Rangers off to Europe

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Rangers have landed in Bern, Switzerland after compiling a 1-5 record in the pre-season thus far. With 2 more games to play, the real season then begins against Tampa Bay on Saturday, October 4th, 12:00 PM EST.

There's much to discuss about the present state of this year's New York Rangers. Pre-season, in general, doesn't hold a lot of stock as the season begins. Trust me, I'm not ignoring the concerns I have... no scoring, lack of team toughness, lack of physical play, etc. Let's break it down: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, the good. The Rangers have assembled a high-speed, high-tempo team. They also picked up some veterans to balance out the youth on the team. On paper, this team looks good enough to get past the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Now, the bad. So far, the new look Rangers have outshot their opponents by a whopping 207 to 129 in 6 pre-season games. That works out to 34.5 shots to 21.5, per game. You would think that it would overwelmingly give the Rangers the edge in goals scored... well, it hasn't (Shades of last year). The Rangers have been outscored 18-12 so far in the pre-season. It's gotta be a concern for coach Renney and his staff. I know it's just pre-season and it doesn't count; I also can honestly say that as a former player, things do change once the "real games" begin. However, it's a consistent pattern going back to last year. If this continues, King Henrik will have to play goal like the Great Wall of China. Let's hope not!

Now, the ugly. It's fair to say that this year's squad lacks the physical play. You know - hitting with purpose, getting the last shove in - all of the nasty parts of the game. This team, overall, is a little soft and timid. I'm hoping that will change once the season starts. But, you will be taken advantage of as a player or team if you allow it to happen. Some players have to step up that part of their game. I believe team toughness is a necessary aspect to winning hockey.

I was going to predict my starting lineup for the season opener, but I decided not to (It would just be pure speculation anyway). Sorry! I'll leave you with these thoughts: The season has not begun, it's really not time to panic. It will take time for this year's Rangers squad to learn to play as a team. However, I will be cheering them on, as many Rangers around the world will too. As the saying goes: "Let's-go-Rangers"! Over and out.

Pictures courtesy of Yahoo! Sports


Clock Finally Strikes: Rangers In Camp

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Finally! Training camp has officially opened today for the 2008-2009 New York Rangers. There's been much anticipation as to how this year's version of the roster, that has been dramatically changed from the past 2 seasons, will look. I gotta give Glen Sather credit, 2nd round playoff exits just aren't good enough! Slats has taken control and purged the roster. He definitely has shaken it up remarkably.

Many questions are in store as this camp gets underway:

1) Will Shanny find a spot on the roster?
2) The Mats Sundin Saga... does it help or hurt Shanahan? (I want Shanny back!)
3) How quick do the newcomers blend and get comfortable?
4) What will the 4 lines up front look like?
5) What are the D pairings going to look like? (I'll pay close attention to this)
6) Will any youngster find a way to crack the lineup? (I hope so!)
7) Will the trip to Europe help or hurt the Rangers? (It scares me a bit!)
Those are some of the questions that I feel need to be answered. Some questions that I feel don't need to be answered are as follows:
1) Goaltending: King Henrik is as good as gold.
2) Management: They have done their job assembling the talent!
3) Coaching Staff: They are excellent. They have shown that they can adapt to what the team is... that's not easy!
It will be fun and interesting at the same time keeping and eye on the Rangers. The next few weeks will be more telling and give us a gauge as to where they stand. Over and out!

Picture from the official website of the New York Rangers.


Tick, Tick, Tick...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Only 6 days until the blades of steel hit the ice at the Rangers training camp facility in Westchester. 70 players in all will show up and it will be an interesting camp to say the least. There will be lots to figure out with this years 2008-2009 version of New York Rangers (Boy, that sounds good).

I am very interested in how the defense will shape up. What will the pairings look like? Hopefully, there will be a surprise or two in store for the Rangers this year. I also hope, somehow, someway, Brendan Shanahan finds a roster spot. He wants to be a Ranger and that’s all I need to hear. Also, what about Nedved? Does he have anything left, or is he finally done? Which player or players will take control and be a true team leader? I could go on and on, but only time can answer all the questions we - as Ranger fans - have. Tick, tick, tick…

I also want to hear your take on E.J. Hradek’s choice of Mark Messier over Rod Gilbert as the best forward in Rangers franchise history. I think this one’s definitely up for debate! My choice is simple - Rod Gilbert. I know the impact Messier had on the Rangers cup run and all, but Gilbert holds all of the team’s offensive records: Goals, Assists, and Points. On top of all that, he was a career Ranger! For those of you that know baseball, Ernie Banks played his entire career with the Chicago Cubs - thus, he’s “Mr. Cub”. Well, Rod Gilbert is “Mr. Ranger” in my eyes and will be for a long time!

Lastly, I just wanted to let you all know that I am now contributing over at TheFourthPeriod.com. Below I’ll give a link to my first contribution - an article about the rise and fall of the 50 goal scorers in the NHL - as well as the main site for TheFourthPeriod.com. But don’t worry, I’ll still be on here blogging about my beloved Rangers & Bobcats! Over and out!


Images thanks to Google Images & Outside the Garden


14 Days To Go!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ah! 14 days to go and this years New York Rangers squad will be in camp. Training camp, in the NHL, is a test of physical and mental wills. I, myself, participated in a few of these in my day and I can tell you that it's no fun. Yeah, it's great to see your teammates, but once camp begins it's almost like you wish the season would start already! No matter how hard you train in the offseason, by the 3rd day of 2-a-days, your body is sore and fatigued. You almost feel like a bruised banana from head to toe.

Today's athletes have progressed so much compared to 20-30 years ago. They have better instruction, monitoring, and off-ice training than we did. One key factor in training camp is your head trainer. In the Rangers case, that would be Jim Ramsey. Jim, I'm sure, will be on the top of everything throughout training camp. Proper off-ice conditioning, stretching, and taking precaution with any minor aches and pains (so they don't become major) is essential. Simply put, training camp in the NHL is tough, long, and boring... but it should be! The season is hard and tiresome, so you need to be prepared physically and mentally. As a former player, I can tell you that it gets you ready for the long haul!

Now, on to the Rangers. It's going to be an interesting camp. I won't go into specifics at this point, but there are some key questions that need to be answered. The Rangers have overhauled this team dramatically over the past 2 seasons and GM Glen Sather has brought in a ton of talented players on this current roster. Glen has done his job, now it's up to coach Tom Renney and his staff to put the pieces together. The coaches and brass must find out who plays with who, what the forward lines are going to look like, who will be the defensive pairings, etc. Also, which player or players will surprise and try to take the job of a veteran? For some players, their job is secure. For others, maybe not. That is why training camp and the exhibition games will give coach Renney a chance to mold the pieces as quickly as possible. I look forward to seeing how things are gonna shape up for the Blueshirts and hopefully they gel quicker this year than last season!

Oh, and by the way, nice to hear that classy Joe Sakic has re-upped for one more year with the Avs (and to think the Rangers almost had him...). He's a star and an auto-matic Hall of Famer. Over and out!

Images thanks to Google Images & NHL.com


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