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Not Exactly a Miracle

From good friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

Let’s get this straight. Team USA’s 5-3 victory over their Canadian counterparts last night was a hugely important victory. Huge. And the game itself was a classic, a truely epic battle. And the result most assuredly was an upset.

But this was not comparable to 1980’s Miracle on Ice as some have suggested in their post-game hysteria and rush to coin the moment

For sure some of the same elements of the 1980 Olympic win over Russia were there last night for the United States. Team USA clearly was in the role of underdog in both games. Team USA was extremely opportunistic offensively, and took advantage of average goaltending by a world-class goaltender (Russia’s Vladislav Tretiak in ‘80, Canada’s Martin Brodeur last night). Team USA was tenacious, playing with high levels of grit and passion in their game. Team USA seemed on the ropes at many points during each game, being vastly outplayed, only to be saved by their own brilliant goaltending (Jim Craig in 1980 and Ryan Miller, with 42 saves, last night).

But let’s not forget that in 1980 the US squad was made up of a bunch of college kids and was playing one of the truely elite teams of all-time assembled by Russia. Plus it was a medal round game, with the winner advancing to the Gold Medal Game. And add to the mix the spectre of the Cold War at its height.

Click here for more thoughts on last night’s game from the NewYorkRangers.com beat writer.

 

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  Tags: jim+cerny, olympic+hockey, rink+rap

Olympic Thoughts from the NewYorkRangers.com beat writer

From good friend of the blog Jim Cery at Rink Rap:

Can the U.S. Win a Medal?

Yes, the United States can win a medal, but the better question is will they? So far I have seen a hard-working team with flashes of brilliance offensively (David Backes take a bow on both accounts) that has received tremendous goaltending so far from Ryan Miller. Sunday will be a huge test because Canada will be amped up to take out the US on home ice, and will have the extra motivation of trying to finish ahead of the United States in Group A’s preliminary round. Add in to the mix that Canada feels the need to show they can play much better than they have done, so far. A US win tomorrow would go a long way to boosting the team’s self confidence heading into the medal round. Still when it’s said and done, I think the US is on the outside looking in at the medal ceremony. Miller is the one player who can change that, however.

Click here for more Olympic thoughts from the NewYorkRangers.com beat writer.

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  Tags: jim+cerny, olympic+hockey, rink+rap

One of the good guys

As most hockey fans know, there are a plethora of “good guys” in and around the game. These guys say the right things, do the right things and know that the fans are an integral part of the game.

One of those guys is someone that I promote here on the site, Jim Cerny. He is the New York Rangers’ beat writer for the team’s web site and also pens the blog Rink Rap.

Jim was kind enough to attend a Rangers’ writers roundtable, hosted by a solid Ranger fan publication and one I used to write for and contribute to, Blueshirt Bulletin.

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: blueshirt+bulletin, jim+cerny, new+york+rangers, rink+rap

More Attention on Kovalchuk than Ovechkin Last Night at MSG

From good friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

Just 24 hours prior Thrashers GM Don Waddell had released information that Kovie rejected a pair of mega-deals—-$101 million over 12 years, $70 mill over seven years—-and was opting to head to UFA status this summer. As a result, Waddell announced that Kovie would be traded.

But to whom? And how soon?

Speculation flew around the press room at The Garden as reporters checked in with sources, shared what they had heard, and probably made up a few rumors, as well. I made a note to myself that it just seemed funny there was little to no chatter about the upcoming game at MSG, and Kovie’s name was mentioned a heckuva’ lot more than Ovie’s.

What followed was one wild night, just a great fun night to be a hockey reporter. The Rangers and Caps played an exciting seesaw contest where goals and the power play ruled the day in a 6-5 Washington victory.

Click here for more thoughts on the Kovalchuk deal.

 

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  Tags: alex+ovechkin, atlanta+thrashers, illya+kovalchuk, jim+cerny, rink+rap, washington+capitals

Getting Excited about Team USA

From friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

But this group of NHLers representing the United States in February almost has that upstart quality. Gone are most of the old guard, save for the likes of Chris Drury and Brian Rafalski, perhaps. They have been replaced with a very young nucleus that features Patrick Kane, Bobby Ryan, Erik Johnson, Zach Parise, Jack Johnson, Ryan Callahan, and Phil Kessel.

This squad will be a big underdog in Vancouver, but really this is just step one for this group. They have been handed the mantle by Modano’s group and will form the nucleus of future—-if there are future—-US Olympic ice hockey teams.

It is a fresh and exciting time for US hockey. Will they medal in 2010? Likely not. Are they capable of throwing a scare into some teams, and could they pull enough upsets to finish in the Top Three? Absolutely.

The key will be goaltending, really just as it was in 1980 and just as it usually is in any big tournament. I can’t imagine that Ryan Miller (photo above) is not the number one goalie for Team USA. Tim Thomas is the veteran here, the sentimental choice, but Miller may be the hottest goalie in the game today. He gives the US their best shot at a Jim Craig-like performance.

Click here for more thoughts on Team USA.

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A Look at Goalies

From friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

Add Vokoun’s name to those of fellow netminders J.S. Giguere, Martin Biron, Jaroslav Halak, and, perhaps, Manny Legace and you have quite a group of experienced goaltenders available via trade.

Dealing Vokoun is easier said than done, what with his hefty contract extending past this season. And it’s a huge risk for the Panthers because he has been their best player this season; and what would become of the Panthers without their most important player?

But as Botta points out, Florida has top prospect Jacob Markstrom at the ready beginning next season to assume duties in goal, so the Panthers may be willing to make a deal now during the season as other teams become desperate, as opposed to next summer. They would just have to bite the bullet on this season and see if Scott Clemmensen has any New Jersey magic in him left over from a year ago.

Vokoun’s contract is a major stumbling block. Clearly the Panthers would have to take serious salary back in any deal for their No. 1 goalie. But how could the Flyers not be interested in Vokoun, especially with the inconsistent state of their goaltending this season and the current injury to starter Ray Emery?

What about Ottawa? They did swing a deal last spring to make Pascal LeClaire their No. 1, but surprise of all surprises, he is injured again.

Click here for more.

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  Tags: jim+cerny, nhl, rink+rap

An Interesting Monday Night

From friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

Washington’s next opponent is the Florida Panthers. You may not see Tomas Vokoun between the pipes for the Panthers at the Verizon Center, though, on Thursday.

In one of the most bizarre—-and embarrassing—-plays you will ever see, Vokoun was struck down by his own teammate after Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk scored a goal in last night’s game. Defenseman Keith Ballard was so incensed that Kovalchuk was able to pot his own rebound past Vokoun—-due in large part to the fact that Ballard had skated himself out of the play behind the goal line—-that he swung his stick wildly in frustration. In the process his stick struck Vokoun on the side of his mask, sending the veteran goalie crashing down to the ice, with blood pouring from his left ear.

Apparently unaware of what he had just done, Ballard proceeded to swing his stick again, this time smashing it against the goal post, while Vokoun lay writhing at Ballard’s feet.

Simply incredible.

Ballard then skated to the bench. Meanwhile the Florida trainer was sprinting past him to tend to Vokoun, who eventually was taken off on a stretcher, and spent time at a local Atlanta hospital.

Click here for more on Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Vokoun and Marc Savard.

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  Tags: jim+cerny, nhl, rink+rap

Who is the League’s MVP 1/4 Through?

From friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

There are a host of players off to great starts this season. But who is most valuable to his own team? I’d have to say Marian Gaborik of the Rangers.

Gaborik’s numbers certainly back this argument. In 21 games played (he missed two because of an injury), Gaborik has 18 goals—-nearly one-per-game—-and 32 points. He is tied with Heatley for the league lead in goals, and is second behind Kopitar in points. He has also scored at least one point in 19 of the 21 games in which he has played, showing tremendous consistency this season.

Dig deeper and you find out that Gaborik has also been a workhorse, averaging more than 22 minutes of ice-time, among the leaders for all forwards in the NHL. He has also been an excellent penalty killer, while thriving on the power play with seven power play goals, second most in the league.

But dig some more and you find out the real reason why I think Gaborik is the MVP of the first quarter of this season.

Gaborik has put up these elite-level numbers with little-to-no help from his teammates. In fact in a stretch that spanned more than 200 minutes of hockey and ended in the first period of last night’s victory over the Blue Jackets, the Rangers did not have a goal scored by a player not named Marian Gaborik or Vinny Prospal. That’s a total of six goals, and Gaborik either scored or assisted on all six.

Click here for more on the top stories, teams and players from Cerny’s eyes.

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  Tags: jim+cerny, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rink+rap

A Full Moon over the NHL?

From friend of the blog Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

I am not sure if it’s a black cloud or a full moon, but there’s something wreaking havoc on the National Hockey League so far this season.

As discussed here before, the amount of injuries to star players is off the charts. Plus there have been a string of strange incidents that add to the question: what the heck is going on here?

Two more stories from today fit right in with what has been par-for-the-course over the first quarter of the NHL season.

First, the Los Angeles Kings placed winger Ryan Smyth on Injured Reserve this morning. So down goes another star player—-and another one who was off to a very strong start this year. Smyth joins the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jonathan Toews, Cam Ward, Brian Gionta, Simon Gagne, Sergei Gonchar, Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Joe Pavelski, and seemingly half of the entire Detroit Red Wings roster as star players forced to the sidelines for an extended period of time.

Click here for more.

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  Tags: jim+cerny, nhl, rink+rap

Why So Many Injuries?

From Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

So why so many injuries?

Caps owner Ted Leonsis shared a theory with the guys on Hockey This Morning over at XM Home Ice earlier today.

“The schedule is responsible for these injuries,” stated Leonsis. “We just played four games in less than six days. We had two sets of three games in four nights one right after the other. It’s too much. We have to take a really hard look at this. We are talking about very big men, and a very violent, fast game. Too many games in too few days is a problem.”

Good points. But what is the alternative? Play fewer games? Expand the season to include more days off, and, as a result, play the Stanley Cup Finals closer to the month of July? Do not participate in the Olympics?

The answer is that there is no real clear answer. But what is obvious is that the league needs to take a close look at the injury issue. It’s not good when any group of players is getting hurt on a regular basis, no matter the sport.

Click here for more.

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4,000 minutes too much?

From Jim Cerny at Rink Rap:

Was perusing stats from last year and noticed that only four NHL goaltenders logged more than 4,000 minutes of playing time: Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, Marty Turco of Dallas, Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers, and Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom.

My hunch is that Kiprusoff—-barring injury—-may be the only one of that group to exceed 4,000 minutes this season, at least as far as NHL action is concerned.

The reasons for this vary depending upon the goalie in question.

Turco, who played more than 4,300 minutes—-the first time he was over the 4,000 mark since the 2003-04 season—-, will see less of the ice this season now that the veteran Alex Auld was signed by the Stars as his reliable foil. This should greatly enhance the play of Turco, as well as Dallas’ chances of making the playoffs.

Lundqvist, who has logged more than 4,000 minutes in each of the last three years, will be Sweden’s starting goaltender in the Olympics, adding to his big workload. To avoid completely wearing his franchise goalie out, Rangers coach John Tortorella has already hinted that Steve Valiquette—-who won over the coach last season with his strong work ethic, and play when called upon—-likely will get the starting nod more often than in the past.

Click here for more. Our good friend Jim Cerny is posting some excellent pieces over on Rink Rap so please go on over there and show your love for all things NHL, New York Rangers and hockey in general.

 

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  Tags: jim+cerny, rink+rap

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