With the Rangers slogging their way through a three-game losing streak, it’s open for interpretation whether they should be commended for allowing for opportunities within their own system; or chastised for tapping the shoulder of another NHL retread. But the plan after practice today was to send Ryan Callahan back to Hartford and to call up the 29-year-old Brad Isbister for tomorrow’s game in Florida.
In eight games with the Wolf Pack since being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes last month, the left wing has a single goal and is minus-1 — not exactly the numbers that scream “I belong in the NHL.”
But apparently the Rangers have seen something in Isbister that merits another shot (I can’t say I’ve seen him thus far, so I encourage those readers who have seen Isbister play in Hartford this year to chime in).
“They’ve seen a big strong man that has shot the puck extremely well, that has competed and has the nose for the net. And he has the experience naturally to help him apply himself to what we need right now,” Tom Renney said. “I had Brad in the World Championships and he played really, really well. Since then his game’s been up and down due to injuries or whatever, so we’re hoping that there’s something there that he can add to the lineup. Shoney (Hartford coach and GM Jim Schoenfeld) has said he’s played extremely well.”
If you’re feeling skeptical, I can’t say I blame you. But at this point, it looks like they’re searching for anything that can click.
Meanwhile, a few thoughts:
On the injury/illness front: Matt Cullen (sprained knee) was back in practice today and is expected to play tomorrow against the Panthers. Marek Malik (strained groin) is out, but is a possibility for Saturday. And while Michael Nylander won’t make the trip with the team today because of appointments with doctors, there’s a chance he’ll fly in tomorrow.
It’s hard to make sense of “last night against the Islanders”:http://lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061220/SPORTS01/612200375/1034/SPORTS, other than the obvious theme of the Rangers taking far too many stupid penalties. The fact that the two biggest offenders were also their two best players only complicates matters. With Brendan Shanahan, I’ll allow that it was the rare loss of his composure. But Jaromir Jagr’s lack of judgment is beginning to cost the team on a regular basis.
I forgot to mention an amusing scene yesterday at the Training Center, with flyers sitting at each player’s locker reminding them of a mandatory reception with sponsors after last night’s game. Also included was notice of a sale on Rangers merchandise available to players at a 30 percent discount. “Maybe you can get that Jagr jersey you’ve always wanted,” I said to the Rangers captain.
Shanahan skated today and managed to shave for the occasion. But not so for last night, when he and Jagr were honored at a pre-game ceremony for their 600th goals. The whole affair was a surprise to the players, even though Shanahan’s wife, Catherine, knew all along. But the only time she allowed even the slightest hint was when she asked Brendan if he was going to shave before the game. “I should have known then,” the player said.
OK, more later…