Before you jump the gun…

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Yes, that was Marek Malik practicing with Jason Strudwick today. But no, that does not necessarily mean Malik is sitting out tomorrow night in Atlanta.

What could be a ray of hope to the growing legion of No. 8 detractors was, according to Tom Renney, just an opportunity to gauge Thomas Pock’s fitness level while paired with Michal Rozsival.

“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” Renney said.

Of course, Renney also said that sitting Malik is “never ruled out,” and there is still the chance that the coach could make the move tomorrow in an effort to spare Malik from answering questions about it today. I’m not completely sure how to read it, because Renney also suggested the best way to shake Malik out of his early season slump is to keep playing him, especially since that was the effective route last year.

The difference now, though, is the Rangers have more depth at defense, and other players — Pock especially — are clearly chomping at the bit. I suppose we’ll know tomorrow.

In other news:

  • I was right, Bob Hartley was “just axed by the Thrashers”:http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=220818&hubname=. General manager Don Waddell is taking over the reins temporarily, which means the Rangers will be facing him tomorrow night. Regardless of who Atlanta’s coach is, the Rangers are all expecting the Thrashers to be a fairly desperate team because of their start.
  • I was, however, wrong about Marcel Hossa. Although he started practice today, he left the ice soon after, and is now almost certainly out tomorrow night. That means Nigel Dawes will be on the first line with Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr, while Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka will indeed be centered by Adam Oates imitator Blair Betts.
  • Dave Scatchard has now been shipped to Hartford. Still not under contract, he is with the Wolf Pack on a five game professional tryout. After that, the Rangers will decide whether he’s worth signing.

    More later….

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    61 Comments

    1. Bummer Hossa is injured, I thought he looked good. But now is a chance for Dawes to proving all his fans here right. And, while I am skeptical, I would be delighted to see him explode on that line. And, yes, I know it’s one game. But an opportunity is an opportunity.

    2. Obviously, make that “prove,” not “proving.” That was some sort of Russian-Czech speak…

    3. love those line except for betts on the 3rd. Once Avery comes back insert him between Shanny and Straka and we’re in business.

    4. Damn…Hopefully Hoss is back soon.

      Dawes better show what he can do, this is a once and a lifetime chance. Not every rookie gets a shot to play with Jagr, just because he “cant play with 3rd or 4th liners”.

      Im still hoping they trade him. I dont want teams to consider us the worms of the yellow brick road.

    5. Doodie Machetto on

      “But Renney also suggested the best way to shake Malik out of his early season slump is to keep playing him, especially since that was the effective route last year.”

      Really? When exactly did he break out of his “slump?” The first game this year? He was slumping from the shootout goal until his three assist performance on opening night. Get him a laptop so he and Struds can run dueling Blogs.

      Rob, you could even have Straka slide in between Shanny and Avery.

      I had suggested as like a crazy suggestion earlier in the season running these (or something similar) lines:

      Hossa-Straka-Jagr
      Prucha-Drury-Shanahan
      Avery-Gomez-Callahan

      I said they were crazy because we would never let Prucha and Callahan both see time with our 7 million men. but now, my dreams are coming true: BOTH are going to get that time.

      Sam, is there any indication that the Prucha-Drury-Callahan combo is the 2nd line? or is it a third line? SNY ran some BS 10 second story saying that Drury was “on thin ice” and had been “demoted” to the third line. But is any line centered by Blair Betts REALLY anything higher than a 3rd line? I love the Adam Oates joke, by the way.

      As for Dawes coming up, I’m a bit disappointed that he won’t get to play alongside Gomez and Shanahan like he did during the preseason, where he had shown some real life.

      Lastly, what would it take for you to “Tonya Harding” Malik?

    6. Drury and Shanny are not on 2nd or 3rd lines. From the current lineup, and based on Renney’s comments, he wants to roll 3 lines. 1A, 1B, 1C and a checking line.

    7. hartley should have lost his job after his obvious ineptitude was exposed in handling last years postseason goaltender situation.

    8. NYR needs to beat ATL. It would be very embarrissing if we are the first to lose to these guys. Kovalchuk is gonna be flying, cause you know he’s happy that Hartley was fired. From what i know, no one liked the guy, especially Kovalchuk.

      This team needs to give Pock a chance with Staal. You never know, they could have wicked chemistry, i can see it happening.

      Enough of these stupid 3 day and 4 day breaks already. It doesnt even feel like the season started.

    9. Thin Ice!! Get the fugg out of here, these SNY’ers must be drunk. 4 games in and he’s on thin ice when he has 1 goal and 3 assists. Lol.

      Anyway, my lines would be this…

      Hossa – Straka – Jagr
      Drury – Gomez – Shanahan
      Callahan – Avery – Prucha
      Hollweg – Betts – Orr / (Try Dubinsky on the wing)

      I like Dubi, but we really dont have room, even for him. I want Hoss in the lineup, and as long as Dubi is playing then, Hoss has to be on the 4th line, but he needs to play on the 1st. Sending Dubi down could be the best thing, it worked for Cally, maybe it will work for him, and thursday we’ll see if it works for Dawes, or will he just blow like he has been doing. Its nothing personal against Dawes, but i just hate the fact that he gets to go with Jags, just cause he cant mesh with the 3rd or 4th lines. At least Hoss worked his ass off until they gave him the job on the top line, and he did well, going on that scoring streak. So Dawes better have a damn good game and not hold back that friggin line…

    10. There is no difference between the first line and the third line on the best teams, and that is especially true given how much special teams work there is these days. If anything, though, I’d say that it’s Prucha and Callahan who are getting the chance to play with Drury and that Shanny and Straka are being relegated to playing with Betts. But even there, the hope is that Betts can benefit from playing with those two.

      Either way, by no means is Drury being demoted.

    11. Doodie Machetto on

      “hartley should have lost his job after his obvious ineptitude was exposed in handling last years postseason goaltender situation.”

      I was just thinking the same thing.

      Thanks for the answer Sam, if that really is you.

    12. Of course, lets fire the guy when the rangers are coming to town. They are gonna be all revved up and its gonna be a tough one tomorrow.

    13. I’m putting on my amazing kreskin hat and predicting a 5-2 Ranger win tomorrow with goals from all 3 newly formed lines.

    14. Doodie Machetto on

      HAHAHAHA. that’s amazing. too bad I had to watch the first minute of that annoying kid before he said it.

    15. Drop the Puck! on

      Slats comes up tower A sometime during warmups usually and you can catch him going into the small hallway leading to the elevators upstairs if anyone wants to tell HIM to piss off.

    16. Drury and Shanny are not on 2nd or 3rd lines. From the current lineup, and based on Renney’s comments, he wants to roll 3 lines. 1A, 1B, 1C and a checking line.

      yes yes, thats very *cute* and all, but I’ll take that 1A, 1B, 1C malarchy seriously when the ice time gets divided evenly amongst those lines…

      This was my question the other day about Shanny’s comment to Drury about Drury now being “the third number 1 center” and I was wondering if Shannahan was joking or if he seriously did not realize that it was in fact HE who was more likely being demoted to the third line rather than Drury…

    17. Betts did nothing on the third line so guess what? Coach Tomfoolery moves him up to the 2nd line instead of poor Dubinsky. Betts has what 8 career assists? Yet Renney continues to play Betts out of his element. Betts is no more than a solid 4th liner and a great pker. Don’t expect Renney to make his other pet Malik accountable. I expect him to ratchet up Malik’s icetime.

    18. Betts did nothing on the third line so guess what? Coach Tomfoolery moves him up to the 2nd line instead of poor Dubinsky.

      ====

      I think…you’re missing the reality of the changes. Betts is still 3rd line center.

      and LOL @ “poor Dubinsky”

    19. what terrible lines

      Gomez and Jagr and Betts with Shanahan and Straka. I’d rather see Malik in the lineup than that

    20. Is it me or does Hossa seem to be brittle? He always seems to come up with injuries. This was his chance to show what he can do on a regular basis and now he’s hurt again.

      If Renney does in fact put dawes in there and he plays too well to take him out, then have to consider moving Hossa or Hollweg.

    21. Salten I guess you’re another Rangers p.r man doing Coach Tomfoolery’s bidding huh? Betts belongs on the 4th line no if and or buts.

    22. Betts should be replaced with Dubinsky, otherwise lines OK.

      Dawes and Gomez have speed. Jagr should be able to keep up. Drury with Prucha and Callahan, probably will get the most shots of any line. Already gave my opinion on the selection of Betts over Dubinsky. Renney just can’t seem to get it right!

    23. Betts should be replaced with Dubinsky.

      Dawes and Gomez have speed. Jagr should be able to keep up.

      Drury with Prucha and Callahan, probably will get the most shots of any line. Already gave my opinion on the selection of Betts over Dubinsky.

      Renney just can’t seem to get it right!

    24. Doodie Machetto on

      lenny, Shanahan will have more shots by himself than every other line combined. That man doesn’t know the meaning of the word pass this season. With Betts centering him, look for him to pass even less.

    25. It almost makes you happy for injuries to see this lines coming up. I just wish it wasn’t Avery who was injured because he was arguably the big key to the Thrashers series last year. I think Hartley is really a victim of Lehtonen not playing up to his potential, but he didn’t handle the goaltending in the series with us very well.

      There must be some rational explanation for Betts on the third line still. Either Shanahan and/or Straka want him to be there or Renney wants to make Dubinsky work because he is a rookie, getting time on the fourth line. In this case, Dubinsky showing his toughness and willingness to fight may have hurt his cause, putting him with the other fighters.

      I think that is Sam without the underline – it’s the same for the writer of the Mets Blog now, too.

      I would have to say that this is one of the most exciting posts of an anticipatory nature that I have ever read here. Malik could be out, Dawes gets a shot on the first line, Prucha and Callahan on the second line, Scatchard not being on the team. It just makes me tingle inside. :) I do suspect that Shanahan and Straka will get more ice time overall than Prucha and Callahan, but the latter two will have more even strength time.

    26. lennynyr – Re: Hossa; This is the first injury I find suspect, seeing as though groin injuries typically don’t happen to players that keep in shape over the summer. My guess is this had something to do with Renney benching him the first week of the season.

      His other two injuries, however, were nothing short of horiffic. The 2005 injury, where he took a puck to the face, was brutal. Then the 2006 injury, a knee-to-knee check, also brutal. Those are injuries that any player would have sustained and stayed out just as long.

      I’m not going to get into another Hossa flap, but I disagree whole heartedly with anyone who says he’s garbage. He ain’t an all-star, but he’s about as solid an NHL player as they come for $780,000.

      As for Dawes, this is his break. If he can produce a point-per-game and reproduce his chemistry with Shanny and Gomer, then he’s got a spot.

    27. tdchi –

      wasn’t sure I was following you but now I think I get it – you think Hossa hurt his groin because he didn’t stay in shape over the summer, which is why Renney benched him, correct? At first it sounded like you didn’t believe Hossa had a groin injury because those don’t happen if you stay in shape over the summer.

    28. Sorry, all, if I wasn’t clear. Hossa is out with a hip flexor/groin, not because he is in Renney’s doghouse.

      And yes, it is me without the underline.

    29. Sam Hossa was in Renney’s chateau bow wow for the beginning of this season. And he will probably go back in after playing 10 good games then going back to his usual inconsistent self. There is something not right about that guy, that only he can fix. He’s mentally lazy for a pro athelete. He has the physical ability. Renney has had too much patience with him, and will finally draw the line if he goes back to his MO. Maybe they should just leave him in Atlanta after tomorrow’s game ;-)

    30. I like the idea of giving Thomas Pock a shot. The guy wants to play here and he is cheap. We shouldn’t alienate the guy who can serve several different purposes on the team. All of our defense guys have contracts up at the end of the season, with the exception of Staal and Pock. Both Girardi and Tyutin will be up for big pay raises. Then we have all of Jags salary to take up (option year), along with Lundqvist’s additional money, all of Gomez, Drury and hopefully we will keep Avery. Plus we need to re-sign Straka, providing he doesn’t retire. Those 8 players alone I am thinking it will be a cap hit around 40 million. Pock is one of the few competent cheap defensemen who are in our budget and can get the job done. Before the team potentially deals him, they need to see what he can do.

      Because I am in Atlanta, I am excited to see Dawes play. However, I think that he should be playing with Gomez and Shanny just because we know they already have chemistry. I really don’t like the idea of playing Betts, who has a career best 13 points, with two guys who can score more points in 3 games than he does in a year. I think it is doing a disservice to Shanny and Straka’s talent. I think that playing Dubinsky in that spot would be a much better choice. However, depending upon how the game goes, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Renney mix up the lines and see Shanny back with Drury or the line of Dawes-Gomez-Shanny back together. We have to remember Atlanta is going to be playing desperate hockey and they have the potential to be good. I would hate to be wearing all my Rangers gear and walk out disappointed and have to deal with the rude Atlanta fans. It’s already bad enough I’m going to have to sit though the “Lundqvist, Lundqvist You Suck” chant. Hopefully this team will not take anything for granted and play a really good game.

    31. I saw another story today about Beezer’s entry into the US Hockey Hall of Fame and it reminded me of that bizarre racist episode he was involved in. None of the recent articles I’ve seen mention it, but did anyone — Sam? — ever hear an explanation or apology that made it seem anything less than offensive?

      I was a big fan of his, but…

    32. Sit Malik, play Malik 45 minutes, dress him and bench him, waive him, dress him up like the chief and have him run laps around the lanes between the 200’s and 300’s waving a finger in the air, it really makes absolutely no difference if the team scores no goals. So frankly, I don’t care what they do with Malik. The d is giving up 2 goals a game and we’re 2-3. Time for Coach Renney to figure out how to get the offense SCORING GOALS.AND GUESS WHAT TOM? HAVING BLAIR BETTS CENTER SHANAHAN WILL NOT ONLY FAIL TO GET SHANNY STARTED, IT WILL INSULT HIM AS WELL. Last year, Brett Hull – YES, THAT LOSER BRETT HULL – called out the Rangers on national TV for having the stupidity to have Shanny centered by BLAIR BETTS. I think it went something like “I’m not sure what Shanny needs to get back on track, BUT IT SURE ISN’T BEING CENTERED BY BLAIR BETTS.” If it’s that obvious to an idiot like Hull, and that obvious to a bunch of psychopathic, obsessed Ranger fans who waste eons of their time posting on silly message boards like this one, MAYBE IT SHOULD BE MORE OBVIOUS TO THE COACH.

      Figure it out Tommy. Get them scoring. We’re waiting.

    33. This does not mean that Betts should be on one of the top 3 lines. He is not that kind of player. Honestly, if Hossa can’t play, then they either need to put Dubinsky as the third line center or send him down and bring up Alex Bourret for one of two options.

      Dawes-Gomez-Jagr
      Prucha-Drury-Shanahan
      Straka-Dubinsky-Callahan

      (Dawes/Straka and Shany/Cally could be swapped)

      If they do not want Dubinsky there then you go w/this by sending him down.

      Prucha-Straka-Jagr
      Dawes-Gomez-Callahan
      Shanahan-Drury-Bourret

      Either way, BLAIR BETTS IS NOT A TOP 9 FORWARD.

    34. Also, on defense, it is pretty darn obvious that malik is a problem.

      Staal-Roszival
      Tyutin-Girardi

      That would be a FORMIDABLE top 4 defense. I’m sorry, but that is right up there with any top 4 around in my opinion.

      As far as the last two, I think you bring up Sauer because he is the best defensive defenseman we have after those top 4 in this organization. you can play mara with him. if there is a time to break in these young guys, it’s now, not later and sauer could show he belongs. eventually, i see a possible issue w/him and sanguetti in the future as far as too many right handed shots, but that is not a major issue.

    35. pghas – yeah, you are correct. I’m starting to get a head cold, so some of my thoughts are a bit more skewed than normal. I just find is suspect he went from starting on first line to scratched. Then with the groin injury, it seems like he might not have came to camp in shape.

    36. STEVE

      Lol, take it easy buddy. Those two pairings are damn good, but to say there somewhere in the top, is going a bit to far. I cant name any now, but i know theres a few that are better.

      IF Staal plays with Rozi, we’ll see him go against tougher players for the majority of the game, and lets see how he does. Hopefully well, but who knows. I hope he hurts his bro this tuesday though, he’ll definitely look for the big hit.

    37. There was no reason for Sather to tell that kid to piss off, even if the kid did seem a bit weird. I hate people like that. Is Glen’s ego that weak that he has to pull a power trip like that?

    38. Anaheim is definitely stronger than that proposed top 4 (if Nieds comes back and Schneider is healthy), and I think Detroit is better, too. Nashville has stronger young guys, at least on offense, although one of them is hurt. Actually, in the East, that might be the best; only Buffalo and Florida are close.

    39. Wow, I just watched the “piss off” video: that guy is really creepy-looking and with a British voice to boot; it’s really hard to tell how old he is, I guess between 18-25. I would like to excuse Sather because he was on the phone and the guy was being kinda rude, but I feel Sather would do that anyway if he was trying to walk down the street and someone like that came up to him.

      LOL @ the way he just interjects “Slats” and the way it sounds like “Slots” in British-speak.

    40. I knew I was forgetting some team. I’d say Ottawa was the best in the East last season (maybe that’s why they got to the final), but they lost Preissing and we gained Staal. It’s a much closer competition now.

    41. Those of you questioning Dawes, yes he needs to prove himself.
      Yes, he’s scored at every level he’s played.
      Yes, he needs to play with offensive minded line mates (same for Prucha), can you see him scoring 20+ goes w/ Betts?

      He has speed, new NHL remember.
      He needs this chance, and yes this is a big one, to prove himself.
      Looking forward to tonight’s game…..smart hockey boys.

      Where are all these Hossa lovers coming from??

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