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Entries with the tag: john tortorella

Richards Getting Hot at the Right Time for the Blueshirts

For most of this shortened season, things have not been easy for New York Rangers' forward Brad Richards.

For much of this year, Richards struggled in all areas of game whether it was on offense, on the power play, handling the puck, etc. A few times this season, Rangers' head coach John Tortorella even went as far to bench the Rangers' nine-year man.

With that said, it really is amazing how fast things can change. After picking up a goal and an assist last night in his team's 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers, Richards went out and scored his first career hat trick in helping the Blueshirts crush the Sabres by a score of 8-4.

If you are counting at home, that is four goals and an assist in the last two games. With his three goals tonight, not only is he in double digits, but he is starting to show that he is not afraid to put the puck on net.

In many games prior to these last two, Richards seemed afraid to put the puck on goal. He was clearly snake bitten and looked like he had lost confidence in his ability to put the puck in the net.

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  Tags: brad+richards, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, florida+panthers, john+tortorella, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers

Placing Some Blame on Tortorella

With the New York Rangers on a three game losing streak, many Blueshirts' fans are clamoring to have team head coach John Tortorella fired.

While it is typical for fans to overreact and make impulse decisions, it is a somewhat understandable feeling. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and getting Rick Nash during the off-season, many fans thought that the team had the makings of getting to the next level and once again being a Stanley Cup contender.

Unfortunately, these same fans have been let down. As of this writing, the team is tenth in the conference and three points out of the eighth spot. What is even worse for Rangers' fans is that the New York Islanders currently have one more point than their favorite hocckey team.

This is not the way it was supposed to be this season. The Blueshirts were supposed to be one of the best teams in both the East and the NHL and instead, are flirting with the possibility that they might not make the postseason at all.

While it is on the players to perform and produce, it is understandable that some of the blame must be placed on Tortorella. There is no doubt that while playing a defense-first system is smart, the team that Tortorella has includes several high-end forwards who might be being held back.

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  Tags: brad+richards, derek+stepan, glen+sather, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Figuring Out New Ways to Win

More than a quarter past the season already, this is something that the New York Rangers need to do if they want to get into the postseason.

Tonight, the Blueshirts are in Montreal to take on the Canadiens. These two clubs met on Tuesday night in what was more of a chess match than a hockey game and the Canadiens escaped Madison Square Garden with a 3-1 victory.

There is no doubt that every point matters in this kind of season but the Rangers need to try and find ways to get two rather than one. While the team was able to get one point in their Thursday night 3-2 shootout loss to the Senators, it really did not help then standings wise.

Coming into tonight's tilt, the team is eighth in the East with 18 points, but just one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers are also 5-3-2 in their last 10 and while that is not terrible, it is not the play of a Stanley Cup contender.

With all of this in mind, Rangers' head coach John Tortorella must find different ways to get this hockey team going. Sure, they can get solid defense and excellent goaltending on a nightly basis but right now, it is not winning hockey games on a consistent basis.

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  Tags: christian+thomas, john+tortorella, martin+biron, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, philadelphia+flyers, tampa+bay+lightning

More Offense

If the New York Rangers want to have any kind of chance to both get into the postseason and go far in them, they will need a lot more offense.

In Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the Blueshirts probably had one of their worst offensive performances. There was no sustained pressure, not enough pucks thrown at Canadiens' netminder Carey Price and not enough flow to their game.

Things will not get any easier tonight as the team takes on the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa without one of their key offensive cogs, Rick Nash. Nash is out with an undisclosed injury and for Rangers' head coach John Tortorella, that means some serious creativity is going to be needed to come up with balanced offensive lines.

For whatever reason, scoring goals on a consistent basis has been a problem for the Rangers over the last few seasons. You can play great defense and get solid goaltending but without scoring goals, it will mean nothing and all go to waste.

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  Tags: carey+price, john+tortorella, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, rick+nash

Rangers Send Kreider Down to AHL

For New York Rangers' youngster Chris Kreider, this was a long time coming.

Kreider, who has struggled with the big club this season so far, was sent down to the Connecticut Whale so that he could get some playing time. The 22-year-old winger played with the Whale while waiting for the NHL lockout to end and struggled a bit there as well.

The key for the Rangers' coaching staff and organization as a whole is to be patient. When Kreider burst onto the scene in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, he was already coming in on a high due to winning a National Championship with Boston College and being called up to the NHL just several days later.

For Kreider, it is important for him to find his game. His game consists of speed, a great shot, an ability to get pucks to the net and someone who is responsible on both ends of the ice.

Rangers' head coach John Tortorella knows this. Tortorella also knows that some day soon, Kreider is going to be an integral part of the Rangers' organization.

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  Tags: boston+college, chris+kreider, connecticut+whale, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers

Seven Minutes of Poor Play leads to 4-3 Shootout loss for Blueshirts

Had it not been for a terrible span of seven minutes in the second period, the New York Rangers may have never lost 4-3 to the New York Islanders in a shootout at Madison Square Garden.

After going up 2-0 in the first period, the Rangers stopped skating and allowed the Islanders to skate all over them for the first seven minutes. The result was three quick goals and the loss of a lead that the team should have built on.

The Rangers were able to tie the game at three when Carl Hagelin knocked a loose puck in the crease past Islanders' netminder Evgeni Nabokov. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, the team was unable to get another one and the Islanders' first two shooters in the shootout did all the rest to spoil the Rangers' three game winning streak.

As always, the Rangers' power play struggled tonight. Yes, the team did manage to get one goal with the man advantage but other than that, they struggled to get pucks on the net, move the puck cleanly and even find good lanes to get a shot on Nabokov.

As I mentioned in my blog a little while ago, Brad Richards was just one of the reasons why the team could not do much on the man advantage tonight. His poor play on the power play actually caused team head coach John Tortorella to bench him for much of the third period. 

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  Tags: brad+boyes, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, evgeni+nabokov, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, washington+capitals

Brad Richards A Side Story in tonight’s Rangers vs. Islanders’ Game

While the game at Madison Square Garden between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders has yet to be settled, one interesting development has been the benching of Rangers' forward Brad Richards.

It was easy to see that Richards has had trouble tonight, both on even strength and on the power play. For Rangers' head coach John Tortorella, however, the main concern has to be Richards' poor performance on the power play.

Richards has not looked confident with the puck, was slow skating the puck out of his own zone and in general, has just had a tough time moving the puck. One could probably credit the Islanders' aggresive play on the penalty kill but it has been like this for Richards and the rest of the club's power play all season long.

There is no doubt that when Richards is at his best, he is one that creates offense by not being afraid to shoot the puck and being able to find the open lanes with his pin-point passing. This season, and even parts of last season, Richards has had trouble doing both when the team has the man advantage.

Obviously, the blame should not be placed solely on Richards's shoulders but as the team's supposed power play quarterback, he needs to get it going in order for this team to have success moving forward with the man advantage.

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  Tags: brad+richards, john+tortorella, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers

Big on Even Strength

This is the perfect way to describe tonight's New York Rangers' win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

All goals were even strength as the Blueshirts got even two goals from Carl Hagelin (two goals and one assist) a goal from team captain Ryan Callahan, a goal by fourth liner Arron Asham (his first as a Ranger) and power forward Rick Nash (one goal and one assist) to lead the Rangers to a 5-1 victory at Madison Square Garden. With the win, the Blueshirts moved over the .500, albeit one game, mark for the first time this season.

The Rangers essentially won this game in the first period. Hagelin scored 31 seconds into the game and Callahan scored with just over five minutes to go in the period to put the Rangers up by a score of 2-0 going into the second.

In that first period, the Rangers were all over the Lightning in the offensive zone. The team got to loose pucks and were not afraid to put it on net as the team fired 15 shots on Lightning netminder Mathieu Garon, who ended up being pulled after Hagelin notched his second of the night about ten minutes into the second period.

That second period was quite interesting as a Rangers' error at their own bench allowed Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier to score his team's only goal. On the play, the Blueshirts had trouble making a line change and ended up getting caught shorhanded in their own zone. Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist (19 saves) made two great saves prior to the goal but Lecavalier was able to sneak one in just under Lundqvist's outstretched left arm.

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  Tags: arron+asham, boston+bruins, carl+hagelin, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, mathieu+garon, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, tampa+bay+lightning, vincent+lecavalier

Trying to Build Consistency

That is something the New York Rangers will look to do tonight when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden, the Blueshirts skated away with a 4-1 victory. The team got terrific performances out of J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist and did everything else they needed to do to win a hockey game.

For the Rangers to get all parts of their game going, the team's power play must start clicking. More often than not, the Rangers have been given ample opportunitites to build on their momentum by scoring a goal with the man advantage and more often than not, the Rangers come out of it goal-less.

When one thinks about it, it does not make any sense that the Rangers are not producing on the power play. The team has the talent, the shooters, the guys to go to the front of the net and the point men to get the puck to the net.

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  Tags: chris+kreider, henrik+lundqvist, j.t.+miller, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+mcdonagh, tampa+bay+lightning

Rangers’ Young Trio Come Through in Win Over the Islanders

For the New York Rangers ot have success the rest of the way, they are going to need contributions up and down the lineup.

In a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden tonight, Blueshirts' youngsters J.T. Miller (two goals), Ryan McDonagh (one goal and one assist) and Chris Kreider (one assist) all had big games for their team. The trio produced, played well on both sides of the ice and showed head coach John Tortorella that they are here to stay (mainly Miller and Kreider).

In just his second career NHL game, Miller notched his first two NHL goals. His first one came in the first period as Miller used his hustle, great footwork and patience with the puck to beat Islanders' goaltender Evegni Nabokov.

The second one was a beauty that came on the power play (Yes, you read that right). McDonagh made a great pass from just over his own blue and hit Miller cutting towards the offensive zone blue line and Miller beat Nabokov on a partial breakaway.

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  Tags: chris+kreider, evgeni+nabokov, j.t.+miller, john+tortorella, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan, ryan+mcdonagh, tampa+bay+lightning

And So It Begins

Here we are folks. About two and a half months after the season was suppossed to begin, the New York Rangers will open up their regular season tomorrow night in Boston with a tilt against the Boston Bruins.

For the Blueshirts, this game has been a long time coming. It marks the debut of Rick Nash and what will hopefully be a more dynamic offense both in even strength situations, and on the power play.

The game also represents the start of what some predict will be a great 48-game season for the Blueshirts. While it is too early to start talking about hockey's Holy Grail, it is definitely something that the Rangers should be able to contend for this year.

The Rangers were 3-1 last season against the Bruins. The Blueshirts outscored the B's by a 11-7 margin and in those games, got great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, who had a memorable 40-save shutout in Boston back on February 14.  

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+marchand, brian+boyle, dan+girardi, david+krejci, derek+stepan, dougie+hamilton, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, johnny+boychuk, milan+lucic, nathan+horton, new+york+rangers, patrice+bergeron, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, tuukka+rask, tyler+seguin, zdeno+chara

Cautious Optimism

This is exactly how New York Rangers' fans should approach the upcoming 48-game shortened NHL season.

Last season, the Blueshirts shocked many and were one of the best teams in the entire league last season. They did it with great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, great defense, and a committment by the whole team to play well on both sides of the puck.

Considering that the team's coach, John Tortorella, is still in place, the team will more than likely use the same philosphy this season. With that said, there is reason for the team and its fans to believe that this season could end up being a very special season on Broadway.

For starters, the team now has a balanced offense. With newcomer Rick Nash now in the fold, the Blueshirts now have two snipers in their arsenal with the likes of Nash and Marian Gaborik to go along with the likes of Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and others.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Happy to be Back

Well folks, it is finally over.

With a new CBA agreement in place, we can now look forward to what should be a very interesting New York Rangers' season. With a shortened season and the Rangers known for being a streaky team, a good start out of the gate could end up leading to something special for the Blueshirts.

What's interesting is that after the 1993-94 season when the Rangers won the Cup, the New Jersey Devils ended up winning the their first Cup in franchise history by sweeping the Detroit Red Wings. With the Devils getting to the Stanley Cup Final last season, may be the Blueshirts will return the favor and get back to the Final for the first time since 1994.

Anyways, now is not the time to look far ahead. For the Rangers, they will more than likely use head coach John Tortorella's approach of one game at a time and will make sure they play well in all areas of the game and are consistent game in and game out.

With a grueling schedule on tap, it might be hard for the Rangers to do all those things but if one thing is certain, it is that they have a roster capable of getting the team to the next level. The addition of Rick Nash up front should also help the team put more pucks in the net both on even strength and in an area they struggled the most with last season, the power play.

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  Tags: 2012+nhl+cba+agreement, detroit+red+wings, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, rick+nash

Tortorella Likes This Blueshirts’ Team

From Larry Brooks at the New York Post:

“A camp next week would be designed differently than one in three weeks,” Tortorella said. “But that being said, I’m not going to map out camp without communicating with the players.

“The quality of our core leadership and of our young guys is one of our greatest assets. There’s a reason I’ve said so many times that I really like and trust our team. It would be ignorant not to converse with the players to make sure that we get it right."

Click here for more on Tortorella's thoughts on potential training camp issues, the team's core leadership and more.

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  Tags: john+tortorella, new+york+rangers

The Value of Martin Biron

When it comes to hockey, there is no doubt that goaltending is a key cog in the machine that makes up a hockey team.

For the New York Rangers, the main cog between the pipes is Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is everything a team could want in a starting netminder as he is consistent, plays and wins a lot of games, makes key saves at the right time, gets his team into the postseason and more importantly, makes them a contender in what is a very talented Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

With that said, it is important that the machine has a backup cog in case something goes wrong with the main one or if it needs to be replaced so that it can rest. In the case of the Blueshirts, this particular cog is back-up goaltender Martin Biron.

Since joining the Blueshirts in the 2010-11 season, Biron has been a netminder that the Rangers can rely on to give them a chance to win when he is between the pipes. In his two seasons on Broadway, Biron has won 20 games, picked-up two shutouts and has posted impressive goals against averages of 2.13 and 2.46, respectively.

While the numbers clearly show that Biron is more than just your average back-up goaltender, there is a lot more to him than just the stats. For starters, Biron's experience as a starting goaltender for both the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers has helped him in his transition to being a full-time back-up NHL goaltender.

This is important because Biron knows how to prepare for games. He knows what it takes to start in games and he knows what he needs to do to be ready. When between the pipes for the Rangers these last two years, his preparation has shown with his steady play when team head coach John Tortorella puts him in net.

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  Tags: atlantic+division, buffalo+sabres, eastern+conference, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers

Ryan McDonagh: Rangers’ Best Defenseman?

When it comes to great New York Rangers' defensemen, one thinks of Brian Leetch, Brad Park, Harry Howell, Ron Greschner, as well as a few others.

Nowadays, the Blueshirts have several terrific defensemen. Last season, along with the great play of netminder Henrik Lundqvist, the team's defensive corps finished third in the league in goals allowed and helped Lundqvist win his first Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.

With that said, there is one defenseman on the Blueshirts that stands just above the rest. Believe it or not, it is not Dan Girardi or Marc Staal.

Rather, it is 23-year-old Ryan McDonagh. Looking back at the deal that brought McDonagh to the Blueshirts, it appears that Glen Sather absolutely robbed the Montreal Canadiens

In his first season on Broadway in 2010-11, McDonagh scored 1 goal and added 8 assists for 9 points in 40 games. While that is not a lot of offense, it was his strong defensive plays that opened up the eyes of the organization and its fans.

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  Tags: brad+park, brian+leetch, dan+girardi, harry+howell, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marc+staal, new+york+rangers, ron+greschner, ryan+mcdonagh

Derek Stepan: Continuing on Up on Broadway

When it comes to the New York Rangers, a lot has been said about the talented youth they now have both on Broadway and in Connecticut.

One such talented youngster, Derek Stepan, will be entering his third season as an NHLer, and will be looking to continue becoming an even better hockey player than he is now. With 45 (21 goals and 24 assists) and 51 (17 goals and 34 assists) points in his first two seasons, the ceiling has yet to be reached for the 22-year-old Stepan.

There is no doubt that Stepan is a gifted hockey player. Stepan has soft hands, an eye for the net, the ability to make passes and create plays as well as the ability to play well on both sides of the puck.

His abilities were on full display in his first game in the NHL. That night against the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, Stepan scored a hat trick while showing the team and its fan that he could be a shining star on Broadway.

Stepan finished his rookie season with 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points while playing in all 82 games in the regular season. In the playoffs, however, Stepan failed to score a point in a five game series loss to the Washington Capitals. 

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  Tags: buffalo+sabres, derek+stepan, john+tortorella, marc+staal, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan

Rangers’ Del Zotto Must Continue to Improve

When you are in the National Hockey League, it is not enough to have just one good season. 

This is the kind of attitude that New York Rangers' defenseman Michael Del Zotto must have when the puck drops on the upcoming season, whenever that may be. In fact, for Del Zotto, it is the only way that he will survive under team head coach John Tortorella.

When the 22-year-old entered the league in the 2009-10 season, Del Zotto showed how gifted he was and how he could be too four defenseman in the NHL. That season, Del Zotto posted 37 points (9 goals and 28 assists) in 80 games. Four of the nine goals were on the power play and he even managed to score one game-winning goal as well.

However, one statistic that was quite alarming was Del Zotto's -20. While there was no doubt that Del Zotto could play well on the offensive side of the puck, his defensive abilities certainly did not measure up to other defensemen in the league.

In his second season, Del Zotto hit the "sophomore slump" and struggled mightily with the Blueshirts. Due to his struggles, Del Zotto played in just 47 games with the Rangers scoring 2 goals and adding 9 assists to go along with a dismal -5. 

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  Tags: brad+richards, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, michael+del+zotto, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan

More on Tortorella from the Maven Stan Fischler

From Stan Fischler at MSGNetwork.com:

"We're ready," Tortorella told me, sounding very much like he'd like to open camp in about two seconds. "Camp is set for the 21st (of September) and I'm enthused."

He should be; with an impressive crop of maturing Whiz Kids such as Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider, Torts' challenge will be honing their respective games to sharpness. A build-up-to-a-letdown is something every bench boss fears but with the surplus of Rangers talent at hand, the sky's the limit.

When I mentioned that Bill Torrey's formula for Stanley Cup-winners included speed, size and special teams, the coach said that his club has the goods.

"The additions of Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider have given us a lot of speed," he noted. "And don't forget the importance of quickness as opposed to just speed. That's a big part of the way National Hockey League play is going. As for size, Rick Nash can move and he's adding to our size.

Click here for more from the Hockey Maven.

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  Tags: john+tortorella, msgnetwork.com, new+york+rangers, stan+fischler

Thought from Torts

From Stan Fischler at MSGNetwork.com:

“What I liked was the maturing of our guys. They grew as we went along and all these things fast-tracked us to the playoffs where they experienced winning, losing—and in the end it all made them better.”

Looking backward, the Blueshirts leader understands that his club was one mere Martin Brodeur miscue away from winning Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final at Prudential Center. But with the score tied 2-2 in the third, Brodeur was challenged one-on-one by Brad Richards.

With 20-20 vision, the coach can examine the episode in his rear view mirror without blinking because—well—hockey is hockey and, in that moment, Brodeur was Brodeur.

“Richie had that chance but Brodeur stacked his pads,” the coach remembered, “and made the save. We win that and we win the series.”

Click here for more.

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  Tags: john+tortorella, msgnetwork.com, new+york+rangers, stan+fischler

A 1-2 Punch That is Not Guaranteed

In the hockey world, there have been several instances where two players display great chemistry together.

Last season, the New York Rangers had hoped for that with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Unfortunately, while they did play well together at times, they certainly did not do so on a consistent basis. While each player had solid seasons last year, they did so on different lines because when it came down to it, their talents did not work as well together as people hoped.

Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, this was also a problem in the postseason. With Gaborik scoring over 40 goals last season, many hoped and expected that Richards and Gaborik would find their groove together when it mattered most and it never ended up working out. Gaborik played hurt for much of the postseason and again, the two players found themselves on different lines.

With Rick Nash now in the fold, many will expect Richards and the former Columbus Blue Jacket to work together like clockwork. Nash can undoubtedly put the puck in the net and Richards is someone who knows how to set-up his teammates (41 assists last season).

For the Rangers, Nash and Richards will need to be the 1-2 punch for the start of next season. With Gaborik out of the lineup until November/December, the team needs to have guys that can put the puck the net and Nash needs to come in and be that guy with the help of Richards.

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  Tags: brad+richards, columbus+blue+jacket, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash

Rangers Will Miss Prust If Not Re-Signed

Over the weekend, New York Post mentioned that New York Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather said that the team is unlikely to re-sign forward Brandon Prust.

Sather said the following about Prust:

“I don’t think we’re going to get that one done,” said Sather during the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday. “I like him, the team likes him, everybody likes him ... but I’m not married to him.”

While Prust may not add a lot of offense or be a big name in the league or even on the team, Prust was an extremely valuable Blueshirt since he was traded to the club in 2010. He worked hard, played hard every game, played within John Tortorella’s system and was one of the more versatile forwards the Rangers had on their roster.

Prust is also a fan favorite. Rangers’ fans loved watching him be physical, go out and block shots, kill penalties, get in fights now and then and do his job well. In turn, Prust loves/loved the fans right back.

Brandon Prust ‏@BrandonPrust8
I wish management wanted me back as much as the fans.. Thanks for the love everyone

While Sather probably has his reasons for not wanting to re-sign Prust, the team and its fans will miss Prust and wish him well wherever he ends up signing.

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  Tags: brandon+prust, glen+sather, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers

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

Looking for Answers Tonight in Game 5

Coming into tonight’s Game 5 between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden, it appears that there are more questions than answers regarding the state of the Blueshirts after their 4-1 loss in Game 4.

While the Rangers were not exactly dead in their loss in Game 4, the team certainly was nowhere near its best. The club spent too much time in the penalty box, was outworked, outhustled and outshot and offensively, were too quiet to generate quality scoring chances against future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur.

Obviously, the team said all the right things both after the game and after yesterday’s practice but one has to wonder what the team is really thinking. For example, what is Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto thinking after his terrible performance in Game 4 in which he was the main cause of the Devils’ second goal by Travis Zajac and was also benched by head coach John Tortorella?

Another question that needs to be answered tonight is regarding the team’s offense? Where have the likes of Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards gone? While it is not fair to put all of the pressure on Gaborik and Richards to perform, these are the only two guys on the Blueshirts, with the exception of team captain Ryan Callahan, that can produce and put the puck in the net on regular basis.

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  Tags: 2012+stanley+cup+playoffs, john+tortorella, martin+brodeur, michael+del+zotto, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, travis+zajac

Heads or Tails?

That is what this Eastern Conference Finals series is between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils because picking which team will advance to the Stanley Cup Final is like flipping a coin.

On one side, you have the No. 1 seed Blueshirts. These Rangers work hard, block a lot of shots, play physical, get great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and yet, have not been able to take control of a series for three straight rounds.

On the other side, you have the No. 6 seed Devils. These Devils have speed, know how to put a net front presence in front of Lundqvist, have many two-way players, and have a future hall of fame netminder in Martin Brodeur.

This is why it makes perfect sense that heading into this afternoon’s Game 3 at the Prudential Center, this series is tied up. In Game 1, the Blueshirts rode a three goal third period and the perfect goaltending of Lundqvist to a 3—0 shutout. In Game 2, the Devils fought hard all game long, used deflections to beat Lundqvist and got great goaltending from Brodeur.

For the Rangers to win this game, a number of things need to happen. For starters, the Blueshirts need offense. Guys like Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Ryan Callahan need to start scoring like they did in the regular season.

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  Tags: 2012+stanley+cup+playoffs, brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan

Rangers Fail To Take Control for Third Straight Round

This is starting to become a familiar story for the New York Rangers in this postseason as the team finds themselves tied with their opponent after two games for the third straight round.

This opponent, the New Jersey Devils, went into Madison Square Garden and played a solid road game in earning a 3-2 victory to even up the series. The Devils got timely goal scoring, got another good game from their goaltender Martin Brodeur and did a good job of closing the door late in the third period to get the big victory.

For the Blueshirts, this was once again a game that they could have won. Rangers’ rookie Chris Kreider scored his fourth goal of the playoffs on a power play that gave the Rangers’ a 2-1 lead with just over 8 minutes left to go in the second period.

With the way Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been playing this postseason, one might think that would be enough to get the Rangers a victory and a 2-0 series lead. That did not happen as the Devils’ scored with just over two minutes to go in the second period to tie it (deflection by Ryan Carter) and a goal 2:31 in the third period (David Clarkson) to get a lead they would never relinquish.

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  Tags: 2012+stanley+cup+playoffs, chris+kreider, david+clarkson, henrik+lundqvist, jim+cerny, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, ryan+carter

Well-Shaped Roster Getting It Done

With the New York Rangers up 1-0 in their second round series over the Washington Capitals, it is easy to see that the Blueshirts are finally doing the right thing when it comes to shaping their roster.

This postseason is the example of that. The team and its head coach, John Tortorella, really want their youngsters to thrive and right now, several of them are doing just that.

However, the one that everyone is focused on heading into tonight’s Game 2 is Chris Kreider. Kreider, coming off a first star of the game performance in which he picked-up a goal and an assist, is showing the team and the rest of the NHL why he belongs in the league.

In the team’s 3-1 win in Game 1, Kreider scored his second game winning goal of the playoffs and showed how he can make a positive impact for this hockey club. At just 21 years of age, it is an impressive start and one that needs to continue if the Blueshirts want to keep on having success in the postseason.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, brad+richards, chris+higgins, chris+kreider, john+tortorella, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ryan+mcdonagh, scott+gomez, washington+capitals

Rangers Set for Game 3

While the team will be without one of its better offensive players for three games due to a suspension, the New York Rangers are set to take on the Ottawa Senators tonight in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

The team found out yesterday that the NHL suspended Carl Hagelin for three games due to his hit to Ottawa Senators’ forward Daniel Alfredsson. Hagelin did not intend to injure a player he idolized but nevertheless, he did knock Alfredsson out for the rest of Game 2, which the Senators went onto win 3-2 in overtime.

This is a series that has gotten nasty and will more than likely be so tonight. Senators’ defenseman Matt Carkner was also suspended 1 game for “inflicting punishment on an unwilling combatant” in Brian Boyle just over two minutes into Saturday night’s tilt.

As Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella mentioned yesterday, the momentum is going to change throughout this series. Right now, with the series tied and getting back on the ice tonight at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, the momentum might just be in the Senators’ favor.

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  Tags: carl+hagelin, chris+neil, craig+anderson, daniel+alfredsson, john+tortorella, matt+carkner, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators

Rangers Look for Game 1 Success to Carry Over into Game 2

Given the way that they played Game 1, the New York Rangers have every reason to come into tonight’s Game 2 with the Ottawa Senators in a very cocky manner.

However, that would not be this year’s team style. Throughout the regular season, the Blueshirts never let themselves get too high or too low and because of that attitude, it allowed them to stay focused on the task at hand.

Tonight’s task for the Rangers will be to play the same exact way they did in Game 1. This means getting good goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, getting big goals from their goal scorers in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, getting secondary offense from their depth players and playing disciplined.

On the other hand, there are some things that the Rangers could probably do better in tonight’s game. For starters, they need to generate more scoring opportunities on the power play. As most Rangers’ fans know, the team’s power play was inconsistent (that might be an understatement) throughout the regular season and often killed any momentum that they had until they started to click down the stretch. Special teams play is crucial in the postseason so the Rangers need to take advantage of any such chances they get this playoff season.

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  Tags: brad+richards, craig+anderson, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan

Move On and Focus

There really is not too much to say regarding the New York Rangers’ 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.

Yes, we can easily rehash Penguins’ defenseman Brooks Orpik’s hit on Derek Stepan and also what Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella had to say about it. With that said, it does not make sense to go over it again as we all know what was done and what was said and we all have an opinion on it.

Instead, it is time to shift our focus to the last regular season game tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals. The Capitals managed to clinch a playoff spot last night with a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers and are just two points behind the Panthers for the top spot in the Southeast Division.

The Capitals will play hard tomorrow night to try and clinch the division and home ice in the first round of the playoffs. This is a team that knows how to put the puck in the net, even though they have not done enough of that this season.

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  Tags: brooks+orpik, derek+stepan, florida+panthers, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, washington+capitals

Rangers Can’t Find Tying Goal in 2-1 Loss to the Bruins

With a chance to clinch first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference last night at Madison Square Garden against the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers could not find the equalizer in the third period in a 2-1 loss.

The Blueshirts fired 19 shots at Bruins’ netminder Tim Thomas in the third period but Thomas turned them all aside. The Bruins’ battling goaltender finished the game with 33 saves and even Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella said that Thomas was the difference in the hockey game.

This felt like a playoff game for both clubs. There was lots of hitting, lots of blocked shots, and timely goal scoring in what could end up being a playoff match-up later on in the spring.

The loss snapped the Rangers’ four game winning streak as well as chance to clinch the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. On the other side, the Bruins clinched their third Northeast Division title in the last four years with the victory and will end up facing the No. 7 team in the conference in the first round.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, tim+thomas

Rangers Continue To Roll

They may have already clinched a playoff spot and they may have somewhat of a tight grip on the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference but the New York Rangers are on a roll right now.

Tonight, the team won its 50th game of the year by beating the struggling Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-1 at Madison Square Garden. The team got another strong performance out of both Marian Gaborik (1 goal and 1 assist) and Brad Richards (1 goal and 2 assists) while also getting the goaltending they needed from Henrik Lundqvist (19 saves on 20 shots).

Gaborik and Richards are on fire at the right time for their hockey club. Gaborik picked up his 39th goal of the season and added an assist while Richards added his 25th goal of the season as well as two assists.

It may have taken a long time for Gaborik and Richards to work well together on the same line but it just goes to show you that patience is everything in the NHL. Yes, Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella broke the pair up earlier in the season but was smart enough to put them together later on when their games were both going strong.

Another Rangers’ player who is on fire, believe it or not, is defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto picked-up 2 goals (his first 2-goal game of his career) and an assist and now has 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points on the season.

While his defensive game still needs some work, Del Zotto has had a terrific bounce back season for the Blueshirts this year. He looks a lot more confident with the puck and his offensive game looks much like it did in his first season in the league back in 2009-10.

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Just Win Hockey Games

With the Minnesota Wild out of the Western Conference playoff hunt, the New York Rangers will look to go “wild” in Minnesota tonight and pick-up the two points that they need to keep pace in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

With no signs of slowing down, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like the team to beat in the NHL right now. They are just one point behind the Blueshirts for first in the division and conference and their next two games are against the New York Islanders.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The win helped the Rangers get over the 100-point mark for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

According to Andrew Gross of The Record, Rangers’ starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will make his sixth straight start. Lundqvist has not looked like himself between the pipes over the last few weeks so it is important that team head coach John Tortorella gives him a chance to get his game in order before the postseason begins.

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Gaborik-Richards-Hagelin Line Gets it Done in Win Over Hurricanes

When it comes to the National Hockey League, there have been many get trios when it comes to offensive lines.

While they may not be considered great right now, the New York Rangers’ line of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Carl Hagelin sure got it done for their hockey club tonight in the team’s 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.

The trio combined for a terrific 9 points. Richards, who looks like a brand new player out there, had two goals and three assists. After tonight’s tilt, Richards has 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points, good for second on the club.

Gaborik, who continues to contribute to the Rangers’ offense on a nightly basis, had a goal and two assists. With his three point performance, Gaborik now has 34 goals (3rd in the league) and 30 assists for 64 points, good for tops on the team.

Hagelin, the rookie, is showing just what kind of offensive ability he has by playing with two of the team’s top two forwards. Hagelin picked up a goal and two assists and now has 32 points (13 goals and 20 assists).

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  Tags: brad+richards, cam+ward, carl+hagelin, carolina+hurricanes, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins

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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Three In a Row for the Blueshirts

With starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist given the night off, and team captain Ryan Callahan, out day-to-day with a bruised foot, back-up goaltender Martin Biron needed to give the New York Rangers a strong start against the Carolina Hurricanes, especially considering the way he had played in his last few starts.

As it turned out, Biron came up big for the Blueshirts in a 3-2 victory in Carolina. After allowing the Hurricanes’ only goal of the game in the second period, Biron really shut the door and played a solid game in making 21 saves.

For Biron, it was his 11th win of the season. In 17 games, Biron is now 11-3-2 and continues to show team head coach John Tortorella that it is okay to rest Lundqvist.

The team also got a solid performance out of the Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov line. Gaborik picked-up his 30th goal of the season as well as an assist for points 54 and 55 on the season. Stepan also had a strong game in adding two assists while Anisimov scored his 12th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1 in the second period.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, boston+bruins, brandon+dubinsky, carolina+hurricanes, daniel+girardi, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, ryan+mcdonagh, steven+stamkos, tampa+bay+lightning

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

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

Battle of The Hudson

While it always seems like the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils play a playoff brand of hockey when the two clubs meet, that will really be the case tonight when they will go at it at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers, who are on top of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, are coming off of two straight wins over the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. In those games, the club got excellent goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, played a physical style of hockey and won all the little battles within the game.

On the other side, the Devils might just be playing their best hockey of the season. The team from across the Hudson River has won five straight games and is putting the puck in the net with regularity, getting solid performances out of of both Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur and playing with a swagger that has been missing from their game the last few seasons.

These two teams met last Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, where the Blueshirts lost a hard fought game 4-3 in a shootout. As I had mentioned last week, this was a game that the Rangers should have won so they will definitely be looking to get the two points tonight on home ice.

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  Tags: buffalo+sabres, henrik+lundqvist, ilya+kovalchuk, john+tortorella, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, steve+eminger

He’s Earned It

From Jesse Spector at The Sporting News:

Coaching in the All-Star Game is a validation of the job that John Tortorella has done behind the New York Rangers’ bench this season, even if he chooses not to see it that way.

“It’s an honor, but it isn’t me,” the coach of the Eastern Conference’s top team said on Friday. “I’m standing in, along with (New York’s players on the All-Star teams) as part of an organization that has found their way through the first half of the year. It’s a half of the year break, and they’ve recognized how teams have played and individuals have played. I’m standing in, and it’s an honor, but it’s certainly not an individual honor. It’s to represent the New York Rangers.”

“He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and I think that’s a real valuable thing,” said San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan, who will share the reins of Team Alfredsson with Tortorella on Sunday, while Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins calls the line changes for Team Chara. “Teams often take the identity of their coach, and over time I believe that’s happened in New York. They’re a scrappy group, a competitive group. They pay the price, they block shots every night. They obviously have some talent. But I think those characteristics, that he’s promoted there, and that he carries on his sleeve, have rubbed off on his players and they’re in first place for a reason.”

Click here for more on Tortorella.



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In a Good Place

This is exactly what the New York Rangers are in heading into the NHL All-Star Break this weekend.

The team currently sits in the top spot in the Atlantic Division while also being in first in the Eastern Conference with 66 points. While there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, there really is not much Rangers’ fans can complain about these days.

With that said, the trick for the Blueshirts when they come back from the All-Star break is to keep up their solid play. Too often has the league seen teams letup and while it creates for some intriguing hockey, this is not the position the Rangers should want to put themselves in.

All season long, team head coach John Tortorella has preached a one day or one game at a time motto. While it is easier said than done, especially considering the amount of success the Blueshirts have had this season, it is something that the team needs to live every single day.

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Rangers’ PP Comes Through in the Clutch In Win Over the Bruins

For much of the season, the New York Rangers’ power play has been lackluster to say the least.

It looked like that was going to be the case again this afternoon against the Boston Bruins until overtime when the Rangers’ were awarded a five minute power play when Andrew Ference hit defenseman Ryan McDonagh from behind. It was then that Rangers’ sniper Marian Gaborik came through by beating Bruins’ netminder Tuukka Rask to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory.

It was Marian Gaborik’s second goal of the afternoon, giving “Gabby” 25 goals on the season. His first of the afternoon came of a blocked shot on Carl Hagelin and he sniped one past Rask to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

This was a game that lived up to everyone’s expectations. There was lots of hitting, lots of blocked shots, great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist (32 saves) and Rask (30 saves), and had the feel of a playoff game.

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Do Not Take Lightly

This is the attitude that the New York Rangers should have going into tonight’s tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.

The Penguins may be without Sidney Crosby and some of their other better players but they have definitely picked-up their play in the last few games. Guys like Evgeni Malkin, who should be considered the Penguins’ most valuable player right now, and James Neal are doing everything they possibly can to keep their club afloat while Crosby is still recovering.

Furthermore, defenseman Kris Letang will be making his return to the Penguins’ line-up tonight. This will give the Penguins some added firepower and as well as a lethal threat on the power play.

Like team head coach John Tortorella said two nights ago, the club should not be thinking about the Stanley Cup right now. This Blueshirts’ hockey club has a long way to go and needs to take things on a game-by-game basis, something that has worked well for them so far this season.

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  Tags: evegni+malkin, henrik+lundqvist, james+neal, john+tortorella, kris+letang, nashville+predators, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, sidney+crosby

Holding Onto the Top Spot

That is what the New York Rangers continue to do as the team picked-up a 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators last night at Madison Square Garden.

Due to playing in a hockey game of my own, I was not able to catch any of the game. With that said, it was nice to see Henrik Lundqvist get another shutout and the team come out with a much better defensive performance than they did against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night in Montreal.

It was also nice to see that John Mitchell scored another goal for the Blueshirts. No one really knew whether or not Mitchell would fit in with this Rangers’ team but he has come in and gotten the job done by working hard every night, forechecking hard, going to the net and cashing in on opportunities when they present themselves.

This is a team that continues to show that it can respond well after a loss. Too many times in the past few seasons would the Rangers follow up a loss with another bad game but this season, team head coach John Tortorella has seemed to keep that to a minimum.

With the win, the Rangers improved to 29-11-4 for 62 points. The team has a one point edge over the Detroit Red Wings for first in the league and a three point edge over the Boston Bruins for first in the Eastern Conference.

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Rangers In Toronto to Battle the Leafs

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Ottawa Senators, the New York Rangers will look to turn things around tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.

For the Rangers, their focus has to be on getting pucks to the net and making most of their chances. In their last two games, the team has scored just one goal in regulation while not being able to convert on many scoring opportunities.

The Blueshirts will be without forward Brandon Dubinsky once again tonight as he is nursing a sore shoulder. The team head coach, John Tortorella, wants to be careful with “Dubi” because he knows that they cannot afford to have him out of the lineup for an extended period of time.

“It’s still the same,” coach John Tortorella said of Dubinsky’s shoulder, which was initially hurt on a check by the Coyotes’ Taylor Pyatt in the first period of Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout victory, though Dubinsky finished that game. “We just don’t want it to turn into a bigger problem…We’re just trying to be careful.”

According to Andrew Gross of The Record, back-up netminder Martin Biron will get the start tonight for the Blueshirts. Biron will be looking for his ninth win of the season and more importantly, getting the Rangers back on the winning track.

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Rangers’ Tortorella to Coach in NHL All-Star Game

From Dan Rosen at NHL.com:

The Rangers’ overtime win Thursday was significant for more than just the fact that it preserved their lead in the Eastern Conference standings. John Tortorella also clinched a spot on one of the benches in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game.

The coach of the team in each conference with the best points percentage through games played on Jan. 9, which is the exact halfway point of the season, also gets the opportunity to be a part of the All-Star festivities in Ottawa from Jan. 26-29.

While the Rangers can still be caught in the points-percentage race by the Bruins, Tortorella is now guaranteed a spot because Boston’s coaching staff, led by Claude Julien, already earned its way into the All-Star Game by virtue of winning the Stanley Cup last season.

Click here for more on the NHL All-Star coaching staff.

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  Tags: 2012+nhl+all-star+game, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers

Battling the Florida Panthers

After what happened in last Friday night’s tilt between the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, it is certainly going to be a battle tonight at Madison Square Garden.

In the Rangers’ 4-1 win against the Cats last week, tempers flared and the anger level was high after Blueshirts’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto was sucker punched by Panthers’ forward Tomas Kopecky after Del Zotto cross-checked him in the back a few times and high-sticked him in the face in front of the net. After the game, Panthers’ head coach Kevin Dineen said Del Zotto got what he deserved.

With both teams in the top three in the Eastern Conference (Rangers in first; Panthers in third), tonight should be a great game. Looking at the Rangers, they are clicking on all cylinders right now and have won their last two games and are obviously coming off an exciting 3-2 win at the 2012 Winter Classic over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Florida Panthers are 4-4-2 in their last 10 but are certainly not a pushover hockey club this season. They work hard, can put the puck in the net, and can play physical hockey, as was seen last Friday night in Miami.

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  Tags: 2012+winter+classic, florida+panthers, john+tortorella, kevin+dineen, michael+del+zotto, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, tomas+kopecky

Tortorella Apologizes For Negative Comments On Officials

For starters, I do not think that New York Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella needed to apologize for the comments he made about the officiating after the 2012 Winter Classic in Monday evening.

The officiating was inconsistent and while it was obviously not “fixed” to go into overtime, the officials certainly tried to get it to that point. They either let of things go that were being done to the Blueshirts by the Philadelphia Flyers or they made calls against the Rangers.

It appears that Tortorella is bigger than most as he apologized by saying the following:

“They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time, and it was frustration on my part, as far as the referees…and what was done at the end of the game,” explained Tortorella. “Not for a second in no way, time, shape, or form did I think anything like that (fixing the game so that it goes to overtime) goes on with our league, or ever will.”

Tortorella added that his comments regarding the referees meeting with NBC to conspire at having the Winter Classic go to overtime were completely “tongue-in-cheek”. “For me to question the integrity of the league, the integrity of NBC, the integrity of (referees) Denny (LaRue) and Ian (Walsh), the Flyers, the Rangers, go right on through all the people here—-there’s not a chance I am thinking that way,” Tortorella continued. “It was wrong with my sarcasm and my frustration and I apologize to everyone involved.”

Tortorella definitely did the right thing in apologizing the league but it was just a coach who was still in the moment of the game and being sarcastic. He is definitely not the first NHL bench boss to be sarcastic.

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  Tags: 2012+winter+classic, john+tortorella, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers

Rangers Win Classic in Philly

When the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers were a part of the press conference at the Citizens Bank Ball Park to announce that they were the two clubs in the 2012 Winter Classic, Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather said that his team would win.

While it was no Mark Messier-like guarantee, his and head coach John Tortorella’s team did all the hard work to beat the Flyers by a score of 3-2. The win enables the Rangers’ to stay in first in the Eastern Conference while also giving the team a four-point lead over the Flyers in the Atlantic Division.

For the Rangers, this was a typical victory for them. The team overcame a 2-0 lead by working hard, forechecking, getting different guys to contribute and getting timely goaltending from their netminder.

In this particular instance, the Rangers came back from a 2-0 deficit on two goals by Mike Rupp. On both goals, Rupp put two accurate shots through Flyers’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky and showed that if put on the ice with the right guys, he can provide some offense.

The team’s go-ahead and game winning goal also came from a summer pick-up in Brad Richards. Richards, known for his clutch plays and being in the right place at the right time, did those two things to give the Blueshirts a 3-2 lead 5:21 into the third period.

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  Tags: 2012+winter+classic, brad+richards, brandon+dubinsky, brandon+prust, daniel+briere, glen+sather, henrik+lundqvist, john+mitchell, john+tortorella, marc+staal, mike+rupp, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, ryan+callahan

Why Now?

From Katie Strang at ESPNNewYork.com:

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will make his season debut in the Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Coach John Tortorella delivered the surprising news just hours before the league’s annual outdoor game, after telling reporters Sunday that Staal would not be available to play.

While it was great to hear that Staal is ready to go, I am not sure why Tortorella decided that today was the day to reinsert him back into the lineup? While it is the 2012 Winter Classic game, it is still hockey and it is still between the Rangers and Flyers. As such, it will be rough with hard hitting and one has to wonder if the Flyers will be gunning for Staal since they know it is his first game of the season.

Click here for more on Staal.

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  Tags: 2012+winter+classic, john+tortorella, marc+staal, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers

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