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Entries with the tag: chicago blackhawks

All About Second Chances For Flyers’ Mason

When looking at the NHL as a whole, it is easy to see that several NHL netminders thrive when given a second chance to prove their worth.

As an example, one can point out the likes of Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks), Carey Price (2010-11 with the Montreal Canadiens), Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators) and so on and so forth. One can probably name several players in this particular category.

With that said, one player who really needs a second chance the most is Philadelphia Flyers' netminder Steve Mason. Mason, who won the Calder Trophy as the league's rooke of the year in the 2008-09 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, has struggled to find his rookie form and is now looking to do so in the "City of Brotherly Love".

Mason, 24, burst onto the NHL scene in the 2008-09 season and dominated the league. That year, Mason went 33-20-0-7 with a 2.29 GAA, a .916 save percentage and 10 shutouts in leading the Columbus Blue Jackets to their first postseason.

While Mason did not play well in that postseason, the Blue Jackets thought they had their netminder of the future. Unfortunately, the team was wrong.

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  Tags: carey+price, chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, craig+anderson, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, philadelphia+flyers, ray+emery, sergei+bobrovsky, steve+mason

Say No to Patrick Kane

With the NHL Draft and Free Agency just a week and two weeks away, respectively, this also means that there will be tons of chatter and rumors to follow.

One rumor that has come to the surface is that Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Patrick Kane might be available via trade. While Kane has not been a problem on the ice, it is his off ice activities that have the Blackhawks’ brass wondering if they should try and deal him.

New York Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather needs to stay away from Kane. Yes, Kane has a lot of offensive talent, can put the puck in the net, has won a Stanley Cup and is still very young, but according to one Blackhawks’ beat writer, there is also a lot of downside.

Not Defensively Responsible

We’re talking about a player whose initials are P.K. but penalty killing is the last place you’d put Kane. I have no idea if Quenneville gets the irony, but he certainly knows he can’t trust Kane defensively. He also certainly knows Kane isn’t a center, not after that disaster of a playoff series with zero goals and barely more faceoff wins.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, glen+sather, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers, patrick+kane

Gaborik Comes Through in Triple OT

There was no doubt that going into last night’s Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, Blueshirts’ 41-goal scorer Marian Gaborik was having trouble putting the puck in the net.

Well, that changed last night and did so in very dramatic fashion. Gaborik scored a goal in the third overtime off a nice feed from Brad Richards to give his hockey club the 2-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

For the Blueshirts, it was their first triple overtime win since 1971 when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden on a goal by Pete Stemkowski. The win also marked the Rangers’ first victory at the Verizon Center in the playoffs since Game 2 of 2009.

This was a game that could have gone either way. Both teams certainly played well enough to win but because Gaborik was able to come through and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was able to make one more save than Capitals’ netminder Braden Holtby, the result turned out to be in favor of the Rangers.

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  Tags: 2012+stanley+cup+playoffs, brad+richards, braden+holtby, chicago+blackhawks, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, pete+stemkowski, washington+capitals

A Must Win for the Rangers

This is exactly what tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden between the New York York Rangers and New York Islanders is for the Blueshirts.

For the first time this season, the Rangers are in the midst of a three game losing streak in regulation. This past week, the Blueshirts lost to the New Jersey Devils (4-1), Ottawa Senators (4-1) and Chicago Blackhawks.

Because of the losing streak, the Rangers are just four points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team they will meet on Thursday at MSG. If the Rangers continue to play they are playing right now, Thursday night’s tilt with the Penguins could end up meaning even more than it already does.

However, it is time for the team to focus on tonight’s meeting with the Islanders. It will be the last meeting between the two clubs with the Rangers holding the edge in the season series at 3-1-1.

They may not be in a playoff spot but the Islanders are definitely competing every night. They work hard, they forecheck and they make life extremely tough for opponents, something the Blueshirts will have to deal with tonight.

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  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, henrik+lundqvist, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins

Big Game at The Mad House on Madison

With the New York Rangers struggling to find the consistency that made them so successful for much of the season, tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks will be a big test for the Blueshirts.

In last night’s 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the team looked out-of-sync in all areas of the game. This also happened to be the case in the team’s 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

For the Rangers, this is coming at a bad time as both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference playoff race is heating up. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who will have Sidney Crosby returning in the very near future, are now just 6 points behind the Blueshirts while the Philadelphia Flyers are 8 points behind thanks to the fine play of their netminder Ilya Bryzgalov (finally, eh?).

The team needs to get back to forechecking better, something that Rangers’ forward Marian Gaborik mentioned to team beat writer Andrew Gross of The Record and Ranger Rants.

“I think so,” he said. “The support needs to be there. We have to create more forechecking in the zone. Also, we have to try to chip pucks in and create more odd-man situations.”

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, henrik+lundqvist, ilya+bryzgalov, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, original+six, ottawa+senators, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, sidney+crosby, united+center

What is Going on with Biron and the Blueshirts?

This is something that has to be asked after the New York Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators tonight by a score of 4-1 .

Tonight, Rangers’ back-up goaltender Martin Biron allowed three goals, two on four shots in the first period, and did not look too comfortable out there. While I said earlier that it was smart to start Biron against the Senators tonight rather than the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, I now wonder why the team did not start Henrik Lundqvist in tonight’s inter-conference game and have Biron go in the non-conference game.

Anyways, in his last six games, Biron has lost two games in regulation, lost two games in overtime and has allowed 18 goals. While he did manage to win two games in this six game span (Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning), he has looked shaky, allowed a few soft goals and has lost games that the Rangers probably could have won with Lundqvist between the pipes.

This is not to take anything away from what Biron has accomplished this season. He is 11-4-2 and has pretty decent stats for a back-up goaltender in the NHL. With that said, it would be nice if he could play a bit better so that may be team head coach John Tortorella can have the option of resting Lundqvist a few more games before the team enters the postseason.

While Biron was not great against the Senators tonight, neither was the rest of the Rangers’ hockey club. Ryan Callahan, who scored his 26th goal of the season tonight in the first period, played well as did Artem Anisimov. Unfortunately for the Rangers, no one else on the team followed suit.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan, tampa+bay+lightning

Biron to Start Tonight/Other line-up Updates

According to Andrew Gross, the New York Rangers’ beat writer/blogger for The Record and Ranger Rants blog, the Blueshirts have elected to go with Martin Biron in goal tonight to face the Ottawa Senators.

This sounds like the right decision considering that the Rangers take on the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night. Remember, the Blackhawks scorched Biron and the Rangers in their previous meeting by a score of 4-2 so putting starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist in sounds like the right thing to do.

Gross also said that Rangers’ forward Brandon Dubinsky will not be in the lineup tonight due to sinus issues he is experiencing that could impact his skating. Dubinsky also said he still has some pain in his hand from the fight he had with New Jersey Devils’ forward David Clarkson on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center:

Brandon Dubinsky will not be in the lineup tonight against the Senators as he tells the media he is still having sinus issues that could affect his skating. Dubinsky said his hand hurts as well after fighting the Devils’ Ryan Carter on Tuesday. Dubinsky was holding nasal spray and also appeared to have stitches on his nose. Considering the Rangers do not have a morning skate tomorrow in Chicago, it’s very likely he’ll also miss the Blackhawks’ game.

Dubinsky also reported he’s been having trouble sleeping as a result of his injured nose.

 

 

 

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  Tags: andrew+gross, brandon+dubinsky, chicago+blackhawks, david+clarkson, henrik+lundqvist, martin+biron, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ranger+rants, the+record

Time to Step Up

This is exactly what the New York Rangers need to do as they prepare for three games in four night’s starting tonight with the Ottawa Senators.

There is no doubt that the Blueshirts have been inconsistent of late. They have allowed at least three goals or more in their last three games and clearly did not play well against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.

The Ottawa Senators have given the Rangers’ some trouble this season and are currently one point behind the 6th place Devils. They have a powerful offense that is dangerous and knows how to put the puck in the net.

With that in mind, the Rangers will need to get their defense back in order in a hurry. Again, 13 goals allowed in the last four games will not win you any games in this league.

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  Tags: brad+richards, chicago+blackhawks, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins

The Need to Wake-Up

If the New York Rangers want to have any kind of success this upcoming spring, they will need to do just that.

In last night’s 4-1 to the New Jersey Devils, the team looked like they were sleep walking. They put 23 shots on Devils’ netminder Martin Brodeur while giving far too many scoring chances to the Devils as guys like Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and David Clarkson (empty net) were able to strut their stuff in front of Blueshirts’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Things are not going to get any easier for the Blueshirts. Tomorrow night, the club will take on the Ottawa Senators and then the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago on Friday night before coming home to take on the New York Islanders at Madison square Garden on Sunday night to kick off a 7-game homestand.

This is not the time for the Blueshirts to take their foots off the gas. While they may have somewhat of a comfortable lead in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, now is not the time to be inconsistent and for the most part, the team has been inconsistent over the last few weeks.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, ilya+kovalchuk, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, patrik+elias

Rangers Quiet/Ready for Tonight

It appears that the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone for the New York Rangers, with the team having acquired defenseman John Scott from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.

So now, the Blueshirts will go forward with the team they currently have as team general manager Glen Sather and team head coach John Tortorella are showing that they believe in the hockey team they have. Given that the Blueshirts are first in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, it makes sense that team management and its coaching staff believe in this hockey club.

Now, the Blueshirts must focus on their big game tonight (7:30 p.m.) at Madison Square Garden against the New Jersey Devils. With both teams currently in a playoff spot, tonight’s tilt will certainly have a playoff feel to it as the Devils look to further advance in the Eastern Conference standings while the Rangers look to continue to have a firm hold on both the Atlantic Division and the East in general.

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  Tags: buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, glen+sather, john+scott, john+tortorella, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan

Rangers Look to Regain Focus Tonight against the Sabres

After last night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers need to get back on track with a win tonight against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden.

For both teams, it will be a back-to-back situation as the Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. The Sabres have a lot to play for as they find themselves just five points out of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference after winning three straight and going 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.

While the Rangers may be first in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, this game should be important to them as well. Over the last week or so, the team has gotten away from the things that made them successful in the first place and that has really come through in their last four games against the Chicago Blackhawks (4-2 loss), Columbus Blue Jackets (3-2 overtime win), Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0 loss) and Islanders (4-3 shootout loss).

On the other side, the Sabres have been playing some terrific hockey. They are getting great goaltending from Ryan Miller, who now looks like his old self, while also getting a lot of offense from the likes of Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Drew Stafford.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, derek+roy, drew+stafford, jason+pominville, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+miller, thomas+vanek

Was This Coming?

This is what many New York Rangers’ fans are probably wondering about after watching the Blueshirts get shutout by the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight by a score of 2-0.

The club’s offense took 27 shots, all of which were turned away with relative ease by Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. The Rangers made it easy for Fleury by shooting directly into him and not getting to the real scoring areas in order to put the puck in the net.

The score could have been much worse if not for the play of Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist turned in another strong performance for his hockey club in turning away 29 of 31 Penguins’ shots. Lundqvist was especially good in the first period in stopping all 11 Penguins’ shots as the Rangers came out flat.

The truth of the matter is that this was more than likely coming for the Rangers. They were terrible against the Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday night, barely beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night and were shutout tonight in Pittsburgh.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, henrik+lundqvist, marc-andre+fleury, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins

Time for Another New Winning Streak

With the New York Rangers having missed a chance to extend their winning streak to five games with a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, the team will look to start a new one from the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight (8:00 p.m.) at Madison Square Garden.

The Blue Jackets, the worst team in the National Hockey League, is coming off a 6-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. They are struggling to score goals, not getting good goaltending and one player may not even be getting along the team’s own fans.

At the other end, the Blueshirts are at the top of the Eastern Conference and seven points behind the league-leading Detroit Red Wings. The team is also 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and have been getting their offense going, playing terrific on the defensive side of the puck and getting Vezina Trophy-like goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist.

For the Rangers, it will be important for them to not take this game lightly. Playing in front of your own fans and against the league’s worst teams might make the Rangers want to get too cute with the puck or try and do too much and when that happen, the Blueshirts usually end up in trouble.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, detroit+red+wings, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers

Wake-Up Call

That is exactly what the New York Rangers got last night in their 4-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Yesterday, I blogged that the Rangers had to get off to a good start and put pressure on the Blackhawks early, especially since the Blackhawks were coming into the game having lost nine straight. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, the exact opposite happened.

The team allowed four goals in the first period as the Blackhawks jumped on the Rangers early and often. In fact, the Blackhawks’ four goals came in the first 9:38 of the first period, including a penalty shot goal by Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews.

What surprised many was that Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella kept goaltender Martin Biron in the game despite the bad first period. Fortunately for the Rangers, Biron was sharp the rest of the way and ended up with 18 saves on 22 shots.

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  Tags: carl+hagelin, chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, corey+crawford, john+tortorella, marc+staal, martin+biron, new+york+rangers

Struggling Blackhawks Visit Blueshirts

The New York Rangers, one of the league’s hottest teams right now, will take on a struggling Chicago Blackhawks hockey club tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Blackhawks have lost nine straight games and are currently struggling in all areas of their game. They are not scoring goals like they used to, not playing tight defense and getting wildly inconsistent goaltending from both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery.

On the other end, the Blueshirts come into tonight’s tilt having won four straight games. In their most recent game, which was on Tuesday night in Boston against the Boston Bruins, the team got a 42-save shutout performance from their netminder Henrik Lundqvist in a 3-0 victory.

For the Rangers, a game like tonight’s might actually be considered a “trap” game. The Rangers have won four straight, are one of the best team’s in the NHL, have played well at home and will be facing a team that is at the other end of the spectrum right now.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, corey+crawford, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers, ray+emery

Lundqvist Dominates Bruins in 3-0 Shutout Win

There should no reason to be surprised anymore when it comes to New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Last night, the “King” made 42 saves in a 3-0 shutout victory over the Boston Bruins. It was Lundqvist’s seventh shutout of the league, which puts him first in the league.

Lundqvist’s statistics are simply terrific when it comes to NHL netminders. The soon to be 30-year-old netminder now has 27 wins (4th in the league), a 1.77 goals against average (2nd in the league), a .941 save percentage (1st in the league) and as mentioned above, 7 shutouts (1st in the league).

It may have been a 3-0 win but Lundqvist was busy all night in Beantown. In the third period alone, Lundqvist made 18 saves and in the period before that, stopped 14 shots. He was simply terrific and was the main reason why the Blueshirts won the game.

The team got goals from Ryan Callahan (a power play goal…his 23rd of the season), Ryan McDonagh (his second goal in as many games), and Artem Anisimov (2 goals in his last three games). The club also did a good job of clearing rebounds, blocking shots and working hard in front of their netminder.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, boston+bruins, chicago+blackhawks, henrik+lundqvist, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan, ryan+mcdonagh

A Common Theme This Season: Goaltending Controversies

This is something that seems to come up every season in the National Hockey League.

This season, however, it is something that is running rampant among NHL clubs, particularly the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks.

Philadelphia Flyers

When is there ever not a goaltending controversy with the Philadelphia Flyers?

This has been the norm for the past decade or so and as such, is running its natural course this season. This year, it is between Ilya Brzygalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Flyers signed Bryzgalov to a 9-year pact over the off-season and thus far, the team has yet to see any real reward. In 33 games, the 31-year-old goaltender is 18-10-4 with a 2.99 goals against average (GAA), a .895 save percentage and 1 shutout, which are numbers that are far below what Bryzgalov posted with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The team’s back-up, Bobrovsky, has performed slightly better and has been more consistent thus far. “Bob” is 11-4-1 with a 2.42 GAA and a .919 save percentage in 18 games.

It seems like Bobrovsky should be the main man instead of Brzygalov, right?

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, corey+crawford, ilya+bryzgalov, james+reimer, jonas+gustavsson, philadelphia+flyers, ray+emery, sergei+bobrovsky, toronto+maple+leafs

War On Ice: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

When it comes to the greatest rivalries in the National Hockey League, many fans will point out the obvious ones whether is the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, and so on and so forth.

One rivalry that deserves attention is one that will get just that on Monday afternoon at the 2012 Winter Classic, the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.

When the NHL decided that the 2012 Winter Classic would be between the New York Rangers and the host Philadelphia Flyers, I do not think they thought that at this point in this season, it would end being such a big tilt.

The New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers have one of the greatest rivalries in the league. However, over their 44-year history of playing against each other, it has turned into more than a rivalry.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brandon+prust, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, henrik+lundqvist, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, toronto+maple+leafs, wayne+simmonds, zac+rinaldo

Is the Central Division the Best in the NHL?

Over at TrueHockey.com today, I explored that topic:

When looking at the Central division, it’s possible all five teams could clinch playoff spots in the extremely competitive Western Conference.

Detroit Red Wings

Even without the likes of Brian Rafalski, Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Mike Modano, the Detroit Red Wings could very well be the class of the Central Division once again this season.

The Red Wings still have guys like Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall and goaltender Jimmy Howard. These players all had solid seasons last year and got the Wings to within one game of the Western Conference Finals.

This team will be the team to beat not only in the division, but possibly the entire conference.

Click here for more on the rest of the division.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, columbus+blue+jackets, detroit+red+wings, nashville+predators, st.+louis+blues

More on Corey Crawford with Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago

As I linked to earlier this morning, I wrote a piece on how Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be under a lot of pressure to have great seasons this year for their respective hockey clubs.

Although he submitted his answers to my questions just after I posted the story on TheGoodPoint.com, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on Crawford.

PH: In your opinion, why did Corey Crawford have so much success last season?
JR: He’d been preparing for this opportunity for a long time..he was probably in the minors a year too long so he was ready. He and the goalie coach for the Hawks have been together for many years so the transition to the NHL was easier because of that. He’s pretty laid back and that served him well.

PH: With his performance last season both in the regular season and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, what do you think Crawford was able to prove to both the Blackhawks’ organization and the NHL?
JR: He proved his mental toughness. That laid back attitude can serve you well but in pressure situations things change and he proved he could handle the workload from a physical and mental standpoint.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, corey+crawford, espn+chicago, jesse+rogers

The Pressure is on For Reimer and Crawford

Over at TheGoodPoint.com, I wrote a piece on how there will be a lot of pressure on goaltenders James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks) to have solid follow-up seasons this year for their respective hockey clubs:

Ever since Toronto Maple Leafs’ former netminder Ed Belfour left Toronto, the franchise has struggled to find themselves a true No. 1 goaltender and get into the postseason.

One problem was solved when goaltender James Reimer, 23, burst onto the scene and had an above average rookie season for the Leafs. In 37 games, Reimer went 20-10-5 with a 2.60 goals against average, a .921 save percentage, and three shutouts, bringing back days of Felix Potvin to the Leafs’ faithful.

Click here for more.

 

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, corey+crawford, james+reimer, toronto+maple+leafs

Old Time Hockey, Eh?

The game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night is the perfect example of why hockey can be so great.

It had big hits, plenty of fights, highlight-reel goals and it was one of the best rivalry games of the season between two Original Six franchises. It was old time hockey at its absolute best.

With that in mind, the National Hockey League needs to find a way to take advantage of the Original Six Franchises and give them more games to play against each other. Just look at the rivalries that are available to showcase:

- Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
- Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
- Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
- Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks
- Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
- Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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  Tags: boston+bruins, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, original+six, toronto+maple+leafs

Callahan and Dubinsky: True Blue Rangers

In what was a nail biter at Madison Square Garden last night, the New York Rangers defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-2.

When talking about this game, besides goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of course, there are two key players to talk about: Ryan Callahan dna Brandon Dubinsky.

In last night’s tilt, Callahan picked up two assists and also blocked a few shots, threw several hits, killed penalties, played on the power play and more. He did everything for the Blueshirts.

He reminds me a bit of Adam Graves because like Graves did when he was a Blueshirt, Callahan never takes a shift off. He hustles, he goes to the net, he deflects shots, he pokes at rebounds, blocks shots, kills penalties, and more. He wears that Ranger jersey with pride and I hope that others will follow him.

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  Tags: brandon+dubinsky, chicago+blackhawks, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, ryan+callahan

Blueshirts Take on Defending Champs

The New York Rangers need to start establishing some consistency on home ice.

A win tonight against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks would do do the trick as the Blueshirts look to win their second straight game after shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC on Saturday night.

To do, the team will once again need to block a lot of shots, take away the shooting lanes, pick up the man in front and cover the points because if they don’t, the Blackhawks’ offensive and defensive guns will surely make them pay.

The team will also need to get more scoring from guys other than Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov. As I’ve mentioned many times before, this has been the club’s top line and while it’s great to have them contributing a lot, the team needs more production from its other lines.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, new+york+rangers

Rangers’ Shut Out Leafs

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the New York Rangers needed to go out and play a perfect road game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Mission accomplished as the Blueshirts shutout the Leafs 2-0 thanks to terrific performances from the likes of Henrik Lundqvist (36 saves), Ryan Callahan (penalty shot goal), and Brian Boyle (1 goal). and Bradon Prust.

What else is left to say about Lundqvist? He played great last night in a losing effort and tonight, he absolutely shut the door on the Leafs, especially in the second and third periods when the Leafs had sustained pressure in the Blueshirts’ zone. Yes, he allowed four goals last night but ever since making the start in Boston a week ago, Henrik has been on top of his game.

Ryan Callahan has also been terrific for the Blueshirts. With his penalty shot goal tonight, Cally now has 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points in 10 games. Not only is he contributing offensively, but he also throws a lot of hits, blocks a lot of shots and creates plenty of scoring opportunities.

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  Tags: brian+boyle, chicago+blackhawks, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan, toronto+maple+leafs

Looking for Fans Reactions To a Few Questions I have

Good morning folks. The dog days of summer really are here and as such, I want to help keep hockey on your minds.

As such, I would like to get your thoughts on the following questions:

- Will Kovalchuk still end up being a New Jersey Devil? Why or why not?

- Was the NHL right to reject the Kovalchuk contract? Why or why not?

- Does this whole Kovalchuk saga prove that the league could be headed for a lockout in the next few seasons? Why or why not?

- How will the Chicago Blackhawks be next season after losing several key players due to salary cap problems? Why?

- Where will UFA goaltender Marty Turco end up signing? Why? How about UFA netminder Jose Theodore?

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, illya+kovalchuk, jose+theodore, marty+turco, michael+leighton, new+jersey+devils, nhl, philadelphia+flyers, steve+yzerman, tampa+bay+lightning

Second Period Thoughts

After two periods, it’s still 3-1 Flyers as they try to knot the series up at 2-2.

Here are some thoughts I had on the second period:

- Leighton is 5-0 at home in these playoffs. He’s one period away from making that 6-0 thanks to his terrific play between the pipes tonight.

- Speaking of home ice, the Flyers haven’t lost at the Wachovia Center since Game 3 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Boston Bruins.

- From @DanTencer: “Who are the guys in white jerseys and what have they done with the Hawks?”

- Understatement from Mike Emrick: “Dustin Byfuglien has not been the same presence he was in games 1 and 2”. I’m sure the team and its fans think the same thing.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, nhl, philadelphia+flyers, stanley+cup+playoffs

First Period Thoughts

With the way the first period went, Paul may certainly be right with his 5-3 prediction.

Game 4 has certainly been a great one so far. Here are some of my thoughts after a first period which has the Flyers up 3-1 over the Blackhawks:

- How about that terrific Leighton blocker save on Toews in front of the net and then again on the wraparound? Leighton showed exceptional poise and did a great job in smothering the rebound.

- Got to admit - I was impressed with Richards’s goal. He made a great play to help turn the puck over and then slide a great low backhander through the wickets of Niemi. That’s the kind of leadership and offensive skill that Richards has shown throughout these playoffs.

- Ladd returns to the Hawks’ lineup and takes a penalty on his first shift. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot.

- Kopecky has to be feeling badly about that interference penalty, eh?

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, nhl, philadelphia+flyers, stanley+cup+playoffs

Questions Before Tonight’s Game 4

Good morning folks. I hope that everyone has been enjoying the Cup Finals this year because I certainly have been.

We have seen it all in this series: hard hits, big saves, timely scoring, big defensive plays, shutdown hockey, offensive hockey, goaltending dual, etc. It’s all been there so let’s hope it stays for the remainder of the series.

With that in mind, I wanted your thoughts on tonight’s Game 4:

- Who will score the first goal in tonight’s game? Why do you think that is?

- When will big “Buff” return to form?

- Who do you think has been the better coach in this series? Why?

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, philadelphia+flyers, stanley+cup+playoffs

Goals Galore - Something Ranger fans are not used to

If you’re a New York Rangers fan and you watched Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals last night between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers, then you certainly enjoyed seeing something you did not see a lot of this season: goals!

Eleven goals were scored last night in front opf a raucous Chicago crowd and while it was run and gun and somewhat ugly hockey, it was extremely entertaining. That word certainly does not describe the Blueshirts.

If you’re GM Glen Sather (sorry), you have to look at the offensive depth these two clubs have and wonder if there is any way to make that happen in NY. Both of these clubs can throw out four lines every night and know that each line has a good chance to put the puck in the net.

Right now at least, the Rangers do not have that.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers

Justin Bourne Gives his Thoughts on the Western Conference Finals

As I am sure many of you knowledgeable hockey blog fans are aware, Justin Bourne, who we have interviewed here on Kukla’s Korner, runs the great http://www.jtbourne.com and his now contributing his musings on Puck Daddy.

Justin was kind enough to take time out of his busy blog schedule to give us his thoughts on the Western Conference Finals:

PH: So, the top two teams in the Western Conference will are battling it out to see who goes to the Cup final. Was this pretty much expected?
JT: No, before the playoffs I don’t think it would’ve been safe to say that the Sharks would find the will to get past a top team in a seven game series. Roster-wise it would have been easy to say, but most people are aware of their post-season crumblings, so them getting by Detroit was a heckuva feat.  I’m glad they did - the West final is intensely interesting right now.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, justin+bourne, san+jose+sharks, stanley+cup+playoffs

Not His Fault

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist did everything he could last night to give his team a chance to steal two points against the high-flying Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately for Henrik, no one else jumped on board as the Blueshirts lost 2-1 in overtime.

In regulation time, Lundqvist was magnificent in making 39 saves and was almost able to keep out Jonathan Toews’ equalizer with less than six minutes to go in the third period. However, when you give up that many shots and that many quality chances, pucks are bound to go in the net and that’s exactly what happened to the Blueshirts last night.

In watching head coach John Tortorella’s post-game press conference, it was easy to see how upset he was. He knew that his team did not deserve to get a point and that the only players that came to play were Lundqvist and the team’s fourth line.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, new+york+rangers

Deal on the Horizon for Keith?

From Jesse Rogers at ESPNChicago.com:

While no negotiations have taken place, Keith’s agent, Ross Gurney, is expected in town soon which means those talks could heat up. Keith will get a considerable raise from the $1.5 million he is making now.

Too bad for Duncan he wasn’t born a month earlier; if so, he’d be an unrestricted free-agent at the end of this year instead of next. He’ll be 27 on July 16, 2010 which is the age NHL players become unrestricted but he would need to be 27 by July 1.

This gives him a little leverage, I suppose. If he doesn’t like any long term deals the Hawks have to offer (and doesn’t sign a restricted deal with another team) he could play next year under a “qualifying offer” and then become unrestricted.

Click here for more.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, duncan+keith

Back in the Saddle

Good afternoon folks. I apologize for not having posted this week as I was busy packing up my things and getting ready to move into my new condo next weekend. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about Kukla’s Korner.

As you’re all aware of, the NHL Conference Finals are officially under way. Yesterday’s Game 1 between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks showed that the Blackhawks still have a lot to learn about what it means to be a successful playoff team. Sure, they were able to stay in the majority of the game but there are so many things they can learn just from watching the Wings and how they compete with consistency on a nightly basis.

Tonight, the Eastern Conference finals hits the ice as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Many pundits and fans see this as going six games in favor of the Penguins but let’s not forget that the Hurricanes have not lost a playoff series since 2002 in the Cup finals to the Red Wings. Sure, they’ve only made the postseason twice since 2002 but nevertheless, they’ve been pretty successful so far - wouldn’t you say?

I want to hear your predictions folks:

- Who’s going to win the East? Why?
- Who’s going to win the West, Why?

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, pittsburg+penguins, stanley+cup+playoffs

Thoughts on Canucks’ Game Three Victory

In another short blog I penned for MaxHockey.com, I mentioned how a Versus analyst called the Vancouver Canucks’ play methodic and how the term suited them for tonight’s 3-1 victory, giving the boys from British Columbia a 2-1 series lead heading into Game Four.

Also, click here to check out Stan Fischler’s thoughts on the same game.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, maxhockey.com, stan+fischler, stanley+cup+playoffs, vancouver+canucks

Thoughts on the Second Round

You can find my thoughts on the second round over at MaxHockey.com. Click below to find out my opinions on each series:

Eastern Conference

- Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes

- Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference

- Detroit Red Wings vs. Anaheim Ducks

- Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Also feel free to check out Zach Weinstock’s excellent NHL Playoff page.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, pittsburgh+penguins, stanley+cup+playoffs, vancouver+canucks, washington+capitals

Blackhawks Learning As They Go

From the Canadian Press:

Jonathan Toews, the 20-year-old captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, got his first taste of the playoffs and like so many of his young teammates, he found out just how different it is from the regular season. And how difficult.

“You learn that anything is possible and you can come back from big deficits. Also, if you take a shift off, it can go the other way, too,” Toews said after the Blackhawks finished off the Calgary Flames in six games with a 4-1 win at Calgary on Monday night.

Click here for more.

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, jonathan+toews

The Flames are Flawed

From Jim Kelley of Sportsnet.ca:

My job is to inform in the best way I know how and when I mentioned at the start of the season and again at the trade deadline that there were flaws in the Calgary Flames as a team and in the way it was constructed that was true. That they looked very much like yet another edition of the one-and-out Flames was an opinion to be sure, but it was an opinion rooted in observation of fact.

It’s also true that several of the Flames’ flaws were not just exposed but exploited by the Chicago Blackhawks in the now ended season for the Flames. Chicago was the better team, they were a faster team and a better balanced team and, yes, they were healthier and they had the better goaltending but this won’t be a column about the Hawks or about what I’ve seen all season in the Flames.

Click here to read more.

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  Tags: calgary+flames, chicago+blackhawks

This Week’s Questions

Much like I did last Friday, I am going to list a few questions related to what’s going on in the hockey world.

Please feel free to post your thoughts on the following questions in the comment section of the blog:

- Will the St. Louis Blues make the playoffs? Why or why not?

- What is happening to the New Jersey Devils? Why are they struggling so much?

- Is this the last hurrah in Minnesota for Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire? If so, where do you think he will end up coaching next? Why?

- Have the Montreal Canadiens finally righted the ship after a dismal February and early March? What have they done differently?

- Does anyone really believe that Philadelphia Flyers’ netminder Martin Biron can lead his club to the Stanley Cup?

- Are the Chicago Blackhawks good enough to make a deep run in the playoffs?

- Do the Detroit Red Wings have good enough goaltending to get them back to the Stanley Cup Finals?

Let’s hear your thoughts!

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, jacques+lemaire, martin+biron, minnesota+wild, montreal+canadiens, new+jersey+devils, philadelphia+flyers, st.+louis+blues

Look at the Bright Side

Yes, yesterday afternoon’s 3-0 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly stings but look on the bright side: the New York Rangers picked up points in four of their five road games, including wins against the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and the talented Chicago Blackhawks.

The trip saw Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist return to form, especially his statistics: 23 wins, a 2.54 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts. These numbers certainly show why he is attending this year’s NHL All-Star game in Montreal.

The team’s recent road trip also saw Chris Drury come alive as well as the continued strong play of Ryan Callahan and Nigle Dawes. Hopefully, these three will continue to play well because they are the only ones that are performing consistently on an offensive level in the past couple of weeks.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, madison+square+garden, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nhl+all-star+game, nigel+dawes, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan

The Captain Gets It Done In Chicago

Every New York Ranger fan knew that tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks was going to be a test for their Blueshirts and the team passed it with flying colors thanks to their captain, Chris Drury, who scored to give the Rangers a 3-2 overtime victory at the sold out United Center.

Many Ranger fans, myself included, were wondering what was wrong with Drury not too long ago. He wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t as sharp defensively and he looked lost. However, in the past two weeks or so, Drury has come alive and in his last six games, has five goals and an assist for six points.

Tonight, both of his goals came on the power play and he scored the way the team should be on their power play all season long: by not being afraid to shoot the puck and go to the net.

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  Tags: atlantic+division, chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, tom+renney

Rangers in Chi-Town

Tonight will be an important test for the New York Rangers as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The Blackhawks are currently fourth in the Western Conference and sport an impressive home record of 16-4-3.

Back on October 10, the Blueshirts defeated the Blackhawks in their home opener at Madison Square Garden but this is a much different Hawks team than the one that was on the ice three months ago. They have a new coach in Joel Quenneville, are getting scoring across the board from the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Martin Havlat, playing solid defensively and are getting excellent goaltending from both Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.

“Outside of the skill they were able to exhibit back then, I think they will be pretty different (tonight),” Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney told the team’s web site. “I think there is a level of commitment and discipline to their game now.”

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  Tags: aaron+voros, chicago+blackhawks, cristobal+huet, dan+fritsche, joel+quenneville, jonathan+toews, martin+havlat, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nikolai+khabibulin, patrick+kane, patrick+sharp, tom+renney

We’ll Take It

It certainly wasn’t one of their best games of the season, especially against one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League, but the New York Rangers were able to come away with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders thanks to the play of Henrik Lundqvist and a rather successful power play.

Lundqvist appears to be returning to form as he posted his third solid performance in a week by making 33 saves en route to his 22nd victory of the season. He was especially good in the first two periods, stopping 24 of 25 shots and enabling his club to hold onto a 2-1 lead going into the third period, a lead that they would not relinquish.

“We knew we would create some chances against them, and it finally paid off in the second period, and then we locked it down the rest of the way,” Lundqvist told the team’s web site. “It was a great effort, and we are definitely on the right track here.”

 

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, national+hockey+league, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nigel+dawes, tom+renney

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