Too close for comfort


There’s no way I can use that phrase without immediately thinking of the mediocre Ted Knight sitcom of the same name. But that’s just me, a child of bad ’80s television (I have a similar reaction when people refer to “different strokes” or “the facts of life”).

Anyway, my point is that that with Tampa Bay, Montreal, and Toronto all winning last night, the Rangers are in no position to sit back and enjoy the view. At practice yesterday, Sean Avery mentioned that the team has its sights squarely on sixth place, and that it’s not unrealistic to think about making the type of run that a late-surging Calgary team made into the Finals in 2004.

My response: easy there. I think everyone is starting to feel better about the Rangers’ chances, and if they do qualify for the playoffs, there’s no question they’ll be dangerous. But getting there remains a challenge, and they can’t afford any missteps. That means they absolutely have to beat mediocre teams like Philadelphia tonight and Boston on Saturday, and just about everyone else as well.

The good news is “Brendan Shanahan is indeed back”:, and that alone will provide them an immediate boost.

More from the skate later…

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  1. (repost from last blog — sorry)

    Sam couldn’t agree more that the team absolutely has to take advantage of playing Philly and Boston right now. But, letting us think ahead for a moment, assuming the Rangers don’t tank and make the playoffs, they are going to be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs. Just think of how vastly different that is from last year, when we went into the playoffs riding a downward spiral and there was very little hope of victory. This year, I doubt many teams would want to face us in a 7-game series.

    And, about the Renney bashing—I agree that some of his personnel moves have left me scratching my head (Isbister on 1st line), but you can’t argue with the team’s play as a whole and, in particular, their defensive play since January—all with two or three D-men out and with Shanny out for a month. That’s pretty amazing.

    All this said, however, if Renney pulls Callahan out of the lineup if/when Straka and Hossa are ready to return, I’ll blow a friggin’ gasket!

  2. Sam,
    You’re article today notes that Dubinsky & Liffiton were sent back to Hartford. Regarding Dubinsky, was that a paper transaction, or should we assume Straka is playing tonight as well? Which I guess also means Isbister remains with the Blueshirts?
    Looking forward to your morning skate update..

  3. Looks like we have the Irish line tonight-


    Dubinsky and Liffiton back to Hartford.

    I am glad Orr will be in the lineup. Even though he is not the most capable enforcer, hopefully he will keep the Flyers off of players like Shanny, Jagr, etc. Without Gagne and Upshall in the lineup tonight, the Rangers have a good chance to take this game. Keep in mind that without those players, the Flyers will be throwing more goons into their lineup. I am betting at least 2-3 fights tonight!


  4. Doodie Machetto on

    Sam, I’m still looking for an answer on Kevin Weekes. Also, any info on Blueshirt Bulletin’s report that Nigel Dawes is in NY on a just in case basis?

  5. tonight could def get ugly!! Colton Orr might be quite busy…I wouldn’t mind a little payback either…dont’ forget strudwick can also drop the gloves..he isn’t much of a fighter, but he is willing…i don’t care who comes back in a few weeks, this kid callahan is a top 6 forward and should be here to stay…not to get ahead of ourselves…
    hossa – nylander – jagr
    prucha straka – shanny
    avery – cullen – callahan
    hollweg/orr – betts – ortmeyer

    With a Hot King, this lineup just might surprise a few people!!

  6. A few things: Let’s call it what it is. Renney is a genius cuz Lundqvist has a 1.86GAA and .933 save % since Xmas? Not so sure. I will say they are playing better defensively and everyone is playing their part. Desperation due to injuries, the standings, being embarrassed at home, or Renney’s the second coming of Lord Stanley himself, I just don’t know.

    The Isbister thing can be summed as follows: He is big and solid on the puck. He is improving. Too bad he has hands of stone. He does not have Hossa’s finishing abilities. But keeping him on the Jags line makes sense because that requires TWO big players from the other team to handle that line. Avery would be a better choice, but that leaves a hole in the 2nd line. When Hossa returns, I think Isbister sits.

    Callahan should absolutely stay up. He scores, he shoots on net, and he takes the body (ask Malkin). And he fights. If Gordie Howe was watching, he would have chuckled at Cally’s 2 goal, 1 fight performance against Boston. Also, he stands in front of the net ont he PPlay with confidence.

    When Hossa comes back, he goes with JJ and Nylander.
    When Straka comes back, he probably goes with Avery (center) and Shanny. I say ‘probably’.
    3d line should be Cullen-Prucha-Callahan.
    4th line should be Betts-Ortmeyer-Hollweg. I like Orr for his toughness, but no one fights in the playoffs.

    Can’t wait to give Shanny a standing O tonight!

  7. Doodie – those are 3 really good lines that gregg listed. Don’t worry about the order listed. It is no disrepect at all to Callahan to play on the line with Avery and Cullen. Remember Carolina won the cup with 3 solid scoring lines. There is no limit to how many guys capable of scoring that can be in the lineup other than the cap. When you have young guys like Callahan making relatively low bucks it helps the cause.

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