A couple of late night thoughts…


…before turning in:

  • The mystery linemate, i.e. Valeri Kamensky, was back again tonight, and despite setting me up roughly 37 times in front of the net, I had only marginal success to speak of. Between me and another one of his old linemates, Mark Messier, I’m pretty sure I know which one he prefers.

    That said, Messier’s blog? Pure drivel.

    Of course, the good thing about Kamensky is he doesn’t say much. Because if he did, it would go something like this: “How in the world did you not score there?”

  • Not sure I understand why everyone’s down on Matt Cullen. Have you seen the guy skate? On a team otherwise lacking speed, the guy can fly. I’m not saying he hasn’t made some goofy plays, but there’s a lot more to like than not, and he’s one of the few players who can generate something from nothing. Or put it another way: if I can’t play with Kamensky, Cullen sure can.

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    1. Sam, I don’t think people are down on Cullen per se, but rather people see that he is more of a shooter than set-up Center. If he is to Center a line with Shanahan, then the other winger on that line needs to be someone with good vision and patience with the puck…That isn’t Prucha, Dawes, or anyone else on the roster presently. If he moves to wing (as had been the case with Blair Betts), the need for a strong skating Center with the same skill set described earlier is apparent.

    2. Sam,
      I for one am not down on Matt Cullen, in fact i think he’s been one of the better penalty killers and is great on the forcheck. I think the real question people have about him are his playmaking abilities…4 assists as a second line center is a pretty small amount for 14 games. Granted, he is new to the team and with Renney’s constant line changes has had some difficulty settling in. But, i think his energy, quickness and hustle on the ice will soon be what helps propel the rest of the team into wanting to do the same, each and every game…or maybe i’m just nostalgic for the HMO line…

    3. Sam, you’ve got the dream job. I just get back from a night of drinking and check the blog for an update and sure enough there is one! Albeit not much of one, but I can tell you love doing this. I hope you scored at least once if Val set you up that often. Otherwise, you should pack it in. All the greats know when it’s time to retire. Unfortunately, it takes the not-so-greats a while longer.

      Go Rangers!

    4. Who’s down on Cullen? He’s been good for us so far…not GREAT but nowhere near bad. (Though he does take a bad penalty here and there)

    5. Cullen has been great he is like Straka only better in every way possible–bigger, faster, grittier, harder working, more physical, better shot, better faceoffs, younger, cheaper, stronger, can play the point on the PP, etc.

      Straka needs to be moved because Cullen and Dawes can do everything that he can and more.

    6. Sam, I have never been down on Matt Cullen. I am the one who has complained that Renney has misused him. And I say that he is way better than last year’s 2nd line center, old Slowfoot Steve Rucchin.

      But the biggest problem is that Cullen was signed by Sather to address a need. The Rangers were poor from the point on the PP last year. So, what does Renney do? He ignores the wishes of his own GM, the fans, and common sense, and gives Cullen not one friggin’ shift on the PP point. We all know why. Because Jagr wants his point men to be his cronies that just slide the puck to him at the right sideboards.

      I will say again that Cullen scored 9 goals on the PP last year, more than Straka and Rosival combined, and helped the Canes win the Stanley Cup, while Renney has never even won a single NHL playoff game.

      Sam, please ask Renney why Cullen is not on the PP point, when his GM signed him for that very reason? I know he will just give you a lame, b.s. excuse, but he needs to be put on the record as to why he is resisting his own boss on this matter.

      As for Cullen’s passing, he made a great pass to Aaron Ward for a goal on the road trip. And it is tough to get assists when you are put at LW, then on the 3rd line, and never get to play to your strength, which is the PP point.

      Matt Cullen is not the problem. Tom Renney’s misuse of his players is the problem.

    7. “Matt Cullen is not the problem. Tom Renney’s misuse of his players is the problem.”

      amen, can’t stand that hyena weasel.

    8. For the most part I like Renney as a coach, but more so last year when there looked to be ‘a plan’ for the first time in years. But I certainly agree with Vinny & 4R about the PP point..and it was the same last year with Sykora..;
      If it’s a glaring weakness to the fans, why can’t they see it? And if they do know it’s a weakness, why haven’t changes been made or attempted?

    9. DoodieMachetto on

      Ditto all on Cullen.

      I was down on him early in the season when he was takin a lot of stick penalties. That has stopped.

      To those who say he can be a pointman on the PP but then complain about his set up abilities, thats a slight contradiction because he certainly doesn’t have a booming shot to put him there.

    10. OK, point taken on Cullen. But whether he’s a classic set up man or not, he still brings a lot of energy to that line, puts a lot of pressure on defense, and allows the likes of Brendan Shanahan to pick up the scraps. They might not be classic assists, but they’re effective nonetheless. As for what he brings to the point on the power play, you’re correct: it wouldn’t be his shot but his ability to move the puck up ice quickly. But if your criticism of Cullen is his passing — or lack thereof — then maybe he’s not the right guy. The first pass is everything in a power play. It’s part of what made Brian Leetch so effective there. Yes, the other options aren’t much better in that department, but at least Rozsival has a defensive conscience, which you need in that role. Please don’t take that as an endorsement of Rozsival there, because it’s not. I’m just trying to exlplain the rationale.

    11. As for Renney’s misuse of his players:

      Yes, the coach can tend to ‘prolong experiments’ (see Betts on 2d line), but truthfully, he has limited options. Aside from a defensive corps that has been underwhelming (which directly correlates to the subpar goaltending), the lack of a true 2d line center, the dearth of quick, hungry, puck battle types (see Ortmeyer/Hollweg)etc… Wait a minute, that’s a lot to be seeking, isn’t it? Could it be that the team does not have the necessary parts to excel? Should that notion be correct, is it Renney’s ‘misuse’ or the Organizations overestimation of what it has to compete? Then you have a faction of fans saying, “give the kids a shot’..

      Here’s the deal: The teams’ best players (Shanahan and Jagr) are not getting any younger. The kids people refer to are not impact 1st or 2d line players (with perhaps the exception of Dawes), and with Sandis Ozolinsh healthy, the team is rapidly approaching the salary cap. All things being considered, Slats will be making moves to address glaring weaknesses to attempt a serious run this year. Last year we stood up and cheered a team that was swept out of the first round. That WILL NOT be the case this year, and the powers that be understand that.

    12. THAT WILL be the case if our marquee players collapse physically by midseason because they get way too much ice time. Trading for relief down the road won’t save them, playing younger guys now might.

      Hate to point anyone away from Sam, but check out the Post’s article today…

    13. Responding to Chris and the Post article today: anyone had the chance to see what Immonen and Dubinsky are doing against AHL competition? Immonen is a minus 14!!!!!! With no goals, in 11 games!!! Dubinsky has been a healthy scratch twice and has 3 points in 9 games.

      While everyone seems to like Adam Hall, hindsight gives us the benefit to say it would be nice having Dominic Moore right now. Jason Ward would not have to center the 4th line, but rather play the right side with Blair Betts and Nigel Dawes. Moore and Hollweg could more than compensate for the lethargic Marcel Hossa on the 4th line, and on those games where you need to dress an enforcer, you could simply plug in Orr for Hossa.

      Since there are no ‘do overs’, the right call up would be Helminen who scored over 30 goals last year as a ‘defensive center’ on a line with Nigel Dawes. Maybe pair those two with Hall (they played last year with Colby Genoway), put Ward and Betts back together with the Hollweb, and sit Orr until you need toughness. As far as Hossa is concerned, send him down and risk losing him. I doubt there will be any takers.

    14. I’m not going to claim that minor leaguers are the answer — I think it’s foolish to expect them to pick up much slack. Malkin, Crosby, J, Staal, our guys are not those guys. But something has to be done — we’re already looking at Shanny being roughed up. Jags is playing way too much. Something’s gotta give.

    15. You don’t evaluate players by what they do against minor league competition. You evaluate them by what they do at the NHL level. I have pointed out several times that the Sharks have not had great success at the AHL level, either teamwise or individually. Yet, a lot of those same kids have become excellent NHL players, and put the Sharks among the better teams in the league. Why? Because the Sharks BELIEVE IN THEIR KIDS! they play them, even at 19 years old. they give them 20 minutes a game, playing in all situations. And they do it at the NHL level. Here are the ages of the Sharks defense–19, 22, 22, 24, 27, 29. and the 2 reserve Dmen are 26, 26.

      By comparison, the Ranger defense is 34, 34, 33, 31, 28,27, 23, and in reserve, that youngster Pock, who is a month short of 25. That’s right, Pock is older than almost all the Shark Dmen, and 2 years older than Tyutin. But in NY, he is considered too young, too inexperienced to play regularly, while kids 6 years younger than him, with NO pro experience, are playing in all situations in SJ.

      training camp showed me plenty. AHL stats are useless. It comes down to what the individual kid does at the highest level competition, i.e., the NHL. Some of the Ranger kids showed they were capable of playing in the NHL, and some didn’t. But, we’ll never know, because they will be forced to toil in the minors, serving more of a punishment than an apprenticeship. When you outplay someone in training camp, but then HE gets the job for political reasons or seniority, well then you have the makings, for understandable reasons, of a discouraged, disappointed, disillusioned young player.

      It is sure suspicious that it can work in San Jose, it can work in Buff., etc., but it can’t work in NY, only because of the ATTITUDES of the guys who run the franchise.

    16. Responding to 4Rangers:

      I don’t necessarily disagree with your assertions. However, the prevalent thought around the League is that Defensemen take longer to adapt to the NHL. Every team has a different philosophy, and usually the philosophy is based on the talent your Organization has stockpiled. Think it would be hard for the Rangers to roll out Bryce Lampman, Ivan Baranka, David Liffiton et al, as a follow up to last years playoff sweep.

      As far as discounting Minor League statistics and paying more attention to what occurs in training camp, the name Juris Staals comes to mind. A few years back he was skating around everyone at training camp, and looked like a real prospect. Where is he now? Exactly. The cream always rises to the top. Why have a minor league system if you’re going to discount it’s results?

      As far as disallusioned young players are concerned, the job to keep players focused, and respective of the task at hand, is that of a communicative Coach. Renney is that type of Coach. A player like Nigel Dawes, who’s likely been told numerous times he was too small to make it, does not seem the type to wilt easily. And while Thomas Pock has shown potential, let’s not forget that he was a forward at UMASS until his Senior Year, and the players he is playing behind have reputation to play better. Allow the Coach to sort things out.

    17. I, and the Sharks, Sabres, etc, have a simple answer. baloney. Not all young players in their systems panned out, either. Of course not. But MANY DID, and that is why they now are sitting pretty.

      Ranger mgmt. have been “sorting things out” since 1997, almost a decade, and they are still the pensioners retirement home in the NHL. If you want to stay the course another 10 years, well, a lot of us do not.

    18. Where the Sharks and Sabres finish remains to be seen. To clarify, I’d much rather see marginal performances turned in by young players with speed and desire.

      The Rangers ARE trying to build from within. They have not drafted well with their top picks (Manny Malhotra, Pavel Brendl, Jamie Lundmark, Hugh Jessiman come to mind), and they do have the pressure to perform in the Nations’ Media Capitol.

      I would love to be able to plug in a Blue Chip prospect or two, but who? Remember there is also pressure to perform NOW while Jagr and Shanahan have some miles left in the tank.

    19. I am not suggesting that the entire team be kids. Of course, Jagr and Shanny and Nylander and Ward and Tyutin and a few more would still be here.

      But they are NOT trying very hard to build from within. You don’t do that by sitting in the stands the only 2 guys who even made the team.

      And your comment about “blue-chippers”—other than Crosby and Malkin and Ovechkin, etc—nobody has “guaranteed” blue-chippers unless they finish near dead last in the league, and get the #1 draft picks, and even then it is uncertain if they will turn out right, such as Daigle, Stefan, etc.

      The only way you will discover if any of your picks become top NHLers is by playing them, the same way that the Sharks found out with Cheechoo and Vlasic and many others, or the Wings with Datsyuk, or the Sabres with Miller, and on and on.

      Don’t forget, Lundquist and Prucha were given short schrift by Renney at the beginning last year until injuries to Weekes and Rucinsky gave them both a chance to play. and then their performance and the fans reaction made it impossible for him to give them the “Pock treatment” any longer.

      there will always be failures as well as successes, and that should not dissuade teams from continuing on the right path, which is the youth path.

    20. “The cream always rises to the top.”

      that might be true, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t play a guy like Stals if he had a good camp. Because when you play young players and they show that they can play you are creating an asset–a cheap young player that almost any team would want, that makes your lineup more flexible because you have fewer over the hill players or players with insane contracts–basically untradeable players. Plus you never know, Stals might have developed into a completely different player if he made the Rangers.

    21. Sam,

      Valery Kamensky, huh? Did he return to and does he now live in the NY area? I had a chance to see him play on really the last Soviet-era team, at the 1991 World Championship tournament (a team with Bure, Slava Koslov, et al). He captained that team and I thought he looked awesome (playing mostly the perimeter, kind of slight, and bent over like Gretz). I looked forward to seeing him play for the Nordiques, and when he finally did come over the next year or so, he promptly broke his leg and was out for a pretty long while.

      I think Ranger fans only saw a glimpse of what Kamensky could do and did earlier in his career, especially while still in Russia (but that was the Rangers’ M.O.–cf. Lafleur, Tim Kerr, Dionne, Kurri,…)

      If you have a chance, ask him about his Soviet linemates (I think Quebec drafted both of them too), they were super players, maybe too small for North American hockey, though. Together, Kamensky’s line was really the successor to the famous KLM line and predecessor to the great line of Fedorov, Mogilny, and Bure.

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