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Posts tagged: Lauri Korpikoski

Game 59: Rangers vs. Islanders

With the loss on Monday in St. Louis, we could be looking at Tom Renney’s last game as the Ranger head coach. If the Rangers lose and Renney does not get fired, then we are stuck with him until the end of the season.

The Rangers are 1-6-2 in their last 9.

The Korpedo is out with an injury, so Dawes is back in. Mara is still out indefinitely.

It’s a 7pm start on MSG tonight. More later.

Update 7:03pm: Drury on the point on the PP tonight. Think it would have come to this if Sather went after Streit and not Redden?

Update 7:15pm: Wow. They can’t but a goal. Two posts in one shift.

Update 7:16pm: That was a hell of a shift that led to the goal. Nice shot by Dawes, assists from Dru and Pru. 1-0 Rangers.

Update 7:21pm: This Dawes/Drury/Prucha line is looking real good. For all you Prucha doubters out there, let’s see you get a shot off when you get a slash to the wrist. That should have been a penalty.

Update 7:22pm And they give it right back. Someone missed their man. Streit from Comeau and Okposo. I wish Streit was a Ranger. What is it with this team and giving up leads within 2 minutes. It’s absurd.

Update 7:40pm: Joe Micheletti is talking about how the Islanders have no pressure and play easier because they aren’t worried about being benched. I don’t see how this is any different from the Rangers. If your name isn’t Petr Prucha (or Nigel Dawes), you aren’t getting benched.

Update 8:00pm: Good to know the buzzer works.

Update 8:03pm: Can someone please put Staal on the PP? Please?

Update 8:08pm: You ever notice that when Hank makes a glove save, he never closes his glove? He just curves it a little bit. Between that and the heading of the puck, he’s a strange character in net. Awesome goalie, but strange.

Update 8:10pm: Is it against the rules to just say no to the PP?

Update 8:13pm: What the hell just happened? A PP goal? That’s a flukey goal, Gomez surprised him a little bit. I’ll take it, anyone will take it. Danis should have had that though. Gomez from Dru and Hank. 2-1 Rangers.

Update 8:14pm: Another header by Hank. Think Richter cringes when he does that?

Update 8:17pm: Someone lit a fire under Gomez’s ass tonight. He’s playing like the Gomez we expected.

As I wrote that update, all hell broke loose. Everyone got involved. And Prucha is taking on Bergenheim. I would call it a draw. The fans are raining down with Pru chants.

Update 8:31pm: This is old school Rangers/Islanders. Lots of scrums, some fights, good edge to this game so far.

Update 8:37pm: That was a solid period for the Rangers.

Update 9:00pm: Hank just made the save of the game on Bailey, who was left wide open in the slot.

Update 9:22pm: A PPG here would seal the game.

Update 9:27pm: Sjostrom takes the flip out of the zone from Drury to seal the game in the empty net.

Good win for the Rangers tonight. They played very well. Let’s hope this isn’t the exception to the rule. Big game against Buffalo this weekend. That is another must win. Rangers win 3-1.

SEAN SEAN….GET IN THERE SEAN!!!!

So today is the day Sean Avery presumably clears waivers and will be assigned to an AHL affiliate of some sort.  As you all know, the Wolfpack seem to be the front (and only) runners to pick-up the agitator, which will begin the chain of events that may ultimately end in #16 returning to the Big Club.  While my colleague David is mainly opposed to this, I could not be more in favor of this move.  My man-crush for Sean Avery and his legend aside, it is a necessary move for THIS team THIS season.  Here’s how it could work, and here’s why it has to work:

1. There have been few cold-hard undeniable facts for these Rangers in the post-lockout era.  These include (but are not limited to): a) Henrik Lundqvist being a top-5 goaltender in the league b) Tom Renney sacrificing offense for defense 99% of the time c) the Rangers are a better team with Sean Avery in their lineup.  The statistics do not lie: with Avery in the lineup, the Rangers are 51-23-16.  Without him, they are 8-10-3, not to mention the Rangers missing that extra “something.”  Just watch a game this season and you will know what I’m talking about.

2.  The Rangers do not have to resign all those players previously mentioned.  If this season has proved anything, its that the majority of Rangers are expendable (Scott Gomez and Chris Drury trade rumors anyone).  The only members of the group previously mentioned that must be re-signed are Big Z, Dubie, Staal, and Girardi.  While I like Dawes, Korpo, and Cally, you can find another other young player in the farm-system to come in and play their role.

3.  The Rangers would only be on the take for half of Avery’s salary, roughly $2 million per year.  When you consider this is only a minor raise from what he was initially getting with the Rangers and a cut from what they wanted to give him in the offseason, its an acceptable number.  If the Rangers choose to re-negotiate his contract, either for less years or less money, they have a distinct negotiating advantage.  Not many teams will take Avery at this point, and he probably realizes that and history shows this can be a productive marriage.  Put whatever clauses and incentives you want into the contract.  They will have the upper-hand in any contract talk they engage in.  So saving money against the cap won’t necessarily be that difficult.  They can also unload either Redden or Roszival in this deal.  While their contracts are long and fat, that’s the price you must pay for giving top-tier money for 2 players that are obviously not top-tier and bring very little to the team.  Those contracts are going to haunt the Rangers one way or another; better haunt them in an effort to make the team genuinely better.  Also, the salary cap will predictably go up, so the value of Avery’s cap hit will be decreased.

4.  The Rangers are vanilla.  As evidenced on Friday night, nobody respects this team.  You can do whatever you wish to them, and will pay virtually no consequences.  Say what you want about Avery in the locker room, but he always came to his teammate’s defense on the ice, and as an opponent, you probably always thought twice about engaging in something with one of the Rangers for plain-old fear of what Avery might say or do to you.  And if he has made the progress in his rehab everybody says he’s making, he will learn to channel his tactics in a productive manner.  He has also hopefully learn from the past mistakes he made in NY.

5.  Avery has skills.  He has better than average speed, a quick release, is tough and gritty, and can throw off a opposing team’s star player on any given night (see Brodeur, Martin; Kovalchuk, Ilya).  Enough of this Aaron Voros “poor-man’s Sean Avery” garbage and just go get the real thing.  He also puts it on the line every single night, evidenced by playing the majority of a playoff game with a lacerated spleen.  I work in medicine, and that is something that can kill you.

6. Fans (myself immensely included) love this guy.  Since the lockout, you can count on one hand the number of players that get their name chanted during a game at the Garden: Henrik, Shanny, whoever is getting their jersey retired that year, and Avery.  Maybe I’m missing a name here or there, but you get my drift.

Korpo/Vally In, Fritsche Out, Prucha Sits Again

As per Sam Weinman, the revolving door that is the Rangers lineup is getting tweaked again. The Korpedo is back in tonight in lieu of Dan Fritsche, who was invisible last game. Valliquette is also in tonight, with Hank expected to get the start tomorrow at The Igloo.

As for Prucha, he’s sitting again. I guess Voros’ presence in front of the net is worth 3 minor penalties a game. I don’t know how Prucha can keep his positive attitude while getting benched for no apparent reason. More power to him.

So tonight the Rangers again will have two forwards sitting in the press box, and the same six defensemen playing. Seriously, just waive Fritsche. What does he bring to this lineup?

Update 3:00pm: I guess the Rangers management reads this blog. Fritsche has indeed been waived (Note, this is in French):

Fritsche au ballottage

Les Rangers de New York ont placé le nom de Dan Fritsche au ballottage mardi.

Translation:
New York Rangers have placed? the name of Dan Fritsche to the ballot Tuesday. (Translation coming via Google Translate). Obviously “to the ballot” means “waived”. That should free up some cap room.

Let the Juggling Continue

As per Sam Weinman, Voros and Fritsche are in, while the Korpedo and of course, Prucha, get to sit this one out against the Ducks.

Voros, who has been pretty ineffective since, well, October 18th (3 G, 2 A since then, no goals in the last 14, no points in the last 9), serves no purpose in a lineup that is already featuring Colton Orr. You can say all you want about toughness and grit, but the fact of the matter here is that Voros is painfully slow. His best use is in front of the net screening the goalie, which he rarely does.

Fritsche, on the other hand, hasn’t played since November 30th, and has as many games played as Chris Drury has goals on the season. Other than what I read, I don’t know much about Fritsche. His career highs are 12/15/27 in 59 GP. That’s not half bad for a 3rd liner.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about switching it up every now and then to give the team a little jolt. But I think this is a little bit of over coaching by the revered Tom Renney. Sure, they were weak in Pittsburgh, but considering the circumstances of their previous game, and the road trip, don’t you think there’s a chance that they were just a bit tired? I mean, they did just go 3-1-1 on a 5 game road swing.

The Korpedo was playing very well, and had 3 points in the last 4 games. Prucha, who gets a ton of attention here, was held without a point for the previous 3 games (OH NO! LET’S PANIC!), but had 5 points in his last 9 games. He was clicking on the line with Drury and Dawes, and he was probably one of the more energetic, and less inept, Rangers out there the past few games.

I just don’t see a point in this lineup change. Please, feel free to point out something I may have missed.

The Young Guns

It’s time to get a mid season review of the Rangers present and future. Not the prospects, but the current Rangers that are considered by most to be the future of the team.

Ryan Callahan: 44 GP, 12 G, 4 A, 16 Pts, -2, 24 PIM, 127 SOG. Tied for 2nd on the team in goals (with Drury and Zherdev), trailing only Naslund (14 G). This kid takes a ton of shots (2nd on the team), and has really been playing well. As we all have noticed, he is a hustler and a grinder with a scoring touch. He may actually have a shot at 20 G this year.

Nigel Dawes:34 GP, 7 G, 8 A, 15 Pts, +5, 15 PIM, 57 SOG. Dawes had a terrible start, and even saw some time in the press box this year, something that none of us expected. His play has turned around though, and he is really clicking on a line with Drury and Prucha. He is also tied for 2nd on the team in +/-, and one of 3 Rangers on the plus side of that stat.

Brandon Dubinsky: 44 GP, 6 G, 17 A, 23 Pts, -2, 49 PIM, 110 SOG. After a hot start, Dubinsky has fallen back to earth, and hard. His goal on Saturday was his first in 19 games, and his second since October 24. He is still on a 10 G, 30 A pace, which is about on par with his performance last year while playing with Jagr. His future is probably on the wing once Anisimov arrives.

Dan Girardi: 44 GP, 3 G, 13 A, 16 Pts, -3, 15 PIM, 75 SOG. Girardi is another youngin that got off to a torrid start (well torrid for a defensemen who went undrafted), and has gracefully fallen back to earth. He is on pace to set career highs (in all of his two seasons) in assists and points. Girardi has been tagged by most as one of the three reliable defensemen on this team. He has been very solid, and that -3 is only really due to the fact that the Rangers team forgot how to play defense in December.

Lauri Korpikoski 32 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts, -3, 6 PIM, 27 SOG. Korpikoski has some great potential that was being wasted on the fourth line with the offensively challenged Betts and Orr. After his demotion, and then call up, in November, he has played well, and finally broke his scoring drought with a rip from the circle on Saturday. This kid is going to be good, he just needs some playing time.

Marc Staal: 44 GP, 1 G, 6 A, 7 Pts, +6, 30 PIM, 78 SOG. What else can be said about Staal? The best Staal not named Eric (and some day might be better than Eric), he has proven to be everything and then more than we expected. His defensive play is the best on the team by far, and his offensive skills are starting to show. Staal has been seen making crisp first passes, carrying the puck himself, and even planting himself in front of the net. The Rangers better lock him up long term. I’m not alone in looking forward to a defensive core of Staal, Del Zotto, Sanguinetti and Girardi.

Graduating from the youngster group: Petr Prucha (4th season).

Side note: I was going to include Nik Zherdev in this group, but he’s in his 5th year. But don’t discount the fact that Zherdev is the future 40 G/100 Pt player on this team. The kid is 24 and keeps getting better.

Game 41: Rangers vs. Penguins

I always get a little more excited than usual when the Rangers play the Penguins.  They are always great, hard fought games.  This time, both teams are looking to right the ship against their divisional rival.  The Penguins, losers of four in a row, have gone 5-10-1 since December.  They haven’t won back-to-back games since 11/13 and 11/15. But any team that boasts two of the three top scorers in the NHL can right that ship really quickly and is incredibly dangerous. In fact, any team that can put up nine goals in one game scares me. Yes, it was against the Islanders, but keep in mind the offensively-challenged Devils put up eight goals on our beloved Blueshirts with Hank in net.

The Rangers haven’t been much better. They are 6-6-1 since December, playing some of the most inconsistent hockey I’ve ever seen, and treading water while their other playoff opponents remain red hot. There is no Sean Avery type boost coming via the trade deadline (or via a return from injury) this year. There is no cap room, and anyone worth while (Jay Bouwmeester) is going to cost a lot more than anyone of us would want to pay (think Anisimov, Sanguinetti/Del Zotto, Callahan/Dawes, a first rounder, and whatever else Sather would have to throw in to make the cap number work) for a three-six month rental. I’m not a fan of that, and neither should you.

The answer has to come from within this locker room. That starts, and ends, with correcting the “special” teams. It’s actually come to a point where I actually pray that Tom Renney calls the ref over and asks to forfeit the power play, and just play 5 on 5. When your power play goals outnumber your shorthanded goals against by a margin of ONLY 2:1, then your team is in trouble. The only good thing in the special teams is the penalty kill, which has allowed a stingy 19 goals all season (league leader: Minnesota, 17).

I would expect more line changes after two poor efforts against the Islanders and Ovechkins, but I hope that Renney realizes that Prucha is probably the best Ranger skater not named Staal right now, and leaves him in the lineup. We shall see.

I’ll probably be doing an in game thread tonight. Keep checking back.

Update: As per Sam Weinman, Aaron Voros will be in tonight for the Korpedo. I don’t really understand this move, but I’m not a professional hockey coach.

Update 7:42: I just got back from dinner, and of course they put up a PPG. Dawes from Mara and Roszival makes it 1-0. This kill has been pretty good too.

Update 7:56: From the five minutes I was able to watch of the first period, it looks like Pittsburgh has lost its mojo. They just don’t seem to connecting or skating. They remind me of the Rangers of November/December.

Update 8:03: So the Dawes shot was a pass that banked off a defenseman and they have two PP shots on two PP opportunities. I knew that goal was a fluke. But hey, I’ll take it. In hockey, you’d rather be lucky than good.

Update 8:08: Ok I have no idea what just happened, but my VS. feed just froze. I hear the announcers going, but the image is stuck with 19:04 left in the period. Both the HD and regular feeds are frozen. I don’t think VS. can ever do anything right with their NHL games. Cablevision dropped the ball on this one. This is terrible.

Update 8:14: Why is Kalinin on the PP?

Update 8:18: It’s amusing to listen to the Marines commercials while looking at the image of Whitney with the puck on the Penguins PP early in the period.

And as amusing that was, it’s really fucking annoying that I can’t watch the game.

Update 8:23: So my VS. feed is back. I went from 19:04 left until 8:58 left without an image.

For the record, the Ernie’s Auto Body commercials are worse when there are no images. I hate that song.

Update 8:26: Wow Malkin is good. Ugly as sin, but so good.

Update 8:30: This game is moving rather slowly. It looks like both teams are in severe need of some adrenaline.

Update 8:34: What a shot by Kalinin. I hate him, but that was a rocket. I haven’t heard a ping that loud off the post in a while.

Update 8:36: Another PPG?! I need to check if hell froze over. What a blast by Mara. Gomez wins the draw clean and Mara just ripped a howitzer through Fleury. 2-0 Rangers on two PPGs.

Update 8:39: That was a stupid play by Drury. You can’t keep giving this team powerplays, especially on something as stupid as that delay of game.

Update 9:06: Note to Tom Renney: Keep playing Prucha. He hits, he skates, he TRIES! Plus, the fans love him.

Update 9:16: That was one of the prettiest goals I have ever seen this team finish. Wow. What a pass by Prucha. He can do it all folks. Fleury stood no chance. Drury from Pru and Dawes makes it 3-0, and the Crosby Sucks chants rain down from the heavens.

Update 9:23: And Therien pulls Fleury for the remainder of the PP. That’s a really interesting call. And as I write this, Drury fires for the empty net, and with no icing, Gomez buries the carom off the boards. The gamble doesn’t pay off, 4-0 Rangers. The funny thing is that this is a short handed goal for the Rangers, not against. And more Crosby Sucks chants from the heavens.

Update 9:25: Goddard just got the crap knocked out of him to start that fight. Orr rarely loses a fight. Looks like the Rangers got that shot of adrenaline about 15 seconds after I said they needed one.

Update 9:3: This is a big win for the Blueshirts. They outplayed the Pens all game. And the icing on the cake is a shutout for the King, his first of the season, and long overdue. 4-0 is your final score.

Renney: “Brain dead hockey”

After another uninspired and rather dreadful effort last night, Tom Renney laid into his squad. Via Sam Weinman:

“Awful,” Tom Renney said. “Brain-dead hockey.”

“I can tell you I’m not happy with how our team played. I’m not happy with performance from some very key members of our hockey club, who need to be better,” Renney said. “They need to step up and start taking charge of this hockey club and start playing the way they can. If we do that, we won’t have to worry about personnel changes. We’ll strengthen ourselves internally by how we choose to play. Nobody has to worry about their jobs at all. Show up. Play hard. Compete. Battle. Want it bad enough. Have some urgency in your game.”

So what “very key members of our hockey club” is he talking about? Chris Drury took a -3 last night, although one of those goals against came when he was miscast as a point man on the PP. Scott Gomez was completely invisible all night, and won only 2 of 13 faceoffs to boot. Markus Naslund? Wade Redden? You wouldn’t have even realized they were on the ice if John Giannone didn’t tell you.

Lauri Korpikoski used his speed and was all over the place last night. Nigel Dawes was hitting everyone in sight. Marc Staal was superb yet again. Ryan Callahan was Ryan Callahan. The young players were the only ones skating with a sense of urgency last night; everyone else was in coast mode. It’s frustrating to watch.

Remember this though: the Blueshirts still top the Atlantic Division, and have played poorly in December the past two seasons (combined 12-15-2 record), but turned it on after the New Year (43-25-15 after). Hopefully this holds true again this season.

Mike Axisa writes for River Ave. Blues and can be reached here.

It’s Not Just About the Money

As predicted here, Sundin went to the Canucks for more money. I couldn’t be happier. The last thing this team needed was an aging veteran who isn’t a fast skater. I mean no disrespect to Mats, who is a great player and will probably make the Hall, but that’s the disadvatage of being 37 in the “new NHL”.

The Rangers probably won out in this deal too. They didn’t have to make any absurd roster movements, they keep the core of the team together, and they get to build on two wins against good teams on the west coast.

But I digress. There are a lot of people out there who believe that Sundin went straight for the pay day. And yes, it looks like that. But Sundin didn’t sign that 2 year/$20 million whopper that Vancouver offered. He signed for one year, at the prorated $10 million (roughly $6 million). As per Pierre LeBrun, Sundin phoned fellow countryman Mattias Ohlund and asked if his presence would have an effect on the Canucks locker room. LeBrun continues to add that Sundin was unnerved by the fact that multiple bodies (Prucha and Fritsche to start, maybe going further to Korpikoski and Kalinin depending on the salary) would have to be moved to clear room on the Rangers roster. Those kinds of move mess with a teams chemistry, no matter how many times they change lines during the season.

I respect Sundin, but as for him signing with the Rangers, we say good riddance.

Yet Another Sundin Post (Updated)

It’s been a whole 12 hours without another Sundin post, so it’s about time we get one out there. Today is his decision day. Just so everyone is aware of the situation, Sundin will have to pass a physical before he actually signs.

What does that mean to the Rangers? Simple, with the roster freeze coming, the Rangers simply will not be able to clear the cap space to sign him until after Christmas. Throw in that Sundin isn’t just going to step out on the ice against the Islanders on December 29 (he does need to practice a few times with the team first), and you are looking at a first possible Sundin game in 2009.

But how are they going to clear the space? They have $1.3 million in available cap room right now. Rozsival and Redden are essentially unmoveable. So that leaves waiving players. Korpikoski can still be optioned to Hartford without passing through waivers, so him and his $1.1 million (total $2.4 million) will probably go back to Hartford. As much as we like him, it’s better for him to get first line time in Hartford than less than 10 minutes a game for the Rangers. Hopefully Kalinin and his $2.1 million will get waived ($4.5 million – $675,000 for Potter as a replacement = roughly $4.0 million). Maybe they waive Fritsche to get the cap space available to $4.5 million.

Let’s assume Sundin signs for $4 million, which is what Naslund is getting. That leaves $500,000 for a 7th defenseman. Fahey has to pass through waivers to get called up, so it’s unlikely it will be him, maybe Denisov? The roster will look something like this:

Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev
Dubinsky-Sundin-Dawes
Callahan-Drury-Sjostrom
Voros-Betts-Orr

Staal-Potter
Girardi-Redden
Mara-Rozsival

Scratches: Prucha, Denisov

Update: It looks like Sundin wants $6 million from the Rangers. With Redden and Rozsival as untradeable as Sean Avery, the Rangers would have to do some serious work, as in, trading someone we don’t want to see traded.

My opinion? Have fun in Vancouver Mats.

Update: Sundin signs with the Canucks. I’m glad this saga is over, and they didn’t have to trade people away to sign him.