Off day odds-and-ends


Cleaning out the notebook as the Rangers wish they could just keep playing….

  • Who is the player wearing No. 81 and what did he do with Marcel Hossa? marcel_hossa.jpg

    I’ll take this opportunity now to say I always thought Marian’s younger brother had more upside than he was given credit for earlier this season. And yet I, like a lot of people who watch the Rangers closely, would be lying if I said I saw this sort of output coming — most recently a run of three goals in his last four games. What’s interesting about Hossa’s progress of late is that even Tom Renney originally envisioned the left wing as predominantly a defensive-minded forward. But he also figured that if Hossa could gain confidence at one end of the ice, his play at the other might improve as well.

    “Believe me this is at the front end of a process of developing a player,” Renney said. “We felt that if we could establish a really sound defensive base, get him some penalty killing and help him to define a role for himself that he might be able to become more coonfident and we could present him with the next challenge. But I can’t tell you this was preconceived.”

    Maybe not, but for all the heat Renney has taken this year in underutilizing other young players like Petr Prucha and Thomas Pock — not to mention the core of players in Hartford — you’d have to admit he was on to something with his investment in Hossa. No, I’m not saying you can expect the wing to continue to score goals at the same clip. But Hossa is still relied on as a defensive anchor (along with Marty Straka) playing on a line with Jaromir Jagr. And he’s already proven the Rangers have something to work with moving forward.

  • As for the two newest Rangers, the team is already relishing the flexibility Sean Avery has provided the lineup, and in Pascal Dupuis, it will at least have someone already proficient at killing penalties. I asked Renney if Dupuis’ expected addition to the PK unit might help phase out an over-extended Brendan Shanahan. Renney said possibly, but seeing how Shanahan is still one of the team’s best penalty killers, it doesn’t sound likely. At this point, it doesn’t make much of a difference. The whole issue of the 38-year-old Shanahan getting too much ice was a far greater concern earlier in the season, when the fear was Shanahan would be burnt out come springtime. Well now the Rangers are scrambling just to make it to springtime, so there’s no reason to leave any gas left in the tank.
  • Speaking of Dupuis, I already mentioned yesterday that the left wing felt compelled to clarify reports of his storming out of a Minnesota practice in December, saying Wild coach Jacques Lemaire had no issue with him leaving. But that’s not to say everything was perfect between the wing and the coach. Dupuis said Lemaire wrongly tried to play Dupuis in front of the net on the power play instead of in the slot where he could shoot. Then when the subject of Lemaire as a defensive coach arose, Dupuis jokingly took a swipe at his old boss.
    “As a player he was a one-way offensive player before he got too slow to play the game”, Dupuis said with a laugh.

  • Lastly, thanks to reader Inferno for this “impressive highlight reel compilation from the hockey season so far”:

    My one objection is there are no clips of me going end-to-end before tucking a shot under the crossbar.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve never actually done that….

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    1. Doodie Machetto on

      Maybe he can get a clip of Kamensky going end-to-end, dishing out a beautiful cross-ice pass to a wide open Sam Weinman, and then Sam fanning the shot and get a dirty look and probably a curse under his breath from Kamensky.

    2. Seriously! Kamensky dishing out a beautiful cross-ice pass? The only thing beautiful that guy did was leave MSG for good and not come back.

      It’s likely that Marcel will never be the superstar his brother has become. However, if he continues to get his confidence up and use his size to his advantage, I can definitely see him becoming a dependable 2 way forward who can chip in 15-20 goals per season.

      The key is that he continues to work hard and not let his recent surge go to his head.

    3. Dupuis will be wearing # 61, for anyone who didn’t know already. I know Sam posted he’d be wearing # 98, but when I saw him at practice yesterday he had a # 61 helmet/ uni on.

    4. It’s tough to compare Hossa with some of those guys, in my opinion. Yes, Hossa has more talent than any of them. And in most casers, younger and bigger than all of them.

      But take Hollweg and Ortmeyer for instance. Those 2 guys are energy guys. The throw a hard hit and it pumps the team and the fans up. Those are intangibles not measured on the scoresheet or in PP/PK%. They simply bring different things to the table.

    5. actually YOU WANT him to let this recent surge go to his head. imo the only thing hossa lacks is offensive confidence. once he has it he’s gonna run wild

    6. Hope you’re right Kovy. If so, that will go down in history as one of the few “steals” in Rangers history: Garth Murray for Hossa.

    7. For those who don’t remember, Hossa started strong last year after the trade. I think it was 8 goals in his first month or something like that. Then he settled into his most recent funk that lasted for, oh about a year.

      His rep, even going back to Juniors is that he shows flashes of brilliance and then slacks off. If he’s truly turned the corner he’s an asset, no doubt, but I’ll take a wait and see thank you.

    8. In Larry Brooks’s article today about the Avery aquisition, Brooks quotes Jagr saying he likes to play with Hossa because 81 can control the puck along the boards and it takes pressure off having to control it there himself. Sad, perhaps, but making Jagr happy and less panicked about performing is a strength unto itself. Let’s hope this recent lineup change can keep working. Go Marcel.

      And, please, let’s listen to Brooks when he says Jagr isn’t a braggart. I can just see some of those quotes getting JJ’s enemies all steamed up.

    9. the thing about hossa is that he is a guy that feeds off his linemates. his production when he gets to play with skilled linemates vs 4th liners is amazing. over the last 2 seasons, he is virtually a point/game player when he gets to play alongside guys like jagr, straka, nylander and shanahan. but a point/month player when he gets to play alongside guys like betts, krog, hollweg and orr. problem with that is that renney plays him with guys like betts, krog, hollweg and orr 99% of the time.

    10. twin–last year when hossa scored those 8 goals in the first month or so, that was when he was getting to play on the 2nd line with rucinsky and was even seeing some pp time. then his production completely disappeared when he got demoted to the 3rd and 4th lines when sykora was brought in.

    11. The Stars just gave up a first round pick for Nagy who will be a rental player for them. The price of all players on the trade market just went up again.

      Not rooting for it to happen because I do think the Rangers are a playoff team…but if Nagy fetched a 1st round pick, what would guys like Nylander and Shanny bring back in return?

    12. Hey guys! I was watching Euro tournament yesterday Russia vs Chezch Rep. Saw Jan Marek play he was OK can’t say he was awesome but I have noticed him almost every time he was on the ice. Did any of hear of guy named Jan Platil? He was really nasty D for Chezchs – was throwing huge hits and scored a goal on PP from the blue line.

    13. leetch3:

      You may be right about him, but I seem to remember he fell into the funk first, then was demoted when Sykora was brought in. Maybe someone with more time and access to stats could figure it all out, not that it matters really. If he plays great with JJ and that continues, that’s what’s important. I just have a hard time “crediting” Renney with “developing” Hossa.

      It looks more to me like Renney’s like the proverbial “blind squirrel that found a nut” with his latest line shuffling.

    14. Doodie Machetto on

      RAGS, Sam had corrected himself on the 98/61 issue.

      Meshuggah, those are his words on fanning, not mine.

      That price for Nagy definitely makes me not want any decent player on the market. Now that Phoenix are officially sellers, Perreault has become the best available center on the market. It would be Forsberg if there weren’t injury concerns.

    15. I’ve always liked Hossa and I think he is an excellent winger with good speed. However, I agree in that he NEEDS to play with skilled players.

      Hey Sam, heard a rumor that we’re looking at Robert Lang on the Wings. I think that’s a very interesting move. Any news on that?

    16. True Fans bleed RW&B on

      I don’t know exactly what all the stats mean – but it would look like Renney (or Jagr) may play rookie/youngster favorites. Last year it started as Hossa but then turned to Prucha when Jagr took him under his wing (err bad shoulder). Since they’ve lost confidence in Pruch’s much of this year, maybe they’ve given Hossa a chance now…? Here’s the numbers:

      In his first 9 games last season Hossa had 8 points. In those games he averaged over 12:40 in ice time, although he played alot of time with Rucinsky and Ruchin. 25% of his points also came from the PP. However, there was a huge dip in his icetime after the Rangers won 8 of 9 from 11/19-12/10 which essentially overlaps with Petr Prucha emerging as a lethal powerplay weapon as well as a natural goal-scorer. Prucha scored 9 goals in that stretch (1 or 2 per game, for 6 consecutive games) and 12 in 11 games if you stretch it out another 5.

      Since then, but up until the last 5-6 weeks, Hossa saw less than an average of 10 minutes per game and you know who he played much of his time with (Hollweg, Betts, Hall, and even Orr).

    17. twin–i’m not crediting renney with developing hossa, in fact i’m blaming renney for squashing any potential offensive upside by burying him on a 4th line. a coach is supposed to put a player in a position to succeed and this is another example of renney putting a player in a position to fail.

      hossa has never been left with top linemates for a long enough period to make a true analysis of whether it was just a few lucky games or he truly elevated his play. so i’m hoping this time he gets an extended amount of time on the top line so good or bad he has a chance to show us what is or isn’t there.

    18. Hossa,

      He tailed off long before he was demoted last season. After his surge upon his arrival to NY he went 14 games with zero points and one shot on goal. It was then that Rucinsky got hurt and Prucha was promoted from the AHL.

      In Montreal Hossa scored 7 goals playing with Koivu in 13 games, but then went 25 games with 1 goal and was demoted to Montreal’s 4th line.

      No player in demoted while he was scoring, not even in he Rangers organization. If Hossa now goes the next 5 games without a point, Renney will move him back down and Avery or Dupuis up.

      Hossa had one killer season in Juniors where he potted 90 points in 58 games. But he has not even come close to that kind of production since or prior. He has been streaky his entire career, and this latest surge while playing with Jagr and Straka might only be the latest in a long line of teasing play. If he can keep it up I’d be shocked.

    19. You know what? You have to keep producing in the NHL. Last year is great for the stat book. What a player produces tonight is what counts. That being said, if a coach is guilty of mis-using or mis-labeling a player,and therefor the player does not have the correct playing time with the correct line then the coach will pay for it by eventually losing his job.

    20. Doodie Machetto on

      Hossa had a good run in the Elisterien during the lockout. 18g/6a in 48 games. If he could have that kind of production at the NHL level I’d be VERY happy.

      Here’s a yardstick of what that means: Marian played on the same team. 18g 14a in 24 games. A little more than double Marcel’s production. If Marcel put up half of Marian’s production in the NHL, he would have 36 pts right now, 16.5g/19.5a. I’d be very happy with that. Instead, he’s about 1/7 of Marian.

    21. Hossa did this last season

      3 in his first 4 games then 10 games without then 2 in 3 games then 18 without a goal.

    22. So Hossa scored 7 of his 10 goals last season before Sylora got to NY in 42 games. 1 goal every 6 games.

    23. sykora asked too much or something like that but he really wanted to stay so i guess they were just unimpressed. which explains why half of our lineup was resigned. i miss him.

    24. a casual observer on

      I really hope Hossa can keep up his production. Maybe we can get a good draft pick for him now :)

    25. I, for one, do NOT miss Sykora. Sure, the guy was a beast in shootouts, but disappeared when his team needed him most- The playoffs.

    26. could anbody tell me if it was the NHLs decision not to go with espn after the lockout or was it espn who didnt want the nhl.because it seems to me that going with versus was a horrible move unless they had no choice.versus does a nice job but the exposure the league gets is terrible. i miss espns nightly coverage and hope that the nhl gets back where it belongs soon

    27. ESPN had an option which they did not pick up and would have done a deal it for a lot less monet so they went to OLN.

    28. Let’s not trade a thing while we are on this roll. Who should Dupuis replace in the lineup? I guess a Krog for Pronger trade would be ok!

    29. Hossa has been improving all season. Yes, he started strong last season then fizzled. Towards the middle he started finding a defensive side, though, and he was probably our best player in the last month and into the playoffs.

      He’s been good this season, too. Excellent defensively, and starting to find offensive skills that just weren’t translating. But for the past two months he’s been damn solid on the puck, when he’s on the ice the puck is with him.

      As Jagr said, it’s great for him. The two of them are great at keeping the puck in the offensive zone. The Rangers haven’t been good at that in years.

      Will it keep going? Who knows. Hossa has shown he’s got hands, but does he have brains? He can keep the puck in the zone because all he needs to do is follow it. Can he start putting together what to do with it and where to be?

      I don’t know if his problem is confidence or common sense. I’m hoping the former, you can fix the former. Even if it’s the latter, well, Kovalev had no common sense and managed to be a superstar. Hossa isn’t as skilled as Kovalev, but we don’t need him to be a superstar.

    30. Doodie Machetto on

      That guy is factually incorrect. Here is one example:

      “Last week, 22 franchises tried to bring the old schedule back, but eight blocked the move in a vote while Bettman, predictably, did little lobbying on behalf of the majority opinion. ”

      Had 22 voted in favor, it would’ve carried. Only 20 need to vote in favor.

      And furthermore, the man’s an idiot. Bettman might come up with suggestions for the board of governors, but it’s the owners who ultimately vote on anything he proposes. IT’s the owners you should blame, not Bettman. Jesus, why can’t anybody get that through their heads?

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