Three to watch

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The Rangers are already at a stage when every player is subject to a closer look, but given the recent changes, here’s the three I’m most interested in monitoring tonight against the Maple Leafs.

  • Jaromir Jagr: As Tom Renney said the other night, when No. 68 is back to full strength, the Rangers as a whole soon should follow. With Michael Nylander kicked back to the third line and Petr Prucha stepping in at left wing, does the team’s premier forward display more signs of life?
  • Sandis Ozolinsh: Hardly a surprise. As I already said, given the debacle that was the end of last season, the defenseman is on shaky footing with Rangers fans to begin with. He needs to get off to an encouraging start tonight — whatever that means — to be afforded some slack once he returns to the Garden on Wednesday.
  • Nigel Dawes: Buried on the fourth line when he has played, the rookie now gets a shot alongside a crafty playmaker in Nylander, and a grinding, dig-it-out right wing in Jason Ward. Does he make the most of the opportunity? If he doesn’t, he might be back in Hartford before long.

    I want your takes on all three. And it better be on my desk by 8 a.m.

    Or not. That’s fine, too.

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    27 Comments

    1. Tom Renney and this entire Ranger team is one giant collective pussy. Hossa is the most useless player in the NHL and it is a sham Orr sits every night while this piece of trash plays. Obviously this team isn’t getting the job done. Night after night guys like Jagr and Nylander are getting run while any semblance this team has of a policeman sits. It’s only a matter of time before Jagr goes down with an injury again after getting run time and time again by other teams that have no fear of retribution. The NHL is a fraction of what it used to be and this Ranger team doesn’t even come close to Ranger teams of the past. It’s a giant group of sissies and only a matter of time now before someone gets hurt for the rest of the year. All to get a useless guy like Hossa or Betts 3 minutes of ice team which could be better well served with someone who actually has a pair of testes.

    2. This team needs to be called out in the media for it’s lack of grit and toughness. Or will we just have to wait until an injury and the meida playing the Monday morning quarterback role they so relish.
      Changing lines. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s still the same group of heartless junk, rearranged. This has to be the most boring team in the NHL to watch.

    3. Nothing like Sam “Sugar Coating” Rosen, Joe, and the NY Ranger coaches talking to the fans like they’ve got the brain power of a salad bar, trying to make this team sound like it’s an exciting machine.

    4. And oh yeah, it’s not just me bored by this brand of hockey. Half the ice level seats the Leafs are empty. Pathetic.

    5. I agree with you, Mike. But you’ll never get the media to call out the lack of toughness. The media guy who runs this blog is one of the biggest fans of Renney, Hossa, and Ozolinsh.

    6. One of the dumbest things ever written. They were outshot 18-3 in the 3rd and OT, and Henrik stones them in the shootout, and this moron blames the goaltending.

    7. SAM- Lundqvist needs some positive influence.

      He have now a saved somewhere from 19 to 21 straight SO attempts, he last goal against where by Richards in Tampa last season, can’t remember if Richards attempt where 1/2/3 in order, but its somewhere between 19-21.

      You should cover this angle, its defenitly a record, and could be one that becomes really hard to beat in the future.

      And it doesn’t seem like anyone will beat him soon either!!!

      Ola

    8. I know it’s a cardinal sin to criticize the “King” but he really is giving up goals that he would have easily saved last year.

    9. Don’t laugh. Ozolish played good tonight.

      Still to many defensive breakdowns. Miscommunication on who to pick up..

      they went into the shell in the 3rd period and barely hung on.

      Lundqvist looked fine…….

    10. 1. Nigel Dawes showed tonight – not only with his goal but with his consistently tough play in deep in the offensive zone – why he not only deserves to stay in NY but should be given a spot on the top two lines. Why not learn from the past mistakes of trying to make Holik and Rucchin into scoring line centers and have Cullen do what he does best and center the third line. Then that line gets to remain an offensive threat while Cullen plays the aggressive two-way hockey we got him for. Stick Dawes with Shanny and Straka, and leave Jagr with Prucha and Nylander – or some combo of these top 6. And roll four lines, while you’re at it. Dont wear out your over 35 guys. (All that was just one point!)

      2. Hanrik is not missing saves he would have gotten to last year. The league has figured him out – shoot high. Someone should run a stat on how many top shelf goals he’s given up this year. Especially stick side. He goes down so early its not funny – watch him. If he doesn’t improve on it soon, we’ll be cheering on Al Montoya by Christmas. No wonder they dont want to trade him. In addition to that, the forwards and entire team actually paid attention to defense last year. This year that hasn’t been the case. Hank gets hung out to dry, and when he cant save the defense lioke he did last year, every mistake ends up in our net.

      3. Keep it clean here. guys, and show a little respect for Sam. He provides us with basically 24 hour team coverage that is in depth, insightful and on the money. How long do you think he’d last at his job if he went in the papers and started slamming Renney? His approach is a professional one – he knowd his job is to get us information, not his opinion. If he abuses or goes too far with the latter, then we’ll never get the former. Frankly, I think the bigger papers should have their beat writers doing this for all the teams. how awesome would it have been to have the guy on the Mets beat updating a weblog on game days during the playoffs? Seriously, show some respect and be civil, don’t hide behind your keyboard. Having this blog is a privilege, dont get it taken away.

    11. Peter — great points.

      And, as for Ozo, he played mediocre at best. His defense is so shaky. Hopefully he’ll get better, and get some more time on the point on the PP with the first unit.

      The whole team makes so many inexplicable cross ice, goal-mouth passes, it is pathetic. And they can’t play run and gun, loose hockey. They just can’t maintain it. Every time play gets wild the puck ends up in the Rangers net. At the beginning of tonight’s game they tried to stay calm, keep on defense and give a tough forecheck. It worked. Renney needs to have better control of the reins during the game.

      Sam, thanks for the blog. You’re nothing like Rosie O’Donnell.

    12. Hossa was one of the best players on the ice tonight.

      The man can’t get a point to save his life, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t play well. He led the team in takeaways despite such little time. He had a hit, he had a few shots on goal. Hollweg played really well with such little time on the ice, and Dawes, well, very pretty goal, very good game throughout.

    13. Ozolinsh was probably our best defenseman tonight. I understand it’ll take more than one solid game to win people over, but give the guy a little credit. If he was mediocre, the rest of the defensive corps was sub-par. Ozolinsh was actually covering for Ward’s gaffs during the first period.

    14. Ozo also looked pretty good tonight with some good defensive plays, and Lundqvist is definitely letting in soft goals.

      Last season he stole games.
      What game has he stolen this year? When our defense lets him down he lets in goals. That’s not the Lundqvist we had last season.

    15. 1) Someone has got to go after the Tuckers and Janssens or Jagr will not make it to christmas. Perhaps send Holly or even Orr out there with Jagr every now and again. Heck, anyone with a short fuse.

      2) The Leafs are a poorly constructed team (cept for a few of those kids) but they took the body and took over the game. The Rangers not only have no response, but they get worn down and start running around. The Devils exposed the Rangers in the playoffs last year and every team has followed suit.

      3) I just went to the wolfpack site and besides Lessard (who is not NHL fodder) and Purinton (not a good fighter, but can be crazy) the rangers have no one in their professional system who can act as a deterent. Unless they teach jessiman how to fight.

      The answer is… team toughness???? Well…

      J. Ward, Betts, Hall, Hossa, Orr have got to start playing like cannonballs or else they should all be subject to upgrade. These guys are either too slow to get there or they’re just not taking the initiative.

      Sam: If you’re looking for positives, here’s a big one…

      The Rangers blocked a ton of shots, tonight. Very impressive in that regard.

    16. I agree with Mike that Hossa is the most useless player in the NHL. Last year he would have lost out to Arnason, but that guy is now playing well at Colorado. As long as Hall is out there with Hossa, he is doomed, since Hossa can’t make a pass or keep a play going. If Hossa were a second baseman, the team would never get a double play.

    17. “Hanrik is not missing saves he would have gotten to last year. The league has figured him out – shoot high.” -Peter

      A big majority of the goalies in the league plays the same style as Lundqvist. The book on em all is – suprise – shoot high!

      In been this way the last two decade, since goalies started using the butterfly. The problem is the angles/areas on the ice we are letting people shot from. That combined with the fact that Lundqvist aren’t 100% of course. Though I don’t belive for a second that people have “figured” him out. You don’t have to be related to Einstein to figure where to shot on a goalie with Lundqvist style, or any other goalie in the league today…

    18. Joe and Mike,

      I’m not quite sure what hockey game you guys were watching, but it must not have been the Rangers-Leafs game. First, Hossa was one of the best guys out there, even though he didn’t have a point; an honorable mention to Ozolinsh, who actually looked like a defensemen last night. Second, while the Rangers weren’t tarring and feathering the Leafs, they certainly played a tough game and earned a win yesterday.

      Also –and I’m not sure if either of you have realized this or not –the NHL has changed. No longer will you see tough, banging hockey. And if you do, the team that’s hammering the opposition into the boards will spend most of the time in the penalty box. Not to mention, the league refs seem to have a bug for the Rangers and have been calling lopsided games against them(just watch Tucker’s hit from behind on Rachuneck, which didn’t get as much as a second look). The goon hockey of the 90s is officially over. Teams need to be lithe and agile to succeed. This said, I don’t think the Rangers are either quite yet, but they at least have potential.

      Lastly, Mike, if you think you’re such a hockey aficianodo, then why don’t you try to manage a blog like this with daily postings and almost hourly updates? And while you’re at it, come up with enough fodder to finish an article for print in a large-circulation daily newspaper as well. If you do manage to all this, please do enlighten us all with your site, so I can drop by an post some bone-brained comments about how you’re in love with Renney and are the second comming of Rosie O’Donnell.

    19. TDCHI–You are an expert in “bone-brained” all right. why don’t you read the excellent Blueshirt Bulletin today.

      Dubi writes,”On defense, Sandis Ozolinsh played well in his season debut, yet he still managed to be on the ice for three goals against as part of a defense that was still shaky in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Karel Rachunek, who has been simply awful all season, made a colossally bad decision ”

      Ozolinsh was on the ice for 3 of the 4 Leaf goals, and he was minus 1, with zero shots on goal, and 1 hit.

      And anyone who says that Hossa was “one of the best guys out there” as you did, is really a bonehead. If you are trying to suggest that Hossa was better than Shanny, or Nylander, or Ward, or Dawes, or Hollweg, etc. then you are clueless.

      I think that Sam would rather have some differing opinions rather than your constant apple-polishing.

    20. Joe – there were five other guys on the ice with Ozolinsh, each of whom was equally if not more culpable in those goals being scored. I’d be happy to bash Ozo if he deserved it, but he played a solid game, which is something you clearly missed. Compared to last season’s sub-standard performance, Ozo had a stellar game. This doesn’t mean I’m picking him as my favorite for the Norris, it just means he is due a bit of credit for a decent performance after getting booed out of the Garden last season(and for very good reason as well, might I add) and comming off of major surgery. Next, Hossa had one of the most solid games he’s had all season. And did I say he was “the best” out there? No. There’s a big difference between “one of” and “the best.” He had a solid defensive game, played the puck well and wasn’t a liablity on the ice. And frankly, as a diehard fan, I read many Ranger postings over the course of the day, one of which is the Blueshirt Bulletin. As for your assertion of “apple polishing” I’m a bit flumoxed, as I could care less about apples, polishing or your baffling notion that the combination of Ozo, Hossa and Renney are the sole contributing reasons this team isn’t in first place. Frankly, I think you’re a hypercritical fan that’s more interested in the bandwagon bashing of players you percieve as week for some asinine reason, rather than gauging their game-to-game play and offering constructive criticism. How do you like them apples.

    21. “Compared to last season’s sub-standard performance, Ozo had a stellar game.”

      So, if a player goes from atrocious to mediocre, you’re ecstatic. That is ridiculous. Set the bar real low, and then claim that he surpassed expectations. Ludicrous. So, I guess when your postings go from clueless to semi-clueless, we should then be happy.

      So, if Lundquist had given up 8 goals a game last year and now was allowing 7 per game, you would say that he was “one of the best guys out there”, or “he had a stellar game”. This shows what a joke your acceptance of the crappy performances of Ozo and Hozo is.

      also, you called it “the goon hockey of the 90’s”. If you think that the hockey of the 90’s was “goon hockey” you are reallly clueless. The hockey of the 70’s with the Broad St. Bullies, the Big Bad Bruins etc. was 10 times more filled with brawls as the 90’s. But then I didn’t expect that you would know anything about hockey history.

      Try telling the 18,000 fans at MSG that “they are hypercritical fans that are more interested in the bandwagon bashing of players they perceive as weak for some asinine reason,” the next time they tell Ozolinsh to bug off. Giving playoff games away to the rival Devils is not an asinine reason, and you’re in the small minority in thinking otherwise.

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