The Rangers lost to one of the worst teams in the league again last night falling 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild. The Wild was the second straight team to get their first regulation win of the season against the hapless Blueshirts who were never in this one. It is alarming how much this team gets outworked almost every night now as they lost their 5th in the last 6.

Donald Brasheer, who has been utterly old and useless, got it going early turning the puck over in the defensive zone with no one pressuring him. He very easily could have carried it out but instead made a moronic pass to... well no one other than a Wild player. That was quickly turned into Petr Sykora's 2nd of the year and a 1-0 lead. Henrik Lundqvist did what he could but was left on his own again. Eric Belanger and Antti Miettinen were also able to beat him while Marc Staal added a useless third period goal.

The Rangers were without Christopher Higgins (who cares), Sean Avery (invisible man) and Marian Gaborik (whole team). The guys skating continued to be horrible including Chris Drury (who they say is embracing the new role of not scoring when the team needs goals), Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. I wouldn't have paid him more than $1.3 a year and stated that on this blog. Certainly not the $1.7 he was able to hold out for. But that's Glen Sather who doesn't seem to understand contracts... see Donald Brasheer's $2.8 for two years (or Redden or Michal Rozsival).

The lone bright spot came from Wade Redden and Dane Byers, who got to the facility late due to weather. Redden stepped up in the first to block a clearing attempt and fired it on net. Byers was there for the rebound and his first NHL goal. Other than that... this team is a mess without Gaborik.

Rangers lose 3-2.



The Rangers are in Minnesota tonight to face a 3-9 Wild team. They'll be doing battle without Marian Gaborik and now you can add Sean Avery and Christopher Higgins to the walking wounded. Higgins injured himself, literally, twisting his ankle trying to clear a puck the other night and Avery was limping on the same knee he injured earlier in the year. Maybe that's why he's been invisible. Can't say the same for Higgins who was good his first few games but since has disappeared.

The Rangers have called up Dane Byers and P.A. Parenteau is already here. Parenteau is coming off his first NHL goal and the only goal against the Islanders the other night. Byers has 2 goals and 3 assists with the Wolf Pack this year with four points coming in the last 3. The Blueshirts weant Evgeny Grachev to continue to get plenty of ice time and decided to leave him with the Pack.

The Rangers habe lost 4 of their last 5 (one in OT) while the Wild have the fewest goals in the NHL with 26. Should be a barn burner....


No Show...

The Rangers didn't show up last night for their "rivalry" game with the Islanders. I didn't feel like showing up on the blog either. This was one of the most boring hockey games I've ever seen. But hey... there were some exciting shoving matches.

Highlights... Ryan Callahan missed what must have been his sixth open net tap in goal of the year and that's including the one he missed against Toronto that Luke Schenn put it in for him. The guy works hard and hits everything but continues to skate himself passed the net on the rush so that he's not in a position to shoot. Where is he going? There's nothing behind the net...

The Rangers have lost 4 out of the last 5 and were a completely punchless team without Marian Gaborik. The Marc Staal-Daniel Girardi pairing continues to struggle... and Chris Drury continues to get $7.5 a year to block some shots, kill some penalties and be invisible. Better hope that banged up lower body of Gaborik gets itself right soon...


What Happened to this Game?????

Gearing up for the Rangers-Islanders rivalry tonight when I realized... there is no rivalry. There are no rivalries in this league anymore. The reason for that is no one cares. Most people don't even know hockey is being played right now. The reason no one watches is a guy named Gary Bettman.

Long gone are the days when the Islanders, getting blown out, iced the puck with :02 left. One of the greatest coaches of all time, Al Arbour, dispatched Mick Vukota and Ken Baumgartner to beat down Jeff Bloemberg and others. That was the way this game was played... messages were sent if not for that game than the next. This happened in a playoff game in response to Chris Nilan laying out Pat LaFontaine:


If this fight happened today... well it wouldn't happen today because there are no fighters in the league anymore. If it did, however, the fines and suspensions would be astronomical. Take a look at what hockey was and enjoy it... you'll never see it again. Notice how quiet the crowd is when Scott Stevens and Dave Manson head to center during the St. Patrick's Day Massacre:

There are no messages sent anymore... it costs teams and coaches too much. Take a look at this joke which is the fighting rules on nhl.com:


This is what happens when a man takes over a professional sports league, without ever having seen a hockey game AT ANY LEVEL. Commissioner Gary Bettman worked for the NBA and David Stern... Stern sent him over to the NHL... now the sports is less watched than the NBA though it's play resembles it. Bettman incredibly is making $7.1 million a year on his crusade to ruin the sport and the league.

Another good advantage in a fight was to pull your opponents jersey over his head. You certainly can't do that anymore. If your jersey is not tied down you get an unsportsmanlike minor and a game misconduct. Are you kidding me? God forbid you put your fighter, if you have one, out there at the same time as your opponents fighter (Yeah right... 2 fighters in one game) and they drop the gloves before the faceoff. The ref can then call misconducts and give out fines if he feels it was planned.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has done everything he can to make this sport unwatchable. From idiotically expanding the league, to changing all the rules to "speed up" the game, to instilling a shootout. A shootout is a complete gimmick and an individual skills competition which has nothing to do with the flow of a hockey game. Again... this is an idiot who had never seen a hockey game of any kind before taking the position. He also "placed" Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh to save a dying franchise. The Rangers would've had the number 1 pick in the draft that year but a "new" draft lottery was instilled just in time for the game's most promising prospect. Wow... what are the odds of a bankrupt franchise getting the first pick and the team with the worst record in the league (Rangers) ending up with the 16th pick? Not good.

The penalties Bettman and the refs have instilled are ridiculous and it's just a matter of time before we're calling them "fouls". The first thing I was taught while learning hockey was to hold on to your stick. If you don't someone could knock it out of your hands. This was a great play and a "penalty" to the player that wasn't paying attention as he would be out of the play. Now they actually call a penalty for this. Can you imagine? Grown men who are professional athletes rewarded for not gripping their stick tight enough. Stick checking and solid defense are not allowed as the players use composite sticks that can break while receiving a pass. You hit a guy's stick and it breaks... you guessed it... penalty.

It's not just those penalties either. If your stick comes up on a guy and touches his hands or above his waist you're automatically in the box. Think of how many great players made their careers slowing people up. Kevin Lowe, Cam Neely, Adam Graves, Esa Tikkanen, Jeff Beukeboom... Or even fighters like Vukota, Baumgartner, Willie Plett, Bob Probert, Tie Domi, George McPhee... most of these players wouldn't even make teams today. they've been replaced with "skill" guys who have no heart or passion for the game.

Everything Gary Bettman has done for this league... has been wrong. People used to love this sport. You'll never hear an arena louder than when there is a fight at center ice. You'll never feel the anticipation of knowing your tough guy is out to send a message in the closing minutes of the game. Those days over. Rivalries are over. And this league, which is making no money thanks to this clown, is almost over.


Parenteau called up...

Wolf Pack leading scorer P.A. Parenteau has been called up. Expect him to be in the lineup against the Islanders Wednesday in place of Marian Gaborik. The sniper injured his right knee Monday night in a collision with Petr Prucha of all people. Though the injury is not thought to be serious, he didn't practice today and there's no reason to rush him back. You know he's going to want to face his former team in Minnesota Friday night though.

Meanwhile Parenteau leads the AHL with 8 goals and has 14 points. He played decently in camp and it's getting to the point that we need to see if the 26-year-old can play at this level. Obviously if he can, he would have some trade value as there's just no room on the Rangers right now.


No Need To Panic...

The difference between this year's Rangers and last is clear... this team has scorers. How many times last year did they dominate in shots and put up 1 goal... maybe 2? They didn't dominate in shots tonight, but did on the scoreboard beating the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 at the Garden. The Yote's came in as one of the hottest teams with a 6-3 start.

Marian Gaborik continued his assault on the score sheet with 2 goals and and an assist. He is second in the NHL in scoring. Gaborik (10-8-18) has scored in every game as a Ranger but one. He did give us cause for panic though when he left the ice flexing his right leg in the third and headed to the locker room. Thankfully, Steve Zipay of Newsday is reporting that it is not thought to be serious. Gaborik said "It's nothing related to my groin or hip or torso." He continued, "We'll see how everything is in the morning. I collided with one of their players, but it's nothing major. It happened with about five minutes left and the game was pretty much over." Hey maybe there is a God.

The Fourth line got the scoring going again for the second straight game with Artem Anisimov converting a give-and-go with Brian Boyle with a nasty spin around wrister past Ilya Bryzgalov just 2:31 in. They deserved it after good defensive work and another good all around effort.

Marian Gaborik sandwiched
setting up Vinny Prospal for his 4th of the season between 2 beautiful power play goals. Coach Dave Tippett removed Bryzgalov with the score 4-0 in favor of former Ranger Jason LaBarbera. His team responded. Ed Jovanovski scored followed by Vernon Fiddler getting the first short-handed goal against the Rangers this year.

Phoenix carried much of the play and out shot the Rangers 32-24. They couldn't break Henrik Lundqvist in the third though. The only goal of the frame came when Enver Lisin flew down the left side and ripped a slap shot past LaBarbera. Lisin (1 G, 1 A) had his best game as a Ranger and also had the satisfaction of scoring against his former team.

Vinny Prospal has scored in all but 2 games as a Ranger. He had a goal and 2 assists tonight giving him 4 goals and 12 assists on the year... Michael Del Zotto (4-8-12) was great again adding two assists and you can see this kid getting better every game... Aaron Voros good hard work was rewarded with a seat on the bench as Donald Brashear returned.
.. Is Sean Avery on this team? I was wondering when he'll be coming back and doing ANYTHING. If someone can tell me that'd be great.


The Hab Nots...

The Rangers just have a thing for Montreal... They like to just go there and figure out ways to lose. My favorite was obviously 2 seasons ago when they had a 5-0 lead and lost 6-5. They outdid themselves tonight and it was one of their stars that is to blame.

The Canadiens came out flying and took the lead on a Michael Cammalleri goal, the first of his 3, 4:16 in. Of course Scott Gomez (2A) picked up an assist on it. The Rangers didn't even show up until a hard working shift from the fourth line produced an impossible angle rebound goal from Artem Anisimov, his 2nd of the year. The Blueshirts then dominated the rest of the first with goals from Ales Kotalik and Matt Gilroy.

Midway through the second and the Rangers in full control, Brandon Dubinsky turned the puck over in the neutral zone leading to Matt D'Agostini's goal. That made it 3-2 and left Henrik Lundqvist laid out on the collison. He appeared to have seriously injured his right ankle but somehow was able to skate it off and remain in the game. Brandon Dubinsky did not receive another shift from that point forward.

It was time for some brilliance. Michael Del Zotto fed Enver Lisin who quickly head-manned to Marian Gaborik. The Slovak tipped the puck from behind his back to himself (somehow staying onside), calmly went in and embarrassed Jaroslav Halak going forehand-backhand-forehand through the legs. It was 4-2 Rangers... but they figured out a way to let it all slip away... with penalties swinging the momentum... again.

Vinny Prospal took a silly elbowing penalty but while killing it Guillaume Latendresse literally skated into Chris Higgins' stick... from behind him... and they called Higgins. This was by far one of the funniest calls I've seen in years. A 5-on-3 for 1:35 yielded a Marc-Andre Bergeron goal and a brand new game. Cammalleri then tied it with 1:02 left in the second. Chris Higgins forgot to backcheck on this one... and he was not seen in the third either... some homecoming.

In overtime, Cammalleri scored the easiest goal of his life. With Gaborik back-checking lightly, and I mean lightly, he calmly skated from his own end. He entered the Ranger's zone with Matt Gilroy in front of him and Marian Gaborik gliding behind him. They both softly stick-checked Cammalleri as he cut in and roofed the winner on Lundqvist. You can blame either Gilroy or Gaborik but if
this battle takes place in the offensive zone, Gaborik wins it and that's unacceptable. The Rangers got a point but blew two 2 goal leads in the loss.

Then a special treat as "Hockey Night Live" came on. I figured to get a chance to hear some reaction from Gaborik and Coach Tortorella... but no. We spent the first ten minutes of the show watching and talking about Ron Duguay and Ken Daneyko in "Battle of the Blades". Guys... there's a reason the show isn't on in this country... NO ONE CARES. They have been wasting time showing this for weeks now and when the Rangers lose... fans don't want to watch old men who used to play hockey figure skating. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the Rangers or the 3 games played by local teams. "Hockey Night Live" with NO hockey... WHAT A JOKE.


Oh Scotty...

The Rangers are in Montreal tonight and they have to be careful not to let 2 losses in a row turn into 3. They face Scott Gomez and his tiny little new team. Gomez so far has respectable numbers with 2 goals and 3 assists. Not bad for a guy making $91,463 per game. Contrast that to the guy you replaced him with (monetarily) in Marian Gaborik with 7 goals and 6 assists and you see why I told you no one would miss Gomez... he's garbage. Christopher Higgins is in the worst slump of his career and only is 3 points behind ol' Scotty.

Marc Staal and Dan Girardi look to bounce back collectively from their worst effort of the year. They were on the ice for all 3 Devils goals and missed assignments. The worst coming when Staal let Niklas Bergfors break past him for an easy tip it goal that Henrik Lundqvist had no chance on.

The Canadiens have won back to back games and the Rangers haven't lost 3 in a row in regulation since 2007. The King will start for the Blueshirts while the Habs should be starting Jaroslav Halak (2 GA in last 2) if Coach Jacques Martin has a functioning brain in his head. He hasn't committed to a starter yet though.



The Rangers came out sloppy again and lost 17 of 21 faceoffs. The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Zach Parise and Niklas Bergfors. The first line was intact but new lines featuring Lisin-Anisimov-Higgins and Callahan-Drury-Avery. No Donald Brasheer in this game either... I guess there is a God.

Rangers very easily could have been down 4 or 5 nothing. Henrik Lundqvist made some big saves to keep them in it. I'm pretty sure Coach Tortorella was not pleased with the effort to say the least.

2-0 after 1.

Definite difference in battle level and it was evident from the start. They were helped out by an early high-sticking call to Mike Mottau. Vinny Prospal won the draw with help from Marian Gaborik. Ales Kotalik took the puck at the point and returned it to Gaborik who snapped right in through a screen

Later Marc Staal (shaky tonight) turned the puck over in his own zone resulting in a great save by Lundqvist on Dainius Zubrus. Dan Girardi gathered the rebound and sprung Kotalik on a breakaway that he buried low glove side on Marty Brodeur. Rangers won 12 out of 16 faceoffs in the second. They were helped out by Prospal (won 5 of 7) who was switched to center.

Second period lines:

2-2 after 2.

Lundqvist gave up a terrible goal as Zach Parise flung it on goal and apparently Dainius Zubrus got a little piece of it. Dan Girardi was standing nearby doing nothing, as he and Marc Staal have all night. Best chance was Ryan Callahan's breakaway with a couple of minutes left. As he went to tee up the shot though Colin White made a fantastic poke check. Parise adds an empty netter after a missed interference call on the Devils against Prospal.

Rangers lose 4-2.


A Dandi?

Steve Zipay of Newsday has confirmed that 33-year-old defenseman Mathieu Dandenault is with the Hartford Wolf Pack on a tryout basis. He was released by the San Jose Sharks when Dany Heatley was acquired. He's been in the league with Detroit and Montreal for 13 year. Dandenault's best year was in 2002-2003 with the Red Wings when he had 19 points and was a plus 25. He was a plus 7 last year with the Canadiens in only 41 games.

Also, Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik were sent home before practice today with what John Tortorella called "colds or something". He wanted to keep them away from the team and get them some rest. Hopefully they're ok for the Devils at the Garden tonight...



I don't want to go too crazy over one game but there were some things in this one that made your head shake. The Rangers got beat 7-3 by the San Jose Sharks last night at the Garden. I didn't expect them to go 82 and 1 but it's the way they lost that is the problem. They lost every single battle last night.

First off, I have a problem with John Tortorella starting Steve Valiquette. The Rangers have been playing well and so has Henrik Lundqvist. Why not have started Valiquette in Toronto? He could have given The King a break and then had him for Monday against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Next game is Thursday so another couple of days of rest. I don't get it.

I have an even bigger problem with Tortorella going to Lundqvist in the third. That defeated the whole purpose of him not playing in the first place. I know it is an Olympic year and they don't want him playing 70 games but gimme a break.

I hope it's just one game but Donald Brashear appears done. He is not a good fighter, doesn't hit as much and is outworked all over the ice. He looked very old last night. Could be another "Sather special" as we have him for 2 years at $1.4 per. Not even 10 games in and the guy needed to sit out already from soreness. Worst of all... no one is scared of him anymore as evidenced by the Leafs repeatedly running Henrik Lundqvist over... IN THE GARDEN... with no response.

The team is taking too many penalties in the offensive zone and just too many in general. I wrote last night that if they continued into the box, the game was over and it was. It needs to be corrected.

There was a positive though... Michael Del Zotto has continued to be awesome... scoring his 4th on the power play.


San Jose...

Promising start as Chris Drury beautifully deflected Marc Staal's wrist shot for a 1-0 lead 7:17 in. The Rangers went on the power play and Michael Del Zotto got his 4th on the power play banging in the rebound of an Ales Kotalik bomb just 1:17 later. It went downhill from there.

What was the problem? All together now... PENALTIES. After killing off a Chrostopher Higgins holding penalty, Tortorella sent out Vinny Prospal with Donald Brasheer and Ales Kotalik, probably because of players resting from killing the power play. Brad Staubitz stripped a lazy Donald Brasheer in center and buried it past Steve Valiquette's glove. A high sticking call to Wade Redden, who otherwise has had another solid start, and Dany Heatley ties it on the power play. If the Rangers continue to take penalties, even though they've only taken 2... they're done in this one... San Jose is just too good.

Rangers took 3 more penalties including two moronic ones by Sean Avery. I love how he never knows why he's called... one a blatant trip the other a blatant hold. At 4-2 though the Ryan Callahan was all alone in fron with a chance to get the Blueshirts back in it and somehow missed the net. Steve Valiquette has been awful tonight but it's Tortorella's fault he's in there against one of the league's best offenses. With no game until Thursday it is mind-boggling that Henrik Lundqvist is not playing.

Though all I've heard is how this guy is a better hockey player than Colton Orr, I have seen no evidence of that in Donald Brasheer. He's not a better fighter or hitter and tonight he just looks like an old man. He was beaten by Staubitz in the first and outworked by Patrick Marleau of all people for Devin Setoguchi's second goal of the period. He's certainly not winning anyone over here... still waiting.

5-2 and game over after two.


Nah... no surprise here at all. Michael Del Zotto will not be going anywhere. Tonight against the San Jose Sharks marks the 9th and last game Del Zotto would've been eligible to play in if he was to be sent back to juniors, which he most definitely is not.

Del Zotto leads all rookies in scoring and has been the power play quarterback on the first unit. He's been fantastic and just haven't given one reason why he shouldn't be here. Not to mention what the hell would you do if he left?

As it is now the Rangers are relatively small on defense and could use a veteran. Chris Chelios could be that guy. He wouldn't need to play a lot and wouldn't be asking that much. His leadership for these young guys would be priceless. You think a guy like Chelios would stand for Henrik Lundqvist being constantly run over?


Cranking Away...

It's 7 in a row for theRangers after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs again last night, this time 4-1. They were outshot 14-8 in the sloppily played first but walked out of it with a 1-0 lead thanks to Brandon Dubinsky's 3-on-1 rocket off the short side post on Joey MacDonald. The Rangers played the best second period they have in a while and completely shut the Leafs down in the third dealing them their 6th loss in a row.

Unfortunately and maybe not coincidentally, Jamal Mayers was scratched in this one. Henrik Lundqvist was excellent again despite Leafs continuing to barrel into him led by human rat Jason Blake. Brian Boyle went after and warned Blake after he slashed Lundqvist. Blake was penalized but came right out of the box and skated into the King again. Lesson obviously not learned as Lee Stempniak followed right behind and bashed into Lundqvist (all comically not called).

John Tortorella addressed the issue saying . "I asked the refs, 'What do you want us to do?'". He continued, "Some of the hits that are coming on him right now, it's ridiculous. Something has to be done, or we have to do it our way." Not sure what you're waiting for there John. It has been 3 straight games where he's getting mauled and twice by the same team. NHL isn't helping you bud.

Blake may have gotten the message in the third though when he was absolutely drilled and laid out by Marc Staal. It was as hard as I've seen Staal hit anyone and it's the kind of leadership you love to see. Blake was shaken up, returned for a few shifts but didn't go anywhere near Lundqvist again. The pairing of Staal and Dan Girardi has been incredible and gets better each game. The Rangers defense now leads the league with 9 goals after Staal got his first and Michael Del Zotto added his 3rd on the power play in the second period.

Marian Gaborik assisted on both second period goals giving him the team lead with 12 points and at least 1 point in every game as a Ranger. Right behind him is Vinny Prospal who's scored (3-8-11) in every game but the first one and had an assist tonight.

The things that happen to Sean Avery (Stempniak running him when he didn't have the puck) and don't get called are hysterical... Enver Lisin got his first of the season skating with the fourth line on the rebound of Wade Redden's partially blocked shot... Colton Orr tried several times for a rematch with Donald Brasheer but there was no point with the Leafs and their fans out of the game early... Michal Rozsival was solid but still took a lazy and moronic hooking penalty in the third period.

And The Response Is?

The Rangers meet up for the second time this season with the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre. The Rangers kicked the shit out of them at MSG last week 7-2 without playing the second period... but the story was the running Henrik Lundqvist.

Donald Brashear will be back in the lineup tonight but having him last time didn't deter Jamal Mayers from blatantly running Lundqvist. Amazingly the two morons posing as referees somehow missed this call. If Sean Avery did this to a goalie he's be suspended 50 games.

Coach Tortorella responded saying, "I don't believe we should go as far in protecting goaltenders as the NFL does in protecting quarterbacks, but if it's blatant, the way it was Monday with Jamal Mayers, that needs to be called,". Let's just hope that Tortorella is saying the right things... but will also do the right thing. The coach holds his players accountable but will he hold the opposition's?

My answer... there must be a response tonight either against Mayers or whatever goalie the Leafs start. The message needs to go out loud and clear that "The King" is untouchable. I don't need to see Brashear fight Colton Orr... go get Mayers. If the Rangers win and nothing is done about this... it will go down as a loss in my book.


Mr. Softie

When the Rangers signed Ales Kotalik for 3 years at $3 million per, I was skeptical. The word out of Buffalo was that he was soft... takes nights off... he won't go in the corners. He's basically the older poor man's Nikolai Zherdev (talk about a guy that takes nights off), without the "upside". When Vinny Prospal joined the team and Brandon Dubinsky signed the glut at forward was obvious.

Coach John Tortorella won't allow Kotalik to take nights off here. Players will be held accountable and they will sit if they do (see $5 mil a year Michal Rozsival). In an earlier post on The Beat (Rangers Trying to Ground A.O.) I guessed that Enver Lisin would be the odd man out when Sean Avery came back. I didn't think Tortorella would put a player making $3 million on the fourth line... he surprised me again. Although no one else covering the Rangers seems to be aware that Lisin and Kotalik have rotated on the fourth in every game since Avery returned.

Kotalik has responded by doing the opposite of what I heard of him. He's working hard every shift... He's throwing hits... he's going in the corners, winning battles and when you put him on the power play he's scoring. He's helped change the dynamic of the power play and that's what he was brought here to do.

He has 3 goals and 4 assists in 7 games as a Ranger. Asked to play on the fourth line he has put his head down and done what has been asked. You don't hear any complaints from him and you won't. People can say Kotalik is making too much but he's doing exactly what he was brought here to do so far... with a lot less ice time than he's used to.


Sometimes It Takes One...

Coach John Tortorella's style of play leaves teams out of gas in the third period... that's when the Rangers turn on the after burners. They have outscored the opposition 12-4 in the third coming into tonight's game against the Los Angeles Kings. But tonight, the afterburners didn't fire. The Blueshirts managed 1 shot on goal in the third... but boy was it an incredible shot.

The Rangers were outplayed tonight by a young and hungry King team. They looked like a tired team in playing their third game in four nights. "You just find a way to win when you're not on-and we were not on. We were behind in every facet of the game but we still found a way to win". Coach Tortorella added, "That's a good sign". Especially against one of the hottest teams in the league that also hadn't lost since opening night.

The problem for the Kings was that they were facing "The King". Henrik Lundqvist again was fabulous but again was run over 2 or 3 times. Would've been nice to have Donald Brasheer go after someone but he was a late scratch with an undisclosed injury. Make no mistake, Lundqvist stole this game for the Rangers and was named the first star. He made several beautiful saves highlighted by robbing Teddy Purcell point blank on a rebound with a seemingly wide open net in the first.

Vinny Prospal got the night started with a power play deflection of Michael Del Zotto's shot for his 200th NHL goal. Ryan Smyth came back with a deflection of his own just 1:10 later. A two man advantage and a brilliant Prospal feed left Ryan Callahan with a wide open net but the pass surprised him. He had a couple of whacks at it before Prospal slid around back of the net and popped it in off Kings goalie Erik Ersberg. But other than the power play (odd to have the PP be a strength) the Rangers could get little going in this one.

Brian Boyle opened the second period scoring against his former team off a nice feed from Michal Rozsival, who was otherwise disastrous. Boyle rang his first as a Ranger off the post, then Ersberg and in. Aaron Voros immediately dropped the gloves at the side of the net with Sean O'Donnell and had one of his patented throw 4 punches and fall over fights... it was a good one. The Kings answered again as Michal Handzus deflected Jack Johnson's wrist shot in for a power play goal and the score was 3-2 heading into the third.

Now the 1 third period shot I was talking about... yeah that was taken by Marian Gaborik so it wasn't really so much of a shot but a canon. Gaborik made a play in the defensive zone to get the puck around to Dan Girardi, then flew the zone. Vinny Prospal blindly threw the puck toward Gaborik who calmly gathered the puck with one hand as the pass was behind him... strolled down the left side to the hash... and unleashed one of the sickest snap shots I've ever seen. Top right corner in the blink of an eye. You pretty much felt bad for Erik Ersberg as no one could've stopped this thing. One big shot and one huge goal. The Rangers held on despite being outshot 10-1 in the third to win their 6th in a row, beating the Kings 4-2.

Marian Gaborik made sure to pick up the puck on Prospal's 200th. Later while shorthanded on an empty net elected to be unselfish and slide the puck to Prospal for his hat trick but Jack Johnson swatted it out of mid air. Marian Gaborik is looking to be your other assistant captain and should be... Would've been nice if Brian Boyle had gotten a star in this game being that he scored against his old team and it was the game winner... Ales Kotalik had two assists and hit the post again... Michael Del Zotto leads all rookies in points with 2 goals and 5 assists... Gaborik leads the team with 6 goals, all scored in the third.



The Rangers won their 5th in a row last night beating a win less team in blowout fashion. They pummeled the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2. The last time the Rangers scored 7 goals was on April 1st, 2007 against the Leafs with the identical score (been a while since we've seen goals... it's nice). Sean Avery had two goals in that one... he went to work in this one too. The Rangers scored them all while taking the second period off and being bailed out by the fantastic goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist.

"We were dominant from the start and came out strong in the second but then we stopped playing, so Torts wasn't very happy," said Vinny Prospal. Whatever Tortorella said in the locker room... and I'm sure he said a bunch... worked because the Blueshirts came out and just buried the Leafs with four goals in the third. Two by Sean Avery giving him 3 points two games since returning from a sprained knee.

Wade Redden continued his resurgence with a goal and two assists. He's been very good this year so far... not $6.5 million good... but good. Dan Girardi is the playing the best he has in a while and scored 2 more giving him 3 in his last 2 games. Marian Gaborik continued his torrid pace with another goal and assist giving him 9 points in his first 6 games.

The L.A. Kings are coming in tomorrow and it will be a much bigger challenge for the Rangers. I will be there in the blue seats in section 403.... gettin' after it. Expect the Blueshirts to maintain their focus in this one...

Colton Orr returned and went at it with Donald Brashear 10 minutes into the first. It was a good scrap with the edge going to Brashear.... Christopher Higgins continues to play well but can't score but I expect a breakout from him soon.



The Rangers absolutely demolished the Anaheim Ducks tonight at the Garden. The final was 3-0 but the score was not reflective of the play. The Blueshirts hit 3 or 4 posts and the Ducks were never allowed in this game.

What can you say? Every player did their job tonight including backup goalie Steve Valiquette, who got his first start of the season. His biggest test came after a Marc Staal (first bad play this year) turnover in the second left Todd Marchant walking in alone. Valiquette calmly turned it aside in route to the shutout.

The third period began scoreless though the Rangers had outshot the Ducks 24-12. Marian Gaborik continued his point streak carrying the puck on the power play from the right corner to the point. He made a sick move and pass to Michael Del Zotto who slid it down to Ales Kotalik in the bottom left circle for a one timer. Though he didn't get all of it and Scott Niedermeyer deflected it, it had enough to get through J.S. Giguere for a 1-0 Ranger lead.

Sean Avery also made his season debut and was solid. He played on the third line with Enver Lisin and Ales Kotalik taking turns with the fourth line in Aaron Voros' place. Avery saw some power play time in the third and made a play to Vinny Prospal from behind the net. Prospal fed Artem Anismov on a bang-bang play for his first NHL goal.

Dan Girardi and Marc Staal (except for the turnover) were just dominant in their own zone. Girardi added a short-handed empty netter from the corner of his own ice. He deserved it. Wade Redden played solidly again in what could be a statement year for him.

It's so refreshing to watch a team that is coached the right way. The Rangers just never stopped coming. Even with a 2-0, they turned up the heat. Anaheim did not have one quality scoring chance in the third. The Rangers are really starting to look like a team and one thing is for sure... they will not be outworked.

Gaborik has scored a point in every game as a Ranger (4 goals, 3 Assists)... Brian Boyle continues to impress and be a good penalty killer... Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net against Toronto at the Garden tomorrow... Michal Rozsival responded from his benching with a strong effort... Refs believe it or not called a good game... amazing.


You Get What You Pay For...

What an effort by Rangers at the Verizon Center against Alexander Ovechkin and company. The Blueshirts dominated at even strength... but unfortunately this is the NHL so there was no even strength play. I'm amazed they still can call this mess hockey. If someone skates by a stick and falls... penalty. And they wonder why no one watches their "big time" coverage, which takes place on a hunting channel that no one has ever heard of.

Embarrassingly bad calls to Brandon Dubinsky and Daniel Girardi (creating a 5 on 3) in the first provided some good laughs. Then an equally embarrassing non-call in the second when Brooks Laich water-skied off Michal Rozsival with a hook that was somehow deemed a clean play. It directly resulted in a quality scoring chance for the Caps. Rozsival's turnover in the first led to Alexander Semin's goal. He took a holding penalty 6:45 into the second... and didn't play another second
. That's accountability.

Without Rozsival, the 5 man defense was incredible. Dan Girardi (24:04) and Marc Staal (23:57) were lights out holding Alex Ovechkin scoreless for the first time this season. He had been averaging 3 points a game coming in.
Matt Gilroy was fantastic logging the most ice he has so far with 21:33. Wade Redden continues to be solid and logged 20:46. You just can's say enough about the poise and skill of Michael Del Zotto at 19 years old.

Ryan Callahan had an upper body injury earlier in the day and was questionable but played... and boy did he play. He was killing yet another power play in the second and was exhausted. With no gas in the tank he took the puck away from Alex Ovechkin and beat him and Semin down ice for a beautiful backhand goal through the legs of Jose Theodore. The penalty had just expired so it was not a short-handed goal.

The third line apparently has heard Sean Avery is coming back. With limited ice tonight, they were solid. They had great down low work in the second that resulted in a close quarters tic-tac-toe goal from Enver Lisin to Artem Anisimov to Ales Kotalik, who went back hand top-shelf. It was Anisimov's first NHL point. No one wants to sit on Sunday.

900 penalties in the game (2o minutes in minors through 2 or one period gone)... At one point Joe Micheletti couldn't even locate the Christopher Higgins penalty on replay. The Rangers were pressuring early in the second when Tom Poti stuck his stick through the legs of Dubinsky and blatantly took him down.. no call.

The Rangers handled adversity not only from the refs but from their goalie. Nicklas Backstrom got his first goal of the season with a harmless dump in that Henrik Lundqvist flat out missed. Backstrom later scored on... you guessed it... Washington's 90th power play of the night to put the Caps up 3-2.

Perfect excuse for the Rangers to collapse no? No... It's not a problem when you have Marian Gaborik. He responded :18 seconds later with a slap shot through the legs of Theodore. Gaborik scored again and essentially ended it 2:33 later on the power play after Del Zotto fed him perfectly through center. A wicked wrist shot through Theodore's legs again and the Blueshirts win 4-3. It ends up being as huge a win as you can have in October as this team continues to be resilient and build character.

John Tortorella went with two forwards and one defenseman on 5 on 3 disadvantages... Donald Brasheer and Aaron Voros both took dumb penalties in the third... Chris Drury was amazing in this game doing all the things a leader should do (even though he's making $86,585 per game)... Christopher Higgins is getting stronger and more comfortable each game he plays... Vinny Prospal doing all the little things.

Rangers Trying to Ground A.O.

The Rangers are in D.C. tonight to try to stop the unstoppable Alexander Ovechkin. He has 9 points through 3 games this season while Niklas Backstrom has 8 assists. Oh yeah, and Alexander Semin has 4 goals and 3 assists. It'll be a nice welcome to the NHL for Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy.

Steve Zipay of Newsday is reporting that Ryan Callahan may be questionable for tonight with an upper body injury and the Rangers have called 19-year-old Evgeny Grachev back up. He should've made the team out of camp anyway but there's just no room. Now with Sean Avery unable to go and possibly Callahan... there is. Avery is targeting a return Sunday vs. Anaheim.

The question remains who will sit when Avery comes back? Enver Lisin had an impressive preseason but has been quiet since the season started. Then again, Artem Anisimov hasn't exactly been stellar centering the third line other then preseason. It will definitely be one of those two and neither of them should be on the fourth line, which is operating very well with Brian Boyle, Aaron Voros and Donald Brasheer. They had some important third period minutes against the Devils the other night and dominated the puck down low.

My guess is Lisin will be the guy. But if Grachev comes in here tonight and plays well... well then we have a whole other list of questions....


The One That Got Away...

At the end of last season, the Devils went after Hobey Baker Award winning defenseman Matt Gilroy with essentially the same package the Rangers offered. The 25-year-old was enthralled with John Tortorella's attacking style of play and that the coach would challenge him every day. He opted for Broadway and stuck it to the Devils last night (again) scoring his first NHL goal, the game winner, with 2:10 left in the second period.

The turning point in this game happened 1:24 in though. The Devils came out flying with Jay Pandolfo outworking Marc Staal in the corner. He fed Rob Niedermeyer who went top shelf on Henrik Lundqvist for a 1-0 lead 1:10 in. The Blueshirts were sloppy on the next shift that ended with Dainius Zubrus losing an edge and crashing into Lundqvist. That was all for John Tortorella. He called a timeout and laced into his team with some choice words... they listened.

The Rangers got their first power play goal of the season shortly thereafter from Michael Del Zotto, who scored in his second straight game. He later added an assist on Ales Kotalik's (first as a Ranger) one time slap shot power play bullet to tie it at 2 after Travis Zajac had given the Devils a 2-1 lead. David Clarkson made a pretty no look pass to Zajac giving Lundqvist no chance. It was 2-2 after the first.

The Rangers settled into their game from then on in this penalty filled game. Due to the 36 minutes in minors in a 60 minute game, there wasn't much flow in this one. 36 minutes is a joke with not one fighting major. Speaking of fighting though, Donald Brasheer and his fourth line of Brian Boyle and Aaron Voros were fantastic again with Boyle also getting important penalty kill minutes.

Late in second, Gilroy skated into the Devils zone and the Rangers went to work. Vinny ProspalGilroy but before it got there Marian Gaborik made a terrific play lifting Nicklas Bergfors' stick allowing the puck through. Gilroy creeped in, took his time and let go a low slap shot that went under Martin Brodeur's left pad.

The Rangers played a solid third period led by Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival who continueRenaissances this year. Gilroy played regularly in the third though Tortorealla curbed Michael Del Zotto a little. Del Zotto ended up with the least amount of ice among defenseman with 11:42 but has 2 goals and an assist in his last 2 games.
got the puck on the left hash and attempted a cross ice pass to Matt their


Rangers at "the Rock"

According to Steve Zipay of Newsday, the lines will remain the same tonight. We'll see if John Tortorella shortens his bench on defense as he did against Ottawa the other night. There's only so long you can go with four defensemen. He's made no secret he thinks the Rangers need another experienced defenseman. "I'm not gonna lie to you, sure it is. It is a concern, I'm sure something will give sooner or later. We need to do our due diligence." He went on to say, "Obviously, we'd like to try to get some sort of veteran who can help out."

The Devils are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Martin Brodeur's 1000th career game. The Blueshirts will be looking to keep the momentum from their own 5-2 win against Ottawa in the home opener. Brandon Dubinsky has looked very good between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik and they will be the line to watch.


How's That For Openers?

The faithful got a glimpse of what John Tortorella's Blueshirts can be tonight at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 in their home opener. Up and down the lineup, almost every player did their job and did it well.

Michal Rozsival played his best game in over a year. Wade Redden looked good for a second straight game (forget what he makes... we're taking baby steps here). 19-year-old Michael Del Zotto scored his first NHL goal. Matt Gilroy has not been as agressive as he was in preseason. Gilroy (3:09) and Del Zotto (1:33) didn't see much ice in the third. Dan Girardi continued his strong start after facing questions in the preseason.

The first line combination of Brandon Dubinsky centering Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal was electric creating chances almost every time on the ice. Prospal and Dubinsky opening the scoring in the second with two top-shelf rockets. Prospal's goal was his 600th career NHL point. A bad Ranger change left Matt Gilroy on his own against Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson with the former feeding the latter alone in front cutting the Ranger lead to 2-1.

Enter Ryan Callahan whose relentless work ethic is on display every night. In the last minute of the second period, he dumped the puck in and took two Senators out of the play allowing Christopher Higgins to feed Michael Del Zotto. His wrist shot through a screen with under a minute in the second was a huge goal for the team, as well as himself. His parents and brother were there to watch the moment, with his Mom moved to tears. And oh by the way, it was Ryan Callahan who after setting up the play from the corner
battled his way in front to screen Pascal Leclaire.

A neutral zone turnover in the third allowed Enver Lisin to spring Dubinsky on a breakaway. He rang a laser off the crossbar but Marian Gaborik followed the play and pounded in the rebound. Gaborik has 2 goals and an assist in 2 games while Dubinsky has 2 gols and 2 assists. He added a short-handed empty netter outworking Alexei Kovalev.

Though he didn't score, Chris Drury played much better tonight then he did last, as did linemate Ales Kotalik. Promising effort from the fourth line particularly from Brian Boyle, who was fantastic on the penalty kill. Donald Brasheer and Aaron Voros both had fights though Voros

A good bet that last years weakness will not be this years. The power play did everything but score... and they will. They're generating chances, clanging posts and it's just a matter of time.

The Rangers were outshot 20-13 in the second period but outscored Ottawa 3-1. They tightened up defensively allowing only 5 in the third. Peter Regin scored for Ottawa with :06 left. Mike Fisher bodied Del Zotto off the puck feeding Regin in one of the only instances a Ranger was outworked tonight.

With all the new faces on this team it's easy to take Henrik Lundqvist for granted. Whenever there was an odd man rush "The King" was there. He was fantastic again particularly in the second period when he stopped 19 opf 20 shots. He closed the door on a breakaway by Milan Michalek :15 in and Ryan Shannon on one later. Lundqvist was named the game's second star.

Tonight, the Rangers took chances but the balance not to take reckless ones. Tonight, they did not get outworked, they supported each other. Tonight... this team gave you some hope.


Opening night for the Rangers started with waiting for one of the most corny banner raising ceremony in the history of the sport. They were not on the bench for the pregame ceremonies as Coach John Tortorella had said they would be. "I didn't realize it was going to be so long and I don't think Pittsburgh wanted us out there anyway," Tortorella said. The Blueshirts came out flat in the first period of the game they eventually lost 3-2.

Pittsburgh opened the scoring with a power play goal from Evgeny Malkin, a beautiful deflection that Henrik Lundqvist had no chance on. The call, against Chris Drury, was a joke but surprisingly the officiating was pretty good and didn't become the central focus of the game.

Drury tied the game at 1 toward the end of the period off a good feed from Christopher Higgins. Drury was largely invisible for most of the game as he has been through the preseason.

The turning point happened in the second when Vinny Prospal was robbed on a two on one by Marc-Andre Fleury. The Pens responded shortly thereafter with goals 1:08 apart from Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy (deflection). The Rangers battled harder in the third but gave up way too many odd man rushes in the game. Tortorella admitted it will take some time for his system to become instinct for these players and it looked that way.

Marian Gaborik was as advertised... explosive. He could have easily had 3 goals but settled for one (as first predicted on this blog). This man can change the game at any time. As more Rangers understand his speed he will have more and more chances. Michael Del Zotto already seems to get him springing him several times during the preseason and on a first period breakaway last night. Gaborik went through the legs but Fleury got enough to force it just wide.

Michal Rozsival continued his dreadful play since hip surgery and signing his $5 million-a-year salary but Wade Redden was ok. Matt Gilroy was solid while Del Zotto was a little shaky. They are going to make mistakes but Ranger fans can deal with them from kids... not Redden and Rozsival.

The Rangers hung in there with a championship team with several new faces in their lineup and a new system they're still trying to learn. It'll be interesting to see how they respond in the home opener against the Ottawa Senators at MSG tonight. Henrik Lundqvist, who had no chance on any of Pittsburgh's goals, is expected to start.


Callahan the Man

Ryan Callahan was named the sole Assistant Captain today and there's no one more deserving of one than him. He's consistently the hardest working player on the ice and it's been that way since he joined the team. Coach John Tortorella is waiting for another to emerge. Speculation was that Marian Gaborik could get the other one.

The snag that Alexei Semenov hit is apparently the kind that you have and you hold. Though Semenov and his agent agreed with the Rangers on a one year $600,000 deal, his wife said no. It looks like he will settle for playing in Russia where his wife lives.


NHL on Versus...

The season is underway with the Boston-Washington game on Versus. Alexander Ovechkin of course has dominated the game with 2 goals and an assist but I can barely hear the broadcasters. Same thing last year on Versus but they like to seemingly put a mic on every stick and skate blade on the ice. I guess this is supposed to get non-hockey fans to get "excited" about hockey. If you like the sound of sticks and skates though... this broadcast is for you. Luckily in the second game no one will be skating when they retire Joe Sakic's jersey to the rafters in Colorodo... so you may be able to hear it.

Semenov Issue? Avery?

The Rangers reportedly agreed on a one year $600,000 contract with Alexei Semenov last night. He had been in camp on a tryout basis but apparently some sort of issue has arisen according to Steve Zipay of Newsday (who's also reporting Michael Del Zotto will wear #4). Semenov is making the trip but may not be available tomorrow night if it's not resolved.

Sean Avery won't either. He will make the trip with the team but will not suit up against the Penguins. As of now he hasn't been ruled out of the home opener against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.

Here's what I think the lines should be:

Del Zotto-Redden

Actually I think Redden and Rozsival should be waived but that can't really happen now can it? Oh wait I forgot they're pacing themselves until opening night to unleash their improved games....