Monday, February 27, 2012

Notes From Glen Sather's Press Conference

Glen Sather met with the media today after the trade deadline officially passed to discuss his activity in the trade market (or lack thereof), and also gave his thoughts on the one trade the Rangers made today, the acquisition of John Scott.

You can listen to the audio of Sather's press conference here, but I'll provide some of the more important notes below.

Rangers Acquire D John Scott While Rick Nash Stays Put

As many expected, the NHL trade deadline came and went today without any gigantic moves being made. Shane Doan didn't go anywhere. Ray Whitney didn't go anywhere. Bobby Ryan didn't go anywhere. And above all else, Rick Nash didn't go anywhere.

The Rangers made only one trade on the day, acquiring 6-foot-8, 270-pound defenseman John Scott from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a fifth round draft pick in this year's draft. Scott is basically a 6th/7th defenseman. He's suited up in only 29 games this year with the Hawks and has one assist with 48 penalty minutes. He's also spent some time playing forward this season with Chicago on the fourth line.

As Trade Deadline Approaches, Rangers Remaining Quiet

As we approach the NHL trade deadline later today, I'm sure every Rangers fan is refreshing Twitter looking to get any and every update on what will happen with Rick Nash. I think over the past two days the Rangers have gone from being the favorites in the Rick Nash Sweepstakes to now being out of it, according to a Tweet on Sunday from ESPN's Katie Strang.

The truth is, nobody really knows for sure what's going on. I'm not saying that as a knock to the NHL reporters that do their jobs well, I'm just saying things change in the trade market seemingly every hour. Glen Sather could've told Columbus on Sunday that the Rangers are no longer interested in Rick Nash, but that still wouldn't be the end of it. It could be a negotiating ploy and posturing on Sather's part to try and get Columbus to lower their asking price, or it could be that the Rangers have just decided to move on. But that's not to say either side won't decide to change their mind and pick up the phone to make a deal come 2:59 p.m. later today.

A lot of people have different thoughts on what the Rangers should and shouldn't do in the trade market. I'm one of those people who's somewhat split down the middle on what I'd like to see the Rangers do. Ideally, I'd like to see them add a veteran defenseman who can help the power play who's preferably a right-handed shot. Dennis Wideman, for example, is a guy that would fit that mold perfectly. I also think it would be a huge boost to add a left wing, like Ray Whitney, who can be a top six forward and score goals. In other words, I think any move that Glen Sather decides to make will be one that isn't going to gut the entire Rangers roster and force them to surrender top prospects and/or draft picks.

My own personal opinion is that I don't think Rick Nash will be a Ranger when it's all said and done. It's a nice thought and I would love to have him, but Glen Sather and John Tortorella seem to have a different approach as far as wanting to go to war with what they have while letting the kids play. If Sather is able to get Nash while only having to give up, say, Brandon Dubinsky from the NHL roster I think he'd do it, but that just seems extremely unlikely to me. Slats typically likes to bring in underachieving veterans whose contracts are expiring at the end of the season in hopes of providing a spark in their game by placing them in a new setting.

Considering the Rangers have the best record in the Eastern Conference as a result of hard work and a team that's mainly made up of players who have come up through their system, I don't see Glen Sather tempting fate and doing anything drastic to change the recipe for success that's worked so far this season.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuomo Ruutu, Shane Doan No Longer Trade Options

The Rangers have been connected to Tuomo Ruutu and Shane Doan over the past few weeks as the trade deadline looms closer and closer, but you can cross both of those names off the list of possible trade targets for the Blueshirts. Ruutu agreed to a four-year, $19 million extension with the Hurricanes earlier today, and the Coyotes made a trade and acquired forward Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The thing about today's NHL is that the standings fluctuate so frequently that teams can literally go from being a seller one week to a buyer the next. Teams like the Ducks and Coyotes, for example, were out of the playoff picture two weeks ago and now the Coyotes are sitting comfortably as the seventh seed in the Western Conference, while the Ducks are only six points out of a playoff spot. So, all the talk of high-profile players like Shane Doan and Corey Perry being on the move are now put on hold. The fact that it's so easy for teams to gain an extra point by going to overtime, and then have the ability to steal wins in the shootout is what makes the trade market change daily.

It's hard to say who the Rangers will target. Other than being heavily rumored to be in the hunt for Rick Nash lately, it seems like things have been pretty quiet, although that's not unusual for how Glen Sather operates. Usually when Sather makes a deal it comes together fairly quickly. But we shall see.

Final Score: Penguins 2, Rangers 0

After a thrilling OT win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night, the Rangers couldn't start another winning streak tonight as they were shutout by a score of 2-0 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves and did all he could to keep the Rangers in the game, but it wasn't enough as the Rangers simply did nothing on offense and were unable to score.

As always, there were a number of questionable penalty calls that went against the Rangers while the referees somehow conveniently missed several calls that should've gone against Pittsburgh. I'm sure that's just a coincidence that that happens every time the Rangers play in this building, though, right? I'm not really going to delve too much into the officiating considering the team did nothing offensively, but this was one of those games where it was obvious early on that the Rangers would have to overcome the Penguins and the refs in order to win.

Click below to read more on the game.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fedotenko Back On Fourth Line At Practice, Bickel Back On Defense

Good news today from the Rangers on the injury front, as Ruslan Fedotenko returned to practice for the first time since suffering a blind-side hit from Dominic Moore last week against the Lightning. Fedotenko and Wojtek Wolski both practiced on the fourth line today with John Mitchell and Mike Rupp, while Stu Bickel returned to his natural position as a defenseman and practiced on a unit with Jeff Woywitka.

Judging from the lines in practice, I would assume that if Ruslan Fedotenko is healthy and feels fine tomorrow, he'll be in the lineup against Pittsburgh. That would make Wolski, Bickel and Woywitka the healthy scratches. If he wakes up tomorrow and his head doesn't feel right, I think Torts will stick with Bickel on the fourth line. Either way, I'd be surprised if we see Wolski in the lineup tomorrow.

The rest of the lines were the same:


Del Zotto-Stralman

It's pretty clear that the Rangers really like what they've seen from Stu Bickel so far, which is why he's still with the club. Bickel would have to clear waivers in order to be returned to the Connecticut Whale, and I don't think the Rangers want to risk losing him. He's shown me a lot and has turned into a pretty nice swingman for the Rangers who can play both on the wing and defense. He's also quickly become a fan favorite of Rangers fans as evidenced by the "Stuuuuu" chants at the Garden. He adds a lot of toughness (obviously) to the lineup and is the type of player you can get away with hiding on the fourth line or as a sixth defenseman giving him limited minutes.

More tomorrow, when the Rangers will face-off against the Penguins in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rangers Sweep Weekend Series Versus Flyers, Caps

The Rangers capped off a successful weekend this afternoon with a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals, one day after a dominating 5-2 victory in Philadelphia against the Flyers. Ryan Callahan scored a goal and now has four goals in his last two games, while Ryan McDonagh and Brandon Prust scored the other two goals. Prust's goal was his first since October 20.

The Rangers looked very strong and came out with a ton of energy in today's game to the point that you wouldn't even have known they played in such a physical game against the Flyers yesterday afternoon. It certainly helped that the Rangers got an early goal in the first period from Ryan Callahan, who made an unbelievable play when he backhanded the puck in the net while falling over. Ryan McDonagh added a beautiful goal off a sick toe drag from the left circle, while Brandon Prust batted home a short-handed goal, and eventual game-winner, off a perfect feed from Brandon Dubinsky - who had two assists in today's game.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Lines At Practice As Richards Tries To Find His Game

The Rangers unveiled new lines at practice today, although there's no guarantee these will be the lines that the Rangers use tomorrow night versus Tampa Bay (and hopefully they aren't). John Tortorella has used lines at practice before and then scrapped them come game time, so what the lines will look like tomorrow will remain to be seen.

Here are the lines from practice anyway:

Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin-John Mitchell-Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brad Richards-Mike Rupp

Rangers Fall To Devils 1-0 After Questionable Call In Final Seconds

You'll definitely be hearing about this one for a while. The Rangers lost to the Devils by a final score of 1-0 tonight, although it sure didn't look like it originally. With the seconds ticking down in the third period and the Rangers trailing with an extra skater on, Ryan Callahan fired a shot on goal that Martin Brodeur kicked out. Artem Anisimov found the rebound and put the puck in the back of the net, but the goal was waved off after the officials called a goaltender interference call on Marian Gaborik, who made contact with Brodeur after he was clearly pushed into him by Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Gaborik did everything he possibly could to hold up and avoid making contact, but it was to no avail. The Rangers were called for an absolutely bogus call and lost the game 1-0.

Click below to read more on what John Tortorella, Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist had to say about the disallowed goal.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rangers Beat Sabres 1-0 In Shootout; Wolski, Woywitka Sent To AHL

The Rangers defeated the Buffalo Sabres in a 1-0 shootout victory last night that was an absolute thriller and a showcase of two of the best goaltenders in the league at the top of their games. Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced, while Ryan Miller stopped all 29 that he faced. Lundqvist stopped four of five shots he faced in the shootout, with the only Buffalo goal coming from Jason Pominville in Round 3, and the Rangers got shootout goals from Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahn en route to their win in Buffalo.

This was one of those games that just had you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Some 1-0 games can be a bit boring with not a lot of action throughout the game, but this certainly wasn't the case. Each team traded good scoring chances and both Miller and Lundqvist stood on their heads all night long. After the first period this game just sort of had that feeling that one goal could be enough to win it.