Ottawa post-mortem and another programming note

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I am not about to dispute that the Rangers are in a rut right now — their phrase of choice — and in need of any number of different remedies to get them back winning.It’s a familiar story: they’re not burying their chances, they’re making too many turnovers at the wrong times, they’re not getting enough production from certain individuals.

All that being said, in addition to last night being one of the most entertaining games of the season, I actually thought it was a game the Rangers could build on. Now, I’m never a big believer in the whole “If only we didn’t hit that post, it’d be a different story” excuse, but the truth is the Rangers controlled play last night, had an inordinate amount of bad luck, and are in a bad enough way that they just couldn’t overcome it.

Add it all up and it’s still their third loss in a row and eighth in 10 games. But on its own merits, it is not a game you look at and say “Blow this team up”.But hey, it’s the holidays, so maybe I’m feeling charitable.

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And let me just weigh in on Chris Drury for a moment since he’s a guy who’s obviously taking a lot of heat. Right from the start I thought Drury’s value would be difficult to gauge since, even though he scored 37 goals last season, many of his most important contributions — penalty killing, defensive play, face-offs — don’t translate easily into numbers.

For much of the season, I thought Drury, like a lot of the Rangers, was someone who was generally playing well but having difficulty scoring. Now I’m of the belief that he’s pressing so hard that his struggles have trickled down to other parts of the game, which leads to some of the giveaways he had last night.

Given his track record at pretty much every juncture of his career, the safe bet is Drury emerges from it, and I’ll even go so far to say that he’ll be a player Rangers fans will love come playoff time (if there is a playoff time), so I’d hold off before invoking the name of my pal Valeri Kamensky.

But right now, it is something that has taken on a life of its own, and Drury is one of those players who needs a few days off to break the cycle.

*************************************************

Finally, much like the Rangers offense, we continue to be told that our second child will show up any day now, but are still waiting.

Either way, I’ll be bowing out for a while. After Christmas, the estimable Josh Thomson will be pinch-hitting for the next week or so. I’ll check in when I can for sure, mostly because even with the official time off, I’m as interested as any of you are to see where this team is headed.

But I’ll also be busier with more pressing matters for the next little while.

So to everyone out there who has made this blog such an enjoyable experience, here’s wishing you a happy holiday season. And thanks for always keeping me on my toes.

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61 Comments

  1. Remember Sam, if he/she is born on Christmas, that’s TWICE the amount of presents. None of that “birthday and Christmas present” stuff!

  2. Sam, on behalf of my daughter and myself, have a great holiday season. Best wishes for the successful arrival of you second child, and may he/she be healthy and happy, even if the arrival isn’t on Christmas Day. See you most likely in the New Year.

  3. Sam,

    All the best to you and your family. I have a feeling that you are going to have a Christmas baby or the baby will be born Saturday, which would also be good, because it’s my birthday too. Capricorns rule!!!

    Have a great holiday everyone!!!!

    Maybe Santa will bring the Rangers some luck in the new year.

  4. Sam, all the best to you and yours for the holidays and i’d like to pass on my wishes to all those who bleed Ranger blue…but if we can ask for one thing in the new year, it’s this: That Chris Drury wake up and realize the season started about 3 months ago. Right now I’d say he’s the worst free agent signing since Valeri Kamensky. For a guy who professed to wanting nothing more than to play for the Rangers…he’s shown nothing. In fact, with his salary, he’s actually shown about 7 levels below nothing.

  5. Every good wish, Sam. As a December baby myself, I want to chime in on the importance of no combined Hannukah and/or Christmas/birthday presents!

  6. Sam,
    Thanks for all your hard work. I never blogged before I stumbled onto your Rangers Report in August. It was like an early Christmas present.
    Thanks for making it a place I look forward to checking into every day.
    I hope you are blessed with a healthy baby…in the near future.
    Thanks for all you fellow bloggers who make this blog entertaining and fun to be a part of. Make my work days go quicker.
    Merry Christmas everyone!
    Lets Go Rangers!
    Fresh Start on Wednesday!

  7. Sam, Best holiday wishes to you and your family and may Santa bring a healthy bundle of Joy.

    To all the fan who make this blog so entertaining- Happy Holidays.

    2008 is going to be a great year for the NY Rangers. (I Hope!)

  8. Something tells me the Weinmans dont celebrate Christmas ;)

    Regardless – best of luck to you and your family Sam. You do a lot for us and deserve the break.

  9. Happy Holidays to all in the Rangers Community!

    Sam – good luck & congratulations with the new addition(when it finally arrives).

  10. HAPPY HOLIDAY to all in Ranger land.
    I love my Rangers – win, lose, or shoot out !
    Sam, you’re the best. I hope your little one is a healthy one.
    Any names yet ?

  11. Sam,
    Best wishes to you and your family. I hope your wife has an easy delivery of a healthy baby! Thanks for all the info and insight you share with us. The Rangers will shake this off …Im positive that they would have preferred to go into the holidays on a better run and will come back raring to go. Happy new year to all!

  12. “Finally, much like the Rangers offense, we continue to be told that our second child will show up any day now, but are still waiting.”

    Classic Sam. Hilarious! I hope for your wife’s sake that the baby shows up before the offense because you might have to wait another month or two for the offense, if it ever comes at all.

    I haven’t been around in a while and will continue to be absent for the next few days. The Rangers have been disappointing, to say the least, and let’s all just hope that this “rut” is going to be akin to last year, and they turn it around like last year. But there are too many things to comment about to even start, so I’ll just leave it there. (Acutally I just wanted to mention Jagr’s post in the third period last night. Why won’t he rip more one-timers like that anymore?)

    To Sam, Josh, and my fellow bloggers, Happy holidays and a happy new year. Here’s wishing that the fortunes of our beloved Rangers change.

  13. The team should have half the heart & passion we Ranger fans have. A Happy Holiday season & every success in the New Year to truly the best sport fans in the world.

  14. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my fellow Ranger fans and to you as well SAM. Stay safe all and heres hoping our gift comes in the middle of June!

  15. Sam congrats on the pending arrival of baby number two and best wishes to the whole family including the older sibling (boy if I remember correctly). Merry Christmas to all my fellow Ranger fans.

  16. I believe the Rangers are just going thru a “funk” period where their results are not reflecting their recent efforts, and all the little things are just not breaking in their favor, bad calls, & every turnover winds up in our net, & great scoring chances are just not going in. Scorers pressing & squeezing the stick too hard.
    With Avery showing the way yesterday, the energy & effort was there, with even Jags sticking his face around the net. Two goals in off our own players with good coverage in front of the net. Efforts like yesterday WILL result in the end of the drought, & future good results.
    Think back to the beginning of Yankee season this year, when only A-Rod could hit. & Abreu was woeful for two months. These things happen & are contagious, both ways, and as long as Avery can stay healthy & shame his teammates into paying the price like he always does, this WILL turn around if they help Henrik with the traffic in front of his goal.

  17. Sam, Happy Holidays and Happy Baby day when it happens.

    Merry Chistmas Bloggers! Now if only Santa would give me back the gift of goal scoring I look worse than a Valeri Kamenski Marek Malik combo right now.

  18. Happy Holidays to you and yours Sammy and I wish you the very best with your little one thats coming soon…enjoy this week and thank you for giving us the best Rangers blog that we can ask for

    JoeyBrash

  19. Drury has stunk all year. I recall him being brutal in Calgary but even then he wasn’t this freaking bad. That was a smart backhand pass he made huh? The Rangers didn’t play badly at all. They were fairly unlucky. The Sens don’t have alll that much secondary scoring, but they have far more than the Rangers do. Where have you gone Sergei Nemchinov and Darren Turcotte? The team is too small and soft up front and the defense is not pyshical at all.They have no frontline scoring let alone secondary scoring. I liked Brooks’ suggestion of trading for Brooks Orpik. Jagr played really well but he can’t get any breaks at all. That was as good as a shot as he’s had all year. The 4th line was dominant all night but they can’t score to save their lives. Hollweg topped his great game vs the Pens. I am really starting to feel for him, he deserves a goal or two. How scary was the Strudwick-Malik pair? I’ve seen turtles that move better than they do. The Dubinsky line was off all night. Avery started off as a house of fire but understandably wore down. This team has alot of issues and has the meat of their schedule coming up. Rought game by Staal last night nice deflection too bad it was the wrong freaking net! The ‘Canes are another real tough test even without Williams.

  20. Happy holidays Sam!! I wish you all the best with your impending addition.

    On a more ‘Rangers’ note, has anyone otther than myself remembered the past two Decembers? The Rangers are right on track! =D

  21. Cheers Same. I have a two year old daughter and a 4 month old son. I must say that it really doesn’t get any better. Well, it gets better when the Rangers win. I agree with Lauren, the last two Decembers have been down right awful. I am not too worried. I want to see a good two week stretch where we have this whole team healthy and with 4 regular lines. And, I feel bad for Staal last night, but those things are going to happen. I liked his physical play with Neil. The kid is still growing and I would love for him to turn in to a Pronger type player. With that size he could be an absolute beast and he has offensive skills in there too. I am very excited about him. Two days off, regroup and I can see a winning streak coming. I like Avery last night, and even in the post game interview you can tell he is fired up and ready to get on a roll. I don’t care what anyone says, Janurary 1, lock up Hank and lock up Avery. Merry Christmas everyone.

  22. Thanks Sam. The work you do for us fans is greatly appreciated. Best of luck, and have a safe and happy holiday season.

  23. To excuse a player for poor play because he is “clutch” is sometimes allowable. To say this is to say that it is okay for a player to make mistakes and not be completely effective sometimes, or even often, because througout the season that player will make up for his lapses with plays that make the difference between his team winning and losing. This has not been the case with Drury upon whom we are apparently waiting to do his dammage once we are in playoff position.

    Do we really need to wait unitl the playoffs(if we even make the playoffs)to count on Drury’s help? Can’t he bring it during games when we really need his clutchess? Say we do make th playoffs, and Drury suddenly kicks intogeard is the difference maker…well fuck him for not doing now what he is capableof when we are just struggling to maintain playoff positon. What if Drury could be the difference between us making the playoffs or not? Well he’dbetter start plaing playoff hockey sooner rather than later.

  24. Sam, all the best to you and yours, happy holidays and I hope you and have a beautiful lil baby.

    THANK YOU for finally calling out Drury. I’ve been saying since before we even signed him that I think he’s really overrated, but now he’s really proving to be actually *bad* with us! I felt like a mad man because it seems no one wants to admit that he pretty much sucks in NY… finally people are admitting it.. its sad, but I dont feel like I’m taking crazy pills anymore (well at least not *as many*…).

    GB, I agree with you. If Drury comes alive “just for playoffs” EFF HIM for not helping out when we needed it getting in.

    I hate to say it…sometimes i really do think we’re cursed. If we dont make the playoffs with this lineup I will really need to reconsider my dedication to this team. Ridiculous.

    Merry Christmas crew….Good luck Sam… and I’m actually looking forward to some more Josh posts….

  25. a merry christmas still doesn’t change the fact that this team blows and renney is a clueless fool who needs to be fired asap.

  26. Drury is 4th on the team in scoring despite playing with crappy linemates for the majority of the season. He has also switched from a fast skating high offense team to a slow, defense first system. He is still on pace for 20 some goals and 50 some points, which is around his career season average. Just because a player signs for 7 million per does not make him a 40 goal scorer. Did you guys expect 40-50 goals out of Holik too?

  27. hockeymanrangers on

    To everyone Merry Christmas.
    To Sam, I hope you are blessed with a healthy baby.
    and to Sam also could you please let us know when you get a chance to let us know, boy or girl and when the little one arrives.

  28. Congrats, Sam on your new “team” member and Merry Christmas to you.

    And to all of you, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and here’s to a great 2008 where maybe I myself will finally find the right woman.

  29. As far as our beloved Rangers.

    The Rangers Christmas list to Santa is as follows:(albeit unofficial until I hear back from Santa)

    1) Chris Drury will find his game
    2) Scotty Gomez will continue to play like he has been, just fabulous.
    3) That Sean Avery stay healthy
    4) That Jagr keeps his season average for goals consistent with previous years (that would include him scoring many goals the rest of this season)
    5) That Renney find some way to turn it up a notch and allow his team to take some chances and play some actual hockey.

    6) That Ryan Hollweg keep that same snarl he’s had in his last 2-3 games
    7) That Colton Orr win himself another fight soon
    8) That Ryan Callahan and Petr Prucha start scoring some goals
    9) That Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Fedor Tyutin, Paul Mara and Rozival continue to develop as a solid defensive unit
    10) That Brendan Shanahan find that 2nd half wind and keep it going into the playoffs.

    And may it begin tomorrow night and continue to the Habs game where I’ll be on December 30th!

  30. “He is still on pace for 20 some goals and 50 some points, which is around his career season average.”

    He’s 4th in scoring on a SEVERELY low scoring team. Also, he has made MANY poor defensive plays all season…if you’re not gonna score, at least play a sound defensive game.

  31. So Salty, you believe that his new contract magically turns him into a 40-50 goal scorer? Pretty neat. Maybe we should give Prucha 7 mil per year too to get him out of his funk. Drury is scoring at a pace he’s always scored at, except for his 2 seasons on high powered Buffalo. The problem is with Jagr, who is having his worst season by far. Drury is definitely in a rut right now, but he is also one of the big reasons our PK is near tops in the league, and is 12th in the laegue in FO%. Do I want him to score more? Absolutely. But people who thought he was going to score 30-40 goals in our defensive system were fooling themselves.

  32. Happy Holidays, Sam and everyone else here.

    A Christmas wish: that people not equate salary with goals. Salary has to do with supply and demand and contractual timing. Just because you pay Drury a ton of cash, you can’t expect him to become a player he isn’t. He’s a solid player, who has done all right as a Ranger but who has not been given much of a chance to shine.

    Including salary in the discussion of any player is a mistake; the team’s finances should only be used in judging management. So, if you want to fault someone for how much Drury counts against the cap versus what you think he brings to the ice, remember the market he was signed in, and then blame Sather (or not).

    Let’s Go Rangers in ’08 and beyond…

  33. Hey, Doc:

    Just saw that last post after I posted mine. Nice.

    Here’s an idea: Give me a 25 million, 1 year contract. Maybe that can turn me from a guy who can’t really skate into a 50 goal scorer.

  34. popgun offense on

    Drury has 8 goals, Jagr has 7. If Drury is playing bad, what does that tell you about captain Sulk?

    a lump of coal for Renney and jagr.

  35. honestly i think a lot of drury’s low point production can be attributed towards the people he was playing with. he was playing on the 3rd line for almost all of the season with cally and prucha who are having their own problems, factor in that drury’s main focus throughout his career has been defense(and he is in a defense first system) and he is a center(always has to be the 3rd man back) i think it makes sense he has the amount of points he does have. he has cally on one side who has done nothing this season and prucha who has been argueably worse. drury WILL end up with 60+ points if he stays with shanny and if people honestly expected more out of him i dont know what to say, he has always been a 60-70 point guy, i dont think that is going to change because he moved to NYC and got offered a huge contract.

    just my two cents

  36. “he has always been a 60-70 point guy”

    Okay… you are happy with this for $7M of your cap space for the next 5 seasons!?

  37. OK – xmas is over, the (un)offical start of the 2nd half starts now. Someone mentioned the previous 2 Decembers we’ve had. Correct you are…look at last year with our 7-game losing streak. We have 6 losses this month going into tonight(hopefully it stays @ 6). So all in all, it can’t be as bad as last season. Have faith guys(and gals).

    Someone also pointed out that Drury has more goals than Jags right now. Actually 1 more goal, 4 less assists, and is a -9 compared to Jagr’s -3. Everyone usually likes to say that +/- means nothing…until they’re a minus! Making Malik’s ‘+’ the last few years nothing. Whatever.

    My point here if there is one, is that Drury is not here to lead the team in scoring. He is in fact on pace for is average. Jagr is in the biggest slump of his life and it’s reflecting on everyone else since they’re not quite picking up the slack. Prucha…dreadful. Even if HE had 8-10 goals by now(not asking for much) we wouldn’t be looking at lack of production. Or losing those close games early on when we were getting the goaltending we expected.

  38. Not sure if anyone read Larry Brook’s POST article today. Basically it looks as if Prucha and possibly Mara coul be on their way to Columbus for Adam Foote (who would have to waive his no trade clause). I for one am getting a little tired of Prucha’s “little train that could” play. He is constantly getting beaten up and with little to show for it.

    Something has got to give with this team. Let’s hope tonight against Carolina is the great start that we need.

  39. Billy – my bro actually sent that to me before. Personally I don’t like Brooks. To me, the only difference between him and Eklund is that Brooks writes for a NY paper. HOWEVER, the deal(s) make sense. Prucha is #1 on the block followed by Mara. Though I’d love to see Mara around, his price is a bit high.

    Yes, I left out Malik, I know. That’s gotta be one of the hardest guys to deal…ever!

    I still think Prucha to BOS for a back-up is a fair move.

  40. I’m sure this has been said plenty of times, but it can’t be repeated enough.

    I have yet to see this amazing “defensive play” that adds to Drury’s “hard-to-guage” value. From what I see, he looks like a freaking pee-wee. I am already tired of seeing him blindly (and weakly) try to clear the puck from the defensive zone, when there is nobody around him, only to have the puck go directly to the defenseman waiting at the blue line. This is stuff that is taught when you first play organized hockey:

    Look where you are passing/putting the puck.

    Then, once kids have strength in their arms, the next step is:

    When clearing the puck, send it hard and off the boards.

    I am getting sick and tired of these lame-ass backhand clearing attempts that go nowhere, especially when there is no pressure on him. Granted, he is certainly not the only one to do this. But continuing to hear the praise of his contributions to the game that don’t show up on the scoreboard is really wearing on me when I see the exact opposite. Either start scoring more, or do the “little things” that you supposedly excel at. So far, from what I’ve seen, Drury is a bust. Gomez is the one showing he’s worth his contract.

    Ok, down off my soapbox…

  41. You know, I’m kinda on the fence with Drury. At this point of the year, his pace is where it has been for most of his career. I think what we’re seeing is a “Small Fish in a Big Pond”. Our expectations are so much higher in NY than fans of other teams. He’s so far followed the same as Holik did. Thank god Drury isn’t making $9mil, huh? We brought him in to do a job. Then again, we’ve brought everyone of these guys in to do a job. Who else has really lived up to it? A handful by my count.

    Our expectations are tied a lot to the salary of the players, and in most cases rightfully so. I give you Marek Malik. (really, I’ll GIVE him to you) Whether right or wrong at this point(in Dru’s case). But the season is 82 games. While on a short leash…I’ll give it until the deadline to pass judgement on him. We have guys that are far far far worse, and producing much less.

  42. A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! I’ve been away for a week… but I see not a l lot has changed (team losing… Jagr not producing… trade talk increasing) since I’ve been around.

    Some folks have invoked the old “It’s december… remeber what this team did the past two years after a horrid december?”

    Not for nothin’ but do we really want this team to have to finish the season 17-6 in order to squeak into the play-offs? I can’t happen every year. How making the play-offs easily this season instead of coasting in on a losing streak (’05-’06) or going balls to the wall to make it (’06-’07).

    Would it be too much to ask to be in position to make it and then hitting a nice stride and go in on all cylinders?

  43. Let me finish oops. I like Foote always been a good physical player and moves the puck well. Saw a lot of him when I lived in Colorado back in the 96-98 seasons.I like the deal only if he can still play.

  44. popgun offense on

    watching games on center ice, Foote is much slower and less aggressive than he used to be.

    that is why Colum. wants to get rid of him.

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