One of your wishes may come true…


…at least for a night. I say that because blog adversary *Karel Rachunek took a puck off the foot in last night’s game and was out of commission at today’s practice.* If Rachunek can’t play, blog favorite Thomas Pock will obviously get the nod. Either way, Tom Renney has yet to determine the defensive pairings for tomorrow night in Montreal. He wants to review the game tape first, then check on Rachunek before making a final decision.

Said Renney: “We’ll see how it is in the morning and make a determination from there.”

*Matt Cullen also missed practice with soreness* but Renney expects Cullen will play vs. Montreal.

Here are some other odds and ends from practice:

  • *1. Strange practice today.* The only reporters around were myself and another guy and that was just part of a strange experience. The skate was about 15 minutes shorter than usual and a few of the key guys weren’t in the locker room at all. My guess is that many of them were huddled in the trainer’s room for USA-Sweden juniors. I happened to leave my Sweedish-to-English dictionary at home today, but there was plenty of yelling after a Swedish player hogged the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and didn’t score. Something told me Nylander was among the unhappy.
  • *2. Renney was…dare I say…bubbly.* It took a while for him to emerge from the coaches offices, but Tom Renney seemed pretty upbeat about the state of his team, particularly the defense. My story for tomorrow will focus on the Rangers current glut of D-men, but Renney seems be comfortable with it. He feels the team has started to follow the blue print defensively (team-wide, not just defensemen) and that it may allow him to use the seven players interchangably.

    “We have seven guys who can play the game at this level and I’ll reserve judgment on how I move people in and out of the lineup based on reasons that are important to us and our team. It is sort of a day-to-day thing,” he said.

    Renney also added, “The blueprint is there for how we want to play defensively. I don’t know want to say it doesn’t matter (who plays) because it does, and I think you understand my point, but nothing should change.”

  • *3. You wanted balance…* but Jagr and Shanahan continue to struggle to score goals. I asked Shanahan if he was injured (he missed a couple practices recently, one for a hamstring), but he said nothing was wrong. Both he and Renney deemed it “maintenance.”

    During a couple practice drills, Jagr missed a couple goals from short range. This is purely my observation, but the captain seemed frustrated with himself. After missing the net with a backhand, I saw him fiddle with his mended shoulder as he skated back to center ice. It must’ve bothered him a little, although, to be fair, later he removed his helmet, took passes from a coach and fired slapshots at the boards while his teammates did a drill at both ends of the ice. Jagr’s drill must be part of his rehab, but the sheer violence of it proved to me he is physically sound, though maybe a little sore.

    For those interested, all the lines were as expected, with Pock working with D-Kas on defense.

    Also, *Renney expects Lundqvist will start in goal.*

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    1. Sometimes those injuries can haunt you for the rest of your life, but he seems to be able to play through it. Do you think all the brutality aimed at him in the past couple games (Capitals and Devils in particular) could have re-injured it?

      I think this team has really improved, certain players in particular. But at the same time, there are still holes in what could otherwise be a very competitive group of players. I’d really like to see Slats make some moves, and attempting to pick up Nedved from waivers was NOT one of them.

      Any word on Immonen? how’s he taking it? What is Renney doing to get him some ice-time? Does Ortmeyer’s return mean that this may be the last we’ll see of him until another injury?

      Thanks again for doing a wonderful job Sam, you are becoming a fan favorite….. Who am I kidding, you ARE a fan favorite.

    2. Thanks NYRich82 but I can’t take credit for this. Today was a Josh Thomson production.
      Josh, too, is a fan favorite, if you’re counting his girlfriend and members of his immediate family.
      I, on the other hand, also have the full support of my mailman, so I’m one-up on him.
      Good job, Josh. Thanks for shouldering the load.

    3. Renney&Stimpy on

      we were going to hold a meeting of the Renney fan club, but someone was using the phone.

    4. blueshirts2k6 on

      Actually Senile Sather fell asleep and went face first into a cake and the cake was rushed to the bakery.

    5. Rachunek has been one of the players that I feel has improved a lot over the course of the season. He has a heavy shot and good vision from the point on the power play, while his defensive play has improved. I think people forget that Rachunek came over from the Russia Super League this year and had to adapt to the new rules, speed, and overall game play of the new NHL, like everyone else had to do a year earlier.

    6. blueshirts2k6 on

      Jon we’re 40+ games in that excuse doesn’t work anymore. Rachunek’s weak on the puck, weak in front of the net, and turnover prone. Rachunek’s only good trait is he’s got a good shot that’s it. Pock is a much better skater, and passer, and while he’s a bit raw in his own end he’s still superior to the Racoon.

    7. Rachunek has been OK of late but too little too late imo. Last night I hought Malik struggled to put it nicely. Slow and slow to cover his man and let flyers get position on him and backed up far to much allowing the flyers the zone and then to get a shot off like Kapanan to start the third. But Malik is Renney’s guy so he won’t sit.

    8. The people who continue to harp on Rachunek, despite the vast improvement he’s shown since the start of the season truly baffle me. He’s blocked more shots than Tyutin, Malik and Kaspar, has fewer giveaways than Rozsival, Tyutin and Malik, and leads the team in takeaways. He’s a much better, and faster, skater than Ward, Kaspar or Malik, can make a good first pass, has a great shot from the point and good vision on the powerplay. Plus he’s only 27. You guys do realize that that’s only 2 years older than the so-called “kid”, Tomas Pock, right?

      He spent the first quarter of the season trying to adjust to the new rules and smaller playing surface, and being handicapped by his defense partner. Since, he’s played played solidly.

    9. Has D -Kas been hanging with K – Fed ?

      jeez i hope he can do better when picking out homies to

      hang with ….Or maybe it’s true that Darius is now dating

      Britney Spears …

    10. Renney&Stimpy on

      why don’t the Rangers quit the pretense and just call themselves the Czech national team.

      fore-czech, back-czech, pay-czech.

    11. Meg: are you the Raccoon’s agent? ;-)

      Seriously, I can live with Rachunek. It’s Malik and DK that need to go. They can’t keep up without taking penalties. I’d include Ward in there but he seems to be a good character guy. I’d love to see them try out one of Baranka, Liffiton, Girardi, Lampman as a partner with the Raccoon but we all know they’re not ready to take over for those rocks of stability Malik and DK.

    12. Canadiens cancelled practice today because 6 players were out sick with the intestinal flu that’s going around the league. And FWIW, we’ll see Aebischer tomorrow so Huet can start against the Devils on Sunday afternoon.

    13. I Miss Steve Rucchin on

      I think Rachunek is doing a good job. Not as good defensively as he should be, but he shoots the puck from the point and makes chances for himself and others.

      However, if he is hurt and isn’t 110%, let Pock play. Although this IS Tom Renney, who played an injured Tyutin instead of a healthy Pock.

    14. why does everyone hate on rachunek so much? he’s been pretty solid of late. hes never going to be chris pronger, but hes an extremely solid 4-5th dman, making a very reasonable salary and is a guy who has a lot of room to improve. he has a good hard shot that would be a great asset with improved accuracy, and his passing has gotten better as the season has gone on. while i would welcome a great number 1-2 dman, i am extremely satisfied with rachunek as a 4-5-6 guy. you cant have a whole team made up of niedermeyers, prongers and lidstroms.

    15. B-Reid: but most of these neagative ninny Ragners fans dont understand the concept of palyers who arnt top 3 or top 2 of their respectve positions. I think thats why tehy dont liek Rachunek, Hossa, Ward, and others…they dont grasp the concept that those players can and do help teams win championships.

    16. B-reid, I don’t believe “everyone hate(s) on rachunek” here. there’s probably one or two people at most. someone made a crack above about czechs (I assume Prucha and Straka are included in the remark, or was it just targeting Czech defensemen?), which of course has nothing to do with hockey, and really shouldn’t find an outlet on this site, in my opinion.

      josh, your observation about the “sheer violence” of Jagr’s slapshot drill reminded me of the windup he took last night coming down the left side. He drilled Esche high, who was momentarily stung and bent over.

    17. I think that people make to much of goal scoreing slumps…I am sure even Gretzky had a slump or 30 in his career. Fact is Jagr is still helping teh team…HOW, well he takes the top defensive players from every team, if there is a team crazy enough to think they can focus on somone else, well Jagr will break out of his slump big time. Guys liek Straka and Nylander, and lately Prucha have been able to score and make plays becasue two or three gys move to or towrds Jagr, if he wasnt there Straka and the rest would have to deal with teh double teams…

    18. Why do you think Straka and Nylander are gaining so many points? Because when you double team a player that means another one is open. Sure Jagr isn’t slamming home goal after goal, but he is drawing 2 to 3 players to him at a time, while still managing to cycle the puck. You can’t just nullify a single player, you need to cancel out the entire line, but this line still finds sucess.

      Josh/Sam, sorry for the mismatch. I’ll make sure to not let that happen again.

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