Monday, September 26, 2011

Rangers vs. Flyers Officially Announced For 2012 Winter Classic

At a press conference from Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia today, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman finally announced what he called "the worst kept secret in sports" - that the Rangers and Flyers will square off in the 2012 Winter Classic on January 2nd at 1 p.m. from Citizen's Bank Park in Philly. The NHL also confirmed that HBO will indeed be doing their second installment of the 24/7 mini-series leading up to the Winter Classic, with the first episode airing on December 14. The jerseys the teams will be wearing for the event weren't unveiled yet, however.

Click below to read more, including some trash talking that was initiated by Glen Sather later on in the press conference.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marc Staal Visits Head Specialist, Richards Back On Ice

Some notes from practice today, courtesy of Andrew Gross: Brad Richards returned to practice today after sitting out the last two days with a pulled groin, and he is scheduled to play in tomorrow's preseason game against the Devils. Marc Staal, however, missed practice after skating yesterday because he had an appointment with a concussion specialist in New York City. The Rangers thought it was more important for Staal to go to his doctor's appointment, so he was excused from practice.

Click below to read more news and notes from practice today.

Recap: Rangers Fall To Devils 2-1 In OT

Apologies for not posting in over a week, but I'm back now. That's the downfall when you have on person running a blog.

Anyway, the Rangers fell to the Devils last night 2-1 in Albany last night (yes, Albany). The Rangers' lone goal was scored by Dale Weise on a nice feed from Artem Anisimov. Weise also had a fight at center-ice with Devils forward Brad Mills.The lines last night were:

Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Dale Weise
Carl Hagelin-Erik Christensen-Christian Thomas
Sean Avery-John Mitchell-J.T. Miller
Ryan Bourque-Shane McColgan-Andre Deveaux

Dan Girardi-Brendan Bell
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Tim Erixon-Dylan McIlrath

Henrik Lundqvist
Cam Talbot

The Rangers were outshot by the Devils 42-21 and the Rangers took an 0-for on the Power Play. Not a big deal considering the fact that only two forwards playing in the game are locks to be on the Opening Day roster come October.

John Tortorella called the game "sloppy," but praised the line of Avery-Mitchell-Miller. He said their forechecking was very good and said it was the Rangers' best line all night - yet, Sean Avery barely got any shifts in the third period. Seems like Torts is continuing his pattern of saying only positive things about Avery to the media, only to bench him without any real explanation. It was only one preseason game, though, so we'll see what happens and if Avery gets to play with NHL linemates next time if Torts really was impressed by his game.

Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, stopped 17 of 18 shots in 31:18 of ice time before he was replaced by Cam Talbot. Talbot was very solid, stopping 22 of 23 shots before being beaten by Patrick Elias for the game-winner 45 seconds into overtime.

My personal thoughts on the game: The Rangers really didn't get much going offensively, but again, look at the lineup. I was very pleased with Dylan McIlrath's performance. Tim Erixon looked a little bit hesitant and shaky at times, but this was his first pro game in the U.S. Lundqvist was stellar and Talbot was very good. Andre Deveaux got into a fight with David Clarkson that he seemed to win pretty easily. He could be a useful weapon if a forward goes down and we need to add some grit against a team like Philly or Boston.

Beyond that, there wasn't a whole lot to write about. I thought Avery had a noticeable game and Del Zotto was alright for the most part. Christensen will need to have a better showing his next time out if he wants to be on this team in the long haul. The Rangers' best forward was Dale Weise, though, who will need to continue to have games like this if he wants to have any chance of making the NHL club out of training camp.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Traverse City: Rangers Face Hurricanes Tomorrow at 3 p.m. on MSG

Just a reminder that the Traverse City tournament continues tomorrow when the Rangers face the Carolina Hurricanes at 3 p.m. All the games are being aired live on MSG Network, so if you're around during the day you've got something to watch in the afternoon, or you can do what I did and DVR the games if you're not around for them. The Rangers are 2-0 so far and have scored a total of 11 goals in those two games.

I'll be posting tomorrow night who has looked good to me thus far after the team's first three games, who has looked bad and who has looked invisible. I've been impressed with the team's overall play thus far, though - it's kind of hard not to be when they're 2-0 with 11 goals so far.

Callahan Talks About Being Named Captain, Plus Reaction From Torts and Richards

Ryan Callahan spoke to the media earlier today after officially being named the 26th captain in New York Rangers team history by coach John Tortorella. Here are some of his comments, courtesy of Andrew Gross over at Rangers Rants.

“Obviously it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to wear a C on a team but I’m going to approach the same as wearing an A, the things I do on the ice and off the ice, there’s a reason why I feel I got the A,” Callahan said. “I’ll continue on with the C. Obviously there comes a little bit more leadership role with it and some more responsibility at the same time I have to do what I do and not the letter on my sweater affect my game or how I approach the game.”
“I’m the kind of guy who tries to go about my business and not try to think about things like that or things out of my control,” Callahan said. “Through my career guys like Dru, even when I first got here, Jagr, I look up to them, watch them, see how they act on and off the ice, especially Drury, I think he’s a big part of the player I’ve become and the reason why am I leader today."
Callahan kept going back to what he’s learned from Drury.
“The way he approached the game and the way he was so professional on and off the ice, the way he carried himself, he never got too high, never got too low, he was always in the room at kind of even keel,” Callahan said. “At times if he needed to be emotional with the team he would be but he approached the game the same way every night.”
As for his leadership style, Callahan said it’s a combination of leading by example, and speaking (loudly) when needed.
“On ice I try to lead by example, I try to play the identity we created last year, have guys follow that way,” Callahan said. “But at the same time, in the room, I think if I need to be vocal I can be. The biggest thing is to continue to do what I do and hopefully guys follow.
“I don’t mind it at all,” Callahan said of being vocal. “It’s not something I’m uncomfortable with. If something needs to be said, it will be.”

Read more comments from Callahan, John Tortorella and Brad Richards below.

Breaking News: Ryan Callahan Named Rangers Captain

The New York Rangers officially announced just a few moments ago that Ryan Callahan will be the 26th captain in team history. Brad Richards and Marc Staal will both be the alternate captains.

Can't say I'm at all surprised by the decision. Even though John Tortorella originally said he would wait until after training camp before naming his team captain, something must have happened that made him change his mind because the Rangers announced late last night that they would be revealing their next captain within the next 24 hours. Maybe Brad Richards talked with John Tortorella and told him he didn't want to wear the 'C' since this is Ryan Callahan's team? If that's the case, classy move by Brad Richards.

Callahan was the obvious choice all along and deserved it more than anyone else. Congrats to Captain Cally!

You can read the full press release from the Rangers below. I'm sure we'll get more comments from John Tortorella and Ryan Callahan later today or tomorrow at the latest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Report: Ex-Ranger Steve Valiquette Turned Down Offer To Play For Yaroslavl Lokomotiv

Re-Tweeted by the Connecticut Whale's official Twitter earlier today was a story from that had an interesting blurb in it. Apparently, former Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette had an offer to play for the Lokomotiv this season, but turned them down because he only wanted to continue playing in the KHL if he was going to be guaranteed regular playing time.

Local agent Kent Hughes noted yesterday that one of his clients, ex-Rangers backup goalie Steve Valiquette, just recently turned down a contract offer to play for Yaroslavl this season. According to Hughes, Valiquette, a Canadian who now lives in Connecticut, was bought out over the summer after playing one season for CSKA (Red Army) and wasn’t eager to resume playing in the KHL without an assurance that he would be given regular playing time.

Valiquette, of course, was Henrik Lundqvist's last "regular" backup before the team signed Marty Biron last offseason. It certainly turned out to be a blessing in disguise that Valley turned down a deal with Yaroslavl.

I highly recommend reading the entire article, as it's really a great piece worth checking out. There's a story in the article that during the lockout when a bunch of NHL players were playing in Russia, a plane that was carrying Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Darius Kasparaitis, and Alexei Kovalev was supposed to originally be delayed for 2 to 3 hours and wound up being proclaimed ready for takeoff after only a 20 minute delay. Kasparaitis was skeptical and the players on-board demanded that Alex Kovalev fly in the cockpit since he has a pilot's license.

The more stories you hear about tragedies occurring in Russia with KHL teams, the more it makes me question why any athlete would want to play there.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Marian Gaborik Reacts To Pavol Demitra's Death, Rangers Confirm Karpovtsev's Death

Marian Gaborik took to Twitter and commented on the death of his best friend Pavel Demitra about 20 minutes ago. Before today the last time Gaborik Tweeted anything was back on April 16, 2010.

Gaborik's Tweet read:

Demo,u will always b in my heart.U were one of my best friends on and off the ice.U will be greatly missed by all of us.My condolences...
Marian Gaborik's Twitter 

Gaborik has lost two of his closest friends on and off the ice within the last several months - first Derek Boogaard and now Pavel Demitra.

Jim Cerny of originally said a few hours ago that Marian Gaborik left practice without meeting with the media and offering any words on the death of one of his best friends, Pavol Demitra, who died in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash that took place this morning. Mats Zuccarello did say that Gaborik was "devastated" when news hit of Demitra's death.

Also, the New York Rangers have commented on the death of Alexander Karpovtsev, an assistant coach of the Lokomotiv who also died this morning. The Rangers, apparently, were waiting to officially confirm his death before posting anything on their website. Karpovtsev was a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup team and will always be remembered for being a part of New York Rangers history.

Several Current and Ex-Rangers Affected By KHL Plane Crash

The tragic plane crash that reportedly killed somewhere between 36 to 43 members of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl this morning has hit everybody hard who is around the game of hockey, including several members of the New York Rangers. As Andrew Gross pointed out on Twitter, Marian Gaborik has lost two of his closest friends and former teammates within the last several months - first Derek Boogaard and now Pavol Demitra. One of Henrik Lundqvist's friends, Swedish goaltender Stefan Liv, also perished on the flight. Mike Rupp also played with ex-Ranger Karel Rachunek when they were with the Devils during Rachunek's last NHL stint before playing in Europe.

Gross has talked to several Rangers and have gotten their reactions on the crash.

Henrik Lundqvist devastated when told former Swedish national team teammate G Stefan Liv may have been on flight.
Lundqvist, told of Stefan Liv (now confirmed to be on flight), buries head in hands and says, like him, Liv was married this summer.
Mike Rupp befriended Karel Rachunek during their time with the Devils. "He was a quiet guy with a really good sense of humor."
Artem Anisimov came up with Locomotiv, says he knows about half the roster. "I feel like it can't happen. I feel sick about that."
 Andrew Gross on Twitter

More to come later today as news and reactions around hockey continue to break.

Breaking News: 43 People Dead in Plane Crash Carrying KHL Team

Unbelievably tragic news today this morning. A plane crashed in Russia this morning that was carrying the entire KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and killed 43 people who were on board, including ex-NHL players Pavol Demitra, Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek and Karel Rachunek (who also spent a few seasons playing with the Rangers). The team's head coach, Brad McCrimmon, and assistant coaches Igor Korolev and ex-Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev were also killed on the flight.