“Congratulations on a fine return….


….now have a seat in the stands.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly how the conversation went between Tom Renney and Sandis Ozolinsh, but it was certainly the essence. After a respectable showing by the seven-time All-Star in his first game of the season on Saturday, Renney has rewarded the player by scratching him (alongside Thomas Pock) for tonight’s matchup against Florida.

I say reward because in a strange way, that’s exactly what it is. Whereas other defensemen now appear to be on shakier footing than Ozolinsh (see: Marek Malik, Karel Rachunek, and Darius Kasparaitis), Renney is using tonight to give those players a better look. The result is that Malik will be paired with Aaron Ward, and Kasparaitis and Rachunek will be paired together at the Garden, while Ozolinsh, Pock, and Colton Orr had to settle for a rigorous workout in an empty MSG Training Center.

“I want to play. I’m not, that’s fine,” Ozolinsh said. “I get to skate more laps, which not as much fun. Playing is a lot more fun.”

Of course, there is another factor here, and that is that with Renney intending to use Ozolinsh out on the West Coast, the coach doesn’t necessarily see the point in subjecting the player to what could be a difficult environment tonight at the Garden.

“He’s going to play on the road for sure. He played well enough in Toronto obviously but what I’d like to do is really get him going on the road, get him three or four games under him and get him on a roll,” Renney said. “He feels good and was disappointed, and that’s a good sign.”

As for Pock, who has sat the last three games, the scenario isn’t that different. The wildcards these days appear to be players like Malik, Karel Rachunek, and Darius Kasparaitis. If that’s the case, those are the guys that the Rangers need to see more of in the days ahead. Pock, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, and so he can afford to sit this one out.

Goofy logic? I suppose we’ll see soon enough.


The forward lines will be the same as those used in Toronto. Michal Rozsival and Fedor Tyutin will comprise the other defensive pairing.

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  1. Good call on Ozolinsh….Let him come back off the road with a few wins, some solid D and GWG. He was great against Toronto. Really pulling for this guy.

    1. we want to see him get his life in and out of hockey together

    2. This team could really use his great talents.

  2. Playing Ozo in MSG probably is a mistake.
    But if Ozo can continue as he played last game, playing him in general is a good idea. He looked to be playing well.

    Malik and Rosy are the bigger problems, I think. Kasparitis is a necessity. As for Rachunek, he’s one of the more interesting stories of the season. The Blueshirt Bulletin is convinced he’s the worst player on the ice. The Hockeybird staff seems to think he’s often one of the better players on the ice. Where will this end up?

  3. Well, I don’t know how many of you were at the home game against Nashville, but the boo’s towards Malik were LOUD. If Ozo were to play then I think Malik would absorb most of the boo’s anyway. However, seeing that this might be a “test” game for the three on the chopping block, then it’s a good idea to sit someone who seems to have a solid spot on the roster.

  4. No, namesake, Rachunek is (and should be) here to stay. He’s 27, big, mobile, and can play the point on the PP. Why in the world would we axe him? If he’s not playing up to the hype, remember that he was in europe the last two seasons; that requires a bit of an adjustment to the (new) NHL. Give him a little time, he has a lot of upside.

  5. Sam,

    With Ozolinsh, Marek Malik, Karel Rachunek, and Darius Kasparaitis as possible trade bait, who are the Blueshirts eyeing?

    My short list of top 4 defenseman with big salaries, playing for iffy teams include: Derek Morris, Adrian Aucoin, Matty Norstrom and Eric Brewer.

    Any talk of these guys?


  6. Anthony (Abev) on

    Like Evgeni said, I dont think Ozolinsh would be booed tonight with all of the boos allocated towards Malik.

    Sam, will tonight be the last time we see either Malik, Kasparaitus, or Rachunek?

  7. Anthony —
    I honestly don’t know. It won’t be the last time they play for the Rangers, but for one of them, I’d say it’s even money it’s the last game they play at the Garden (next home game is Sunday, Nov. 5 against Buffalo).

  8. I hope Darius STAYS, unless the Rangers are thinking of getting an even more physical, tough defenseman to take his place… Our “D” is obviously VERY soft and losing Kaspar would be a huge mistake, unless they replace him with someone who can hit hard and often, and actually keep opposing forwards “guessing” before just WALTZING right into our zone… Right now, opposing teams have been having their way with us, in our own zone and that disgusts me!

    As for Rachunek, he couldn’t leave fast enough, in my opinion… We have several “soft” and unspectacular D-Men like him, with Rosy and Malik, and I think Rachunek is the least talented of them all…

    Sitting Ozo at the Garden may be a smart move, as it may take him some time to get back into the fans good graces (and rightly so)… but I do believe in second chances, and he may able to really produce on the blueline for us (nad ignite the PowerPlay), which we desperately need!

    I don’t mind keeping the same line combos, but I wish they’d sit Hossa for Orr… We can use all the toughness we can get…

  9. Sam, is the lack of toughness, by that I mean lack of them sticking up for each other, a result of the fact they aren’t playing as a team or could they do good by picking up someone tough like a Janssen or McGratten type?

  10. Everything about Renney is goofy logic. Why not just get rid of Malik, we don’t need him, we got already have too many defensemen both with the team and down in the minors. And what is Renney’s obsession with Betts?

  11. too many posters here are missing a key point. the ingredient that is lacking big-time in Malik, Rachunek, Roszival, and Ozolinsh is FIRE and DESIRE. these guys play like they just don’t care. They are unwilling to hit people, to go down and block shots, to hustle like crazy, to get tough in front of the Ranger net, to risk getting a cut or a shiner. And it is contagious. their lackadaisical attitude rubs off on young guys like Tyutin. that is why they try to team Tyutin with A. Ward this year, and Kaspar last year, because Ward and Kaspar do have fire and desire, and they are willing to put their face in front of a shot, or get tough with an opponent.

    how can you have team toughness when you have 4 vet d-men who aren’t going to scare anyone except their home fans?

  12. it could be that betts is great defensivly, great on face offs, and pretty quick….and a great pk…..but i could be wrong…

  13. 47.4% on faceoffs is great? Since when is he great at anything? He is just taking away spot from Dubinsky or Immonen.

  14. Or problem isn’t too many centers on the roster in turn taking away from immonen… it’s too many wingers… why hollweg has been playing the possition rather then the wing where he’s more effective

  15. Ah, Orr in the box again tonight. Keep letting the other team run Jagr night in night out. Then we get to hear Renney scream and yell when he eventually gets hurt. It’s embarrassing to see teams come into MSG or the Rangers go into someone else’s building and seeing them get laid out and run all night. Nobody on this team even throws a hard check outside of Hollweg and Kasparaitis. Other teams will be running through the Rangers carefree all year while the big guys like Jagr and Nylander, etc get crushed.

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