Orr in, Dawes out


I realize I said the other day that Colton Orr was a possibility against the Flyers, but this time I’m certain of it. OK, not certain, but pretty sure.

Tom Renney said Orr’s going to play, so unless the coach is making a habit of toying with us, count on the team’s enforcer to be on the right wing on the fourth line tonight with Jason Ward and Ryan Hollweg (where Ward will return to center).

Of course, this also means that Nigel Dawes gets another taste of NHL life: a seat in the stands as a healthy scratch. I wouldn’t read too much into it. While Renney said he’s already had a talk with the rookie about some of his reads on certain plays, he also said he’s been impressed with Dawes’ play as a whole — and that the switch was also a reflection of not wanting to let Orr sit too long.

Of greater concern is the fact that Dawes played a meager four minutes against the Flyers. At that rate, you could have me out there and it wouldn’t make a difference, but that’s a challenge within the current NHL: with more penalties being called, with TV timeouts extended to two minutes, and with another two minutes tacked on to intermissions, teams are able to go to their top lines more often while a fourth line player becomes more irrelevant.

Either way, though, my guess is Dawes is back for Saturday’s game at Buffalo.

Meanwhile, some other quick hits:

* Jaromir Jagr skated for less than 10 minutes this morning and later admitted his conditioning — namely his strength — isn’t where he wants it to be. Again, Jagr said he’s still feeling the effects of not doing anything for five months.

“So at this point,” I said, “you almost feel like you normally would during the second week of training camp.”

Jagr thought for a moment. “More like the first week,” he said, then broke out laughing.

The guy might be one of the best players in the world, but he’s a total goofball.

* Not surprisingly after yesterday’s melodrama, Darius Kasparaitis is not in the lineup and is still day-to-day. As for Sandis Ozolinsh, the defenseman had a third straight day without swelling in his knee, which Renney said is a sign that he’s close to returning. The team still wants to see what the next week is like, but the Rangers could soon have even more of a logjam on defense.

Plus, there’s Brian Leetch….

I’m kidding. Kind of.

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  1. Interesting that Renney would choose Orr to be in the line-up against the Penguins of all teams…they’re pretty fast, but I guess it’s just a point of trying to get Orr in a game as you mentioned.

    In terms of Dawes, he actually had 6:46 of ice time against the Flyers in the last game…which was actually a little more than he had against them down in Philadelphia. Generally the fourth line under Renney has gotten a lot more time against teams when they’re winning (e.g. opening night when Dawes had over 8 minutes).

  2. Isn’t Ozolinsh on long term injured reserve?He is not eligible to play until 24 calender days and 10 games have passed.Ozolinsh would not be eligible to return for another two weeks-October 30 against LA would the earliest game he would be able to return

    Another issue is what the Rangers have planned for Ozolinsh.Do the Rangers place Ozolinsh on waivers and send him to Hartford to remove his salary off the cap like the Devils have done with Dan McGillis?

  3. I don´t like the fact that the coach would ( or probably will as you saying !!)replace a talented young player (Dawes !!) with a more physical force ( Orr !) mainly because I like more the way Dawes is playing the game as a hockey gourmet ! :)

    Yeah I will get a lot of critics of this but I never liked the fights because simply they are interrupting the rhythm of the game and I simply don´t see that players will get fired up after such an altercation…!!!

    As I admit that something that is preferable to have someone in the line up to guard big name players I feel it is much more important to give Dawes minutes to play to get used him to the level of the NHL…Don´t kill me but I would probably bring Dawes up to include him in of the top lines, if it is true that he is so talented as you guys over there describing him…!!! Why not let him learn in pairing him up with Brendan Shanahan !!!

    Jaromir Jagr didn´t do much since he had his surgery in the beginning of March so it is logical that he can´t be at his best after only about start playing the last two preseason games. Even a Jagr is human needing a couple of time to return to his normal level of play. So it takes a little bit of patience for another couple of time.. but like it is in big markets like New York or around the world par exemple Munich over here in Germany you never get enough time !

  4. Nick —

    Ozo is not on long term injured. He’s just injured meaning it’s basically a coach’s decision.
    But him going on waivers is definitely a possibility as well.

  5. Matthias – Orr worked hard this summer and proved in training camp and preseason that he’s more than just a pair of fists. He got faster and stronger on the puck. Just like people want to reward guys like Dawes with ice time for a job well done, I don’t think its unfair for Renney to want to get Orr in the lineup and see how much his hard work has (or hasn’t) paid off.

    As for Ozo, I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I’d like to see him get another shot. His attrocious defensive lapses at the tail end of the season and in the playoffs were an exception rather than the rule and completely overshadowed the fact that he was a huge help on the powerplay from the moment he got here. He’s never going to be any teams number 1 defensive defenseman, but if you watched him before he came here, particularly after his time in Florida, he was relatively solid in his on zone. As long as he buys into Renney’s system and Renney doesn’t play him 26 minutes a night or rely on him to kill powerplays, I’d like to see him get another shot. He’d certainly be a bigger help on the powerplay than #2.

    Sam – Your quote from Jagr about his conditioning not being up to snuff begs the question: If Jagr’s conditioning’s not there yet, why did the first powerplay unit stay out almost the entire 2 mins for all of the powerplays during the Philly game?

  6. That’s a fair question, Laurie, but my understanding is Jagr’s stamina isn’t the problem as much as it is his strength in fending guys off, using his body, that sort of thing. I realize one has at least a little to do with the other. But ideally in a power play, he’s lurking on the wing and moving the puck around, which is not as taxing. Obviously at this level everything is taxing, and two minutes is a long time either way, but that’s also a reflection of the desperation of trying to get a goal.

  7. Sam is it me or is Jagr not shooting the puck enough this season. I felt like last season he used to just throw a laser at the net. He needs to start doing that especially on the powerplay.

    Another thing concerning the powerplay. What on earth is Martin Straka doing on the point on the PP. The ideal powerplay would be:


    What are your thoughts on the current state of the PP?

  8. Sam

    Is Ozolinsh on the short term IR?Is he one of the 23 players allowed on the active roster?When the rosters were cut last week before opening night of the league and submitted to the NHL,the Rangers had 23 players with Steve Valiquette.The Rangers had to have put Ozolinsh and Ortmeyer on some type of injured reserve because they would have had more than 23 players on the roster before opening night

  9. Nick —

    Ozo IS on short term IR. He is on the Rangers 23 man roster, as the 23rd man. They opted against keeping someone else who would play right away.

  10. So basically Ozo’s salary is counting against the cap? Thankfully, that limits what they could give Leetch. (Heavens forbid.)

    As far as having Ozo play again . . .

    Very rarely do players sucessfully enter the league substance abuse program and return to the form they once had, without relapse. (See Fluery, Theo; and Stevens, Kevin).

    The only one I can think of is Ken Daneyko, but he was a stay-at-home defenseman in a highly structured trap system. And didn’t he get arrested for DUI shortly after his retirement??

    See what I am saying? This stuff doesn’t just go away. It’s not worth the risk, in my opinion.

    You’re doing a great job with the blog and your articles, Sam. You are becoming rather popular among the hardcore fans. Keep it up.

  11. Sam,
    Again, thank you for the un-paralleled insight to the Rangers world. I didn’t think Dawes did much with his icetime against Philly. In fact I thought he looked a step slow and somehwhat over his head, so to speak, against a bigger Flyer team- but he wasn’t alone. Perhaps Orr will provide another banger on the forecheck other than just Hollweg.

  12. Patrick Hoffman on

    I would assume that Henrik is back between the pipes tonight, Sam? While he was not at his best on Tuesday against Philly, he still made the saves needed to keep the Rangers close in a game where the Rangers did not deserve to be close.

    Keep up the great work, Sam. I love everything that you are doing.

    Your Friend,

    Patrick Hoffman

  13. As a sportswriter who one day aspires to get where you’re at, I’ve gotta say you’re doing a great job with the blog. Doing your regular articles is enough, but to maintain this as well as you do is a testament to how hard you must work and how much you must care.

    Addressing the post at hand, I like the move. Some people think it’s early to sit Dawes, but I just haven’t seen anything out of him so far, even in the pre-season. I saw the kid play for Hartford last season, and he looked amazing. He just doesn’t look like the same guy in the NHL.

    I wonder if he’ll be another Jozef Balej, a guy who looks amazing in the AHL, but it just doesn’t come together for him at the highest level.

  14. I would go ahead and give OZO a chance prior to putting him on waivers. We don’t know how much his knee injury had to do with his level of play at the end of last season. When we put him on the power play he sure did give the Rangers a jump, so why not give it a try again. Give him a chance and keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t relapse into his substance abuse issues.

  15. Sam

    What is Renney afraid of by not playing Pock at the point on the PP? I would like to know his answer.

  16. ozolinsh’s salary would be counting against the cap regardless of long term injury status. LTI status doesn’t take a players salary off the cap, it allows the team to spend over the cap by that amount. so with mogilny in nj, the devils can go $3 mil over the cap as long as mogilny remains on LTI. since the rangers aren’t at the limit they aren’t seeing any relief

  17. Thanks again for the kind words everyone. It really means a lot.

    A couple of quick hits: Lundqvist is indeed in net.

    As for Dawes, I think you can’t judge him by his first three games, especially when it’s just five minutes a game. I think he’s in an unenviable spot in that he needs some experience, but he’s not getting experience because he’s not playing. As far as handling the speed of the game, there’s no question he can, but it’s just little things like the defensize zone coverage where he needs some work.

    As far as Pock on the point of the PP, I’ll ask Tom, but my guess is it has to do with a lack of experience.

  18. For those saying play Bozo, get real. I have seen him play since he began with the Sharks 15 years ago. And he has ALWAYS been a poor, repeat POOR, defensive d-man. His occasional fancy play in the offensive end does NOT overcome his frequent costly, demoralizing defensive lapses.

    The proof is his performance at the end of last season. REMEMBER, he was booed off the ice by the Ranger fans. And believe me, that was NOT unusual for him. Even 10 years ago in Colorado, the coach benched him after the Avs had a lead because he could not be trusted to keep the puck out of his own net.

    It would be a slap in the face to Lundquist to force him to again play behind a porous pylon like Bozo. And the Devils series last April is all the proof you need.

  19. Hey Sam,
    Really enjoy the site. I like the little musings on Leetch every once in a while, but I am still so foggy as to his whole situation. What is the deal as a whole? Any news, anything firm? Thanks and keep up the great work.

  20. I guess to respond to the Dawes point, if he is only going to get that five minutes a game, I’d rather see it go to someone like Colton Orr.

    Granted, Orr worked hard this off-season to turn himself into an NHL player instead of a guy on skates who can fight, but he’s not considered a prospect.

    Dawes is, and he earned it based on his play in Hartford last season. But that’s the last time anyone’s seen him play well, and the point I’ve made recently is that I feel he’d be better served by getting 16-18 minutes a game in Hartford to regain his confidence as opposed to doing next to nothing for the Blueshirts.

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