Category: Around the League

An Open Letter to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Wakey Wakey shirts

Dear Hawks,

Usually, I like you. Despite growing up loving Detroit (thanks to my brother), I always thought there was something about you that was a bit charming. Maybe it’s the awesome jersey, or the great crowds you always seem to draw, or maybe it’s Patrick Sharp’s face. I can’t be sure. I certainly appreciated you last year when you took out the team that steamrolled the New York area straight into baseball season. But this postseason…. not so much.

I guess it started off bad for you. I’d begun to like the Blues cause who can’t when there’s so much American Olympic representation, including the shootout king Oshie and a kid who grew up a Rangers fan in Shattenkirk. But still, there was a respect I felt for you and an excitement I felt in what would be a gritty, tough, skilled matchup. I would love to see some nice, clean hockey played between rivals.

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End of the Regular Season Musings/Awards

John is angry

As we’ve hit the final day of the regular season, it’s time to look back and think about surprise teams, great plays and big news from around the league.  As our boys in blue look ahead to opening up the playoffs against Philly Thursday night, several teams around the league are getting their golf equipment ready and leaving hockey for the summer.  Of those teams are nearly all of the Canadian teams (except for Montreal) and a bevy of shocked fanbases. Ahead is a season reflective musings for this sunny Sunday on the East Coast.

Worst Display by a Fanbase: The Edmonton Oilers had an absolutely abysmal season, finishing with just 67 points after acquiring a new head coach (Dallas Eakins) and a new captain (Andrew Ference) in the offseason.  In an effort to show their displeasure with the team, a fan decided to throw their sweater on the ice. Twice. Goalie Ben Scrivens voiced how disrespectful that is, which it is, as it shows a lack of appreciation for all of those years that the teams before the 2014 squad had won. Scary thought: the Oilers wouldn’t even be the worst team if they played in the East. Scarier thought: when their talent clicks and they start to do well. I wish I was tech-savvy and could embed the video, instead, watch it here.

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Scouting the Playoffs: the Boston Bruins

Hockey.

Hockey.

With the playoffs on our doorstep, reminding us that our Rangers have yet to clinch a spot, it’s time to continue our look ahead at teams that we’ll definitely be seeing through late April at the very least.  Though the focus has been mostly on the west, the East is also somewhat settled up. The reigning Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Bruins, have been in destruction mode all season and don’t seem to be letting up.

The Bruins, cashing in with 113 points as of today, are making quick work of nearly everyone who comes their way. Much like last year in the playoffs, they’re a terrifying group to look at, which is useful as the Rangers come down the home stretch and need them to make work of rivals like the Flyers. With their defeat of Philly yesterday, they clinched the best record in the East and home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference finals, something that’s a huge deal as they’ve got the best home record in all of hockey.

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Scouting the Playoffs: St. Louis Blues

Your Presidents' Trophy frontrunners...

Your Presidents’ Trophy frontrunners…

Being an enthusiast of following several teams closely, it’s only natural that playoff fever has hit me a bit earlier than for my nervous Rangers do or die fan counterparts. The great part of watching several teams is that you gain a perspective which you don’t get when your head is so far gone in hating that one guy on your team or figuring out why that other player isn’t getting enough ice time. It also educates you on the other conferences and divisions which your team will hopefully see down the road in May.

Throughout this journey of a season (isn’t it wonderful to have a full season again?), we were all graced with Olympic hockey which created a perfect opportunity for the casual hockey fan to learn about other teams. Who the heck is Bobby Ryan and why are we upset he isn’t being selected? Who is Cam Fowler? What is Blake Wheeler? All of these questions led to learning and eventually seeing these guys play.

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Trade deadline day two open thread

Yesterday was one of the more active day-before-deadline days we’ve seen in a while, as several significant moves went down. Roberto Luongo went to Florida, Andrew MacDonald went to Philadelphia, and Anaheim made a few moves that left a few people wondering why they essentially swapped Dustin Penner for Stephane Robidas. There were also four goalies moved yesterday. You can read the whole breakdown here.

Meanwhile, the Rangers were very quiet as they looked to hammer out a deal with Ryan Callahan. Nothing happened yesterday or last night, so he will either be re-signed (my guess) or traded if a deal cannot be worked out.

Use this as your open thread for the trade deadline. We will be updating this post with deals as they go down, with most recent deals on top. Moves the Rangers make will be bolded.

Final update: Matt Moulson (Sabres) has been traded to the Minnesota Wild along with Cody McCormick for Torrey Mitchell and draft picks. Reto Berra from Calgary to Colorado for a draft pick. Thomas Vanek from the Isles to Montreal for Stephen Collberg and a 2014 2nd round pick. David Legwand from Nashville to Detroit. Jaroslav Halak goes from Buffalo to Washington for Michal Neuvirth and a 2014 5th round pick.

3:10pm: Rangers acquire defenseman Raphael Diaz from Vancouver for a 2015 5th round pick.

2:45pm: Boston sends a 3rd rounder to Philly for Andrej Meszaros.

2:25pm: Tim Thomas has been traded from the Florida Panthers to the Dallas Stars for Dan Ellis. Nick Schultz goes from Edmonton to Columbus for a 5th round pick in 2014.

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Trade deadline madness, day one open thread

For those of you without Twitter, today was a very eventful day as the trade deadline approaches tomorrow. The Rangers were quiet, with all focus on Ryan Callahan’s situation, but in a day where nothing much was expected, everything happened. None were on par with the St. Louis/Buffalo deal on Friday though.

The biggest trade was announced at 4:45pm EST, when Roberto Luongo went back to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias. The full list of trades is below (or here if you prefer), and will be updated as things break on Twitter. Any moves the Rangers make will be bolded, and newer trades will be after the jump.

  • The Florida Panthers Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo, with Vancouver eating some salary, and Steven Anthony.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers traded Matt Mangene, a 2014 3rd round pick, and a 2015 2nd round pick for defenseman Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders.
  • The Montreal Canadiens sent a 2014 5th round pick to Florida for Mike Weaver.
  • Dustin Penner was sent from the Anaheim Ducks to the Washington Capitals for a 2014 4th round pick.
  • That 2014 4th round pick Anaheim acquired was used to acquire Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars. The pick can move to a 2014 3rd round pick if the Ducks make it to the Conference Finals.
  • Anaheim also sent Viktor Fasth to Edmonton for a 2014 5th round pick and a 2015 3rd round pick.
  • Edmonton then sent Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild for a 2014 4th round pick.
  • The Ottawa Senators sent Jeff Costello to Vancouver for Patrick Cullen.

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A rare book review – 99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story

99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story

The best thing I can say about Al Strachan’s 99: Gretzky: His Game, His Story is that it’s different than any other Wayne Gretzky book I’ve read before. That’s not meant to be a small compliment – I’ve gobbled up what feels like a million magazine clippings, biographies and articles online about Gretzky’s life, from his youth in Brantford, Ontario to the big trade with the Kings (if you’re interested in that, check this book out), and finally to the conclusion of Gretzky’s career with the Rangers. Most of them feel very similar.

Strachan writes his book from the point of view of Gretzky’s friend, which is a weakness at times – Strachan goes over the top to defend Gretzky’s reputation – but also a strength due to the personal experiences Strachan has witnessed firsthand and heard about from The Great One himself.

The second chapter hooked me right in as Strachan describes Gretzky’s time with the Blueshirts. There are great little anecdotes about Gretzky’s crisis of confidence in his first season with the team (can you imagine that?) and the back injury that may have ended his career prematurely. Strachan also mentions New York’s efforts to acquire sniper Pavel Bure during the 1996-1997 season to pair with Gretzky, and even the club’s offer to trade The Great One to any other team in the league if he wanted to continue playing elsewhere.

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Identifying the trade deadline sellers

Available again. (Photo: USATSI)

Available again. (Photo: USATSI)

This is a unique season for the NHL. The last time there was a roster freeze for the Olympics, the unofficial trade deadline was the day before the freeze. This year, the same thing appears to be happening, as teams are beginning to make trades. The difference between four years ago and today is that unlike four years ago, this is a “salary cap correction” season.

For those unfamiliar with cap space, it is accrued over time. It is why Capgeek has a “deadline space” section for each team. As each day passes, the team accrues more cap space. Without getting into the intricate details, teams have the most cap space to work with at the actual trade deadline. That’s important because this year is one where teams desperately need cap space due to the lockout.

Due to this, we are likely going to see action at both deadlines. But which teams are sellers? The Bettman Bonus Point has blurred the lines between pretenders and contenders.

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How the 2013 free agent class has performed this season

David Clarkson’s contract looks like a disaster for Toronto

We’re just past the halfway mark of the 2013-2014 season and it’s a pretty safe time to evaluate how a player’s season has gone.  So with that in mind, let’s take a look back at the unrestricted free agent class of 2013 – specifically some forwards that could have been Ranger targets as they sought to bolster their offense.  Were these players money well spent?*

David Clarkson – seven years, $36.75 million

2013-2014 stats: 3 goals, 5 assists, 102 hits, 51 penalty minutes

Toronto would love a way out of this one already.  Clarkson has rarely been healthy, and he’s been ineffective when he has been on the ice.

Valtteri Filppula – five years, $25 million

2013-2014 stats: 18 goals, 18 assists, 12 power play points, 88 shots

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Where are they now? Rangers edition

I was casually watching (a DVR of) some Saturday afternoon hockey between the Senators and the Coyotes when something struck me as strange; no, it wasn’t that all of the Sens goals came from not-your-average offensive player, it was that Lauri Korpikoski (or as I fondly call him, the Korpedo) got an assist. “Wow,” I thought aloud to myself, as I often do in my apartment, “the Korpedo is still alive? I wonder what other Rangers are still dabbling around the West.” And so, here is my post for today…

John Tortorella, Head Coach with the Rangers 2008-2013 | Now: Canucks Head Coach

Well, duh. Whether you loved or hated Torts’ exit last summer, you definitely had strong feelings about it. Awful with the media? Yep. Kind of mean to the players in public? Sure. Known for a hardcore training camp that would kill you or me? Absolutely. But still, for his time in New York, stats prove that you cannot deny his efficiency; in five seasons, he missed the playoffs once. However, his relationship with players, the media, and his lack of a championship ring on Broadway eventually shuttled him out and on his way to the Pacific Northwest. So, how is he now? Efficient. His Canucks have 48 points, winning 8 of their last 10 with one of those losses in OT. They were a bit shaky at first but it seems that they have adjusted to the system, and shockingly for many Rangers fans, the stars are responding and thriving under Torts’ hard-nosed approach. As a fan who was sad to see him go, I didn’t miss his outbursts like he showed at MSG against Alex Edler; however, it appears these guys can handle it. Hey, maybe Torts will find Musky in Vancouver, who knows.

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