Question marks for Isles

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For the first time since the second game of the season, the Rangers could be completely healthy for Thursday’s meeting with the Islanders. Of course, “completely healthy” is a myth in the NHL — more on that in a bit — but at the very least, they could have all of their players active.

What they do, or don’t do, remains in play. For instance:

  • Ryan Callahan is back ready to play and sounded like he expects to return Thursday, most likely on a line with Chris Drury and Petr Prucha where he skated today. Tom Renney also conceded that Callahan was ready, but stopped short of saying he would definitely be in against the Isles, and even said a conditioning assignment in Hartford was a possibility. But that sounds like Renney just erring on the side of caution, so I would expect to see Callahan back at the Garden Thursday. As for where he would play….
  • Obviously if Drury is at center with Callahan and Prucha, that means Brandon Dubinsky will remain at center between Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka. This was an issue after Sunday, when Renney had put Drury in that spot late in the game. But the coach said he still likes what he’s seeing from Dubinsky with Jagr, and that Drury’s style differs at least slightly from the Captain.
  • Where things get even more interesting is with Marek Malik, who also is now fit and ready to return, but who might still have to wait.

    “The way we’re clicking now, Harry might just have to wait a game or two and see if anything evolves where we want to put him in if someone’s having a tough night or heaven forbid, there’s an injury,” Renney said. “But he’s ready to go and that’s the main thing.”

    The reason this is intriguing is that there was a time — much to the puzzlement of many of you — that Malik’s spot in the lineup was a given as long as he was healthy. And while I do think he’s a more effective player than Jason Strudwick, I’m not sure Renney is ready to split up the pairing of Michal Rozsival and Marc Staal, who continue to show progress together. That would likely leave Malik with Paul Mara, and Renney might be reluctant to go there.

  • Meanwhile, through all of this it looks like Marcel Hossa would be the odd man out based on practice today. But it was hard to tell given that both Brendan Shanahan and Sean Avery both skipped practice. Avery had a CAT scan on his wrist to assess the damage from the blocked shot last week against Tampa, but also because of some lingering issues from years past. Shanahan had a sore back, but was still working out in the weight room.

    It’s a lot to process. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves…

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    50 Comments

    1. I think the one area not to mess with is the defense structure in place now. It’s the only thing keeping this team together now, outside of the king. Malik should sit until he’s needed, hopefully as trade bait.

    2. Malik is a very expensive 7th man huh? I somehow don’t see this one being 100% on Renney when Marek gets back in. That’s a lot of $ to sit. Can’t see Slats letting that go for too long.

      I’m actually glad to see that Shanny knows his limits and is smart enough to identify when he needs rest.

      On Callahan, I just hope he’s 100% if he’s going to play his normal game against the ‘sticks. I hate to see guys come back when they’re not 100%. Especially on 12/1.

    3. I’m not gonna panic yet…

      But on Thursday, if the Rangers try any hard dump arounds behind Dipi I may break something in my livingroom.

    4. For f’s sake, put Drury between Straka and Jagr, and we’ll be fine. Dubinsky has heart, but not the skills of a first line center.. put him with Callahan and Prucha. Scratch Hossa and we’re done.

    5. Sam – Dubi in his comments section to his main thread (yesterday or day before) intimated that Rozy’s knee seems problematic. I’m guessing from playoffs last yr. What do you see there and would a few games off help the situation.

      Pavel – I can’t consider any line centered by Dubinsky to be the number 1 line at least not this yr. So it’s more like JJ is on the 3rd line.

    6. I hate to say it, but I agree with those of you who are saying that Renney isn’t equipped to coach a star powered team. Look at his work in Vancouver-he couldn’t create a winning team with the likes of Messier, Bure, Mogilny, Naslund, and Linden! It’s the same problem now-Renney is an inexperienced juniors coach who quite simply doesn’t understand what it takes to build a championship NHL team.

      Let’s take a look back: throwing Jagr on the power play in Game 1 of the ‘06 playoffs; throwing Rachunek back into the mix and changing the lineup last year for the Buffalo series after sweeping Atlanta; blowing game 5 against Buffalo with an idiotic line combo on at the end of the game; inserting Blair Betts as a 2nd or 3rd line center over the last couple of years; I could honestly write a book about how many gaffes this guy has made over the last 2+years.

      This year’s team has some kinks to work out for sure and certainly Jagr is a big part of it, but man, it starts with changing the power play. Prucha scored 30 his rookie year and 20 last year by being a PP star-did Renney forget what happened last year when he pulled Shanahan off Jagr’s PP line? If we had a decent power play, we’d be in good shape.

      Pat Burns and Pat Quinn are out there and I’m sure both of them would be able to handle and thrive with a team like this. They wouldn’t run the team like a day camp.

    7. Beer Me! – Thursday is only 11/29, but I understand your point, especially since it is against the Isles, which have been the most pestering and physical opponent for us this season, including the fact we haven’t beaten them. But considering that Callahan probably could have come back the same game as Straka, I think he is ready for Thursday.

    8. Sam (open to all for comment),

      Is it your sense (it’s mine) from watching all these games that the Rangers have an identity crisis? I see it in 2 ways.

      First, they’re clearly built for offense, yet their coach keeps preaching D which is fine, but I’ve yet to hear him really criticize the lack of offense. I keep hearing, “It’ll come”, but I’m not sure it will. You have 4 or 5 players, that are here based on their offensive reputation, trying to learn how to be better in their own zone. That’s great and everything, but a win is a win. Taking more chances = more scoaring. Perhaps Renney’s preaching that too much.

      Second, Jagr. You can just tell that he’s not comfortable (maybe that changes with Straka back) with Dru or Gomer. I love the big bear, but the organization clearly shifted their offensive perspective this summer, by signing the above, from passing and finesse to shooting, speed and power. I’m not sure the 2 could really coexist. I feel like Renney and co. are preaching 2 different messages to the forwards, shoot and drive the net unless you’re Jagr. With Jagr it’s, “He needs space and time”. Hmmm….

    9. Nick B – Being defensively responsible doesn’t mean you have to stifle offensive creativity. Good defense leads to a good transition game, which leads to offense. See: Ottawa Senators.

    10. Nasty1: Im in total agreement about sitting Hollweg. As much as I think Hossa is completely useless in most areas this year so far we cant afford to lose him on the PK. Maybe we can just kidnap Marian and stick Marcel in his place….do you think anyone would notice?

      Nick B: This idea of Renney talking about our D all the time is definitely getting old. I think our D is fine which is clearly shown in our GA. We have the one of the best goaltenders (if not THE best) in the league and our back up isnt half bad either. If we could just score some goals we could get some of the pressure off of our D. Focus should be on the offense especially the PP. Oh my god! Could that get any worse. I was at the Dallas game the other day and as the 3rd period started to wind down I heard fans around me wishing for a penalty so we could get a PP. That is what I would have usually been wishing for but being that our PP is horrendous I found myself hoping to remain 5 on 5 and then pulling Hank!

    11. Kind of off topic here…and I only bring it up b/c of Malik’s name surfacing again.

      Some of my opinions on players have to do with meeting them personally and speaking to them with a beer in our hands as opposed to a sweater on their back.

      I went to Casino Night last year, and it was simply amazing. I know where the players/coaches opinions come from on Marek. He was completely down to earth and very much approachable and friendly. He was hanging out with Cullen, Rozy, Nylander that night. With beer bottles in hand they joked with my fiance and I (who I proposed to that night with Tom Renney taking a snapshot of it all with my camera). All the while, Jags was the ONLY guy on the team that had a velvet rope around him and did not budge for pics other than a hot chick or a guy in a wheelchair.

      I have many stories about the night – and we’re actually on nyrangers.com in the photo’s from that night with Hank. But my point here is…I guess it’s a point, is that we all complain about some guys stats or skill level, but there’s a lot more that goes into these decisions by the staff than how many goals you had your rookie year, or if you have a ring, or how much you make(just to site a few examples).

      And for those of you wondering….it’s WELL worth the 5-hundo per ticket.

    12. nice jab – but hardly. probably should have though…then i could’ve went again this year! haha

    13. Prucha27 – I agree. In most cases it does lead to better counter attaking opportunities, however in the Rangers’ case they don’t have a transition game at all and it certainly (by hook or crook) has stifled there offensive game. More importantly they don’t have a D man that can start a counter attack. You used Ottawa as an example…they have Redden. Need more evidence look at Dallas and what they did to us on Sunday, especially Zubov. The pass he made for the second goal was sick!

      All the top teams have the ability to go from D to O in a split second. The difference is that they rely on their D to start it, whereas we rely on our centers and wingers.

      Just to be clear there’s a difference between jumping into the play (which our D is very good at) and starting a counter attack, which we blow at. I can probably count on one hand the odd man rushes we’ve had this year. Right now our best transition D man…GULP….is Malik.

    14. Doodie Machetto on

      Prucha said this on the last thread:

      “Anyone still think Aaron Ward was wrong for calling out Jagr?”

      Absolutely. Did you see our record once Ward left? People point to Avery, but the truth is that we didn’t start winning games until we sent Ward to Boston, and it wasn’t because Paul Mara was such an amazing pick up.

    15. Nick B. – I see what you’re saying, but I still think Staal and Girardi, maybe even Tyutin can develop into that type of passer.

      Doodie – I didn’t mean was he wrong to do it, I mean was he wrong is his assessment? Basicaaly he was calling out Jagr for not giving 100% and saying he wasn’t much of a leader if he wasn’t trying all the time. I think that interview kind of ssays it all. He’s the Eli Manning of the Rangers. He isn’t saying he wants to be here, he’s saying “Oh, if they don’t want me I’ll play elsewhere”. That’s mot much of an endorsement from your captain.

    16. Richard – 5/17/08. We’ve arranged with our reception hall to rent a 60″ plasma to watch a game (if nec.) That’d be about the conf finals….so we’ll see. oh, and a slingbox and a laptop with wireless modem will accompany us on the honeymoon! sick I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

    17. prucha/nick – i can totally see staal being that kind of passer.

      I think we ALL forget his age sometimes. If only he had leetch to play with! and sanguinetti is a friggin pimp down in the O. can’t wait to see him in htfd this spring when his season’s over there.

    18. Does anybody else notice that the old newyorkrangers.com website turned into the generic rangers.nhl.com site again? So I guess the Rangers lost the case vs. the NHL!? Well that sucks.

    19. CML – as far as I know MSG appealed the ruling. that could probably take a while. i could personally care less what the format of the page is, as long as the content is there.

    20. Aaron Ward blows. Period. End of story. The guy spoke out of turn and out of line. I saw him against the Isles the other day get smoked by Hilbert for a goal. So glad he is gone.

      That interview is BS as far as I am concerned. Until I see it live, and hear Jags saying exactly what was said (with help from a translator) I will not believe it.

      Lastly, how the hell is he the Eli Manning of the Rangers? That has to be one of the dumbest things ever read in this blog. Give me a friggin break. Eli couldn’t hold Jagr’s jockstrap. Eli is a lucky sperm and hasn’t done dogs**t in his professional career. Comparing Jagr to Eli gives Eli WAAAAAAAYYYY to much credit. Eli will be lucky to accomplish half of what Jagr did in his pro career.

      Prucha….come on man. I agree with you on Staal, Tyutin, Girardi, but the rest of what you wrote is way out of line.

    21. Newman – You’re taking me out of context…How does Ward s*cking (which we know he does) have anything to do with the possibility of him pointing out Jagr’s lax play? I’m not saying right or wrong, I was actually asking people if they felt that, in light of this article, that maybe Ward was right about it. I gue syou think he wasn’t LOL.

      ANd calling him the Eli Manning of the Rangers I mean that this is his team to lead, but he doesn’t (from that interview) seem very passionate about it. Like Manning not getting emotional about that loss to Minnesota, Jagr doesn’t seem to care if he’s a Ranger next year. Quite simply, I would have preferred Manning get heated over a blowout the way I’d prefer to hear Jagr say he loves NY and only wants to play here. It’s kind of disheartening to hear your captain say he could see himself playing elsewhere next year. Maybe he can feel that way, but he shouldn’t really say it to the press, you know?

    22. Prucha27 – You are right about Jagr being Eli of the Rangers. Obviously, Jagr is more talented, at least by what Eli has shown so far, but the attitudes are similar, except Jagr looks to care less at times on the rink then Eli on the field.

      Someone please tell me how Huet is leading the Eastern All-Star goalie voting: http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=344616

      Looks like the next WWOR (My9) game is on December 16th against Maloney’s/Gretzky’s Coyotes.

      I see in the boxscore that Shanny fought Ott on Sunday. How did that happen?

    23. Doodie Machetto on

      Prucha, don’t believe everything you see on foreign websites. The laws in the country of the website are different, and they can probably get away with making things up fairly easily.

    24. Doodie Machetto on

      SP: because Huet plays for Montreal, and people in Montreal care about hockey a _little_ bit more than they do in the states, don’t you think?

    25. Prucha27 if you seriously believe the Jagr interview you are out of your mind. Even if Jagr felt that way (I strongly doubt he does), he is nowhere *near stupid enough* to voice it to the press, foreign press or not. There’s no way. He’s been playing way too long to make a rookie move like that. Also, that “interview” does not even have a single joke or sign of wit included. The “Real Jagr” would not be able to resist squeezing in some sort of crack no matter what the conversation, espcially when speaking with a fellow countryman in their native tounge.

      Everyone knows Jagr only wants to play with NYR. That’s one of the main reasons it would be so hard to move him. Coaches know about him and know that if he’s not happy he’s doesn’t perform and no one is going to want to give much up to take on that project late in the season and more importantly, late in his career.

    26. Salty – that interview does have some wit, though it’s hard to tell because of the translation, but it still doesn’t seem like Jagr to me, except he might be toned down because he’s unhappy right now.

    27. “I doubt that there’s a conspiracy theory in Czech to put out a fake Jagr interview.”

      LOLLERSKATES! Just like theres no conspiracy in the States to put out fake rumors of Angelina Jolie and Brintey Spears to be doing XYZ with QRST, etc. It *sells* mags and rags brah, people want the “dirty inside story”, and when there is none, or if they can’t get it, people will not hesitate to make shit up. They are desperate for a scoop. They hear something about something about something about something that probably started on Eklunds piece of shit site and run and make a story out of it. Maybe there was actually an interview even, but I doubt 70% of that stuff was actually said.

      Pavel Bure struggled so much with the Russian press making shit up about him and his life

    28. Doodie Machetto on

      SP: All star Voting is BS. Remember Rory Fitzpatrick last season?

      By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever told you, but I LOVE your handle.

      Prucha: It doesn’t take a conspiracy. Just one reporter.

      Sam, you know you owe it to the public to find out the truth.

    29. One great advantage for us is that the Isles play the Sens the day before us so hopefully they are dead tried when they play us and we get a win.

    30. Salty – Not that I’m trying disagree with you, but if they were making shit up about Jagr, I think it’d be more related to his gambling, tax woes and reluctance to marry that girl he’s been dating forever. I don’t think they’d be vague comments on his contract status for next year and stuff like that.

      The stuff going around about Bure was juicy, gossip stuff. Not hockey stuff.

    31. Thank you, DM. When it gets closer to the game, I’m sure it will all even out. I haven’t voted yet because I like to see some more games first.

      Also, the Rangers site is not working properly yet under the NHL banner. For example, the earlier news articles have to be moved to the new address. (It’s causing problems for Wikipedia references.)

    32. Sam, I may have asked this in the past, but who is in charge of the PP? Renney? Pearn? Jagr? Can’t they hire someone else to try and design something new? That’s probably a lame suggestion, and I know they aren’t panicking, but it’s odd that when they get a power play my first reaction is “Well, there goes two minutes off the clock. Hope we don’t let up a shortie.” The PP sucking cannot be understated as a problem for this team.

      I know, this point is redundant. But man does it piss me off.

    33. Anybody go see the King at Macy’s tonight? I was gonna go but my clients I took out for lunch turned the event into dinner!
      Question: “Beer me” – is that you bird? If so, please revive your blog. If you have enough time to post here then you have enough time to blog at your own site. The thing I loved about hockeybird was the brevity, especially at work. Got it duderino?
      I love Blueshirt Bulletin as much as I love an Avery bitch-slap on Brodeur, but it gets long winded at times.
      Thumbs up = a shanahan stick in orr’s hand
      Thumbs down = the thought of a Malik return.
      Let’s go rangers!

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