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Archive for Michal Rozsival


His First Day

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So what does Tortorella get today when he comes to practice? Tortorella gets a team that is in free fall, a team that is 2-7-3 in their last 12. He gets a team that is currently 6th in the East with 69 points, but just 2 points out of 9th, and 4 points out of 10th.

He gets a team that is 29th in the league in scoring, at 2.33 G/G (Nashville is last). He gets a powerplay that has been god awful at 13.8%, good for 28th in the league. In short, Tortorella gets a team that relies on holding their opponent to 1 goal a game.

Tortorella is the exact opposite of Tom Renney. He is an in your face guy, and most importantly, will hold the high priced guys accountable for terrible play. It looks like the high priced guys knew this was coming, because Gomez and Drury have been playing well lately, and Rozsival and Redden have been better. Yes, Redden has been better. He still cracks a little bit under a rush, but his first passes have been solid.

Torts is a “safe is death” guy. So expect a lot more scoring chances, at the expense of defense. I say chances because we never know if this team can actually finish. Hank will have a little bit more of a workload as a result, but that shouldn’t really worry or surprise anyone.

The powerplay should also look a lot better. Torts will get in Rozsival’s and Redden’s faces about shooting more. We may actually see Marc Staal on the powerplay, which will make all of us very happy.

Basically, expect to see the Rangers evolve into a different type of team. They will attempt to play an up tempo game. Torts was the best hire that Sather could have made.

A few side notes from the Torts hiring:

  • Torts does not like Avery. Do not expect him back with the Rangers any time soon.
  • Torts is not the savior of this team. It is still a very flawed team built by a flawed GM. Sather should be praised for this move, and the Zherdev move. But his signings have been ridiculous.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of having Schoenfeld behind the bench as an assistant. He knows this current team better than anyone within the organization, and will help Torts get acquainted.
  • Expect a transition period. The Rangers will be going from a defensive system to an offensive system, and there will be some collateral damage. Expect them to make some glaring mistakes while they adjust.

Who knows what Torts will do. Maybe he reads this blog and knows that we want Prucha in the lineup in lieu of Voros. I can only hope.

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Rangers Showing Interest In Derek Morris?

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This has been a very busy day, with Renney and Pearn out, and Tortorella in. But, according to TheFourthPeriod, the Rangers are showing some interest in Derek Morris. I love rumormongoring, but this one insults my intelligence. The last thing the Rangers need is another high priced, 30 year old defensemen who doesn’t play well in his own end (-11).

Granted, if they take on Morris and dump one of Redden or Rozsival (who have been playing much better so far, but not up to those absurd contracts), I’m all for it.

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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.


Special teams aren’t so special

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14.0% power play efficiency, second worst in the conference and fifth worst overall
12 shorthanded goals allowed, worst in the league

What in the world is going on here? The Blueshirts have had the third most power play opportunities in the league (179), yet are one of the worst teams when it comes to capitalizing on those chances (25 PPG). Even more alarming is the number of shorthanded goals they’ve allowed. Last night it cost them yet again, as Alexander the Great skated in seemingly untouched and beat Valli with a wrister from the top of the circle. It was the twelfth shortie they’ve allowed this year, double what any other team in the conference has allowed. What’s going on here?

For starters, the guys who are supposed to be doing the job just aren’t. Scott Gomez has seven power play points, all assists. Chris Drury also has seven PP points, and Wade Redden has just five. That’s just 19 PP points out of your three highest paid skaters, totaling $20,907,143 in salary this season. The Rangers’ leaders in power play scoring – Nik Zherdev, Markus Naslund & Michal Rozsival have eight PP points each – are tied for 130th in the NHL in PP scoring.

Secondly, the team just doesn’t have a true quarterback back there. Redden was that guy in like, ’05-’06, but not any more. Marc Staal just isn’t that kind of player, although Paul Mara has been decent. None of these guys are elite puck movers however, and in today’s NHL that element of the game is crucial. This is where the Jay Bouwmeester conversation starts, but would they really give up a package of two or three young players/draft picks for a guy they’ll almost certainly lose to free agency after the year because they don’t have enough cap room? I’m not sure, but it’s clear something needs to happen in this department.

The third problem is just philosophy and decision making. When a baseball team falls into a hitting funk, they go back to the basics: hit and runs, bunts, stolen bases. Hockey’s not much different. Obviously it’s much easier said then done, but when your power play isn’t doing much of anything just go back to the basics: shoot from the point and crash the net. When you try to do to much you end up doing less.

The Rangers have the ingredients to be a Cup contender. They have three lines with the potential to put the puck in the net and a fourth that will work the opposition to the bone. They have a shut down defenseman and four other solid blueliners. They have veteran experience and youthful enthusiasm up and down the roster. They have a dynamite penalty kill (best in the league at 87.8%). They have a world class netminder and a rock solid backup. All that said, this team is going nowhere until they get the power play straightened out.

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

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Game 39: Rangers vs. Isles

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The Boys in Blue have four days off after tonight’s game, so you know they want to go into the New Year break on a one game winning streak opposed to a four game losing streak. The Isles have lost 10 of their last 11 (yikes), but have franchise netminder Rick DiPietro back after a knee procedure cost him 27 games. He hasn’t started against the Rangers since Nov. 27th of last year. Of course I wrote all this before learning that DiPietro won’t play tonight due to a bum groin. That dude is the Carl Pavano of hockey.

Michal Rozsival is back in the lineup, and Corey Potter was shipped back to Hartford. Aaron Voros is a healthy scratch, with Petr Prucha taking his spot in the lineup. Here’s the forward lines for tonight’s game:

Korpikoski – Gomez – Naslund
Dawes – Drury – Callahan
Prucha – Dubinsky – Zherdev
Orr – Betts – Sjostrom

I’ll provide updates periodically throughout the game. Enjoy.

Update (7:10pm): I just saw this on ESPN; Claude Lemieux is making a comeback? Ugh. Oh, and the game is on Versus tonight, in case you’re staring at MSG trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Update (7:18pm): Quality fight right there. Versus is terrible, as usual.

Update (7:23pm): Another good scrap right there. Good hit by Dawes on Okposo, Comrie stood up for the rook. Hillary Duff is going to have to take care of her boyfriend later, Dawes landed a few good ones.

Update (7:35pm): Brutal. Just brutal. Nice giveaway deep in the zone by Kalinin. Drury’s -4 in the last four periods.

Update (8:15pm): Hey look, it’s Scott Gomez. In all seriousness, that was some killer puck movement right there. Nice job using the point men, brilliant pass by Zherdev.

Update (8:33pm): This has been one physical game. Every player is finishing every check. I love it.

Update (8:36pm): Nice deflection by Okposo there. It hurt even more coming with 12 seconds left in the period.

Update (8:55pm): Ouch. Ryan Callahan just plowed Trent Hunter into the boards, but the penalty box door opened and Hunter went face first into the edge of the partition. It was a clean hit, but Hunter’s down. Both trainers and the MSG medical crew are out on the ice.

Update (8:58pm): They brought the stretcher out, but Hunter skated off under his own power. Looks like he just had the wind knocked out of him.

Update (9:00pm): Note to Tom Renney: PLAY PETR PRUCHA!!! Nice job driving to the net by Dubie, nicer job by Prucha sticking with the play. We’re tied at deuces.

Update (9:01pm): And there’s another one. Rozy from bad angle, through the wickets.

Update (9:02pm): Good grief. Blake Comeau all by his lonesome in front of the net, now we’re tied at three.

Update (9:11pm): Amazing what happens when you win a faceoff, eh Scotty? Naslund tips in Gomez’s feed out front after a faceoff win in the zone. 4-2 good guys. Wade Redden & Dmitri Kalinin are getting the Marek Malik treatment.

Update (9:23pm): Dawes just netted one, but I missed the goal and Versus hasn’t bothered to show a replay. Chants of PE-TR PRU-CHA are raining down from the heavens. And by the heavens I mean the blue seats.

Update (9:29pm): Comrie just chopped one in with 18.7 seconds left. They always have to make it unnecessarily interesting.

Update (9:32pm): Game over, Rangers win 5-4. Rangers win. THAAAAAAAA RANGERS WIN!!!

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

Categories : Game Thread
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Game 38: Rangers vs. Devils

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I don’t know about you guys, but it took a tiny little occurance called Christmas for me to forget about that brutal loss on Tuesday night. I mean, seriously. You’re up FOUR goals with a touch more than 35 minutes to play and one of the best netminders in the planet behind you. How do you let that one go? Stupid lateral passes at the blueline were their undoing, and in overtime it almost seemed like they were just trying to hold off the Fightin’ Ovechins long enough to get to a shootout. Bah, whatever.

The Devils come to the Garden tonight, and the last time these two teams met we got a wild 8-5 offensive explosion. The Blueshirts took home W’s the first two times these teams met, outscoring the Devs 9-3 in the process. This just in though, Scott Clemmensen’s pretty good: 1.96 GAA & 0.928 SV% this month (nine games).

I’ve still got some family over for the holidays, so it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to post any updates. Enjoy the game.

Update (7:07pm): Michal Rozsival is dealing with some “personal issues” and is out of the lineup. Corey Potter is back up from Hartford to fill in.

Update (8:28pm): A rather blah first period. The Rangers appeared to be in “beat themselves” mode early, allowing a PPG on a too many men call, then yet another shorthanded job. Nice job of bouncing back with a tally of their own, but the refs need to let them play more. Way too many soft calls on both sides.

Oh, and this team needs a power play quarterback in the worst way. Wade Redden just isn’t cutting it. Jay Bouwmeester, anyone?

Update (9:13pm): Well, they showed some signs of life at the end of the period there, and it only took a 5-on-3 power play. Gonna have to man up in the third, Clemmensen’s doing his best Marty impression.

Update (9:37pm): When Dmitri Kalinin scores a goal, you just have to find a way to win. Do it.

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

Categories : Game Thread
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The Odd Joys of Even

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It’s amazing how much we as fans rejoice when we see that players are on the plus side of the +/-stat. Nick Lidstrom has been hovering around +182,000 for his career, and he’s going down as one of top defensemen of all time.

The Rangers as a team are -75. This, unlike Nick Lidstrom’s +182,000 above, is not an exaggeration. The Rangers are really -75 this season, with four, count em (Staal, Zherdev, Dawes, Betts), four players on the positive side. Let that sink in for a while….

Ok. Now that you have at least spent some time, probably about one second, thinking about that, let’s break it down further. Who’s the worst culprit?

Do I really need to answer that?

Dmitri Kalinin, whipping boy around these parts, is an astonishing -16 (see: Kalinin Count) with no goals and six assists all season. I have a higher tolerance for an abysmal +/- if the player is at least producing or has been injured (see: Rozsival, Michael).

So what can you do with Kalinin? Trade him? Fat chance. No one wants to pay $2.1 million for the 766th best +/- in the NHL (out of 769). Waiving him is the best option. Send him to Hartford, maybe he can remember how to play defense again. Let Potter replace him permanetly. It will save cap room, and provide a more stable defensive corps. I like to call that two birds, one stone.

It actually makes you wonder why Sather signed and overpaid for the Sabres reject.

Kalinin isn’t the sole offender in atrocious +/-, the other negative double digit offenders are Rozsival (-11) and Gomez (-10). In Gomer’s case, he was -7 for two games in a row. Eliminate those games, he’s a -3, which is what you expect from Gomez. As for Rozsival, refer to two paragraphs above.

Back to Kalinin, I understand that Renney wants to show confidence in his players. But enough is enough. Let Kalinin go. Please. We will do anything for a replacement that is just even.

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Yet Another Sundin Post (Updated)

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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:



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.


So what’s it gonna be Mats?

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As we sit on the eve of Mats Sundin’s big decision, one has to wonder…is this a move the Rangers have to make?  Or are they simply reverting back to their old ways, going after the the biggest available name out there, and not necessarily for the right reasons? 

One would have to think that given Sundin’s track record that this is not just a move of desperation.  Let’s face it….the Rangers offensive attack has all the symptoms of the worst types of anemia, and a big, able-bodied scorer (not named Aaron Voros or Colton Orr…sorry boys) will do wonders for an eye-gouging power play.  The presence of another fellow countryman will also help in the progress of Markus Naslund, who will be a critical cog in the machine down the line, not to mention making your franchise goalie feel a little more at home.

But at what cost do the Rangers bring Sundin in?  It will take a great deal of player movement and sacrifice to get him signed to the roster at the current asking price.  The Rangers have taken great pride in the post-lockout era in holding on to their products, whether it be players they have drafted, or exports that have grown exponentially in their system.  A commitment to Sundin will certainly mean the end of Petr Prucha (whom I believe the Rangers organization completely ruined, but thats another story for another time) and surely Michael Roszival, whose combined salary lands at $6.6 million/year.  Besides, as a Rangers fan, you can’t help but cringe every time Slats goes after that big name (see Lindros, Eric; Bure, Pavel; Holik, Bobby, etc etc etc etc etc).

We can sit here all night and argue pros and cons over the decision, but it all comes down to which situation one future Hall of Fame center feels better about.  In the end, the bright lights of New York, the prospect of playing with his notable natives, and remaining in the Eastern Conference will be enough to sway Sundin to the Big Apple. Then Rangers fans have to ask themselves two questions: how many line combinations  will Tom Renney experiment with before he gets it right, and how much will Mats donate to Big Z for #13?

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