Posts tagged: Petr Prucha

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.

Can We Talk About Petr Prucha? I’ve Been DYING to Talk to You About Petr Prucha!!

The general pulse of the blog and its readers is that our beloved Petr Prucha has been treated almost as unfairly as Chad Pennington (sigh).  While the circumstances have maybe changed the last several weeks with his regular insertion into the lineup, it does not change the fact that the Rangers brass sorely mismanaged this former 30-goal scorer’s development during his most critical years.  

The criticism in regards to Prucha has usually been his defensive zone awareness and being rather easy to knock of the puck.  While these are valid points, one simply has to watch this young man play the game of hockey and immediately see the value he brings.  His work ethic is second-to-none; I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve watched Petr Prucha coast to a loose puck, and even then I still think I’d have plenty of fingers to spare.  That effort alone is enough to warrant an everyday spot in the lineup.  You cannot overemphasize putting pressure on defensemen and the ability to create turnovers in the offensive zone, something I believe the Rangers sorely lack.  And if thats not enough for you, just simply look at the numbers: in his first three NHL seasons (not including this year), Prucha has averaged just under 70 games played, 20 goals, and 35 points.  Regardless of  a player’s physical stature, you cannot replace his ability to find ways to put points on the board.  Prucha’s most productive days was when he played on the top 2 lines, a spot where the Rangers coaching staff should find ways to insert him.  Perhaps a spot on the anemic power-play (tonight excluded) wouldn’t be such a bad idea….

With his recent success, it seems as if Petr Prucha will become a regular once again when the Rangers take the ice.  An important question to ask now is whether or not the Rangers are simply showcasing Prucha in the coming weeks to set him up for a trade.  If my writing above has taught you nothing, I would be strongly against any move of that sort.  My reason is the following: two seasons ago, a Rangers team lacking an identity and in need of a spark traded for LA Kings spark-plug Sean Avery.  The dynamic of the team changed almost immediately, with the Rangers playing more inspired and intense hockey.  The following season, after struggling early on without the services of Avery due to injury, the return of Avery to the lineup again fueled the Rangers to another playoff run.  All other circumstances regarding Avery aside, and while I am in no way comparing Petr Prucha to Sean Avery, the “addition” of Prucha to the Rangers may be the light this talented but misguided team needs to find itself and become the team we all know they can be.  Only time will tell if Prucha can deliver on this, or if Tom Renney will keep him in the lineup long enough for him to prove it.

And I’m Back

I’m back from my vacation, and I have learned a few things:

1. It is really depressing when you fly from 90 degree weather to 30 degree weather.
2. I get really tan really fast. No, really, I look a different race right now.
3. Getting a total of 15 hours of sleep over 7 days is really not the smartest thing to do.
4. You only win at the craps table when it’s crowded.
5. I like losing at craps.
6. Cruises really are the best vacation you can take, I highly recommend them.
7. For some unknown reason, I did not have cell service in Aruba, but I had cell service in the middle of the Caribbean with no islands within 200 miles.
8. Duty-Free liquor could possibly be the best deal ever.
9. You really do get offered weed twice an hour on any Caribbean island, it’s not just Jamaica.
10. The new JetBlue terminal at JFK is great.
11. New terminal, same painfully slow baggage claim.
12. All Hail Petr Prucha!

I would like to thank Mike Axisa from River Ave. Blues for looking after the site while I was gone. He did a fantastic job.  If you haven’t heard of River Ave Blues, it’s the top Yankee blog out there. Check it out.

Update: For some unknown reason, whenever I post something, it comes up as a post from Mike. I’m trying to figure out why.

Update: Problem solved.

Game 40: Rangers at Capitals

There’s nothing quite like four consecutive off days in sports. Football players enjoy that and more every week, but no one in the other three major sports enjoys such a regularly scheduled break (not counting the All-Star Break, of course). Baseball players are lucky if they get four off days a month. All the little aches and pains had a chance to heal this week, and the coaching staff had a chance to tinker with the game plan.

The Rangers’ are going to need every bit of the energy they’ve conserved over the past week, because the Caps are surging (9-1-0 in their last ten) and boast the conference’s best home record at 16-1-1. Alex Ovechin has 11 goals and 15 points in those last ten games, including two goals and an assist when these two teams last met a week and a half ago. He’ll see plenty of Marc Staal again tonight.

Petr Prucha will be in the lineup again tonight, and deservedly so. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t link to this Larry Brooks piece about the friendly Yanks-Red Sox feud between Paul Mara & Chris Drury.

I’m going to be flipping back and forth between the Blueshirts and Colts-Chargers tonight, so the updates will be infrequent. Enjoy the Game.

Update (8:11pm): Petr Prucha for MVP.

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

Prucha pays off

Petr Prucha returned to the lineup last night after a 10 game ride-the-pine streak, and he injected some much needed life into the squad. He stays with the play and attacks the net unlike anyone else on the squad, and only Nik Zherdev is as creative with the puck. His goal 49 seconds into the third frame brought the Garden to its collective feet, and chants of PE-TR PRU-CHA rained down from the blue seats.

The Hockey Rodent adds more:

Yes, he’s been stymied by netminders all fall. Prucha may well be guilty of gripping the stick too tight(ly). But even when he fails, he brings the arena to its feet because what he does is in such sharp contrast to Tom Renney‘s bland menu of meat and potatoes formations and five in the picture.

Variety is the spice of life, baby. Prucha better be in the lineup on Saturday, when the Blueshirts head south to take on the Fightin’ Ovechins yet again. There’s zero excuses if he isn’t.

Game 39: Rangers vs. Isles

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.

Game 37: Rangers vs. Caps

After a surprisingly successful west coast trip, the Rangers are taking on the Washington Alexanders Capitals tonight. They will look to build on what has to be a confidence boost from last week: two wins in the LA area, and a dominant third period against the Sharks where they were one break away from tying the game.

Corey Potter was returned to Hartford, which points out that I clearly made a mistake when I said that players cannot be reassigned to minor league affiliates during the roster freeze. Apparently they can. With Potter in Hartford, I still won’t get my wish for Kalinin to get the Prucha treatment.

It also looks like Fritsche and Prucha will be the scratches, again. Fritsche hasn’t played since Nov. 30, and Prucha since Dec. 7. Combined they have played in 26 games this year. But considering the road trip, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have no qualms with the forwards playing tonight.

This has to be the slowest day of the year in the business world. I’m the only one on my floor (that’s right, floor) at the office today. I should be out early and home in time to do in game updates.

Update 7:08pm: Same lines as the last few games. No surprises there.

Update 7:12pm: You know, I was looking at that injury report, and I forgot that Tom Poti was on the Caps. I have to admit, as much as I didn’t like him, he got a raw deal in NY. He was touted as the next Leetch, and the Rangers gave up Mike York (fresh off a 30 goal rookie season) for him. In retrospect, that deal wasn’t so bad.

Update 7:13pm: Wow, what a pass by Zherdev. What a trade that is. I loved it from the beginning, and this kid is going to be a superstar. 1-0 Rangers, Naslund from Zherdev and Gomez.

Update 7:18pm: Hank looks strong tonight, nice save on that mini 2 on 0.

Update 7:22pm: You know, I have a bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier cologne, but after that commercial I don’t think I’m going to use it anymore. And Kalinin was on the ice for that goal. +1 for him! He’s now -15 on the season.

Update 7:25pm: Wow. What a shot by Rozsival. His play is picking up. He needs to shoot more. And as I write this, they score again! Theodore is not a good goalie anymore. The second goal was Rozsival from Drury and the third Callahan from Drury and Dawes. This is just a raping right now. But remember, the Rangers were up 4-0 on Philly earlier in the year and barely won that game. Goalie change. Johnson in net.

Update 7:36pm: The Rangers are just beating the Caps to every single loose puck. They look real hungry today. I like it. It looks like someone lit a fire under their ass.

Update 7:38pm: If not for a bad hop, that would have been 4-0. The Rangers are just all over the Caps so far. But let’s see if they can keep this up for the entire 60 minutes, which seems to be a problem for them. 3-0 Rangers, end of the first.

Update 7:57pm: Theodore back in net, apparently Johnson is sick. Just put pucks on net.

Update 8:02pm: Nice series by Hank. And on that Dubie shot, it looks like Johnson got his stick on it. If he did, that’s a real nice save.

Update 8:04pm: What great passing by the Rangers, and what a move by Callahan, that makes it two on the night for him. Callahan from Dawes and Drury again. That’s three assists for Drury.

Update 8:08pm: The Caps have now been outscored 11-1 in the past four periods. That can’t be good for morale on that young team.

Update 8:11pm: I agree with Micheletti, the PP does look so much better when Rozsival shoots. He has a cannon.

Update 8:18pm: That one deflects off Rozsival. Nothing he can really do about that. 4-1 Rangers. Ovechkin gets the goal, assisted by Backstrom.

Update 8:22pm: They needed that stoppage, they got outplayed for a long time. Let’s hope that was just a blip and not the usual 2nd period let down.

Update 8:28pm: Good kill by the Rangers. That was needed.

Update 8:30pm: 4-1 Rangers after two. Good period, they had a little blip in the middle, but recovered nicely with a good kill and then drawing a penalty at the end of the period. The PP carries over for about a minute.

Update 8:50pm: 4-2 Rangers, what a deflection by Fleishman. Fleishman gets the goal from Backstrom and Laich.

Update 8:53pm: Wow. Theodore just stood on his head. He just kept them in the game.

Update 8:57pm: Zherdev is playing a hell of a game. He is far and away the best Ranger skater tonight.

Update 9:02pm: So much for consistency. They look flat in this period. 4-3. This game shouldn’t be this close.

Update 9:05pm: Wow. What a save by Theodore. He looks like a different goalie this period. What did he eat in the intermission?

Update 9:07pm: This is real sloppy. That penalty was a good penalty to take by Girardi. And what a terrible pass to send Kozlov on the break.

Update 9:09pm: Huge kill by the Rangers there. They really needed that.

Update 9:12pm: Why am I not surprised that they blew this lead? Too many miscues. Bad pass by Dawes. 4-4, Ovechkin unassisted.

Update 9:24pm: The Rangers just gave a point to the Caps, that might loom large in April. What a terrible third period. To OT we go. Or should I just say shootout by now?

Update 9:27pm: I thought the Rangers were playing the Caps, not the Habs. Rangers give up 5 straight goals, and snatch defeat from hands of victory. That’s all for tonight folks.

Thanks to Mike A. from River Ave. Blues for the shout out tonight.

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.