The skeleton crew carries on


A few thoughts at the end of a long day:

  • Tom Renney hardly sounded optimistic when talking about Martin Straka’s availability for Monday against the Islanders. I take “we’ll see” to mean “no way,” but maybe we’ll be surprised.
  • In trying to capture everything that happened today, I failed to mention what may have been the most impressive sequence of all — Jaromir Jagr’s backcheck during the 4-on-4 that likely kept the Rangers’ hopes of two points alive. It turns out that was the reason Jagr went third in the shooutout as opposed to second: he needed more time to rest.
  • The question was posed to me about Marek Malik’s game today, as if I suddenly think No. 8 is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In fact, even fellow members of the media in my presence have taken to referring to the defenseman as “your boy Malik,” because of what I wrote the other day. I stand by my argument that Malik doesn’t deserve the excessive booing he receives. That said, this wasn’t exactly a “Win over your detractors” performance by the big guy. Let’s be clear: Malik is a flawed defenseman, as we saw on the first two goals today. My point, and I still believe it, is that he shouldn’t necessarily be singled out when there’s plenty of blame to go around. Besides, if Michael Nylander buried that pass early in the second period, we’d all be talking about Malik as if he was the second coming of Brian Leetch.

    OK, maybe not. But it’d be a start…

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    1. Maybe I was watching another game today, I thought Malik played well.

      He is big and not physical so he stands out like a sore thumb.

      He is a good passer in his own zone.. The Rangers have bigger problems then Malik

      Scoring wingers……..

    2. When Malik makes mistakes they’re doozies. Yet, as his plus minus attests, they don’t often results in goals against. And to argue that he’s being lifted up by playing with Jagr is not borne out by the numbers- his plus/minus is much greater than Jagr’s. And Jagr wasn’t in Vancouver three years ago when he led the team in plus minus.

    3. dlv – they still have to pass 1 other team besides Tor and Mtl. NYI will be tough to pass with Smyth. Carolina is defending champs. Atl might be the best shot to pass. BUT the Rangers will have to go at least 12-5 to get close.

    4. wrong, zubie. in Vanc. he played with the Naslund bertuzzi line when they were at their peak. Vanc, would not have let him go if he was so great there. and his + – is higher than jagr because late in games and in OT he often is not on the ice, the scorers are, and they give up an empty netter or an OT goal.

      his pluses in NY is mainly the result of playing with the Jagr line. they play against 3rd line defensive forward shadows, and Jagr and Nylander have the puck most of the time,thus he has very little to do defensively.

    5. onecupin67years on

      Todays game was dizzying to watch ,the rangers did everything to lose with their haphazard play.
      I can’t believe that a team with this talent is consistently awful to watch, they just don’t exude swagger or confidence ,when a minor leaguer like Ortmeyer outhustles his teamates except for avery and Holweg ,somethings gotta be wrong,and the fact that sather and renney cant get a grip on the teams lack of play is mind boggling ,I would like to know what other gm’s in the league think about this team .

    6. the Canes will be the team to pass because they only have 15 games left. the Rangers have 2 games in hand on them, are just 4 back, and play them once. and the Canes have been faltering until last night’s win.

    7. maybe – but don’t discount the heart of the defending champs. Obviously we’ll have to get our own house in order starting Monday night.

    8. extended absences by Shanny, Straka, and Tyutin could derail any Ranger surge, leave them too short on depth.

      but they need at least a 10-6-3 record to get in. 92 is the magic number.

    9. looking at the Canes schedule, I see them only going 8-7 , so 90 might get it done. and if the Rangers go 10-6-1 including a win over Canes, they could make it with 90.

      if canes go 9-6, then 92 is necessary.

    10. If the Rangers sweep the Isles this week – and I know that is a HUGE if – then they have as good a chance as anybody from 6-11. What a fun game to be at today, at least for the last 30 minutes. First of all, Sam, Malik was not booed once today at all, except when the whole team was beeing booed off the ice after periods 1 and 2. It got so bad that around the 10 minute mark of the third, the chants of “We suck” started. Then the entire day turned great. Great play by Immonen to get the puck to Mara, great shots by Rachunek and Avery, amazing SO goals from Jagr and Hossa.

      Its gonna be tough, but if they take it to the Isles, this isnt over.

    11. i agree, we must win take at least one from the isles. we better watch out- boston is still playing well.

    12. they said on the Isles game that Ted Nolan was talking to Smyth on the bench even before tonight’s game was over, telling him that the game on Mon vs. Rangers would really be big.

    13. Sam, did anyone ask Tom why he moved Hossa off the top line? Watching the game i didn’t notice Hossa play bad, in fact he looked just as solid as he’s been the past dozen games. That really confused me today.

    14. Anthony (Abev) on

      Sam thanks for the interview audio.

      The audio of Valiquette and the female voice sounded like some weird, uneasy snapshot of Saturday night at the bar.

    15. Malik has played much better lately but he is still someone I would move this offseason..especially with the likes of Brad Stuart and Sheldon Souray availible..we need that #1 solid rock back there on D we don’t have-even with Staal making the team next year.

    16. Neil Katcher on

      Why the hell was MSG booing Jagr today? This really pisses me off. Stop blaming hte team’s success on one injured player. It’s pathetic.

      Yes, Jagr’s not as effective this year, but it’s not from dogging. His deadly wrist shot is dead until he can fully rehab the shoulder. Blame management for not keeping out of the first two months of the season. Don’t blame Jagr, whose own desire to succeed brought him back before he was ready.

      As Ranger fans why are scapegoating players every single year? Can’t we just be disappointed at the team, at the coaching, at the GM?

      The general booing of any player on your home team is just plain stupid. Every player has strengths and weaknesses. On a good team, those weaknesses are masked. On a bad team those weaknesses are exposed. Especially on defense. Especially in this system.

      Malik was good last year because the team’s attention to defense and detail was stronger. This year, the team sucks. But Malik is the same player that he was last year, get off his back.

      Quit yelling at big defensemen because they don’t have the quickness or agility to make big open ice hits. It’s just plain ignorant. The truth is, if you look around the league the defensemen who make the big hits are usually not 6’3″ guys. They’re 6 or 6’1″. vishnevski, kasparaitis, scott stevens. Chara rarely lays a huge hit, Souray is tough but also doesn’t lay the big hit, Malik i shuge and he just can’t play that way. So stop asking someone to do something he can’t. His reach makes up for a lot. And he’s particularly tough down deep because he takes up a lot of space. And for a big guy, he’s actually a good stick handler who makes a good first pass. So, please, let’s stop complaining about the symptoms and focus on the illness.

    17. i think the reason for people booing yagr was the team not playing well……Yagr is expected to do a lot for the team and when he doesnt skate becuase he stays on the ice for 2 min people boo…..Yagr also made the play of the game today on that backhand stick check blocking the pass going across…Stephan Valiquette also had a rough game.. you can tell he was nervous as he could not handle the puck and droped it a few times while trying to make a glove save..The rangers did not deserve to win the game but they did!!! now its time to take 2 from the isles’

    18. AHEMMMM…4 from the islanders and then another 4…= time to take 8 from the Islanders.

    19. Sam-When you asked your parents as a child and your mom said “we’ll see” that usually means no so youre probably right about Marty. Straks and Shanny have been and will continue to be sorely missed.

    20. Ranger fan club on

      the worst thing are fans who make excuses for everything. that is why nothing changes from year to year. fans who are gullible pollyannas are much worse than fans who boo. the fans who boo bring about needed change. the fans who just sit there and take it are as soft as the players like Malik.

      Dolan loves unquestioning rubes who clap for more mediocrity. fans who boo help the team. Even Valiquette said as much in his interview after the game. He said it motivates the players.

      Jagr himself said that his shoulder is perfectly fine, so don’t try to pull that stuff here.

    21. With Straka out (and Shanny) it seems we need a 2nd line center who can win faceoffs, put up some points, is good in the corners and is defensively responsible. Wait a minute…What about…Jarkko Immonen? He wins close to 70% of his faceoffs and has something like 8 pts. in his 12 games (playing with stone-handed fourth line wingers). And he regularly backchecks (as opposed to Jagr, who manages one backcheck every 10 games and then is hailed as a hero for it) Yeah, Tom Renney, what about Immo?

      Nah…too slow.

    22. Richthehshredder on

      These next two games will determine if we’re in. If we take 2 theres a great chance we’re in, if we take one we have some work ahead of us, but if we take 0 we’re done. If we beat the Icegirls twice we can compete for the 7th and possibly 6th spot. These games determine if we get in or not.

    23. They booed Jagr because at the start of the game, he — once again — was just standing around doing nothing, watching the play go by. Yeah, other guys on the team have no hustle, but Jagr’s the captain. He leads by example. That’s why they booed him.

      But if you were there, you’d see that at the end, when he actually backchecked and was hustling… he got a bunch of pretty loud cheers.

      We’re a funny bunch. We like instant gratification… and that means the players are only as good as their last shift. (in most fans eyes, anyway. Not the die hards like the ones who post here.) :)

    24. DumpJagrDope on

      “Chara rarely lays a huge hit, Souray is tough but also doesn’t lay the big hit”

      somebody doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.

    25. DumpJagrDope on

      I really doubt we’ll be able to beat Islanders unless Lundqvist stands on his head.

      as for Jagr part of the fans hate hit, part loves him. Intelligent fans hate him, stupid ones love him, and nobody will be able to convince the other, end of story.

    26. Dump finished your shift at Mcdonalds and the 5 sodas are keeping you up?

      More words of wisdom and encouragement in your last dribble post.

      man you are consistent… Do you get all this knowledge from comic books or your big sister?

      Give it a rest….

    27. DumpJagrDope on

      poor stuart, I obviously got to him so much that he no longer even talks hockey, and just talks about me as if he knows me.

    28. I’m really sorry to say it, but I thought that was an exceptionally poor showing by the Rangers. They may have won, but this team is really bad and has zero grit. They’re just a bad team. I don’t care about the comeback — it should never have come to that. They stank.

    29. Neil Katcher on

      For the record – I’m not a polyanna fan. I’m all for booing, just not ignorant booing. Blaming a player for his style of play only makes sense if he is deliberately undermining the team by playing his own style against coach’s orders. See Poti. That’s not what’s going on here with either Malik or Jagr.

      the truth of the matter is, management actually thought that they could ice a contender this year by bringing in a few players. They ignored the debacle that was post-olympics Rangers and sold us on expectations that were way out of line with reality. (maybe they honestly believed it themselves)

      This is a 500 team that is biding its time until the prospects mature. Almost everything about this team feels interim. Problem is, management is afraid to tell us the truth… wait until 2009, when the Rangers for the first time, in almost 20 years, will start to appear as a team of homegrown talent. (Lundqvist, Montoya, Staal, Sauer, Girardi, Tyutin, Prucha, Hossa (who technically isn;’t homegrown), Korpikoski, Dubinsky, Callahan, Pyatt, Russell, Hollweg, Dupont etc) Until then, they hope to get lucky with Jagr and co. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt for them to tank one of these next two years and get themselves a high end draft pick.

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