Guest blogger: Michael Aker … Rangers-Flyers in review


When the lineup for the Devils game was announced this weekend, it was a very well thought out decision by Alain Vigneault and his staff to ensure that the second of the back-to-backs would feature tough guys like Haley, Dorsett, McIlrath, and Kantor to nullify any of the shenanigans the Flyers always seem to be up to five decades later no matter how many skill players they have in their lineup. That toughness would be needed tonight against the likes of Hartnell, Simmonds, Newbury, etc.

Also, after Monday night’s Devils broadcast, having Sam back is such a relief and always makes me appreciate how great Sam and Joe Micheletti are. Yes it’s not the classic Dynamic Duo of Sam and JD, and Sam isn’t as sharp as he once was, plus Joe has some quirks, but they’re still better than 90 percent of the announcing teams in the league, and to Rangers fans Sam Rosen is and has been the modern Mel Allen, the other male voice in our households for nearly 30 years.


1) The skill and pace of this game was much more apparent than Monday night with players like Brassard, Pouliot, Zuccarello, Fast, and Lindberg in the lineup. Much more up tempo and much more time spent in the opponent’s zone. New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers

2) The Pouliot-Brassard-Zuccarello line looks to have chemistry and is one that might stay together to start the season until Callahan and Hagelin are back. Not sure if that’s a line that can hold up size and toughness wise over an 82-game grind and perhaps after, but for now, use it while it’s hot.

3) The first period was the Jesper Fast Show; A little bit of Hagelin with his speed, and a little bit of Callahan with his tenacity. He always wanted the puck or to get involved. Great power play passing as well. Like Joe said, if he can find ways to stay moving and avoid hits like that scary knee-on-knee (which luckily wasn’t serious), he can be a real x-factor on this team whether now or later.

4) Anton Stralman skating, passing, and defending as if he’s in midseason form. In the new NHL it’s very important to find young cheap free agents that other organizations have given up on like the Matt Moulsons and Marc Methots and to develop them as part of a core. The once unemployed Stralman is now an essential cog on the Rangers blue line.

5) Seasons change and friendships and relationships might come and go but in life there are four constants; life, death, taxes, and Kris Newbury taking one silly penalty per game.

6) The Adventures of Dylan McIlrath: While he did stick up for Fast after the knee-on-knee and did get the assist on Pouliot’s game winning goal, he also had some blunders (timing and puck confidence wise) like turning the puck over on the Maxim Talbot goal, and mis-timing a pinch and later a hip check along the boards. One game doesn’t mean it’s all over for him and people shouldn’t start bringing up Cam Fowler and Vladimir Tarasenko … again, but it’s going to take him some time, maybe even a full year before he even gets a cup of coffee as an NHLer.

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers7) There once was a young skilled center on the Rangers, a former 12th overall pick named Dave Gagner (Oilers’ Sam Gagner’s dad for you younger fans) who just never really fit in or had his talents flourish while on Broadway. A change of scenery and fresh start in Minnesota led him to reach his potential. It’s still very VERY early but maybe 25 years later and we are seeing a similar story for Derick Brassard who has unlimited skills as showcased on the first goal, and his pass to McIlrath on Pouliot’s game winner.

8) The “Other” Rangers kids: Connor Allen played a solid and unspectacular game as he had in Traverse City and the training camp scrimmage which for a D-man is a very good thing. Keep an eye on his development this year in Hartford. Nice rush up the ice which led to Yogan’s shot on the Daroll “Lives To Fight Another Day” Powe goal (!!!!!). Yogan had some nice board work and skates well for a big man. He’s slowly (two to three more years perhaps) developing into what might be a third-line power forward.

9) Oscar Lindberg didn’t stand out offensively as much as Fast did, but as the game went on he was much more comfortable and generated some nice passes and scoring chances. Well done on the faceoffs as advertised, and he also made a huge play when he barely (but enough) raised Hartnell’s stick for what could have been a game-tying goal. The longer the Stepan saga continues, the more likely he’s on the opening night roster against the team that drafted him, the Phoenix (soon to be Arizona) Coyotes.

10) The whole hybrid icing incident was pretty comical with Vinny Lecavalier being confused, chirping at the ref, the crowd booing, and then the refs “correcting” the mistake and having the faceoff at center ice. They’ll get there and eventually we will see it become a regular part of the game. It’s as weird now as more penalties called and trapezoid were in 2005-06, but we’ve all grown used to that over time.

11) Another solid all around game for Dominic Moore who does all the little things. He’s going to be very valuable to the Rangers and be able to bounce up and down the lineup playing either center or wing and be placed in all kinds of situations especially late with a one-goal lead.

12) Neither Biron nor Talbot was that busy, but they made the saves they had to make, especially Talbot’s on Voracek. Will be very interesting to see the goalie rotation next week with four games in five nights and if the performance tonight puts any pressure on Hedberg.

13) While not in top notch form especially on the power play, to steal a line or two from Carp, Ryan McDonagh=monster, especially dealing with Hartnell all night, and Girardi=beast.

14) Something just isn’t right seeing Vinny Lecavelier wearing No. 40. It almost feels like an All-Star Game or charity event.


Michael Aker’s Three Rangers Stars:

1. Derick Brassard-A goal, an assist, and great offensive vision.
2. Anton Stralman-Midseason form and proving why he’s one of the NHL’s most underrated DMen.
3. Benoit Pouliot-Game winning goal and great all around skill and speed to compliment Brassard and Zuccarello.
Honorable Mention: The two Swedes and MZA

Photos by Getty Images.


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  1. First? Where are all you boneheads when dawn breaks? I don’t want to hear the moaning when the iPhone alarm rings!

    Thanks for a nice write-up, Michael!

    I watched the second period and little of the third, while cooking/grabbing dinner last night…the beginning looked more focused, but then everyone on the ice looked nervous in the service and generally lost on the ice. Lots of coughed up passes and lack of momentum on both sides. A lucky bounce could have turned the game either way. Guess it’s pre-season hockey!;>)) I do like the young talent that the Rangers have added…and agree that some of them need some maturity time in the AHL. If any of them can prove NHL-ready, watch for a trade of old-timers that clears some cap space.

  2. Tomb, your comment wasn’t on here when I started my long-winded “first” entry…a lesson to me of keeping it short and simple!

  3. the Dave Gagner trade is an interesting comparison to Brassard. well done. of course that same year, the Rangers also gave up on Marc Tinordi.

  4. Thanks Mike!! I saw three different people smiling on the rangers bench last night…one being the coach . It will be interesting to see if this all translates into camaraderie and wins…

  5. Great piece! Guest Blogger’s Rule!

    I didn’t realize the Coyotes drafted Lindberg. Thanks for bringing that up. That’s an interesting side story to pay attention to opening night.

  6. “Two Swedes and a Norwegian” – Sounds like a great foreign slapstick film based on post WWII Austria.

  7. Mcllrath is only 21. He’s a 21 year old that missed an entire year of development, Age 19-20, with a severe knee injury. Give the big guy a break. Until he gets there, it’s BICKEL time!

  8. the problem I see with Mcllrath is he cannot skate. Forget about anything else if you can’t skate well your not going to be a nhl player. The report on mcllrath when drafted by the rangers was his skating ability was weak and needed to work on improving his skating in order to make the nhl. What I saw last night was he still can’t skate.

  9. So. Happy. Hockey. Is. Back.

    Not a fan of toying with Marty – Let’s be honest, we let him go and he’s starting for the Flyers. I like his effect on the locker room (as much as I can without being in it), I like how he coaches up the boys pre-shootouts and I liked what I saw last night.

    Brassard is looking nice – love that he called his ass. coach, whom he had bad blood with, as he was signed to wipe the slate clean. Kids making an honest effort to be the man this year.

    Always enjoy a Filthy loss….

  10. Excellent recap, Michael. Fast was excellent defensively hounding the puck relentlessly. Conor Allen is already better in his own zone than MDZ. I loved the way he rag dolled tough guy Simmonds and took the puck away from him. Allen has decent speed, good strength, a low panic level, a passable shot and hockey smarts. He played 20 minutes and let’s see if he can maintain or improve on a good start.

  11. As much as I like Sam and JD, to me the classic Rangers broadcast team will always be Jim Gordon and Bill “Big Whistle” Chadwick. Maybe it’s a generational thing.

    I haven’t seen too much of both games, but the more I watch, the more I think we are going to look back on the Gabby trade to Columbus as a steal for the Rangers. I think both Moore and Broussard will thrive in AV’s uptempo game and I expect DB to put up Stepan like numbers. And Moore can flat out skate. Obviously he’s not Brian Leetch, not even close, but his skill set reminds me a bit of him, in the way he sees the ice and can skate up the puck and make the right pass. If he’s half the player Leetchie was, the Rangers found a gem.

    Stralman is a great find and plays a steady game with some offensive skills, but if we can get a real major league BIG defenseman, he’s going to be the odd man out, unless MDZ disappoints (I DO think this system is one that MDZ will thrive). But Stralman is a HUGE step up from Eminger or Gilroy or Bickel (ugh) as the number 7 D-man. I look at our top 6 D-Man as it stands and it has to be one of the top 5 in the league:

    Moore-Stralman (or big D-Man)

    McIlrath just isn’t ready, but he’s young and big. A full year at CT, being healthy and maybe he’s ready next year.

    The goalie situation is interesting to me. If I could work it out, I’d rather keep Hank-Biron, simply because Biron is the one goalie of the three that I’d trust for a stretch of 5-6 games if Hank got hurt. I watched Hedberg last year with NJ and he just doesn’t move laterally that well anymore and Talbot looks like a minor league goalie, nothing more. After years of trusting guys like Ocho cinco and Vallequette as our backups to Hank, I don’t want a minor leaguer as our backup.

  12. Terrific write up. Especially enjoyed the Sam Rosen/Mel Allen comparison.

    This team is much less annoying to watch when Richards isn’t playing.

  13. Good morning, boneheads!

    Nice to see that we do have some young prospects ready to challenge for a spot.
    Not so sure about the trade being a steal because they will still have to replace Gaborik’s 40 goals somehow, but what we see is what most of us predicted- Brassard being a centerpiece of that trade, and so far it’s been working. Moore could be a solid 3rd pair addition too. And you could see last night that Dorsett is not a goon at all. He can play.
    The concern remains their size upfront. Neither Fast or Lindberg will help that.

    McIlrath was trying to do too much last night, was out of position while trying to hit. He needs time in AHL, but I wouldn’t write him off as a bust yet.

    Can anyone tell me why Haley can’t be playing 4th line winger on this team?

  14. I wonder if the Rangers would consider, and would Hedberg accept, and assignment to the AHL for the Moose? It would give the Rangers three veteran NHL goalies in the system and afford them a chance to give Lundqvist a week or so off following the Olympics.

  15. Totally with you, ilb. And if Haley fought Hartnell last night I would be screaming that he has to make the team. Haley actually looks very similar to Dorsett but maybe with a bit more skill.

  16. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Didn’t get to see much more than a few minutes of the game here or there, so thanks for the recap.

    So, are we back to winning the Cup today since they won the game? AV is great, Torts sucks. AV hasn’t lost the room. Who needs Nash? Trade Hank?

  17. I actually think Dorsett has more skill, but Haley could hit people very well. Both can fight, Dorsett can be effective on PK. Pure goons are becoming obsolete in this league. Haley, at $600K should be given a chance.

  18. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Haley many make the team if Callahan and Hagelin are out, but it’s going to be a weak lineup if Pyatt and Haley are the replacements.

    I’d prefer if Lindberg made the team, and Boyle stayed on the wing. Or if Fast, Kristo, etc. claimed a spot on the wing.

  19. I agree. Haley is a terrific play as your 13th forward and definitely playing 4th line minutes until Hagelin and Callahan are back. Dorsett-Boyle-Haley is a terrific, pounding 4th line. Those guys should be able to pin the puck deep until our 1st line boys are ready to get out there again.

  20. RyanE ClowE First Line LW for NJ:

    @TGfireandice 28s

    Devs’ lines today: *Clowe* -Zajac-Ryder; Zubrus-Elias-Brunner; Olesz-Loktionov-Bernier; Carter-Henrique-Gionta; Barch-Josefson-Tedenby.

  21. Great write up. I said in July if that Beassard line is our third line we are in good shape in terms of depth and guys playing to their potential.

    Mannys gonna have heart burn after reading that part about Mcilrath

  22. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Once again, it all hinges on what Richards can contribute. If he at least plays like a #2, the lineup can be deep with Brassard as the 3rd line C.

  23. Good write up.

    Fast looks good, and Lindberg didn’t look bad, though a bit tame. Dom Moore has also looked good -Gotta think Boyler is heading to wing, waiting in the wings, or headed out on wings. Don’t see him being better than Moore, who is probably your 4th center behing Richards, Step/Lindberg and Brassard. Haley was surprisingly effective.

    Yogan looked like a competitor and Conor Allen is pretty functional.

    McIll-wrath is going to be “undertaking” a search for a house in Hartford, if not Greenville. Only people he can succesfully defend against are on the ice at the morgue. Ok, forget Fowler and Tarasennko, but he was taken ahead of Justin Faulk too. Danny Sieve-right was not up for being his pardner. But looked better than that comic Newbury.

  24. I watched Mcllzaster play last night and boy, oh boy, did he look like a problem. I just hope to temper people’s fears, and agree completely with Mikey that bringing up Fowler (who isn’t that great) and Tarasenko, who had major regression after bursting on the scene, can be tempered slightly by remembering that he was hurt for one entire, crucial, season of development at a very young age.

  25. Finally! It’s nice to see someone else appreciates the contributions of Stralman. Connor Allen played well, he was paired with my man Anton Stralman.

  26. I have an iPhone 4. It’s pretty old school. I might not even upgrade to the new system. That’s ultimate hipster, right?

  27. Brassard is your number 3 center? he will be the 2 at worst. the guy who should be the 3 in lindberg. when Stepan finally is signed, it should be, Stepan, Brassard and Linberg as your top 3 centers. Richards will be there, I know, but that is what it should be.

  28. agree Gravy,
    but all it took me was 2 shifts last night to see that both Fast, and Lindberg are NHL players right now. putting Lindberg in the AHL would be waste for him.

  29. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    Didn’t finish that thought…wanted the aluminum casing and didn’t want to spend a completely ridiculous amount on the 5s.

  30. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    It’s a long season….bound to be some injuries. Assuming they play well, good chance one or both of them will be up. Very good chance at least one makes the team out of camp. Then it’s up to them to force AV to keep them here.

  31. I didn’t see the devils game so disqualify my Boyle opinion…

    But McIlwraith is blowin in the wind. I don’t see that one turning around soon.

  32. McIlrath missed the first two months of playing time at Hartford last year while recovering from a dislocated knee cap he suffered in the summer of 2012.

  33. Gravy,
    that is the likely scenario for them. but maybe they force some of the dead wood off the team now.
    I felt the Dom Moore signing was a mistake when it happened, being that they already had Boyle to play that role. now having seen Lindberg play, it is an even bigger mistake. Moore will now be in the way of a younger player who belongs on the team.

  34. Don’t forget JT Miller, bull dog. Moore is here on one-year deal. I don’t think Lindberg’s development would be hurt by playing one year in Hartford.

  35. Gravy, Just Gravy on

    I don’t think Moore as a one year stopgap will prevent them from using Lindberg if they feel he is the better option.

  36. Hate repeating Wicky, but this team is lacking toughness upfront. Brassard, MZA, Hagelin etc. will be pushed around all year long, like Hartnell did last night.

  37. I did for get about JT Miller. I know that Sather really likes him, so toss him into the center, wing mix.

  38. ilb,
    that is why you keep a Michael Haley on the roster as a 12th or 13th forward. I like Haley, I think he can actually play a little too.

  39. did Pyatt play for AV in Vancouver? pretty sure he did. last night Pyatt wore an A. that might tell you how AV feels about him.

  40. I totally agree with you, bull dog, as I mentioned in my prior posts.

    Pouliot looked like he knows where to go last night. He’s got some size and toughness too

  41. Stranger – Torts’ wrath was not the reason Carp always keeps his cellphone on vibrate in his front pocket

  42. Seven game final this year between us and Vancouver would be epic

    That would be 28 must-watch pre- and post-game pressers

  43. Are you saying Tostitoes is not an A+ hockey player? Because he got beat up by Stu Bickel and Bickel is a better player than him.


    @AGrossRecord 56s

    #NYR re-assign Brendon *Nash* , Josh Nicholls, Shawn O’Donnell and Michael St. Croix to Hartford (AHL).

  45. I never thought there was a true competition. Biron was always our back up. Hedberg was here just in case Biron’s personal issues would linger.

  46. Michael, nice balanced write up. I’ve been a Stralman fan since he joined the Rangers as a regular “gang of six” D man. He may be easy to overlook since he’s not a flashy player but I like his poise and he’s got solid all around skills. Thanks for giving him his due.

  47. ilb,
    I think Biron is in a battle with Talbot. Biron is not that good that he should be unchallenged.

  48. Talbot is 25. a bigger part of the equation is the money Biron makes. is 1.3 to much for 15 games.

  49. Manny – Fowler might be minus Eleventy Billion, but he’s an NHL player, something that McIlrath isn’t. Plus Fowler actually improved his defensive game. With a real d-partner that can cover him when he rushes up ice, he’s going to be a great offensive d-man for the Ducks.

    Either way, McIlrath shouldn’t have been picked at 10. I said it back then and I’ll continue to say it until the kid somehow learns how to play the game of hockey. He was successful in juniors because he was a big brute who could hit and fight, but he couldn’t skate, puckhandle, or have any clue what to do in regards to positioning. The first two you can somewhat teach, but positioning is the hardest to get across since those are things you pick up on at an early age and aren’t that easy to coach into guys once they get past the junior level.

    Other players we passed on to pick him with potential to be solid NHL players:

    Nick Bjugstad
    Beau Bennett
    Emerson Etem (one of my favorites)
    Charlie Coyle (overrated)
    Justin Faulk (wasn’t a top prospect in 2010, so I’ll give a pass here)

    I will say that the Habs taking a chance on Gallgher in the 5th round might end up being the most valuable pick in that draft. While that kid had Jason Krog written all over him, it looks like he can actually be an NHL player even though he’s a small guy.

  50. I still view Stralman as expendable or the first guy out of the lineup if a young D makes the jump, but I admit that’s more some weird bias than merit based. Not sure why, but watching him just irks me.

  51. Guy to watch out for in Hartford this year is Michael St. Croix. I think he’s going to have a huge year. Watching his playmaking skills in juniors was a lot of fun, just hope his size doesn’t hold him back at the NHL level.

  52. I’ll never understand why good offensive / awful defensive d-men aren’t just considered mediocre forwards who screw up a team’s defense.

  53. tons of guys with tucked uniforms last night…is it not being enforced in preseason? is the rule being ignored as it should?

  54. Bull Dog is right. Cam Talbot is competing for that job and he’s very, very cheap. And Stepan wants $250K. You do the math.

  55. _I’m also with The Doctor. Stralman is expendable_

    But I’m against both me and you. I’ve been waiting for him to fall apart since he signed and he’s been really, really solid. One of the biggest brain vs heart disconnects I’ve had in a long time.

  56. Salty – what rule? Just thought the fight strap in the back has to be attached to the pants. Doesn’t have to be tucked in a la Jagr.

  57. Mister D – he’s soft, but Stralman gets the job done. I thought the same thing that he’d suck since all my Leafs buddies said he was so frustrating, but maybe he’s matured and his all around game is better? I mean he’s a solid skater, has a great shot, is probably the most consistent puck mover on the team from the back and doesn’t really make that many defensive mistakes.

    I mean he’s not going to crush people and he’s not even close to being the next Leetch, but he’s servicable as a 5-6 and we don’t have anyone who does all of what he does. Might have some young d-men who do one of those things fairly well, but they are horrible at something else.

    Also, I’m a huge Talbot fan, but he’s not winning many games at the NHL level, even as a back up. He’s a career AHL goalie IMO. I’d rather have Dos Nueve back to back up Lundqvist if we’re going to kick Biron to the curb (which we shouldn’t).

  58. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    I worked a 14 hour day yesterday and didn’t get to see the game but judging from everyone’s comments, Stralman is leetch and mcilrath makes dale purinton look like chara.

    Jonny D, the first two things are absolutely the things you can NOT teach. If you could teach them, the rangers would not have the history of bringing in one dimensional “tough” guys, they would have taught Staal not to get bongo’d by semin or mcdonut not to get beat up by henrique. You are dead wrong on that particular comment.

    We need playable toughness on this roster badly…especially with a bit of size.

  59. What is Talbot’s theoretical peak in the league? He still looks more like a journeyman NHL goalie than a number one. In the worst case scenario that the Rangers lose Lundqvist sometime in the future, there’s no way Talbot can be the team’s contingency plan. It would have to be an outside goalie in a signing or trade. Right now, in the backup role I still feel more confidence Biron could give Lundqvist 10+ nights off and still give the Rangers a chance to win those nights. I just don’t think Talbot is ready unless Ludnqvist is going to have to play more games than he should.

  60. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Let me get this straight…it’s ok to use talbot as a serviceable back up to hank mainly because at 1.3 mil Biron makes too much $$$$, but Stralman as a “serviceable 5-6 D man” is a bargain at 1.7 mil.

    You guys are in mid season making zippo sense form!!!

    What a laugher!!!! Lol

  61. LMGO, Wick. The “getting bongo’d” comment is super funny. That fight was classic. Semin was wearing a union suit form of pajamas from the 1830’s.

  62. That titanic hip check the Undertaker threw against the boards would have been devastating if anyone was still there to receive it. :)

  63. Stralman needs to get traded. ASAP. Trade him for pretty much anything. Preferably a tough D-Man who can play third pair and shoots Right-Handed.

  64. Jonny D. – its nice to see someone else here understands the game :-)

    More on Anton my Man. He usually does a real nice job not just job keeping the puck in the zone at the blue line, but making heady plays off the keep-in.

    He pinches well too.

    Hect, let’s give him the Norris.

  65. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Yep, Stralman makes 1.7 mil and mdz makes even more, that is a lot of cap space created to get Stepan signed and add some toughness and size to the roster.

    Considering we are talking 5-6 d men (John Moops seems to have caught AV’s eye deservedly so), it seems like a no brainer.

    Isn’t the purse snatcher still out there?

  66. There is where we differ, Wicky. I think Del Zotto is a bargain at PK Subban money. His next contract scares me but until 2016, let’s have some fun with the kid that might put up 50pts and play solid D.

  67. I agree, if you can chop off a big portion of Biron’s cap hit, then by all means … but I don’t know that they can.

    and can Talbot win, say, half of his 12 starts?

    and where does he go on the WBM if he doesn’t win all 12 of them?

  68. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Lmfao, that video is so funny yet so sad for the state of our D “toughness and intimidation factor”

  69. I predict the take on MDZ will change very much over the next 12 months. Perhaps very, very much.

    (And after thinking about the Sanchez cross-sports comp yesterday, wouldn’t a better one be Phil Hughes? Obvious talent but with a fatal flaw that has a semi-obvious fix: Hughes (a flyball righty) just needs to get out of the Stadium. MDZ (a talented freelancer) just needed to get out of a system where 1 mistake is worse than 5 plays created. Eh?)

  70. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Mdz and pk slew foot not even in the same chat IMHO as players. Mdz is an nhl player IMHO, but not in subban’s level.

    We will just have to agree to disagree on the mad bomber and his value ;)

  71. I really think Hank’s ceiling is 65 games. I don’t want to see it cross that number. Therefore, you’re giving the backup 17-20 starts. If he can win 10 he’s doing his job. Cam Talbot can win 10. Biron can maybe win 12 in a good year. But, Cam Talbot cannot be “Interim Asst. Head Coach in Charge of -Shootouts- Skillz Contests and Sleeping fitness” the way Biron can.

  72. Also, I don’t know what Cam Talbot’s eyes look like, but they can’t be at Biron’s level. If we lose Biron and Pyatt, which seems inevitable at some point, we’re going from a team of great eyes to be carried by Hank. Which I guess makes sense.

  73. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    This team needs a d man or two like mcilrath. Bigger, physical, mean, clears the blue with malicious intent. You would certainly hope it is mcilrath, but if he isn’t ready or it isn’t him, fine, you just need to find someone else that plays with the same attitude/style.

  74. I don’t get the love that MDZ inspires. The kid still looks nervous and uneasy as he skates back to retrieve pucks with forwards on his tail. Kind of like how Bambi looks w/ Godzilla on his tail.

  75. MDZ love is being trumpeted by Manny in an effort to entice members of his Yahoo league to select Delzaster over Suppan or Stralman.

    Nice try Manny, but we’re on to your shenanigans.

  76. Scott Fartsmell flew recklessly around the ice last night like he’s trying to make the team. Someone should have jacked his jawbone.

  77. “Salty – what rule? Just thought the fight strap in the back has to be attached to the pants. Doesn’t have to be tucked in a la Jagr.”

    New asinine rule this season: No tucking jerseys.

    The NHL has set some new guidelines for the upcoming season that pertain to uniforms and how they can be worn. Rule 9.5 is drawing the most interest … and scorn. Here’s how it reads:

    All protective equipment, except gloves, headgear, and goaltenders’ leg guards must be worn under the uniform. Should it be brought to the attention of the Referee that a player is wearing, for example, an elbow pad that is not covered by his jersey, he shall instruct the player to cover up the pad and a second violation by the same player would result in a minor penalty being assessed.
    Rule 9.5 governs all protective equipment, including pants. Players are not permitted to tuck their jersey into their pants in such a manner where the top padding of the pant and/or additional body protection (affixed to the pant or affixed to the Player’s body) is exposed outside the jersey. The back uniform number must not be covered or obstructed in any fashion by protruding pads or other protective padding.”

  78. LOL at Kovalchuk at #64. I think half of ESPN’s “experts” ranked him highly and the other half didn’t rank him at all, so he wound up at 64. Then nobody bothered to fact check the thing.

  79. Need Big RD who can skate backwards and doesn’t hip check the ads on the side boards. Wrath of Mac had that guy lined up forever and missed him. Needs to visit Boyle’s skating coach or go Freaky Friday with John Moore.

    Haley looked good last night.

  80. Didn’t see Hugh Jessimen on that list, at least Dustin Brown cracked the top 25

    Nice write up – with all these decent looking young forwards, we really could do without BRich?

  81. Sam: “So Rick, do you think you should have been placed higher than #28 on the ESPN top forward list?”

    Rick: “Good”

  82. _I don’t get the love that MDZ inspires._

    I’d love to write a thesis on this: Basically, guys like him are so divisive because there are two distinct personality types that battle over him, those who have at some point been considered naturally smart/talented but underachieving and those who have always been recognized as extremely hardworking and self-made. Both sides see the talent still surpassing the lack of forecasted results, but one side empathizes (either from having been there or because there are times effort is severely misjudged) and the other will never see beyond results. It doesn’t even speak to Del Zotto’s actually work ethic, we all have no idea, just how talent relates to expectations and correlates to results.


    A high school underachiever

  83. Impressed by both Asham’s and Haley’s thunder without losing discipline. They got the memo that tough guys who can’t skate no longer get NHL checks.

  84. A shorter version: Some of us are more accepting of the 2nd most talented guy being 4th out of 10 in results than others, and I bet its psychological.

  85. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    So if AV has the cap space he wants to carry 13 Fs and 8 (eight) D men this season….if no trades or salary cap dumps happen, considering the current group…who is the 8th d man?

  86. iWicky: Does this assume Falk is the clear 7th? I’d guess Bickel for quick insertion into games AV thinks could get nasty, especially once Callahan and Hags are back and our forwards lose some muscle.

  87. Jeff in South Dakota on

    Candygram, my foot! Get out of here before I call the proper authorities. You’re the shark, and you know it.

  88. Zucc to DelZ: “Hey, Zotts, says here in the paper that 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed yesterday.”

    DelZ: “How many is a brazillion?”

  89. Oh man. Even funnier, I posted that to Facebook and the article thumbnail, chosen by ESPN is a picture of *4* GOALIES.

  90. Bull- We both know Richards is going to get top 6 mins until/unless he plays his way out of them. I don’t disagree about what should be (ie Lindberg) but you have to hope that Richards bounces back. If he does then Brassard is 3rd because it’s certainly not Stepan.

  91. ESPN…The network that overlooked an entire hockey team dying in a plane crash during their sports year in review but had pictures of Nascar drivers dumping milk over their heads..nuff said eh?

  92. Michael, great write up. Thanks.

    If you guys can guarantee me that Staal will play 70 + games this year than go ahead and trade Stralsie. Let me just remind you that or 5/6 D at the end of last season was Hamrlik and Emminger. Granted we have a bit more depth this year but if you want to talk about people getting exposed play some of the guys we watched these last two games. Yikes.

  93. That ESPN forward list is such a joke. How do they snub Paille, Kelly, Thornton, Campbell and Soderberg?

  94. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Trying to watch the replay of rangers flyers right now, we look like a bunch of midgets in every scrum…not a good sign

  95. Rob in Beantown on

    The incredible thing is that clearly nobody at ESPNs hockey department even proofread the list to see if it made sense

  96. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Mcilrath did not have a good game. That being said I don’t see the sky is falling on him like some do.

    There isn’t a player out there who hasn’t missed a hip or any other check before in the NHL.

    I think he should have dropped the gloves as well, but I’m sure he had some jitters being a top 10 pick in his first game after missing a year with an injury and having a “few” expectations on him.

    I actually like the way mcilrath came back after his mistakes.

    Any player that is physically aggressive will take themselves out of position at some point to make a hit. They all do!!

    How big is kantor?

    Liked Pouliot and brassard…a lot.

    Still too many midgets

  97. Stranger Nation on

    wIcky – well said. Most, if not all, want Wrath of Mac to be the crease clearing beast on the blue line we have not had in too long.

    Last night was not a great showing. One word to describe his play is “Bickel-like”. His lack of ‘four way’ speed is going to be a challenge, even for a big man. Doesn’t have to be Skinner’s skating partner, but his skating was adysmal.

    If he pounded Hartnell, I couldn’t of cared less…

  98. Very solid and nice, subjectively objective writing, Mike. Thanks.
    Out of all of insects I have a tremendous respect only for a female mantis (or Mantis’s bitch). She gets in love with her male, seduce him, than eat him and forgets.
    Same with some of our blog’s fans toward certain players.

  99. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on


    I see no reason to have more than 2 of fast, Hagar, mza, Lindberg, and Kristo on the opening roster

  100. Any game where I see The Kreider going to the net I am excited. Also saw little Zucc going to the net.

  101. Time to open your eyes and your minds.

    Stralman is a top 4 Dman on this team (unless we add another through a trade).

  102. Those rankings were pretty confusing, right? Seemed like they were strictly based on upside without regard for probability until they got down to Nieves. So does that mean they’re bullish on Buchnevich or down on the system as a whole given a 2013 3rd is our #3?

  103. You know, how strange, – you can’t see a brain, but if someone is lack of – it’s seemingly noticeable…

  104. Kreider: Zoom down the boards, cut to the net and stop. Worked for Vickers, worked for Graves. Pocketsful of goals. They were tough guys.

  105. Kreider-Ricahrds-Nash


    When all is said in done we will be left with this. That being said, we have the pieces to pull off a blockbuster trade.

  106. Stepan is not making the western Canada trip and is removed from the active roster? Any truth to that?

  107. True Blue, we definitely have the pieces to pull off some sort of 3 for 1 to upgrade in a major way, but we’ll be hurt big time by our lack of cap space. Had Richards been amnestied, we would have been in amazing shape to take on a talented salary dump almost regardless of cost.

  108. _I see a very very bad pattern in our prospects at forward, small and not physical._

    I’d prefer that over great size and toughness but with questionable skating and skill.

  109. Nice job holding out, Stepan… i just don’t get why is he holding out if sather has all the cards? So much for “I want to be a Ranger forever” eh, Derek? I guess when it comes to money, nothing is off limit.

  110. The donut hole at center seems to have been filled. Stepan, Brassard, Moore, Boitano and Richards, with Lindberg waiting in the wings. I still think Richards has lost a step and should be nowhere near Nash. I think Stepan and Brassard are both better than Richards right now. Richards will end up centering the third line by years end and will be on a different team next season with Lindberg ready to jump in.

  111. Stranger Nation on

    Stralhman is top 4 in ability, but will see 3rd pair minutes as MDZaster and Staalsie will be 2nd pair.

    Moore/Stralman would be a fun pair to watch, esp on PP

  112. Disagree Strange.

    If, on the Depth Chart, Delzaster slots as the #4 Left handed DMAN behind MCD, Staal and Moore, how could he possibly play on the 2nd pair?

    Certainly not on the right side. We saw how horrible that went last year.

  113. True Blue, where are you getting a blockbuster with that roster? The blockbuster was trading Gaborik, and the other was getting Nash. And the jury’s still out on both.

  114. Carp, the only way you might work in a blockbuster is if you package Stepan in. Not that I’m advocating for that to happen.

  115. Salty – thanks. That’s such a dumb rule. So many times with these edge jerseys they’ll start tucking themselves (if that makes sense). I know it’s not the original material, but it’s still a smaller cut so if you are wearing a size that isn’t all that big (52-54), it’s going to find itself getting caught on the waist part of the pant. No way they can penalize for that.

  116. I think Lindberg and Miller could fill the center positions down the road.

    Richards has had a great career, just not with the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back this year, and if he can get his confidence back.

  117. True, Stepan 2nd line, Richards 1st????
    I think you may be taking CLEAN SLATE GRAB IT a little to far.

  118. With Richards, if his legs are under him this year, I expect he will be much, much better. But if he can’t skate it will be more of the same or worse. And this time he won’t have his buddy on the other end of that long leash.

  119. Wicky – Boston and Chicago have a ton of small sized forwards and they both steamrolled their way to the cup final last year. Big tough players are still good to have, but are somewhat becoming a thing of the past. Most of the new young superstars are all around or under 6 feet.

  120. I was watching Richards in the DZone against the Devils on Monday and granted, its only pre-season, but he looked much like last year ineffective, perhaps more lazy than clueless.

  121. Well Stan Bowman and his dad kinda give them an advantage. Going out on a limb and guessing Stan and Scott would have bought out No. 19.

  122. Stranger Nation on

    Papa – my hope is Vino spreads out the time for the D corps more evenly so 3rd pair gets 17 mins/game, 2nd pair 20 and 1st pair 23 or something like that. Would like Stral and Moore as first pair PP D as well.

    Enough of McD playing 29 mins in Feb ‘must win’ game for Musky.

  123. Papa, lmgo “Good.” … I make the Nash trade 100 times out of 100. But … in very simplistic terms, they went from a contender to a pretender after that deal, and he stunk it up in the postseason.

  124. I imagine the minutes might have been more evenly distributed the last two years if Bickel, Hamrlik and Eminger weren’t always on the third pair. I’m probably forgetting some other skunks they had back there.

  125. Strange, sounds like a winning formula for ice time, but I just don’t like Delzaster playing the right side.

    Without a prospect ready to fill that need, like to see us trade for one.

    Man, we if we only had Sauer. What a shame.

  126. Carp, it comes down to how well you draft and develop players. Organizational depth is key to long term success. It’s why Jersey never strays too far away from the top, in spite of their many key player defections through the years.

  127. At first blush, and by most scouting reports, McIlrath at #10 has the potential to be another critical error in player acquisition. Can’t afford to miss on the #10 overall.

  128. Funny how Detroit seems to find REAL NHL talent deep in the draft.

    But to get a top end player like Pittsburgh did, they had to tank it for a couple of years. The Rangers always seem to be in the lower middle, and never really getting a top 5 pick.

  129. _Lot of teams get good NHL players, even stars, later in the first round and beyond._

    I feel like we’ve done this exercise starting at the Sanguinetti draft and came up with less than a dozen All-Star-ish players the Rangers missed with their picks. Some major notable exceptions, but for the most part not a lot there. Scouting has gotten a lot more efficient as a whole.

  130. IMO, Detroit is the model and does it best. If I were permitted to trade the group of Ranger front office, coaching staff, scouts and player development personnel straight up for any other team’s group, I would pick Detroit.

  131. I meant across the league. There are less All-Star to Hall of Fame / potential HoF talents slipping in the draft. The next Mark Messier isn’t going in the 3rd.

  132. If anybody knew Mark Messier would become the second leading scorer of all-time, would be one of the top five or six players in NHL history, would win six Cups, one without Gretzky in Edmonton and the only one in 73 years (and counting) in New York, they completely screwed up by letting him fall to the third round.

  133. No, Carp, that’s my point. As technology increases and more and more money is poured into scouting, it becomes less likely that talent will slip. I’m sure there will always be late blooming exceptions, but the odds of a 2013 Mark Messier slipping are far lower.

  134. It also helps that kids are blooming earlier since they are getting better coaching at a young level. Players that come out today are so ridiculously skilled that the talent pool is more spread out where as during the 80s, there were a few superstar prospects and then a bunch of crap, some of which would turn into gold after some proper coaching.

  135. For the record, I hated the Bobby Sanguinetti pick too. Kid grew up in the same area as me and played with a few of my buddies on the team a year younger than us and he never impressed me. Not sure what scouts saw in him to make him a 1st round pick, but they clearly know more than I do.

  136. Anders Hedberg said last night he believes Lindberg and Fast have 3 of the most important attributes a player coming into the league can require: skating ability, knowledge or an understanding of how the game should be played (hockey sense, vision?) and being fearless on the ice (courage?)

  137. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Jonny D
    I disagree on your 4:30…I think the bruins only had one forward under 6′ (and his nose was over) and their D I’d tough and hard to play against…plus Thornton, lucic, Marchand, Bergeron, Campbell are all willing to scrap out of their forward lines (and not just bottom 6 guys, scrapers throughout the 4 lines and different weight classes).

    Throw in chara, boychuk, and mcquaid and you have 8 regular guys that can/will scrap if you need them to (admittingly to varying degrees of success but willing nonetheless).

    Now look at the rangers roster how most here have it constructed going into the season, how many guys under 6′ ? Also, list the guys who are willing to scrap…dorsett…Pouliot if necessary…John Moore maybe….???

  138. Bergeron is not a fighter. He has been in one scrap that I can think of in the last 10 years and he’s not a big guy.

    I think you are mistaking size and toughness. Marek Malik was 6’6″, he wasn’t a tough guy. Point is, I’d rather have skilled guys on my roster over a tough guy unless we’re filling a 12th man spot. And for me at least, I’d rather have d-men that stay out of the box so you don’t have to put Girardi and McDonagh out there for 30 minutes. They can be tough, but they shouldn’t be fighters.

  139. Also the Hawks had a few guys that would scrap, but the only big one was Mayers and he barely played in the playoffs. The skilled guys could throw down if needed, but once the playoffs come around they know they are too valuable to spend 5 mins in the box.

  140. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    If you want to bring up Chicago, that is fine too. Under 6′ probably 2 guys on their roster Kane and shaw. Bickell (who almost everyone here wanted/wants) plays any forward line and fights, bollig, carcillo (I believe), sharp (again, plays on any line), smith (who is also around 6′ but is 200+ lbs), shaw, are all willing to drop them (add mayers to the list if he is still there).

    Their D has a known and a bit of a feared hitter in hjalmarsson, and oduya will scrap if necessary.

    Our D at this point has neither.

  141. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    You are mistaking goons for hockey players that are mean, play with an edge, and that can fight. No one here, least of all me, is claiming to want a team of goons.

    If you cannot tell the difference between a goon and the above mentioned type of player, I kinda feel bad for you. Also if you look at the way people are saying this seasons roster is going to be constructed and you don’t think it is smallish and soft and lacks any sort of punching ability, well sorry again.

  142. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Last I checked, hockey was still a physical intimidating game with fighting (bettman hasn’t ruined it yet).

  143. If I were a coach, I would counsel my truly skilled players from fighting, but I would try to have someone (not a goon, a viable player) on the ice who would quickly and willingly step in to protect them.

  144. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    Fwiw, I’d rather have skilled guys that are big and tough (see clowe, ryane or lucic, Milan or Bickell, Bryan or Simmonds, Wayne or Hartnell, Scott etc etc) or even skilled guys that are smaller that are willing to drop the gloves a few times a season like Marchand or burrows or carter or sharp etc etc.

    Point is, ” we no gots”!!!!

  145. I hate to say this, but Vigneault sure reminds me of Brodeur in the way he talks and his mannerisms.

  146. iWicky "Frag Out!!!" on

    I brought up Bergeron because he is “willing to” drop them. Which is more than most of our guys seem to be.

  147. Mayonnaise jar to twenty pound pile of mashed potatoes in Brodeur’s refrigerator: “What’s been eating you lately?”

  148. Carp, thanks for the laugh. I know you’ve had limited time around the team but do you notice a difference in the atmosphere at the training center with the coaching changes?

    Papa Bear, been enjoying your posts all day. Not too much, not too little. Just right, with some genuine lol moments… thanks.

  149. Carp and everybody… thanks for making today a great, entertaining read. Worthy opinions and fun repartee and no flaming trolls. Kudos!!

  150. Heave. Nope. No difference at all, except that guys weren’t puking on the ice the first three days of camp. :)

    Seriously and quite honestly, the atmosphere around the team has been very good for years, the former coach notwithstanding. Though it is good for me, personally, to see Beukeboom, Graves, Samuelsson and Lacroix– all guys I knew as players — on the ice with the team.

  151. That’s what I’m on now Ilb. Trying to set up auto fill on Safari. The only feature I have ever cared about since becoming a Bonehead.

  152. Aaron Portzline ?@Aportzline 2m
    Jenner-Dubinsky-Gaborik line combined for 3-5-8, +8, 16 shots. Dubinsky was flying: 0-3-3 +3, 10 shots, four hits, 10-of-19 faceoffs.

    Don’t worry Rangers fans…we have Nash, Brassard, and Dorsett…I can taste the champagne in the Cup already :)

  153. Great write-up! I could close my eyes and imagine all the plays you describe. Keep up the excellent writing!

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