Those were the days


On whole, the Rangers are a more interesting team now that they’ve thrown themselves back into the playoff picture with 25 games remaining. Put it another way: I’d rather be writing about a team playing relevant games as opposed to one sputtering to the end with one eye on the golf course.

And yet…

With success comes a small dose of monotony. The lines are going to stay intact. The power play is rolling. I’m not saying this team is free of concerns, nor am I suggesting the Rangers are going to stand pat before the trade deadline. But in some ways it made for better material when the roof looked like it was caving in.

Oh well…

Anyway, some updates:

  • Speaking of concerns, the Rangers do have one in Kevin Weekes, who Tom Renney said is going to need a full week “and maybe even longer” to recover from his strained quadricep. That’s a troublesome thought given that Weekes had already been rusty to begin with, so chances are Stephen Valiquette is going to be around awhile, and could even play against Chicago on Sunday.
  • How does the Peter Forsberg trade impact the Rangers? For one, it likely drives up the prices on other players left on the market. I don’t think the urgency is as great as it once was for this team, but I have to imagine they’re still looking, perhaps for a defenseman.

    Meanwhile, there is also the impact the trade will have on the Flyers tomorrow. I know I said yesterday the Rangers should be relieved they don’t have to face Forsberg. But just as the Rangers benefited from the influx of new blood recently, Philly might enjoy the same benefits. Stay tuned…

  • Speaking of separated at birth, did anyone else notice the uncanny similarities between Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cullen? I think Cullen is a more refined player, but their skating styles and even their builds — although Dupuis is a bit bigger — are near matches.
  • Brendan Shanahan missed practice today after taking a puck to the face late last night, but he’ll be back for tomorrow.
  • I conducted consecutive interviews with Ryan Hollweg and Henrik Lundqvist today in which the short-lived 80s band, The Outfield, is playing prominently in the background. First prize to the reader who can give me the name of the song.

    OK, that’s all for now…

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    1. I wouldn’t mind Valiquette playing Sunday against Chicago…if they win tomorrow against Philly. But at the same time, how can you sit Henrik? The guy has been lights out the past month or so, looking like the goalie who carried us to a 100 point season last year.

      I don’t want to hear about him breaking down either. He’s 24 and a great athlete. Now is not the time for rest, that’s what the summer is for.

    2. All of a sudden, this team has speed. The addition of Avery and Dupuis has made a big difference there.

      The worse thing we can do on this forum, which Ranger management probably reads, is to encourage obtaining an established player at the expense of our prospects and/or draft choices. As far as prospects are concerned, doesn’t look good for Pock and Immonen.

      Girardi has been in there every game since he’s been up so Renney and company must like what Dan brings to the table. He’s a stay at home defenseman, plays very intelligently and does the little things to break up plays. Tyutin’s game has improved since being paired with Girardi. Too bad Pock’s last game was a disaster. Immonen, who I think Renney and company have made a mistake with, will probably be gone. He looked fast enough when I saw him in Hartford.

      At this point, I can’t consider Renney a total kid buster since he’s playing Girardi regularly. He might be right about Pock, who may be a better forward than a defenseman. Maybe he needs to play as a winger in Hartford and try to make it that way. Probably will go back to Austria.

      Let’s just hope Ranger management keeps their promise and keep their outstanding prospects. If not….sic them Sam!!

    3. imo unless henrik has to stand on his head and make 50 saves on saturday, he’ll play again on sunday. we can’t afford to give up points to bad teams at this point and in someways that makes the 2 points against chicago on sunday more important than the 2 points against nj cause the points against chicago should be automatic.

    4. “I believe that with a purer definition of our commitment to a philosophical engagement with the finer elements of what it means to be a Ranger, we are at the end of the day a group that is still seeking an identity, not in a Freudian sense as much as in a Toe Blake-ian sense. Which is to say that assuming an investment of our core principles in a thorough self-evaluative process, we can hope at some point in the future to existentially constitute a competitive if dynamically fluid arrangement of skill sets well versed in the attainment of the prize that awaits all who demonstrate an urgency to embrace challenge and…………..”


    5. Seems that with the schedule and the recent time off, Renney can ride Hank in goal, and when he’s in this kind of a zone, you almost have to.
      I hope at this point that the Rangers stand pat at the deadline. The infusion of speed and Avery’s grit has changed the dynamic of the team, top to bottom. Yes, they need a top four d-man, but the team is playing better defensively as a whole and even Pronger and Neidermeyer (“DEAD!”)have bad games (last night!), so Malik and Rachunek
      will do.
      Is it me or does Sam Rosen call an awful game?

    6. sam–the forsberg trade definitely sets the market as a sellers market and gives you an idea of what it would cost to bring in a rental (which the rangers don’t look like they need right now) but another impact it should have on the rangers is giving them a better idea of what kind of HUGE returns they could get in return for shanahan, nylander, straka, jagr…

      obviously there is zero chance of the rangers making deals like that at the moment, but if next weekend comes around, we are still sitting on the outside and ‘on the bubble’ about which direction to go at the deadline, knowing that i could get bluechippers and 1st round picks for these guys could sway you toward being a seller at the last moment.

    7. Sam,

      Did Shanahan’s post-game smile lead to any thoughts of putting the cage back on your helmet? I’m telling you, it’s only a matter of time . . . .

    8. Good point Inferno but his speed doesn’t hurt either. Probably helps him get his butt to the net more.

    9. As much as we bash sather and co, we need to tip our hat to the 2 trades they have made. Both Avery and Dupuis are clear upgrades to j.ward and hall. I really liked the game dupuis played yesterday, he was really strong on the puck, and seemed to have guys bounce of him (Hedican) when they tried to check him. Avery will be a ranger for a long time….

      I think our biggest need going into the deadline is defense. I would love for the team to add a tough crease clearing D man…I ready somewhere that matthew schneider is avail, i like his game, but can’t see why detroit would trade him…Is there any update on how Kaspar is playing in Hartford?

    10. Jonathan Probber on

      I’m off to buy some Champagne. The WRN/Daily Item/Journal News has just hired its first copy editor and she’s pursuing the bloggers to boot. Go get ’em Meg, but start with the news side.

    11. Hey love your blog sam. Is it Your Love? Also it would be awesome if you could do a peice telling us which players like which songs I know I would love to listen to the same stuff Henrik, Jagr, and all the guys listen to. Thanks

    12. Yes. It’s “Your Love.” Question: is there really any other song by The Outfield that anyone has heard n the past 20 years? (If you have, maybe you should keep that to yourself).
      Bonus question: I believe all of The Outfield’s album titles had some sort of baseball reference in them. What were they?

    13. if it’s not the big hit “Your Love”
      what about “Winning It All?”

      btw, sorry for the monotony, but i hope it lasts for you to the point that you start discussing losing your mind because it means we’re in a nice playoff spot
      (which means the monotony will end and a new set of circumstances begins. how’s that??)

    14. Doodie Machetto on

      “He looked fast enough when I saw him in Hartford.”

      The game is slower in the AHL and to me he looked fast enough to just keep up. He certainly wasn’t flying or anything.

      Sam, when do we get to see the results of the Hollweg/Lundqvist interviews?

    15. I didn’t know The Outfield had another song besides “Your Love.” I thought they were a one hit wonder.

      Anybody else think Sean Avery is awfully similar to Esa Tikkanen? Hard skating LW who can agitate opponents and chip in 15-20 goals?

    16. Doodie Machetto on

      Also, if you see Sather, can you ask him what his plans are for Ozolinsh(why hasn’t he been waived/ put on long term injury to free up cap space)?

    17. Sam . Thanks for the sympathy. I was out and about last night and found out about the Forsberg deal late and I really found it interesting that a squad like the Predators would SACRAFICE so much of their future (2 draft picks and 2 young players) for a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup……NOT!!!!
      The Predators are in danger of having to move the franchise because they can’t find enough corporate sponsorship in Nashville and they have a motivation to win. The NY Rangers franchise lacks that type of motivation because they can fill MSG in the summer if they played hockey in July and August. As a Ranger fan, I have been blessed with the ability to root for an Original Six franchise with quite a bit of tradition and have become accustomed to watching and rooting for the Rangers because I love hockey not because it is an event or a performance, but because of my love for the game of Hockey. I am sure that most of the people on this blog feel like I do.
      Now being Forsberg is not available to the Rangers for 2007, it still means we need a center. It is clear to me that the Rangers issues are on offense, When they get balanced scoring they are a scary team to give a power play to. At this point it would be foolish to think that the Rangers don’t need a center anymore because of 2 games. I commend the good work done by Sather and Maloney in getting Dupuis and Avery for nothing basically. Hey if I am gonna rip em when I feel those 2 are wrong, I have to give them their due when things work out.
      That said, Prucha is being misused and continues to be a good soldier and not complain. He is as close to untouchable as Lundvquist in my opinion.On the other hand , A Ward and K Rachuneck D Kaspar and M Malik are trade bait for other d men . The Rangers should be concentrating on swapping d men for d men or for an average in stats, but tough center.

    18. They might as well include Pock in a trade, it’s hard to believe he’ll want to come back even if they tell him next season will be his year.

    19. John M,

      Why do the Rangers still need a center? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m more than happy with Straka and Nylander down the middle on the first 2 lines. If they trade for a center, they will have to bump Hossa off of Jagr’s line to put Straka back there. That’s not something I’m in favor of, especially since the Rangers are 3-0 and outscoring opponents 14-3 since the formation of the new lines.

    20. Album titles are: Play Deep, Big Innings, Rockeye, Any Time Now, Voices of Babylon, Playing the Field, Bangin’, and Extra Innings.

    21. John M.

      I agree. Rangers need only to focus on “D” for this deadline or make no moves at all.

      You have to wonder what options are availabe if:

      – OZO’s salary were taken off the sheet
      – Kasper’s salary was moved
      – Pock (if he is not playing anyway), Krog offered in a deal

      Without losing too much the team could still be buyers.

    22. NJ Mark

      It’s only 2 wins . And the break up of the top line is the most intelligent thing Renney has done to date. It has created a much more balanced attack and made it harder to defend the team as a whole. Strak’s a better winger in the correct scenario. A true number 2 center would make the Rangers a 3 line threat in my opinion. The reason I bring that up is because it is possible now. Without Avery It would not be as easy to become a 3 line offensive threat. But with Avery we are a center away. And you are correct in saying it looks good with Straka at center and I say it would be even better with a number 2 type center and Strak’s back on the wing. Prucha could then be put back on an offensive line also.

    23. exactly. if they go back to the one line posse again, they will go back to being an inconsistent underachiever again.
      putting Nylander back on the Jagr line would be a stupid mistake. they have achieved team chemistry and line chemistry. why make another trade and foul all that up.

    24. John M

      Fair enough. And you’re right, the one thing it would allow for is Prucha to be put back in an offensive role. But I still say no trades for forwards. Or at least not for the forwards rumored to be available.

      It was 3 games though. Renney shook things up before the Tampa Bay game last Friday.

      Anyone hear anymore news on Nathan Horton wanting out of Florida?

    25. John M a 1st or 2nd center would be a big help & a good D man a necessity, it’s the price & chemistry that have to watched.

    26. JagrGal –

      Please tell me you looked those up on itunes or online somewhere. If you’ve got them all we’re in huge trouble, or you’ve got problems, or both.

    27. my thoughts on trading:

      if the rangers are going to trade with either chicago or columbue they would wait til after we play them. … just a thought

    28. Why try to fix something that’s not broke? Unlike their other winning streaks, this one is actually convincing. They’ve dominated offensively and defensively. Getting another center means screwing with the top two lines, and possibly the third.

      I actually really like the lines we have now. I’d like to see Prucha get going a little bit, but when the top three lines are more balanced than usual, it’s not an issue. I’d say the main problem (if you can call it that) is the defense. I wouldn’t go screwin’ around with that either because with the way they’ve been playing, they’re finally gaining some confidence. Everyone jumped on Rachunek/Ward because of the 2v1’s, but every defense makes mistakes. Look at last night’s Jagr/Straka 2 on 0 and the when Hollweg scored, that was on a 2 on 0. I’d take the 2v1’s opposed to the 2v0’s anyday.

    29. vtRanger

      You’d be happy to know that Sam has some brothers-in-law who are expert amateur stitch givers. Lots of practice and reportedly better than a lot of interns in the local ERs.

    30. Evgeni:

      I’m with you. They’ve looked way more solid in these games than they did even when they were on longer win streaks.

      I do think giving Henrik a game off is a good idea, however.

    31. EB,

      Yes, but are they dentists too? It looked to me like Shanahan skated back to the area where he got hit, but then quickly gave up the search for the tooth he reportedly lost rather than delaying the game.

    32. the Rangers should be able to beat crappy Chicago with Valiquette in goal. if they can’t they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

    33. the downside….a winning streak might get us to the 8th spot and a first round KO, but won’t get us a new coach and a new youth philosophy that so many of us seem to want.

    34. Adam Z

      You are too kind, a kindness which as we know from experience represents a state which might exist theoretically and practically but which nonetheless requires a diligence and a foresight that alerts us all to the ramifications of our duality in an ontological realm….

    35. Seamus, I agree, but since most of the vets are either signed or will be for next year, it is a moot point. there will be very few spots open next season just by looking at the guys signed. only maybe a spot or two on the bottom lines or last D spot could be open. and that is not even factoring in any possible trades or UFA signings from here on through the summer.

    36. Doodie Machetto on

      1st round KO? I’m not even so sure about that. Consider this for a minute:

      To get into the 8th spot, the Rangers are going to have to be on fire, playing their best hockey of the season. Hitting the playoffs with that kind of momentum is huge. The number 1 seed in the east will be either NJ or Buffalo. With the exception of one game against Buffalo, the Rangers seemed to play some of their best games against both of those teams. It might not be such a KO as you think, especially if Buffalo can hang onto that number 1 spot because they haven’t been that lights out team they were for the first half of the season. Think of the way the Rangers got their clocks cleaned last season by the Devs. The Devils were mdeiocre for the first half of the season and then turned on the jets during the second half and kicked the crap out of the Rangers, who had the exact opposite swing of momentum. If the Rangers make the playoffs, they might do the same to Buffalo.

      As for it being the Devils, there is no question that the consistently best games of the season for the Rangers have been against the Devils. Also not a bad prospect.

      If the Pens stay on their tear and take over 1st, then it might be that 1st round KO.

    37. inci(dentally)Shanny just got finished with mouth surgery as he spoke to Mike & mad dog.

      Shanny said, and I agree, that we may see 3-on-3 in OT next year to cut down on the number of games going to shootouts.

    38. Sam,

      If Weekes is out significant time, what are the chances we could see montoya up for a game or two at some point? I mean to PLAY, not to sit and look pretty at the end of the bench.

      Monty is supposed to be back tonight in net for Hartford, and I’m expecting rust.

    39. what do you think that a shootout is? teams like Dallas and Minn. are playing 4-on-4 OT like a trap defense boring snooze to make the game go to shootout where they excel.

    40. Joe…have you seen the Hawks play lately..they are palying rather well…its not out of the question for them to beat any team right now…

    41. that’s not the point. if the Rangers can’t beat a below avg. team like Chicago at MSG to reach a playoff spot, they don’t deserve one.

    42. Why not go immediately to a shootout and not waste time with an OT that each team is playing safe to get to the shootout.

    43. because a shootout should be used sparingly to decide a game. when the shootout becomes too commonplace, it loses its luster, as has happened this year.

    44. If you tie. you get 1 point. If you win in ot you get 2 more. if it goes to shoot out winner only gets 1 more point. I think that will make a difference

    45. If they are not going to just have 2 columns, wins and losses, then all games must be worth the same amount of points.

      3 points for a reg. win
      2 points for an OT or SO win
      1 point for an OT or SO loss

      that will cut down on the number of OT games to begin with

    46. Sam –

      I can’t imagine you don’t know this but the UNH-BU game is on channel 60 here in Westchestah. Just a heads up.

    47. gregg – I see you asked about Kaspar. I don’t know how he’s doing. I do know that if the Rangers tried to bring him up this yr he would be claimed and 1/2 his next yrs salary would count against next yrs cap as dead money. So the Rangers will not bring him up this yr.

    48. Doodie Machetto on

      3 points for a reg. win
      2 points for an OT or SO win
      1 point for an OT or SO loss

      I pushed that much earlier in the season, but everyone, I think Lenny led the charge, shot it down.

    49. “Your Love” is techno stuff? Not even close. Rather, power pop at its finest. The Outfield had at least four hits off the Play Deep album – “Say It Isn’t So”, Your Love”, “All The Love In The World” and “Everytime You Cry”.

    50. JAS – hits is being a little generous, just like the scorekeeper in Carolina last night…But tight about the Poweer….I’m just a little disappointed that they weren’t listening to “Sister Christian” by Night RANGER…..

    51. Just heard a VERY interesting rumor regarding the Rangers from one of my sources (check out my blog).

      *Rangers have inquired about Schnieder from Detroit while they also have interest in “Captain Canada” himself Ryan Smyth who has been put on the market in the last 24 hours by the Oilers.*

      if you dont believe rumors, thats fine, just wanted to pass it along.

    52. Schnieder would be a decent addition, and as a side benefit he could take mgmt on a clothes shopping spree makeover, getting their old wardrobe dry cleaned & burnt.

    53. Yeah, ok. Edmonton put Smyth on the market……NOT! They are negotiating a contract extension. Where do people get this stuff?????

      If the Rangers stand pat as they are, they will not only struggle to make the playoffs, they would be a sure first round elimintaion again if they get there.

      Wasn’t impressed with Dupuis. Showed exactly what he showed in Minnesota. Alergic to contact and shying away from hits. Just what the Rangers needed, another soft player.

    54. Gratton

      Stop whining. The Rangers picked up Avery, a huge contact player and got Dupuis for Hall… I don’t care who you are, but that’s an immdediate upgrade.

      Dupuis can kill penalties, is lightning fast, and can shoot the puck; 3 things that Hall could NOT do-

    55. Goals from Dupuis? Yeah, he is another Mike Bossy. The guy is lazy and a headcase, that’s why Minnesota unloaded him. Jezz, you “new” NHL fans really are pansies.

    56. Evgeni:

      Of course you’d take goals and speed over toughness and physical play. You’re probably a Euro.

    57. Gratton

      There has to be a reason Minnesota kept him for 6 years.
      It probably was NOT due to his laziness or inability to score.

      He was a third liner and no one expects much more here from him in that respect.

      What exactly was Hall?

    58. I just can’t see awarding a team points when they lose. I’d rather see the following:

      2 points for a reg win or OT win
      1 point for a shootout win
      0 points for reg, OT and shootout loss.

      Why? If the teams know that they will finish the OT in a tie, the team that wins the shootout will lose a point compared to an OT win, while the team losing the shootout gets a loss of 2 points.

      You’ll see much better OT hockey with that setup. Also a team isn’t rewarded for losing.

      Doodie, don’t remember shooting down your proposal, in fact, don’t even remember commenting on it…until now.

      Anybody agree with my setup??

    59. In addition, not every dimension of a team should be a hard hitting one.

      One of the reasons you need rough physical guys is to create space and open ice for guys that can go to the net, finesse and shoot….i.e. Dupuis-

    60. “Dupuis can kill penalties, is lightning fast, and can shoot the puck; 3 things that Hall could NOT do-”

      Plus Hall was soft so no loss there, just a total gain.

    61. “The guy is lazy and a headcase, that’s why Minnesota unloaded him. Jezz, you “newâ€? NHL fans really are pansies.”

      Yeah, he looked really lazy out there. Probably the fastest guy on the ice. Once again, I’d rather have goal scorers than guys who take stupid penalties. And with Avery, Shanny, Ortmeyer and Straka, Jagr, Cullen, etc, there’s a good balance of grit/toughness with speed. I don’t know what else you’d rather have? Maybe a team full of useless goons like Brashear or Janssen.

      Oh and if you’re gonna be “smart,” yeah, actually I am Euro… as is everyone in America. Unless you happen to be a Native American, then you are also so called “Euro”

    62. “Tom Renney” please keep posting, as you are both erudite and hilarious. Having said that, I would like to read your thought process pertaining to how it took you all season to deliberate and come the conclusion that breaking up Jagr and Shanahan on the power play may serve the greater good, vis-a-vis goal scoring. Was it an anxiety to separate the alpha males? Are there ego concerns? Will look forward to your analysis on this and, should you find the time, the issue of lingering performance anxiety at MSG.

    63. Speaking of Tom Renney, here is how he is quoted in the Post this morning:

      “I do believe that the karma is very special, the synergy is excellent,” Tom Renney said after yesterday’s practice. “I think there’s a real singleness and purpose night after night that we’ve all identified with.”

      There it is, folks: Karma and Synergy. Who will be skating on a line with Coalescence in this afternoon’s game.

    64. let’s see… the Rangers usually throw in the few token 5-6 game win streaks per season against Washington, Philadelphia, a sliding Carolina, Tampa and Chicago…

      … when i see consistency, like last season, through 10 games, then I’ll start eating some humble pie.

      I think the best thing for this team might be to just make it into the playoffs with expectations low…

      … would like to get another player at the deadline, I still think we’re a little small upfront, especially down the middle.

      Henrik with his 100th start tonight… good luck King

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