And the hits just keep on coming

48

For those Rangers fans who long to get up-close-and-personal with their favorite team, I’m going to go ahead and say this might not be the week to do it. But if you insist, I’d at least suggest a surgical mask.

The flu that has raged through the lineup of late has claimed at least one more victim, with Michael Nylander now out tonight against the Devils. Throw in Matt Cullen, who is day-to-day with a knee sprain and also out, and this crucial division match will require a juggling act of the first order for Rangers coach Tom Renney.

With seven defense and just 11 forwards at his disposal, Renney said he’s going to try to use the odd configuration to his advantage, although that might just be a euphemism for “I’m screwed and there’s nothing I can do.” Of course, Renney could have called someone up from Hartford, but with the Wolf Pack already playing back-to-back games this weekend (with a third game tonight) that wasn’t a realistic option.

And so fresh off a 9-2 drubbing in Toronto, the forward lines will likely look something like this, although it’s probably going to change about 15 times over the course of the evening:

Jagr-J.Ward-Prucha
Straka-Immonen-Shanahan
Hossa-Betts-Hall
Hollweg-Orr-?????

As for the defense, every available body will skate, including Sandis Ozolinsh, but even then, let’s not confuse “available” with 100 percent. Consider Aaron Ward, one of the first victims of this bug earlier in the week. As he was walking past a group of us in the hallway, the defenseman proclaimed that he “kissed the bowl again today,” which I don’t think I need to translate for you.

Hey, look on the bright side: what better way to lose that excess holiday weight?

Meanwhile, some other news:

  • Kevin Weekes gets the start in net, which isn’t a surprise given that Henrik Lundqvist is probably still seeing rubber every time he closes his eyes. As we expected, neither Renney nor Lundqvist had regrets about the goaltender being left in for a full two periods last night against the Maple Leafs, however strong the public outcry. It turns out Lundqvist wanted to stay in the game, and had hoped as well to get the nod against the Devils. He’ll instead get the night off, but will likely start Tuesday against the Islanders.
  • Speaking of players in Hartford, Jed Ortmeyer completes his three-game stint with the Wolf Pack tonight, but Renney said the right wing is likely to rejoin the Rangers only to be sent right back down for another conditioning assignment. As the coach said, Ortmeyer’s play has been solid thus far, but he’s still not in NHL shape.

    OK, folks, plenty to discuss, and I’m sure you’ll do your fair share. More later….

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    48 Comments

    1. Wow so he keeps Lundqvist in to get blitzed then he sits him against the Devs great move. Hall plays like crap, and gets moved up instead of Hollweg, and I’m shocked Hossa isn’t playing on the top line.

    2. the reason that J. Ward usually centers the Jagr line when Nylander is unavailable, is that Jagr prefers him, as Sam has reported previously. and whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

    3. Great. Jason Ward gets the nod to center line #1. I guess its fine because Immonen is centering Shanny and Straka so we’ll get to see how that works out, plus Prucha gets the crack we’ve all wanted on the top line. As to why it makes more sense to play a clearly very sick Aaron Ward at his 3rd game in 4 nights over playing a healthy kid like Pock for the 3rd straight night, that’s less clear – maybe that have that little fath in Pock. All I can say is that the truth is it may not matter a ton who’s in or out of the lineup. If the guys who are playing come ready to play and play responsible, aggressive and smart hockey they have a chance to win. If not, it

    4. the devils have lost 3 straight games, and 2 Ranger games this year at MSG, so I expect them to be motivated tonight.

    5. renney has no idea what he’s doing. not playing lundqvist tonight is a huge mistake.

      first of all the kid probably wants to get the taste out of his mouth and get right back in there.

      second, it shows that the organization has confidence in him and will stand behind him no matter what.

      third, even if we win this game you KNOW renney will play weekes against the isles because well he’ll have “earned it”. which means lundqvist has to sit almost a full week with that 8 goals eating away at him. its an awful feeling.

      fourth we are in trouble with nylander and cullen out and will probably need some great goaltending to win this game. weekes ain’t that.

    6. yeah, this is destined to be a game we lose. all im looking for is effort and intelligence…oddly enough thats all im ever looking for.

      play smart, play hard, you make Inferno a happy camper, win or lose.

    7. Hello he’s on the active roster he can be brought back anything time, get a bleeping clue Wildcard.

    8. right, Kovy. and last night Renney said he “wanted Henrik to get right back on the horse” tonight. apparently Renney decided to go with the pony ride.

    9. blueshirts2k6: You get a clue…Pock palyed this afternoon. ANd I am sure the Players didnt know for SURE that they wernt palying early today…I bvet it wasnt till a few hours ago that the Players were put ont he bench..at least Nylander…Pock had an afternoon game in Hartford…YOU get a clue….when you have players ALREADY on the sidelies you dont call one up, you use what you have. I dont know why everyone thinks Pock is this super special defensman, he is better than Ozo is now yes…but he isnt some soon to be allstar IMHO

    10. from my blog (click my name)

      Spite-Devils@Rangers Second Period Thoughts…

      I swear, it seems like the Rangers play like morons just to spite me. Since this blog has been up, ive been preaching smart play. Move the puck along the boards, dont get caught with 3 men deep, dont throw blind passes through the neutral zone, dont take idiotic penalties (reffings been bad for both teams, Rangers cant use that as an excuse tonight) etc etc. Tonight its like the Rangers have gone out of their way to do each and every one of the things I simply cant stand.

      *sigh*

      -Inferno

    11. they’re in the middle of a 10 games in 17 days stretch, and as expected guys are dropping like flies. will a kid like Callahan get a chance now on a decent line, or will it be more of the same. and Pock may get to sit out for NHL money again.

    12. Doodie Machetto on

      “Wonder if Doodie saw his god Hossa score a goal in his own damn net!”

      Nope, missed the game. I only just caught the score. I won’t be around for the next couple of days so I expect lots of commentary to describe what happened.

      Flu and injuries aside- I said that the way the team rebounded from last night’s drubbing would reveal loads about their character. Looking at the score, I’d say there’s a serious problem.

      Take care boys(and girls).

    13. I have seen the light and sipped the kool aid! Great loss tonight Weekes put on a goalie display that Hasek, and Roy would be jealous of. Rachunek? Off he looked like Scott Stevens circa 95! Hossa? My god he’s the next Pavel Bure by god! Btw Doodie was right Zach Parise sucks no really, and wildcard was right Tom Renney is the next Jack Adams! Oh yeah release Hollweg kid tries to hard for some reason.Lundqvist should never play again either Weekes that man!!

    14. Kool-Aid Patrol on

      Why call up some bed wetting kid like Callahan, when we can play a big bed shitting dude like Colton Orr?

    15. there goes the cushion on top of the division. and the Isles come in tues. Devils have 2 games in hand, and the Isles have 3 in hand.

    16. If Renney sends Ortmeyer back to Hartford for a conditioning stint when the team has stunk recently and has been shorthanded due to injury and illness then I am now convinced he is inept, period. This is the point where someone has to wakeup Glen Sather and tell him to do something. That’s right Glen, put down your cigar now. Your team was just shelled on national Canadian TV by an original six rival, then they lose a 4 pt game to the division rival Devils. Your team is hurt, sick and in need of a desperate shakeup. SOmthing needs to happen with this defense now, we can’t wait until the deadline. Also there needs to be at least one change in the forward position, either a scoring wing or a center would help. I would prefer to keep Pruch is possible. If you are not going to make a trade, Glen, call up Callahan and/or Dubinsky from Hartford and give them a chance. Bring up a defenseman as well if you need to. Ozo and Malik are not the answer, Kaspar is not that much better. Do something now before the holiday tradefreeze or I fear this team is going to take a dive sooner than later.

    17. *nakedjoe December 17th, 2006 at 10:38 pm*

      “i flew to toronto last night for that game and i almost vommited. biggest waste of a grand”

      Send the bill to James Dolan c/o CVC. Tell him you want to be compensated for your trip because you were ripped off.

      A grand to fly and go to game? Where were you flying from, Austrailia??

    18. *4Rangers December 17th, 2006 at 10:57 pm*

      “Sather gets Orr from Boston. he probably thought it was Bobby, not Colton”

      Still probably thinks it’s Bobby, you know how long it takes Sather to grasp something…..if he does at all!!

    19. right, Lenny. I think Sather right now is deciding whether it will be angel’s food or strawberry shortcake.

    20. doodie

      Who always leaves after the Rangers lose. In response to your claim that all good teams have games like the Rangers did vs Toronto 9-2 loss. Looked it up and Buffalo’s worst loss was 7-4 and 4-1. Ducks worst 7-4 and SJ worst loss was 5-0. Hardly 9-2 and in fact not really close. The good teams don’t lose 9-2 and then follow it up with a 6-1 game. More facts, but hey don’t let those get in the way you never have before.

    21. “””””””””Your team was just shelled on national Canadian TV by an original six rival, then they lose a 4 pt game to the division rival Devils. Your team is hurt, sick and in need of a desperate shakeup. Something needs to happen”””””””

      Yes, but by golly wildcard will be along to explain away the whole shebang.

    22. right, tsalad. and the sharks who lost that 5-0 game to Anaheim, just beat them 4-3 last night to get back at them.

    23. As long as Renney remains the coach, and is unwilling to instill accountability for not playing smart hockey. This team will never be more than a 6th or 7th seed, who gets destroyed in the first round of the playoffs.

    24. there is no accountability for taking penalties. they just go right back on their next shift. he did it last year to Nylander, and it paid off. but this year, jagr and malik have over 80 PIM in a third of a season, almost all of it hooking and holding, and nothing is done about it.

      also, Joe Mich. explained how the Jagr line overstays their shift, and refuses to dump it in, and then the next line has to get on the ice while the opponent is already flying across the ranger blueline, and THEY get the minuses that are the fault of Jagr and his 4 cronies.

    25. Dave, Sam is doing a great job with this one. The only one where there are two opposing thoughts almost 50/50. Name me another site that has this diverse groups battling it out.

      Tunnel vision teaches you nothing and has a toll to pay. :)

    26. Nick: I think Reneny will send him back for another stint, He has barly palyed, and 3 games isnt enough to get into game shape…but I gurantee its teh Pack staff who will say if they think he is in game shape…and Reneny is going by them…hesint jsut thinking this stuff up out of the blue. Having an out of shape palyer isnt good…look at Kasper early on when he was in even worse shape than now. Orts wont be down there for long, probably jsut4 or 5 more games after this stint is up, so like 2 or 3 weeks I would bet…

    27. 4Rangers December 17th, 2006 at 11:26 pm

      “�“�“�“�“Your team was just shelled on national Canadian TV by an original six rival, then they lose a 4 pt game to the division rival Devils. Your team is hurt, sick and in need of a desperate shakeup. Something needs to happen�“�“�“�

      Yes, but by golly wildcard will be along to explain away the whole shebang.
      …………….

      now turn to post-game musings, and there is wildcard, just like clockwork, running thru his litany of excuses for Rangers mgmt. and Hossa, etc.

    28. Kool-Aid Patrol on

      ““Sather gets Orr from Boston. he probably thought it was Bobby, not Coltonâ€?

      Still probably thinks it’s Bobby, you know how long it takes Sather to grasp something…..if he does at all!!”

      People don’t you get it that this is how the PR department is thinking: big names (even if they are not stars) attract the fans’ attention that is why we got Fedorov, Hossa, Orr, Staal, etc. to create more buzz and attention and draw braindead fans in.

    29. Kool-Aid Patrol on

      “also, Joe Mich. explained how the Jagr line overstays their shift, and refuses to dump it in, and then the next line has to get on the ice while the opponent is already flying across the ranger blueline, and THEY get the minuses that are the fault of Jagr and his 4 cronies”

      that is so true, and was happenning all of last season as well.

    30. “”””””””big names (even if they are not stars) attract the fans’ attention that is why we got Fedorov, Hossa, Orr, Staal, etc. to create more buzz and attention and draw braindead fans in.””””””””

      lol. maybe Sather can bring back Claude Lemieux, Jody Hull, and from baseball, Steve Howe.

    31. Doodie Machetto on

      Hey guys, it’s more of a coincidence that I’m busy with work when the Rangers get pummeled than anything else.

      The loss numbers weren’t as impressive on the other teams but were counterbalanced in two respects:

      1) those teams are markedly better than the Rangers
      2) The competition (with the exception of the Sharks), was always markedly worse.

      Now, I said that the game against the Devs was the more important game to judge the team by. Having seen the result, I agree that there needs to be changes. The defense? Absolutely, even I have said Pock definitely should be in the lineup, and I would also love to see Baranka. I’m not sold on Girardi, Inferno got it in another post about his game not translating well into the NHL, but hey, right now I’d be willing to try anyone in place of Rachunek, Kaspar, and Malik.

      Offense? Give Prucha some time on the 2nd line with Shanny and Immo. Balance out the ice time distributions. Ditch Orr. Callahan looked a little lost in his one NHL game, even in the small amount of ice time. Either way, when Orts returns, Hall should go. I don’t disagree with the conditioning stint, 3 games is not enough time to get in NHL shape after being on blood thinners for 4 or 5 months.

      Goaltending? I like that there has been an attempt at balancing the duty, it’s just that it hasn’t been done at the right times- and that’s something I complained of earlier in the season, except it was when I thought Weekes deserved starts that he wasn’t getting. But HL should have definitely started tonight and not Toronto after how much rubber he saw in Dallas.

      Renney? Maybe. He’s on pretty thin ice in my book, and I’m certain in reality after 2 disastrous defeats on back to back nights. My only concern is, who do you replace him with? It’s not like the team is in the basement so a complete overhaul of brining in an outside guy, like the Blue Jackets did, would help. And I don’t think Pearn or Pelino could handle it. But I’m open to the idea of a switch if the candidate was right. While Renney is bad(which I have never said otherwise, just that he wasn’t fire-worthy), that there are others who are FAR worse.

    32. As far as the competition goes the teams that I mentioned are better no doubt about that but the teams they lost to were in many cases the rangers equal. The Caps for instance are 3 points behind the Rangers in the standings but have 2 games in hand. The Flames are 5 pts back but have 4 games in hand. The only club was the Flyers and they are worse. The Rangers are in first but not for long as the Devils and isles have multiple games in hand.

    33. But as inferno is rightly very big on the Ranger losses much like their wins being smart wins or losses, these last games have been filled with pain, regret & just a plain old scrooge like athmosphere (tis the season I guess). I know many players are now out but I can not kid myself that the true nature of this team has been fully revealed. It is getting difficult to turn on the Rangers with any positive expectations. Hockey is a great game even when the teams aren’t great or aren’t expected to do much of anything (like last years team). But this is not hockey, this is not what keeps people comming back again again for that good feeling a hard working win or lose home team can inspire.

      Oh well just maybe nobody now can be in denial of where this team is headed if something big doesn’t change. A trade for a 2nd line center would be nice but a major shakeup within the org would be nicer still. Only place we are really OK is the goaltending, but that to will not last forever.

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