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Posts tagged: Chad Johnson

Thoughts On A Mixed Start for the Whale

The start of the hockey season also meant the start of the regular season for the Rangers affiliate, the CT Whale. The first pair of games produced a 1-1 record as the team lost 6-3 to Adirondack, after which the Whale rebounded with a 1-0 shootout win over Wilkes-Barre. Several players with Rangers hopes stood out over the first weekend’s play, and not all for the right reasons. Here’s a quick look at some of the notables;

The Good

  • Chad Johnson made the very most of his first start. After the Whale lost their first game it was Johnson who was charged with holding the fort and he did so in spectacular style. Making 41 saves to earn the 1-0 shutout/shootout win Johnson immediately has a leg up on his competition. Given his uncertain status over the summer Johnson’s performance couldn’t have been better timed.
  • Kris Newbury. Is he a ‘tweener’? Is he a career AHL’er? Newbury has a lot of NHL experience and at times has proved useful to the Rangers too. However he has never had the offensive impact in the big league like he has in the AHL. An opening night hat-trick last Saturday was followed up by being one of the more active Whaler players in the 1-0 win on Sunday. A great start to the year for Newbury and he offered a reminder to the Rangers brass what he can do.
  • Carl Hagelin. Over the first two games he may have been scoreless but a +1, to go with 6 shots and being a constant presence offensively, Hagelin has made a solid start. If he keeps the shot count up he’ll put up the numbers too.

The Bad

  • Cam Talbot will have wished for a better start than to concede 5 goals on 23 shots in his first start of what figured to be a timeshare in CT, especially given his solid preseason. With Johnson following that up with his 41 save shutout Talbot couldn’t have wished for a worse start personally.
  • Ryan Bourque and John Mitchell will be expected to be key players for the Whale, especially if both want to force promotion to the Rangers this year. Bourque started -2 with just a pair of shots to his name while Mitchell is already a -3 for the year despite notching an assist. Both players will look for better luck this weekend.

 The Ugly

  • Wade Redden’s season opener couldn’t have gone worse; the veteran blueliner came off the ice a -4 and has already taken two penalties this season to boot. A key (the key?) part of the Whale blueline while he remains Rangers property, Redden will need to be better if this team intends on making noise this season.

Next Up:

The baby Rangers face a pair of familiar foes this weekend. First up is a trip to Albany to face the Baby Devils on Friday night while Saturday night sees the Whale entertain Bridgeport as the baby Islanders come to town. Both games are divisional match-ups in the Northeast division as the Whale will seek to make it three losses in a row for the Devils. The Whale will look to bypass the Sound Tigers (who have the same record as the Whale) over the weekend too. Two wins would make it a solid start to the year for the Whale (especially given last year’s start) and would be especially impressive given the high amount of new talent being incorporated into the line-up.

Rangers Re-Sign Chad Johnson

Per CapGeek, the Rangers have re-signed RFA goalie Chad Johnson to a one year, two way deal.  Johnson will make the league minimum of $525,000 at the NHL, and $85,000 at the AHL level.  Last season was an off year for Johnson after bouncing between the Rangers and the Wolfpack the year before and posting relatively solid numbers.  Last season Johnson split time in net, posting a 2.72 GAA and a .901 SV% in 40 games.  Johnson had a very slow start in net, but finished relatively strong to get his numbers back to respectability.

Many, including myself, did not expect Johnson to be back this year.  The Rangers have a lot of goalies signed in the system, with Johnson, Scott Stajcer, Jason Missiaen, and Cameron Talbot all inked for this upcoming season.  One thing is sure, there is going to be a lot of competition amongst these four for the AHL spots.  The “losers” of that competition will wind up in the ECHL.

Thoughts and Musings; Jagr Anyone?

Thoughts and Musings time once again. As we get deeper into the Rangers’ off season more and more rumours and players names will get circulated. If they do, we’ll discuss them. For now, put up with me.

Let’s not pussy foot around: Jaromir Jagr. If Selanne can do it, I sure as hell believe Jagr can. He can make plays and if he has kept himself in good condition then he can still be a 50 point player for an NHL club. The question for me is dollars. If he truly just wants to return to the big league (don’t forget he was the first NHL player to earn $100m) then he’ll play for a sensible amount. He makes sense for the Rangers. He can help Gaborik and do not forget the chemistry he and Dubinsky had. Don’t think he can help Dubi go to a higher level now he’s maturing? Think again. Jagr makes sense short term.

I’m revising for end of year exams, the first of which is a week today. Study is not going well. Twitter, the Rangers and my dog are significant distractions!

Ryan Callahan is a 50 point player whether the Rangers bring in a Jagr type vet or not. He’s becoming one of the top 10-20 all-round players in the league all things considered. What are those things?  Physicality, leadership, effort, two way ability, skill, hustle, defensive conscience, hitting and attitude.

Chris Drury; I will personally donate a small amount from my personal ‘fortune’ to charity should you choose to retire. That is all.

So how was the World Championship for our Rangers? Mixed. Stepan has really kicked on and it will have helped him. McDonagh will benefit from the experience as will Kreider but it was another ‘mixed’ occasion for Gaborik. He needs to take a big deep breath this off season before heading back to NYC.

I’ve given some thought to someone’s recent idea of moving Brian Boyle. If a team is willing to give up something good to get him, I’d consider it. I like him a lot, love his size and dedication but I’d rather Richards-Stepan-Anisimov down the middle and get something for Boyle rather than waste him on the 4th line. If you can get a good pick or prospect for him, do it?

I need a holiday, preferably soon. Why can’t the Rangers play in July/August?!

I am repeatedly amazed at the ability of Sean Avery to be a newsworthy sports athlete in spite of his sport. He hasn’t been newsworthy on the ice for a good while yet here he is being a huge topic of conversation once again this past week. I’m more intrigued to follow his post NHL career than his current one and I’m a big Avery fan.

I think Mike Del Zotto has a bounce back year next season (lord does he AND the Rangers need it). He would instantly solve a big headache for the Blueshirts if he can find his form once more. This team is defensively better equipped now, to allow him so leeway too.

Who is the most irrelevant Ranger of the season? Jeremy Williams or Chad Johnson?

Speaking of Chad; been nice knowing you kiddo. You were still worth the low pick that we gave the Penguins. 6 games played, 2.59 GAA, .911 save percentage… not bad pick up, was worth the ‘risk’. Yes, I think he is not re-signed.

So what position do the Rangers draft this June? Do you think they draft up or down or stay pat?! I’d like to see them move down and accumulate assets (picks or prospects) unless there’s another ‘can’t pass up kind of guy’ falling to them.

The curious case of Vinny Prospal. How much will he ask for to return? He wants to come back, and you have to assume he knows he’s not a priority. If you can have Jagr and you already have Fedotenko and Prospal – who do you choose of the three? One or more? Depends on which prospects the Rangers think are ready. I don’t think Prospal or Feds have a contract any time soon, that’s for sure.

Please, Rangers fans, no one suggest this summer the idea of another season of Nik Zherdev. Thank you.

 

AHL Review

The Hartford Wolf Pack (or Whale, you choose) has had a mixed set of results over the past few games but the positive news is that key Rangers prospects have started to turn in good performances after quiet starts.

The Weekend Set

Last Friday saw the Wolf Pack lose 3-2 to The Devils affiliate in Albany. The Pack however did get a point as they took the game to overtime. The game featured two firsts. First of all, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen got his first goal in North America while another first saw Wade Redden get his first goal (on the power play no less) in the AHL. Unfortunately, neither first was enough for the Wolf Pack to get the 2 points.

The Wolf Pack returned to action the next night, once again on the road, this time taking on the rival Bridgeport Sound Tigers who are the Islanders affiliate. This game was a tight defensive affair which the Pack edged 2-1 on another goal from Zuccarello-Aasen, which saw prospects Pavel Valentenko and Evgeny Grachev get the assists. The first Pack goal saw ‘banished Rangers’ combine as Tim Kennedy and Wade Redden assisted on Jeremy Williams’ second goal of the season. The game also featured strong goaltending from Chad Johnson who stopped 21 of the 22 shots he faced.

As is usual in the AHL, the Pack had a 3 in 3 nights stretch and played Sunday against the Providence Bruins, once more on the road. This was a strong victory for the Pack who despite being heavily outshot got a 3-0 shutout victory. Despite Kris Newbury’s 3 assists, Dane Byers 1+1 and Jeremy William’s 1+1 the stand out player for the Pack was young goaltender Cam Talbot who saved 41 shots to get the win. Other than 1 period of work last year this was Talbot’s first full game at the AHL level and what a first it was. The tall, 6’3 goaltender will have definitely put himself forward for more starts on this evidence.

Midweek Slump

This Wednesday the Pack played their 4th game in 6 days and the result wasn’t pretty. The result was a 5-1 loss at home to Norfolk which, according to reports, was underpinned by poor effort all round. This was another game where the Pack was heavily outshot, this time 36-25. The Packs lone goal was scored by Tim Kennedy who appears to have slotted seamlessly into the Hartford side. The loss brings the Wolf Pack’s record to 3-2-0-1 after 6 games leaving them 2nd in their division, behind Portland.

After 6 games a few players have started the year well offensively. Kris Newbury has 8 assists after 6 games, Dane Byers has 2+4 in 6 games, Jeremy Williams has 3+2 in 6 games while a certain Wade Redden is 1+5 in 6 games and appears to be playing good offensive hockey. Key prospects Evgeny Grachev, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen and Dale Weise all have 2 points so far. Norwegian forward Zuccarello-Aasen has improved in the past few games and has looked more comfortable on the smaller ice, getting 2 goals in his last 4 games.

Bad Break

Dale Weise, after breaking his left hand, will have surgery in New York on Friday and will be out 4-6 weeks. Given the injuries on the Rangers and the solid start (2pts in 3 games) Weise had in Hartford the timing of his injury is bad for himself as well as the organisation. Weise will hope to get back as soon as possible to avoid dropping down the depth chart.

Training Camp Preview: Goalies

Training camp is just around the corner, and each Monday here at Blue Seat Blogs, I will be previewing each position in camp, including the incumbents, the new guys, and the guys just trying to make a name for themselves before being sent to Hartford. This week, we look at the only position that is (hopefully) set for the next two years at the NHL level, the goaltender position.

Henrik Lundqvist: The incumbent, current face of the franchise, and top-five goalie in the league. Lundqvist has been the backbone of the franchise in the post-lockout NHL, and will hopefully continue to do so for the next decade. In Lundqvist, the Rangers have one of the most consistent goalies in the league, who will most likely see his fare share of All-Star appearances and build upon his already three Vezina finalists. Last year, Lundqvist put up a record of 35-27-10, with a 2.38 GAA and a .921 SV%. With more rest coming, Lundqvist should be able to build on those numbers, and hopefully not burn out at the end of the season, like he has in the past few seasons due to starting 70 games a year.

Martin Biron: After last season’s debacle at the backup position, the Rangers identified that they need a capable, veteran backup that can spell Lundqvist for 20 games this season. Signed to a two year deal at $875,000 per year, Biron’s job may appear to be simple, but the Rangers haven’t had a capable (and consistent) backup since Kevin Weekes. If Biron can put together a .500 record, with a GAA under 3.00 for 20 games per year the next two years, then it will be the single most important signing of the offseason.

Chad Johnson: Johnson played well in his four games last season, putting up a 2.35 GAA, which is unfortunately overshadowed by the Rangers W-L record during his stint in net (1-2-1). There is simply no room for Johnson at the NHL level, but the Rangers are hoping he can put together a good camp, and carry the Hartford Wolfpack in net. Johnson struggled at the end of last season, but it may be due to jet/train lag from traveling to and from Hartford to go wherever the Rangers needed him to go. Dos-Nueve will likely start in Hartford, and hopefully can develop into a solid and reliable goalie. With the starting position seemingly filled for the next decade, Johnson is probably going to be best served as a trade chip.

Cameron Talbot: The recently signed Talbot is entering camp as the #4 goalie in the system. Talbot played for a very weak Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons, posting a solid final two seasons that led to the Rangers signing him. Talbot will definitely be in Hartford next year, probably serving as the backup for Chad Johnson. Talbot will likely be the first goalie in camp sent to Hartford, but he is definitely going to show up motivated. In the best case scenario, Talbot gives Johnson a run for his money, forcing the coaching staff to take a longer look at him before sending him to Hartford.

The goaltender position isn’t going to change much in the next few years, as Lundqvist will continue to be the backbone of the Rangers. It is the Rangers greatest strength, but can also be their greatest weakness if Biron doesn’t fulfill his duties. The backups and prospects will come and go, but when you have The King in net, you tend to look at goalie prospects as trade bait.

And I’m Back, Lisin Cut From Russia

Sorry for the lack of posting this weekend. There wasn’t much to talk about in Rangerland, and I was in Saratoga and Cooperstown for a bachelor party. Now that I’m back, with my voice and dignity still in Saratoga, there is a little Ranger news to post about, mostly involving the upcoming World Championships.

Enver Lisin, who seems to be having a difficult year on the ice, was cut from Team Russia (s/t to Laurie Carr from Beyond the Blueshirts for breaking this). Lisin was cut a few hours after Team Russia’s last tune up game, a loss to the Czech Republic.

Also, Chad Johnson was named to Team Canada for the World Championships. Mark Messier, the GM of Team Canada, added the young goaltender two days ago. Johnson is the second goaltender on Team Canada.

There is also a little news on the Ryan McDonagh situation, but that requires a whole other post. Expect that one tomorrow. For now, I need to catch up on work, emails, and attempt to find my dignity and voice.

Johnson Back to Hartford

Miika Wiikman called up for the day, Chad Johnson returned to Hartford, presumably to get some playing time in. This is as per CapGeek.

Yawn.

Johnson Back, Vally Down

Chad Johnson is back with the Rangers, who resumed practice today. Steve Valliquette has been sent back to Hartford, in the 132nd round of the 2010 Great Goalie Shuffle.

Hank Out Tonight

As per Andrew Gross’s twitter, Chad Johnson will get the start again tonight, as Henrik Lundqvist will be out with a stomach flu for the second game in a row.

Update 7:00pm: Ales Kotalik and Donald Brashear are scratched again. Strong trade rumors swirling, as there was a 35 minute delay for Tortorella’s pregame press conference.

Zaba Down, Johnson Up

I think I’m just going to copy and paste this post, and the Johnson Down/Zaba Up post, every time it happens. But hey, the great goalie shuffle of 2009-2010 continues.

Think the Rangers pay for their gas?