“Thanks for coming, Al…


…and won’t you please accept this autographed Henrik Lundqvist napkin as our token of goodwill?”

Yes, it looks like Al Montoya’s trip down the Official Greg Moore Highway was all for naught. Henrik Lundqvist took part in the morning skate today, looked fairly sharp, and is in tonight against the Penguins. As I write this, Montoya is on the ice working out with scratches Marcel Hossa, Marek Malik (control yourselves) and Sean Avery, meaning I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in Hartford by dinner.

In other news..

  • Tom Renney said he is leaning toward the lines he experimented with yesterday, which most notably included Scott Gomez back in between Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka.

    There’s been a fair amount of speculation about why Jagr and Gomez didn’t click the first time around, one theory being that Jagr likes to slow the game down while Gomez favors a more up-tempo style. Renney’s response to that is if Jagr is playing an attack game (read: proactive) he and Gomez should work out fine. Of course, the coach also noted there’s only one puck, so the real challenge may be in how two players who like to handle the puck a lot can share the workload. Stay tuned…

  • Spared from the jaws of Hartford by mere minutes, Ryan Callahan goes back in the lineup tonight, and so does Ryan Hollweg. That means two fan favorite whipping boys Malik and Hossa are out, although in Malik’s case, Renney said the decision was illness-related. Either way, it means Michal Rozsival is back in a pairing with Mark Staal, and Jason Strudwick goes back to defense alongside Paul Mara.

    More later….

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    1. Sam, could you stop playing with my emotions?

      JK, this is good news, even though I was excited for the potential debut of Montoya.

    2. Doodie Machetto on

      Repost from last thread:

      I say if Lundqvist can’t go they start the Shooter-Tutor. It’ll be like Kevin Weekes, but better.

      I have already given up on the team for this season. It is clear that Renney cannot coach this group of players to a Stanley Cup. I’m not certain that he can coach any group of players to the cup, but it is certain that he cannot do it with this one. So, let’s start looking forward to next season.

      As much as I like Jagr, and I really do, I hope he hangs them up at the end of the season. He’s a spent force and watching him at such a low level is sad to watch. Bearing that in mind, with he and Shanny both likely not to return, we need a RW. As far as I can tell, we only have one pretty good RW in the entire system, and he might not even come to NA next season (Cherepanov). And don’t even mention Moore or Bourret because they are depth players, not top line guys. So, who can we get? Forget about Ovechkin, it ain’t happening. Forget Marian no-show-in-the-playoffs Hossa. Maybe Demitra, although he’s starting to get older and is constantly plagued by injuries. JP Dumont? I don’t even want to touch RFAs, too many ifs. This was it. This was the team that should’ve won. Stupid Renney messed it up. It’s so aggravating. I’m gonna burst a vessel in my head watching them lose to an AHL goaltender tonight.

    3. Jagr with Gomez, Drury playing with guys who are up to par with him, and Malik and Hossa out……all i can say is


    4. ok sportsfans….you asked for it…here’s the lineup so many of you wanted to see!

      No Malik, no Hossa. Montoya up? or are they all on there way out tonight? To beat the 12/19 roster freeze? please, please, please.

      Doodie – i respected your posts right up until today. Good, then we won’t expect to hear from you until 7/1. Cause we have a season to turn around, and we sure don’t need you around.

      See ya.

    5. Doodie, step off the ledge for a second. We’re in the middle of December. Remember how you felt around this time last year?

      There are issues that must be addressed, but you can’t just give up on them yet.

      The key for Gomez tonight is to use his ability to draw people to him, and to avoid the temptation of giving Jagr the puck when he’s covered. Nylander was obviously great at this.

    6. Doodie is aout of his mind…. the rangers should have 43 or so points not 35 but even there the season is not even 1/2 way over…

      I say really shake things up, trade malik, I sit our infamous 4th line forever, it cannot score nor defend besides that it is fine.. How does Detroit win with no tough guys???? Hollwegg serves no purpose he is weak with the puck in the D zone and cannot score into a empty net along with his waste of linemates..

      so to start the rangers have only 9 forwards who can ever score….

    7. Doodie Machetto on

      Here’s the thing. Say they turn things around somewhat and make the playoffs. Do you REALLY think they can win a cup? Last year they turned things around and almost got to the conference finals, where they would have been destroyed by the Sens.

      Can you really see this team beating Ottawa? Or can you see them beating whomever comes out of the west? I just can’t see it.

    8. tim – a bit more polite way of saying it i guess.

      But serious Doodie – you’ve obviously been a fan for a long time. Can you remember a december that we didn’t fall into this rut? Except ’93-’94 we were 8-3-1 (yes, i looked it up).


    9. Doodie, there was a point in 05-06 (right before the Olympics) and 06-07 (watching our overall team play in the Sabres series) that I thought this team could win the cup. They bought into Renney’s system. We were thin on defense then, and we’re thin at scoring now – but the potential is there.

      This is a more sound defensive hockey team than it was last year. If they can gather some chemistry, they will be dangerous.

    10. Stuart – Detroit has no tough guys? Come on. Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Chelios… the difference is they all can play great hockey and be tough. I was watching Red Wings vs Capitals yesterday and they FLY! Have you seen Holmstrom scoring twice (one from gorgeous dish from Datsyuk, yes the same guy we wanted), fantastic Zetterberg’s PP goal? And finally, three straight, beautiful backhand SO goals from Datsyuk, Zetterberg and 22 years old Czech – Jiri Huddler? Phenomenal. Even my wife was amazed and told not to watch Rangers anymore. Honestly, to compare Rangers and Red Wings doesn’t make a lot of sense… Two different leagues.

    11. Just to add something. The score was 4-3 SO. After the game Tomas Holmstrom said he knows they didn’t play the great game but his happy they were able to pull this one out.
      I loved it. And I hope Rangers could play that “so-so” games.

    12. Richtersgirl35 on

      Wow its not even halfway through the season and people are giving up already??? I find that crazy. Especially people calling for Renneys head as well. Renney made this team defensive, now they just need to hit the net and get some goals. He knows what he is doing and I really think the Rangers will get awesome. They always seem to have a bad december. (i.e 7 game losing streak last December)

    13. Detroit made Kolzig look like Kevin Weekes in that shootout. Kolzig hasn’t looked that puzzled since the Malik between the legs shootout goal.

    14. Doodie, with all due respect – and I can get pretty negative after a loss too, particularly the way they’ve been playing – I think you’re going overboard. Two weeks ago this team destroyed (an admittedly slumping) Ottawa and was being rated by all the power rakings as a top 3 team. Since then they’ve fallen into a bit of a malaise that clearly is much more mental than physical. I’m sure they’ll find a way out of it. It’s a long season, and it ios not easy to sustain really high levels of intensity throughout the whole thing. I look at it like this – the team has clearly played their worst hockey for much of the season so far and is still very much in the thick of everything. A tear of 5 wins or so will put them right back within range of the Senators, and that could easily happen. They wil get it together.

    15. Man… I know you learn more from losing than winning but this is getting ridiculous.

      If they had beaten Phoenix and lost to Ottawa things would be so much better. Good teams shouldn’t lose games like they have to the Caps and Yotes.

      At least last December they couldn’t finish… they’d be up by 2 or 3 goals and then they’d blow it.

      Now they blow it in the first 3 minutes and the game is a foregone conclusion before the horn sounds at the end of 2.


      But at least were used to high expectations for overpaid FAs and then watching as the team struggles to find “CHEMISTRY”.

      Confidence, effort (or lack thereof). Whatever. Get your stuff together! Jeez.

      But I’m sure changing the lines around for the billionth time and shooting more will solve all the problems.

      Man… I long for the days of losing games 1-0.

    16. Richtersgirl35 on

      I always thought it was worse when they were up 2-0 then would lose. At least now they just find their scoring touch and they should be awesome. Last year it was just about giving up and running out of steam. That is MUCH worse.

      It is still early…calm down

    17. I agree with Beer Me. Doodie, if you’ve already given up, then go away, your negativity isn’t wanted around here.

    18. I am new to this board and I read Sam’s blog on a daily basis (great job by the way) and let me tell you, I get just as disappointed as everyone else when the Rangers are playing poorly, but to jump ship now? I think one should start questioning their dedication and passion for this team

    19. I believe that would be *Marc* Staal.

      I can definitely live with Strudwick being in there if if means Staal with Rozsival and Malik out. At least we don’t have King Flu Nylander on the team anymore, since he probably gets it five different times from his kids.

      I would have liked to see Montoya play if Lundqvist wasn’t ready to go, and I think he would have, since Lundqvist probably could have been the backup to Vally. But if Henrik is healthy, I’d rather see him over all challengers. :)

    20. Marian Hossa has decent playoff stats. He had some good years in Ottawa on a team that wasn’t built for the playoffs and last year in Atalanta 80% of that team had never played a playoff game. I’d take a “risk” on talent like Hossa.

    21. I have to say I think Doodie is right. Renney can’t handle this team. Any success we have had over the last couple of seasons lies GREATLY in the performances of Jagr and Lundqvist, and really very little with Tom Renney being a genius coach. This team would be dominating the conference with a good coach rather than a “buddy” coach. When we lose heartbreakingly in the playoffs what excuse do you think Renney will come out with next? It seems all he has are little explainations and excuses for why his team sucks. And they have sucked for 95% of this year. Lundqvist has single handedly won us about 10 games. He’s carried this team on his back despite impotent offense. Renney has destroyed this teams chance to ever gel cohesively. He keeps “shuffling” things and agitating things when it doesn’t work immediately and it just shows that he really doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he lacks confidence in his decisions. He’s a soft guy. Soft guys don’t win cups.

    22. This is from Zipay’s blog (as if none of you read that to) :)

      Jagr, Shanahan, Gomez, Drury, Straka and Tyutin skipped the optional practice, which included G Al Montoya and Steve Valiquette and was punctuated by a crisp rebuke early on from assistant coach Perry Pearn, who blew the whistle to halt play.

      “This is an optional practice,” he barked. “If you don’t want to be here, get the —- off,” he said, pointing his stick toward the bench. “When the whistle blows, be ready to go. Wake the —–up!”


    23. Prucha – Hossa has played in playoffs 7 times. 2 1/2 of those 7 were good. so just say no to Hossa.

    24. Richtersgirl35,

      I think it’s easier to “cure” blowing 2 and 3 goal leads than it is to get a team back from the brink while losing to bottom rung teams 5-1.

      Sorry but I disagree with you completly.

    25. I really believe that the Rangers have no firepower. It looks like Jagr is shot. He has a night here and there but teams handle him. He isn’t even getting chances. And we can sit here and say that he and Shanny re 600 goal scorers,but they really are not anymore. Two 20 goal guys. This team needs another good defenseman (please unload Strudwick and Malik. I can barely take Mara)and a bona fide sniper. Oh, and a little muscle for the fromt of the net on offense. Avery cannot do it all. This is probably not our year for Cup contention.

    26. In turn, Salty – you’re saying that Shanny is wrong too. See his interview at blueshirt. HE knows renney’s system works.

      I’m well aware that there is a sharp separation of us that think differently of our coach. A wide-open style can win games, sure. And then there’s those of us who understand why the team is being coached the way it is.

      Maybe I can make sense of it for you to at least see it in a different light. (then again, maybe I can’t).

      Here’s my take….
      The players that have been brought up through the system were watched very closely by Renney over the last 5-6 years when he was in other roles in the organ-i-zation. He knows what the youth is capable of in some part. Or at least what the expectations should be. As far as the players brought in, they were brought in b/c they are ‘clutch’ players that understand what it takes to win…championships.

      In addition…
      The style of the system we are playing will not provide much in the way of offensive #’s. Nor is it expected to. It is a close and well organized defensive PLAYOFF style of hockey.

      This team was not assembled to win a Presidents trophy, or produce an Art Ross winner. Winning the div is forseeable.

      If the team sticks to the system, it works. And if they stick to it over the next 50 games, they will damn near perfect it and be capable of a strong run this spring.

      Sorry for the long post.

    27. LI Joe – There are a ot of players who struggled early in their careers in the playoffs. Also, one of those seasons was the year he took out Berard’s eye and was never the same.

      Who’s your better option?

    28. I myself was surprised when all the gossip was the rangers challenging for a cup was circling around the city like buzzards in the desert. I do admit though that i thought the rangers would be good enough to win there division. I do think this team will be better when the likes of jagr, shanahan, malik,rosival, straka, hossa, hollweg are off the team and replaced with younger more talented players. I still like the future of this team.

    29. “In turn, Salty – you’re saying that Shanny is wrong too. See his interview at blueshirt. HE knows renney’s system works.”

      Couple of things:

      -I take what Shanny says with a grain of salt on this matter. He’s not gonna come out and say anything overly negative about his team. He may want the guys to at least be on the same page/system he doesn’t actually believe in as opposed to different pages altogether. (that said, i havent read the interview yet)

      -Perhaps the “system” works. It’s still just a system. A system is still just “on paper”. *Renney really doesn’t seem to have what it takes to get his guys to buy into this system.* I think the players *like* him as a guy but don’t have real *respect* for him as a coach. All of his combo juggling makes him look like an amateur fantasy leaguer, grasping at straws. The players must be so frustrated with him, there is no rhyme or reason to anything. Sure, great you’ve got a system, any dipshit with a manual can have a “system”… it takes a coach to get his players on board with it and in the right position to execute it.

    30. We’ll just have to disagree on this one. Glad I’m on the side with the faith in the team though.

    31. I’ll shit two gold bricks if this team makes it past two rounds of playoff’s. In fact, I’ll be less surprised if they miss the playoffs entirely. They score so few goals its astounding and they often look overmatched by younger, faster, hungrier teams. Henrik—when he’s at his best—can steal games for this bunch but you’ve got to score to win and they’ve shown themselves incapable of doing that against strong opposition defense and goaltending. Doesn’t mean I won’t be watching every game hoping they prove me wrong but I just don’t see it happening with this bunch and this coach. And I’m not sure there’s any trades out there that can improve this offense enough to really make a difference.

    32. I don’t think he’s back tonight either. I also remember the last time we played them (struds’ OT heroics) their review the next day was ALL about Avery too. They secretly love him I think.

    33. The best trade would be to unload Jagr NOW.

      And we NEED at least one superior defenseman. Let me go back to Detroit. Look what they have at their blueline:
      We don’t have defenseman of that caliber, sorry. Tyutin is already great and Staal will be great soon but how about our other D’s? Girardi recently makes tons of mistakes, Rozsival is not the same player like he was a year ago. Malik, Mara, Strudwick – no comments. YOU CANNOT WIN THE CUP WITH THAT KIND OF PEOPLE IN THE BLUELINE. So, what is that whole “Cup Run” story about?

    34. I just ran into Sam and asked about Avery…He is OUT tonight and Thursday. We ran into each other at the gym. We grew up and live in the same town. You all can take my information however you would like.

    35. stf – this comes with absolutely NO disrepect to the great Chris Chelios. But he has been a healthy scratch recently. Just 2 games, and not back to back, but his age is showing this year. Very sad to see too.

      I know what your point is, but our future ‘blue’liners will hopefully live up to expectations and equal the ability that the DET blueline.

    36. I have been away for a bit. I read all of Sam’s postings but not all the responses. Sorry, not enough time.

      A few things:

      1) We are 5th in the conference right now and playing god awful hockey. Does it mean we are doomed to golf on April 10th? No. Does it mean we will hoist the Cup in mid-June? No. But it doesn’t mean either of those things cannot happen. We beat Ottawa a few weeks ago and the Devils have not beaten us all year. We lose to teams like Phoenix and Washington who hustle and play hard. Parity is everywhere.

      2) Also, there is a motivation issue on this team. If I hear Jagr say one more time, “I don’t know. I can’t explain it,” I think I will lose my mind. He is the captain. Either get a clue and have some passion or get out of town. His nonchalance and lack of caring is starting to smell of another overpaid prima donna who is past his prime.

      3) The Phoenix loss was by no means Malik’s fault, but that guy just plain sucks. He looked horrible.

      4) The season is long. We need to start playing good hockey with consistent lines. That being said, there is time to turn it around. It is clear that we will not be lighting the lamp 5x a game this season. We need to find our identity and that has yet to show itself.

      5) We need Avery back and he needs to play with discipline so that he doesn’t get injured. I don’t care if he takes penalties (well I kinda do, but you get my point) so long as he does not injure himself. Back for 3 games, injured, then back for 2 more, and then injured doesn’t help us.

      6) Anyone happen to catch Gary Roberts kick Ben Eager’s butt last week and then see Roberts hold his own and take a split decision against Andy Sutton the other night? Impressive.

      Let’s hope these jokers get back on track soon. I am getting tired of disappointment.

    37. Any word on Simple Somon yet ?
      I know the Fishsticks sent him home, I’m waiting for the NHL to tell him to stay there !
      What an IDIOT !!

    38. Any word on Simple Simon yet ?
      I know the Fishsticks sent him home, I’m waiting for the NHL to tell him to stay there !
      What an IDIOT !!

    39. How many times do we, and the team, need to expect Avery to change this team into gritty winners? The guy gets injured a lot. Someone else better step up and lead and be “sandpaper.” And I’m not talking about Hollywood…

      And, give me a break, Jagr is not being traded. But he should be driven more and denied more. Then Malik should be ignored forever.

    40. Beer me, On Sunday I had five vodkas out of frustration and if the Rangers win tonight, I probably have five b…;):):):)

    41. Good post New Newman. Jagr drives me crazy with that “I don’t know…” thing as well. He’s NO captain. Maybe it’s not happening anytime soon but I’d love to see him being traded, and I’m a big fan of his… (or I was). Hard to explain but I feel he stops this team’s progress. Too late to build a team around him.
      Any word on that idiot Simon?

    42. Anyway once in a while I feel the Rangers lacking team chemistry having a bunch of big name players but lacking team qualities….

      Shanny, Jagr, Drury, Gomez and Avery need to have a couple of beers together to bond much better :):):)

      They need a big booze !!!!

    43. Beer me – lots of very good posts on the last few threads.

      Prucha – I have not looked at overall free agent list but I do know Hossa is Mr October and that’s good for baseball not so much for hockey. He is a waste of the big money long yrs someone will give him. He’s a good fantasy pick for regular season. He will not win a cup and that’s my goal for this team. He’ll outshine the Gomez and Drury types in reg season but come playoff time he’s disappeared and our guys do better come playoff time. And he’s close to 30 so I wouldn’t call him young. I’d rather no free agent forward than him. If they have the money vs the cap after Henrik and others are signed – and that’s a big if – sign a very good dman.

    44. LI Joe – If Jagr, Straka and Shanahan all go, there aren’t enough high-level prospects here to fill that void.

    45. Doodie Machetto on

      “they often look overmatched by younger, faster, hungrier teams.”

      Bingo. There’s no effort. Renney has them playing his “system”, and they looked uninspired on the ice. No one is out there working hard. When was the last time you saw them have a solid forecheck for an entire game? I can’t think of one this season.

      Someone mentioned the Ottawa game. Not only were the slumping, but they DOMINATED the end of the 2nd and most of the 3rd. So we didn’t even win that game all that convincingly in my opinion.

      The team has no hunger. I don’t think it’s a lack of Sean Avery, because one guy does not make the whole team hungry. Let them lose a few more games. Let’s see if that makes them hungrier.

    46. Doodie Machetto on

      “karpotsev, wells, lidster?

      can’t win with what?”

      I think he’s making the distinction that a lot of our “top” defensemen are of that quality. Look at the top defensemen on that team: Leetch, Zubov, Beukeboom, Lowe. Beats the hell out of our top 4.

    47. Doodie Machetto on

      “Renney is used to Jagr picking up some of the slack for him. NOT THIS SEASON JOHNNY.”

      Exactly. Renney had no “system” the past two years. It was riding Hank for defense, and riding Jagr for offense. Well, Jagr looks to be finished, so there is no prospect of offense. And Hank has been human in his last few efforts, and him being human will not be enough for us to win.

      Renney is just another in a string of bad coaches. Colin Campbell got us to the playoffs 3 times. Anyone want to say he is a good coach? Renney has gotten us there twice, and that’s all he’s got on his resume. If he gets us there again this year, but if we falter next year, does that mean we can fire him like we did Campbell?

    48. prucha – still no reason to give 4 or 5 yrs big money to Hossa. so if we s*ck for a yr or 2 we’ll get top end draft picks better than any forwards we have that are young. and there might be other choices as free agents – I have not gone through the names.

    49. Doodie – I agree with you about Rnney being a poor coach, but not the justification you provided. If anything, Renney is a great tactical coach who follows his system to a fault.

      The fact that Jagr can’t get it going without Nylander (that line did what they wanted regardless of what Renney’s system was) is the HUGE sticking point.

      Renney has also made miserable personnel moves (benching players who needed to sit: Hossa, Hollweg, Orr, Malik) and benching or sending down players who needed a vote of confidence (Prucha, pock, Dawes). All the guys who made mistakes got paraded out there with no consequence, while other guys had to look over their shoulder, afraid to make a mistake that would send them to the bench. Ultimately, the players Renney benched had way more upside than the ones he was loyal to.

      Renney has a system, one that wins in the playoffs, too. He has a puzzle, knows what it should look like, but isn’t capable of fitting all the pieces together correctly.

    50. I think Renney’s system has failed. He’s shuffling the lines because he’s clueless…
      BTW – Where is Sam?

    51. yeah, he has a system. it’s called trapping, all defense all the time, don’t forecheck, clog up the neutral zone, forget about scoring, Lemaire ’em to death.

      Gomez leads the rangers with 25 measly points, tied for 65th in the NHL. THAT says it all about Renney’s “system”.

      it is effective when you use it to cover up deficiencies in offensively challenged players, see Phoenix and Isles for instance, but it is crap when you are asking guys who can score, who know how to score, who have proven it their whole careers, but are now being asked by professor ivory tower Tom to put their talent away and Pandolfo themselves,
      to turn everybody into a plumber, a Betts-sky.

    52. Here is what I don’t get—this story that Jagr has to have the puck. The writers all say it. But as far as I am concerned, Nylander dominated the puck most shifts. Skating around in circles much of the time. Watching Jagr is exasperating. Watching Roszival and Straka pass up great shots to give him the puck. This team is kind of a mess. It has been a mess all year. Someone deserves credit for the fact that they are above .500. This Jagr dilemma must be dealt with in some way.

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