by Patrick Hoffman on 04/17/12 at 12:41 PM ET
The great Neil Keefe, blogger/writer/podcaster extraordinaire for WFAN.com, was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the New York Rangers’ postseason thus far.
PH: In general, what are your thoughts on the Rangers’ play this postseason?
NK: The Rangers have played solid through their first three games. I think we all knew going into the postseason they might have trouble against the Senators with the way their styles of play match up, and that has certainly been the case. The Rangers dominated Game 1 before blowing a lead in Game 2 and losing and then winning Game 3 despite being outplayed and outshot. The Senators could very well be the team with the 2-1 series lead after we have seen, but they’re not, and that’s all that matters.
PH: How do you think Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan has elevated his game during the postseason both as a player and captain?
NK: Callahan’s game has been pretty much the same to me as it was in the regular season, which means he’s playing at a high level. I wrote a few weeks ago how Callahan just seems to have the scoring touch and even though he doesn’t always score the prettiest goals (actually he pretty much never does), the puck always finds his stick in front of the net and then he usually finds the back of the net even if he doesn’t look great doing so.
I think Callahan’s leadership can be seen in the way that he plays the game. The “C” belongs on his jersey and his work ethic and intensity represent his role and the Rangers’ style of play perfectly.
PH: In your opinion, do you think there is a chance that this could be Brandon Dubinsky’s last postseason as a Blueshirt? Why or why not?
NK: I definitely think this could be Dubinsky’s last postseason with the Rangers. I’m not sure what the realistic postseason goal is for the front office, but I think that has a lot to do with Dubinsky’s future. Entering the season I don’t know if anyone thought the Rangers would be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and that includes their own management. But expectations changed during the regular season, and I’m sure that the organization expects to at least be in the conference finals, as do I.
If the Rangers go out in the first round, I think Glen Sather will revisit a trade for Rick Nash and push even harder to bring him to New York. I think if the team reaches the conference finals, or the finals (or possibly wins it all) then judging by the way they have done business over the last couple years, they might move forward with their current roster and prospects and continue to develop from within. They might still go after Nash no matter what happens in the postseason, but I think Tortorella is looking for a reason to keep the players he has and the youth in the organization, and extending the season as long as possible will give him a reason.
PH: What are some of your general thoughts on some of the other playoff series currently going on? Any surprises? Any disappointments?
NK: I think everyone is surprised with the Penguins being down 3-0, but I don’t think anyone is surprised with the high scoring and excessive fighting, and even though I care the most about the Rangers-Senators series, the Penguins-Flyers series is certainly the most intriguing.
I picked the Kings to upset the Canucks in seven games, and I knew it was a stretch, but now it looks like it might happen sooner as Robert Luongo has proven once again to be a playoff fraud in the way he was against the Bruins last year.
All of the first-round series have been entertaining, but it’s odd to see the Penguins and Canucks both on the verge of being swept after many considered them the two favorites to win the Cup.
PH: You recently wrote a very pointed piece on Brendan Shanahan. What were you trying to convey to readers?
NK: I was trying to convey the point that Brendan Shanahan has done an awful job in his role as league disciplinarian. I think a lot of people are quick to defend Shanahan because of his time as a player and what he has meant to the league for over two decades, but I’m not talking about Brendan Shanahan the player, I’m talking about Brendan Shanahan the VP of Player Safety.
I loved Shanahan during his playing days as much as anyone, but it’s hard to understand the decisions he has made as the judge for the league. I know that the owners and general managers came down on him hard at the beginning of the season when he was suspending everyone left and right, but even with the owners and GMs having a say, their influence doesn’t change the fact that he has been inconsistent with his rulings.
There was a general sigh of relief when he took over the role from Colin Campbell and the league started to show that they are serious about the safety of their players and head injuries and concussions. But now it seems like they only care about doing something for dangerous play when a head injury or concussion occurs or is documented. The NHL has set an ugly precedent that you can play recklessly with the intent to injure as long as no one gets hurt, and it’s only gotten worse in the postseason, but the league let it get to this point.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
NK: Brian Boyle has kept me from tweeting about him for three games, and I hope he continues to do so.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.