Character test

73

*UPDATE, 1:45: Same lineup in place as the Pittsburgh game, including Henrik Lundqvist back in net. The one variable is Fedor Tyutin, who will test out his twisted ankle during warm-ups and would be replaced by Sandis Ozolinsh if he can’t go.*

If you subscribe to the belief that the Rangers’ early season adversity is only going to make them a better team come March and April (the alternative, of course, is that they’re out of the playoff race and utterly demoralized) then today’s meeting with the Senators should help in some way in that department.

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Consider the Rangers were knocked around pretty good in two games in Ottawa last season (they went 1-3 overall against the Senators), including a December drubbing in which Kevin Weekes allowed four goals in the first period, and was summarily pulled. Final tally after two games in the Canadian capital last year: Senators 10, Rangers 3.

Anyway, at one point this season the Senators seemed more vulnerable than ever, but they’ve since won eight of their last 10 and just a point behind the Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings. That said, they are expected to be without Wade Redden and Daniel Alfredsson. Make of that what you will.

No word yet on the lines or the starting goalie, but I’ll pass it along when I have it. In other news….

  • The “Devils are officially scary good at home”:http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/recap?gameId=261208011, shutting out the Flyers last night to move ahead of the Rangers in the Atlantic Division. Again, it only means more character building for the Rangers…
  • It must be getting bad for Petr Prucha because for the first time all year, the question had to be asked if he’d be in the lineup against the Penguins. Prucha is struggling, there’s no question about it. But he still has tremendous upside, and he still does more good things in a bad game than most. If he is sat down at some point — and I’m not basing this on anything other than common sense — maybe it’s just to allow him to collect himself. It worked when he was sent to Hartford last year. Maybe this time he just needs a day off.
  • Someone asked about Sandis Ozolinsh considering retiring. I have no knowledge of that, and I think for now, like it or not, the defenseman still factors into the Rangers plans. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in the lineup today..

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    73 Comments

    1. haha that’s scary because I actually go to that CVS… and the fact that you know his name is even scarier

    2. No what is scary is the possibility of Sandis Ozolinsh being back in the line-up today. I just hope that it’s not Kasparaitis who sits.

    3. Patrick Hoffman on

      What’s amazing, Sam, is that despite how good the Devils are at home, no one goes to watch them play in that crappy arena of theirs.

    4. Doodie Machetto on

      “It worked when he was sent to Hartford last year. ”

      If you look back to the very early days of the season- I suggested this and was met with harsh criticism. I said that he should head there to find his scoring touch without the fear of being pummeled every night, since teams take some kind of special joy in drilling him. I don’t know if it would be a good idea this far into the season though. Maybe when Jed heads over there, Petr could go with him so at least there is someone there to help him stay motivated.

      PS, any word on when Jed is headed there?

    5. Sam Weinman >>>> John Dellapina

      You’re now providing up-to-the minute lineup updates. Its better than the Flash.

    6. Layoff Prucha. Per minutes played he is producing more points than Cullen, Hall, J Ward, Betts and Hossa. That’s right Prucha produces at a better rate than all those guys have this season. Maybe Renney should get him some more ice time first. I think Hossa can spare a few mins of his.

    7. Some one has to purpose this question… Sam?

      Something’s been buggin me since the shoot out win. (leave it to a Ranger fan to find something to complain about after a win)…. and it’s not the ussual “where’s the defense”

      The question I want answered is, Where’s the leadership? I was just watching the pregame stuff MSG put on before the game in a bit… First they had a thing on THE captain, which included a thing on Shanny gettin his leadership award last month. Then they were talking about the shoot out, and Sam Rosen asked Shanny something that sparked me to post this. What’s the feeling you get during crunch time? Shannahan had a ussual reply, but there was part of his answer that stood out to me. That there’s a feeling of responsibility to take the shot in the key moments. To take it within himself to get the win for his team, and when getting asked to take a shot in the shoot out, that there are tons of guys that want that oprotunity, and it’s an honor (or something like that was his response)…. All that is fantastic, and I’m glad we have Shanny here, but here’s the question I want answered

      Where’s our captain? Where’s our other alternate? Besides Shanny, Where’s our leadership? For the second shoot out in a row, both Jagr and Straka turned down that same opprotunity to shoot. I wasn’t sure what went on when I saw it the first time, but I was at the last game, and I saw Renny, not argue with, but it deffinatly looked like there were words said to both of them when choosing who’ll shoot. Did two of our leaders, and two of our best goal scorers really turn down the offer to win it for THEIR team?… because that’s what it seemed like to me, and if that’s the case they should both get the hell off the team IMO.

      I think it’s a topic that should be brought up Sam, and I think you’re just the guy to do it haha

    8. Renney goes right back to Bozo eh? Whatever became of Thomas Pock? I looked up his stats and all it said was “2006-2007 New York Rangers – Did Not Play” What are the chances he goes to Europe at the end of his contract to learn how to play hockey again?

    9. Doodie Machetto on

      “Besides Shanny, Where’s our leadership? For the second shoot out in a row, both Jagr and Straka turned down that same opprotunity to shoot.”

      Let me ask you something, would you have given Jed Ortmeyer an “A”? I think most people wouldn’t have misunderstood it if they did. That said, would you want him shooting in the shootout?! God no. If you aren’t good at that type of thing, you ARE being a leader by sitting down and sayin- there re guys who are better than me at this and I’m not going to be selfish and take a shot that I will most likely miss.

      PS, Toots is in.

    10. Jagr and Straka’s personalities are completely different than Shanahans. Jagr/Straka are both soft-spoken and are never vocal. Shanahan is considered the “voice” of the NHL players, and even if he didn’t have an A, he’d still be just as vocal. He always was, and always will be. Jagr and Straka should get the hell off this team? That better be a joke. Straka is probably the most hard-working guy on our team and the talent he has is irreplaceable. If Jagr isn’t comfortable with shootouts why would he want to go in and put his team at risk of a loss? He’s actually doing the team a favor by not going in for the shootout, and he knows it. Jagr is the deserving Captain, so deal with it.

    11. Rob:

      I commented on this exact point yesterday. Here it is:
      ————————
      December 8th, 2006 at 7:07 pm

      In a post-game interview, Shanahan was asked about how he feels when it comes to OT and the shootout. His face lit up. He responded that he always wants to be “the guy�, that his blood quickens when he senses a chance to score the big goal. So he goes out and scores the big goal.

      This IMO is the big difference between Euros and North American players. Jagr’s decision not to take a turn in the shootout typifies the Euro lack of the killer instinct. Sure, they love to score the goals, but they don’t enjoy the spotlight much, and they tend to get psyched out by pressure. Jagr wouldn’t have scored because he didn’t want to even be in that situation.

      Another example is how Jagr (and the other Euros) tend to play a passive game when the crowd starts booing them (last week in Pittsburgh). It’s as though they take it to heart and get depressed.

      North American players (Gretzky, Messier, Shanahan, Hull, Trottier, etc.) are like assassins who love to “stick it� to the opposing fans who boo them. They can sense the kill and go for the jugular. It’s a totally different mindset.

      Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule (Kurri, Tikkanen, Lidstrom) but in general I think my theory is pretty solid.
      ——————–

    12. Doodie Machetto on

      Another strong start with another should be goal missed early. Last night it was the 2-0, today it was straka.

    13. Doodie Machetto on

      Good hitting, the game has such a playoff feel to it. I think both teams know that this game is big in terms of building momentum and climbing the standings

    14. Doodie Machetto on

      Cullen’s LEG can’t even score!!! I think he should use his salary frp, this year to buy a goal. He has another couple of years on his contracts to make it a worthwhile purchase.

    15. Rangers playing with fire here, theyve got the lead, but theyve given up some WIDE open chances in the slot that Henrik has saved/have gone wide.

      gotta be smarter on D.

      great game by henrik so far though, hes been brilliant.

    16. Doodie Machetto on

      Good thing we practiced playing most of the game without Nylander against Pittsburgh! but seriously, I hope he is OK. PS, amazing goal by Jagr.

    17. Come on some one has to send Neil a message. He can’t be taking runs at us….The boys look good today so far…

    18. Evgeni wrote: “….He’s actually doing the team a favor by not going in for the shootout, and he knows it. Jagr is the deserving Captain, so deal with it.”

      good post, Gene!

    19. There’s no one on our team capable of taking a run at Neal. Thanks to Sather building a soft Euro team, we’re screwed.

    20. My guess is, Gerber plays the 3rd period. Emery’s catching glove hand looks like its really messed up, he couldnt even lift it.

    21. Dellapina on between periods with Dave Maloney , guess who he wants back? Sam how come Dave Maloney hasn’t had you on between periods yet?

    22. Doodie Machetto on

      Just put your stick on the puck and don’t get down on your luck, it’s the Rangers victory song…

    23. so, those critics who called for Bozo to be dumped, for Immonen to be the 2nd line C, and for Cullen to be moved to LW, were right on the money. (bow)

      And the head-in-the-sand mgmt. defenders now are jumping on the bandwagon they had nothing to do with.

    24. Great game by Lundqvist, probably his best game of the year.

      Hossa even got 2 shots on goal, unbelievable. :)

    25. “so, those critics who called for Bozo to be dumped, for Immonen to be the 2nd line C, and for Cullen to be moved to LW, were right on the money. (bow)”

      I just did 4Rangers!! Now how do I straighten up??

    26. Doodie Machetto on

      I wouldn’t say Cullen on the LW is too big yet. He still isn’t that good, he’s just not terrible on defense.

      I don’t think anyone wanted Ozolinsh by the time he was pulled.

      Immonen had a solid game, although he did miss a should be goal.

    27. Doodie Machetto on

      That might have been the best game of the season for Betts-Hossa-Ward.

      Lundqvist was fantastic, and that sequence starting with the Heatley breakaway may have been the best of his career.

    28. I don’t know, I thought I caught a couple shots of Immo watching the play instead of being in the play. And that miss…ouch.

      And Kaspar had a rough one, but is still lightyears better than Ozo.

      And am I the only one who thinks it looks like Prucha can’t quite get his legs moving? Thta he has trouble getting up to speed with the puck?

      Otherwise, Henrik was pretty sick, good to see Jags score and celebrate and great that Nylander seems alright. Fun win.

      Let’s go Rangers.

    29. Doodie, you are right.

      4Rangers, I did call for Immonen to center the 2nd line and one of the many players I wanted dumped was Bozo. You are right about me wanting the kids but I think I filled your parameters and took the bow. Problem is, haven’t to straighten up yet and it’s difficult typing from this position.

      I’m taking a ladyfriend to her first game tomorrow. Hope she sees a good game or that might be the last game she wants to see.

    30. Chris, I mentioned in a previous blog of Sam’s that it’s possible Prucha has not recovered 100% from his knee injury. Remember Tomas Kloucek??

    31. well done, guys. Great solid effort, balanced ice time. Henrik had some great saves deserving to the No.1 star. They controlled the play most of the time and surpringsly very quiet atmosphere in Ottawa.

      That is all you can ask for…..!!!

    32. Lundqvist was outright great, and after a two game hiccup he’s back in the zone. Immo was much sharper in his second game, strong on the puck , and had a couple nice scoring chances. Kaspar on the other hand looked terrible he was about five steps slow, and didn’t play with much jam. Tyutin was imo the best dman threw some nice hipchecks moved the pucked nicely, and was rewarded with more icetime than usual. Shanny was his usual self , and backchecked very hard. It was nice to see Hollweg go after Neil at the end of the game just wish Ryan would get more icetime. I will give Hossa some credit he hustled mid third period to breakup an icing, and his line played well espically Jason Ward.

    33. the changes were made to keep the goals against down, not to add more scoring. the Rangers biggest problem was giving up too many, and hopefully they can continue to allow only 2 or less per game.

    34. I can´t understand why they sit Kaspar for such a long time. He brings some physical play to the table improving the stability on defense. Didn´t see any drop off from previous seasons.

      It is just great to see Henrik to his old form from last season. Whenever he sees the puck on a shot, he makes the saves. He was beaten only on a deflection and I didn´t think it was Spezza.

      I hope they put another solid effort against the Panther on Sunday…

    35. Couple answers to replies on my other post…. Ortmeyer? No… but he’s also not or ever will be a top goal scorer, I’m not saying just because you wear a letter on your jersey you should be in there scoring, but I AM saying that it just so happens that your leaders in stats are also our leaders on the bench.

      As for the Euro thing…. I’m not buyin it… who were our best shooters last season? Nylander, Prucha, Sykora, STRAKA…. are we really buying that nonsense that they don’t do spot light so they don’t shoot in shoot outs?… or even so, maybe they do get more nervous than most… do we really think that Adam Hall is better on these things?

    36. Great team effort today … Henrik, of course, was the key difference as he was just amazing today making a few saves that he had no business saving and yet he did, that’s the Henrik we know and love and who makes this team better than it should be given it’s defensive corps, specially when they don’t play well …

      Kaspar did have a less impactful game than last time specially since he didn’t have much of a physical impact as he did vs the Pens … perhaps sit him tomorrow and play Pock? Then play Kaspar vs the Flyers? But with Donald B. gone who will he spar with?

      Jags had a great game, scoring a goal and owning the Puck much of the time he was out there … cannot wait until he’s 100% … Shanny once again .. just amazing ..

      Now onto the Panthers who despite their patheticness(I live in South Florida, I know) cannot be taken lightly specially since they shutout the Rangers in October and took them to a SO in November(which we won, yay because I was there and a loss would’ve annoyed me greatly) … I am thinking that Weekes will start over Henrik given that afterwards we go on the road to face Philly, Dallas and then Toronto …

    37. Wardo did a great job filling in for Nylander on the first line during the second period. !

      What do you think guys spreading out the scoring in moving down Nylander to second line with Shanahan and Cullen on the wings ???

    38. Rob,

      Better be careful about calling out the “Eurosofties” on the Rangers. It could get you banned on certain blogs and rain down a torrent of abuse from the Euro synchopants that follow the New York Rangers. I have had personal experience.

      I am glad I am not the only person who shares the sentiment that “certain” players do not have the guts and or heart to challenge themselves or the opponent. A player can put up a zillion points but if he doesn’t forecheck and backcheck, he is not a complete hockey player. He isn’t a team player. If a guy doesn’t step up at the blueline and challenge all comers, he’s not a team player. If a guy doesn’t protect his teammates, he’s not a team player.

      I am sure everyone here could point to their least favorite players and accuse them. I know who mine are. Anyone who isn’t willing to go out there and do their job, who doesn’t come to play every game, who can’t raise their level of play in the face of adversity can’t be off this team fast enough for me. I don’t care who they are.

    39. Doodie Machetto on

      “i dont think kaspar is any slower than malik”

      they are about the same speed, but Malik has so much more reach from his height, so it gives him a slight edge. But they’re both too slow, so I guess I’m just splitting hairs.

      Good win tonight, they looked a little sloppy in the 2nd, but other than that a good road effort.

    40. Best game Jagr has played this year offensively. I am disturbed by Sam Rosen inexplicably voicing his opinion at the end of the game when Hollweg was mixing it up with Oneil . Sam Rosen unbelievably blurted out on the broadcast that THIS KIND OF STUFF WASN’T NECESSARY AT THE END OF THE GAME. Sam Rosen doesn’t have the right to say that to a captive audience. Very irresponsible Sam.
      I am obviously VER PRO what Hollweg did. His softy teammates were getting MAN HANDLED all game by Oneil and deserved to be reckoned with.

    41. Doodie Machetto on

      If Hollweg wants to do that stuff though, he should do it during the game when it counts.

    42. MHurley —
      Your post has some merit, but I’m uneasy with the idea of this being a European vs. a North American thing. There was a time, certainly, when the European game was different, and back then a lot of what you’re implying was true. But these days there are plenty of Europeans who play gritty two-way games (Petr Prucha, for all his scoring problems, still throws his body around all over the place), just as there are North American players who, by your definition, would qualify as soft.

      Now, if your not happy with certain players’ effort levels at both ends of the rink, that’s a different story, and a complaint I don’t really have an issue with. I’m just not sure you can lump all these guys under the same umbrella just because of where they’re from.
      Sam

    43. Hey SpongeBob Sycopants:

      It’s sycophants. Don’t drop your pant’s or your H’s

      Hey spongebob I am guessing “Sycopants” is a word play on squarepants and you didnt drop your H or your pants.

    44. Its starting to look like Pock is being punished for not going down to the minors for “conditioning”. Does anyone know when his Ranger contract expires?

    45. Baron: I”m not buying your Euro theory either. Who scored the biggest shootout ever since the shootout began????

      Malik. A Euro.

    46. Doodie Machetto on

      After that Malik goal I was expecting the shootout to be revolutionized. I wanted to see guys picking the pucks up on their sticks and throwing it in lacrosse style, spin-o-ramas, etc.

    47. You’re right Sam. I should have prefaced my opinion by saying that I don’t consider the former Soviet Union part of Europe. ;)

    48. How about that crazy goal the other night in the Chicago shootouts? Broke the rules, but was awesome and stands up, apparently.

      Hey Sam, don’t look now but that’s “you’re” not “your”. Either way, best blog in town…obviously.

      Damn it ‘s fun when the Rangers win.

    49. Chris:
      ^Hey Sam, don’t look now but that’s “you’re� not “your�.^
      He used *Your* or *You’re* 4 times in that post, 3 of the 4 instances were used correctly. He’s above .500, throw him a bone!

    50. Straka is one of the best 2 way players I have ever seen. I always liked/hated him. I was really happy when the Rangers signed him.

      He always hurt the Rangers in some way when we played the Pens. Watching him every game for the past season and a half has really been alot of fun.

      Before I use to think he jus loved playing the Rangers and played his best games vs us. But I see now that this isnt true.

      Jagr is a great player as we all know. He isn’t that kind of player. I do think sometimes about how much better he would be if he played the game as hard as Straka. I know Straka’s speed does come into play here. That is the biggest part of his game.

      Sam’s post…

      ” Your post has some merit, but I’m uneasy with the idea of this being a European vs. a North American thing. There was a time, certainly, when the European game was different, and back then a lot of what you’re implying was true. But these days there are plenty of Europeans who play gritty two-way games (Petr Prucha, for all his scoring problems, still throws his body around all over the place), just as there are North American players who, by your definition, would qualify as soft.”

      It’s very much on the money. Its the make up of the player not where they are from anymore.

      Look at the Caps super star.

    51. Doodie Machetto on

      “How about that crazy goal the other night in the Chicago shootouts? Broke the rules, but was awesome and stands up, apparently. ”

      I didn’t hear about that, what happened, and where can I see it?

    52. “Jagr is a great player as we all know. He isn’t that kind of player. I do think sometimes about how much better he would be if he played the game as hard as Straka. I know Straka’s speed does come into play here. That is the biggest part of his game.”

      Agreed. But Jagr has changed his game over the years. Watch the early Penguin days and Jagr was the fastest guy on the ice, both ways. His style of play is so much different than it used to be. He plays so that he can conserve his energy and play as long as possible. I respect that because with the “new, fast NHL,” Jagr is just as lethal as he used to be without having to be as fast. Don’t get me wrong, Jagr can pump those huge legs when he has to, but not like Straka. And when you have a sick shot like Jagr’s, you don’t need speed.

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