Archive for the ‘New York Rangers’ Category

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So long boys…

July 2, 2008

Zherdev and Fritsche to the Rags for Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.

More analysis to follow later, but here were my three reactions in the ten minutes after I heard this:

  1. Oh.  My.  God.
  2. Actually, this might not be so bad.
  3. There has to be more to come.  Wait for the dust to settle before you jump off the roof.

I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but I ventured on over to Puck Rakers for “fan” reaction.  I’d made it months without viewing any comments, but I jumped in to find this gem buried in the Portzline analysis of the trade:

Go away Portzline! Do you post anything at all good?! Like ever?!

Yeah, it’s that good.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

– Drew

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2007 NHL Second Round Playoff Predictions

April 25, 2007

I didn’t do quite as well as Truth did in my picks for the first round.  I missed both of the 4 vs. 5 matchups.  Wiping the slate clean, I’m starting fresh for round two.  Here are my selections to advance in the conference semifinals.

Eastern Conference

Buffalo Sabres (#1) vs. New York Rangers (#6)

Drew’s take:  Henrik Lundqvist is my key to this series.  If he can slow down the four very viable lines of the Sabres, it may be enough for Jagr to lead the Rangers to the conference finals.  Something else to watch will be Sean Avery getting under the skin of Buffalo players and fans.  Should be fun.

Drew’s pick: Logo BUF

New Jersey Devils (#2) vs. Ottawa Senators (#4)

Drew’s take:  Marty, Marty, it’s a playoff party.  2.26 GAA, 0.917 Sv%, one shutout, and four wins.  An experienced Devil squad takes on a Senators team that finally seems to have shown up in the playoffs.  Strong defense against strong offense.  The adage is that defense wins championships.  My addendum is that you actually have to get to the finals to get your name on the Cup.

Drew’s pick: Logo OTT

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings (#1) vs. San Jose Sharks (#5)

Drew’s take:  A lot of people were looking at Detroit’s first round matchup with Calgary to see how the Wings would hold up against the tough Flame team.  I think we can safely say at this point that Detroit is no pushover.  They played great hockey for most of the series, and put on quite a show with their puck-possession game.  San Jose dismissed the Predators for the second year in a row, and have earned the right to face the number one team in the conference.  Nicklas Lidstrom could be elevated to legendary status if he can shut down Joe Thornton and the Wings go on to win the whole thing.  But I’m thinking Joe will be doing all he can to shake the label of a great player who can’t win when it matters.

Drew’s pick: Logo SJS

Anaheim Ducks (#2) vs. Vancouver Canucks (#3)

Drew’s take: About ten months ago, I made some comparisons between Roberto Luongo and Marc Denis, or more accurately between their respective teams.  At the time, they were members of the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets.  It wasn’t my intention to say that Denis was of the same caliber as Luongo, but I’d understand if some people saw it that way.  Seeing what Luongo has done in Vancouver this season, now would be the time for anyone who misread the original post to email me with a “told ya so!”  On a team with mediocre scoring depth, Roberto Luongo has turned the Canucks into a contender.  The question for today is this: how will he fare against a team that has considerably more scoring depth (Anaheim) than did Dallas?  If the young Ducklings (Getzlaf, Perry, Penner, Beauchemin) can continue their strong play, Luongo may have to continue pining for that Cup inscription.

Drew’s pick: Logo ANA

Things get started tonight with the Sabres and Rangers at 7, and the Ducks and Canucks at 10.  Tomorrow night sees the Devils and Senators at 7, and the Wings and Sharks at 7:30.  Let’s all hope we continue to see good, solid hockey.

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NHL 2007 Playoff Predictions

April 11, 2007

For the second year in a row, I will be putting my playoff picks on the site for all to ridicule.  This season, I’ve got Truth Serum joining me and putting his two cents in.

The action starts tonight with four games on the docket, so without further ado, here are the results of the End of the Bench first round pick ’em:

Eastern Conference

Buffalo Sabres (#1) vs. New York Islanders (#8)

Drew’s take: With Dipietro, the Islanders are a long-shot.  Without him (as they will be to start the series), they’re cooked.

Drew’s pick:  Logo BUF

Truth’s pick: Logo BUF

New Jersey Devils (#2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (#7)

Drew’s take:  If Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis can solve Marty Brodeur and the Devils offense can’t take advantage of the netminding problems in Tampa, this series could be an upset.  But when you’re not even dressing your highest paid healthy goaltender (former Jacket Marc Denis will be watching from the stands at least in Game 1), I’m not inclined to give you much of a chance.

Drew’s pick: Logo NJD

Truth’s pick: Logo NJD

Atlanta Thrashers (#3) vs. New York Rangers (#6)

Drew’s take: The Thrashers make their first post-season appearance, while winning the Southeast no less, and have the good fortune of facing the hottest goaltender in 2007 in Henrik Lundqvist.  Last season, King Henry and Prince Jaromir were embarassed by the Devils in the first round.  This year, a Rangers squad including Brendan Shanahan gets to pick on the new kid on the block.  Expect a big game or two from Atlanta, but probably not enough to take the series.

Drew’s pick: Logo NYR

Truth’s pick: Logo NYR

Ottawa Senators (#4) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (#5)

Drew’s take: In my opinion, this is the series in the East that poses the most questions.  Will Sid, Evgeni, and the young Penguin team choke in the playoffs?  Will Ottawa play up to it’s potential?  Which goaltender (Emery, Fleury, or Gerber) will come up big?  I think this will be the best first round matchup to watch in this conference.

Drew’s pick: Logo PIT

Truth’s pick: Logo OTT

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings (#1) vs. Calgary Flames (#8)

Drew’s take: This game is a chance for Detroit to exorcise some recent playoff demons.  In 2004, Calgary eliminated the Wings in the Conference Semi’s… a series the Wings were expected to win.  In each of the last three playoff runs, the Wings have lost in the first or second round to a lower seeded team.  With Henrik Zetterberg expected back, I’m sure there are many Detroit fans hoping this one is short, sweet, and to the point.

Drew’s take: Logo DET

Truth’s take: Logo DET

Anaheim Ducks (#2) vs. Minnesota Wild (#7)

Drew’s take:  It’s the time of year Ducks management has dreamt about since signing Chris Pronger to join Scott Neidermeyer on the blueline.  Duck forwards Teemu Selanne and the young guys like Perry, Getzlaf, and Penner will have to find a way to break through the opposition’s strategy of lock-down defense.  Interestingly enough, even with Manny Fernandez on the mend, all five of CBS Sportsline’s hockey talking heads have picked Minnesota to win the series.  As for us…

Drew’s pick: Logo ANA (That says Ducks… dang small logos)

Truth’s pick: Logo ANA

Vancouver Canucks (#3) vs. Dallas Stars (#6)

Drew’s take:  Last year I picked the Stars and Marty Turco to shake the recent playoff busts and win the Cup.  This year, they face an even more dangerous team in Vancouver.  Though this is All-World goaltender Roberto Luongo’s first playoff action in his career, he’s shown what he can do with a capable defense.  And Dallas… “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice… well you already fooled me once, you can’t do it again.”

Drew’s pick: Logo VAN

Truth’s pick: Logo VAN

Nashville Predators (#4) vs. San Jose Sharks (#5)

Drew’s take: A team with aging skilled forwards (Forsberg, Arnott, Kariya, Sullivan) takes on a team with younger skilled forwards (Marleau, Thornton, Cheechoo).  (Yeah, it’s simple and unfair… oh well.)  Aside from goaltending, the question I want to see answered is which deadline acquisition will pay off: Forsberg, or Guerin?

Drew’s pick:Logo NSH

Truth’s pick: Logo SJS

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Your Monday Hit List, a day late (again)

February 27, 2007

A lot has happened in Columbus and the NHL in general since we last talked.  I meant to get to this yesterday, but found myself stuck in my office at home trying to reconfigure my network for longer than anticipated.  So in typical bullet fashion, here is your “Monday” Hit List:

  • In Madison Square Garden Saturday night, the Jackets come back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Rangers 3-2.  Anders Eriksson picks up his first marker of the season, and Rick Nash and Jason Chimera both beat Henrik Lundqvist high glove side on the penalty kill to down New York in regulation.  The two short-handed markers were the first time Columbus had more than one in a game in their short history.  I didn’t watch the game play-by-play, but I have to say that coming back from a very early two-goal deficit is not something this team does very often.  I was about to say it’s not something they could have done a few weeks ago, but this team has been down and up so many times this year it’s probably just not true (at Anaheim in January, anyone?).  It was a gutsy effort, and one game the Rangers would surely like to have back.
  • Sunday the Predators came to town, and I expected the usual (aka, the worst).  After the second, it’s 3-1 Nashville and I’m heading home from my mother-in-law’s house.  On the short drive home, we hear that Shelley gets his first of the year (and upon viewing the replay, it appears that Zherdev finally got the dipsy-do to work to set up the score), and it’s 3-2 Preds.  I got that feeling based on how the guys were playing that a tie score was inevitable.  The Jackets continued to pressure the Central Division leaders, and netted the equalizer on a blistering Ron Hainsey shot from the high slot.  Columbus carried the play for the rest of the third and in OT, outshooting the Predators 21-7 in the final 25 minutes, but couldn’t put one past the goal line and were forced into the shootout.  Alexander Radulov scores while David Vyborny, Nikolai Zherdev, and Rick Nash all miss.  Nashville wins.  Another gutsy comeback, but this time no victory.  There’s only one more opportunity for the Jackets to steal one from the Preds, on March 10th.  As it stands, the season series still has the Jackets with zero wins through seven games.
  • Defenseman Bryan Berard is placed on waivers.  I read his remarks in the Dispatch on Saturday, and (as a Jackets fan) decided I’d be happy if he never wore the funky CBJ crest again.  The best line was, “Hopefully, I’ll get moved somewhere and play in the playoffs,” Berard said. “I’m not playing as well as I’d like to play right now, obviously. But not being one of Hitch’s guys, I’m not playing as much as I’d like, either.”  Really, Bryan?  You think that ‘not being one of Hitch’s guys’ is why you’re not getting the playing time?  First off, it’s probably because you’re not performing on the ice.  Earning a -5 +/- rating in 10 games while obviously not performing as expected, did you expect the coach (unless it’s your mother) to give you more ice time?!?  Secondly, who exactly are “Hitch’s guys”?  Last I checked, Ken Hitchcock coached his first game for Columbus on November 24, 2006.  The only guys I’ve seen that have only played for Hitch in Columbus are… Ty Conklin, Curtis Glencross, Zenon Konopka, and Mark Methot.  Other than that, every other player on the roster has played for another Jackets coach.  So maybe you meant to say, “I’m not one of the guys who buys into Hitch’s system of defensive responsibility as evidenced by my career -82 +/- rating.  No way am I going to be forced to play defense, even if I’m ‘technically’ a defenseman.  Forget it.  Trade me to a playoff contender so I can get out of this town.”  As of 11:30 AM on trade deadline day nobody wants you, Bryan.  So long, we hardly knew ya.
  • Just saw in many places that Ty Conklin has been traded to Buffalo.  No word on what Columbus is getting in return at this point.  As things progress, this past off-season is looking more and more like the straw that will break Doug MacLean’s back.  More thoughts on this, and the Carter and Berard situations later.
  • Dan Fritsche is out three weeks with a lacerated wrist, suffered in the second period of Sunday’s game against Nashville. 

I’ve got more thoughts, but they relate to trades/free agency and CGMDM and I’ll have them up later.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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What good is a hockey blog without them?!?

April 21, 2006

Just in time, here are the playoff predictions from the EOB desk.

Eastern Conference

Round One

Ottawa (#1) vs. Tampa Bay (#8)
Dominik Hasek is still questionable for the Sens, though from the sounds of it Ray Emery may be the next goalie to come out of nowhere to lead his team to the Stanley Cup. The defending Cup champion Lightning have not impressed me in the little I’ve seen them this year, and I don’t think that their net-minders are ready for the offensive juggernaut coming at them from Ontario. EOB says Ottawa takes the series. (That’s right, I’m not predicting how many games it will take. It’s likely my predictions won’t be worth squat anyway, so why include more minutiae you really don’t care about?)

Carolina (#2) vs. Montreal (#7)
A true battle of untested goalies, this series will see Martin Gerber face Cristobal Huet for the right to move on. Carolina seems to be a fairly well rounded team that may have fallen under the radar in the last few weeks (all I’ve heard about in Columbus is Jagr, Thornton, and the Calder race which isn’t really a race). I really know nothing about Montreal, other than I really like their uniforms and how they look on ice. Yeah, I like watching the Canadiens skate around in their pretty little uniforms and wish I could watch them go all the way to the finals to squash Detroit. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. Carolina takes the series.

New Jersey (#3) vs. New York Rangers (#6) (*yeah, I had to qualify “Rangers” here. I know that the Islander contingent is pretty heavy in reading this blog, and I didn’t want any of you to forget that your season washed out with the plumbing in Nassau this winter. I know it’s the pot calling the kettle black, but I love picking on the Islanders)
One of the hottest teams in the NHL at this point, the Devils are looking very ready to make a run. Patrick Elias is back, Brian Gionta nearly netted 50 goals, and Marty Brodeur is looking as devilish as ever. Up the road, the Rangers have looked lost the last two weeks. I saw them play a few weeks ago on NBC against the Flyers, and they looked okay. Henrik Lundqvist has been out injured recently, and Jaromir Jagr has not been able to carry the team on his shoulders (though I suppose we have to give him credit for at least trying?). New Jersey takes the series.

Buffalo (#4) vs. Philadelphia (#5)
This is a series that us “small market” fans should enjoy watching, because Buffalo has a chance. A few months ago, I would have picked the Sabres without question simply based on the play of net-minders Ryan Miller and Martin Biron. I don’t know much about the skill players outside of Chris Drury, but I know what he’s worth in April and May (quite a bit). Philadelphia is another team I’d like to see squashed, but they might have the mettle to make it to round two. Any team with Peter Forsberg deserves a look. A punishing Flyer defensive corps can make the difference if they can keep up, and Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki might be the best one-two punch in net in the entire field. EOB sees Philadelphia taking the series.

Round Two

Ottawa (#1) vs. Philadelphia (#5) – Ottawa utilizes speed up front to overtake the less-than-mobile Flyers D and takes the series.

Carolina (#2) vs. New Jersey (#3) – Peter Laviolette coerces his Hurricane team to return to mid-season form and the Devils can’t hold on. Carolina advances.

Conference Finals

Ottawa (#1) vs. Carolina (#2) – The Dany Heatley trade gets even better for the Ottawa faithful as he leads the Senators past the tired Canes to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Western Conference

Detroit (#1) vs. Edmonton (#8)
Mike Babcock gets to play on the cool side of the playground this year, coach the Wings as opposed to against the Wings. The biggest question (Pavel Datsyuk aside) the Wings have to answer is why they shouldn’t be in the Stanley Cup Finals automatically. Dwayne Roloson and the Oilers have the first opportunity to answer. If “Big” Pronger (my Dad’s nickname for him, get well soon!) can clear Tomas Holmstrom from the net and the Oilers can score on the formidable Wings defense and I can win the lottery this weekend without playing, the Wings will go home. As it stands, Detroit will see action in the second round.

Dallas (#2) vs. Colorado (#7)
What’s so great about this series? Yeah, seeing the Avalanche as the seventh seed. Sure, the only two teams I’d like to see there right now (in no particular order) are Detroit and Columbus, but it’s still pretty sweet. Dallas has a tough group of veterans (who really wants to play against Brendan Morrow?) and a goaltender in Marty Turco who is ready to have his “breakout” playoff year. Colorado has the always dangerous Joe Sakic, and… ummm… crap. Lost my notes. Peter Budaj and Jose Theodore will backstop the Avs. Budaj? I haven’t heard his name on TV enough to know how to pronounce it. And the last I heard Theodore slipped on the ice outside his house and hurt himself. Umm… you’re a professional ice hockey player? Nice. Dallas will crush the poor Avalanche.

Calgary (#3) vs. Anaheim (#6)
A team that can’t score (Flames) against a team with a vastly underrated defense (Ducks), this should be fun. This series is being touted by many experts as the one to watch in the first round (though EOB has already stated his preference to watch the Habs) as the toughest match-up. Jarome Iginla has not had the scoring touch that helped him to a share of the ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy in 2003-04, but Miikka Kiprusoff has been stellar in net in this season of offensive rebirth and this has to be the largest reason the Flames won the Northwest. Jean-Sebastien Giguere is showing a bit of the flash he displayed four years ago in the playoffs, and Scott Niedermayer is garnering some Norris talk in Anaheim. Will Teemu and the boys crack the Miikka Code, or will Iginla and the gang solve JS? EOB picks Anaheim to come out on top.

Nashville (#4) vs. San Jose (#5)
The Predators picked up defenseman Brendan Witt at the trade deadline from Washington. I’m sure they had no idea that it could be this big of a deal in April, or for what reason. With regular Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun out with a blood disorder, the Preds will have to rely on untested Chris Mason to keep the offensively-gifted Sharks from circling in on their net for the kill. With Joe Thornton in the mix, the Sharks might be the most dangerous offensive team in the West. The ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy winner for the 2005-06 season, Jonathan Cheechoo (56 goals) will look to net a few against Mason and the Predators D. Can Witt, Kimmo Timmonen and company stop Mason from (pick bad goalie cliché from: a) getting sunburnt from the goal lamp; b) whiplash from looking back in the net for the puck; or c) looking like he’d be better served on a club sandwich), or will the Predators be golfing by next weekend? EOB suggests that the Sharks have it in them to take the series.

Round Two

Detroit (#1) vs. Anaheim (#6) – This rematch of the great 2002 Western Conference Finals series will be as hotly contested as the one we remember. This one will have a slightly different ending as the Ducks upend the aging and tired Red Wings (how many Olympians on the team? I know I made the same argument in 2002, but surely one of my predictions has to come true???).

Dallas (#2) vs. San Jose (#3) – The Cheechoo train derails against a very good Dallas team. Seriously, who wants to play against these guys?

Conference Finals

Dallas (#2) vs. Anaheim (#6) – Dallas rides its leaders and their grit, determination, and tenacity to a series win over the Ducks.

Stanley Cup Finals

Ottawa (#1 East) vs. Dallas (#2 West) – The offensive firepower of the East with questions in net faces off against the road tested Stars who are as balanced as anyone. Sergei Zubov and Willie Mitchell are able to slow down the Senators enough for Mike Modano and Bill Guerin to take one last run at the Cup before they decide to hang around “too long”. Ray Emery will make a great stand, and we’ll all believe in the power of the untested playoff goaltender. But in the end, Marty Turco brushes aside the tag of a non-playoff goalie to spur the Stars to a Stanley Cup.

Tomorrow, I’ll resume my look at the Blue Jackets roster. Until then, enjoy the first bit of playoff hockey in almost two years. Thanks for reading.