And now for more conjecture and speculation

104

I did a series preview capsule for the paper, but I’m not sure if it’s online, so you can find it below.

Also, here’s Carpie on “the three previous clashes between the Rangers and Pens in the postseason”:http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080425/COLUMNIST01/804250415/1046/sports0107. Any column that mentions Bob Froese is worthwhile in my book.

I’m on my way to Pittsburgh this a.m. More later from the Steel City:

Eastern Conference semifinals
No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 5 Rangers

Season series
Oct. 23 Penguins 1, Rangers 0
Nov. 8 Rangers 4, Penguins 2
Nov. 17 Rangers 4, Penguins 3 (OT)
Dec. 18 Rangers 4, Penguins 0
Jan. 14 Penguins 4, Rangers 1
March 18 Rangers 5, Penguins 2
March 30 Penguins 3, Rangers 1
March 31 Rangers 2, Penguins 1 (OT)

Forwards: The Penguins are the “it” team of the NHL in large part because of their collection of forwards. It starts with Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s reigning MVP who finished with 72 points despite missing 29 games with an ankle injury. But it continues with Evgeni Malkin, who had a breakout year in Crosby’s absence, and Marian Hossa, the dangerous wing who was acquired at the trade deadline from Atlanta.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have produced most of their offense by committee. While Jaromir Jagr has emerged from a mid-season scoring slump to lead the Rangers at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs, more encouraging is that the team is getting scoring from three different lines.
Edge: Even

Defense: The Rangers’ backline has been their relative weak point for several seasons, but it is deeper than it’s been. Rookie Marc Staal and veteran Michal Rozsival comprise a legitimate first pair, while Christian Backman, acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline, has provided a surprising boost to the power play.

The Penguins defense is on the surface more dynamic. Sergei Gonchar is a formidable power play quarterback, while the imposing Hal Gill has been employed both in Toronto and in Pittsburgh to shut down Jagr. In Brooks Orpik Pittsburgh has another defenseman with big-hit capability.
Edge: Penguins

Goaltender: The Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury is a former No. 1 overall pick, but had surrendered the stage to back-up Ty Conklin when he went down with a high ankle sprain during the season. Fleury has since returned and was impressive down the stretch and in the first round against Ottawa.

But if the Rangers have the edge in this series, it is because of Henrik Lundqvist, who endured a trying middle part of the season, but played well enough over the season’s second half to earn his third straight Vezina Trophy nomination.
Edge: Rangers

Outlook: Two very close games between these two teams in the final days of the regular season might be the best preview of what to expect in this series. For the Penguins, the x factor is Fleury, who has been good of late but has been vulnerable over the course of his short career. For the Rangers, the premium will be on limiting turnovers in the neutral zone and staying out of the penalty box. Lundqvist will have to be good regardless, but he can’t be exposed too often against the Penguins’ potent attack.

Should the Rangers manage the puck intelligently, the team could be headed back to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in 11 years.

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104 Comments

  1. First: TGIF!!!!!!!
    The same way Therrien is talking to th supervisor the Daily News says Renney is going to address Crosby’s penchant for drawing penalties (that is what Dellepina says- what that means exactly I don’t know.

    I am so excited for this game. Obviously the Rangers need a sweep of the first to in Pitts but winning game would be huge since it would break the Penguins 10 game winning streak at home.

  2. Sam – you posted that at 4:20 a.m. Nice.

    I’ll do the honors of 1st post of the day. Mind you, I have absolutely nothing to say. This series has been torn apart from top to bottom and the teams haven’t even taken the ice yet.

    What’s the deal with the ad on the right here… WTF is a ‘sheep-to-shawl festival’? And check out the pic of the dog about to eat a goose.

    Thank god we play tonight.

    Philthy was the benefactor of favorable ‘playoff’ bounces. MTL in 5. Det/Col looks like it’ll be a good one.

  3. Sam,

    While i think it is nice that you gave the rangers an ‘even’ in the forward category, i think you didn’t give the ice birds’ fwds enough credit. Those guys have been scary over the last couple of months…much more so than the Rangers — even with Jagr playing like he is 10 years younger.

  4. Not only did I beat you Beer me but I had something to say :-)

    Yeah for having no life and checking Ranger blogs first thing in the morning!
    I dunno Greg I think our experience helps to eliminate a bit of their explosiveness.

    Thanks for the link Beer me- yeah Ruutu isn’t like Avery hes dirtier.

    By the way the Penguins can say they are gonna ignore him but when they get on the ice who knows what will happen. Doesn’t Roberts already not like him- and Hossa not like Avery?

  5. Yeah, thanks for the double-wammy Jorek.

    At least I admit I have nothing to say today. I’m so tired of reading the same crap, over and over. No offense Sam, I’m sure you feel the same about not having anything to report.

    It may be just b/c it’s early, but what does it mean for Vally now that MiiWii(love it) has an nhl deal?

  6. Shanhan in the interviews ysterday said something along the lines of ‘I’m done talking and I think your done asking e just want to start playing!’

    Yeah what happens to Valli- he has been everything we could have asked for in a back up!!

  7. I think the defense is about even. I just don’t give Hal Gill that much credit. I think he is slow and makes mental mistakes. Our defense needs to be better around Hank. Alot of the pens goals come from slop right around the crease. We need to clear that stuff out and Hank needs to try to direct rebounds into the corners.

    I love that the pens have said they are going to ignore Avery..but they have said it in about 30 different interviews.

    10 and 1/2 hours to go…

  8. This is a snip from another LArry Brooks article
    ——–When the Rangers played their March 30-31 home-and-home against the Penguins, Crosby contested essentially every penalty call either made against the Penguins or those he believed should have been made against the Blueshirts. There was widespread belief that No. 87 and his teammates dived repeatedly in matches that were officiated according to “Crosby Rules.”

    “I’d like to believe that bias doesn’t exist,” Shanahan said. “Some people might argue the league wants Crosby to advance, but others might argue that it would be a greater benefit to have a team from New York in the conference finals.

    “Good players attract attention from other players and that attracts attention from the referees. It’s unfortunate for us that our best player [Jagr] is so strong and is so determined to stay on his feet, that a lot of infractions against him go unseen or uncalled.

    “But the refereeing is something we are not going to focus on. I’d hope we can keep that out of our room, entirely.” ——-

  9. Nice DB . . and the Pens commented that jersey talked about Avery to much . . hmm what are they doing . . .
    I think Gill is there for one reason and one reason alone- he isn’t a good skater he is there to hit Jagr and I don’t care if they have three guys if Jagr can wear atleast one of them out by Game 4 (like White) than I bet another goes down in game 5 and we win in game 6! There goes the three guys trying to stop Jagr. Oh an while they are trying to stop Jagr Shanahan Gomez Drury and young and surprising Dubinsky and Calahan will be trying to score. . . I don’t think our forward situation is as uneven as a lot of people (those outside of the NY area) want to think.

  10. “I love that the pens have said they are going to ignore Avery..but they have said it in about 30 different interviews.”
    I was thinking the same thing.

    And the only thing I could say about Gill is that he’s a big enough body to move Avery, or whomever goes to the net, out of Fluery’s sight. Of course this is impossible if he’s running around chasing Jags.

  11. Hank needs to direct rebounds ito corners and Tyutin and Girardi have to be better about turnovers. I was actually happy with Backman and Mara in the last round. And I saw somewhere it looks lik the fourth line will be Sjo-Betts -Orr which I’m glad about. The initials don’t flow as well as HBO but if we rearrange alittle it we get the SOB line (thanks Ag for this laugh last night) SO hopefully that is what the Pens will think of the line cause that might be pretty successful!

  12. Oh yeah I forgot to put Avery in my list when I mentioned Shanny and Gomez and drury! WHoops! However di I forget him!?!?!

  13. Yeah, we’re doomed. Brooks picked us to win. He’s never right.

    At least he picked us in 7, which means he has no idea!

  14. I think if the team doesn’t make another comment about Crosby and the officiating it will be beneficial. Seriously, the Devs looked like a bunch of whiners last series. If they can keep quiet and not emotionally react to anything that does/does not get called..it’ll probably drive Pitt wild. Honestly, I’m just ready to watch the game and ignore the bs (the obsession with Avery, the constant chatter about blown calls, etc). I get that storylines are fun, but it comes down to who is the least affected by it. If the regular season and the first round is ANY indication, the Rangers have the advantage on this one.

  15. The Rangers have a tall order to win this series but it is more than possible. In my opinion to win a few things must happen. First, the obvious; no stupid penalties. Thay not only have to kill the ones they take they have got to stay away from the needles ones. Pitt will capitalize. Next, the Avery factor. I don’t think he got enough credit for how he singel handedly took Brodeur out of his game. He needs to start early and go after Fleury and get into his head. If the Pens bite and take it personal the way the Devils did then they will be off their game. Finally, They are going to have to collaps better and pick up the low man by the circle. That’s Crosby’s bread and butter.

  16. I feel like Dubi is going to own this series for some reason. They are going to be so focused on Jags the he is going to put all those rebounds from jags spin o shots into the net.

  17. I think Callahan took Brodeur off his game with that short-handed goal it wasn’t all Avery. But is Avry going to focus on FLuery or move on. Last year in round one he pissed-off Hossa and Kovalchuk. He doesn’t cheat himslef if he is gonna agitate he goes for star power. That means annoy Sid and Hossa.

  18. My coach is just going to the refs to make sure that all your dirty players play good clean hockey, like Ruutu does.

    We don’t want any of that classless stuff going on, against us.

    And the Rangers and their coach should stop whining about refs and penalty calls going unevenly against them. The refs can’t help recognizing my superiority, besides I am the next Great One so if anyone has earned the right to whine its me!

    And I am better then Mario. Take it back! Take it back!

  19. I think Dubi and Dawes are both going to get a few in this series. If the Jagr Dubi Straka line falters at all in the first two games, I say you put Avery back on the top line. He was a beast when we played them in the regular season.

  20. What is the schedule again. I know tonight, sunday, tuesday. What days are after that?

  21. Cool, thank you.
    So we should be wrapping this thing up on Monday night at home right? :)

  22. I am going to Atlantic City on Friday night and I was looking at a site that had the dates of the games all messed up and it said we played Friday night. I was very distraught.

  23. I don’t know if anyone linked to it the last day or two, but sportsnet.ca has 2 bloggers that both pick Rangers in 6. Both site Fluery & Avery as the factors that could decide the series.

    my god…I’m soooo tired of talking about what COULD happen.

  24. Man, this whole week off makes this feel like we are waiting for a NFL game to happen…I am excited to see the puck drop finally…

    Everyone here talking about this player and that player who will be the key to the series. With a team like the Pens, who have firepower and youth, I think instead pinpointing only a few Rangers who must be keys, we must focus on that this series will only be won by us if the Rangers team plays exactly like one, a “team”…

    In sports, the club with the best players does not make it a lock to win. This goes for any facet of team sports. Instead, the team must blend together and play their hearts out to the best of their abilities. This year, and for the first time in a long, long time, the NY Rangers have assembled a team that has the talent and the desire to win. Obviously, (and we have discussed ad naseum), we lack 4 ingredients that would make the Stanley Cup this year a lay up…..Power forward, sniper/scorer on wing, bruiser Dman, and PP QB….

    But Renney has the Rangers playing a style of hockey that will garner results in the W-L column and its obvious that the Rangers players believe in the system.

    If the Rangers can fire on all cylinders I think they can win this series in 5 games. Worst case scenario, is Rangers win Game 6 @ MSG and move on to the next round to face the Habs.

  25. I think i speak for everyone when I say, DROP THE FRICKIN’ ALREADY!!

    Do I really have to sit through this day?

  26. Last 30 games of regular season they were 18-8-4
    Last 30 games including four play-off games (26 regular seaosn games) they were 19-8-3

  27. formerly formerly jagrforgovernor on

    I swear that I will not look at this sight for the next hour.

    I can’t. Rangers on the brain = no work done.

    LGR! Tonight is going to be (as they say in Buffalo) H-UUUUU-GEAAAH!

    I think Hank will have to steal this one tonight, but I’m hoping we find a way to score first, play with confidence and keep Cindy off the score sheet. Also, is anyone else rooting against the Canadiens (and thu rooting FOR Philly?!?) The Canadiens fans are obnoxious, even worse than Philthy fans. And they are whiners who like burning cop cars after a first-round win. Pathetic. Plus, they like, sing and stuff. OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE.. . OLE! Uh… ok. Leave the singing for soccer, where there is only one goal a game. Hockey’s too exciting to pay 200 bucks a ticket just so you can do group karaoke.

    Plus, I’d rather play Philly and have the pleasure of knocking them out of the playoffs. But of course, I’m getting way ahead here. Pittsburgh is going to be tough. The Rangers CAN beat them however.

    Guys and gals, don’t forget to enjoy this! This is the best time of the year. The Rangers are in the playoffs. They’ve won a round. Bunch of young talent that’ll be around for years to come. Two Hall of Famers playing their last seasons. Exciting goaltender. Placid, well spoken coach. Furry mustachios.

    Focus on the positives…. Don’t let the fact that NBC or Versucks will be carrying most of the games from here on bother you…

    These are the playoffs. Enjoy yourselves you lousy pieces of crap.

  28. Umm umm thanks?!?!?
    Yeah don’t worry I (that is the lural I that includes my twin- twins have the power of plural I’s) am enjoying every bit of this! Can’t wit for Tuesday and Thursday so I can hang around the Garden and get autographs before ad after games. In my last semester of school I will never have this much free time again! Thank God my teacher moved my final from this Thursday (Game 4) to the following Thursday or else I wouldn’t do so well on it!!!

  29. Link works! Thanks I needed that??
    Um . . . monkey is racial slur against peole who are black. In Spain at soccer games fans would make monkey sounds whenever a black player touched the soccer ball. It more in Europe now but it just is supposed to be a sign of lower intelligence and less evolution and other nasty stuff. Um I don’t think Avery called him a monkey. I hope he didn’t its very mean!

  30. “Good players attract attention from other players and that attracts attention from the referees. It’s unfortunate for us that our best player [Jagr] is so strong and is so determined to stay on his feet, that a lot of infractions against him go unseen or uncalled.”

    Wow, Shanny quote, right? Probably one of the absolutely smoothest things I’ve ever heard a player say… That is Slick Willie smooth. Hopefully it’s effective as the indirect shot at Crosby.

  31. Right on Liquid. Couldn’t agree more. We are the better team and I expect us to take the series in 5, 6 if the Pens steal one they shouldn’t.

    Quick poll… This time last year were you more concerned about Buffalo then you are about the Penguins now?

    For me, it’s not even close. I thought we had a great chance against Buffalo, but they terrified me with their depth, goaltending, scorers, etc. I don’t even feel remotely as close as I did last year.

    I feel more confident in us and less impressed with our opponent.

  32. yup yup yup that was Shanny! Except when he said something along those lines last year it backfired and there was an increase of calls against the Rangers and him in particular!

  33. One more thing… I’m so sick of Hal Gill and the series hasn’t even started. I saw how good Colin White defended Jagr and I’d argue he’s a better overall player than Gill.

    He may be able to defend Jags tonight, but I’ll bet he can’t for 7 games unless he puts a saddle on him and rides him around all night.

    Worst skater in the league. Try and watch him pivot tonight; he can hardly go from forward to backwards without falling over.

    Someone get that man a cone.

  34. I am very confident too. We have shown from the end of the season through now that we don’t get rattled. We do get caught running around a little, but we don’t get rattled. I don’t think we are going to steam roll them, but I think we will beat them.

  35. It works!
    There is another connotation of the slur that I don’t want to get into which is the reason I hope Avery didn’t use it. Um I am more scared of Pittsburg this time then I was of Buffalo but I am also a more informed fan this time around so that could have something to do with it! Last year I was a kid in a candy store thinking holy crap we’re in the second round and are invincible!

  36. The only thing Gill has is a reach, but Jagr is so confident right now that I am not worried about it at all.

  37. Link works! Thanks I needed that??
    Um . . . monkey is racial slur against peole who are black. In Spain at soccer games fans would make monkey sounds whenever a black player touched the soccer ball. It more in Europe now but it just is supposed to be a sign of lower intelligence and less evolution and other nasty stuff. Um I don’t think Avery called him a monkey. I hope he didn’t its very mean!

    …..

    I called my roomates chimps, monkeys, and silverbacks for four years. Lesser evolution? Lower intelligence? Absolutely. Black? Not at all. I think it’s only a slur if you are *looking* for it to be one. Also, I think it says a bit more about the person who considers it a slur… how Monkey is any worse than 95% of the stuff said on ice is beyond me…. obviously that guy Laraque took much offense to it, shows me what he thinks of himself if he really let that get to him.

    I have a bad feeling about tonight, and the history of this season shows that to probably be a good thing.

  38. Salty that means you didn’t use it that way however the kind Europeans (and certianly some one from French Canada would know the nastier side of that) It was used to refer to people from ALgers and the different colonial properties. It implied that African eople were a result of sex with monkies it also became popular again when the rumor started that aids was contractided by having sex with monkies. It means lower intelligence to but tht is the nastier version and that is probably what Laraques is referring too. Was that what Avery was referring to I hope not!

  39. “In the time of chimpanzee’s I was a monkey.”

    Funny that that should play on my ipod now.

    Gill is going to play Jagr tough and close. Hopefully he gets away with less than NYPD.

  40. Since most of us are tired breaking down matchups, I thought I’d throw something (I thought) was interesting out there. Its a 2-parter.

    1st – The Atlantic sent 4 teams to the playoffs, 3 advanced (2 played each other), and now its possible 2 will make the conference finals. That’s impressive.

    2nd – IF the following things happen… Rangers beat P-burgh. Philly beats Montreal. Rangers beat Philly in the Conf Finals. That means 1 team went through 3 division opponents to get to the Finals. Has that ever happened before? I know that scenario is asking for a lot, but its fairly possible right now.

  41. “In the time of chimpanzee’s I was a monkey.”

    Beck is one of my all time faves. That song came out when I was in 6th grade or so, been a fan ever since. great album.

  42. jeever – I like the topic. But I’m so bored we could talk about toilet paper and it would probably hold my interest just as much.

    Anyway, I like the question, but have no idea of the answer.

  43. Why was it re-issued?

    My bro saw him at a little place(don’t remember name) somewhere and he took questions from the audience and played requests all night. Not one of my all time favs, but a unique sound that I always liked.

  44. Beer,

    I’m going to make that my tag line. “Jeever… More interesting than toilet paper”.

  45. It was re issued and remastered. It comes with a complete bonus disc that has some amazing songs on it.

  46. I don’t think Hal Gill should be overlooked. The guy has had a solid 10 year career playing on some really bad teams and he’s only 33. He’s not fast or a great skater but he’s big and strong, which are the strengths he plays to.

    I hope Avery focuses his attention on the right players, Crosby-Hossa-Fleury. No sense getting in Malkin’s face, the snagle toothed ogre barely even understands english. If he is engaged with Roberts and Ruutu I think the refs will just wind up calling a lot of coincidental penalties… no good.

  47. good stuff jeever.

    nasty – I knew you were going to say it was remastered. I guess the quality has changed that much in 10-15 years huh? I’m sure my bro has it. I haven’t bought a cd for myself in 4 years. I’m moving in a few weeks and I can’t believe I refer to cd’s as ‘bulky’. nuts.

  48. Did anyone buy the re issue of Odelay?

    …….

    if by “buy” you mean “fileshare”, then yes…. thanks for reminding me about that… need to give a 2nd listen to that bonus disc

  49. Ha, yeah man. It definitely sounds better. Another cd that should definitely be remastered is Paul’s Boutique. The sound on that cd is so low. It needs to be blasted and it just doesn’t have that BUMP that new cds have.

  50. Dr. Ogrodnick bows to Leetch on

    Jeever;

    In 94 the Rangers beat the Islanders, Caps, and Devils to get to the finals, all 3 teams were in the Rangers division at the time. Granted, their were only 2 divisions in the EC then.

  51. 162

    And this is probably the friendly ebay price… I wonder how much the guys “looking” for tix outside the garden are slingin’ them for.

    Can’t wait for tonight….watchin’ this game with teammates and then playing in our game right after….

  52. 162 on stubhub? That’s the starting price for an ‘auction’. and those seats are in the 300’s. They’ll sell over $200.

    $200 seems about the average for a pair in the 400’s. Just stay away from the seats in 401. obstructed view, and I don’t believe the tix say so.

  53. For the life of me I can’t figure how Crosby is the league MVP, this league is pathetic, who the hell would pick Crosby over Ovechkin, or Malkin for that matter…
    Why didn’t Chris Neil take Crosby out in the first round like he took Avery out at the beginning of the season…?

  54. One thing I hope to not see (but potentially will) in the series is the double call: Tripping/Hooking and Diving.

    It’s one or ther other, it can’t be both. The reffs don’t have the balls to call diving alone so they pair it up with a tripping or hooking call these days. We saw it a handful of times with the Rangers this year; it’s almost comical.

    How can it be diving and tripping? You either robbed the bank or you didn’t rob the bank. Which one is it?

    Sorry, that just always infuriates me.

  55. I’m much more worried about this series than I was about the Sabres series last year. I think the Pens are firing on all cylinders now in almost all facets. I’m also worried about Jagr in Pittsburgh, I don’t think he responds well to the boos. Maybe it’s just me, but I think we’re in trouble.

    Go Rangers.

  56. Did you guys hear Newark just celibrated “6 weeks without a homicide” this week? They were actually going to have a real celebration or something and it was shattered by 2 people being shot in the face the other night, no joke.

  57. Great question salty. Haven’t decided yet. I’m hoping that Lundqvist will help me decide ;)

    …..

    going to wait and see how they look? probably not a bad idea… I’m interested in going down because theres nothing like that energy…but the truth is for a spectator I am able to enjoy the gameplay much more at home, all the instant replays you want, pause, no lines to drain it, and the beer is chaeper from the fridge…. that said… nothing like live playoffs in the garden… nothing.

  58. speaking of which, have any of you looked at the garden renovation plans yet? half of me sees how awesome it will be, the other half sees how much everything is going to skyrocket. if you thought it was tough getting a miniplan this year…. look out.

  59. 100% dude.

    I was at the last game last season and still had a great time. I bought 2 single tix. In the 200’s, about 4-5 sections apart. Sent my chick to sit in the corner and sat at center ice myself. is that bad? I think they were about $200 each. Not bad considering where the seats were, but not together.

  60. I know that msg really needs it, b/c I’m not crazy about the gnats that fly around up top. But I could live with that place the way it is forever. I’m glad they’re not moving it across the street.

  61. Nothing beats a good Rangers game at the Garden. I just wish that fiend Dolan wouldn’t gouge us so much. He charged almost the same amount for playoff tickets as the entire season plan. A possible 16 games vs. about 45 (including preseason).

  62. I went to that game as well Beer… got totally wasted and ran into Hollweg after the game at Local. He was there by himself as he wasn’t playing. Chatted with him for a minute or two but have no idea what either of us said as i was so drunk. Anyway mentioned it to Shanny at the chartity thing I met him at in Nantucket last summer and he said he had gone there too after the game. I’ve been to Local a ton before and never knew the team hung out there after games. Anyone else ever run into any players there post games or was it just a fluke?

  63. a couple of things that a lot of analyst and fans are overlooking, with respect to this series match up and avery’s mind games.

    everyone is analyzing the obvious comparisons- forwards, defense, goalies, coaching, etc. but what about toughness and enforcers? aside from the obvious, the rangers beat the devils because we were the tougher team. avery for the most part, against the devils, got away with murder. so much, as to, the league intervening and creating “the avery rule.”

    it was fortunate for us, the devils had no true enforcer to “teach” avery a lesson. (lol, who was it clarkson?)

    rewind to the trade deadline, the penguins made a trade for 6’3, 240lb – George Laraque.

    something tells me he’ll play a bigger role in this series than most will expect.

    avery is an agitator NOT an enforcer. i think avery will do his best to get in the heads of the pens. but something tells me the pens will have laraque focused on keeping avery in line.

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