business in those three, they likely have to find five more wins in those other 11 games to get to 90 points.  The task is no slam dunk and the playoffs are not guaranteed, but with the huge confidence boost of not only beating the Flyers, but the way they did, destiny is back under their control.

Categories : Analysis
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Rangers Get Back On The Winning Track, Defeat Senators 4-1

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Now everyone can take a deep breath and step back from the ledge.  The New York Rangers did what they were supposed to do tonight and beat a bad Ottawa team 4-1 in their building and got back into the seventh spot I the Eastern Conference playoff race.  It is a feel good win because they finally finished off some of their chances, but in order for it to really mean something they have to carry over the confidence and lessons to Sunday’s game against Philadelphia. The best part of this win was that all four lines contributed to the outcome with each on scoring a goal and for the first time in a while, even though he didn’t steal the game, Henrik Lundqvist made some brilliant saves at the key moments of the game. Everything that had been going wrong over the last three games was reversed tonight, but one must also consider the opponent.  Enjoy it, but don’t think things are fixed by beating Ottawa.

New York would play another strong first period with much of the early action in the Ottawa zone, and they would finally be rewarded just after the midway point of the period.  At 10:08 of the first Vinny Prospal would score his fourth goal of the season with a patented Prospal celebration.  It was Prospal’s goal, but the credit for it belongs to Sean Avery who did all the work behind the net to create it.  Avery would dominate possession and then feed Prospal at the right circle for the shot and he beat Anderson who appeared to fan with the glove.

The difference between last night and tonight was the Rangers decided to carry over that effort into the second period and while it was looking like they might have the same story in being unable to get that elusive two goal lead, the damn would break.  At  6:26 of the period Mats Zuccarello would score for the first time in 19 games with a backhand shot off the rebound of Derek Stepan shot.

Just 12 seconds later Anisimov would make a beautiful drive to the net and went right around Anderson to put the puck in the net.  The play was made coming up the boards when Dan Girardi played it up the boards and Callahan chipped the puck ahead and Anisimov took over with the power move from the wall in.

The Rangers would have some luck on their side tonight and the end of the second was a good example of that when the Senators had two great chances in the last 30 seconds, hitting the side of the net with one and then the post in what would have been a huge goal, but at the end of two it was 3-0 New York.

Stepan would add to the Rangers lead early in the third with his 18th of the season.  The goal was created by a beautiful feed from Wojtek Wolski and Stepan finished it with a beautiful goal upstairs.  Sergei Gonchar would tally for Ottawa to make it 4-1 and that is how it would end.

  • Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan played their best game as a line in a while as they were involved the entire game instead of just for certain shift.
  • Wolski was very good tonight and his pass to Stepan was a thing of beauty
  • Dan Girardi played his best game probably of the second half tonight.  He made a couple of brilliant plays to cover for Staal early and continued all night.
  • Michael Sauer continues to have a tremendous year and his willingness to step and stand up for himself and teammates is great.
  • Can Stepan and Anisimov hit 20 before the year is over?
Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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Game 67: Rangers at Ottawa

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OPPONENT: Ottawa Senators

2010-2011 RECORD: 22-33-9

2010-2011 LEADING SCORER: Erik Karlsson (9-24-33)

GOALIE: Craig Anderson (2.98 GAA, .906 SV% overall, 1.19 GAA, .963 SV% w/OTT)


Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle- Brandon Prust
Sean Avery- Erik Christensen- Vinny Prospal

Marc Staal -Dan Girardi
Bryan McCabe -Mike Sauer
Steve EmingerMatt Gilroy

Henrik Lundqvist
Chad Johnson

Scratched tonight: Derek Boogaard (concussion symptoms), Alex Frolov (knee), Chris Drury (knee), Marian Gaborik (concussion), Martin Biron (collarbone), and Ryan McDonagh (knee).

STATE OF THE BLUESHIRTS: After dropping three straight on home ice the Rangers find themselves having fallen to 8th in the Eastern Conference in desperate need of two points.  They play Ottawa who has been near the bottom of the league for some time, but has been better since trading for Craig Anderson a few weeks ago, so the Rangers cannot afford to take them lightly.  The team needs to show urgency early, as they did last night, and sustain that level for 60 minutes.

CRAZY THOUGHT: Rangers get a two goal lead


PREDICTION: Rangers 3 Ottawa 1


Categories : Game Thread
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Someone wake me up when Groundhog’s Day is over.  Three games at home and three straight times you saw the same basic storyline play out.  Tonight was slightly different because the first period was the one they decided to play instead of waiting until the third, but once again the utter lack of finish is beyond comprehension at this point.  You have to score more goals by accident then this team is on purpose right now.  Defensively every goal against is either a deflection or a lost man in front and Henrik Lundqvist is not doing what this team needs right now and stealing a game.

For a change the Rangers played a dominant first period in which they controlled the play the entire period.  The team had the fast start they keep talking about when Sean Avery gave them the lead just 3:13 into the game.  The play was made behind the net with Christensen who showed excellent patience waiting for Avery to hit the slot and fed him a beautiful pass which Avery roofed over Theodore.  It was only Avery’s third of the season and first since January 8th.  I guess Sean did not appreciate me talking about his 1.6% shooting percentage this morning.

The strong play continued throughout the period and they should have been up multiple goals, but as is usually the case they could not find a way to get the second goal.  They had two power plays, one was abysmal and the other had chances including a golden one for Ryan Callahan, but he did not lift the puck into the open net, rather shooting it into the paddle of Theodore’s stick.  When you hold a team to 3 shots in a period and 17 minutes without a single on you have to have a bigger lead than 1-0.

As well as the team played in the first period, they played equally as bad in the second.  Once again the Rangers took an offensive zone penalty and it came back to bite them.  With Erik Christensen in the box for high sticking, Kyle Brodziak would deflect the puck home to tie the game at one 4:36 into the second.  Before this goal happened the Rangers had a prime chance 2-on-1 with Callahan and Dubinsky and they didn’t even get a shot.  Dubinsky was clearly looking pass the whole way and when that was taken away the puck harmlessly slid off his stick and behind the net.

Unlike the Rangers the Wild would keep coming and add to their goal total when Casey Wellman burned Matt Gilroy and was all alone in front to deflect a Brett Burns shot in to make it 2-1 Wild.  Bouchard would salt this one away 8:15 into the third and end the game 3-1 Wild.

In terms of the playoff race this was also a bad night for the Rangers. Carolina and Buffalo went to OT with Carolina winning which moved the Hurricanes into 7th with 71 points and Buffalo within two, while having three games in hand.  The red hot Leafs also beat Philly to get within three points of the Rangers.  We keep saying this every night, but the pressure only builds on how important tomorrow’s two points against Ottawa are.

  • Avery only getting 7:54 of ice tonight was awful coaching by Torts as he was going more than any other forward.
  • Ryan McDonagh left the game with what is being called a wrenched knee and is listed as day-to-day
  • The loss drops the team to 14-16-3 at home.


Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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Del Zotto (Wrist), Williams (Neck) Hurt In Whale Win

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When the season began the expectations for Michael Del Zotto coming off an excellent offensive rookie season were very high.  The plan was for him to remain a top four defenseman for the club, and be the power play quarterback, but that plan has failed for this season.  It has been a tumultuous sophomore season in which he struggled with his play on the ice and then his confidence.  Things got to the point where the Rangers sent him down in early January to work on his game and while he was better when he came back, he was still not where he needs to be.  With the Rangers trading for Byran McCabe over the weekend they decided to send Del Zotto down to Connecticut to work on his game and get plenty of ice time.  It appears that plan might be out the window now as well.

Per Mitch Beck at Howlings Del Zotto was slashed on the wrist during tonight’s game and did not return to action.  After the game he was wearing a splint and had the hand wrapped.  The hand/wrist will be evaluated by a hand specialist today so there should be more information available at that point.  Hopefully it will be good news and there is just bruising, but always have to be prepared for more costly news.

Also injured in the game was Jeremy Williams who was hit into the boards during the first period and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.  Also via Howlings, the initial reports on Williams are good and he was said to be joking with teammates.

Wishing the best to both players as the Rangers injury curse for 2010-11 just continues to spread.

Categories : Injuries
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The New York Rangers had good news at practice today involving a trio of their walking wounded.  Marc Staal and Ruslan Fedotenko were able to participate fully in practice and both are possible additions to the lineup tomorrow against Minnesota.  Marian Gaborik was also able to skate and practice today for the first time since last Friday and says he has been feeling better the past few days.

Per Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants the decisions on Staal and Fedotenko will be made tomorrow morning while coach John Tortorella has already ruled Gaborik out of the lineup.  If Staal returns it would be a huge boost to the defensive core and would likely mean Steve Eminger would be back in the press box as the healthy scratch, but Matt Gilroy could also be a possibility.  Staal has not played since February 22nd against Carolina due to the knee injury he sustained on his first shift of the game.  Staal attempted to practice on Monday in hopes of playing against Buffalo, but had a setback and missed last night’s game.  The fact that he made it through the full practice today is a good sign, but with three games in four nights they could wait an extra day to bring him back if there is any concern in the morning.

With Fedotenko all signs point to him being back in the lineup tomorrow as he recovers from aggravating his previous shoulder injury in his first game back last week.  The addition of Feds to the lineup is very important to the way the team forechecks and the aggression they play with.  Those things are contagious and the Rangers have really gotten away from them for long stretches of games lately and hopefully watching Fedotenko do it will rub off on the rest of the club.

Where Marian Gaborik is concerned the cautious approach is the best approach.  That he was able to participate in practice is a great sign, but the real test will be tonight/tomorrow to see how his head responds to the work.  If he is able to avoid the problems he had when he tried skating last week it will be another step in the process to him returning, though I would still not expect him back in the lineup in the immediate future.

Brandon Prust also took a maintenance day to let all his ailments rest a little before the team plays three in four nights.

For quotes from the players be sure to check out Ranger Rants where Andrew Gross does a great job as always.

Categories : Injuries
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