Monday, December 29, 2008

Dark Days

Before I get into what I want to write, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is enjoying time with their families.
Something I have been wanting to discuss was brought to light a few days ago when it was reported that the Phoenix Coyotes were having financial troubles. You can read the full length article from ESPN here
Jerry Moyes, the owner, is set to lose $30 million while the team is having trouble staying afloat with the NHL stepping in to look for new investors.
The one protection that the Coyotes have had against moving is the lease agreement with the city of Glendale where the mover would have to pay a very hefty price tag to just have the franchise move out of the desert. However, this protection is in jeopardy because if the team does go bankrupt, which is a distinct possibility, the lease would be null and void. A prospective buyer could swoop in (Jim Balisille) buy the team for a relatively cheap price and move them wherever. 
So what does this mean? A team that is finally getting some luck on the ice with an acquisition like Ilya Bryzgalov last year and Olli Jokinen at the draft, the up and coming young players such as Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, and others is getting bad luck elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is in an area that threatens the franchise's very existence. 
I have already experienced the loss of a team when the Hartford Whalers moved down to Carolina in the late 90s. Sure I wasn't a die hard Whaler but I always liked them being from Connecticut. However, to lose a team that you passionately love is something I cannot imagine and would never wish it on anyone. 
I will admit that Phoenix is a fair weather city. I have seen it with the Diamondbacks, the Suns, the Cardinals, and the Coyotes. When the teams are doing well, they draw fans but eventually it tapers off. I remember the Coyotes selling out America West Arena for playoff games and then seeing games where the arena was half empty. But for those few die hard fans, this team is everything to us and there is a bright future on the ice developing, something that has taken many years of losing and suffering. And all of that could be taken away in an instant. 
Even though people may not know who the Coyotes are, I am proud to call myself a passionate Coyote fan. It is my hope that more fans start going to the games and see this great young team. Being young means alot of learning and losing but that should not discourage anyone from the bright future that is ahead for the franchise. The entire city of Phoenix should embrace this team that is on the brink of finally being relevant in the NHL again. 
I have to say it would be one of the saddest days of my life if the Coyotes left Phoenix. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh Holy Hell


Sorry for the lack of posts. Finals week has been nothing less than the title of this post. I will try to do a "mid year" review of the three teams I cover here and make a prediction about where they are going. Mats Sundin signed with the Canucks...I was disappointed but the Rangers have shown that they don't need him to win. I have moved on and I hope you have too. 
The Coyotes are doing well right now and the Rangers are as well. The Hatters are on a roll too. Good things all around so far as 2008 closes out. 
Look for some new stuff after this weekend. 


Image found here

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Thoughts on Mats Sundin


I am taking a short break from studying for finals to offer up my thoughts on Mats Sundin.
As many of you know, the NHL rosters freeze on December 19th, this Friday, for the Xmas Roster Freeze. No transactions can be made after that date until a later date. 
As many of you also know, Mats Sundin is still a free agent. If you didn't then I would love to know where you have been these past 6 months or so. However, Mats is close to a decision....finally. His goal is to start playing in January and while he has been working out, it might take a little while to get back into the swing of the NHL game. 
Today it was reported in the Philadelphia Daily News that the Flyers are out of the running for Sundin. They really don't need him at this point anyway. It would be too hard for them to move salary. With the elimination of Chicago plus any team below 6th place in either conference, a picture is finally starting to form here. 
The top 3 teams are believed to be the Vancouver Canucks, Les Canadiens de Montreal, and the New York Rangers. Personally, I think Mike Gillis should start looking elsewhere. Mats doesn't want to be in a place where travel is crazy and the Northwest division is not the place to go if that is the case. Despite the fact a 2 year $20 million contract offer is still on the table in Vancouver, Mats won't go there. Supposedly he isn't in it for the money.
So that leaves the Habs and the Rangers. Both are near the top of the Eastern Conference with the Canadiens having games in hand on the Rangers. But more importantly, both teams would like to be doing better. 
After a hot start, the Rangers are 6-4 in their last 10 while the Canadiens are 5-3-2. Both of them would love to be scoring more goals. The Rangers have 88 goals in 33 games while Montreal has 85 in 29 games. It seems like both are identical but there is one advantage, if you want to call it that, that the Rangers have in this sweepstakes.
The Rangers, despite cap issues, can come up with the money for Sundin easier than the Habs can. By simply sending Lauri Korpikoski down to Hartford and waiving Petr Prucha, the Rangers could free up more than $2 million. Heck, trading Rozsival would free up $5 million. Now whether Sather can convince some team to take Rozsival or Redden or whoever else is another story. 
Montreal doesn't have players it can just dump to make room. Moving pieces for them would require big names to be moved such as Andrei Markov, Alex Kovalev and so on. They will not trade players like Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, or Mike Komisarek because they want to retain them in the offseason. 
Also, the Rangers have the Swedish factor. Whether this actually plays into the decision Mats will make is one thing but it is present. Obviously Henrik Lundqvist is a huge plus as he is regarded as a world class goaltender. Markus Naslund is one of Sundin's best friends as they have played together many times over the course of their hockey careers. Markus has been scoring but maybe Sundin is the guy who can get Naslund back to that high level of offense. 
Where will Mats ultimately end up? Nobody knows. However, this week is a huge week in his decision making process. Maybe the Rangers will be have a nice gift waiting for them in New York when they return from California...

Image found via Google Image search here 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rock Bottom...And They Keep Digging

I had my optimistic article earlier today. Here is the depressing one. 
What an absolutely atrocious performance by the Rangers. I don't care that they came back from being down 5-1. Besides that 15 minute spurt, they were absolutely horrible. Henrik Lundqvist showed how bad this defense is when he is not robbing every puck away. You can't blame him for this one and he shouldn't put it on himself. 
The past couple of weeks have had horrible games for the Rangers. Despite the fact they are near the top of the NHL in the standings, the last few weeks have had games where the Rangers barely squeak by with wins they should have easily gotten. They get lucky with a very poor first 40 minutes and then decide to turn it on in the third period. You cannot do that in the NHL. A full 60 minute effort is needed. 
So what now? If you think Sundin is going to fix everything, you've got another thing coming. The defense of this team is awful without Henrik Lundqvist. Keep Staal, Girardi, and Mara. Dump the rest of them. The Lightning made a bonehead move in putting Mike Lundin on waivers...put in a claim for him. Trade the other defenseman for physical guys who are willing to get dirty and won't allow opposing players to get to the front of the net. 
Offensively, sign Sundin. Get a scoring winger for Gomez who is going to shoot the puck. I can't stand seeing this team stand around and have plenty of room to shoot. The Rangers need a goal scorer. Naslund has been alright but they need someone who is not 35 years or older to do so.  
Also fire Perry Pearn. He is the "strategist" on the powerplay. Obviously it isn't working out. Get someone in here. Take out Tom Renney. Put him in a player development role and get a coach in here who has won a Stanley Cup. John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette are two guys I would want. At least they would show emotion and are not afraid of disciplining players no matter what their contracts are. 

Holy Jumpin is Right! Coyotes Finally Figure Out Wild


I am taking a break from studying. Okay I haven't started yet so maybe this can be classified as a continuation of my procrastination...a student's best friend. 
Last week NHL.com had an article about how the Coyotes sophomores, specifically Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal, were struggling. The color commentator for the Coyotes, Darren Pang, apparently read it and was none too pleased about the content of the article. You can read his take on the Coyotes website here.
But more importantly is the Coyotes game last night. If anyone has been following this team, they know the Minnesota Wild have been a kryptonite for Phoenix. Going into the game last night, the last time the Coyotes had defeated the Wild was on November 16th, 2006. Niklas Backstrom has been an absolute fiend in net coming into this contest 8-0 with 3 shutouts and a 1.13 goals against average against the Coyotes throughout his career. 
However, all streaks come to an end. Backstrom let in 3 goals including 2 in the final 30 seconds of the 2nd period. The first came from Zbynek Michalek who continues his unbelievable play as he ripped a shot from the point. 
Then just 25 seconds later Peter Mueller came down the wing with Olli Jokinen on the other side after rookie Mikkel Boedker had stolen the puck. He made a beautiful pass across the slot and over the stick of a Wild defenseman to Jokinen who put it by Backstrom. Just like that, it was 2-0. 
The third period saw the newest addition to the Coyotes make an impact. Joakim Lindstrom was acquired earlier this week from the Anaheim Ducks for young defenseman Logan Stephenson. Tonight he scored his first goal as he redirected a beautiful pass from Steve Reinprecht into the net. While it was disallowed at first, review showed the puck had hit the white bar inside the net and bounced out.  
Olli Jokinen has continued his hot streak since coming back from injury. He now has 3 goals in two games. Steven Reinprecht is also on a hot streak as he now has 6 points in his last 5 games. Ilya Bryzgalov had his best game of the season as he stopped 30 of 31 Wild shots. The Coyotes will need him to continue to play stellar if they want to succeed. 
Was this game the turning point of the season? Quite possibly. The Coyotes had not beaten the Wild in over 2 years. Maybe this is where the Coyotes start moving up. They will face a stiff test on Saturday as the Detroit Red Wings come to Phoenix. 

Image found via Google Images here 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hank "The Hulk" Carisio

Last night the Danbury Mad Hatters hosted the Hudson Valley Bears in a Saturday night match up. While the EPHL is barely two months old, the frequency of teams playing each other is building rivalries. However, the rivalry between the Bears and the Hatters runs deep.
There is absolutely no love loss as the teams were chatting and yelling at each other on the ice. At one point there was almost a repeat of last Saturday as it seemed the benches would clear for another bench brawl. General Manager Brendan Tedstone was behind the bench for the Hatters as Coach Dave MacIsaac sat in the stands serving the first game of his suspension which should be announced early this week along with other punishments from the league office for last Saturday's "extra-curricular" activities.
But back to this game. The Hatters came out flat. They were going up against a team that has a few good players but many who are not. Yet they found themselves down 2 goals within the first 10 minutes of the game. Len DiCostanzo, the Bears goalie, was stopping everything in sight and some that weren't, doing his best Patrick Roy impression as the Hatters rained shots down on him. This continued into the second period, baffling the Hatters. At the end of the middle frame DiCostanzo had turned away all 40 shots by the Hatters. 
Needless to say, the Hatters needed a spark to get the crowd in it. The Bears were hanging on for dear life with only DiCostanzo keeping them in the game. 
It could be argued that Igor Karlov's goal just 32 seconds into the third period was the spark and it probably was until Hank Carisio began being a man on a mission. Having already fought once in the game Carisio was looking to make an impact again. However it was on the scoresheet that he would. Devin Guy of the Bears took a tripping penalty at the 5:43 mark. With Carisio on the powerplay, he powered his way from the corner to the front of the net and stuffed the puck past DiCostanzo to tie the game. The crowd of 1,294 exploded as the game was tied. 
What Carisio did next has to be the most innovative goal celebration I have ever seen, and quite possibly the funniest. After celebrating on the ice with the players he picked up the pcuk he had just scored with and gave it to Bears "tough guy" Phil Esposito. The entire Bears bench exploded in rage but didn't get on the ice. While Carisio got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which he shouldn't have because that was the best thing I have ever seen at a hockey game, he had won over the fans of Danbury.
However, his night wasn't done just yet. Apparently he got marked by the Bears. Later in the period he came through the neutral zone with his head down. Just after he dished the puck off to Erik Kent to bring into the zone he was run over by Dan Malloy of the Bears. Kent went in and scored the goal to give the Hatters the lead but Carisio was down on the ice and didn't seem to be moving. 
Let me start by saying that the hit was absolutely clean. If any video should be made about why you should keep your head up at all times, this would have been the perfect hit to show. See Scott Stevens on Lindros or Kariya for a reference point.
A hush descended on the crowd as Carisio looked to be seriously injured. Scott Horvath of the Bears called for the paramedics while the trainer, Tedstone, and some players for the Hatters came out to help. They got him to his knees with Carisio having a cut on his face and looking coherent as he was talking and moving which was a great sign. 
When the neck brace was put on he ripped it off, stood up and skated off the ice on his own power to a standing ovation from the crowd. He wanted to stay on the ice but instead took a seat behind the Hatters goal to watch the rest of the game. 
Most players would not have gotten up after a hit like that. But skating off the ice, Carisio had won the hearts of the Danbury faithful and is definitely the fan favorite. 
The game was not over however. The lead was short lived as a breakaway for John Geverd just over a minute later tied the game at 3. 
A bad penalty by the Bears with just under 2 minutes left in the game lead to their undoing. With 32 seconds left, Obi Aduba scored a power play goal that would seal the deal. 
Hank Carisio has earned the name "The Hulk" from me because of one thing. Whether he is driven to fight or score, you wouldn't like him when he is angry. He finished with a Gordie Howe hat trick. 
If you haven't had a chance to check out a Hatters game yet, I strongly recommend you do so. These games are an absolute blast and are very affordable. Hope to see the stands draw more every night.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

Was I Wrong?

In one of my earlier entries I mentioned how Phoenix's 6 game losing streak was the end of their playoff hopes. Was I premature in this assumption?
Since I wrote that article on November 25th, the Coyotes have won 4 of 5 games...most of them without star center Olli Jokinen. More importantly, the Coyotes are beating teams that they will need to if they hope to make the playoffs. After losing to the Rangers, the Coyotes went to Columbus and beat the Blue Jackets. They returned home for a home stand and topped the Avalanche before narrowly losing to the Sharks. They then beat the Kings and the Maple Leafs last night. 
So what has changed? For all of these game, Mikael Tellqvist was in goal and played very well until last night's game. He was pulled after two periods after giving up 3 goals on 9 shots. Of course Tellqvist is not a starting goalie and it was time for him to get a rest. Ilya Bryzgalov has had a few games to figure out what is wrong and needs to be on top of his game for the Coyotes to battle for a spot in the tough Western Conference. Last night was a good start as he stopped all nine shots he faced. 
Martin Hanzal continues to show his brilliant flashes of offense as last night he had a hat trick and had scored 4 straight goals for the Coyotes over 2 games. While it is his defense that is making a name for him, his offensive skills are very high and the Coyotes cannot wait to see the big guy begin rumbling along and producing offense. He only needs two more goals to tie his total from last season and has almost half the points as well. If the Coyotes want to make the playoffs, Hanzal will need to turn up the offense while keeping the defensive play at an excellent level. 
The most underrated defenseman in the entire NHL is on the Phoenix Coyotes. Not Ed Jovanovski or Derek Morris. Zbynek Michalek leads the league in blocked shots and continues to become an unbelievable defenseman. When Keith Ballard left, Coyotes fans were wondering who was going to take his role as a young defensive specialist. Michalek has certainly filled that role. Along with Kurt Sauer, Michalek is helping to make one of the best shutdown pairings in the entire NHL. Of course not very many people have heard of this young man who is making a name for himself. Being a +5 isn't a bad quality either. 
Kurt Sauer is another defender who is helping to make the Coyotes blue line formidable. One must wonder if Maple Leafs Cliff Fletcher mixed up Jeff Finger and Kurt Sauer as Sauer is one of the steals of the free agent market so far this season. The Coyotes will need him and Michalek to continue their stellar play.
Continuing with the blue line, the play of Keith Yandle has put the Coyotes back on the map when it comes to offensive defenseman. At the moment, Yandle has 13 points and is growing into his own as a puck moving defenseman. His defensive play has been questioned at times but with steady improvement, he could become a top pairing offensive player.
Another surprise has been forward Enver Lisin. The speedy winger has been in the Coyotes organization known for his speed and offense but almost useless on defense. After being sent down last year he even left the Coyotes and it was thought he would never play in North America again. However, he has come back and improved on his play without the puck and it has done wonders. In 9 games he has 6 points. Along with Mikkel Boedker Lisin is the fastest skater on the team and has used it to show his worth in drawing penalties and creating offense. His continued improvement will certainly help an offense that has young players such as Peter Mueller and Kyle Turris having a hard time scoring consistently.
The Coyotes will be tested in the coming weeks as December is a tough month for them on the schedule. They play the Avalanche, Kings, and Stars two times each, not to mention the Red Wings, Wild, and Blackhawks as well. Will they prove me wrong? 

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Birth of the Danbury Mad Hatters

Despite the fact the EPHL season started back on November 1st, the Danbury Mad Hatters are still waiting for a consistent crowd to come to their games. Averaging over 1000 fans on the weekends and less so on week nights, the Hatters would like to get those numbers up. Having a losing record doesn't help the situation but Saturday night was a special moment if any for Danbury. 
The toughness of this team was somewhat unknown and fans expected toughness after the legacy of the Trashers along with a high flying offense. Up until Saturday night, neither of these had really manifested themselves fully. That was until late in the third period. 
After tying it earlier in the period, KC Caudill knocked a Brooklyn Ace through the door of the Hatter bench. A couple of punches and shoves lead to an all out bench clearing brawl by both teams. Hatters and Aces paired up on the ice, some just grabbing each other, others ready to fight. It seemed that as Hatters hopped the boards, they were ready to throw down while the Aces were somewhat apprehensive to the fact. Obi Aduba got a shot to the face and proceeded to drop his gloves, ready to fight but the Ace who punched him stood there and twiddled his thumbs. 
However, the crowning moment didn't involve players but one of the few reminders of Danbury Trasher hockey left at the DIA. Ace coach Chris Firriolo and Hatters coach Dave MacIsaac began to exchange words and gestures across the glass that separates the two benches. What was said is unknown but Dave MacIsaac went back to his Trasher roots and attempted to go join in the melee and pummel Firriolo. While he was held back, it represents an important moment.
While I have only been at Danbury for 3 games, this was the first sustained "Lets Go Hatters" chant that I have heard. It was a wonderful thing to hear considering how hard this team has been trying to get a base in Danbury. Section 102 never fails and they certainly didn't as they started the chant that filled the DIA and gave everyone reminders of Trasher days gone by. As I looked around the arena, a gentleman was waving a Dave MacIsaac Trashers jersey over the railing. It was truly a sight to see for any passionate Trasher fan. 
The Hatters did lose in a shootout which was disappointing considering the performance Derek MacIntyre put on in goal, stopping 53 of 55 shots and 3 of 4 shootout attempts. But talking to the players after the game, they were fired up and ready to go. While their next game is Saturday night against the Bears, the Hatters will be looking forward to Christmas. That week they play the Aces three times, twice in Brooklyn and once in Danbury. 
Ladies and Gentlemen...we have a rivalry on our hands. Don't be surprised to see Danbury go on a hot streak and ready for revenge when they go up against the Aces again. 

For anyone who didn't get a chance to see the brawl...here is a clip of it. Not the best quality but you get the point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi2IJVeqBEg

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rangers Win...What is Wrong with Phoenix?

Well last night the New York Rangers beat up on the Phoenix Coyotes winning by a final score of 4-1. Enver Lisin had the only Coyote goal which was the first goal of the game. However, the New York Rangers woke up and put 4 past Ilya Bryzgalov.
Yes I was rooting for the Coyotes. But the Rangers won which is always a positive. Despite playing a game I wouldn't call fantastic *cough* Rozsival *cough* the Rangers were playing a team that is in complete disarray at the moment, that being their 6th straight loss. 
Last night confirmed to me one thing that I had been thinking about but was hoping was wrong. The Coyotes are not a playoff team. General Manager Don Maloney said that this team is a team that will be fighting for a playoff spot at the beginning of the year. Things certainly looked that way as Shane Doan, Olli Jokinen and other had some good starts to the year. But the youth factor is very high on this team and that is ultimately what will bring this team down. It would be wonderful to see the Coyotes youngsters start lighting the lamp and being a factor in the offense but they haven't picked up the load that I am sure Don Maloney was looking for.
Should they be shouldered with all that responsibility? Probably not. These kids are barely older than me and are expected to be immediate offensive talents in the NHL when in reality they aren't. I am not saying that some of these guys won't turn into great players but immediate greatness is not in the cards here. 
There is one other problem that I know will not be addressed simply because of politics and that is the coaching. Yes Wayne Gretzky has a stake in the Phoenix Coyotes organization as a managing partner and alternate governor. However, that should not give him untouchable status in terms of his job as a coach. 
The Coyotes have a very young team which needs a coach who can teach players how to play at the NHL level. You would think that Wayne would be the best person for that but being a coach is more than that. The Coyotes need a system that works and a coach who has been a coach. Someone who can keep the development of the young players going while inputting a system that will be hard to beat every night. 
I understand that Gretzky just signed a 5 year extension as a coach but this is what I think. Put Gretzky as an assistant coach for awhile...maybe he can figure out this abysmal powerplay of the Coyotes. When Ulf Samuelsson is your powerplay coach, it isn't going to work. Get a real coach in there for a couple of years. If Wayne is itching to be head coach again then that is fine but for a team that is rebuilding a coach is important in getting a system of play down that will inspire younger players and help them learn the nuances of the NHL game. Afterwards Gretzky can take things back.

It is rough to be a Coyotes fan with the NHL team on a 6 game losing streak. Things aren't much better down on the AHL affiliate in San Antonio where the Rampage have dropped 13 straight games. They are 2-17 on the season. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Predicament

The question that I get asked many times will be answered tomorrow. "When the Rangers and the Coyotes play, who do you root for?". The Coyotes are visiting the Rangers on Monday night with two teams that are on losing streaks. Last season, the Coyotes came into MSG hot and beat the Rangers 5-2. The Coyotes come in tomorrow having lost 5 straight while the Rangers have lost their last two games in horrible fashion. 
So who am I rooting for? The Coyotes. The Rangers may be near the top of the conference but they certainly aren't playing like they belong there. Besides, I don't get to be a Coyotes fan very often. 
Who is going to win? Probably the Rangers but I am hoping that the Coyotes can kick some serious butt and knock some sense into the Rangers like they did last season. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Billy Tibbetts Suspended and Leaves Hatters

Forward Billy Tibbetts was suspended by the Danbury Mad Hatters (Reasons undisclosed) and has left the team. Read the full story here
Whatever the reason for the suspension, the Hatters will miss Tibbetts. He was the most skilled player not only on the team but also in the EPHL. For a team that is having trouble putting up goals on the scoreboard this is a bold move but breaking team policies is something that has to be dealt with. 
What do the Hatters do now? Rumors have been floating around about certain players coming to Danbury but what ever the case may be at this point, Danbury needs to get skilled forwards if they want to succeed. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to Fix the Hatters?

Lets face it. The Danbury Mad Hatters have not started the season off the way they wanted to. They were looking to make an impression in the first year of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL) and certainly have but maybe not the way they wanted to. They are 2nd in the league with 212 penalty minutes in just 4 games, an average of 53 minutes a game. Danbury is last in goals for with 15 and has a record of 1-3-0-0 which puts them in last along with the Hudson Valley Bears who are seemingly turning into the main rivals. 
So what needs to be done? How can this team be fixed this early in the season? Lets look at this a bit more in depth with questions.
Is it the Coach? Absolutely not. Coach MacIsaac has done very well in terms of keeping the team together and getting his players ready for games. The Hatters have scored first in 3 of their first four games this season and jumped out to leads. They made a comeback in the third game of the season after being down 2 goals going into the third period. Mac has a system of hard work and grinding in place with the team that is working well. Obviously it isn't perfect but Mac has a solid base set down. 
Is it the players? Obviously some blame does have to go on the players because they are the ones on the ice but it isn't entirely theirs. Yes they blew multiple goal leads in their first few games and maybe have come out flat when they couldn't afford to. But the players on this team have offensive talent. Igor Karlov and Billy Tibbetts are two guys on the team who have the offensive skills to light up the league. Dan Hickman on the back end has the smarts to run the point on the power play and a shot to add another dimension to the Hatters offense. On the goaltending side of things, it has been a rough go for Derek MacIntyre and Jeff Hill. MacIntyre has been in goal for 3 of the 4 Hatters games with a 5.38 goals against average while Jeff Hill gave up 6 in his only game. With the Hatters giving up an average of 35 shots a game, the defense needs to step up in reducing quality scoring chances while the goaltenders need to make more saves...including some desperation ones. 
So where is the blame? The builders. I personally believe that the mantra of the team is a carry over from the Danbury Trashers and New England Stars franchises of being mean and pounding the opposition into the ice. But even the Trashers had scorers in their second season as they realized that the all tough guy teams except for a few guys weren't as effective in winning games. 
What this team needs is a change of theme. Instead of being mean and focusing on pounding the other team, go for a hard working mantra. Obviously don't completely do away with the toughness factor considering the rivalries that are bound to be forged but a focus on creating an atmosphere that promotes hard work and speed. Coach Dave MacIsaac will be needed if this is to become a reality but that is the way to go if this team wants to succeed in this league.
Another thing that needs to be done is getting the right players to fit in the system. Fast players are essential in a league where the ice surface is smaller. Players like Igor Karlov who have incredible speed will rack up points in this league. The management needs to invest in players who have speed but aren't afraid to mix it up as well. Danbury Trashers fans will remember Bruce Richardson from their inaugural season when he had 87 points in 76 games. His style of play is exactly the type that this Hatters team needs to adopt and the kind of players that are needed. Hard working, speed oriented, edgy guys who feed off the crowd and the energy on the ice, bench and in the locker room are the answer to the Hatters.
It is very early in the season and there is no reason to hit the panic button. But management should be looking for ways to fix this team which they undoubtedly are. They want a winner in Danbury and this start certainly will bring changes to the team. 

Comeback Kids

As mentioned in my last post, I was at the Bruin Ranger game at MSG. Of course by the end of the 2nd period I wanted to leave but it is a rule of mine to never leave a game early no matter the score. Good thing I followed that rule.
The Rangers dominated the third period and stormed back from a 2-0 deficit against a very good defensive team. Nigel Dawes got his second goal of the season (hopefully this will wake him up) at the 13:55 mark of the third period. Markus Naslund was then fed a beautiful pass and put one of his patented wrist shots past Tim Thomas to tie the game up with 52 seconds to go in the third period. The Rangers had come back from a two goal deficit against a very good team in the third period.....again.
Chris Drury scored the lone goal in the shootout and after a reviewed attempt by Patrice Bergeron which clearly didn't go in, the Rangers had won. 
Talk about a roller coaster ride. The Rangers came back against a team that was on a roll and maybe are beginning to get on one themselves. 
The Coyotes lost 3-2 to the Stars. Kevin Porter and Steven Reinprecht had the goals for the Coyotes but they couldn't muster a third one to tie the game.
The Hatters got blown out in their first game on the road 7-1. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big Night Tonight

Tonight is another big night of hockey.

The New York Rangers are back home to take on the Boston Bruins. The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will certainly be in for a huge battle tonight. The Bruins and 3 points behind the Rangers with three games in hand, making this game that much more important. Two of the best goalies in the league right now, Henrik Lundqvist and Tim Thomas, will be in net tonight. Look for a low scoring defensive affair tonight. I will be at the game certainly losing my voice. 
The Coyotes return home tonight after a good road trip to take on the struggling Dallas Stars. Look for Phoenix to come out strong after being shut out by the Wild who seem to have the Coyotes' number. I expect a big game out of the young players tonight as they will need to be more involved if the Coyotes want to succeed. 
The Danbury Mad Hatters play their first road game tonight as they visit the Brooklyn Aces. The Hatters are 1-2 on the season so far and are looking to string wins together to get to the top of the EPHL. 
A busy night tonight in the NHL with 10 games on the slate which is plenty of hockey action to keep any fan busy. LETS GO RANGERS! GO YOTES GO! LETS GO HATTERS!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leader of the Pack

When it comes to the Phoenix Coyotes organization, there is one person who exemplifies consistency and dedication...Shane Doan. 
The only remaining Winnipeg Jet on the team Shane Doan has quickly become one of the best players in Coyotes/Jets history and has a few more years ahead of him as a Phoenix Coyote.
His dedication showed when he signed a 5 year extension in February of 2007 for a bargain price of $4.5 million a year. Doan could have left Phoenix and easily have gotten much more than that. But he was dedicated to the Coyotes organization and stayed. 
After being drafted in 1995 (first round, 7th overall) Doan has risen to the top of the Coyotes and is now the captain. Despite sub-par offensive seasons, Shane took off last season when he had 28 goals and 50 assists for 78 points in 80 games, a career high. 
This season the offensive onus is still on Doan but he has help in the new arrival of Olli Jokinen who may be the one type of player to elevate Doan from good to great. Through 14 games this season Doan has 9 goals and 7 assists for 16 points and is on pace to break the 50 goal plateau. Whether he gets there or not remains to be seen but he is earning the C on his shoulder right now. If he continues to play like this, can anyone spell M-V-P? 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Big Night for Rangers and Coyotes

First of all, sorry for the inconsistent articles being written. School has been a bit busy the last couple of days making me unable to put anything here.
But getting to tonight's action, the Rangers traveled across the Hudson to face off against the injury riddled Devils. Martin Brodeur, Bobby Holik, Brian Rolston, and Paul Martin were all out of the lineup for the Devils while the Rangers were without Scott Gomez who was kept out for precautionary reasons. He is listed as day to day. 
The Rangers, who have had problems playing the full 60 minutes the past few games, didn't play a full 60 minutes tonight. However, the 4o minutes they were playing, they played spectacular with Henrik Lundqvist picking up the other 20 minutes as best as he could. Nikolai Zherdev lead the Ranger scoring rush as he finished the night with 2 goals. Chris Drury had a goal and an assist with Michal Rozsival and Lauri Korpikoski scoring the other 2 goals. Rotating forwards Nigel Dawes and Dan Fritsche had 2 assists a piece as did Dan Girardi. 
This is an important win for the Rangers as their tough schedule continues on Saturday when they host the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.
The Phoenix Coyotes came into Columbus on a two game winning streak, looking to get three wins in a row for the first time this season. They certainly did that with a convincing 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets. Shane Doan had 2 goals and an assist. He was very close to getting his first career hat trick but hit the post on the empty net which was followed up by Martin Hanzal. Kevin Porter and Steven Reinprecht rounded out the scoring for the Desert Dogs. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 31 of 33 shots and continues his stellar play over this stretch which has the Coyotes winning four of their last five games. 
At some point in the near future I will have a feature on Shane Doan of the Coyotes considering his great play to begin this season so look for that. Until then....Lets Go Rangers and Go Yotes Go. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mad Hatters Get First Win with 6-4 Victory Over Hudson Valley

Coming into tonight, the Danbury Mad Hatters had blown a three goal lead in each of their first two games. Despite blowing a one goal lead early and going down by two, they stormed back to get their first win in the franchise's history.

The Hatters got the scoring started as Billy Tibbetts made a beautiful cross ice pass to find defenseman Andrew Scampoli breaking down the wing. Scampoli tapped it past Bears starting goalie Scott Rowan just over 15 minutes into the first frame. However, Hudson Valley would not be behind for long as Chris Seifert tied things up, beating Hatters starting goalie Drew MacIntyre. At the end of the first period it was all tied up at one.

The second period started out very well for the Hatters. Dan Hickman ripped a one timer at the net after receiving a pass from Igor Karlov. Adam Sinewitz was in front creating problems for the Hudson Valley defense. Danbury was in control with a 2-1 lead. But the Bears would not go down quietly as they rang off three unanswered goals with Seifert getting his second goal while Scott Estey and Brandon Doria potted one each. It seemed like Danbury was in for another long night as they ended the second down 4-2.

What happened or what was said in the locker room during the second intermission is unknown but it worked. The Hatters came out flying as Eric Linkowski scored just 26 seconds in followed up by Alex Redmond scoring just 29 seconds later. Suddenly, the game was tied. Danbury kept coming as Drew Madeiros scored to give Danbury the lead for good with Igor Karlov getting an insurance goal to complete the big comeback for Danbury.

Karlov lead the team in points tonight with a goal and two assists while Drew MacIntyre stopped 27 of 31 shots. 

The Danbury Mad Hatters next home game is Wednesday November 26th at 7pm as they host the Jersey Rockhoppers. Tickets are available at the Danbury Ice Arena and at www.madhattershockey.com. 


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Full Slate Tonight

Another full slate of games tonight to pay attention to. The Rangers better play ALOT better than they did against the Islanders as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (7pm EST). The Coyotes need to start stringing wins together as they head for Vancouver to take on the Canucks (10pm EST). The Danbury Mad Hatters are looking for their first win of the season as they host the Brooklyn Aces at the Danbury Ice Arena. Tickets are available so click the link in the upper right hand corner to purchase them. It is a really great time. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dear Glen Sather...Trade Michal Rozsival...

If I could be GM of the Rangers for a day, the first thing I would do is dump Michal Rozsival. I don't for what or to who. A box of broken sticks, pucks, a Mats Sundin jersey, or even a chicken tenders meal at Madison Square Garden. Anything at this point would satisfy my need to get rid of Rozsival.
If Sather was smart, which he can be at some points but usually isn't, he wouldn't even have re-signed Rozsival this summer. Not only did he re-sign him....he gave him an outrageous contract. 4 years with a cap hit of $5 million a year. Technically he is getting paid $7 million this season. WHY? What do people see in him? A true belief I have is that he was thought of as good because of playing next to Marek Malik. Malik was the focus of everyone's attention and all the bad play was accredited to him whether he warranted it or not. 
This allowed Rozsival to make mistakes without the fan focus on him. I noticed that he was terrible along with Malik. So why the $5 million? 
We may never know what Glen Sather was thinking when Rozsival was signing that contract in his office, but I can guess that his mind was on his fishing retreat in Canada's wilderness than in the salary cap situation for the Rangers. 
The Rangers will have Brandon Dubinsky and Nikolai Zherdev, among others, in the restricted free agent category. I don't think I have to explain the importance of those two to the future of the organization. 
To address the Mats Sundin rumors that have been floating, this is how it should work. I personally don't want Sundin but if it has to happen, it should happen like this. Trade Rozsival anywhere for anything cheap. Draft picks, prospects, used sticks...whatever is needed. Then give whatever money that is left to Sundin for this year ONLY! After this season, Sundin leaves to go wherever and you split that money up between Dubinsky and Zherdev somehow. Its not perfect but if Sundin is indeed to become a New York Ranger, this is how it must be done to ensure the future of the franchise.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mad Hatters Come Up Short in Season Opener: Fall 5-4 to Hudson Valley

The Eastern Professional Hockey League had its first games this Saturday, November 1st 2008. The Danbury Mad Hatters had their UNO Chicago Bar and Grill Opening Night in Danbury, CT in front of a raucous crowd of 1,891.

The Hatters came out flying as Dan Hickman scored the first goal in Danbury Mad Hatters history on the powerplay from Duane Whitehead and Igor Karlov. Less than one minute later former New York Ranger Billy Tibbetts made it 2-0 on the power play.  Duane Whitehead scored in the second period to give the Hatters a 3 goal lead. 

Hudson Valley got on the board as Eric Lind and Ryan Hughes got the Bears within a goal. Eric Lind got his second of the night to tie the game and the Bears took over the game. Tom Westfall scored with Brett Aimone scoring less than 20 seconds later.

Penalties called on Hudson Valley put them on their heels, including a 5 minute power play for Danbury. Obi Aduba scored just over 7 minutes into the third to put the Hatters within 1 but they couldn't tie it up as Bears goaltender Ryan Hull stopped 44 of 48 shots. 

The Danbury Mad Hatters next game is Thursday, November 6th at 7pm as they host the Brooklyn Aces at the Danbury Ice Arena. Tickets are available online at www.madhattershockey.com or at the Danbury Ice Arena box office. 


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Full Slate of Hockey Tonight

What a night to be a hockey fan. 
The NHL boasts a 12 game schedule this Saturday night. Obviously this blog will be focusing in on two of those.
The New York Rangers are on the road tonight in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Steve Valiquette will get the start in goal as he looks to improve on his 3-0 record in 4 career starts versus his hometown team. His most recent victory over them was in October when he shut them out in a Ranger shootout victory that saw the Rangers win 1-0. Henrik Lundqvist has played six games straight and has certainly earned a night off.
The roster for the Rangers remains the same from Thursday night's contest against the Thrashers. New acquisitions Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund have been hot as of late and will look to continue their stellar play tonight. The Rangers are looking for their second 5 game winning streak in this very early season. 
Toronto is a team that was projected to finish very low in the standings but has been turning heads as of late. They pushed the Rangers in the last meeting and outscored the New Jersey Devils in a 6-5 shootout victory over Martin Brodeur. Not to mention they beat the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit on the first night of the regular season. Vesa Toskala has been playing very well and is giving the Leafs a chance to win every night. Luke Schenn has earned the right to stay with his team past the 10 game tryout that is given to players who may return to juniors. Ryan Hollweg is back from his second 2 game suspension and faces his former team for the first time. 
On the other side of the continent, the Phoenix Coyotes are looking to get their second straight win at home as they wrap up a 4 game home stand hosting the Minnesota Wild. 
The Coyotes are coming off a big win against the Pittsburgh Penguins and are going to take that momentum into this game. Kevin Porter got his first NHL after an unbelievable move by Steven Reinprecht. Shane Doan had two goals and Olli Jokinen got one for himself. Ilya Bryzgalov played stellar in holding Sidney Crosby and his Penguins to just one goal. 
However tonight they are playing a team that they have lost to 8 consecutive times. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom is 6-0-0 with a 1.17 GAA lifetime vs the Coyotes, including 2 shutouts. 
On the bright side of things, the Coyotes won't have to worry about Marian Gaborik or Owen Nolan, both of whom will be out tonight for the Wild. 
The Coyotes special teams has to improve if they want a chance at snapping this bad streak against Minnesota. The power play is ranked 21st in the league at 15.6% while the penalty is also 21st with a 78.1%. It will be even tougher tonight to improve those as the Wild are first in the league on the penalty kill and 7th on the power play. 
The Coyotes need to string some wins together if they want to keep up with the rest of the Western Conference this year. Doing it at home is as good a place to do it. This would also be a huge confidence booster, going 3-1 on a home stand that has been against 4 teams that are among the top in the NHL. 
The third game tonight that I will be not only focusing on but also at is the Danbury Mad Hatters opening night tonight at the Danbury Ice Arena as they take on the Hudson Valley Bears. This is the first night of the regular season for the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL). Despite only having four teams the league will provide a great brand of hockey. 
The final roster for the Hatters has been updated on the right hand side of the page (scroll down a little). If you are in the Danbury area, check this game out! Buy tickets either online through the link on the right or at the door.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yotes and Rangers back in Action

It has been a few days but the Coyotes and Rangers are back in action. The Rangers are looking for their 4th straight win tonight as they take on the Atlanta Thrashers at MSG at 7pm EST. Rangers have been on a roll and need to grab as many points as possible now for the stretch run at the end of the season. These games may not have meaning right now but come February and March every point counts. Atlanta is coming off a 7-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. It will be interesting to see how they play tonight although you can bet they would like nothing more than to beat the best team in the NHL. Check out the beat writers for notes on practice and line ups.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Coyotes are playing their first game since this past Saturday when they lost to the Calgary Flames. Tonight, they get Cindy Crosby and the Penguins at home. It is a tough schedule but the Coyotes need to string wins together if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs this season. If they want to take some positives into this game, they did beat the Washington Capitals, a high flying team that they held to one goal. So why not tonight versus the Penguins?
Coach Wayne Gretzky has changed up the lines for tonight's game:

Fedoruk-Jokinen-Doan
Carcillo-Hanzal-Mueller
Porter-Reinprecht-Boedker
Winnik-Turris-Tikhonov

I would love nothing more than to see Turris and Tikhonov both break out big time tonight. Ilya Bryzgalov will be starting in net as he looks to get his focus going in a consistent way. Ken Klee, who the Coyotes picked up off waivers a few days ago will make his debut tonight. It will be good to get some more veteran presence on the back line and Ken Klee is a guy who can definitely provide that for a young team. I am looking forward to see how he plays on his new team. From the interview on the Coyotes website, he sounds excited to be in Phoenix. 
Yotes Penguins....Rangers Thrashers. Lets hope for wins tonight. Also make sure you get your tickets for the Danbury Mad Hatters season opener that is on Saturday. I went to the preseason game on Tuesday night and I have to say it was great. Click the link in the upper right hand corner of the page to find the information needed to purchase tickets. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blues to the Desert on WVOF Today!

Our show is on WVOF today at 1pm EST! Make sure you tune in online under live webstreams and clicking the second link. You will also be able to call in at 203-254-4002 during the show. We would love to hear from you. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nikky Z Comes Through

On a night where the Rangers were looking for some revenge for last year's 2nd round loss to the Penguins, they sure did it with irony. The Penguins came back in Game 1 of the series to beat the Rangers...fitting that the Rangers do the same in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. 
The Penguins got out to an early lead with a Darryl Sydor shot bouncing off two different Rangers before finding its way behind Henrik Lundqvist. It really was all Penguins for the first two frames of this game as Sidney Crosby scored their second goal when a loose puck was found behind Lundqvist. 2-0 Pittsburgh. All seemed lost when the Rangers could not convert on a 2 minute 5 on 3 advantage at the end of the 2nd period.
But Petr Prucha drew another penalty in the third period and the Rangers took advantage. Scott Gomez found Markus Naslund in front of the net and Naslund smacked it through Marc Andre-Fleury. 2-1. The third period continued with back and forth play. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with less than a minute to go and needed a goal. Chris Drury right? Nope. Nikolai Zherdev took a pass and went down the right wing side and fired a wrist shot high glove side on Fleury with 8.1 seconds left. Tie game. We are going to OT.
In overtime it was Sidney Crosby vs Henrik Lundqvist for the most part. Crosby had plenty of chances to end the game but Lundqvist denied him and his Penguins time and again including a cross crease save and an unbelievable glove save. To the shootout we go.
Zherdev and Nigel Dawes both tried low stick side shots on Fleury which he easily stopped. Lundqvist stopped Kris Letang on the first shot and then Petr Sykora. Fredrik Sjostrom was the third Ranger shooter and the Sjo delivered. Forehand, backhand and a quick flick slipped the puck under the pad of Fleury. Whether Freddie was looking to lift the puck up or not is unknown but he scored. 
Sidney Crosby vs Henrik Lundqvist....again. Game on the line. Crosby needs to score to keep Pittsburgh alive. He moves in and stops skating, choosing to try and wait Lundqvist out which is something not very many people have been able to do. Crosby can't as his move to the backhand is stopped by Lundqvist. 
A huge victory for the Rangers who continue their great start as they move to 8-2-1 on the season. Their next game is tomorrow night on Long Island as they take on the New York Islanders for the first time this season. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coyotes Face Tough Schedule Ahead

Well the Coyotes are 2-3 right now. After 2 wins to start the season at home, they went on the road and dropped 3 in a row to the Blackhawks, Senators, and Canadiens. Now the young Coyotes return home for a 4 game home stand where the competition doesn't get any easier.

Coming in Thursday, Alexander Ovechkin and the high flying Capitals. This is the first trip to Phoenix for Ovechkin since his unbelievable goal he scored 3 years ago. Mikael Tellqvist will get his first start of the season tonight. The Coyotes need to get back on track and beating a difficult team such as the Capitals will certainly help get their confidence back. 

Unfortunately, the Coyotes will need to be on top of their game early and need to get some offense from their younger players. Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker are the big names but I am sure Coach Gretzky would love to see Viktor Tikhonov and Kevin Porter get on the scoresheet in the goals column. Ed Jovanovski also needs to get going offensively for Phoenix if they want to have an effective offense.

Taking advantage of mistakes made by teams is how great teams are made and Phoenix will have to definitely utilize this mindset against very good teams over the next couple of games. The powerplay has to be effective while the penalty kill needs to shut down the opposing offense. A strong forecheck will promote mistakes among the other team as it will be hard for them to break out and create offense. 

The defense needs to stick to their assignments and not just rely on their goalie to keep them in the game. Players like Kurt Sauer and David Hale, who are not really looked to provide offense need to step up and make sure their defense is top notch. Physical play helps but being in position to break up opposing scoring chances is just as, if not more important. 

The Coyotes play Washington, Calgary, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota on this home stand and a is an early season test of their home ice play which was not good last season, one of the worst in the league in fact. They need to step it up at home if they want to reach their goal of making the playoffs. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Danbury Mad Hatters Release Training Camp Roster and Preseason Game

Danbury Mad Hatters

Goaltenders

Mike Ronan, BraintreeMA

Jeff Hill, CranstonRI

Rob Lemelin, South HamiltonMA

Derek MacIntyre, StanwoodMI

 

Defensemen

Matt Herutun, Greenwood Village, CO

Joe Morrison

Phil Hinrichs, RaleighNC

Zack Kane, JamestownNY

Shawn Breaker, Strathmore, ALTA

Mike Payne, BurlingtonMA

Erik Linkowski, Mt. VernonNY

C.J. Schneider, OaklynNJ

 

Forwards

Erik Kent, NewburyportMA

Duane Whitehead, The Pas, MAN

Drew Madeiros, TewksburyMA

Mykul Haun, Oakland. CA

Patrick Forshner, NatickMA

Sean Hannifin, MedfordMA

John Lamken, WarehamMA

Alex Redmond, San JoseCA

Brett Riley, RochesterNY

Anthony Becker, North TonowandaNY

Igor Karlov, Huntingdon ValleyPA

KC Caudill, TustinCA

Obi Aduba, WalpoleMA

Gerald Cioffi, RevereMA

Tim D’Orzaio, JamisonPA

Jason Borsella, Cortland Manor, NY

Bill Haas, WilliamstownNJ

Andrew Scampoli, IslipNY

Billy Tibbetts, ScituateMA

Jeffrey Ratt, La RongeSASK



Check it out! 


The Mad Hatters will be playing a preseason game on Tuesday October 28th at 7pm vs the Jersey Rockhoppers at Danbury Ice Arena. Tickets are $5 available at the door. If you are a season ticket holder, you get in free when you present your season ticket holder card. CHECK IT OUT! SEASON STARTS 1 WEEK FROM SATURDAY! 

From the Blues to the Desert today!

Make sure you checkout from the blues to the desert on WVOF today at 1PM EST! Go to the WVOF website (at the right), click Live Webstreams, and then the 2nd link. If you want to call in, the number is 203-254-4002.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

check it out!

I was interviewed by Zach Sanders at 24/7 Sports stop. Read the interview here which is in three parts. Just scroll down until you see the Puck Talk entry. Enjoy! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Much Too Soon?

Coming into this year, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney believed this year's Coyote team would challenge for a playoff spot and would get in. There are a couple of reasons why. 
The acquisition of Olli Jokinen at the draft was the first time a legitimate number one center had been in Phoenix for a long time. He was brought in to be the spark for Shane Doan and Peter Mueller who both had good years last year and make them better. So far he has played well with 6 points, 1 goal 5 assists, in only 5 games. I am sure they would like for him to put up some more goals but I am sure Jokinen knows that. 
Having a number one goaltender to start the season was another reason. Getting Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers was a divine miracle for the Coyotes who were looking at a great future in net. Bryz had a good year last year with the Coyotes going 26-22 with a 2.43 GAA and a .921 save percentage and was a reason that the Maloney and company were excited about this coming year. Having a legitimate number one goaltender for the first time since Nikolai Khabibulin was in net for Phoenix is important, especially in a tough division like the Pacific. 
Other reasons include the young players like Kyle Turris coming in along with returning players like Peter Mueller, Shane Doan, Dan Carcillo and so on.
But have the expectations been stacked too high? The Coyotes started off the season with two good wins versus the Blue Jackets and the Ducks but have really lost it on this road trip losing to the Blackhawks, Senators, and Canadiens. Of course, those are three very tough teams and losing to them is not a shame. However, the Coyotes were seriously run over in these games, losing 4-1, 6-3, and 4-1 respectively. The lack of offense is something that needs to be addressed and defense as well. Teams are getting way too many good chances against the Coyotes defense and is making it very hard for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to keep them in games like he did last season. 
One thing that has certainly picked up is the physicality and toughness of this team. Shane Doan has been an animal recently and physical play from guys like Kurt Sauer is destroying the notion of the Coyotes as push overs (Yes Habs fans, Sauer's check was clean). 
The point here is that management needs to understand that this team is very young and it will take time to gel. The season is still very new so the panic button should certainly not be in sight but if things continue the way they are going, look for Don Maloney to be looking towards the draft and acquire some draft picks for veteran players such as Steven Reinprecht, Derek Morris and Mikael Tellqvist at the deadline. 
The tough schedule continues for the Coyotes as they come home for the Capitals, Flames, Penguins, and Wild. I hate to be a negative Nancy but the season for these young guys could be over by the All Star break at this rate. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Sjo Fits...On the Road Again

Last night, the Rangers won. I don't care how they did it despite the fact the balcony of the 400s looked like a good jumping off point many times last night. They won. 1-0 final in the shootout was the way they won. The team was forced to go back to basics and play against a team that is likely to finish towards the bottom of the standings. Vesa Toskala was the brightest spot for the Maple Leafs last night as he brought his A-game but unfortunately for him, the Leafs couldn't get the puck past Steve Valiquette who continues to play well when he is given the nod. Fredrik Sjostrom scored the decisive goal in the shootout to win for the Coyot....I mean Rangers. 
No offense last night? They won. Get over it. 
Coming to tonight, the Rangers will be playing one of THOSE teams that you don't expect to beat. In fact, scoring a goal against them is some sort of accomplishment in and of it self. The Blueshirts are in Detroit to face the defending Stanley Cup Champions. On the good side of things, Henrik Zetterberg will not be playing today due to a groin injury. The bad news is Pavel Dastyuk, Marian Hossa, Tomas Holmstrom, and Nicklas Lidstrom are playing. The Rangers will have to come out prepared tonight if they want a chance to win in a very tough arena. This is certainly a water mark game. Henrik Lundqvist will be starting tonight and he will certainly have to be on top of his game against a high powered Detroit offense. 
The Ranger offense just has to keep looking forward and focusing on the game at hand especially the powerplay which is the cause of indigestion and frustration for any Ranger fan. Three words. SHOOT THE PUCK. Just throw the puck on net because you never know what is going to happen and against a tough team like Detroit, you have to put the puck on net as much as possible because they won't give you many chances. The power play better score one goal tonight...at least. 
Korpikoski, according to Ranger Rants may be playing tonight, otherwise expect pretty much the same lineup. Game is at 7 PM EST. 
The Coyotes lost 6-3 last night. Enough said.
They have another tough test tonight as they stroll into Montreal to face the Habs.....it isn't going to be pretty. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rangers and Coyotes Both Looking to Bounce Back

Wednesday night wasn't a good night for me as both the Rangers and Coyotes were handed their first losses of the season. Although Phoenix apparently played well enough for Chicago to fire head coach Denis Savard. 
The Rangers looked absolutely abysmal on Wednesday night and need to bounce back tonight. They will be hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at MSG with Steve Valiquette getting the start tonight. Henrik Lundqvist is surely being rested for tomorrow's contest vs the Red Wings and Monday when Sean Avery returns to MSG. Ryan Hollweg is not making his return to New York because of a suspension that he has from the league.
The Coyotes are in Ottawa tonight looking to get back on the winning side of things after losing to the Blackhawks. Dan Carcillo has been suspended for two games by the NHL for grabbing someone while on the bench so his spot will be filled by either Brian McGratton or Enver Lisin. Don't be surprised to see big man McGratton in there. Bryzgalov will be getting the start while Derek Morris will be starting despite suffering a hand injury in the loss to Chicago. 
Rangers at 7 EST and so are the Coyotes. I will be at MSG for tonight's game so here is to a win for both of my teams. 

LETS GO RANGERS!
GO YOTES GO! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Show WVOF TODAY

From the Blues to the Desert will be on WVOF today at 1pm EST. Make sure you tune in online on the WVOF website...click live webstreams and then click the second link on the following page. You don't want to miss it! 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shock and Awe On and Off the Ice


Today was as up and down as the stock market on Wall Street.
First the Rangers learned that Alexei Cherepanov, the top prospect in the organization, had collapsed on the bench while sitting next to Jaromir Jagr after a failed 2 on 1. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Jagr was reportedly crying and telling Cherepanov to wake up. After failed attempts to fully revive him Cherepanov was pronounced dead. He was 19. From a hockey perspective this is horrible but from an objective view, it is even worse. A kid no older than myself simply collapsed and died and it really is grounding to younger people who may think that they are invincible when they aren't even close. Tom Renney had a nice quote during the post game interview:

"Just stay humble. Work hard. Work harder than the other team every game, and work harder in practice,” Renney said. “Take nothing for granted, especially on a day like today. How could you? It’s a gift to be playing in this league. It’s a gift to walk the planet. So you know what, leave it on the ice every single night and let the results take care of themselves."

I don't think I could put it any better than Renney did right there. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Cherepanov family who are probably suffering one of, if not the, worst thing that could possibly happen to a family. 
Before tonight's game, the Rangers organization called for a moment of silence which was something that was great to see. Cherepanov was an important part to the organization's future and it was nice to see the Rangers recognizing that. I teared up while watching on TV, the atmosphere at the Garden must have been something else. 
The game went on as scheduled and the Rangers played a game that certainly looked like they were dedicated. the entire second line continued its absolutely stellar play as Aaron Voros took the reins tonight. He scored 2 goals, both on the powerplay with another assist while Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and 2 assists. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play versus the Devils with 26 saves, improving his record against the New Jersey Devils to 13-2-4 life time with all of those games versus Martin Brodeur. 
The Rangers are off until Wednesday when they take on the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. 

Picture found on HFboards here

Rivalry Renewed: Rangers Host Devils..Updated 2:08PM

Tonight will be the first regular season meeting between the Rangers and Devils, a rivalry that Ranger fans have come to know very well. 
The Rangers come into tonight 4-0 and will be looking to extend their winning streak. Last year, they went 7-0-1 vs the Devils, with the only game lost in a shootout on the final day of the regular season. After that, the Rangers beat the Devils in the first round of the playoffs in 5 games. 
Of course, this rivalry may take a bit of a turn with so many new faces on the Rangers especially with the loss of Sean Avery but there are a couple of guys who could take his place in annoying Martin Brodeur and the rest of the New Jersey Devils. Aaron Voros will be standing in front of Marty all night he is on the ice. Ryan Callahan is a guy who is never afraid to back down from anyone. Colton Orr will obviously not hesitate to drop the mitts and Paul Mara's new found grit will certainly up the ante. 
But the important thing here is for the Rangers to keep playing the way they have. They must put plenty of pressure on Marty and the Devils defense to force turnovers. The powerplay will have to be clicking tonight and the penalty kill will have to stay at the level it has been. Face offs will be key and the Rangers need to improve on that considering they are at a face off percentage of 47.2%. That number has to go up for the Rangers to have an effective offense and defense against a Devils team that relies on the other team making mistakes in all three zones. 
The game will be on MSG tonight at 7pm so make sure you tune in. LETS GO RANGERS! 

UPDATE 208: According to the beat writers, Dan Fritsche will be in today as Patrick Rissmiller has a swollen ankle, making him unfit to play tonight. Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes will remain scratched.