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Adding Nash a Must for the Blueshirts

From Brian Monzo at WFAN.com:

The NHL playoffs are low-scoring battles.  There is a very good shot that if the Rangers stick with that they have they may be able to go deep in the playoffs.  But, if the price is right, and they can add someone like Rick Nash (27-years-old), they have to make the move.

I am not so sure people around here are familiar with Nash and his work.  As much hockey as I watch, I don’t find myself locked in on many Blue Jackets games.  But I know one thing, there are very few power forwards like Nash out there.

He was drafted first overall in 2002 and immediately was thrown into the fire.  Nash has scored 40 or more goals twice and 30-plus goals four times.  Oh yeah — he is 6’4 and 215 lbs.

Nash could be the missing piece, and the physical goal scoring punch going into the playoffs.  The one downfall? He is signed through 2018 with a salary cap hit of $7.8 million per season.

Click here for more from Monzo.

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Rangers Talk with Brian Monzo

One of the best bloggers out there when it comes to the New York Rangers is Brian Monzo of WFAN.com.

Monzo was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on all things Blueshirts:

PH: What are your general thoughts on the play of the New York Rangers this season?
BM: I mean, there aren’t too many bad things you can say. They just keep winning every game. What is most impressive is that fact that when they do lose a game, or even two, that’s it. They have yet to go on a prolonged losing streak. 

PH: In your opinion, what are just a few reasons why the Rangers have been successful this season?
BM: As usual, it starts in net. Henrik Lundqvist at this point is not only the leader for the Vezina Trophy, but there needs to be serious consideration for him being he MVP of the league. There are many games that he wins on his own. Marian Gaborik being healthy has been enormous and the play of their young defenseman (Girardi, Del Zotto and McDonagh) has propelled them to tops in the East.

PH: Why do you think Marian Gaborik has had such a turnaround season this year?
BM: He is healthy. Everyone seems to forget last season that he had a long-term shoulder and a concussion. I also do not believe his shoulder was 100% healthy at any point last season. He is playing now with players like Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov who find ways to get him the puck in position to score goals as well.

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Rangers Need to Set The Pace Against the Flyers

From Brian Monzo at CBSNewYork.com/WFAN.com:

-Start the game by taking the body. This really goes for any game, but the Rangers need to expect the Flyers to come out angry since they’ve been handled by New York so far this season.  Whether it be Brandon Prust or Ryan Callahan, someone needs to set the tone early.  If it’s the Flyers doing it, the Rangers could be in for a long afternoon.

-Get the defense involved in the offense.  Since the Rangers’ offense is pretty spread around, success has come in games when their defensemen have scored goals.  Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman both can get involved when need be, but Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal should both be joining the rush as much as possible.  Fortunately for the Rangers, their goaltending has been extraordinary enough that if this backfires, Henrik Lundqvist should be able to handle any odd man rushes.

Click here for more great stuff from Monzo.

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A Look at the Rangers with WFAN Rangers’ Blogger Brian Monzo

With the New York Rangers just past the 10-game mark this season, I figured now would be a good time to check in with our friend Brian Monzo, the Rangers’ blogger and podcaster for WFAN.com.

Monzo was kind enough to give us his thoughts on this year’s team as well as who has been playing well, who has been a disappointment, and more.

PH: What are some of your general thoughts on the Blueshirts just past the 10-game mark?
BM: I think the Rangers really had to adjust to their travels. Now that they have found a consistent routine, they are playing better. It was hard to form an opinion of their play for the first seven games. I think they weren’t setting any kind of tempo to the games and were just adjusting to the style of their opponents. Since they’ve been back in NYC, they have been the pacesetters.

PH: Tell us which players you think are off to a good start this season and why.
BM: Marian Gaborik and Ryan McDonagh have stuck out the most. McDonagh has been given more ice time, and more responsibility with the injury to Marc Staal. He also has been playing with much more offense this season. I simply think that is because he knows his team needs to score more and is taking some action. Gaborik is healthy. Last season he had shoulder and concussion issues. He was never 100%. This season he is healthy and is noticeable on every shift.

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Monzo Chimes in on the Blueshirts

Brian Monzo of WFAN.com and NHL Live was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk Rangers’ off-season and more with us.

PH: For starters, describe the Rangers’ season in a nutshell.
BM: The season was exciting, frustrating and everything in between. They battled injuries all year long, and found ways to win games. Unfortunately, their season may have ended too early because of Ryan Callahan’s ankle.

PH: What did the team do well with this season
BM: Played as a unit. Despite the injuries, they found ways to get it done. No excuses from anyone. I also thought their goaltending was strong all season long—but what else is new there. Their young defense was especially solid with guys like Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer becoming regulars.

PH: What did the team struggle with this season?
BM: They struggled scoring and on the power-play, which is nothing new. All the more reason why this offseason will be a big one.

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What’s Next for the Blueshirts

From great friend of the blog Brian Monzo at WFAN.com:

So where do they go now? It seems like they’ve done a pretty solid job drafting the last two seasons.  They have two top offensive prospects in Chris Kreider (1st round in 2009) and Christian Thomas (2nd round in 2010), and will likely try to sign both of professional contracts this summer.  At this year’s draft in June, I would expect them to be looking at forwards in the first two rounds, then shifting towards depth defensemen.

Finally, the belief amongst most is that when Stars center Brad Richards becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, the Rangers are going to be looking to strike. Richards, who will be 31 on May 2nd, has 716 points in 772 games, including 496 assists.  He is great with the puck, has a sense of the game and can make plays happen.  He is exactly the kind of top center the Rangers (and Marian Gaborik) are in need of.  He will be looking for a long-term contract, and the Rangers will have to make a few moves to open up some cap space.  They are going to need to sign Dubinsky, Callahan, Anisimov, Boyle, Sauer and perhaps Gilroy to new contracts.  Which in turn means upcoming UFA’s Alex Frolov, Vinny Prospal, Steve Eminger and maybe even Ruslan Fedotenko may not be offered new contracts (Frolov for sure, I just had to include him on the list so I didn’t miss anyone).

It is a work in progress.  I certainly understand the venom and frustration of the fans.  You hate to lose.  But coming off a 44 win season, it appears coach John Tortorella will be extended, which he deserves.  The team is headed in the right direction.  They are building from within, and developing some core players.  It’s tough to be patient in New York, but a lot of people believe the wait will be worth it.

Click here for more Rangers’ thoughts from Monzo.

 

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Are The Rangers Ready to Make a Run?

From good friend of the blog Brian Monzo at WFAN.com:

The point is, watching the Rangers game in and game out, there are times where they look brutal. Or they can beat the Flyers 7-0, as they did Sunday. I know the Ranger fan is very much an ‘instant reactor.’ I get more Tweets (BMonzoNHL660) about how the Rangers need to fire John Tortorella, sit Henrik Lundqvist (who has a GAA under 2.30 and 9 shutouts) and that Brandon Dubinsky is overrated. While I love the fan feedback on ‘the Twit,’ sometimes I really scratch my head about immediate reaction.

Am I saying the Rangers are a Cup contending? I don’t know. I know they are a tough team, that never gets blown out and leaves it all on the ice.

Say what you want about the Rangers current situation in the standings (currently 35-29-4 and 7th in the East), but they are the hardest working team in the NHL. That said, I believe they will be the hardest team to eliminate in a seven game series. Teams can outscore them, but not too many teams, if any, can outwork them. That is exactly why Tortorella should not be fired. He has gotten Ryan Callahan to become a true leader on the team, has gotten Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to be one of the top shutdown defensive pairs in the NHL and has gotten 20 goals from Brian Boyle. He has gotten Dubinsky to play in all situations, stick up for every teammate and be viewed as a forward that every team wishes they had.

Click here for more great stuff (as usual) from Monzo.

 

 

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Brian Monzo Stops By To Talk Rangers at The Trade Deadline

WFAN producer, WFAN.com New York Rangers/NHL writer, and NHL Live producer Brian Monzo took time out of his hectic schedule to talk about the New York Rangers and what they may or may not do at the NHL Trade Deadline.

PH: What are some of your general thoughts on the trades that have been made so far prior to the NHL trade deadline? Which deal do you think was the best? Why?
BM: The amount of trades have been crazy. Hockey fans love their trades, as do people in the league. It’s fun. Tough to say which is the best trade this minute. The Av’s/Blues blockbuster (Johnson/McClement for Stewart/Shattenkirk mixed with some picks) caught everyone off guard. I think that trade will work out best for Colorado. Everyone seems to think St. Louis got the best of it, but Erik Johnson, despite some struggles is a sick talent. For the Av’s to now build around Johnson and Matt Duchene gives Colorado a lot to look forward to. Tomas Kaberle will obviously help the Bruins, but that aside, I love Rich Peverley going to Beantown too. He is a perfect for that, and can score 20 goals every season.

PH: In your opinion, why do you think so many moves have been made prior to the deadline?
BM: I think GM’s like the luxury of not have to rush and make last second deals. If they make a trade right now, they are getting who they want, when they want them.

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The New York Rangers at The Trade Deadline

From good friend of the blog Brian Monzo at WFAN.com:

As the season winds down, the Rangers are indeed going to be in the market for a few things. This, along with the news that forward Marian Gaborik is out for undisclosed amount of time with a concussion, certainly presses the need for a forward, as well as the obvious need for a offensive defenseman.

When it is all said and done, there are three names that have been linked to the Rangers as the deadline approaches:

Brad Richards – Dallas Stars/Center (24 goals, 39 assists in 56 games) - The biggest unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. After a terrific start, the Stars have started to fade, re-igniting speculation they may deal the playmaking center.

Click here for more great thoughts on the Blueshirts from Monzo.

 

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Monzo Grades The Blueshirts at the All-Star Break

From good friend of the blog Brian Monzo at WFAN.com/NewYorkCBSlocal.com:

Overall, what we’ve seen is a unity of players who have conformed into a team that plays a hardworking game. They do not have the most talented team in the league, but their work ethic has given them the ability to comeback late in games and perform well in back-to-back contests. They’ve gotten contributions from everyone on the team and their goaltending has been superb all season. They’ve become a team that battles every game and has caught the eye of the league. Former NHL coach and current analyst Ken Hitchcock called this team the ‘sleeper’ team in the East.

Click here for more thoughts from Monzo.

 

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A Look at the NHL/Rangers at the 1/2 Point of the Season

Brian Monzo of WFAN and NHL Live was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and chat about the NHL and the New York Rangers at the half way point of the 2010-11 season.

PH: So, we are past the 1/2 point of the NHL season. What are some of your general thoughts?
BM: I am very happy with the level they (New York Rangers) have been able to compete at considering the injuries. Everyone has stepped up and the play out of the rookies had been better then expected. I am shocked they’ve been able to comeback in a lot of games and always come out thinking they can win. That speaks a lot of the coaching.

PH: Which teams/players have surprised you the most in a good way? Why?
BM: I loved the Lightning in the offseason and am glad they are turning back into a top team. They have a top GM and a great coach along with the best pure goal scorer in the league, in Steven Stamkos. With Brett Connolly in their system, and Victor Hedman getting better as the years go on, they will be a great team for years to come.

I am not breaking any news, but I am shocked with the play of the Stars. I did not think Kari Lehtonen was going to play this well in net, but he has proved me wrong, and the Stars record shows it. 

As far as players, Ryan Kesler’s goal total in Vancouver has shocked me a little. Also, the point production of Dustin Byfuglien in Atlanta has caught me off guard.

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A Quick E-mail Interview with Brian Monzo of WFAN and NHL Live

Brian Monzo was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule of working at WFAN and NHL Live to discuss all things New York Rangers with us.

He really has a fresh and positive outlook! Make sure to follow Monzo on Twitter at BMonzoNHL660.

PH: Besides the injuries to Marian Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, why are the Blueshirts struggling so much?
BM: I don’t think they are struggling, in the sense of playing bad in a midseason stretch. The team is still coming together. I think you will see a lot of tight games. The one area that needs immediate attention is special teams. Killing 75% of penalities isn’t going to get it done. But once Drury comes back, and Lundqvist gets into a groove, you will see that number hit 83/84 percent. That still isn’t dominant, but will get you into the top 15.

PH: Why do you think the team’s defense is allowing close to 35 shots a game? -What can they do to improve on that?
BM: They are still very young. Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy and Mike Sauer are all still growing. That will lead to some defensive breakdowns. Also, they have a taken a lot of penalties. On a good note—a lot of shots have been taken from the outside and haven’t been high quality chances. The Kris Versteeg breakaway, which Marty Biron stopped, was a rare thing it seemed.

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Solid Last Ditch Effort - So Far

From great friend of the blog Brian Monzo at WFAN.com:

Some would say this would have been predictable. I am normally one of those people, but I wasn’t this year. What I am talking about is the last ditch effort the Rangers are making to inch their way into the playoffs. This has been their way the past few seasons, and they are doing it again. The last blog I wrote, I explained why the Rangers would finish with 79 points when the season ended. Well, they are at 82, with four games left the be played.

The Rangers are surging right now, aiming for that 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, still presently on the outside looking in. They beat the Devils in a shootout, a game I thought they would lose, swept a home and home with the Islanders, beat the Lightning and Panthers in Florida and notched a point in an OT loss to the Maple Leafs. All that equates to them still being in the playoff picture.

Click here for more great stuff from Monzo!

 

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An Interview with a New York Hockey Blogger/Personality

This past weekend, I was able to do an e-mail interview with Brian Monzo. Monzo is a hockey blogger and radio producer with WFAN New York, as well as the producer of NHL Live.

Monzo was kind enough to tell us how he got into the game of hockey, how he got involved with radio and his current thoughts on the New York Rangers. Take it away Monzo:

PH: How did you get into hockey?
BM: I got into hockey from playing with my friends as a kid. We all played baseball and basketball, but for whatever reason, we all took a liking to playing street hockey. Warm or cold, we loved it. Playing NHL 94 also a huge part of helping me learn the NHL and the players.

PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
BM: The Rangers were and are my favorite team. Originally I was a Darren Turcotte fan, but quickly moved to Adam Graves in 94. Still one of my favorite guys in the business.

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