A momentum changer or a facade?


Driving home last night and listening to sports radio, the prevailing sentiment from Rangers fans was that last night was merely a continuation of the team’s worrisome play.

I agree. Sort of. Actually, I don’t know.
Here’s the deal: The Sabres stink recently. They were without some of their best players, and the Rangers may have only emerged last night thanks to resourceful thighs of Blair Betts (OK, I’m not completely comfortable with that phrase. But I’m talking about him blocking a shot).

But here’s the other part to consider: The Rangers needed a win, they have lost plenty of games this year just like it, and thanks to a timely goal from Petr Prucha, some excellent penalty killing, and some encouraging signs from Henrik Lundqvist, they walked away with two points.

Either way, a lot of this will be determined by how the Rangers fare during their weekend set against the B’s. Because if they falter, then it’s easy to say that the Sabres win was merely a facade.  But if they build some momentum, then you can point to last night as some sort of start.

It’s up to the Rangers to decide which they want to go with this.

In a related topic, we’ll see if Brendan Shanahan is disciplined from the league for his late hit last night on Clarke MacArthur.

More on that later….

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  1. In my opinion, the team is starting to come around. The first line has been playing very well for the past month.
    The new DDP line has been excellent. They deserve some more ice time.
    Shanny & Avery are coming off injuries and will need a few games to get back into the mix.
    The 4th line has been very effective and solid, I just wish that their time was reduced a bit and the third line was given a bit more.

    Other than that, if they start to play more discipline and the defense can stay solid then this team will start going places. Having scoring coming from the 3rd line can really help open things up for the top two lines.

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for them scoring goals, but I am more concerned with them playing smart team defense, taking less penalties, and allowing fewer goals. That is when this team is going to play their best.

  3. Some things I noticed actually being at the game last night. One our savioir Avery is definetly nervois playing with this wrist thing. He was off by himself during warmups and just flicking wrist shots at the boards and right before the first faceoff he was flexing, twisting, and moving his wrist around. However as the game went on he did get stronger and had a couple of good chances and in the 3rd one shift with some booming hits that promted the crowd to cheer for its favorite player.

    Dan Girardi is without a doubt the best al around defensemen on the team. The first pass, checks, shots, blocked shots. It really is fun to watch him. Marc Stall isn’t far behind him either. Not to take anything away from the rest of the group but the way these two look makes me thing Rozi becomes expendable if he wants some kind of ludicrous contract.

    From the western canada road swing till now the one forward I notice as much as Gomez who really is slick, I always hated that I like him so much as a Devil at least now I can really enjoy him. But my point is Dubinsky has been skating with some great confidence and I think he is starting to rub off on Prucha.

    I’m not sold on Dawes at all, he loafs it back to the defesive zone, he creates some good fore check and uses his body, but if we were in a playoff series right now I’d rather have Callahan back up with the club.

    Hank was above average last night he was following the play great and I can see a glimmer of the King coming through.

    Last bu not least, Jagr is barely noticeable. There were times when that line was out and I would see Strake and Gomez going a million miles and hour and you don’t even know Jagr is out there. He had a couple of good plays but he’s Jaromir FREAKING Jagr he is so much better than that.

    It’s amazing the things you don’t see on TV. God I love the Rangers.

  4. Nasty – I gotta agree. 6-2 or 2-1, I can’t say I really care, as long as we win.

    Sam – props to you and your collegues for picking Betts as a star last night. He deserved it, and his reaction was amusing.

    I don’t think I’d call that game a turning point just yet. But there’s no dispute that 2pts vs. a crappy team is better than no points. Any win is a starting point.

    The B’s have been hit extremely hard by the flu bug the last few weeks and are missing a couple players to other injuries as well. Not much different from Buffalo.

  5. don’t mean to change the subject but what is going on this year and especially the games lately with some of these ridiculous soft penalty calls against the rangers. Last night the call against drury to put the rangers down two men was a joke. I’m really starting to think the league has something against the rangers. It’s like the refs are trying to get the other teams to score goals against them. Is it renney’s system the refs don’t like, there is something fishy going on. Jagr’s penalty was also ridiculous, all he did was stick his arm out, didn’t grab or hold the guy. It’s like the rangers are under the refs microscope for very soft penalties.

  6. Oh yea I forgot to mention that Blair Betts has balls of freaking steel. My old man and I are amazed at how this guy sacrifices himself. Ber Me is right props to Sam and the other for picking him as a star. That one sequence where he blocked those shots on the penalty kill brought me out of my seat.

  7. prucha missed a game or two because he got slashed on the wrist in toronto, that’s a penalty, no call. avery is still hurt because of a slash on his wrist in edmonton, no call, those are penalties.

  8. Tom G I couldnt agree with you more. I’ve noticed Bill Mcreary has been calling alot of games lately for us lately and he as well as most of the officials are make phantom or really soft calls on the Rangers. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I really wonder if there is some agenda to screw the Rangers. The league should want them to win to help grow the game. Hockey was at a high in 94 when the rangers won. if they win the cup again it will help gain more mass appeal.

    Also alot of the Sabres took shots a Drury which I was kind of surprised at. makes me wonder.

  9. I am starting to agree with Hockeypuckz about Roszival. Its fairly obvious that the team is moving away from a Eurocentric team and more towards a north south North American style. To me, Roszival and Malik represent that softer east-west style of Euro play. Not that Roszival is bad, but he isnt assertive and defers to much to Jagr. In fact, the idea of not resigning him does not seem so bad after this year. Think about it, we have about 26 million of cap space tied up for next year(roughly). Why not let Roszival, Malik, Mara all go? We have Sanguinetti coming in, who after watching at the Juniors, I believe will step in just like Staal. Plus we have depth defenseman in Hartford, like Baranka, Sauer, Taylor, etc.

    Don’t forget that Brian Campbell is a free agent too. Imagine how much better our pp would be with him on the 1st unit instead of Roszival. Just saying…

  10. sanguinetti will contend for a spot in camp, but it’s going to be his defensive abilities that will keep him back. however, his work on the PP point is something we really need right now. he has the ability to change a game with his pp quarterbacking.

  11. Would’ve liked to see a few more goals scored but give Miller some credit. He played great.
    Jagr’s line was very dominant & generated many great chances, & if that effort continues goals will follow. Gomez is a joy to watch, & puny as he is is always sticking up for his mates. He should wear the “A” & Shanny the “C” & I bet it would help Jagr’s game as well.
    Never understood all the bashing of Dubinsky. To me he is already an outstanding 2 way player, can control the puck, make good plays, & is physical. Given time he will become a goal scorer as well. It was just a matter of time before Prucha broke out of his mental, pressing, funk & remembered how to relax & score. His effort has been A+ throughout his scoring drought & no one in the league takes more abuse than him inorder to try & make plays.
    Hank bailed us out a few times, just like earlier in the season when we were also not scoring, but winning all those low scoring games.
    Avery will probably not have any kind of wrist shot for the remainder of the season, but he does so much else that we don’t need him to score. He sets the physical & intensity tone & is crucial to our success.
    Pure & simple, this team is good enough to win only if they play hard for 60 minutes, but if they do they can be at a level with all but Detroit & Ottawa, IMO.

  12. Avery had a hell of a shot yesterday that surprised Miller from just inside the blue line. Does anyone remember that play? He took off with the puck had a man on him and let a wrister fly. He has a pretty powerful heavy shot.

  13. A few things really irked me about last night….

    Malik gave the dude a bear hug and took a stupid penalty because he doesn’t have the skills to compete without the hooks and the holds. Pathetic.

    Jagr is a huge concern. He was loafing back on that 4 on 2 and his guy Pominville scored the goal. The iso cam even showed Jagr gliding back. Inexcusable. His two penalties were deplorable. One where he took his hand off his stick to grab the other guy was just stupid. The other, that F-ing hook right in front of Miller’s goal, had to be the laziest penaltay and the biggest sign of, “I really don’t give a crap,” that I have seen in a while. He is just not trying. And how many times are we going to see him fly up the boards and circle around the net without getting the puck to the crease. I think I could defend him.

    Gomez looks good but man he makes some stupid plays. What was he thinking trying to thread a pass to Jagr (look for someone else please, once maybe) through 3 Sabres and then it was a 4 on 2. Not smart.

    Props to Betts. Props to the young kids line, our best of the night. I love Marty Straka too. Day in, day out the guy knows where to be and just makes good plays.

    Last night was a start, a win is a win, but it was hardly convincing at all. The Sabres might be the worst team in the East right now given their injuries.

    At least the Bruins are sucking too, maybe we can string together something.

  14. I am not sure that anyone else in the league playing a complete 60 minute game can compete with a healthy Detroit right now. Ottawa is banged up and I expect some teams to challenge them a bit. And what is up with the Devils? As good as they are playing they are getting destroyed in the Metro Ice challenge. If only that challenge meant something. Ha.

  15. Just to let everyone know I’m 4-0 when I wear my Chris Drury, white Ranger jersey to the games, the 4th win being last night. I’ll be in Boston for Saturday’s game, Tuesday for the game against the Braves…I mean Thrashers and Feb. 3 in Montreal. Not jinxing anything…that’s all I’ll say.

    Couple things about last night. This team is soooo close to quitting on Renney it’s not even funny. The most obvious point was when Jagr took a STUPID hooking penalty when the puck (god forbid) didn’t come to him. He looks lost. If Buffalo had scored a 2nd goal you might have seen a mail it in job. However, a win’s a win…

    Kudos to the 3rd line last night. They were above and beyond the best line on the ice. Imagine if we get Prucha and Dubi scoring. Then things will fall into place (cross your fingers).

  16. Rangers were lucky last night … all the missing Sabres and they win only 2-1? … a bounce here or there and it is overtime … Renney is playing his 4rth line WAY too much … give more ice time to the Dubinsky line – they were the hot hand yet had the least amount of icetime… Dubinsky only 6 minutes !!! The Betts line doubled them in icetime … yet only totaled 2 shots …
    TomG — I agree with you on the refs calling soft penalties …
    Also, Jagr is hurt… It was obvious yesterday with him lumbering around … his foot is bothering him ..

  17. On ufa’s(Dmen)….

    I don’t think we’ll be able to afford Campbell, but the guy is a complete player. The spin-o-rama to move the puck out of his own zone was sweet.

    I wouldn’t mind keeping Mara. I think he knows he’s not getting a raise no matter where he goes. If anything, we’d sign him for the same or less. On the fence still, but when he plays with anyone other than Struds or Malik, he actually looks ok. Not $3.1mil ok, but ok.

    Rozy? All depends on how much he wants. If he decides to go to arbitration, kiss him goodbye. He’d have to give us a discount to stay.


    I have a feeling toots/girardi are going to take us to the cleaners. But they’ll be back. Thus limiting our ability to keep or sign other ufa’s.

  18. NO way Roszival comes back. He’ll be UFA next year, so no arbitration here, and his offensive numbers will dictate that he paid much more than all of us know he’s actually worth. Think about it – he’s not good in his own zone, gets knoecked off the puck easily, and his numbers on the PP are more a function of him converting backdoor passes and rebounds in a systme geared towards getting the perfect shot. But he rarely shoots from the point and really doesn’t QB the PP (nobody does on our team, thats one of the problems).

  19. pghs – thanks for the correction.

    I know as well as the rest of the hockey world knows that we had some phantom calls against us last night. But at least Orr got away with running into Miller. Even with his skating ability, or lack there of, he could’ve missed’em. Really wanted to see Orr vs. Peters, but the timing wouldn’t been bad.

  20. I wanted to see Orr vs. Peter too or anything. I think the last time I was actually at a game and there was a fight was 95 or 96 they were playing the whalers and Kocur fought Kelly Chase and knocked him out. I think there should be a rule that Orr has to fight every game.


  22. Partial facade would be correct. Notwithstanding the DPD line of Dubie Prucha & Dawes, we don’t have lines that can plays both the defensive & offensive zones effectively with with passion. The HBO line is effective but they couldn’t dump a puck in the ocean. Avery ‘s hand is still hurting and Shanahan is sore and feeling his age. Jagr is a detriment to this team. He’s not even 50% of what he used to be. Consistant dumb penalties by Jagr are killing us. We’ve be better off letting him rest for several days to see if it makes a difference. Re Lunquist we are so fragile as a team if’s he not on we’re in trouble. A partial facade.

  23. Nick B. January 17th, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Couple things about last night. This team is soooo close to quitting on Renney it’s not even funny. The most obvious point was when Jagr took a STUPID hooking penalty when the puck (god forbid) didn’t come to him. He looks lost. If Buffalo had scored a 2nd goal you might have seen a mail it in job. However, a win’s a win…

    good point.

    Unreal watching malik get beat repeatedly only to think of Larry Brooks’ article as he takes that penalty. You knew, right then and there, that there was no way that Renney was going to discipline him. NOT a chance.

    Even though others have gotten away with nonsense, Shanny should be suspended. We are less without him in the lineup, but that was very dirty. Frustrated Shanny, methinks.

  24. It wasn’t pretty but they got a much needed point. Nobody is gonna pretend they beat an elite team but you have to beat teams like this. They blew the Tampa game last week this time they played better. I thought the cap was supposed to help small market teams like Buffalo? With Briere and Drury(both were willing to stay the summer before they became free agents but Golisano wasn’t willing to shell out the bucks) gone and Roy and Connolly out Buffalo is missing their top 4 centers from last years playoffs. Vanek is just beaten down by the weight of contract as well. I thought the Rangers had a very sharp first period lead by the kid line. Avery being back in the line adds an element the Rangers just don’t have otherwise. Avery was very strong in both zones. I thought he had at least a half dozen hits. Jagr and his entire line looked terrible. Jagr seeemed to be crawling up the ice on the backcheck. Perhaps he shouldn’t have played last night. Gomez struggled with the puck all night. He made a horrid giveaway on the Sabres first goal. Straka other than getting a semi break on the pk was a non factory. While the Hbo line played very well I don’t like the fact that they get more icetime than the Dubinsky line. Every time that line was on the ice they created a tremendous forecheck. They have good speed, grit and a willingness to get to the net. Imo they will continue to get better if only they would get rewarded with more icetime. Blair Betts played easily his best game as a pro. He doesn’t get the credit or attention he deserves alot of the time. He was just incredible on the pk blocking shots, blocking pass making smart plays on the puck. The issue though is the Rangers taking all these penalties and facing 5 on 3’s for the 4th game in a row. Sooner or later that will come back to bite you. Gomez did have a nice pk shift and did show more life in the third to be fair. There as plenty of phantom calls in the game. The refs are getting worse and worse. The two ref system was a joke from the start another brilliant idea by Buttman. Lundqvist was very sharp last night making big saves unlike recently. I though his rebound control was still abit shaky but the dmen did a good job of clearing the puck. Speaking of dmen doing there jobs how bout the reunited Tyutin-Girardi pair? It was probably the best either guy looked in a month. Tyutin played a swoshbuckling game hitting anything that moved. Girardi was terrible all around being very smart in his own zone weith the point and he looked better positionally then he’s been lately. I was surprised to see Mara-Rozsival on together late in the game it nearly cost em, when Mara made a bad giveaway but Hank made a terrific save. Next up is a very smart defensive team with a solid Tim Thomas in net and a dangerous Marc Savard as well as Chara. The Rangers badly need to stay out of the box.

  25. Speaking of penalties yeah Shanny got away with one but a suspension is ludacrous it wasn’t that bad.

  26. I don’t think Shanny is frustrated to the point of intent to injure but I think he is just an old vet who knows what he has to do to get this team winning again, he saw Buffalo with a good chance and took a player out of the play. There is no doubt MacArthur could have been hurt but Shanny was in no way trying to maim the kid. If he gets a suspension then the league does have it out for us I think.

  27. Bring back Lohan on

    When the Sabres scored and they showed a close-up of Renney chewing his gum, I almost threw up in my mouth….

  28. Bring back Lohan on

    I know we all want more ice time for DDP but dont you think they’re high high level of energy is a function of they’re limited time? Is it possible that more ice time will result in less energy? I mean playing 18 minutes is more tiring right? Hence, less enery and less effectiveness. I actually dont believe this myself but I figured I would play devil’s advocate.

  29. Bring back Lohan on

    Selke is 100% based on reputation. He may win one in time but not this year. He deserves a look….

  30. sounds funny but Betts doesn’t score enough to win the selke. You need to contribute on the offensive side a bit also.

  31. Sam, I think it may be time to change the poll.

    Maybe something like: “Will the Rangers make the playoffs, and if so, how far will they go?”

    a. Won’t make the playoffs
    b. 1st Round exit
    c. 2nd Round exit
    d. Conference Finals exit
    e. Stanley Cup Finals exit
    f. Stanley Cup Champions

  32. Bring Back Lohan — 18 minutes for the DDP line may be too much and the energy would drop, but give them 12-15 minutes please … not 6-8 minutes.

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