Staying pat against the Isles

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As expected, the Rangers will have the same lineup tonight against the Isles, meaning Jason Strudwick, Ryan Hollweg, and Petr Prucha will all be scratches.

My prediction: unless someone gets hurt, Tom Renney won’t tinker with his personnel until the team loses.

Meanwhile, some notes:

<li>Today was only an optional skate, meaning many of the veterans took the morning off. Jaromir Jagr, sporting a new mullet-free haircut, came out for a twirl without full equipment. Scott Gomez missed practice yesterday with a groin strain, but he’ll be fine to play tonight.

<li>Paul Mara, still recovering from surgery on his face, was riding the bike and reported improvement, although he did say he’s still in pain. He won’t be clear to resume skating until next week, and when he does, he’ll be forced to wear a full shield.

This is not an insignificant adjustment, take it from me. The moment I got out of college — I played at the club level, which is hardly the NHL — I took off my shield and have never looked back. Now to have to go back to wearing one would feel like playing blindfolded.

<li>Expect to see Christian Backman getting some time on the point on the power play. “He moves the puck, he has his head up, he puts it where it needs to be,” Tom Renney said. Now if only he can avoid taking a penalty in the process….

More later…

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57 Comments

  1. Good idea – let’s reward Backman with some power play time for his stellar play so far as a Ranger.

  2. Hey Sam,

    You defend Malik left and right, despite his turnovers, yet you’ve been “on” Backman since day one. I don’t get it? take away his obvious nervousness and learning a new teammate, d partner, and city, I think he’s actually played ok. He’s more physical than Malik, and can actually move around a bit. What’s it take to cut this guy a few early audition gaffes?

  3. I agree with forchecker.

    Backman really hasn’t done anything to warrant ANYONE getting on him. He took a dumb penalty or two so far. It’s his first two games. At least one of them has been a bad call. He put the puck in the net, and hasnt been noticeable in giveaways or anything.

    Sam, cut him some slack. He’s actually hitting more than I expected, and I think he’s played really well. Being at the PHI game, and hearing people boo him, I was getting beyond upset. There is nothing to boo…wow a penalty or two, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago where EVERYONE was getting like 3 a game due to NO discipline?

    He’s played fine, leave him alone(for now).

  4. Yeah, it is definitely too early to boo someone. And if you don’t think that being booed by your own home fans won’t distract you or take you off your game a bit, you are wrong. Yeah, they are professionals, but it definitely can distract you.

  5. I think it’s a good idea. Surprised huh?

    You may as well see what you have in the guy. If his scouting report says he can move the puck and shoot, then you owe it to yourself to try him there. Do you really think he can make the PP worse!? Really now.

    He’s still got 2-3 games left befor I offer my assessment.

    You guys make it sound like Sam just punch Backman’s mother in the face. GEEZ! He only made a little smart-ass remark.

  6. If you want to yell at Sam for something, yell at him for leaving this little tid-bit out of his report (courtesy of his co-owner)

    “Jagr, who took a few spins near the end of the skate, has a shorter haircut and a soul patch growing on his chin. ”

    Sam – what’s the name of your fantasy team with zip?

  7. I guess so. I just saw the Isles website “Dubi In Tonight” is their headline.

    He actually played well vs the panthers the other day in that 1-0 game. Not worried though. But if he outplays Hank….well, you don’t want to know.

  8. Adam and his Apple on

    i dunno what games youve been watching but malik has been taking the body more than ever lately, hes been one of our best rearguards by far lately and with backman forget about the penalties, hes adjusting to our system, what i see in him is a guy who prolly should be on the point on our PP, hes a great passer and he has a pretty decent shot from what ive seen

  9. Wow, Backman defenders. Hey, I’m just joking when I tweak the new guy. I find it more amusing than anything else that he’s taken this many penalties so far. But I don’t think it’s representative of what the Rangers will get every night.

  10. Doodie Machetto on

    “He took a dumb penalty or two so far”

    Actually, he’s taken 5, 6 if you count the high stick that they gave to Staal but was committed by Backman.

  11. If DP is out, that’s huge. Time to light the lamp against the Icelanders.

    I agree with those who are cutting Backman some slack. My dad is a real “old school” guy who considers the Euro Invasion of the NHL a bad thing. I’ve only known a league where there is a European presence, and while I prefer the Canadian/North American style, I think the Euro guys add a lot of quality to the league.

    Point is, he was immediately biased against Backman and Sjostrom, and I think a lot of Ranger fans feel the same way he does. They hate these “dipsy-doodling Europeans who don’t hit” and don’t bother to give them a chance.

    I agree that Backman has had a rough two games…but ya know what, it’s only two games, and both were Ranger wins, so he obviously hasn’t killed the team (nor has Malik, by the way…he’s actually played QUITE well). I think both Swedes can contribute to the stretch run. I’m interested to see Backman on the Power Play tonight…hopefully we can make it two in a row at home with a power play goal (assuming we get a call or two…which has not been the case).

  12. Doodie Machetto on

    I’m not saying he shouldn’t play or that he should be booed or anything. Just that he REALLY needs to cut down on the penalties.

  13. Jagr, who took a few spins near the end of the skate, has a shorter haircut and a soul patch growing on his chin.

    Jagr the philosopher/poet. Gotta love it. Maybe we should pony up more for Avery….

  14. DP just attended his grandmother’s funeral and they aren’t sure about his “mental state”.-

    Are you kididng me?? The PIGS are fighting for their playoff lives and their franchise, 15 year contract holding goalie can’t play a game against their most heated rivals. Way to go Ricky boy, show your true colors!!! I hope Dubi lights up Dublishitz

  15. inhankwetrust on

    DP is still out? i thought he was only not playing the other night?

    goaliepost.com says otherwise….

    New York Islanders
    Rick Dipietro, Probable
    It’s unlikely Dipietro will sit, but possible
    Last Game: Mar 2 vs Fla, L 1-0
    Goalie: Dubielewicz (L, 29/30 sv, 58:42 min)

    SIDENOTE: DOES ANYONE HAVE AN EXTRA 2 TICKETS TO TONIGHTS GAME?????? I’m DYING HERE!! email me hokeyplayer21@aol.com

    Thanks!!!

  16. Why are people not more outraged by the playoff ticket pricing? That’s a huge, and costly, F U to regular fans.

    Dolan makes me sick.

  17. Doodie Machetto on

    Whatever. If you’re lucky enough to even find tickets, the money shouldn’t be an issue.

  18. Doodie Machetto on

    And let’s worry about MAKING the playoffs before we start complaining about ticket prices.

  19. The Rangers at this time last year were where the Isles are now and had a home and home and won both and were off to the races hopefully the same thing doesn’t happen to the Isles. To those who question how D.P handles a death in the family and bashes him for taking time off make me sick. Family is the most important thing in the world yes more important than sports.

  20. Hey Stock God forbid someone in your family dies tonight you better get to work at the piggily wiggily or Foodtown wherever you work the next day.

  21. Dolan is a d’bag no question real fans are getting priced out. Sadly it’s the sign of the times.

  22. DM,

    That seems to be the same attitude as “let’s wait until March before worrying about making the playoffs,” which seems to be how you end up worrying about making the playoffs.

  23. Dolan is a putz no question alot of real fans are being priced out. Sadly it is just the sign of the times.

  24. Graves, He’ll have plenty of time off come April. The death wasn’t yesterday it was a few days ago. Athletes get paid better than all of us working schmos, yes he should take time off, but being a public sports figure who gets paid to PLAY a GAME, I hold them to a higher standard. They are off all summer and only have 82 days to PLAY. Factor in rivalry and battle for playoff position and realize this is a HUGE game in the standings. I would kill Hank or anyone Ranger on this topic. if it just happened yesterday then fine, but it didn’t.

  25. Tony from AZ on

    There is not many things that I hate.
    BUT…. I hate the Fishsticks !!
    LET’S GO RANGERS.
    This our chance to bury them in the standings !!

  26. graves – I do not disagree about your statement regarding family. I love mine dearly.

    But I was watching a Sens game last year and they had a story about Chris Neil’s mom. His mom was killed in a car accident not long after they had spoken on the phone about her coming to one of their next games. Chris was called into the GM’s office figuring he had been traded. When he saw a teammate sitting there also (forget who it was) he knew something was wrong. They told him to take as much time off as he needed. So he did. He flew home that night, attended the funeral the next day. (an off-day for the sens) And was in full gear and played the next day. Never missed a game.

    Sure people handle it differently. And I’m not going to rip a guy for needing more time. I’m not even sure if playing against dubi(sorry) is in our favor(he played well vs FLA last game). But in comparison to the Neil situation, DP needs to get a grip and get back in net.

  27. Call us out all you want. When you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a little shitty, you drop down a few shots and call it a day.

    ……….

    Yeah, shots that have names like “Jack” and “Jose”… not “Buttkickin’ Orange”

    ;)

    RE: masks

    I took my visor off for *one* night in September because it was getting too foggy and I hated it. By the end of the night I had to have 14 stitches close up the little vaginey that opened up above my right eye after taking a stray puck off the glass and to the foreskull.

    The doc did a good job, the scar is kinda sweet. Still can’t feel parts of my scalp though which is creepy.

  28. How do you know how close Ricky was to his Grandmother? He may be in pieces and not be able to concreate. How do yo know that his mom or Dad is not so grieve stricken they got sick or something. As far as grieving in April that’s riduclous. Who are we to judge when or for how long someone can grieve?

  29. Beer two different situations Neil felt that playing would keep his mind off of the tragedy while Ricky for now obviously doesn’t feel that way. I am not going to judge or begrudge how one guy vs another handles a death.

  30. Graves you are right I don’t know that. This is the price he pays for being a PUBLIC figure- he has to deal with my 2nd guessing. If he doesn’t like it I’m sure he can get a 9-5 somewhere. He should SUCK IT UP and deal, how many day’s has it been?? I was looking forward to having fun tonight with many variations of his nickname being chanted- almost takes the fun out of going now

  31. This is from the Fishsticks’ website:

    “Wade Dubielewicz will get his second start in as many games, when the Islanders meet the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden. Rick DiPietro is expected to return to practice tomorrow. Bruno Gervais is still listed as day-to-day.”

  32. On the Backman issue: His 5 game probation continues. Renney has to say supportive things. Backman connected on a laser shot to the upper right corner from the slot, so let him continue his creativity and offense. On the flip side, he took way more than 1-2 bad penalties. He is also slower than anyone else on the ice. But that is why he is our #5-6 defenseman, not our #2-3 defenseman. TBD.

    Re the shield: I don’t know why any amateur player would ever go shieldless? You have one set of eyes, one set of teeth, etc. Does a shieldless amateur hope to be considered a throwback with no helmet and no teeth and permanent black eyes? Or a tough guy?

    Then when your son says, “Daddy how come you have no teeth and you can only really see me out of one eye,” you can tell him how great you saw things on the ice and everyone thought you were so cool. I don’t get it.

    I have used an I-tech full shield since I have been playing ice and roller outside of “organized” hockey. (Not pickup games on the street, but roller and ice leagues at Chelsea Piers and wherever else.)

    Let me share some stories:

    First in Philly (don’t ask, had a job there for 2 years…torture), and I was in a roller league. The scummy Philly guys were being classless d-bags and trying to fight with guys on our team. I was wearing a half shield at the time. I went to one of the guys trying to pick fights and with my arms at my side (what a mistake!) I said, “Relax guy. This is not the NHL.” And he punched me in the face below the shield and broke my nose. REALLY GLAD I HAD ONLY A HALF SHIELD ON! (note sarcasm!)

    Second, in NYC, playing roller, caught a deflected slapper right in the middle of my I-tech. Would have broken my nose and possibly hit me square in one eye. Definitely glad I had the full shield on that time. (No sarcasm!)

    Third, countless times I have caught high stick blades and wild stick shafts gone awry on my mask.

    For a professional hockey player, I understand the idea of not wearing a shield and only doing so when you are injured. Those guys get paid to play hockey!!

    But as an amateur in a men’s league, do you trust all the bozos you play with and have confidence that no deflected puck is going to send you to the dentist? I mean Sam you are a journalist. What would happen if you caught a stick in the eyes and couldn’t see out of both? Better learn Braille pretty quickly pal.

    Unless the hockey you are playing is low speed, low competition, absolutely zero contact, with kids who are 12 and adults who are 60, I see no reason to NOT wear a shield.

    My eyes and teeth are worth more than being called a “cool guy” or a “tough guy” on the ice, esp now that I have two little boys that I want to be able to see clearly with both eyes.

  33. Personally I don’t give 2 F’n Sh-t’s what happens in DP’s world. He can go F himself and his f-gg-t f’n teammates too.

    I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care what goes on in my world.

    ahhh – that felt good. F*ck DP and F*ck the icelanders!

    LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

  34. Great, Backman in to give the Isles some hope … they just have to body check this guy and he will cough up the puck or get a penalty . Give the Isles life … Strudwick should be playing.. Dubi, the goalie, actually played well vs. Rangers last year, watch what you wish for …

  35. koffy – did you copy that post from before the philthy game and just change the team name? Broken record pal. Stick with it though, it’s bound to be right sooner or later. Were you hoping to be selected with that 4th round pick or something?

  36. Beer Me well said. I;ve been saying it slightly less PC all day. I HATE these pieces of $h1t that we are playing tonight. I could care less about DP, he’s probably doing things with 2 sticks or something- point is he is their problem for 15 years and that is what makes this funny. I feel sorry for the fishstick fans that I see tonight- i will be verbally unmerciful

  37. Tony from AZ on

    Beer me – pretty heavy !
    I hate the effin dickheads as much as anyone, but when a family member dies – well I feel for them as a person.
    My sympathy & prayers to him & his family.

  38. PJ, you are way off base on this DP thing. The guy has a right to take as much time as he needs. You have no idea about his family situation.

  39. I’m happy that they are adding Backman to the PP it might help him relax and not take stupid penalties. If after the next 2 games he is still taking dumb penalties then to hell with him.

    RE: Neil and DP it’s like some of you have said it’s a way of dealing. I hate DP I want to kick him right in hist boston accent and shove that little prick Shawn Bates up his arse, but I can help but feel bad for anyone who has lost a member of there family. Personally I would play like Neil did if I was in the situation but none of us should bash the LI bitch for doing that it’s his family na’ mean.

    With regards to visors I’ve played with them on and off since i started in mens league. I’ve never played with no shield accept in open hockey. I will say that since going to just the visor and playing without the cage i’ve been enjoying it alot over the last year. I have an oakley visor now and it’s great hardly fogs up and it only got it’s first scratch when I tried to start a fight and threw my helmet onto the ice to get the other guy to do the same. it’s kind of like the DP and Neil thing personnel preference.

  40. Tony from AZ

    I read most of the posts here and only contribute on rare occasion. I must say your posts are always good and your last one pegs you as a classy guy.

    Cheers!
    JD

  41. All I’m saying is if any of you were in mgmt or sales and were given a 15yr contract to lead by example and then come the end of the month you were not around how would that look?? While things come up and no one can have them come up on the schedule they wish (can’t predict when someone is going to die) you have an obligation to your team. If you don’t like it don’t be a professional sports player. He had a CHOICE to sign a contrcat with his team, and with that choice and those benefits (15yr GUARANTEED contract) come obligations that he has to the team. I think playing your hated rival late in the season when losing these 2 points could very well kepe you from the playoffs is an obligation that he has ESPECIALLY if the death was not yesterday but rather a few dyas ago. Maybe I’m just a hard arse for a boss, but that is what I expect of people. If he had a 9-5 job no one would question him.

  42. Backman plays = Strudwick sits. Not a bad trade at all, given that Backman has an upside and Strudwick never had one.

  43. PJ, you have an obligation to your family first, not your team. His contract situation has absolutley nothing to do with it. He could be signed for the rest of his life and it wouldn’t matter in my mind.

  44. DP can take the rest of the season off for all I care. My condolences DP, never play again in honor of her. Please.

    Sympathy, yes fine, a little. But when he is done mourning, he can E S and D!

  45. I completely agree with Newman on the shield, Sam is crazy to play organized hockey without one. The Journal News must have great medical/dental benefits.

  46. you should be real proud Sam of the jerks who are regulars on this board who bash a player for attending to a death in his family.

    they are to be shunned, and any Ranger player who read that stuff would say the same thing.

  47. Beer Me:
    Yes, until Backman shows he can’t keep on coughing up the puck or having his team play shorthanded I will continue to rant. A decimated Flyers team got a point that maybe they would not have gotten … Islanders are decimated also … they will play physical .. Strudwick is better vs. physical teams … Let Backman play when the Rangers are in Florida and select teams … maybe Pittsburgh …

    Since Backman is playing I would love to see him on the point … Rangers do need point men … right now they have men that play the point.

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