Mark it down


Mark it down: November 1.

If the Rangers end up as a viable playoff team, it’s because they were able to live up to the promise of last night’s 4-3 overtime win at Anaheim. If they sputter out, it’s because what we saw last night proved to be an aberration.


It wasn’t perfect, necessarily, but in coming back twice against the best team in the league, and then finally getting a clutch goal from their captain, the win was the most complete, resilient showing in what has been, to date, a painfully inconsistent season.

A couple of quick hits:

  • Did I not say it was a brilliant tactical move by Rangers coach Tom Renney to start Kevin Weekes in net? You’re right. “I did not say that”: Nonetheless, the coach’s hunch paid off, not only against Anaheim, but perhaps in building up the confidence of a backup the team is going to need all season. Does Weekes get the start again tonight against San Jose? I don’t know yet. But after making 30 saves against the Ducks, it certainly merits asking.
  • In the ridiculously-obvious-statement department, a 6-6 record is a lot better than 5-7. And to think, I wasn’t even a math major. Seriously, with four points already secured, the Rangers can now call their West Coast trip a success regardless of what happens tonight against the Sharks. Yes, they still return home to the fearsome Sabres on Sunday. But they also avoid the unenviable task of facing Buffalo on the heels of three straight losses as opposed to, at worst, one. Big difference.
  • Another big game for Brendan Shanahan, who continues to impress on the ice and off. In my conversation with Darius Kasparaitis yesterday, the exiled defenseman said that Shanahan had called him after Renney had sent him down, and that he continued to be amazed at the type of leader the new Ranger is. In fairness, Kasparaitis also said he spoke to Jagr shortly before being sent down as well. But you got the sense that a call from Shanahan, Kasparaitis’s teammate of little more than a month, resonated more.


  • Meanwhile, plenty to follow up on regarding the Kasparaitis situation (“here’s my story today from Hartford”: In hindsight, I suppose the defenseman’s comments both to me and to Bruce Berlet of the Hartford Courant (we spoke to Kasparaitis at separate times) had some bite to them, and could even hamper his chances of being called back to New York. But think about this: the guy’s always been defined as a fierce competitor. Maybe he could have toned down some of the things he said about not being supported enough. But what sort of message would it send if he WASN’T disappointed by being demoted?
  • Meanwhile one last thing about Kaspar: the defenseman said he also received a text message upon his demotion from Marek Malik, who of course had another poor effort last night against the Ducks. This is just a guess here, but maybe it went something like this: “Be there soon.”

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    1. Does Malik hate us?
      They must be trying to trade him, because giving away 2 goals usually equates to a benching in my book.

      Poor Dawes, -2 in under 4 minutes of play time, he needs to be given more opportunities to shine.

      Nylander and Betts were atrocious on the FO% (36 and 39 respectively).

      Anyway, I’m just glad they didn’t fold under pressure! Can’t wait to see how they play against the Sharks.

      As always, you da man! Thanks.

    2. I know one thing, after watching Marek Malik setup two goals in a span of a few minutes to the wrong team last night, he must go. I don’t know if this is possible considering the state of his contract. Malik has been brutal this year from the games i have watched him play. Malik is slow and makes bad decisions with the puck. That is not a good combination.

    3. Sam,

      As much I want to comeback to your weblog from the minors ( by the way didn´t you see my great point about Darius Kasparaitis the other day and Baby koala was really proud of me :) and I felt you kind a confirm my point with your dialogue with DK !) I need to express my discomfort with some other posters, using your fine blog for some nasty personal attacks on some Rangers players or officials. As much you don´t like someone, you shouldn´t abuse him. I mean it is one side to discuss player matters or coaching matters ( and that is really the beauty of the blog !!!) but on the other side you shouldn´t go too far away how you express yourself. There is a fine line between discussion and rowdy comments. I am definitely sure, you know what I mean…

      You know, we Koalas are very peaceful and always tending to make more fun comments as in contrast those kind of nasty comments. It is very important to criticize and make good points but that other stuff is completly needless…..

    4. Couple of minutes ago, I saw the winner by Jaromir Jagr on the Powerplay last night at Anaheim. It was a lazer shot a kind of rocket !!

      A great Goal by No. 68!

      There seem to be no Problems to his shoulder ??? Do you think that his shoulder can be better the more the season goes along ???

      Even the Shanny was great one and it´s seems to be no one is able to push him from the front of the goal…
      He is absolutely my favourite player even at those time when he played for the Wings, a great guy !!!!

      I hope to get my connection to the pictures of the NHL going on weekend when the Rangers facing off against the Sabres on a kind of human time at 5pm local 11pm over here…..

    5. I hope Weekes gets the start tonight. He deserves it.

      QUOTE FROM RENNEY: “I believe deeply in Ozo and his work habits,” Renney said. “Now he has to perform consistently to our standards.”

      Why is Marek Malik not held up to the same standards?

    6. Sam, isn’t DK over-reacting, I mean its a conditional waiver, which means he HAS to come back after 10 days, right? Its not like they are burying him just yet, they simply want more out of him. Thanks.

    7. Still it is upseting that Malik is still playing and just for the record I don’t think Renney is a good coach as well. Last year Rangers went to playoffs only because of JJ and freinds and our energy guys Renney was lucky. This year I don’t think Rangers have a team yet. I mean there is certainly a chemistry developing between some of the players but keeping Malik out there is just not funny anymore. Send Rozy down for conditioning and get rid of Malik once and for all, please it is painfull to watch him piss away all of the hard work that this team is doing. P.S. Nice win last night, great effort from most of the players on a team. Great blog Sam!

    8. DK to Hartford: While still for ‘conditioning’, is also one step closer to waivers. I think he needs some strength and speed and confidence. I also think he still belongs with the Rangers – no doubt! Hopefully the 10-day assignment will take some pressure off mentally and allow the man to focus.

      Malik is consistent. Consistently a huge liability. Enough already.

    9. Perhaps NOW, Pock will get a shot at playing in place of Malik. And with any luck, he will replace Rosival on the PP.

    10. Koala —

      You’ve just earned your way back to the NHL with a fine post. I agree. I’m not down with the personal attacks, mostly because we’re still just talking about a game here.

      I love the passion the Rangers fans have, and I do think it’s part of the engine that drives this thing. But criticism is one thing, attacking someone’s appearance or character is another. I can only play traffic cop so much, though, so I have to leave it up to you guys to help reel others in.


    11. NYRich 82 —

      Agreed on Kaspar. And I posed the same question to him last night. I said, given the alternative, is a part of you relieved that it’s only a conditioning assignment? The guy is still on the roster, after all. But Kaspar wouldn’t bite, saying it still stung.
      I’m interested to see how this plays out.

    12. So what a luck that I don´t need to worry about the ECHL any more !:)

      but only for my the sake of my knowledge, I really don´t know if the Rangers have an affiliate to an ECHL team ?

      You guys can answer me the question ????

    13. “Meanwhile one last thing about Kaspar: the defenseman said he also received a text message upon his demotion from Marek Malik”

      LOL, wow that one must have stung. I think it went more like “hey, Darius wanna buy some dirty pictures of Coach Hyena?” or “thanks for going to Hartford, so I don’t have to and thanks for not being a Czech”

    14. I think Jagr’s shoulder not being 100% is total BS they are using it to soften the criticism from the fans to basically give an excuse for poor play.

    15. Yeah, leading the league in scoring is definitely a sign of poor play. Too bad the entire team can’t play so poorly… it wouldn’t matter that the defense has been crap because we’d score a dozen goals a game.

    16. How can the Rangers use Jagr’s league leading point production as an excuse for the team’s poor play? He’s one of the positives on this team.

    17. “This is just a guess here, but maybe it went something like this: “Be there soon.â€?”


    18. Vinny –
      I’ve had a similar injury as Jagr as well as surgery. Even when fully healed, it takes time for strength to come back. Then the next step is overcoming the natural tentativeness that comes from having this type of injury. For me, in the beginning I was always afraid that one wrong move and my shoulder would pop out again.

      Jagr himself said last night in a post-game interview he doesn’t have the stregnth in his shot yet. And of course it explains his low-goal scoring! He’s not shooting! Didn’t that one-timer last night remind you of last year? Have you seen that yet from Jagr yet this year?

    19. Actually, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Vinny has a point.

      Jagr’s point production has come in spite of not playing nearly as well as he could.

      We saw some signs of encouragement on Saturday and a little bit last night, but he’s still not quite at the level where he’s attacking the play. Is he a negative on the team? No. But I do think he’s been uneven at times and that the Rangers stand to benefit greatly once he hits his stride.

    20. Jagrs play is most definately being effected by his shoulder. But contrary to popular opinion, i feel his slapper is there, from what i saw, his wrister though appears to be the soft one, and that is how the guy gets most of his goals, using a defender as a screen, and using a ridiculously quick release on his wrister to beat the goalie. Id say Jagrs wrist shot release time is faster than Shanahans, Shanahan just gets more on it. Watch Jagr shoot his wrister…you can actually see the puck traveling. Last year when Jagr shot his wrister, you basically just saw the end result, the net popping. Id say his velocity is a good 25-30% lower on his wrister, but his slapper still has about 90% of its velocity. It will come in time, The reason jagr has soooo many points is because Shanahan is burying EVERYTHING he gets on the PP, and Jagr always touches the puck before Shanahan gets to it. Someone feel free to look it up, but id be willing to wager money that of shanahans 7 or 8 pp goals, Jagr has assists on all but maybe 1. Plus straka actualling hitting the net with his shots is helping too.

    21. Come on Sam !

      The guy is becoming too euphoric, you need to bring him down to earth !

      I really like the idea to go down to Charlotte as the climate down there in Carolina is much more comfortable to us and our family than up there in New York or Hartford especially for Baby Koala !!!

    22. Anthony (the other one) on

      Sam – let me get this straight. You’re saying that this game either was, or wasn’t a sign that the team’s turning things around.

      GENIUS!! ;^)

      j/k – This was probably the most encouraging game I’ve seen the B-Shirts play so far this year. Felt more like it was a re-run of an ’05-’06 game, right down to the Jagr PP goal.

      Why, why, why, why don’t they send Malik down to play w/ Kaspar? If they’re trying to showcase him to potential trade partners, they’re fooling themselves. His stock is dropping with every game. I doubt anyone in the league would even pick him up on waivers at this point.

    23. Sam –

      Any other thoughts about the kids down in Hartford? Did Maloney make any comments on specific players? Does Jessiman look like a bust down there? Does Falardue have any 3rd or 4th line potential? And of course any other info on people like dubinsky, g. moore, korpi?

      After watching those guys, do you think Korpi will be better than Hossa?

    24. Anybody else notice that Jagr was ecstatic when he scored the game winner? I didn’t get a great look at it, but it didn’t look the normal laser beam that he was capable of. I think he was happy it went in, and it was a great shot from a tough angle, but as he said it himself, its not there yet.


    26. Anthony — Yes, how’s that for going on a limb? Seriously, I’m done making any grand proclamations seeing how every time the Rangers look like they’re toast, they show me something. And vice versa. From here on out I’m straddling the fence line. Or at least for one more day.

      Neil — I was waiting for someone to ask more about Hartford. I’ve been brimming with thoughts (yes, I need to get out more). For one, I do think Korpikoski can exceed Hossa, but according to some here, that’s not necessarily setting the bar too high. Like Hossa, though, the offense doesn’t seem to be all there yet, but I think he’s got more speed for sure.

      Falardeau was OK, not great. Same goes for Moore, who looks like he’s still adjusting to the speed of the pro game. He played with Immonen, who had some good feeds on the PP but otherwise didn’t dazzle.

      Like I said, I’ve always liked Dubinsky, but he seemed to take a couple of shifts off last night, which was noticed. But they too were aware of the wrist problem.

      As for Jessiman, no, not a total bust, especially compared to a year ago. I think a lot of people around the Rangers were very discouraged with Hugh at one point, but have seen signs of encouragement this year. The stock answer is he has still a ways to go toward being the two-way power forward they want him to be. The difference now is it’s not impossible to see him getting there.

      No one jumped out on defense, which is probably a good thing. If they did it’s because they were probably screwing up.

    27. Ouuuuh….Shame on me for not having Lady under control. I just left the computer for a couple of minutes in order to cake care of Baby Koala…

      Webmaster, can you please delete the post above please ????

      It is tough on Jagr to value it correctly because after the game he showed his usual mode of humor in stating ” I would have killed Rozy to shoot, because I was completly open”
      It´s seems to be that he was very glad to have the winner but he is definitely not hundred percent !!!

    28. Sam,

      I thought of this myself last night and I have seen others questioning it as well: Can someone explain why when Hollweg hits Selanne hard (but legal) he is immediately accosted by another member of the Ducks who is basically protecting their Star, but when Prucha gets bashed by Getzlaf (sp?) not a single Ranger does anything about it? Not right after it happened, nor later in the game either. (the same goes for all the times Jagr gets harassed.)

      I would think the players would do this on their own, but if not, shouldn’t the coach say something? I don’t care about the fact that it resulted in a PP for the Rangers, but a message needs to be sent at least once in a while, doesn’t it? (Kind of makes me miss the days of Adam Graves – he wouldn’t let that pass).

      Have you (or any other writer) asked Renney about this?

      Isn’t this the real issue about toughness – i.e., having other teams know that they cannot push you around?

    29. Sam:

      Besides last night’s performance being much better, I have to comment on the defense. Rachunek actually played pretty well, and I can see why Renney is having patience with him and with Ozo. The reason is the slowness afoot of Malik and Roszival. I believe that the latter 2 are being exposed due to the league getting used to the rules, the Rangers playing a more wide-open game so far this year, and the struggles of Lundqvist. While Malik was horrid last night, Rozy was only marginally better. The forwards did find themselves much deeper in the zone on the defensive end, and did help out in front of the goal. If the Rangers were to rid themselves of kaspar and Malik, and insert Pock, I would not be too disappointed. With the new rules, the D-men need to skate and handle the puck better than both of those 2 are capable.

      I really like Cullen. He flies around and hustles every shift.

      On to the Shark Tank, where the defense is young, tough and mobile.

    30. re. jagr

      …his ability to shield the puck and put himself in a position for a shot is his strength. shoulder aside, he doesnt seem to be skating all that well right now. in bursts here or there buy overall he’s laboring out there.

      renney is probably the worst bench coach the rangers have ever had. he only knows how to play a one line game. And that smirk. why i outta…

    31. Sam,


      On Immonen: Your description of his game is a good example of what his game is. Every time i have seen him play i come away with very similar observations which lead me to think perhaps people are misunderstanding his game.

      He’s a solid all-around player, not too big, not too fast, not too soft… but he has surprisingly good vision in the offensive zone. He always makes a nifty play to set up a great scoring chance or he puts himself in a position to chip in a goal. He’ll have a quiet steady game and then bam, he’ll set something up out of nowhere. If you watch him long enough, you’ll see this happen with regularity.

      What the kid lacks in elite skills he makes up for with intelligence. He is a strong 2 way center with many above average skills. With a full NHL season and regular shift, he’d end up with around 45-50 points. Maybe more down the road. He deserves a shot at some point, IMO.

    32. Neil, totally agree with you. Throw Jarko in with Shanny and Prucha on that second line, and watch some magic happen. Cullen fits the third line center role better anyway. Put him between Dawes and Hall.

      Dawes is the best skater on this team, he needs to get more TOI.

    33. “I thought of this myself last night and I have seen others questioning it as well: Can someone explain why when Hollweg hits Selanne hard (but legal) he is immediately accosted by another member of the Ducks who is basically protecting their Star, but when Prucha gets bashed by Getzlaf (sp?) not a single Ranger does anything about it? Not right after it happened, nor later in the game either. (the same goes for all the times Jagr gets harassed.)”

      the way I see it is that Hollweg’s hit wav payback for hit on Prucha so they are even. And that fight was meaningless.

      Neil, totally agree about Immonen, the guy is a very steady smart player that is good in all 3 zones and is very good on faceoffs. Nice playmaker, and is very good at deflecting the pucks.

    34. Drew –

      Agreed. But I would caution against Dawes, Cullen, Hall third line as I think that’s too soft for a third line. But, your combo and all of mine point out a design flaw in this current mix.

      There is no way to create 4 lines that are designed to fulifill a function.

      Here’s what could work:

      Dawes is extra forward for top two lines, Hossa, Orr become possible 3rd, 4th line fill ins.

      Honestly, I love Dawes but my big problem with him is that unless he’s on the first two lines, he confuses the purpose of the bottom two lines. He is a man without a line.

    35. Sam Thanks for the great job, as always.

      I am still dismayed when I look at the TOI of the players.

      Shannahan is consistently receiving 22 plus minutes a night, as are jagr, straka, and nylander. Those guys are all older than 33. Doesn’t this strike a chord of concern a bit?

      Shannahan has been good at killing penalties, but isn’t there concern that he’ll be drained by the end of the year? The past three years, he’s barely killed penalties, and his ice time went from about 20, to 18, to 16 minutes a game, respectively.

      Betts and Ward to a great job. Hall can get more pk time. Cullen does well with Shanny. Why not try hollweg out there. I know hitting isn’t the emphasis on the pk cause it can take a player of position, but i’ve seen hollweg and his tenacity force mistakes out of opponents countless times. Straka can kill penalties well.

      PP time can also be balanced more effectively by spliting up the top units better. personally, i’d love to see jagr and prucha together with regularity. prucha is a nifty player who creates space for jagr – they worked great last year.

      I fear that towards the end of the year, if guys like dawes are still getting 5 minutes a night, the top lines will be worn out completely.


    36. splitting up shanahan and jagr from the PP would be a mistake of epic proportions. Jagr is not playing that well, BUT he is still a presence, and is opening up a ton of ice for Shanny, which is why shanahan is getting most of his goals on the PP, Jagr is creating the space for him to get his one timer off.

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