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Posts tagged: Michal Rozsival

Accountability, Thy Name is Rozsival

The one thing John Tortorella brings to the table is making his veterans accountable for their actions on the ice. The first player reprimanded was Nikolai Zherdev. In what is sure to become an on-going occurrence, Tortorella made his second veteran accountable for his actions. This time, it was struggling defenseman Michal Rozsival.

Did any of you notice that Michal Rozsival did not see the ice in the third period? I didn’t watch the game, but it was brought to my attention. Also brought to my attention was that Rozsival had a chance to lay out Ovechkin in the first, passed up on it, and got saved by the buzzer as Ovechkin broke in alone on Hank. That is just one incident that probably sticks out in fans’ heads, but it is just one of several bonehead plays by Rozsival since preseason that has made him the new whipping boy ’round these parts.

Tortorella, who I guess had grown tired of seeing Rozsival mess up all the time, benched him in the third period. This move takes guts, as Rozsival is one of two veteran defensemen charged with helping the rookies adjust to the rigors of the NHL game. But, this move also needed to be made. Rozsival has been atrocious since the preseason began. He has not played a physical game, playing more like a pussy(cat) than a hockey player. He has been horrible at the point on the PP, to the point that a 19 year old has taken his spot. He turns the puck over, and is often out of position in the defensive zone.

Even Wade Redden, who was horrible last year, has been pretty solid defensively so far this year. But Rozsival doesn’t appear to be able to adjust to John Tortorella’s system. It just makes you wonder what will happen if Rozsival doesn’t find his game. Will we be seeing Corey Potter or Bobby Sanguinetti sooner than expected? Will that quest for a 7th defenseman be a little more rushed? There are still some intriguing names out there. Rozsival needs to find his game, and quick.

A Look at the Defensive Pairings

With Michael Del Zotto officially making the team, I thought it would be interesting to look at defensive pairings. Who fits well with who? Let’s take a look:

1st pair: Staal-Rosival

Ideally, your first pair is your best. You have a good offensive defenseman, and a strong shutdown d-man. This combination gives the Rangers just that. Staal is the Rangers best defender. He has the potential to shut down one side of the ice. He’s an All-Star for years to come. Michal Rosival, however, has been struggling, and looked absolutely awful in the last preseason game against the Caps. But, that’s exactly why I put him with Staal. If he makes a mistake, he has Staal back there. Will this limit Staal’s offensive capabilities? A bit. But that’s what Gilroy and Del Zotto are for. This is not the best first pair in the NHL. No where close. But, it’s solid.

2nd pair: Gilroy-Girardi

I really debated where to put the rookies. I settled on Gilroy and Girardi for a couple reasons. One, Girardi, even with his preseason struggles, is a solid defensive defenseman. Gilroy, while solid in his own end, is a tremendous offensive player, who will look to lead and join the rush. He showed that during the preseason. This combination combines offensive and defensive players. In a defensive pair, you want a combination of both. This is a nice 2nd pair.

3rd pair: Redden-Del Zotto

Yes. Wade Redden as a third pair defenseman. It’s true. That’s where he belongs. I expect him to take a leap forward in his play this year–he really improved once Torts came along. He may not be the offensive player he once was, but he’s not awful as a defender. Del Zotto has shown great offensive instincts, as well as a good understanding of positional play. Having a veteran like Redden to learn from would be very beneficial to MDZ. If he gets sent back to juniors, I would put Semenov or whatever defenseman they sign off the scrap heap in this spot.

The Rangers defense core is solid. Not great. Solid. They have an emerging young star in Staal. Two really promising rookies in Gilroy and Del Zotto. Girardi, Rosival and Redden round out a solid group. I expect good things from all of them this year. What do you think of the defense core, and what are your ideal defensive pairings?

So Who Gets the ‘A’?

With the departures of Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund, the Rangers are left without their two alternate captains from 2008-2009. As the 2009-2010 Rangers roster begins to take shape, who will be taking up the leadership role alongside Chris Drury? What qualifies someone as a leader of the team? Locker room presence? Of course. Handling the media? Definitely. Tenure with the team? Probably. Leading by example? Definitely.

Usually this conversation begins with the longest tenured Ranger. With Blair Betts gone, the longest tenured Ranger is none other than Michael Rozsival, who is entering his fifth season with the team. While most Ranger fans will cringe at the thought of Rozsival with an ‘A’, I actually welcome the idea. I am one of the few who supports Rozsival, granted that contract is a bit much, because he does everything mentioned above. He definitely was more accessible than Scott Gomez last season, and although he is prone to the lapse every now and then, he doesn’t take a shift off. He definitely played through the rehab of his hip this past season, and that shows guts. Playing with a dysfunctional hip is damn near impossible.

It is obvious that Tortorella will be leaning on Rozsival heavily next season, especially on the powerplay (for the love of all that is holy, SHOOT!), and I get the feeling that this season will be a great one for Rosy, matching up to his 07-08 campaign.

But what about the other ‘A’? Following the Torts line of thinking, it will probably go to one of the young guns. I’m guessing one of Staal, Dubinsky or Callahan will get it. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess Dubinsky, who became Torts’ workhorse after taking over, will get the first shot with the other ‘A’.

But Dubinsky is just 23, and entering his third season. If he’s not ready to wear the ‘A’, maybe one of Gaborik or Higgins will be wearing it.

Drury with the ‘C’, and Roszival/Dubinsky with the ‘A’s? I see nothing wrong with this.

Dreger: Rangers in Top Three for Heatley

As per Blueshirt Banter, Darren Dreger has reported that the Rangers are one of three teams (Sharks and Oilers) in the final running for Heatley. This is the second rumor we have heard about the Rangers closing in on Heatley. Again, the players rumored to be involved:

The players involved are Heatley(contract plus $4 mil bonus) to the Rangers for possibly Dubinsky, Stepan(on top line at Univ. of Wisconsin as a freshman),Voros(they like the “Neil Type”),and Rozsival.

There has to be a draft pick or two going each way to make this work. The salaries going each way work (Voros – $1 million, Rozsi – $5 million, Dubi – roughly $2 million after he resigns). Personally, I would prefer Zherdev goes to Ottawa in lieu of Dubinsky, I have grown rather attached to Dubinsky, but to get that go-to sniper, I wouldn’t exactly say no to this deal. It’s a bitter-sweet deal, but a good one nonetheless.

Rangers NTCs

As draft day nears, there are always “ideas” of trades, especially of the large contracts. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at who the Rangers have given no-trade clauses (NTC) and no-movement clauses (NMC). Information courtesy of NHLSCAP.com:

  • Chris Drury: Full NMC
  • Scott Gomez: NTC – has 3 teams he will not accept a trade to.
  • Wade Redden: NTC – has 8 teams he will not acept a trade to.
  • Michael Rozsival: NTC – has 8 teams that he will not accept a trade to.

Essentially, everyone other than Drury is moveable. Is it likely that these guys will be moved? No. The player with the biggest chance of being moved is Rozsival, but that is also highly unlikely.

This is just food for thought while everyone comes up with their wild trade scenarios.

Finals Thoughts and a Recap on a Season on the Brink

I allowed myself to decompress for 24-48 hours after the Rangers season officially ended to talk about what happened.  Much like a legendary player being asked to retire when he’s ousted from the playoffs, you have to sift through your emotions before you give an honest assessment of things.  100% agree with Dave that the better team won this series, but ironically, I thought the Rangers were the better team for the most part in Game 7.  The game itself was a microcosm of the the Blueshirts season and series:  strong to start, treading water in the middle, and plagued by an inability to score and create chances in the end.  This team truly gave their all in the final game though, and that makes the sting a bit more bearable.  Now that the smoke has cleared, it has become obvious to me (and hopefully all of you) that John Tortorella got the most out of a team that has seemingly zero offensive firepower, and the fact that he got them to claw all the way into the playoffs says a lot about the type of coach he can be for this franchise.

So now that the sting is starting to subside, lets take a look back on the highs and lows of this season, and what’s to come from the 89 games:

HIGHS

-The Blueshirts got off to a fantastic start, going 10-2-1 in the month of October and staking themselves to a huge early lead in the Eastern Conference

-Three players had their numbers retired: Harry Howell (3), Andy Bathgate (9), and Adam Graves (9)

-Tom Renney and his stale style of hockey were finally replaced by John Tortorella’s aggressive attack, making for a much more efficient and relatively exciting Rangers team to watch.

-The Rangers re-acquired Sean Avery off waivers from the Dallas Stars, adding the edge that the team needed down the stretch.

-Henrik Lundqvist gave no doubt to the fact that he is easily one of the top 3 goalies in the world today

-After falling out of the playoff picture in late February/early March, the Rangers made a remarkable turn around, headlined by John Tortorella’s coaching, to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference standings.  The team had several key wins down the stretch to jump into the playoffs.

-Nik Antropov and Derek Morris were acquired via trade at the deadline, and provided some size and stability to their respective positions.

-The combination of Blair Betts and Frederik Sjostrom (throw Hank in there if you’d like) emerged as the best penalty killing unit in the NHL.

-While maybe not necessarily a high, Markus Naslund provided exactly what was expected of him: a 20-25 goal season and consistency up front.

LOWS

-The start of 2009 brough no joy to the Rangers, as they started to collapse under the Tom Renney regime.  The low-point was highlighted by a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars, and ultimately would signify the end of the Renney era.

-The tragic death of top-tier prospect Alexei Cherapanov cast a shadow over the Rangers future.

-Nikolai Zherdev’s did not provide the 30+ goal output that many believed it would, and the youngster crumbled in his first post-season

-The offseason acquistion of Wade Redden was nothing but a complete disaster.

– Michael Roszival’s absurd contract extension (mainly its length) is beginning to rear its ugly head, and the combination of Redden and Roszival’s salaries and contract length will plague this franchise for years to come.

-The power-play never amounted to anything, under both coaches, and has been the most pressing issue since the lockout ended.

-An inability to provide consistent offense or any offensive threat whatsoever doomed this team as the season progressed

-Leading 3-1 in their opening round playoff series, the Blueshirts fell apart when it mattered most, a series headlined by the suspension of John Tortorella for Game 6

-Versus continues to cover the NHL

WHATS TO COME

-Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Lauri Korpikoski, Sean Avery, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi will be the core of this team under the John Tortorella regime.  The new coach must also find the right players for his style of play, as it became obvious that the current group cannot provide the type of play Tortorella would like to play.

-Blair Betts, Frederik Sjostrom, Colton Orr, and Nik Antropov MUST be re-signed.  Betts and Sjostrom combine to be the best PK tandem and 4th line in the league.  Orr is the best fighter in the NHL, and you still need at least one of them on your team.  Antropov provides much needed size and scoring touch going forward.

-Markus Naslund, with only one-year remaining, should be dealt somewhere.  The aging forward, once considered the best two-way player in the NHL, did not thrive in Tortorella’s system.

-Time for Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to finally step up and take the reigns as the elder statesmen on this team.  The honeymoon is over boys.

-Say goodbye to Paul Mara (regretably), Nik Zherdev, and Derek Morris.  In addition, Sather must find a way to part ways with either Redden or Roszival, either through a buy-out or trade.

-Its time for the Rangers projects and farm system to step-up and become elite players in the league.  This includes players currently on the team (who have now played in enough tight playoff series) and players in their farm system (who up until this point have done nothing but be talked about).  History shows that free-agent/trade acquisitions don’t do it for this team, and the home-grown talent must finally rise to the top.

-If they are going to keep him for the next 3 seasons, the organization must get on the league’s case about the officiating bias towards Sean Avery.  While he is no saint, the abuse this guy takes on a nightly basis is absolutely absurd.  Game 7 was just an example.  Generally speaking, the officiating around the league in general must change, as these ticky-tack calls are making even the most die-hard hockey fan’s head spin.

-While no fault falls on him, Henrik Lundqvist must find a way to be better than spectacular come playoff time.  I’m talking god-like, all the time.  If you want to know what I’m looking for, see Giguere for the Ducks and Khabibulin for the Lightning.

-The power-play can no longer be the Achilles heel of this team.  Either through someone currently on the team stepping up or by acquiring someone via free agency or trade that can FINALLY do it themselves, the Rangers must learn to capitalize on the opportunities provided.

-Whatever the makeup of this team comes to be, they have to find a way to be consistently good all season long.  The continuous ebb and flow of the Rangers the past few seasons has come back to haunt them in the playoffs, as the lack of home-ice advantage has made things very difficult.

Whew.  I’m sure there are plenty of things here that plenty of you agree/disagree with.  I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things that I missed and will think about later.  It was a crazy season for so many reasons, and to try to cover it all would take weeks and months.  I’d like to hear about what you all have to say about the Rangers season, and what you think should/shouldn’t happen as the organization moves forward.  Either way, this has been a very enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to adding thoughts and insight to a team I love so much.

Game 79: Rangers at Boston

I’m real late with this, sorry. I have a work function I have to go to and I was prepping for that.

Harry Corey Potter is back down in Hartford, Michael Rozsival is back. Florida lost last night, so the Rangers remained in 8th place.

1-0 Boston, Wheeler gets the goal off a deflection.

Rozsival Out 7-10 Days

As per Andrew Gross, Michael Rozsival will be out 7-10 days with a lower body injury. The results of the MRI on his left knee were not made public, but based on what we know (left knee, 7-10 days) you have to assume it’s just a strain, maybe a mild sprain. Anything more serious and he would be out much longer.

The Rangers have been very lucky on the injury front so far this year, there have been no real serious injuries, with Mara and Rozsival being the most serious of the injuries to date. Knock on wood.

Michael Sauer has been called up as his replacement for the time being. According to Torts, Sauer beat out Corey Potter, Brian Fahey, and Bobby Sanguinetti (Potter and Sangs have been called up previously, Fahey would have to clear waivers) for the spot with his recent solid play at Hartford.

Alex Auld Owns the Rangers

Simply put, he does.  He is 3-0-2 with a slightly about 1.00 GAA against our Blueshirts. He put up a solid performance in net, perhaps helped by the Rangers failures on the PP, which is just under 19% now under John Tortorella. That’s a 5% increase in effectiveness from the Tom Renney era. The current 19% would put them in the middle of the pack in PP efficiency, whereas the 14% puts them in 29th. So regardless of the failed opportunities in last night’s game, the PP is still successful.

There weren’t many glaring holes in the Rangers game last night, just the ineffective powerplay. A few positives from last night’s game:

  • Wade Redden has been outstanding lately. Sure, every now and then he will make the wrong decision to pinch, but he has been joining the rush and creating offensively. Argue all you want about the contract, but that isn’t his fault.
  • I like Tort’s aggressiveness with pulling Hank with over a minute to go. It shows he will pull out all the stops to win a game.
  • Marc Staal, if not already, will be one of the top defensemen in the league. At such a young age, he has shown a mastery of the defensive game in his own end, and is now starting to show up on the offensive end. I am looking forward to seeing how he matures as he enters his prime.

With the Rangers and Penguins losses, there are no changes in the standings. The Rangers will need 5 more wins to make that 94 point cutoff that is believed to be the playoff cutoff. With Buffalo seemingly out of the race, Florida would have to go 7-3 in their final 10 games to match the 94 points. So, we should all be rooting for any team playing the Panthers, regardless of who it is.

The Rangers still hold a game in hand on the Habs and the Pens. The Habs have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rangers, and the Rangers have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Penguins. In the current standings, if the Rangers win their game in hand, they will slide up to the 5 spot, destined for a first round matchup with the Flyers and the hot Marty Biron.

It looks like Michael Rozsival will not be ready to go for tomorrow’s game, and Michael Sauer has been called up as a replacement. The oft-injured 21 year old is enjoying a nice season, putting up 6-16-22 in 59 games for Hartford this year.

Rozsival hurt, Sauer recalled

Michal Rozsival was seen limping around with a knee brace after the game yesterday thanks to a Sean Donovan check, and chances our he’ll be out of action for at least a little while. He’ll be getting an MRI sometime today, and will almost assuredly miss Tuesday’s game against the Wild.

No one in Hartford will be able to replace Rozy’s 22:00-plus quality minutes per game, but Michael Sauer will get the first shot at it. The 21-year old from Minnesota has played in 59 games for the Pack this year, notching 6 goals and 16 assists to go with a impressive +19 rating. At 6′-3″, 215 lbs, he also offers a nice amount of size.