These playoffs … and the Rangers


Another fabulous, fabulous game by two excellent Bestern Conference teams last night. Seriously, that was great stuff. A carcillo-y way to end the game (poor Antti Em), but a tremendously tremendous game nonetheless.

But almost everything I noticed in that game reminded me about the Rangers.

1) Last night, and throughout these crazy playoff games, how crucial have faceoffs been? None more than the one on which Vancouver tied the game after the incorrect icing call against the Sharks. The Rangers really, really, really need to address that part of the game.

2) These good teams, they don’t dive in front of shots nearly as much as the Rangers do. Part of that is because they have the puck a lot more than the Rangers have it during the course of a game. But they mostly block shots the old-fashioned way, on their skates, straight ahead, letting the shinpads do what they were designed to do. Once in a while, they go down in front of a shot, but not all the time.

3) And most of the better defensemen in these series don’t leave their skates very often, if ever. And they don’t chase the puck to the boards. They remain around the net, collapsed on any and all opponents in more dangerous positions. I know, the Rangers defended well for the most part this year, but they didn’t defend the way these teams defend, for the most part, and that’s just an observation.

4) If Vancouver goes on and wins the Cup, I’m really going to be happy when they pass it to Manny Malhotra.

5) And that would make a Cup-winner of one Christopher Higgins, which makes me think of two things. If Higgins — who really did try hard, and play well away from the puck in his short Rangers tenure, when he couldn’t hit a bull in the aasen with a snow shovel — becomes a very good player again, regains some of his scoring touch, well A) that makes the Scott Gomez deal look even better, but B) it makes the Brandon Prust deal look a little less like a steal. Not saying I’d rather have Higgins than Prust. But it could turn out the Rangers gave up some value for Prust — and maybe got exceptionally lucky that Prust turned into what he did, when they had no idea he would.

6) Do you think Ryan Callahan can ever be Ryan Kesler?

7) In 1999, when Brian Burke was wheeling and dealing so he could draft the Sedin twins at No. 2 and No. 3, Neil Smith was wheeling and dealing so he could draft Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark at No. 4 and No. 9. Ouch. Burke’s been a bust in Toronto so far, but he did build the core of this Vancouver team, and he won a Cup in Anaheim. Not a bad resume.

8) Back in the summer of 1994, would you have bet that the Canucks would get to another final before the Rangers?

9) Today is the anniversary of Mark Messier’s Guarantee Game (he didn’t say “We Will Win Tonight,” by the way, because he said it the day before … and he never said
the word guarantee). Which means Friday is the anniversary of Matteau! Matteau! Matteau! I spent a little time with the Great Howie Rose the last few weeks, once at a funeral, once at a baseball game.

There. I’ve been dying to talk some hockey. Some Rangers. Haven’t had the time lately, or the topics. Not that I dislike the gibberish (jibberish) here on a daily basis, but it’s nice to get back to what we’re supposed to be, you know, most of the time.


Manny Malhotra photo by AP/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck, above.

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  1. Great point about Higgins…he sure does look like the guy we thought we were getting in the Gomez deal, of late…good for him…

    I do think Callahan can definitely put up Kesler numbers…Callahan is emerging into an elite player….he has it all….

    I wonder how the Sharks break up that team…what will Doug Wilson do? Can the Rangers make a move on Pavelski or Clowe?

    Bieksa is going get paid $$$ on July 1…

  2. Regarding your commentary on Chris Higgins, not only has Higgins been playing well with Vancouver, but Dominic Moore and Adam Hall both had pretty good seasons with Tampa Bay.

    Just sayin’.

  3. Great post, Carp…But did you have to mention Lundmark *and* Brendl? Ouch is right…

  4. Yeah, that faceoffs thing is a killer. Still doesn’t mean I think the Rangers need Drury.

    Number 2 is a great point. Flopping in front of shots is a sign of weakness, even if it requires b—s of steel. Can’t defend? Throw yourself on the ice!

    6 – sadly, no.

    Oh, Slats, don’t worry. Sure, you’re drafting is iffy, but Don Maloney will give you some more crapola next year.

  5. The Rangers do need to address their faceoff issues during the offseason, but it isn’t the reason to overpay. I believe AA and Stepan will get better.
    Callahan and Kessler are a bit different in style. Kessler is bigger and has more speed, but I believe Callahan can become very close to being as effective as Kessler is.

    And I’m very happy with what we got in Prust, I believe there are more players with Higgins’ qualities in the league than what Brandon has displayed this year…

  6. go tampa. we need a game 7.

    if bruins win tonight cup final begins monday night
    if game 7 friday cup final begins wed night

  7. Great post, Carp!

    Dominic Moore and Adam Hall…really?! They play hard…and then? please…

    and let’s not cry about Higgins! So he’s having a good playoff run (4 goals and 7 points in 18 PO…i guess its good) his regular season numbers weren’t that much better than when he was with the Rangers!

  8. Comrade Manny on

    What about David Steckel….he is a faceoff guy. Anybody know his contract status? CT?

  9. Jay Riemenschnieder on

    The game was fine until the OT when the Buttman NBA style officiating got hold. What a joke. I was rooting for the Sharks until I noticed how bad the ref’s didn’t want to call a penalty on San Jose. Bieksa would have been called for playing the puck with two sticks yet diving at someones legs and breaking someone tooth goes unpunished? Maybe the NHL will get Mean Gene Okerlund as their next director of officiating.

  10. im sure if Ryan Callahan played on a line with the Sedin twins his numbers would look just as gaudy.

    im sure if Kesler were on the Rangers instead of Callahan he’d have under 60 points…

  11. Carp

    regarding your thoughts on players flopping to the
    ice to block shots (a point i think LB brought up during the
    season in regards to top teams vs. those in the mid to bottom)
    your keyboard to Torts ears!!!!
    (maybe he’s a little loogy right now with his recovery. if we can just get someone
    to do a little Inception work on him we might see a different defensive scheme next year!)

  12. Comrade Manny on

    Oh that reminds me!

    Last night as I was getting on the subway (2 Train) I saw the list of “adult” magazines behind the counter and one was called BUTTMAN. Made me think of Gary Buttman. Funny?

  13. I’m not surprised Higgins looks much better these playoffs. He plays on the best team in the league on offense, and he’s a role player, so there’s no pressure what so ever on him. On the Rangers he wasn’t the main guy, but he was needed a lot more than he’s needed on the Canucks.
    And I would bet anyone who plays on a team loaded with talent like the Canucks gets amped up more, because it’s not a constant dump and chase like the Rangers, and Higgins can actually skate with the puck and make some plays.

    I definitely agree with Carp on the defense. The Rangers need to stop leaving their skates and defend with their sticks, hits, body positioning, and anticipation. Another thing I notice about the Rangers lack of defense is that they never deliver any hits on players carrying the puck, unless it’s against the boards. You don’t have to be as big as Douglas Murray (but it helps) to use your body in open space when he layer out Kesler last night.

    In regards to Lundquist, he needs to improve his stick handling and “playing defense.” imo. What I mean by that is learning to anticipate dump-ins and stopping the puck in the trapezoid, so he can move it to a defenseman or shoot it up the boards. He freezes the puck way too much, as I constantly see goalies in these playoffs keep moving the puck, whether they glove it first and play it or just stick handle it.

  14. wicky(grating PIBG)© (The proud winner of 3 Latona lunch points!!) on

    Morning ILB and all!!


    Great write up carp. We have been on the same page for a very long time on the positioning of our ranger D men and them leaving their skates WAY too often so I obviously agree with you. Obviousl agree with you on malhotra (everyone should root for the NUCKS for that reason)

    re cally vs kesler…NO, unless cally develops more of an edge to his game.

    I do not think the refs caused the sharks to lose the game with the icing call (tough call btw) and I loved, absolutely loved, the swallowing of the whistles so to speak for the overtimes.

    I thought marleau costs the sharks the game when he did not shoot at the empty net with about a minute left in the 3rd.

  15. The more I looked at the replay of that icing, the less sure I became that it was a bad call … or at least, it looked kind of inconclusive in slow mo.

  16. wicky(grating PIBG)© (The proud winner of 3 Latona lunch points!!) on

    btw, also loved the sedin reaction with the trophy

    Someone should have brought up that bieksa guy before, he’s pretty good.

  17. wicky(grating PIBG)© (The proud winner of 3 Latona lunch points!!) on

    I agree again, and still think marleau should have buried the puck with the empty net.

    Comrade manny?

  18. wicky(grating PIBG)© (The proud winner of 3 Latona lunch points!!) on

    so this tweet cracked me up…

    TheFourthPeriod David Pagnotta
    Zing! RT @capricecrane Kim Kardashian’s engagement ring cost $2M! That’s a lot to pay for a cow when all of pro sports got the milk for free

    sounds like something orr would say

  19. CTBlueshirt on

    Hey boys and girls. Just checking in. They switched around our desks at work so I’m kind of in direct view of a lot of people on our floor so my daytime blogging has been cut down a bit. I’ll also admit that while I’ve been following what’s been going on with the playoffs in general, I haven’t watched as many of the games after the Rangers were eliminated. Nominally I’ll say I want the Bolts to win, but I can’t really say I have a preferred horse in this race since my Bestern Conference team of choice this year (Kings) bowed out early as well.

  20. CTBlueshirt on

    As for Callahan turning into Kesler? I think that might be a bit of a stretch. However Callahan did make a huge jump in his points per game this year compared with his career average, somewhat similar to what Kesler started to do a few years ago when he went from 0.46 to 0.72 and then 0.91.

    I do agree that Kesler gets a tremendous boost by playing on a much better team so maybe you have to deflate Kesler’s numbers a little if you take him off that team.

    A somewhat overlooked constraint on Callahan is his health. Skipping over his initial season in the NHL (06/07), in 2 of his 4 seasons in the pros he’s missed significant time. This year and his first full year (07/08) where he played only 63 games between the NY and HFD. We can probably agree that he’s at this best when he’s playing physically, thus you wonder whether he can continue to afford to play that way if he is going to miss 10-20% of the season, and then you wonder how effective he can be if he’s not playing that style.

  21. Comrade Manny on

    CT: Where do you think your services are more valued and valuable: On this blog or at your job?

    Answer: HERE.

  22. CTBlueshirt on

    Hm…too bad I missed the perfect opportunity when our big boss was in town from Europe last week. I could have told him that I quit after he paid for lunch on Friday.


    It is hard to believe its been 17 years since the Cup win and going deep into playoffs, Ouch !

  24. Burke a bust in Toronto? I don’t know about that. He’s been there for two seasons and the team has gotten younger, stockpiled #1 picks (excluding the Kessel trade), and was starting to become somewhat relevant last year.

  25. Interesting point about Callahan, CTB….I suppose his injuries have a lot to do with the way he plays. I just think it’s a bit premature to consider him injury prone in general.

    Do you believe that we have 9 games to go this season, max?

  26. Burke’s not a bust. The Leafs sucked ass from day one when I got there. He’s not a magician. He can’t take them from losers to contenders in the span of two-three years. They’re getting close to becoming a playoff team.

    And they desperately need a true number one goalie. The jury is still out on Reimer.

    Now Sather? Yeah, he’s been a bust, long term. It took him way too long to figure out how to properly rebuild a team, and it’s cost us a few wasted years. Sadly we’re still years away from having a true contender.

    Yet, here’s the Bruins who were horrible for two-three years, and are now a win from the Cup Final. Then the Bolts who have been pretty crappy for four-five years, and are two wins from the Cup Final. Then you have the Hawks who won the Cup, the Flyers who made it to the Final.

    Fugg you, Slats!

  27. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    Winter weather advisory here tonight.. I LOVE IT!!!

  28. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    Nope, we have one and I do love the snow

  29. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on





    O brein?

  30. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on


    Big Mac value meal super sized with a diet coke

  31. I’d love to have Burke as GM here in NY. The guy knows how to draft and build legitmate contenders. You can’t really argue with that…

    But, he’d probably get the same treatment he does in Toronto here because of the impatient and die-hard fan base…

    I have second-guessed a couple of his moves…obviously the Seguin-Kessel deal was not very good….

  32. Eh, it’s still way too early to say the Kessel deal was a bad move. He’s till young, and he’s no a Euro pansy.

    Seguin had a less than average year. He had two great playoff games, but hasn’t been as dominant since then.

    We’ll have to wait and see what Seguin does in his next few seasons to decide whether it’s a bad move or not.

    And the Leafs needed a goalscorer, so they had to take a shot at Kessel. I doubt even Burke knew that the team would be as bad as they were the following year.

  33. JimboWoodside on

    I don’t think Cally can grow into a Kesler-type player, not because of his desire, but because of his size. Kesler is much bigger than Cally.

    I still think the Sharks got shafted last night – and if I were the owners of their team, I would be very ticked off that a bad call probably cost my organization another home game – that is big bucks, whether the home team wins or loses.

  34. And This One Will Last A Lifetime on

    Nice post Carp…I would have thought the Rangers and Canucks might have gotten back to a cup final after ’94, but not too much after a year or two. They both had several older players that were still logging loads of quality time.

    As far as I can remember, the only player still playing from that final is Kovalev.

    Marchand from the Bruins is closer to Callahan than Callahan is to Kesler

    Lets go Lightning !!

  35. Well, knowing how good Burke is at drafting, I was surprised he would give two #1s for a guy who never scored 40….but, you’re right, the jury is still out on Seguin….

  36. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    If marleau puts the puck into the empty net from inside the redline with about a minute left the icing call is moot. Sharks should not have put themselves in a position to have a questionable call decide their fate. No?

  37. JimboWoodside on

    That’s a fair point, Wicky – to be honest, I don’t recall the Marleau play – but if he had a good shot at sinking the winning goal into an open net, what would have made him not take the shot?

    I’ll have to see if I can catch that play again in a replay of the third period.

  38. Comrade Manny on

    I am going to stop with my nonsense. I am sorry. We finally have hockey talk and here I go ruining it.

  39. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    Luongo had just skated off and marleau did not look up until after he dumped the puck in, if he would have noticed I’m sure he would have buried it!

  40. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    I’m not aware of you ruining anything

  41. Higgins was an unrestricted free agent after the year he was on the Rangers, so they wouldn’t have signed him if he wasn’t traded for Prust. There was absolutely no downside to that trade. None. Zero.

    The Rangers got Higgins because the Canadiens didn’t want to pay his salary. The Rangers didn’t trade the Higgins on this year’s Vancouver team because they didn’t own the rights to that player. Let’s be accurate here.

  42. JimboWoodside on

    OK, wicky – now I remember the announcers saying something about that play – I did not see it at the time, but it certainly was unfortunate that Marleau didn’t see the empty net.

  43. Comrade Manny on

    Oh man Jimbo.

    I went to Home Depot and I got Metal Screening and I cut it up and stapled it over every hole I could find in my apartment. I had to get pretty crafty around the pipes but I plugged up everything. Before I did that I put poison behind all the places I had to put screen because he has access to those areas (like behind the counters and the heater, etc.).

    I haven’t seen him since. I kind of miss him. He was athletic as hell.

  44. By the way, Burke/Toronto will outbid the Rangers for Richards. It’s going to be up to Brad whether he wants to play with Torts in NY or not. It will not be a money issue. If it was about money, you could now call him Kessel’s center for next season ;)


  45. JimboWoodside on

    Hahaha!! Yeah, he came out to watch playoff games with you – that’s kinda nice – a little pal, like a pet, but you don’t need to walk him or clean his litterbox!

    OK on the metal screening – good work! I hope he went to a neighbor’s apartment and he dcides to leave you alone!

  46. JimboWoodside on

    Manny, around pipe openings you can use steel wool – that is an accepted way of blocking wall openings to discourage rodents from entering a room – they won’t chew through the steel wool.

  47. Comrade Manny on

    Yea the netting stuff I got was, or is, Steel. I crammed some steel wool in there too. Without you guys I might be dead right now.

    I could always have reverted back to my training in Boy Scouts. Get that bow and arrow out and shoot him.

  48. Comrade Manny on

    I hope he eats my neighbor!

    I was tempted to make many inappropriate boy scout jokes there….but I didn’t.

  49. Yeah, I’m guessing he’s going to be the next captain since Weight is apparently announcing his retirement tomorrow…

  50. I’ll be shocked if Richards doesn’t go for every last nickel … in other words, to the highest bidder.

  51. Gillies is already captain … the police captain in The Village People. Or maybe he’s the Indian chief.

  52. Speaking of Gillies, I bet he’s breathing easy, knowing he’s not going to have to fight Booger anymore. He lucked out last season. Only one fight between them.

    I love watching that uppercut that drops him like a sack of potatoes, back when Booger was with the Wild.

  53. btw, love the post photo of Manny Malhotra! Watching him raise the cup would be absolutely awesome!

  54. Wicky (Going with the 18" tires on this thing) on

    I still suggest a claymore!

    I’d be shocked if Richards isn’t a ranger

  55. i compare dubinsky to kesler…much more than cally….right from their sizes,in-your-faceness,scoring numbers(in comparable games played),even penalty minutes…next year would be dubi’s year to get 70 or so points if that comparison can still be made… for cally,if he plays the same he has been,and gets 26-26 52 pts i think we’d all be happy and he would be acknowledged as one of the best two way guys in the league

  56. dublowsky as (ORR WOULD SAY) is not a pimple on kesler rear end.

    come on kesler much much better

  57. I don’t think Richards will sign with a team that has a true number one center, unless they pay him exactly what he wants, which the Kings might not do.

    Besides, they’re looking for a goal scorer, and Richards is not much of a goal scorer.

  58. here we go again…devaluing Dubinsky

    what makes Kesler “much much” better than Dubi? We’ve had this conversation about a week ago or so and i already proved that Dubi and Kesler not that much different…in fact, i’d say that Dubi is better, given that all of his career he’s played on the Rangers! Even if Dubi isnt the greatest fighter in the league but Dubi would fight ANYONE! Never seen Kesler fight!

    Dubi scores clutch goals and is a better playoff performer. Kesler has had only THREE playoff goals up to this season! Kesler is over-hyped just as much as Luongo!

  59. ORR

    I bet Kesler would do the same thing if his GM was low-balling him, while given out gadzillions to mercenaries.

  60. if boston wins tonight i cant wait until monday night game 1 of finals.

    no hockey for 4 days.

    go tampa we need another game 7.

  61. Was Dublowsky really getting low-balled though? I mean, it seems like he and Avery are the only players who really had a problem with what Slats was offering. Everyone else were able to negotiate a deal they were satisfied with, unless I’m mistaken, and there were more.

    It’s dumb to overpay for the guys like Dreary, Dredden, Blowzy, Blowmez, etc. But, it’s also dumb to overpay for younger guys who haven’t proved anything, in my opinion.

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