Who Knew?

I'll be honest... I gave up on this team, this coach and this General Manager a long time ago. The first two are making me believe again. This team is starting to come together. The fourth line of Brandon Prust, Jody Shelley and Artem Anisimov has been amazing. They've brought excitement back. Coincidence that Sean Avery hasn't been playing for most of this 7-1-1 run?

The game and the team became very boring to me and I was actually rooting for them to lose so they could either get a good draft pick or get Glen Sather fired. I have since realized as Joe Benigno of SNY and WFAN says, Sather will be fired 5 years after he dies.

The Blueshirts battled last night, got the lead, lost the lead, but prevailed. They started down :40 in after a Marc Staal turnover (pretty much the only one I remember him making this year) was converted by Mike Richards. Chris Drury ($2 million per goal this season now) responded on the power play off a beautiful feed from Eric Christensen (Sather makes great moves... just has no concept of contracts). The fourth line then struck again off a faceoff with under 7 minutes left in the first. Brandon Prust battled through a check to feed Jody Shelley who scored his first of the season and first as a Ranger, igniting the Garden.

Marian Gaborik got the second period going with a brilliant rush and feed to Brandon Dubinsky for his 20th of the season and a career high 44 points. But you know it couldn't be easy. Danny Briere and Mike Richards then sucked the life out of the building with goals to tie it. It didn't look good... but then again... the Rangers have Gaborik. 2:13 after Richards tied it, Gaborik stole the puck in center and walked in on a semi-breakaway. His wrist shot deflected off Matt Carle and over Brian Boucher giving the Rangers the lead... the win... and life.

Sunday at 3 in Philadelphia... it's win and in.

Marian Gaborik has hit his career high in goals, assists and points in his first year as a Ranger... Brandon Dubinsky also has set new career highs in goals and points...


Deadline Day...

The Rangers should be sellers this year on deadline day but of course now that they have won 3 straight... they won't be. This team is not one or two players away from a Stanley Cup so why bother buying? The answer is the raising price of tickets at the Garden. They simply have to make the playoffs even though they'll get knocked out in the first round.

If you're a Ranger fan like me you can feel where this is going. They'll pick up a Pavol Demitra or some other scrub like that and try to squeak into the playoffs. This year they won't make it and if they do it's a waste of time.

Ryan Callahan's stock will never be higher than it is right now. Would trade him provided the team involved takes Wade Redden in the deal? I might but then again, I'd rather not see Glen Sather rescue his cap disaster by trading away the one guy who gives his all on every shift, every night.

Updates throughout....

** Rangers get 28-year-old F Kris Newbury from Detroit for 23-year-old F Jordan Owens... Awesome!


The dreaded "lower body injury"...

Henrik Lundqvist made i through the Olympics and is getting a little rest... Marian Gaborik of course... did not. He left Slovakia's loss to the Canadiens last night in the second period with a lower body inury. Being that no one has said he was reinjured, this is something new... or old depending on how you look at. It could be his groin (awesome).

The Rangers have also claimed Goaltender Alex Auld from the Dallas Stars on re-entry waivers. He became expendable with the addition of Kari Lehtonen and also because the Stars didn't want to carry 3 goalies.

More on Gaborik (the whole team) as it becomes available...


(Sather Really Knows What He's Doing!)

*** Parenthesis means sarcasm from now on

The Rangers face the Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh. They're coming off a very disappointing 2-1 l0ss to Nashville the other night.

"We need to play hard. I'm not going to get into defining how. That's between the team and I," Coach John Tortorella said yesterday. They haven't seemed to listen to him all year. Let's see if the latest pep talk does anything.

The hits keep coming from GM Glen Sather as he continues to show he doesn't understand the value of players. $1.4 a year Donald Brashear has been placed on waivers. He's been utterly useless and still has another year on his deal, meaning it's not likely anyone picks him up.

*** Update: Brashear clears... (big surprise)

The Olympic roster freeze kicks in at noon today and the Rangers should be sellers. They're going nowhere and I'm not sure what anyone would want from this team other than Brandon Dubinsky, Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal or Marian Gaborik and it's not likely any of them move. I would give up Dubinsky to a team provided they take Wade Redden or Chris Drury. They don't even have to give anything back... just take them.

We'll see if Sather can fix more of his mistakes today... but don't hold your breath. Updates throughout...

The swelling in Gaborik's leg is down. He will test it in practice to see if he can go tonight. It doesn't seem likely being that he has 21 stitches in his leg... This will be the last regular season appearance for the Rangers at the Igloo.


Gaborik Injured...

Marian Gaborik was injured toward the end of practice today. Apparently he tried to jump over Henrik Lundqvist's outstretched leg in a breakaway drill. You really can't make this stuff up. Gaborik limped off the ice and received stitches. It hasn't been determined if he'll play against Nashville tomorrow.


Get it done...

Turns out my proposed deal would've gotten it done. Ilya Kovalchuck was moved tonight... to the Devils... for nothing. The Devils gave a bottom 4-6 defenseman with a third or fourth line forward, a prospect and a draft pick and that got it done. Niklas Bergforss, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier and a draft pick is all it took to get one of the most explosive forwards in the NHL. They'll have him for a few months as there's no way he signs in Jersey.

For the Rangers, they continued losing. They finally figured out a way to score but their goaltender decided not to show up tonight. Henrik Lundqvist returned from being sick and gave up two questionable goals to Alexander Ovechkin and one to Tom Poti. The Rangers held a 5-3 lead late in the second only to lse 6-5. Simply unacceptable but for a team going nowhere... I guess it's par for the course.

The Blueshirts went ahead 2-1 in the first on a power play goal by Ryan Callahan and a goal by Vinny Prospal. Mike Knuble and Alex Ovechkin responded in the second putting the Caps up 3-2. The Rangers then responded with 3 power play goals by Olli Jokinen (first as a Ranger), Vinny Prospal and Brandon Dubinsky. A 5-3 stranglehold would be critical going into the third... but they blew it. With under :10 to go in the secong Michal Rozsival was simply afraid of Ovechkin, as was the King. Alex the Great put a one handed effort somehow over Lundqvist and won the game in the second.

I say he won the game because the Rangers didn't show up for the third. They simply waited for the game to be taken from them and it was. A 5-3 lead turns into a 6-5 loss in the blink of a eye. A season high 4 power play goals... completely useless. They skated with the best tonight but were clearly not on the same rink... and they won't be. Kovalchuk may have helped this team but he is gone. As is any excitement that may have been generated toward this team. They simply dont have the firepower to do anything this year.

Vinny Prospal had 2 goals and 2 assists... The Rangers power play got going with 4 goals... Niklas Backstrom was incredible with a goal and 5 assists... the Caps have won 12 straight.

The Kovalchuk Kompetition...

There's are 5 or so teams that seem to be in on the Ilya Kovalchuk trade talks. The Rangers may be one of them and Devils may be another. The Islanders were also talked about. Thrashers GM Don Waddell wants NHL ready players and possibly a prospect or draft pick for Kovalchuk. Complicating matters, no team would can negotiate with Kovalchuk prior to him being part of their team. Quite a gamble considering he could just walk at the end of the season.

Kovalchuk already has turned down a 12 year deal for over $101 million according to a statement just released by Waddell:

TSN's Bob McKenzie is also reporting the Russian scoring machine wants the league max of $11.2 a year. That brings us to the Rangers and the salary cap disaster built by GM Glen Sather. The way I see it, if Chris Drury ($3 million tops), Wade Redden ($3 million) and Michal Rozsival ($2 million) were making what they should, that's over $10 million to work with. Would have been more if they let Rozsival go, which any team would have done with a player his age coming off hip surgery. But they didn't... so where's the money for this guy?

If we continue to dream, let's come up with a scenario. Waddell would demand one of Dan Girardi, Brandon Dubinsky or Ryan Callahan. I'd give two of them in Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi. You may then be able to force Waddell to take Rozsival. If he wants a draft pick, throw it in there. The Rangers are going nowhere and have nothing but the same type of player on it (Drury, Dubinsky, Callahan... etc.). Those worried that Dubinsky could be a future Captain of this team... forget it. He's a second to third line player at best which I talked about all summer. Marc Staal is the future of the team.

This is the most boring team in the NHL. It sure would be nice to see Ilya Kovalchuk in a #17 Blueshirt. I'd give them whatever they want aside from Staal. Well it was nice to dream the impossible... but this financially cannot happen. Oh well... now I must prepare to watch an exciting team for once with Alex Ovechkin's Caps coming in. Maybe I won't fall asleep during the game after all....


Just weird...

Well after the trade made news on Sunday, it finally went through early Tuesday morning. The Rangers traded Ales Kotalik (3 years at $3 million) and Christopher Higgins to Calgary for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.

Kotalik started off a house on fire this year with 12 points in his first 12 games only to sizzle out. He's been a healthy scratch for 8 of the last 9 games. Kotalik wound up with 8 goals and 14 assists in 45 games. He was also a minus 18 which is stellar. Higgins worked hard but has been snake bitten all year. Just 6 goals and 8 assists to go with a minus 9.

Jokinen will be the first number 1 type center to play with Marian Gaborik this year. Gaborik is the whole team so you might as well build around him. Jokinen's $5.25 million dollar salary also is up at the end of the year. Jokinen has a pretty bad reputation of not being a team guy but he could put up number playing alongside Gaborik. It's hard not to except for the guys on this team. The underachieving Jokinen is now third in Ranger scoring with 35 points. GM Glen Sather has tried to fix ANOTHER one of his free agent signing disasters and something tells me he's not done. He wants Ilya Kovalchuk... who wouldn't?

To be honest I'm more excited about Brandon Prust, who is second in the NHL with 18 fighting majors... it's about time. Aaron Voros has tried to be the enforcer when he plays but he can't fight. Donald Brashear should retire so there pretty much has been no one to defend anyone the whole year. Prust is a good middle weight fighter who will hopefully infuse some life into this lackluster lineup.

Sather has built a disaster. Every free agent contract he's given out has been awful except for Marian Gaborik. Has there been another free agent signing in the last 10 years you can remember that was good? I can't... Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik... those were great ones. Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Donald Brashear... the list goes on.

The greatest part of this story is that although no one in their right mind would have paid a player like Kotalik $3 million... Sather somehow did it AND gave a 3-team no trade clause. Are you kidding me? Calgary was on that list... guess that worked out for you Ales... have fun bud...


He's just the man...

It's no surprise the Rangers' five-game losing streak came in conjunction with them not standing up for each other as a team. Daniel Girardi stood by and let Marian Gaborik get pummeled by Flyers enforcer Dan Carcillo. The team lost that game and 5 more. Without Gaborik, this team would have 5 to 7 victories this year.

Gaborik came up with a natural hat trick to lead the Rangers over the Colorado Avalanche 3-1. He literally is the whole team. For the second straight night Henrik Lundqvist sat out while Chad Johnson made a strong bid for his first NHL shutout and ended up with his first win. He played very well especially during a 18 shot barrage in the third.

Ales Kotalik was sent home before the game as GM Glen Sather is trying to move yet another of his free agent mistakes. 3 years at $3 million per has been another disaster just a few months in. Aside from Gaborik's contract, Sather has not given out one that makes sense since before the lockout. It's a constant struggle for this guy to erase his mistakes but then he goes ahead and makes them again (See Donald Brashear, Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Chris Drury, and Kotalik to name a handful). It's ok though because he has a job for life.

Word on the street is the Rangers are getting ready to send Kotalik and Christopher (another disaster) Higgins to Calgary for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust. I'd rather see them trade Kotalik and Higgins for just Prust because he's a tough kid but that can't happen. This deal is in a holding pattern though. The Blueshirts are also heard to be trying to get in on the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes. Not sure how that could possibly happen salary cap wise unless Jokinen and his over $5 million per is flipped.



Well the boys have reverted back to getting pushed around embarrassed. The second period got really going when Dan Carcillo went after Marian Gaborik from behind him. Gaborik was just trying to push him back and defend himself but ended up having to drop the gloves and get the living shit kicked out of him by the Flyers' best fighter... hysterical. Gaborik didn't throw a punch but got 5 for fighting and the Flyers wound up with a power play somehow.

Joe Micheletti was going crazy that the Rangers will respond... my question was with who? Donald Brashear played two games and fought so he's out for a month. Sean Avery dropped the gloves with Scott Hartnell and his visor... Avery demolished in 3 punches.

Sam Rosen made the game almost unwatchable as he went on about how it's a one goal game with a division rival... this being a reason the Rangers should not go after Carcillo... and Joe SOMEHOW AGREED with him. Absolutely unbelievable. We all know Sam doesn't condone fighting but as a team can you stand there and do nothing when MARIAN GABORIK is getting killed by their best fighter? Dan Girardi could watch it and ought to be embarrassed. Sean Avery could not and thankfully he was not listening to Sam or Joe.

Right after the fight, Gaborik tried to stick check Mike Richards but that's not allowed anymore. Though the league knows these sticks break when accepting passes, if it breaks when another stick touches it, it's an automatic penalty. And of course, Richards scored with 2.5 left off of Marc Staal's Skate. You can't make this stuff up. Hope you enjoyed the 2 games of goals. Now watch them go get pushed around some more in the third... wouldn't want to go after anyone and take a penalty with this "important" game so close.

It's 2-0 Flyers but it might as well be 12-0. They showed support for each other and won... seems they forgot about that and are just afraid.

Let's fight..

Something may be happening with this team. Though we had no reason to think this was coming... the Rangers are scoring goals. They scored 8 goals for the first time since 2002 when they beat the Boston Bruins 8-4. The Tampa Bay Lightning were annihilated 8-2 at the Garden, which came on the heels of a 6-2 demolition of the Montreal Canadiens. And the outburst has nothing to do with Marian Gaborik scoring... well not goals anyway.

Gaborik tied a career high with 4 assists the other night but Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Vinny Prospal and even Chris Drury are all heating up. 8 goals from 8 different scorers the other night. This team needs everyone to be involved and that may be starting to happen. Of course they could come out in Philly tonight and score 1 goal again... but there's always hope and cautious optimism. More goals equals less pressure for Henrik Lundqvist, who continues to be stellar.

Anyone else find it interesting that since they started defending themselves and each other they started playing harder scoring? Anyone surprised Donald Brashear has NOTHING to do with it? I'm not. Aaron Voros dropped the gloves :10 in with Zenon Konopka and although he lost, the building was still electric. Voros, who has been good, was rewarded with some power play time late in the game and converted a beautiful feed from Brian Boyle. Ryan Malone kicked the shit out of him later but that's ok. Brandon Dubinsky also dropped em' with Jeff Halpern with under two minutes to go.

Bottom line and memo to Gary Bettman... Fighting works.

The Rangers suffered their most embarrassing loss to the Flyers in the Garden 6-0 last time they faced each other... Gaborik has a goal and 6 assists in the last two... Dubinsky has 3 goals and 3 assists in the last 2.


Signs of Life...

The Rangers are reading and listening to the Blueshirt Beat. Two days after flipping out about how this team doesn't care about each other... they come out hitting and fighting for one another. They ended up blowing out the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in the Garden Sunday. The Garden was packed and as juiced as it has been all year.

Sean Avery has been fired up and playing closer to himself lately. He went at it with Josh Gorges and knocked him down in the end... did a good job getting Gorges' face shield off before blasting him a few times in the face. The Garden exploded when Avery raised his hands on his way to the box.

How about Wade Redden? He was singled out by me the other day and all of the sudden he's ready to drop the gloves. He fought a much bigger Benoit Pouliot and what happened? The Garden went bananas especially because it was Redden stepping in for teammates.

The Blueshirts finally stepped up and defended one another. The building rewarded them and they rolled. Maybe there is a little life in this team but they need to build on it. As for the game Ryan Callahan was fantastic with 2 goals and 2 assists, including a great individual effort on Brandon Dubinsky's second period short-handed goal that tied the game at 2. Dubinsky added another goal and had an assist. Of course Marian Gaborik scored again, and added 2 assists.

Rumors are starting to fly again about Vinny Lecavalier tonight with the Rangers facing the Lightning tonight. The Ottawa Sun recently had the Rangers sending Matt Gilroy, Wade Redden, and either Ryan Callahan or Brandon Dubinsky for Lecavalier. Tampa GM Brian Lawton called the rumors "complete B.S.".


Cassee Was Angry 2day...

Rangers got embarrassed on home ice by the Ottawa Senators 2-0 and here's why...



Vinny Prospal returned for the Rangers and the offense exploded on the Devils with a season high 51 shots. Unfortunately, Martin Brodeur was standing in front of them and nothing got by. I guess you can give them an "A" for effort though as they do salvage a point (9-1-3 in last 13).

Henrik Lundqvist and Brodeur were fantastic in this game. It was about as exciting as a 1-0 game could be. Back and forth action and spectacular saves at both ends. Brodeur was just better stopping every shot he faced all night and adding to his constantly growing NHL record of 107 career shutouts.

The difference for the Blueshirts this year is the shootout has become a weakness and is losing them games. You can almost feel every player sawing his stick off in his hand skating in. Erik Christensen, who is supposed to very good at it, didn't even get a shot off. I've never seen a team that doesn't get shots off in a shootout as much as this one (see Kotalik and Callahan the other day against Atlanta). John Tortorella continues to trot Marian Gaborik out there but he's been awful in his career and this year going 1 for 5 so far. But really who else can he send out there?

The problem remains scoring and where is it going to come from? Prospal played 21:14 in this one and Gaborik was good... but no goals. When will someone else step up for this team? It just can't be that they're running into a hot goaltender every time out... it just can't.

The Rangers have lost 6 straight overtime/shootout games since beating Florida in a shootout November 25th... Fans chanting "Marrrr-ttyyyyy" before the shootout apparently didn't bother him.


Prospal returns...

Vinny Prospal will be back in the lineup against the Devils tonight. He's been out since December 26th when he injured his right knee in the loss to the Islanders. The Rangers went 4-3 in his absence.

The interesting question now is what happens to Erik Christensen? He's had 3 goals and 4 assists in 6 games playing with Marian Gaborik since Prospal went down. I don't see why you couldn't have a line of Gaborik-Christensen-Prospal so we'll see how it plays out.

The Devils come in 31-11-1 this year. One reason is because they're consistent but another one is they can score goals... into the opposition's net and everything. They're led by Zach Parise's 20 goals and 26 assists but they also have 5 other players with over 10 goals. The Rangers have two... TWO GUYS with 10 goals or more and Ryan Callahan just got to that number.

Hopefully Prospal's return can help the Rangers but it's not as if they were scoring a lot before he went down. I have no reason to believe the scoring is going to heat up any time soon.


Hanging Chad...

Only the Rangers could lose to a team that hadn't won in 9 games. Rookie goalie Chad Johnson was spectacular trying to keep his team in it and had a shutout going into the third. Sean Avery returned to Mr. Invisible and Marian Gaborik didn't score so... yeah 1 goal seems about right.

Marc Staal got it started taking the puck from Johnson behind his net and flying up right side of the ice. He pulled up just inside Atlanta's blue line before he whistled a perfect pass to Enver Lisin who tipped in his 5th of the season. That should have been enough right?

A bad line change by Chris Drury left Brian Boyle defenseless to stop Jim Slater who walked in alone and beat Johnson through the legs on a nice backhand move. Drury was otherwise stellar blocking and injuring himself on several shots.

The shootout doomed the Rangers as 3 of the 5 participants (Del Zotto, Kotalik, Callahan) couldn't even muster a shot on goal... amazing. Slava Kozlov and Bryan Little beat Johnson through the legs while Marian Gaborik did the same to Johan Hedberg in the shootout. The Rangers fell 2-1 but still managed to get a loser's point.


New Podcast as promised...

Cassee Was Angry That Day....

Wake Up Call

The wake up call Sean Avery needed arrived last night in the form of the Dallas Stars and the Rangers won back-to-back games at the Garden for the first time in over 2 months. Number 16 was simply awesome with a goal and 3 assists, but he was all over the ice and in everyone's face.

Avery's old teammates weren't too happy to see him. “I would have loved to have seen that delinquent do that for us last year,” Stars goalie Marty Turco said. The Stars threw Avery away 23 games into a four-year $15.5 million contract after comments about an ex-girlfriend among other things. Sweet revenge for Avery who also received the most ridiculous 10-minute misconduct I may have ever seen. More on that later.

Avery popped into third-person... which is always great, “It was the way that Sean Avery needs to play. I’ve been thinking about it a lot... I’ve got to stay consistent". That's the thing I don't get with him. He is fast, explosive in his stride, has a good shot and is a pretty good passer. You'd think he could put up 40 points every year in his sleep but that consistency has never been there. The most he ever had was 39 for the LA Kings in 2005-06.

The Blueshirts got goals from Marian Gaborik (tied for league lead with Patrick Marleau at 28), Ales Kotalik (second in 2 games), Chris Drury and an empty-netter from Ryan Callahan. Marc Staal was amazing again and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves.

Special new podcast called "Cassee Was Angry That Day..." coming later. I'll give you a hint of what's angered me...The idiots wearing referee uniforms.


A Garden win?

Somehow the Rangers won a game at MSG tonight beating the Boston Bruins 3-2. They did what they could to lose it though, including another 5-on-3 featuring Marian Gaborik and Ales Kotalik lined up incorrectly. The Blueshirts entered the third with a 2-0 lead but it unraveled quickly as Matt Hunwick and Blake Wheeler scored 1:26 apart to tie it.

A first period blast on the power play by Ales Kotalik put the Blueshirts up 1-0. It was Kotalik's first since November 5th which is not a bad stretch. Erik Christensen doubled the lead in the second on a beautiful backhand through the legs of Tuuka Rask off a brilliant breakout. Brandon Dubinsky assisted on both goals.

With 1:29 left, the last guy on the ice you thought would score did. Christopher Higgins caught Rask leaning and put the puck in on the backhand from the side of the net. It was Higgins' first goal at the Garden all year and proved to be the winner. This had all the makings of another home loss and you were just waiting for it to happen. Maybe a win like this can turn the tide at home.

Watching Donald Brashear tonight in his 5:51 of ice time I realized he hasn't made one productive play all year. I could do what he does for $1.4 million a year. This guy even had the nerve to turn down Dan Carcillo who was challenging him in the 6-0 blowout to the Flyers last week. Brashear skated away as if he NEEDS to be on the ice for offense or something other than fighting, which he's also not very good at any more. I never thought I'd say this but Aaron Voros deserves to be out there more. What a joke... Rangers outshot the Bruins 35-28... Eric Christensen has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games.


Rangers-Canes home-and-home wrap...

The Rangers responded with a 2-1 win in Carolina on New Year's Eve only to come back to the Garden, and fail to score again. Here's some thoughts on both games:

Rangers-Canes wrap

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