Category: Rants

Now Let’s All Take A Step Back From The Cliff

The Rangers are 1-2-1 for the season. It’s been four games, out of 82 total. Sure, the Rangers have some injuries, and some very tough injuries at that. But let’s remember, it’s been less than 5% of the season so far (4.8% to be exact). The Islanders are currently in first place in the Atlantic. The Devils are currently in last place. The Toronto Maple Leafs are undefeated after finished 29th last season. The Phoenix Coyotes are in last place. Brent Johnson leads the league in goaltender wins. Let’s put all of this in perspective for a second. It’s been four games.

Sure, the Rangers are beat up. Sure, the Rangers have looked awful for three games. It’s called adversity. Even the 1998 Yankees dealt with adversity, they started the season 1-4 before winning 125 games and the World Series. No, these Rangers are not the best team in hockey, but they are not the worst team either. Did you really think the Rangers would go 82-0? 81-1? As impressive as that win against Buffalo was, the Rangers were never going to dominate like that, especially with the injuries.

But yet, everyone and their mother is jumping ship. Let’s go over the ridiculousness I’ve seen on Twitter and in comments, with my reaction in bold:

  • Boogaard won’t fight. It’s been four games.
  • Grachev is a bust. He’s TWENTY.
  • The Rangers need Kovalev. AGAIN?!?!
  • I want Betts back. I thought we covered this last year?
  • Why isn’t Valentenko on the roster? Because he wasn’t ready?
  • This team can’t score. Neither can you.
  • This team can’t play defense. Neither can you.
  • Stepan fizzled out already. Ok, I didn’t see this one yet, but I get the feeling it’s coming.

The point here is to relax. Every team goes through this. Are the Rangers a Cup contender? No. They never were, even after all that excitement after the Buffalo game. Let’s all take a step back, and realize that the Rangers are a #8 seed at best this season. You cannot fix a team in one year, it’s impossible. The Penguins needed six years, the Caps needed five years, the Hawks needed seven years. It takes time. If you really want the Rangers to trade for a scorer, why not just wait until next year when Chris Kreider makes the team. He will be that complement to Marian Gaborik that the Rangers need. As for defense, the team has it, it just needs to grow and learn and develop. Patience is key. I feel it’s a lost art amongst many though.

The Dumbest Rumor of All Time

Let me begin by saying that I absolutely cannot believe I have to write a post about this stupid rumor. I am going to quote the asinine rumor:

Another rumor that just broke is the Rangers are considering trading Marian Gaborik to the LA Kings and signing Kovalchuk. Very interesting rumor indeed. We all remember Gaborik had wanted to play in LA going into last summer’s UFA period prior to signing in NY.

Let me ask you this: Why in the world would Sather do this? This serves no purpose in the grand scheme of things for the Rangers. Trading one superstar to sign another one to a larger cap hit? Is anyone even taking a step back to think about this? Marian Gaborik is actually the better all around player. When he’s healthy, he actually scores at the same pace as Ilya Kovalchuk. Remember, Gaborik scored at a point per game pace in Minnesota under Jacques Lemaire.

Let’s ignore the fact that Gaborik is signed to a manageable $7.5 million a year. Kovalchuk wants $10 million for the same production. Let’s also ignore the fact that Gaborik actually had more goals and more points, albeit by one in each category, than Kovalchuk. Let’s ignore the fact that Gaborik carried this team in the winter. This is the single dumbest rumor of all time. General managers do not trade superstars so they can sign a different one. It does not happen.

Let’s define what a credible source is when it comes to rumors. A credible source is a beat writer. A credible source is pretty much everyone working for TSN. A credible source is James Mirtle. These are credible sources.

Let’s define people that should never be taken seriously: Eklund at HockeyBuzz, that guy from NHLSourcesSay, or pretty much anything from Bleacher Report. If you believe anything from any of these sources, then you deserve any kind of stress or worrying you encounter.

Look, GMs are always calling each other. There is constant chatter between GMs. In this scenario, what likely happened was LA missed out on Kovalchuk, so Dean Lombardi called Sather and asked about Gaborik. Sather probably told him the cost it would take to get him out of NY (probably something like Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 1st rounder to start the conversation), and Lombardi probably said thanks by no thanks. General managers in the NHL, or any sport for that matter, talk all the time. Hockey is a business, and constant chatter is a part of the business. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say over 90% of any kind of chatter amongst GMs is just tire kicking (Note: I am just using logical reasoning here. I am not in the business, thus I am not a credible source for much of what was said in this paragraph. Thus, I made use of the words “probably” and “likely”).

I am going to give everyone some advice. When you hear a rumor, take a step back for a second, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the rumor make logical sense?
  • Does the rumor help make both teams mentioned stronger?
  • Does the rumor work under the salary cap? (check CapGeek)
  • Do any of the players involved have no-trade or no-movement clauses?
  • Does the rumor make logical sense? (This is not repeated by mistake)

By following these simple steps, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation.

Tuning out, turning off… and the Future

Being based in the UK (and the UK time zone) poses a challenge to your average European NHL fan. It requires dedication. So… I stayed up late (despite an eraly A.M. work meeting) to watch the Rangers take on Montreal. I wont lie to you though, I got the sleep that I needed all along. Why? come the 1st intermission I tuned out and turned my laptop off and went to sleep. I couldn’t watch any longer. Why you ask? I knew we’d lose. I had no faith in a comeback.

The way the Rangers played against the Habs disgusted me. I won’t go into detail about why because you all know it. Lets keep it brief: work rate, desire and a lack of offense. Thats some key reasons right there why the Rangers lost. I can handle a lack of talent but not desire and work rate reminiscent of the NYR 1997-2003.

As Dave points out, mathematically they can still do it, but despite being an optimist im telling you they wont. This team cannot win 9 of 12 right now. So what now? Im all for a high draft pick as I’ve said before but this team also has other concerns.

If the Rangers lose the next two games I’d start planning for next year. Of the final ten games they should rest Lundqvist and give Alex Auld 6 starts. This team was not helped this year by its goaltending beyond Henrik. Lets see if Auld can provide them with the back up next year that they need. Give him a real audition. I think he can be the perfect 15 start compliment to the King and solve one problem area.

Bench Redden and Roszival (I know, never going to happen) and give Sanguinetti and Heikkenen or McDonagh (apparently might be coming out of college) extended looks. Give Grachev a game or two (even if he hasn’t earnt it just yet)… Dont hold back, start the audition process now, and look to this years draft and next season.

The problem with all of this? It’s unlikely to happen because a) it means Tortorella would be putting his own job on the line because you know Sather wont take the fall for a lottery ending season and b) until the playoffs are absolutely 1000% ruled out, this team (read: senior management) wont look to the future.

But wouldnt it be good to know – ahead of camp – that Sanguinetti and co. can make the grade and wouldnt it be nice not to be the Caps 1st round cannon fodder and instead have a Seguin, Fowler or Tarasenko to plan with?

Forget 2003

Forgive me, but I have a feeling this is going to be a very unorganized rant. But, bare with me.

I’ve been reading and hearing fans, reporters, and commentators bemoan the fact that the Rangers selected Hugh Jessiman instead of Zach Parise, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Ryan Getzlaf and others. It’s true. Zach Parise would have been awesome, because he’s, well Zach Parise. Hugh Jessiman is, well, Hugh Jessiman. There’s no denying the talent dropoff. There’s no denying the Rangers made a mistake.

The funny thing about drafts, though, is that they are very unpredictable. No one would have guessed that Henrik Lundqvist, picked 205th overall in 2000, would be one of the world’s best. Same goes for Henrik Zetterberg (210,1999).

Furthermore, no one expected Alexandre Daigle, (1, 1993) to become a huge bust. Raffi Torres was picked 5th overall in 2000. Nice player, but not 5th overall worthy.

So, mistakes happen in drafts. Great players get overlooked. Bad players get picked too high. It happens. In 2003, it happened to the Rangers.

But, in the last couple of years, that’s been the last bad pick.

2004-Brandon Dubinsky/Ryan Callahan

2005-Marc Staal

2006- Bobby Sanguinetti/Artem Anisimov

2007- Alexei Cherepanov (RIP)

2008- Michael Del Zotto/Derek Stepan/Evegeni Grachev

2009-Chris Krieder/Ryan Borque/ Ethan Werek

So, the future is bright. While the Jessiman picked sucked, it wasn’t like it set the franchise back years. The Rangers are stacked in the farm system. Would the Rangers have been a better team with Zach Parise? Of course. But, they didn’t pick him. They picked Jessiman. It’s over. 2003 was a long time ago. Focus on the present and future.

Really ESPN? Really?

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I was watching ESPN. It’s a part of my morning routine. Much to my surprise, they actually covered the Pens/Caps game, despite the overwhelming Super Bowl coverage. As they were rolling to the highlights, the genius anchor has this wonderful quote:

And now to Penguins/Capitals, which features the two best in the game, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. This may as well be the Super Bowl for the NHL.

Really? Really Lloyd? The Super Bowl for the NHL? Yes, they are great players, but it’s a freaking regular season game, and there are 28 other teams in the NHL. Maybe this is why hockey isn’t on ESPN, because the anchors are this retarded. I mean really, how stupid do you have to be to say that? The NHL has playoffs too. Just because football’s biggest game was last night, doesn’t mean hockey ended it’s season. They are two completely different sports. Schmuck.

I can’t believe it’s come to this for the NHL. Good job Gary. Idiot.

Quote of the Night

This quote comes courtesy of my friend, who I was at the game with:

“We should get a refund for this game. If the Rangers don’t show up, there’s no reason why we should pay.”

Yup, that sums up last night.

Fifteen Forwards, Six Defensemen

Preface: This rant has zero organization. Read at your own risk.

You don’t have to be an avid Ranger fan to know that when Glen Sather and John Tortorella decide to send Matt Gilroy to Hartford, but retain a whopping 15 forwards on the active roster, that something isn’t right. Sure, Brandon Dubinsky is hurt, so technically it’s 14 forwards. But a third of those forwards are of the Erik Christensen ilk.

Sending Matt Gilroy to Hartford to find his game definitely alleviates the cap situation for a little while. He doesn’t have to pass through waivers when he is called up, unlike the rest of the defensive corps. But if someone could tell me why this team is retaining 14 forwards, of which 5 are no better than third liners, I would greatly appreciate it. I mean, there has to be a method to the madness. Right?

The pickup of Erik Christensen, while puzzling, isn’t a crippling move. His salary is low enough that it alone doesn’t make or break the Rangers. But when you start adding on the little contracts that are wasting away on the bench (Aaron Voros – $1 million, Donald Brashear – $1.4 million, Enver Lisin – $790k), all of a sudden you have four players making roughly $4 million to play 7 minutes a game combined. That’s almost $500,000 a minute.

The Rangers have cap issues because of the ridiculous contracts given to Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and Michal Rozsival, that much is certain. What cannot be ignored is the complete mishandling of the cap by the Rangers in the makeup of the rest of the team. In addition to the $4 million above, you have $3 million in Ales Kotalik, who can’t sustain third line time on a team that has zero scoring depth. Did Glen Sather really pay $3 million for someone who can only play on the powerplay?

Fans would be understanding of the cap situation if the team was at least balanced. But yet, there is still no seventh defenseman, which this team still needs. But as of now, the Rangers will need to put three forwards in the press box for games. As per Andrew Gross, the odd man out (aside from the injured Dubinsky and Brashear), is P.A. Parenteau.

On the bright side, things can only get better. I hope.

Panic Time!!

Let me preface this by stating that the title of the post is complete sarcasm.

In the past two games, the Rangers have been outscored 13-4. That’s pretty terrible. Actually, it’s not pretty terrible, it IS terrible. And don’t think that this is a coincidence that Wade Redden is out and the Rangers fall apart for 13 goals against. There is definitely some correlation there. But, as optimistic as I am, it has become abundantly clear that the Rangers that started the season 7-1 are not the real Rangers.

This team is rebuilding. I have said it numerous times, they are rebuilding. Rebuilding in New York is extremely tough, because you have to remain competitive while rebuilding. Us New Yorkers expect W’s, regardless of the team that is being put on the ice. In order for the Rangers to be successful this year, they needed outstanding defensive play from their veterans, and have only received that play from one player, who is now injured. Dan Girardi and Michal Rozsival have been awful, with Marc Staal not that far behind. Micheal Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy are rookies, and you have to take the good with the bad with them, not much was expected, although both have been pleasant surprises.

In order for the Rangers to be successful, they needed the secondary scoring to come alive. It hasn’t. No need to get into this one again.

They needed primary scoring. Well, one out of three ain’t bad.

Not only are the Rangers rebuilding with youngsters in the lineup, but they are rebuilding with a different system in place. The reason why the new guys (veterans and youngins) have adjusted to this so well is because they didn’t have to completely unlearn the Tom Renney system first. When you have to unlearn something, and then learn the complete opposite, it takes time and is extremely difficult. That’s why the accounting profession is so damn hard (side note, if you understand this reference, I’m impressed).

Is this current Ranger squad a playoff team? I said they are before the season started, and I still believe they are. They will hopefully make the playoffs, as a lower seed, probably a 7 or an 8. But, as the playoffs has shown, a hot goalie AND a potent offense can carry a team in the playoffs. The Rangers have both. It’s just a matter of timing at that point.

Drury / Dubinsky Out Awhile

As per Steve Zipay’s twitter, quoting coach John Tortorella:

Tortorella: Drury has concussion, Dubinsky probably out for awhile

Clearly, this is not good news. The Rangers were just physically beaten down by Calgary last night, and no one stuck up for Drury after the blindside hit by Curtis Glencross. The Rangers are a soft team, and people will continue to take runs like that at the skaters, and the runs at Henrik Lundqvist that we have witnessed entire season. You have to protect your players. Sean Avery, your comment of “He would have preferred the two points”, also per Zipay’s twitter, is just stupid. Sometimes, you need to make a stand. You can’t get two points in the future if everyone is injured.

The Rangers are lucky in the sense that they now have four days off to allow the other injured players to recoup a bit, specifically Lundqvist. It will be interesting to see who gets called up to replace the two centers. With Hartford playing a game Wednesday, we may not hear anything until then. But for those expecting Evgeny Grachev, don’t get your hopes up. His cap hit is $933,000, and the Rangers only have cap space for an $850,000 hit. Expect P.A. Parenteau, with the four centers being Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, and Avery.

Protecting Your Stars

Behind every star player, there is an intimidating force that strikes fear into the opposition. This fear is what prevents players from targeting stars. Wayne Gretzky had Marty McSorley, and Dave Semenko before him. Martin Brodeur had Scott Stevens. Mike Richards / Jeff Carter have Chris Pronger. Cindy Crosby has Hal Gill. John Taveras has Brendan Witt. Enforcers aren’t necessarily goons, but they are the big physical force that will make you think twice before laying out any of the stars.

The Rangers brought in Donald Brashear, and to a lesser extent Aaron Voros, to protect their stars. Brashear and Voros (and now Dane Byers) are out to protect Marian Gaborik, to ensure that no one takes any unnecessary liberties with one of the stars on our beloved Blueshirts. After all, if Gaborik is hurt, the Rangers are at a severe disadvantage. We’ve seen it the past week.

But what about that other star? The one that in the long term, means more to the organization than any player on the roster, and any player since Brian Leetch was forcibly removed.

Henrik Lundqvist seems to be on the receiving end of many an opposition hit lately. I say hit, because usually when running a goalie, the opposition at least pretends to avoid the netminder. But when it comes to running Lundqvist, it looks like players are lowering their shoulder and just plowing into him. They do this because there is no penalty for doing so, and I’m not referring to sitting in the box, although a few calls might help alleviate the situation.

When he was in the lineup, Brashear did nothing to punish the opposition for running their most important star. Voros has at least tried to fight. I’ve seen Michael Del Zotto, all 19 years of him, get in the face of some Phoenix Coyotes. That’s about it though.

How many times does Hank need to be down for an extended period of time before someone makes the opposition pay? Sooner or later, he’s not going to get up. Everyone’s heart skipped a beat when he didn’t get up immediately in Montreal. How many more times does that need to happen?

Someone needs to step up, it doesn’t matter who it is. If Del Zotto can face wash people twice his age, then someone else can step up and dish out some punishment. Sooner or later, Hank won’t get up.