Kukla's Korner Hockey
It’s Christmastime and New York’s best pro sports team is beginning to hum. The drummers are drumming, the flutists are fluting, the singers are singing, Henrik Lundqvist is ruling and there are signs up around the rink warning folks not to tug on Rick Nash’s cape.
Seven straight victories for the Rangers into Saturday night’s re-opener at the Garden against the floundering Devils, one short of matching the franchise’s longest winning streak since just this time 40 years ago.
There are 50 games and a trade deadline to go, an entire season, really, and a playoff berth is hardly assured. But Vigneault, Lundqvist and the Rangers are moving into lockdown mode, sending signals that last season’s run to the Stanley Cup final was no fluke.
-Larry Brooks of the New York Post where you can read more on the New York Rangers...
I am still on a mini-break but home after two days of being with family and friends. I may post more today but if not, I will return tomorrow morning.
By Michael Ray,
Rick Nash had a two-goal night on Tuesday, extending the New York Rangers' winning streak to four games in a row.
Nash's goals were his 19th and 20th in the season; they helped the Rangers beat the Calgary Flames 5-2. He's also tied with Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh) for the longest current-season point streak in the NHL, with his eight goals and six assists giving him an 11-game point streak. It's the best in his career.
NEW YORK, December 19, 2014 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Cam Talbot on a contract extension.
Talbot, 27, has appeared in seven games with the Rangers this season, posting a 2-3-1 record, along with a 2.34 GAA, a .921 SV%, and two shutouts. He is tied for ninth in the NHL in shutouts in 2014-15, and he is the only NHL goaltender with six or fewer starts to post two shutouts this season. Talbot recorded shutouts in back-to-back starts on November 19 vs. Philadelphia and November 28 at Philadelphia, and he has posted the fourth-longest shutout streak in the NHL this season (159:48 from November 8 at Toronto to December 6 at Detroit).
from Steve Silverman of CBSNewYork,
Whether it was a summer-time message from head coach Alain Vigneault or a good, long look in the mirror, Nash is not the player he was in his previous two seasons with the Rangers.
Instead, he is much better. There’s a legitimate aggression to his game and he is dominating the box score on a near-nightly basis. He has scored 20 goals already and leads the Rangers with 33 points. He has a plus-13 that leads the team, and he is playing with a drive and an aggression that Rangers fans had heard about when the team first acquired him, but one that had not been seen before this season.
Teammate Derek Stepan said that Nash played just this way last year, but he was victimized by bad luck and that’s why he didn’t put the puck in the net.
Vigneault wasn’t having any of it. After Nash scored two goals last night against the Flames to pave the way for the Blueshirts in a 5-2 victory, he put it succinctly.
“We need him to play the way he is,” Vigneault said. “We’re no different than any other team in the league. You need your top players to be your top performers, and that’s what Rick is doing for us right now.”
The good, calming news for all three of our Met Area clubs is that parity in the NHL is real and, as the Islanders already proved last month; a winning streak can propel any one of the trio right back into the playoff hunt.
Advice to Rangers, Islanders and Devils fans: Relax; the race is a marathon, not a sprint!
-Stan Fischler at the Daily Freeman where you can read more on the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
“I don’t know if anyone saw his ear there, but he lost a piece of it and they sewed it back,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Say what you what you want about hockey players, but they’re tough SOBs.”
Klein said he got “about 13-14 stitches, we didn’t have time to count.”
more on Klein and the Rangers OT win of the Penguins..
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
In terms of an 82-game regular season, how does one go about defining urgency?
How about here, after 24 games, when the Rangers’ cornerstone goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, decided to call over a couple of defensemen and have a little chat near the end of practice on Thursday. The Blueshirts, sitting at a humble 11-9-4, were preparing for their next game, in Detroit on Saturday, and it has been made pretty clear they’re not comfortable in this middling position.
“We know it’s important to get points now,” Lundqvist said. “We know we can’t just wait and get great at the end of the season. We want to get there as soon as we can.”...
So, like most teams in peril, it’s back to basics. Which is what brought about the little meeting captained by Lundqvist. He is trying to get everyone on the same page so that he doesn’t feel the need to be extraordinary every night — and, hence, try to do too much and throw his own game out of whack.
“When you have extra little days like this, that’s what you do — you try to look at the bigger picture and how we play, and also the small details and you try to improve,” Lundqvist said. “When you’re losing, you need to tweak it a little bit. That’s how close it is. You’re a save away here and there, but for a goalie, a lot of times that’s the difference between wining and losing.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Mumps and “flu-like symptoms” are not just taking a toll on the Rangers’ lineup, but the illnesses affecting Tanner Glass and Dan Boyle, respectively, are exacerbating the club’s salary cap issues.
Down these two players, the Blueshirts are carrying the league maximum 23-man roster through these five days off between Monday’s Garden defeat to the Lightning and Saturday’s match in Detroit. This includes seven defensemen (six healthy) and 14 forwards (13 healthy).
This glut, combined with the previous use of long-term exemptions on both Derek Stepan and Boyle, has created a situation in which the Rangers currently have just over $65,500 in available cap space, according to calculations by both The Post and capgeek.com....
More importantly, however, the string of injuries and illnesses has created the scenario under which the Rangers are projected to have a mere $211,650 available at the trade deadline. This doesn’t exactly leave much in the way of maneuverability for general manager Glen Sather, who essentially will have to to go dollar-for-dollar to improve his team.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
This isn’t last year, when Henrik Lundqvist’s game bottomed out for a variety of reasons over the first three months of 2013-14. This hasn’t been close to that bad.
But the first two months of 2014-15 haven’t been close to good enough from Lundqvist, who has surrendered too many unsightly goals and has had way too many borderline nights for a team that isn’t good enough to overcome mediocrity in nets.
Lundqvist’s save percentage dropped to .905, 31st in the 30-team league among goaltenders with 10 or more starts after Monday’s misadventure in which he surrendered five goals on 20 shots — including a back-breaking softie for the winner — in the Blueshirts’ 6-3 empty-net-abetted defeat to the Lightning at the Garden that marked the team’s third loss in three games within 15 days to conference-leading Tampa Bay.
Last night the New York Rangers recognized the 1000 points for Martin St. Louis.
Unlike last week when the NHL Network showed the one hour ceremony of Lindros/LeClair Flyers Hall of Fame ceremony, the NHL Network did not start their broadcast of Lightning/Rangers until just before the puck dropped.
So here is the ceremony from last night.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com