When and if I get around to writing my autobiography, that would be on the short list of potential titles. (Another possibility: “What I Lack In Intelligence I Make Up For With Above Average Typing Skills”).
Anyway, it’s becoming increasingly clear that my attempts at ironing are not unlike a Sandis Ozolinsh clearing pass: My intentions are good, but the result can still be ugly (The irony, of course, is we both end up in the press box). But I’m here, and will soldier on regardless.
As for real hockey news, not much has changed since we last spoke: Henrik Lundqvist is in net, Jarkko Immonen and Darius Kasparaitis will be among those in front of him, and the Rangers have still gone four straight games without a win. Whether the tide is reversed tonight against the Penguins remains to be seen, but as I said before, one would hope that Immonen’s audition at second line center lasts more than a single game.
A couple of quick pre-game thoughts:
A question was raised about Matt Cullen, specifically, why was he replaced at center, and might he be a better fit on the third line. My response: For now, I don’t think so. I think the concern about Cullen as a playmaking center was a valid one, and obviously the Rangers agreed. But I still think of Cullen, who might be the team’s fastest skater, as one of the Rangers top six forwards, and he still generates more opportunities in a single shift than some players do in a game. The other part to consider is that if the Rangers fancy their third line as a defensive shut-down line, then the more offensive-minded Cullen wouldn’t fit there anyway. I know what you’re going to say: What’s an offensive-minded player worth if he’s only scored four goals all year? It’s a fair question, and if Cullen doesn’t click at wing, either, the Rangers might have a problem. But for now, let’s see how he does.
I’m not trying to be a Tom Renney apologist when I say you’re all making WAY too much of Renney’s remark about Jarkko Immonen’s foot speed. As I said earlier, it was an innocuous answer to a specific question, and it was preceded by heaps of praise for the prospect as well. Put it another way: if Renney thought poorly of Immonen, then there’s no way he’d be on the second line alongside Brendan Shanahan tonight.
Joe Nieuwendyk retires as one of the greatest face-off men of all time, which begs the question: Who is No. 1 on that list? As one of my fellow writers said with a laugh: “It’s not Michael Nylander.”