“Gotta support the team” (Malik update below)

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A colleague of mine recently rolled her eyes at the thought of another Rangers-Devils game, if only because the Devils still conjure memories of mind-numbing, defensive-oriented, wake-me-up-when-someone-even-gets-a-shot-off hockey.
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The reality is the games between these two teams this year have been some of the best of the year — in part because the speedy Devils are a lot more entertaining than people give them credit for, and in part because they always seem to bring out the best in the Rangers (this is to say nothing of the fact that the Continental Airlines Arena press box is in a near-perfect spot about 25 rows up from ice level).

It goes without saying the Rangers are going to need to be sharp again tonight, in what will be their first significant test without Brendan Shanahan. In the waning moments of the season, this team doesn’t need any more incentive than it already has. But as a number of players pointed out Sunday, there is now a need to keep the season alive for when their injured leader returns.

I’m curious to see how that translates into the effort tonight. But if it’s anything like the previous matchups between the two, I’m sure it will be riveting stuff.

Meanwhile, some quick hits:

  • Still no word on the Rangers calling up anyone from Hartford, which is surprising only to a point. With Petr Prucha subbing in for Brendan Shanahan at second line right wing, Tom Renney and Co. likely don’t see the point in calling up a Ryan Callahan just to play three minutes on the fourth line.

    Plus, Renney liked the way Colton Orr served as a deterrent to Cam Janssen in the last meeting between the teams, so he likely wouldn’t have time for anyone else anyway.

  • That said, where Shanahan’s absence will be glaring will be on the second power play unit, where Pascal Dupuis has taken the wing’s spot alongside Sean Avery and Marcel Hossa up front. Prior to Shanahan’s concussion, the idea behind the two units was to try to split the ice time evenly between them. Now I can’t imagine it will be as balanced.
  • *Marek Malik did not skate today, so Tommy Pock will play a second consecutive game in his place. But Malik is not going on IR, so there remains the chance he’ll play Thursday.*

    OK, more later…

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    68 Comments

    1. Great first paragraph. I agree with your colleague.
      Let’s hope Prucha takes advantage of this opportunity and comes through with goals.

    2. With Marek Malik likely to play tonight, I just feel so much better about our chances for a good draft pick for next year.

      Thanks, Renney. You’re a genius. Rachunek can watch the speedy devils go by, but at least Malik is man enough to take a hooking penalty to slow them down.

      Both can feed the puck in front of the net for the Devils to slam on Lundqvst. They seem to possess equal talent in that area, but with Malik’s hooking, I give the edge to him.

      Devils fans just love them both.

    3. Last year late in the season Renney didn’t dress Orr and Janssen run around like a runaway freight train injuring Malik in the process. Lou let Janssen do what he liked but Julien keeps him on a short leash. Still not dressing Orr with that guy in the lineup is just inviting trouble.

    4. Love the Putty picture Sam. Good idea!

      If that punk Janssen takes any runs at Jagr or anyone else tonight, Orr’s stick better crack over his head.

      The Rangers have 23 games left, 9 of which are against the 4 teams ahead of them. They play the NYI 4 times, MTL 3 times, and CAR & TOR 1 time each. They need to win 7 of those 9. Getting 2-3 points against NJ this week would certainly help.

    5. Janssens.

      Theres about 15 million thing more important, but all the fans ever seem to come up with is fighters and having our guys run….

    6. Sam,

      Like the advancements you have made by adding the videos. I love reading this blog as well as Pete Abe’s Yankee blogs. The both of you are doing agreat job with these blogs and I know the fans really appreciate it.

      Pete has been putting up audio of his full interviews with players. Its good because we get to hear the questions asked and the tone of the responses, it isn’t edited down to portray something it isn’t.

      Is it possible to add something like this moving forward. I know Pete thanked you in helping himi get videos up and running on his blog.

      Keep up the good work, great work you guys are doing here.

    7. Bluenote,

      It’s Janssen. And I am just saying I am sick of goonery in the NHL. Guys like him and Brashear don’t belong in the NHL. They have 0 talent.

      If you read my full post, you’ll see I touched on the current playoff situation. I know there are a lot more important things. But if the NYR don’t do something about Janssen, we won’t be talking about playoffs because one of our star players will be out along with Shanny.

    8. Maybe this was covered on the weekend and I haven’t caught up yet. But what’s Jager’s take on all of this “fallen leader” stuff with Shanahan? Seems ALL the leader talk is about the guy without the C.

    9. anyone read “The Rodent” today?

      In spite of the horrendous spelling, on slow Ranger news days I check it. He was mocking someone on some anonyous board for posting that we should call up Jessiman for a power forward b/c we have none in Hartford. Rodent does not present the person’s argument but basically says that he is tearing up the juniors.

      Question: since Jessiman is not a kid and has really had a hard time in Hartford (some say that Hartford only gives ice time to speedy players and does not know how to develop power forwards and d-men, who both need more ice time.

      Is is really ridiculous in a lost season to take someone who is NOT an 18 year old kid and try to jump start his career this way? He had so much promise….

      I think it might be worth a try. What do we have to lose, after losing Shanny?

      I mean, Pock is going to sit in street clothes and watch Malik feed the Devils with perfect passes. What can be worse?

    10. Funny, I actually wrote the Rodent that his whole story was absurd, that anyone who has clue knows and doesn’t give 2 hoots about having jessiman brought up from the Checkers…He goes on and on about this rant…Why not Rant about some real topics, like our playoff chase, why this team continues to do nothing in response to continued high and dirty hits to there star player, and finally the lack of a physical presence on the blueline….

    11. we need a big power forward on this team, preferably on the Jagr line, I mentioned this before, someone whom all the teams in the NHL know that if they take liberties on Jagr they will pay (Adam Graves). We dont have anuone in the system like that, that I am aware of. Someone with first line talent, who would be a deterant for those wanting to cheap shot Jagr, shots he has been getting ALL year.

    12. If a lockeroom visit by Shanny can only inspire this team to a 20 minute burst against a weak team, Renney, Jagr and co. better figure out a way to inspire 60 minutes against a decent team real fast. If the Blueshirts weaken as every game goes on (AGAIN, AGAIN), the playoffs will soon become a true impossibility.

    13. No way would bringing up Jessiman be a good idea. The guy stunk in Hartford, and is averaging a point a game in the elite ECHL.

      I think this kid has bust written all over him. He has only regressed since being drafted. I remember the day he was drafted, they said something about him only having played hockey for a couple of years in his whole life. Wonderful. And to think the Rangers passed on Zach Parise and Ryan Getzlaf when they took him. Getzlaf is the one that really stings. going to have a 30 goal season this year in the NHL before Jessiman scores 20 in the AHL.

    14. Their previous draft picks have really come back to haunt them..

      Think if they had Getzlaf, 220 lb forward, big shot, and tough.

      1 guy like that makes the whole team better…

      I think the Rangers picks the last couple yrs. and management decisions have been alot better. They have made better decisions since the sell off of a few yrs ago…

    15. i am fellow countryman of thomas pöck and i joined this blog last december (mostly only reading, there would be too many things to say about renney or malik on one side and tommy boy on the other), though i have been ranger fan ever since. i am really impressed, first by this great job done by sam and josh (there is nothing comparable in europe neither in soccer or other sports) and second by the posting-culture, good substantial discussions with few insulting postings, its kind of rare.
      thank you guys, and lets hope thomas is going to play tonight and brodeur GAA will be raised substantially …

    16. Rachunek and Ward on a line together is a huge defensive liability.

      Girardi should play with Ward and Rachunek with Tyutin.

    17. Tell us about Byers…

      Looked up his info, appears to be playing well for Hrtford and is young…

      6 ft 3 but thin..

      What have you heard or seen??

    18. Check this out:

      This is the RANGERS NOTES emailed to me from MSG. Read carefully…These guys ae a joke! Seriuosly, this was from 5 min ago-

      “Rangers at New Jersey Devils

      2/20/2007
      Tonight’s Game
      The Rangers face off against the New Jersey Devils tonight at Continental Airlines Arena (7:30 p.m.) in the second of back-to-back games. At 25-24-4, the Blueshirts are currently in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and rank 11th in the Eastern Conference with 54 points. The Rangers enter tonight’s contest having lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3, last night at Madison Square Garden, and have now dropped each of their last three games. Since returning from the All-Star break, the Blueshirts have posted a 2-3-0 record in five games. The Devils, 32-15-6, are currently leading the Atlantic Division with 70 points and have won seven out of their last 10 games.”

    19. Doodie Machetto on

      First, welcome to our Austrian friend “The Wolf.”

      Second, Byers has promise. He’s really started coming into his own in the AHL after a slow start. Still not quite there yet, but may be ready for next season. He should definitely be on the team two seasons from now, if for some reason he doesn’t make it next season. However, I think he still has some things to learn at the AHL level, most importantly, consistency. After a great January, he has been pretty ineffective in February.

      I saw him play in January and was happy with what I saw. I didn’t think he was NHL caliber just yet, but he was doing the basics right and had a good PF look to him. His February numbers are terrible, however. I don’t know the reason for this. It might be that he’s inconsistent. The other alternative is that teams are starting to pay more attention to him. Either way, how he finishes the season will reveal a lot about his growth.

      In truth, he reminds me a lot of Brad Isbister in Isbister’s younger days. Maybe that’s part of the reason they acquired him earlier in the season?

      The other thing that is a MUST before Byers gets on the big club is he needs to pack on AT LEAST 20 lbs of muscle onto his frame, but ideally needs 30-40 more lbs.

    20. Was at both games this weekend and noticed something pretty glaring for the first time this season. The Rangers don’t forecheck worth a lick! I was watching Philly and even Chicago pound our defensemen with 2 guys deep, almost looking like pinballs. Our forecheck consists of 1 forward circling through the opponents zone and then some weird neutral zone containment. The only person that does forecheck aggressively is Hollweg and the problem with that is once he does get the puck on a turnover he looks more confused than a hooker on a dinner date. Point is I can’t help but wonder why we don’t install a more aggressive forecheck that forces the opponent to commit turnovers.

      On a different note, kudos to section 332 this weekend. During the 280 power plays that we had the chant of, “Pass” after each Ranger pass from the Retard unit (Jagr, Straka, Rozsival, Prucha and Nylander) went up. Made everyone around laugh, even KIDS!!!!

    21. Seamus- Why watch??? If it is so bad why are you gonna watch? Dude you need to calm down. The Rangers rarely win without Malik in the lineup. He is plus 21, 13th in the league. Give the guy a break.

    22. I would take it real easy when it comes to expectations for Byers.

      I have some hopes when it comes to him, there are allot of examples out there of hockeyplayers who have developed allot over a short period of time.

      But the list of Dane is long. Today, you must be good at all aspects of the game, for example you can’t be a “good skater for a big man” any more, you must be a good skater period.

      Ortmayer is a example of a player who have improved his skating allot, and Byers must do the same. Byers must also get allot better with the puck. He must get it to a level were Avery is for exampel, where he considers all options and got his heads up.

      For thoose of you who haven’t seen Byers, he aren’t all that physical. He will never make it as Ryan Hollweg type of player.

      There is allot to like in Byers, but I think he is pretty far from making it to the NHL. The aspects thats likeable about him right now won’t get him anywere, he must get his overall game to a level were he can contribute with them on a night by night basis in the NHL, and if he can do that, his toughness and attitude will be a big +.

    23. Pock???? HE’s garbage, why keep playing him? Isnt there another scrub on D playing for the Fudgepacks?

    24. Byers is starting to become a bit overrated by our very own Ranger fans. I think he’s an ok prospect, but definitely not a top two line guy.

      Again, I was never a big Byers fan. His Uncle Lyndon Byers was an enforcer for the Bruins and was constantly on the IR, retired early because of injuries. Dane was injured the year he was drafted and the year after, but has seemed to stay healthy of late. I just don’t have high hopes(and why should I? I’m Bluenote ! ;o)

    25. The Ranger record when Malik is not in the lineup is really bad. I am not sure of why but it is..

      He is the boo of the year.

      I think it is because of his size and lack of physicallity and when he screws up and has a bad game because of his size and lack of speed it is glaring. He has value on the market and only 1 yr left on his contract so I assume teams would be interested in trading for him!!!

      My least favorite D man is Rachunek. He does have offensive skills but seems to be out of position alot and takes chances when it does not make sense. Girardi at 22 appears to play so much of a smarter simpler game it is scary..

    26. I think minimize that powerplay unit is a mistake. They are very effective with point shots and they put Avery IN FRONT of the net, which is necessary against Brodeur. I would love to see Avery get Marty POd to get him off his get just like he did to Kolzig.

    27. Go NYR, I agree. If we simply return to leaving Jag’s unit on the ice for all 2 minutes we’ll lose a lot in effectiveness and they’ll be exhausted which will lead to bad turnovers and hooking penalties.

    28. I hated the Dane Byers pick when the Rangers drafted him…looked like a potential 4th liner with 3rd line potential, something the Rangers seemed to have a lot of in their system. Having watched him this year, I have been moderately impressed, but he’s the kind of guy who’s probably going to get the majority of his goals in and around the crease, not by showing off his offensive skill.

      He’s fairly defensively sound, so there’s a chance he could earn a job as a Ryan Hollweg type replacement.

      If the Rangers are out the playoffs towards the end of the season they might give him a quick look, but I suspect next training camp will be his next chance to impress.

      As for Dubinsky, I was hoping to see more from him this year. He’s been good but not great, and he isn’t pushing enough for a spot at the time. I was hoping to see more of his offensive talents this year, but he looks like he’s still adjusting to the increased speed of the game.

    29. It’s not just Malik’s game alone that makes the difference. It is the fact that he makes Rozsival play his best too. Which in turn seems to help Jagr play his best, and Straka and so on.

      Those Czechs seem to work best as a unit.

    30. Doodie Machetto on

      Stuart: I wrote this about Dubinsky after seeing the Pack play:

      “Dubinsky is fast and had good effort and made the smart plays, but he wasn’t so great at making them. I’d be interested in what he can do for the big club, but I imagine it wouldn’t be more than Cullen, as his skill level isn’t currently much higher, if at all.”

      I then added after being questioned about it:

      “When I said Dubinsky’s skill set was equal to Cullen’s (and I’m referring to offensive only, I think Cullen is better defensively), I was referring to only in his current ability. He shows great potential for growth and is very fiery. He also, like many of the under 22 year old’s on the team, needs just a little bit more maturity in his game.”

    31. Doodie Machetto on

      Toby, I essentially agree with your assessments. The only things are I see Byers more like a young Brad Isbister from his Coyote and Islander days as opposed to a Ryan Hollweg. He needs to put on a lot more muscle though. He’s only 20(21 tomorrow), so putting on 15-20 lbs during the offseason shouldn’t be too tough if he works very hard.

      As for Dubinsky, it’s only his first year playing professional hockey, and he’s doing about as well as I would have expected because, as you noted, he’s adjusting to the speed of the game.

    32. doodie thanks… I watch alot of hockey but my take is if you do not see a person play over a period of time it is really hard to draw an accurate opinion.

      I would guess evalauting young players and projecting out is very innacurate, but why do some teams have much more success at it then others over yrs???

    33. I don’t mean to switch gears here, but I was looking at opposing team’s schedules and the one that stood out to me was Toronto’s schedule.

      First off, Toronto is the team that worries me most, simply because they have the same # of GP and 3 more points. We have games in hand on CAR, NYI, and MTL, so in essence, one could argue that we’re right there with those 3 teams.

      Toronto still has 4 games left against Buffalo, 2 against NJ, and 2 against Ottawa, not to mention games against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. That means 1/2 of their schedule is against top playoff teams in the East. I think the NYR schedule compares quite favorably to it, especially after we’re done with NJ on these next few days. Even if we split these 2 games against NJ, I still think we’re in good shape because the schedule gets a lot easier after that.

    34. As far as prospects go, Callahan and Immonen should be the next two guys called up- plain and simple-

      They both can compete at an NHL level.

      Dawes would be the next logical one to follow. He handles the puck well, skates well, uses his (small) size as an advantage, and can do one thing many Ranger’s don’t do well-

      SHOOT THE PUCK!

    35. BlueClue

      Are you one of those annoying fans that yells ‘SHOOOOOOT’ everytime a Ranger has the puck at the point?

    36. a casual observer on

      “quick note….jagr is the team leader. not shanahan.” quicker note…..Jagr is the team captain.

    37. a casual observer on

      Glad to see Malik out. I am 100% sure Renney will have us play a strong east west game tonite. Which will play right into the devils strengths.

    38. Doodie Machetto on

      Cmon Blues, stop fighting. You’re my boys Blues!

      As happy as I am that Pock gets to play over Malik(do not construe this to mean I’m happy that Malik is injured), the results when Malik is out of the lineup are uncanny. 4-7-1 without Malik. I’m not saying his absence is the reason for the poor performance, just that we haven’t done well when he wasn’t in the lineup.

    39. Doodie

      I can’t figure out for the life of me how Malik is a +21 on the season (and a projected +29 on season) with 0 goals and 11 assists while averaging 18 min of ice time per game.

      That, combined with the team record in his absence has to atleast tell us something.

      Whether or not we like his style of play and despite his blatant giveaways at times, we are simply beter off statistically in all aspects while he plays.

    40. In addition, the team only has 2 other defensemen that have a + rating at all.

      Girardi is a +3, but he hasn’t played enough to gauge, and Roszival is a +4.

      I can not understand how there is such a discrepancy between Malik ad our next highest +/- defenseman.

      Hasn’t another D-MAN had to have been on the ice consistently with Malik?
      He never plays alone, say on a 4 on 3 advantage. Why is no one else close to him?

    41. I can only believe the statistical improbablity that is Malik’s connection to the Rangers winning percentage is a mere reflection of the frightening lack of talent in the remainder of the defensive corps.

      Or, in non-Renney speak, he blows but everyone else sucks worse (or plays far less).

    42. That Roszival stat IS mind boggling

      Who else played with Mali or Roszival?
      As far as I can remember, just Tyutin-

      …and he’s a -11

    43. Chris

      You gotta keep doing that Renney speak – it is hilarious!

      The one the other day was priceless.

    44. Offensively, our best guy is Jar, a +17, due to all the power play time. Straka is a close +13 and Nylander is a +5.

      Shanahan is a -6 on the season-
      The only reason I can surmise is all the penalty killing he does.

      Goals while short handed do count towards +/-, right?

    45. Doodie Machetto on

      Shanny is a minus 6 on the season because of what a defensive hole his line was at the beginning of the season. They were terrible in the defensive zone. The shorties hurt too, but that’s not gonna make too much of a difference because they’re offset by the PP goals.

    46. Jay,

      Your laudatory comments are greatly appreciated, but personal victories are not what our organization needs to focus on right now. You know the antique adage: “there’s no first person singular in team”.

    47. nobody is taking into account the number of goals scored by opponents while Malik is sitting in the penalty box. he doesn’t get a a minus for that, but he has 25 minor penalties, all for hooking and tripping, not ONE for bodychecking illegally because he never throws a bodycheck.

      his plus stats come mainly from being on the ice when the Jagr line scores, just like he got the same bonus when he was in van. when the Naslund Bertuzzi line was at its peak.

      put him with Ward all season, play them only with the 2nd 3rd and 4th lines, and then let’s see Malik’s plus minus figures. he will be a minus.

    48. Doodie Machetto on

      yeah, but that still doesn’t explain why Roszival, Nylander, and Straka are so far below Jagr on the +/- while Malik is in front of him. Because you KNOW Jagr isn’t out there killing penalties, even though he is on the PP getting PP goals that Malik is almost always not out there for.

    49. Hey doodie…thanks. I didn’t mean to say that Hollweg and Byers are similar types of players, I was thinking moreso that Byers could potentially replace a guy like Hollweg in the line-up.

      Another guy you might be able to compare Byers to, at least from what I saw of him this year, is the recently departed Adam Hall.

    50. I think singling out a defenseman at the moment (even Rachunek) is doing them an injustice. The Rangers are currently playing with about 5 #3/#4 defensemen in their organization and it’s just a reality that there’s not that mnay good defensemen in the league at the moment.

      Tyutin, Ward and Rozsival have all dropped off in terms of their consistency (not that they started the season well) and Rachunek is always an adventure…but has been putting up some offense at least.

      The Rangers forwards too need to help out a little more at times. In the game in Chicago, they got caught leaving the zone a couple of times leaving their d-men exposed, and if you’re going to pass backwards, then you need to be sure that you’ve got one of the opposition guys behind you.

    51. Doodie Machetto on

      “Another guy you might be able to compare Byers to, at least from what I saw of him this year, is the recently departed Adam Hall.”

      Maybe the Adam Hall of Nashville days, but I saw Byers much more involved in the play in the one game I saw than I ever saw Hall in any of the games I saw him in this season.

      The thing with Maleak is that when he makes a mistake it’s usually something really obvious, such as a laziness penalty or a turnover right onto the opponent’s tape. That’s why it’s so easy to point the finger at him. The mistakes of others are usually a lot more subtle, with the occassional glaringly bad play.

    52. Sam has no idea who is in net for the Rangers. He called Henrik Brodeur!! Ugh. If we lose this game because of Rachunek I am going to throw up. Our D is ugh…

    53. How many bad passes did Cullen make in the last few shifts? It looks like we’re not going full tilt the way we were before. Let’s hope that JJ can put on his pants tonight and put this game away for us we need a hero .

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