Hockey is in the air

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The above is good news for pretty much everyone other than my wife, seeing how it means my gear will soon be emerging from the basement, bringing with it the unfortunate smell of shin guards (true story: when we were first married and lived in a fourth-floor walk-up, I kept my hockey equipment in the back of my Nissan Sentra for the entire season. The car was never the same. We literally had to give it away).

But I digress. Of greater importance is that today marked my first unofficial visit to the rink of the season, with emphasis on “unofficial.” Since training camp doesn’t open until Thursday (although we have a meeting with Tom Renney tomorrow) players were engaging only in informal workouts and the Rangers P.R. staff that said that while I could watch the skate, there wouldn’t be any availability. I suppose I could have persisted, but seeing how the alternative would have been being locked out of practice altogether, I agreed.

Anyway, some quick observations:

  • First, a rundown of the players I saw on the ice: Brendan Shanahan, Scott Gomez, Martin Straka, Henrik Lundqvist Ryan Callahan, Marek Malik, Nigel Dawes, Dan Girardi, Colton Orr, Blair Betts, Ryan Hollweg, Tommy Pock, Paul Mara, Mitch Fritz, Marcel Hossa, Petr Prucha, Fedor Tyutin, Jason Strudwick, Chris Holt, and Michal Rozsival.

  • Just getting into the rink took some time so I didn’t see everyone, but I was told Chris Drury was on the ice before I got there. I’m assuming one of the anonymous defensemen I saw was the newly acquired Andrew Hutchinson, although I can’t say for sure, and the same goes for whether Stephen Valiquette and Al Montoya were on the ice as well. Like I said, it was a quick visit. Neither Sean Avery nor Jaromir Jagr were around, although in Avery’s case, he has been skating already. We probably won’t see Jagr until Thursday.

    kaspardown.jpg

  • Meanwhile, one player I don’t think I saw in the scrimmage but I greeted afterward was Darius Kasparaitis. The reports are true: the defenseman looks great, and not only because he’s cut his gold locks. Kasparaitis looked quickersprinting the length of the ice, and at one point after finessing the puck around for a few minutes, he looked over at me as if to see if I was impressed. I nodded yes. I was being honest.
  • Who else was I impressed by? The answer: It’s too early to tell. But a couple of highlights: seeing Callahan beat Holt on a breakaway; and seeing the 38-year-old Shanahan outrace Girardi to a free puck in the offensive zone. Lastly, there was the 6-foot-8 Fritz, who was acquired quietly in exchange for Bryce Lampman from Tampa Bay in July, and is likely designated for Hartford. topstory_fritz01.jpgThat said, Fritz is an impressive specimen, and at one point he roofed a shot past Holt (meanwhile, maybe this is more of a reflection on Holt than it is Fritz).

    Is there at all a chance Fritz challenges Orr for a job this year? I don’t know.

    But that’s what makes this time of year so interesting….

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    66 Comments

    1. longtimerangerfan on

      Sam, I definitly know about “smelly” hockey equipment with two kids playing…but that was years ago. They still play whenever they can though and my daughter is 37 and my son 33.

      Can’t wait for the season to begin!!!!!!!!

    2. Doodie, we split season tix – we’re lucky to be sharing with a great guy who has so far let us go to Messier nite, Richter night, raising the banner, etc. The day they announced the Leetch night I saw seats not as good as ours for $600 ea – we sit very close to Sam – which makes them priceless!

    3. Patrick Hoffman on

      How many games does everyone think that Valiquette will start this season? Knowing the way Henrik Lundqvist is, I say Valiquette gets a chance to start 8-13 games this season.

    4. beantown bonanza on

      good news that shanny is fast enough to beat girardi, or is it scary that he’s losing races to a 38 year old?

    5. Would love to see an occassional 4th line of ORR-HOLLWEG-FRITZ … We need to make a Physical/Team statement gainst Philadelphia, New Jersey & New York.

    6. The number of games Valiquette starts could be impacted by how many times he relieves Lundqvist, so I will give the number of games I think he will play: 23, with Lundqvist playing 62. All barring injury, of course. (I know the numbers don’t add up to 82 – it’s games played, not started)

    7. “…and at one point after finessing the puck around for a few minutes, he looked over at me as if to see if I was impressed. I nodded yes. I was being honest.”

      Oh how I would love to bust on Sam for sharing this little tear-jerker/academy award/kodak moment…. PRICELESS!!!

      I love this blog….we get to see a side of this team that so few do..

    8. So Gomez didn’t impress? What a shocker.

      Fritz is better than Orr, but I still don’t want any pure goon to be taking up spots.

      “How many games does everyone think that Valiquette will start this season? Knowing the way Henrik Lundqvist is, I say Valiquette gets a chance to start 8-13 games this season.”

      I said it before and will say it again, if Valiquette is our backup, then we won’t make the playoffs, he is that bad. He needs to be the 3rd goalie and play in Hartford as a backup

    9. hmmm if this kasper is the kasper of old, we may really be getting rid of malik and i couldn’t be happier

    10. It’s also great to hear from a reliable source about Kaspar being ready to go, notwithstanding Stan Fischler having visions in the park. It may just be wishful thinking, but he could really be what we need in physicality on the back end, as long as he doesn’t end up kicking pucks into our net because of his excitability. This won’t necessarily lead to a defenseman being let go (not counting Hutchinson, who really has no chance to make the Rangers, barring maybe two injuries) because we could have Pöck (unfortunately), Strudwick, and possibly one of Orrweg, depending who makes the team at forward, on the sidelines, since both of those defensemen can play forward when needed. I would really like to see Pöck on the fourth line instead of Hollweg, playing power play point, if that’s what it comes down to. At least I would like to see it tried in preseason. I just don’t know if Pöck would still be effective there; he played wing in college right?

      In some particular order:
      C – Gomez, Drury, Avery, Betts
      RW – Jagr, Callahan, Prucha, Orr
      LW – Hossa, Shanahan, Straka, Pöck
      D – Malik, Rozsival, Mara, Kaspar, Tyutin, Girardi
      G – Lundqvist, Valiquette
      Scratches – Hollweg, Strudwick

      Those scratches are both purported “good locker room guys” with some lack of skill, so they are perfect to be scratched or play the least amount of time at their position in a game if needed.

    11. Another note – if Dubinsky and/or Anisimov prove their worth, a defenseman will be traded to get one in the lineup somehow, even if it is being stashed on the fourth line. Same thing goes for Dawes, if they want to keep him up permanently. Then of course Pöck can play D.

    12. if these scores coming in from the traverse city prospect tournament mean anything, it looks like dubinsky and anisimov are proving to be valuable. the rangers are in the finals today after beating detroit 3-2. check out these videos of anisimov and dubinsky from practice.

    13. Anyone see the below in the NY Post from the Fashion Week gossip? Yashin has just about lost it all now…It should say ex-Islander.

      * If you want to make time with Carol Alt, bring a hockey stick. The former model, once married to ex-Ranger Ron Greschner, was spotted backstage in the W downtown lounge with current Blueshirt Henrik Lundqvist – not boyfriend Islander Alexi Yashin.

    14. Funny re: the hockey gear and the givaway sentra. However, I regularly leave my hockey gear in the back of my Amigo. The climate here in SF is mild enough to keep the smell from becoming intolerable, but it is still enough to keep my wife from driving the car. Win-Win.

    15. Doodie Machetto on

      “if Valiquette is our backup, then we won’t make the playoffs, he is that bad. He needs to be the 3rd goalie and play in Hartford as a backup”

      As I recall, Vali was our backup during our best portion of the season, during which we turned the whole season around and made the playoffs. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not saying he’s good, just saying that having him as a backup isn’t the end of the season.

      I think Orr and Fritz should fight to the death for the goon spot.

    16. Patrick Hoffman – I’d say you’d be hard pressed to see Vally-cat in more than 10 games, barring injury of course. Hank is a workhorse. All he needed was one season to get used to the 82 games. Like I’ve said before, he seemed to get better as the season went on last season.

      Gremmer Mott – Sam didn’t say anything about Straka, Lundqvist Malik, Dawes, Orr, Betts, Hollweg, Pock, Mara, Hossa, Prucha, Tyutin, Strudwick, or Rozsival. Surprised? Probably not. You likely think all those guys ‘suck’ too. And are you for real about the Valliquette statement? What are you basing this on? It would be nice to have a Glen Healy-type backup on the team, but they simply don’t have the cash for it. Valley will be fine as long as the defense plays good and Hank stays healthy.

      Sam – can you comment on the cap situation right now? If Kaspar does make the team, does than mean Mara must be traded? Or can they fit both under, as long as Hutch and Strudwick are removed from the equation?

    17. tdchi… you hit the nail on the head about having a glenn healy type backup… he had the stuff to be a starting goalie and was always ready to come in off the bench whenever he was needed…
      he did play a lot while richter went down but i think he pushed richter to play well in the cup year because even tho healy was slatted as a backup, he had a great run with the isles just one year before and we all know iron mike had no problem with sitting any of his players

    18. Actually, I should amend my statement about goalie time to say “barring major injury.” I’m sure Valiquette will get a string of games together some time when Henrik has the flu or a nagging pain. Or quite possibly when first place is locked up. :)

    19. Maybe it’s just the hair, but did anyone else notice in that video how much AA looks like JJ..? Is it just me, or do they even move in a similar fashion? I dunno if it’s just me, but from the distance the similarity is almost uncanny.

    20. Re: the above post- similarity to JJ when he still had relatively long hair. Not the total business in the front/party in the back mullet man thing, but like halfway..

    21. Patrick Hoffman on

      The New York Rangers Prospects claimed the championship in Traverse City tonight with a 5-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

      The Blueshirts, showing an incredible amount of depth during this tournament, got goals from Alex Bourret (2), Jordan Owens, Bobby Sanguinetti and Tomas Zaborksy. Dubinsky and Anisimov each had another strong game with an assist and Dubinsky even got into a tussle towards the end of the game.

      In four games, Bourret and Dubinsky led the Rangers’ prospects in scoring with seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in four games. Bourret, Anisimov and Dubinsky are sure making a case to try and crack the teams’ roster this year.

    22. I’m glad about Kaspar’s situation. A healthy kasparitis is always a plus. Let’s see what happens….

    23. czechthemout!!!!! on

      Patrick Hoffman -this is why i was so against us adding crap like peca to the team instead of aa,dubi.bourret will get alot of time during pre-season to show what he can do.also pat,i think that sauer and staal both may see alot of time in the lineup,staal will make the team and sauer will be one of the first up in case of injuries.

    24. I am ready to roll. First and foremost. Lets remember the lives lost on 9/11. The NYFD and NYPD. The finest in the land. And all the volunteers from around the USA that got NYC back on its feet. LETS GO NEW YORK!

    25. I been told that I am uglier than a Lassie dog collie face;
      slower than broken lawn mower,
      and have hugest forehead in the NHL.

      I think Kasper taking my place this year….make you ingrates happy, but not other teams. They like when I Malik the puck to them. It keep Henrik the girlie chaser on his toes thinking of hockey not girlies.

      my american not good but I got big american bucks from mister sather. who care that I stink or that is just my bag of hockey stuff. the trainer won’t clean it. he say i going to the islanders. is it really true?

    26. Man, it would be sweet if Kasper was back. But it seems way ahead of the game to count on it, whether he looks to be in shape or not.

    27. “Gremmer Mott – Sam didn’t say anything about Straka, Lundqvist Malik, Dawes, Orr, Betts, Hollweg, Pock, Mara, Hossa, Prucha, Tyutin, Strudwick, or Rozsival. Surprised? Probably not. You likely think all those guys ‘suck’ too.”

      Orr, Malik, Betts, Strudwick definitely suck

      Pock, Mara, Hossa and Dawes are nothing special and are very close to “suck”

      “And are you for real about the Valliquette statement?”

      when has he ever shown that he belongs in NHL?

    28. Addressing a few notions:

      Orr versus Fritz…Check out the fight they’ve already had on youtube when Orr was with the Bruins..It wasn’t pretty..Orr took it on the chin…literally…

      As far as which players will make it: Pay attention to what the Coaching staff has said on MSG.com:

      The players identified as most ready to make the team in camp are Staal, Dawes and Bourret. When Dubinsky’s name was brought up, it was mentioned that they would like him to dominate 1 year at the minor league level. While Anisimov looks terrific, I would think that they would want him to play 1st or 2nd line Center minutes as opposed to 3rd or 4th line in NYC.

      The Kasparaitis, and Valiquette situations are related. The Rangers will have to decide how they’ll trim the salary cap. If Kaspar looks good, undoubtedly, Sather will be looking to move him (likely along with a pick to sweeten it for a suitor) to another team. If that fails, he will not be protected for the waiver draft with the hopes that someone else will take him and his salary. If he survives that, then he will have to clear waivers to go down to Hartford. Once there his salary does not count against the cap. The Rangers are saying that they want Montoya to be the ‘Man’ in Hartford. Since his salary has his signing bonus attached to it, his cap hit ($1.9M) is three times Valiquette’s.

      For that reason alone he won’t play here unless Lundquist is injured. That should be the concern, not how many games Valiquette will play.

      What I’m most interested in seeing is how Gomez and Jagr mesh. If they do, Renney can play Hossa with them, push Straka to the left of Drury and Shanahan, while pencilling Avery between Callahan and likely Prucha. If not, all bets are off…

    29. Nice 9/11 tribute posting. And, on the subject, let’s also remember which traitorial- subversive, enemy-coddling party NEVER mentions that tragic event, except in the context of “We brought it upon ourselves.” And they are seeking the power to run this country.

    30. If you want to look at the Rangers cap situation look at:

      http://www.nhlnumbers.com/nyr

      if Callahan, Girardi and Ansimov are counted and Vally is the back-up we are at $52.005m. (thats taking out Shanny’s bonuses).
      Cap is $50.3m so we would need to remove $1.755m at least. Hutchinson is only $.475m against the cap so could easily be accommodated if one of Mara, Malik or Kaspar were not on the roster. Also we have to take into account that they will want to leave some wiggle room for mid-season acquisitions and might not want to have all of Shanny’s bonuses hitting the cap next season.

      As Malik is probably busy cleaning Renney and Sather’s houses, cars and skates to keep his job i think Kaspar looks favourite to go and Mara a close second.

      The other things to consider is if Staal($0.827m) or Montoya($1.834m) get onto the team they would take up a bit more cap room than Vally-cat, Pock, Hutch or Struds.

      Sam, can you confirm that Malik was not seen heading for Casa Sather and Chateau Renney with a pick-up full of gardening equipment?

    31. Robby that party is a disaster that’s been happening. If they were a hockey team, their goal would be to tank & come in last and just cause trouble for the rest of the league and cry about the refs & their opponents.

    32. Grim that’s your opinion. But what guys are you talking about that have dominated the AHL so they deserve to be in the NHL? Just because they won a prospect series, doesn’t qualify them to be a NYR YET.

    33. Good post by Rick. I think Hossa is a key guy and would personally love to see him play w/ JJ and Gomez but suspect that for continuity, Renney will keep Straka on JJ’s wing. On the prospects, it is very encouraging that the team has depth and these guys can compete at a fairly high level. Look at the number of guys drafted in the first round (even top five picks) that don’t see the light of day. These guys all have skill but its the ability to apply passion and grit that gets you to the next level. I think guys like Dawes, Dubi, Sauer and Bourret are showing that they can compete. I was in Calgary a few weeks ago and asked some people about Brodie Dupont (Hitmen) and apparently he is the real deal. Staal better make this team.

    34. Everyone should take Rick’s advice and look at Mitch Fritz’s fights on Youtube. The one he had with Matthew Barnaby was frightening given the size difference. You can just imagine Barnaby thinking to himself “What the heck did I get myself into?” I don’t know if Mitch will get into any regular season games, but Renney better play him at the Garden during the preseason! Man, is this guy scary big.

    35. It is hard for this guy Grim Gomez to have any less of a clue. His post make it so obvious that he has never played the game himself or taken the time to listen to any professional who has I almost feel embarressed for him. No idea about chemistry, work ethic, talent development or any of the intangibles necessary to build a successful team. Just likes to run his mouth.

    36. We’re talking politics? I know where to find Rush/O’Reilley/ Hannity type websites, but choose to come here for my ranger discussions. This season can’t start soon enough.

    37. There are varying reports on the Prospects series. One place had Bourrett getting the Gordie Howe hat trick but another had Dubinsky getting in the fight (the box score only has one fighting major listed and it’s BD).

      UK Ranger- I thought the cap went up to 52m this year? I think we are over the cap with DK on the roster, but under it without him, otherwise the Peca situationwould never have been a possibility. I’m not sure though, as math is not my forte.

    38. “Grim that’s your opinion. But what guys are you talking about that have dominated the AHL so they deserve to be in the NHL? Just because they won a prospect series, doesn’t qualify them to be a NYR YET.”

      if they are future 3rd and 4th line players they don’t have to dominate AHL. By seeing them play they look like NHL players to me. Some guys I haven’t seen yet, but Liffiton, Baranka, Staal, Dubinsky, Moore, Korpikoski, Bourret, and Anisimov look like they can easily play in NHL. Dawes I prefer traded, but he got nothing else to prove in AHL, he needs to be on a scoring line to be effective in NHL. Byers I am guessing is also close to ready.

    39. few lyrics by Pro-Pain:

      Hate Marches On

      Hate is on the march
      Hence the kiss of death
      A few will get out alive to take another breath
      Freedom is on the rise in businesses all around
      The public kept unaware and told to “hunker down”
      Unanswered questions like how, when and why?
      No accusations confirmed or denied
      Left opposition laid down and played dead
      Millions left speechless, scratching their heads
      Genocide, homicide, legacy of a cold and a sick society
      Put your balls to the test and bring it on
      Better fight to the death
      Hate marches on
      Exit due process feelin’ fuckin betrayed
      I’ve never been known to partake in charades
      Worshippers on the edge
      Prayin for better days
      I’m just a sucker for Jesus because I heard he saves
      A gut wrenching process to bury one’s own
      Anxious and nervous you’ll sit by the phone
      Xerox condolences sent to you all from Rummy and George, Condi and Paul
      Consider this and take a stand to make amends
      It’s not a place for your intolerance
      Why do we feel the need to carry on this way
      It’s not OK!!
      Hate marches on!

      Operation Blood For Oil

      Odessa Texas 1948
      Destined for greatness, and he couldn’t wait
      As for motive, that’s up for debate
      Lone Star, yeah… he’s packin the heat
      Rubbin elbows with the social elite
      Who took notice of a world at his feet
      The big drill, and the CIA
      Richard Nixon paved the way for this god to have his day VP under Bonzo Reagan
      Then Pres, of this once great nation
      91′, his first invasion
      Oh… the good ol’ days I miss
      Now get me out of this, this hierarchal abyss
      Kissin’ Middle Eastern ass
      White pride, black gold, and gas
      Just a profiteer on your foreign soil
      Operation Blood for Oil
      Passed the buck to his number one
      Now we’re fucked by the bastard son
      Can’t hide, so we better run
      Three cheers for the underachiever
      Once a drunk, and now a believer
      All hail The Great Deceiver
      First term saw mass corruption
      2 wars to boost production
      All done for your protection
      C’est La Vie to French relations and to NATO’s limitations that prevent occupations
      Oh… bleed me til’ I’m bled
      Voices never heard, blues are getting’ red
      Kissin’ Middle Eastern ass

    40. “It is hard for this guy Grim Gomez to have any less of a clue. His post make it so obvious that he has never played the game himself or taken the time to listen to any professional who has I almost feel embarressed for him. No idea about chemistry, work ethic, talent development or any of the intangibles necessary to build a successful team. Just likes to run his mouth.”

      WTF are you talking about, you sad little mook.

    41. Please, no more “brain storms” about having youngsters “stashed on the fourth line.” Five, 6, 7 minutes a game on the fourth line is a waste of time. If they can’t play on the second or third line, have them play 20-25 minutes a game in Hartford.

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