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Category: Around the League

2014-2015 Schedule released

Yesterday the NHL released the schedules for the 2014-2015 season. As noted on Saturday, the Rangers will open the season in St. Louis, and have their home opener three days later against Toronto. In between that, the Rangers will face Columbus, and then face the Islanders two days after their home opener, giving them a three-in-four and four-in-seven to start the season. If you’re going to have a five-in-seven, it’s best to do it in the beginning of the year when the legs are fresh.

The Rangers have their next three-in-four and four-in-seven in November (Leafs, Oilers, Penguins, Avalanche) and then another three-in-four to close out November into December (Flyers, Flyers, Lightning). All together, if I counted correctly, the Rangers will play 10 three-in-fours. The Rangers also play the majority of their home games (10) on Sundays.

The preseason schedule is here.  The Rangers will play six games, three at MSG. Oh hey, look at that, September and October games at MSG. It’s been a while.

Rangers open season in St. Louis; Play Toronto in home opener

The NHL has announced the openers and home openers for the 2014-2015 season, and the Rangers will open the season on Thursday, October 9 in St. Louis. They will face the Leafs on Sunday, October 12 at MSG, marking their home opener. The full schedule will be released tomorrow.

What the Rangers could learn from the Minnesota Wild

This game is humaaangous big

This game is humaaangous big

The first round of eliminations typically brings some surprises and, regardless of your team making the playoffs, a few disappointments. Fans who watched the Minnesota Wild edge out the Colorado Avalanche certainly found a new bandwagon to hop on. With the Rangers still in it, fans in the metro area may not have taken notice, but there is good reason why some glory coming to the state of hockey should be celebrated.

The Wild, well.. some have speculated (ahem, Kevin and myself) they would be swept straight out of the second round. And who knows, maybe they do go down in five games, but until then the bandwagon seems to be going strong. It’s hard to deny that watching Spurgeon in round 1 tie the game with 2:27 to go to take Game 7 into OT (heart palpitations, anyone?) and then having former Islander Nino Niederreiter win the series 5 minutes later wasn’t exciting. I was jumping around and I have zero feelings for either squad. So why should anyone be on this bandwagon aside from their obvious perseverance?

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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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