Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rangers rout SC Bern 8-1, Coyotes earn first preseason win


Well any worry that the Rangers would drop their game to SC Bern has been utterly obliterated. While Bern did keep it a close game, the Rangers absolutely erupted in the third period with 6 goals. Brandon Dubinsky had 2 goals, Wade Redden, Dan Girardi, Dmitri Kalinin, Chris Drury, Lauri Korpikoski and Corey Potter all scored for the Rangers. 
Corey Potter and Brian Fahey, both of whom are trying to grab that 7th spot for defenseman both played very well today and certainly are making the decision hard for Tom Renney. 
I didn't get to watch the game this afternoon because of class but the game will be re-aired on MSG at 8pm EST tonight. I will certainly be watching then.
Last night, the Phoenix Coyotes got their first preseason win and saw their offense ignite. Peter Mueller had a hat trick while first round pick Mikkel Boedker had 2 goals of his own as the Yotes beat the Sharks 5-1 in Phoenix. Wayne Gretzky must be relieved to see the offense finally starting to click and even more so because Mueller and Boedker led the way. Coach Gretzky will also be impressed with the chemistry that seems to be forming among some of the younger players. The line of Carcillo-Turris-Boedker really is coming together well. Peter Mueller's performance with the first line certainly made things look good as well. The Coyotes have a re-match with the Sharks tonight in San Jose.

Image found here on Ranger website. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

So Long Reg


I woke up today to some very sad news. Paul Newman, actor and philanthropist had died from cancer at the age of 83. He was a Connecticut guy and a great actor.
His best role was that of Reggie Dunlop, player/coach of the rag tag Charlestown Chiefs of the Federal League in Slapshot. Any hockey fan will tell you that that is their favorite movie and Newman as Dunlop was absolutely superb. The whole movie is one giant laugh with him as the centerpiece surrounded by the Hanson Brothers and the rest of his teammates.
He will be sorely missed. Unfortunately I never got him to sign my Reggie Dunlop Chiefs jersey but I am glad I saw the movie. Everyone in Connecticut will miss Paul Newman.
The Rangers lost today. Not a good one despite Naslund and Zherdev scoring. They really need to get their act together and start scoring more than 2 goals a game. Hopefully this trip to Europe will get them positively thinking and get them better chemistry. Only one week away from the beginning of the regular season and less than 2 weeks until opening night at MSG. So close yet so far. 

Image found via Google image search here

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cuts Galore


Well the Rangers have made their first major round of cuts. Petr Nedved, who played spectacularly in his couple of games has been cut. He will be heading home to the Czech Republic for this coming season. He gave it a good shot...best of luck to him.
The rest of the players who were cut have been sent down for Hartford's training camp. The full list can be found here on the Ranger website. Most of these cuts are not surprising with the great play of young players like Ryan Callahan and Lauri Korpikoski but they gave Tom Renney a good glimpse at the future of this organization and despite the fact the Rangers have only won 1 preseason game, the future is surely bright. 
I am a little sad to see PA Parenteau getting cut considering he was very good last night and just as an overall offensive force. He may pass when he should shoot every so often but I think some great things are in store for him. Another year in the AHL of being a top scorer will help his case for next season and even for a call up role during this season. 
On the Coyote side of things, they have not thrown out as many pink slips as the Rangers yet but they have begun widdling down the roster. Michael Stone, Tyler Johnson, Kurtis Mucha, Colin Long, Nick Ross, and Jared Staal were all assigned to their respective junior teams. This is no surprise really but it was good for the guys to get a taste of the kind of work ethic they will need if they want to be NHLers in the future and ,more importantly, Phoenix Coyotes. It is unknown when the Coyotes will make their next cuts but it won't be too long until the pink slips are in lockers. 
The Rangers have one more preseason game stateside tomorrow vs the Devils. A couple of more cuts will surely be made before the team boards the plane to head across the pond and play SC Bern, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and the Lightning. 
Opening night at MSG is 2 weeks from today. Get excited!! 

Image found here via Google Image search. 

What a Week

Well the week is finally coming to an end and there is finally a day without the Rangers playing a game...something I am sure they are more than relieved of. In terms of wins and losses it hasn't been good as the Rangers are 1-4 in preseason play with their only win coming vs the Ottawa Senators. 
Of course, there is a bright side. Most of the teams the Rangers have iced have been mostly made up of guys who are bound for juniors, Charlotte, or Hartford. Gomez, Zherdev, and Naslund have clicked very well despite the fact they haven't put the puck in the net. The Rangers, in fact, are putting more shots on goal than ever. Last night, they more than doubled the output of shots from the Lightning and instead ran into a tough Kari Rammo. 
Lauri Korpikoski certainly made a case for himself to stay with the big club last night as he was clearly the best player on the Ranger side of things. Nedved continues to be good with a goal and assist in the game vs the Devils and plenty of chances last night. Petr Prucha had a tough night with plenty of chances. When is this kid going to get a break? 
Corey Potter looked very sound on defense and I personally think that it is a sprint to the finish between him and Brian Fahey for the 7th defenseman's spot. I wish one of them could replace Dmitri Kalinin who has been atrocious this preseason but the chances of that happening are slim to none. 

More will be on here later about the Rangers and the Coyotes. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blues to the Desert on WVOF!

Mike and I will be on WVOF today for our show's second episode there. We will be discussing all the preseason and camp action for the Rangers and Coyotes so make sure you tune in. 
To listen in, go to the WVOF website (www.wvof.org) and click 'Live Webstreams'. There will be 2 choices on the page...click the second choice which talks about Webcasts. 
You listeners will also have the opportunity to call in if you would like. We will announce the number numerous times on air. It is going to be fun so make sure you join us! 
We will not be on Youcastr for this episode but will have a few lined up for you in the next couple of weeks. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post Game/Pre Game NYR vs TB

Last night the Rangers held on as they defeated Ottawa 2-1. Petr Nedved who is here on a try out basis played superb and will likely have to keep that kind of play up if he wants any shot at making the team. The top line for the Rangers of Gomez, Zherdev, and Naslund looked very good despite the team only putting up 2 goals the whole game. 
And despite what people may think about the defense, it was overall a good effort. Yes Redden let Isbister dance through him but other than that, he had a good game. The only defenseman who had gaffs was Dmitri Kalinin who has to improve if he doesn't want to get on the wrong side of the Garden crowd and Tom Renney who I am sure would have no qualms making Kalinin an afterthought with all the young players fighting for a shot. 
A good game for the Rangers which despite the lackluster offense, played a very sound defensive game which is what Tom Renney is looking for. 
Tonight the Rangers are heading to Tampa Bay with this roster:

F: Gomez, Naslund, Zherdev, Betts, Anisimov, Korpikoski, Jamtin, Jessiman, Orr, Parenteau, Byers, Sjostrom

D: Redden, Girardi, Kalinin, Del Zotto, Sanguinetti, Potter

G: Valiquette, Wiikman

Most of these players are from the white team with some guys added in from last night. Not alot of scoring off the top line so defense will definitely be stressed against a Tampa team who is relying on a lot of offense:

Prospal-J. Jokinen- St.Louis
Malone-Stamkos-Vrbata
Roberts-Gratton-Recchi
Ward-Craig-Hall

Meszaros-Lundin
O'Brien-Niskala
Mihalik-Carle

Smith
Helenius

The Rangers will need to play their defensive system be responsible with the puck in all zones against this high powered Lightning offense. They will need to exploit a relatively weak Tampa defense with their speed and strategy. Will they win? We will see. 


Monday, September 22, 2008

Rangers Host Ottawa (Game 2), Coyotes (Game 1) travel to Los Angeles


A full slate of preseason hockey tonight for you Ranger and Coyotes fans (Oh wait, I'm the only one). 
The New York Rangers main squad will take on the Ottawa Senators team that beat the "B" squad with a few little changes. According to Steve Zipay, here is tonight's roster for your New York Rangers:

Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev
Fritsche-Dubinsky-Weise
Voros-Nedved-Parenteau
Korpikoski-Anisimov-Orr

Redden-Girardi
Kalinin-Sanguinetti
Pock-Fahey

Lundqvist
Zaba

Most of the guys playing tonight were not in the lineup on Saturday night but a few managed to impress enough to make it. Brandon Dubinsky certainly earned the right to play tonight after scoring both goals on Saturday night and being the best player on either side of the ice. Aaron Voros will also play tonight after seemingly impressed with his style of play on Saturday. I am very happy to see him getting another shot because his style of play could really be a spark to ignite this offense and he will definitely protect our younger players from the big boys in the East.
However, the main headline tonight for the Rangers will be the first look that fans get as the highly anticipated line of Scott Gomez centering Markus Naslund on the left and Nikolai Zherdev on the right. Despite reports of Zherdev having a tough time, it will be alot of fun to watch these guys in action for the first time. Every Ranger fan has been dreaming about this line coming together. But of course, nothing is guaranteed after last year where one of Gomez or Drury was supposed to center Jaromir Jagr. 
The "other" acquisition from Columbus, Dan Fritsche, will also make his debut as he plays with his good friend Dubinsky and a late blooming prospect Dale Weise (more on him in a second). Fritsche has been known has a gritty guy who will go to the net. Knowing Dubinsky from USA hockey could lead to some good chemistry between the two. Read an interview of Dan Fritsche on the Ranger website here
Rookie Dale Weise will be on the other side of Dubinsky and has been an eye opener these past few weeks. He was the Rangers' 4th round draft choice at this past draft after scoring 51 points (29 goals and 22 assists) for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Scoring 2 goals in the last game of the Traverse City tournament and has played well enough in camp to have earned an entry level deal. Look for him to be noticeable on the ice tonight. 
On the third line, Aaron Voros will be with PA Parenteau and center Petr Nedved. Parenteau played in Hartford last year and was very good after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for a draft pick. He had 81 points for the Pack last year (34 goals, 47 assists). He will certainly be looking to jump to the NHL after dominating the AHL last year. 
Petr Nedved, being on a tryout offer, will have to look impressive tonight if he wants any chance of playing for the Rangers this year. He has looked good in camp (not thrilling...but nice). I personally would like to see him make the team but he has to play well and tonight is where he must start.
The 4th line has my favorite Ranger prospect at center, Artem Anisimov. Maybe thinking that he is the next Pavel Datsyuk is a little much (I really think he is) but certainly a very good player who could make the team is not out of the question. He needs to bulk up a bit more but he has all the makings of a very good center for the Russian future of this team. 
Colton Orr will make a reappearance after showing signs of definite improvement over the summer. Prospect Lauri Korpikoski will round out the forward ranks for the Rangers as he looks to make this team.
Defense will look alot different tonight. Wade Redden will make his debut tonight vs his former team. He is on a mission for redemption which will start tonight. He will be paired with Dan Girardi
The second pairing will be interesting as Dmitri Kalinin will be paired with prospect Bobby Sanguinetti. Kalinin looking to show his worth to the team early after coming via free agency while Bobby Sanguinetti will be playing for his spot in Hartford but also, Renney will be using this preseason as a measuring stick for his development to see if he is ready for full time NHL duty next season. 
Brian Fahey will get another shot at showing the coaching  staff what he has to offer. Thomas Pock will be battling with Fahey for that 7th defenseman's spot. 
In goal, Lundqvist will eat some time while Matt Zaba will get a shot at the NHL level.
The Ottawa Senators roster:
Foligno-Vermette-Shannon
Ruutu-Bass-Donovan
Kelly-McAmmond-Isbister
Zubov-Regin-Carkner

Bell-Volchenkov
Schubert-Lee
Phillips-Richardson

Auld
Glass

The Senators are keeping their big offensive guns out of tonight's game but that is no reason for the Rangers to play lackadaisically. The defense of this team and the Rangers' tendency to turn mediocre goalies into Patrick Roy should keep them on their toes. 
Winning these games is not necessarily the primary focus of the preseason as much as learning and developing as a team. The Rangers will have plenty of chances to do that this preseason and right now is another big step after Saturday night considering most of the free agents the Rangers signed will be playing tonight. Lets Go Rangers!
As for the Coyotes, they will be traveling to Los Angeles tonight to play the Kings. The lines have not been set yet for Phoenix but the players traveling to LA are: 
Forwards: Todd Fedoruk, Brett MacLean, Alex Bourret, Adam Keefe, Kyle Turris, Steven Reinprecht, Kevin Porter, Garth Murray, Mikkel Boedker, Peter Mueller, Chad Kolarik, Viktor Tikhonov
Defense: Jonas Ahnelov, Matt Jones, Keith Yandle, David Hale, Zbynek Michalek, and Nick Ross
Goalies: Al Montoya and Josh Tordjman 

Much of this team is the same as the one who played vs the Kings rookies this past week but with a couple of veterans thrown in. This is considered the B team of the Coyotes who will be going up against the LA Kings actual team (for the most part). The young guns for Phoenix will have to start impressing considering many good young players are fighting for a few spots on the Coyotes roster. The veterans will get their first licks soon.

It is a fun filled night for this Ranger/Coyote fan. I hope they both win. Make sure you check the beat writers for the Rangers to get more information for the game. Also check the official websites of the teams for more information about tonight's games...links are at the right. 
One other bit of news today was Glen Sather offering a try out agreement to Brendan Shanahan who has turned it down thus far but for Shanahan's sake, he should take it just to get into camp and get used to the new style of play. Otherwise, Brendan will be packing his bags. 

Image found here via Google image search. 


Sunday, September 21, 2008

V for Voros


One person that I didn't mention in the recent article about last night's match up was newly acquired Aaron Voros. 
An aspect of the offense that the Rangers have had alot of trouble addressing for a while has been a big man in front. The 6'3 205 winger came over via free agency from the Minnesota Wild where he had a good first year despite only playing 55 games. He had 14 points with 7 goals and 7 assists playing on the lower lines of a Jacques Lemaire defensive system. Voros does everything for his team. He can score, pass, hit, play defense, and fight when necessary. 
Watching him last night was very impressive. He didn't score but his presence was definitely felt. Whenever he was in the offensive zone, he crashed the net even if it meant getting crushed to the ice. He created opportunities and made it hard for the defense to knock him away from the crease with a big body such as his. Standing up for teammates was another aspect of his game that came out yesterday after a game filled with penalties. 
Certainly an upgrade over Ryan Hollweg, Aaron Voros may bring much more to this Rangers team than just a bruiser on the ice. A guy who isn't afraid to grind it out and stand in front of the net is important on any team and Voros is certainly someone who can do that. 3 years for a 27 year old like this could really go a long way and be a sleeper signing from this past year. 

Image found here on Ranger website. 

Rangers drop pre-season opener 3-2

Did the Rangers lose? Yes they did but it wasn't without positives and at this point, Ranger fans are only looking for positives since it won't be too long they will be looking for negatives. 
The best player on the ice was Brandon Dubinsky hands down. He scored both Ranger goals with the first one showing his speed and acceleration as he burst past a Senators defenseman and roofed a wrist shot past Martin Gerber. He later scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway with another beautiful wrist shot. 
His linemate Ryan Callahan played very well. He was throwing his body around and made a very nice defensive play that allowed Dubinsky to go on the shorthanded breakaway. Hopefully he can get his offense going a bit more than it was last year. 
The first line of Drury, Dawes, and Prucha looked good as well. They seemed to know where each other were and there was not alot of defensive lapses in terms of which forward should be where. Naturally Prucha got rocked in the second period but kept on going. I have no idea how he does it. 
Valiquette played the first two periods and let in a soft third goal. He won't get to play that much this season but he really needs to play well when he is playing. Mikka Wiikman played well in the third period as he tries to solidify his position as the starter for the Hartford Wolfpack. 
On defense, Michael Del Zotto looked very good. He laid out a few guys and had a sound game overall but it is obvious that he will be heading back to juniors. Paul Mara played well last night being one of the veteran defenseman. Michal Rozsival didn't have a great game after giving up the puck to Jason Spezza who went and scored the second Ottawa goal. 
But overall, I was impressed with the way the team played. Definitely the weaker of the two squads hung in there with a very good Ottawa Senators team. The Rangers blue squad will play Ottawa Monday night at the Garden. 

More later

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Preseason #1 Game Day: Rangers @ Ottawa


The first of many game day threads here on the blog. The New York Rangers travel to Ottawa to play the Senators. 
New York has been split up into two squads, White and Blue. The White team will be in Ottawa tonight. This squad doesn't have the big name free agents but should still be fun to watch. Here is the roster as of yesterday:

Dawes-Drury-Prucha
Byers-Dubinsky-Callahan
Voros-Betts-Orr
Rissmiller-Moore-Sjostrom

Staal- Rozsival
Mara-Potter
Del Zotto-Fahey

Valiquette
Wiikman

Like I mentioned, only a few of the free agent signings from the summer but still a good squad. Tom Renney will personally be behind the bench for this one. The first line has been reported as being one of the better ones in training camp so far and could end up being the second line on the opening night roster. On the other side of the spectrum players like Sjostrom and Rissmiller are playing for spots on the team. Should be an interesting night on the offensive side of things.
The defense looks very solid. Last year's top pairing of Staal and Rozsival reunite and will be tonight's minute eaters on defense. They will likely be the second pairing on the regular season unit. Paul Mara and Corey Potter, a sleeper for the 7th defenseman role, will play together. I am excited to see Mara back as he seems ready to go and hopefully be able to get some of his offensive abilities back. Ranger fans will get a first look at Corey Potter. Playing in Hartford last year, he really turned into a good defensive defenseman. Putting him up against a talented Ottawa squad will be a good measuring stick for himself. This year's first round draft pick for the Rangers, Michael Del Zotto, will be on the bottom pairing with Brian Fahey who was signed as a free agent from the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. Del Zotto won't be making the team this year but these preseason games will certainly go a long way in giving Tom Renney and the coaching staff a first look at what made him a first round pick. 
Spiderman Steve Valiquette will probably start tonight although it is unknown if he will play the entire game. He will have to play well tonight if the Rangers want to win this game.
Going up against a full Ottawa team is no easy task. While the big guns Spezza. Heatley, and Alfredsson may not play the entire game and at 100%, Ottawa still boasts some heavy duty competition:

Heatley-Spezza-Winchester
Vermette-Foligno-Alfredsson
Ruutu-Fisher-Neil
Hennessy-O'Brien-Bois

Phillips-Schubert
Smith-Kuba
Picard-Lee

Gerber (Periods 1 and 2)
Elliot (Period 3)

On paper, it looks as if the Rangers are in for a rough night but what is on paper is different than what is on the ice. 
Tonight's game will be televised on MSG for NYR fans at 7pm. Make sure you tune in to try and quell that need for hockey for the time being. Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen, HFboards NYR, and HFboards OTT for all the information about tonight's game. Check out the NY Post and the rest of the New York media outlets for more information on tonight's game. 

LETS GO RANGERS!!!!

Image found here via Google image search here

Friday, September 19, 2008

And So We Begin


It is all over. The Sundin mongering, the armchair GM proposals, the ridiculous "rumors. All of these are now faded back into the caverns of the Internet and the time for training camp has arrived. Teams around the NHL are starting training camp with a few having already started, one of those teams being the New York Rangers. The Phoenix Coyotes start tomorrow.
This will be the first time Tom Renney and the coaching staff will get a chance to play around with line combinations, defensive pairings, PP and PK units, and anything else they desire. New additions such as Nikolai Zherdev, Markus Naslund, and Wade Redden will be closely examined to see what they can bring to the Rangers. Chris Drury and Scott Gomez return for their second season in the Big Apple. Alot of familiar faces are on the ice as are many unfamiliar and it will take time for everyone to get used to each other both on and off the ice. The Rangers play their first preseason game tomorrow which I will breakdown at that point. 
Phoenix starts their official training camp tomorrow but the rookies and prospects have been busy all week with rookie camp and a couple of exhibition games vs the LA Kings prospects. The Coyotes dropped the first one 2-1 and then won 3-0 the next day. Kurtis Mucha, who is in camp on a tryout, played very well in the first game but the Coyotes couldn't muster enough offense for him. Joel Gistedt played spectacularly along with a little luck from the red posts to shut out the Kings the next game. It was a good gauge for Don Maloney to see how his prospects played as a team against another team and certainly will go a long way in determining their chances at training camp. The roster for the Coyotes training camp is on their website which is on the right.
For news on Ranger training camp, check out all the beat writers for the most up to date observations and insights into the on ice practices and interviews. Check here as Mike and I will work around our school schedules and work to bring you articles and other things. Radio show is wednesdays at 1pm.....you know the drill. 

It is almost here hockey fans....oh so close. 

Image found on HFboards here 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hatters Announce Tryout Camp Selections


The Danbury Mad Hatters have announced the players that will make the training camp out of their try out:

(DANBURY, CT) – The Danbury Mad Hatters of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL) have announced the players who will be moving on to their official training camp in October from this past weekend's open tryout camp. The group of players coming to camp includes one goaltender, three defensemen, and five forwards.


General Manager of Hockey Operations Brendan Tedstone said of the camp and its participants, "We saw some spirited play in the 3 NHL formatted games in less than 24 hours. We were lucky to get 40 young, strong hockey players at this camp who played a nice, fast tempo of hockey that we liked, and I think we saw the cream of the crop.


"The goal of this camp was find a diamond in the rough. I think we may have at least 3 or 4."


Mike Ronan is the lone goaltender from the open tryout that will be going to training camp. Mike is 24 years old, 5' 11", and 185 lbs.  He most recently played for Salem State University.


"Mike is a goalie I've had my eye on for some time. I've seen him recently play against some current NHL players and he shut the door on them," General Manager of Hockey Operations Brendan Tedstone said. "What I'm looking for from Mike is consistency. If he can consistently play the way I've seen him, there's absolutely no reason I shouldn't see him finish the season playing on a AA roster."


The three defensemen are T.J. Cline, Phil Henrichs, and Matt Harutun.


T.J. Cline is 28 years old, 6' 1", and 220 lbs. Last season, T.J played 4 games for Valley Forge of the MAHL scoring 1 goal and adding an assist with 15 penalty minutes. Before turning pro, T.J. played 46 games in 2 full seasons at Manhattanville College.


"T.J. hits like a truck! He played for me last year in Valley Forge and he hit like a truck then," Tedstone said. "He has a keen ability to step up and punish a guy. He knows what he needs to do to make this team. It's all up to him."


Phil Henrichs is 20 years old, 6', 175 lbs. Phil most recently played with the Connecticut Jr. Whalers.


"Phil is a steady, but not flashy defenseman," Tedstone said. "He makes a good first pass and is very aware of what his defense responsibilities are."


Matt Harutun is 26 years old, 6' 4", and 235 lbs. Most recently, Matt attended Colorado State University where he also excelled as a weightlifter.


"At 6' 4" and 235 lbs, Matt is a big, raw kid that I hope we can get the most out of.  He is a very defensive defenseman," Tedstone said. "He's already in shape, and since we're going with 5 defensemen, that's a big deal. He needs confidence, but he's back in Colorado getting ready mentally for camp."


Things look good here. Our Ovechkin boy, Phil Henrichs, makes it along with many others. Go to the Mad Hatters website to see photos and the rest of the accepted players. Use the link at the right. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tomorrow...WVOF!

So tomorrow is our first show on WVOF!!! We are going to try and set it up so we will be on youcastr at the same time but we aren't sure if that is going to work so if it doesn't and you want to here us go here and click the 2nd link which says "Click here for web exclusive content produced by Fairfield University students including student-only broadcasts of Stags Basketball games  enjoy all the great shows from the WVOF WEB STUDIO"

It should be relatively easy. The only thing with WVOF is they don't have a chat room like Youcastr does BUT they do have a phone number which is 203-254-4002 which will put you directly into us. I will announce the phone number on the show as well repeatedly. The time is a bit different as well. Our show starts at 1 pm EST and will go till about 2pm. So make sure you tune in! We are excited!!! 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Photos

If you want to see some pictures of the Hatters tryouts, click here and look at photos taken by Bill Thebert on that day. Some very good ones in there. Can you find Ovechkin????

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mad Hatters Tryouts


Yesterday Mike and yours truly made the long trek up route 7 to Danbury to watch the player try outs for the Danbury Mad Hatters. Walking into the freezing arena was something I had missed. It was maybe 50 degrees in the arena but it was good to be back at a rink and watching hockey, not to mention sitting on steel bleachers which made everything colder.
But, getting to the players. After we grabbed a roster, we poured over it in the small hope that we would recognize a name but to no surprise, we didn't so we had to watch the players to pick our favorites. Immediately, Phil Hinrichs stood out to us and it was for good reason. If we didn't have a roster we would have thought he was Alexander Ovechkin...except on defense. He had the mirrored visor, wore number 8, and could skate like the wind. More on him and others later
It was the Blue team vs the White team for the 2 games we would see and the first game was turning into a blow out. Pat Forshner of the White team used his skill to break down the defense of the Blue team, along with Mykul Haun and Tim D'Orazio and  The White team jumped out to a big lead and was dominating all aspects of the game but the Blue team wasn't going to go quietly. They began working hard, playing a physical game, and fights were breaking out but a top line anchored by Rob Himberg of the Blue team with Jason Pelle and Bill Kennedy led the way for the blue team to make a come back. The top defensive pairing of Hinrichs and speedy Dan Hickman (listed as a forward) anchored the back line while also getting the offense going. 
The biggest moment of the first game came in the last 30 seconds. With the Blue team down by 1, a shot was taken and a rebound was left in front of the white goalie. Hinrichs, who we mentioned before, picked up the puck and made an unbelievable move. If anyone has seen what Pavel Datsyuk did to Marty Turco and Tomas Vokoun, it was very similar to that. To further the Ovechkin similarity, he pumped his fist in the air and continued playing.
The game went into a shootout where the best goalie of the day continued his stellar play. Anthony Felice, formerly of the Trenton Devils of the ECHL, was very good despite one soft goal. He made some big saves and then Bill Kennedy came out and scored the game winner.  
Another guy that stood out was Brendan Weckbacher, a big defenseman for the Blue team was a big guy. At 6'4 220 pounds, he looked exactly like Marc Staal. Despite a few slip ups in the skating, he was very sound defensively and used his big body to shield the puck. I was hoping to see him be a bit more physical and throw the body around but his overall game was very sound. Also, a very small number 23 on the Blue team made a great move in the shootout and was very fast. His speed helped create plays and was a key part to the Blue comeback. 
The second game came with a little fire. Fights broke out a bunch of times with tough guys like Mike Payne of the White team looking to really punch someone out. Morrison from the White team, who is from Ridgefield, CT, really played well in all aspects of the game. He fought, hit, and created alot of offense for the White team. Unfortunately, he took a puck to the skate and had to stop playing due to the fact he could barely walk on it. 
In the end, the White team scored a goal with just over a minute to go in the game and the Blue team couldn't score despite some amazing goaltending from youngster Frank Figarole who played very well and was just as good as Anthony Felice in the goaltending department. 
The day included a tour from General Manager of Business Operations Eric Horn which was a blast as well. It was a great day and really got me excited for the upcoming season.
If you would like more information on the team, make sure you keep checking here as well as the official Hatters website which is one of the links on the side of the page. Look for a chance to get tickets soon, especially to Fairfield University students as I am working to make it a FUSA event. 
Don't forget Mike and I will be on WVOF on Wednesday this week. More information is on the way as soon as I get it. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Going Beast!


 Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages. From the Blues to the Desert, the podcast Mike and I do every week for your listening pleasure and our personal enjoyment is taking the next step. Starting next Wednesday at 1pm, we will officially be broadcasting over WVOF The Beast from Fairfield University. We are starting out as a webcast much like we have been doing. We will have a phone number so you can actually call in and don't have to download Skype. Also, we will try to continue broadcasting over Youcastr because we love the chat room. It really gets you listeners involved and makes the show much more fun for us by hearing peoples' opinions. 
 If we cannot continue using Youcastr, we will certainly let you know how you can listen to us. We will try to find a way to have a chat room since it the easiest way for everyone to communicate with us during the show. Commercials will be apart of the show (I know, not the fun musical ones we have been using) but hey you give a little to get a lot. As soon as we know more about this, we will let you know here, on the facebook group and everywhere else we are.   Thanks for the dedication from the listeners. Seems like we just started this up 6 short weeks ago and look where we are now. Make sure you check out WVOF here

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Episode 6!

Check out Episode 6 today of From the Blues to the Desert! You can email us @ bluestothedesert@yahoo.com with questions, participate in the chat or even Skype call us at Bluestothedesert. Follow the link to the right. 12:30 on Youcastr! 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mike Gartner #11 to be Retired


Within the past week, the Washington Capitals announced that they will retire Mike Gartner's #11 on December 28th vs the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The right winger is one of the most underrated players of all time. He had 1335 points in his career with 708 goals and 627 assists. He was the 5th player to score 700 goals while only having broken the 50 goal plateau once in his entire career. His 15 consecutive 30+ goal seasons were only matched by Jaromir Jagr, finishing with a total of 17 30+ goal seasons. The consistency of Mike Gartner has been unmatched.
Unfortunately, he never won a Stanley Cup and never even got to the finals. He never won a major NHL award either. All of this was probably due to the fact he was playing in the shadow of guys like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Mario Lemieux. His skating was unparalleled as he holds the record for the fastest skater at the All Star Game. 
He is my favorite player of all time even though I didn't get to see him in his prime. I still hate Neil Smith for trading him during the 1993-1994 season. The last possible day, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Glenn Anderson primarily. Why? What reason? Mike Gartner is one of the best goal scorers in the history of the National Hockey League and you trade him for Glenn Anderson? Yes, Anderson was instrumental in the Cup run but what could he do that Mike Gartner couldn't? Mike would go on to have a good career but never that Stanley Cup ring. 
He finished his career with the Phoenix Coyotes in their formative years and went to the playoffs a couple of times but never got past the first round.
Overall, Gartner is my favorite player of all time and is the most underrated. I hope to be able to watch the retirement night somehow and see more of his play with the Capitals. So here is to Mike on a good career and an honor he definitely deserves.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Training Camp Roster: New York Rangers and Tidbits


The New York Rangers released their training camp roster with many names on it. Obviously the guys who will definitely make the team are on it but so are prospects who are trying to find their place within the Ranger organization. Players like Artem Anisimov, Corey Potter, and Greg Moore are young guys looking to make the Rangers out of camp. If they do not make it, they will be among the first guys who will be called up to play for the Rangers if injuries or inconsistency arise. 
Petr Nedved is on the list after being given a tryout by the Rangers and he certainly will be looking to make some noise and give the NHL one more shot. Maxim Kondratiev, who was apart of the trade that brought Sandis Ozolinsh to New York for his brief stay is being given a try out. He is looking to have a better go around and finally stick with an NHL team for the long run. Although, with a top 6 in terms of defense almost set, he will be competing for the 7th defenseman spot or for one in Hartford. 
The entire Traverse City roster has been invited to the camp. While a few of them may have a shot at making the team, most will be looking to make a first impression with the Ranger organization and learn new things for the future. 
The biggest area of concern is in the bottom six of the forwards. Players like Fredrik Sjostrom, Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes, Petr Prucha, Patrick Rissmiller, Aaron Voros, Colton Orr, and Dan Fritsche are all fighting for 6 slots on the roster. Assuming that Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, and Brandon Dubinsky take the top 3 center spots, it really leaves 5. Obviously a couple of wing spots are open in the top 6, which may be limited to a few players for consideration but that doesn't help the logjam in the bottom of the forwards too much. 
I still believe that a small move will be made to not only free up this logjam but also give a little bit of cap space back to the team just in case the team needs to get that small piece at the trade deadline. For the sake of cap space, it would make sense to trade Prucha considering his salary of $1.6 million isn't ideal for the cap. But I do not think Prucha is going anywhere nor should he. He can score. He has scored and he will. I don't care if he played with Jagr or scored those garbage goals, someone has to do it. 
When looking at who could be traded, someone like Ryan Callahan would be a better candidate for trade. Don't get me wrong. Callahan is a good young player who is not afraid to do anything. He can score, he hits, and isn't afraid to get in opposing player's faces. But that kind of player is the type that can be easily replaced. 
Overall, the roster is pretty strong and the amount of young players on it is astonishing considering 5 years ago most Ranger fans were looking at a roster of all older players with a future that was nothing but a mere twinkle. September 16th is the day Ranger fans. I have been wearing a New York Ranger jersey everyday I have been at school. Start getting them out! 
Speaking of Ranger prospects, Alexei Cherepanov, the Rangers first round pick in 2007 had a bit of a shock put to him today. According to Beyond the Blueshirts (link at the side), Cherepanov has been sent down to Omsk's junior team. Thanks Jaromir.
On the Coyotes front, some very good news came to the team. Viktor Tikhonov, who was suspended by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) while they investigated whether or not he broke his contract with his Russian team, has been acquitted. Tikhonov is no longer suspended and fortunately will not have to worry and can focus on getting ready for the upcoming season. 

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Look Ahead


Two weeks from today the Rangers will be opening training camp for the 2008-2009 season. The time all us hockey fans love is finally getting closer after a long, grueling summer of reading armchair GM trade proposals, rumors that may or may not have been true, and the Mats Sundin saga.
A small bit about that. Sundin stated yesterday that he will NOT make any decision about playing until after the season has started. It really shouldn't be any surprise to anyone but it seems all those times spent waiting to see what Sundin would do next was all for naught. Look for teams to start moving away from him and filling their holes with what is left on the free agent market and through trades.
Here on the blog, more articles will be written as training camp gets closer to starting. Mike and I will try to update this as much as possible as we work around school and other commitments that we have.
Our radio show will be continuing obviously and as we mentioned on the show yesterday, we are looking into affiliating with one of the school radio stations (Fairfield or Sacred Heart) to try and bring a better show to the listeners. Any feedback about this is greatly appreciated from you. You can put that feedback here, or send us an email @ bluestothedesert@yahoo.com and we will take a look at what you guys have to say. Don't forget to send us questions or topic suggestions as well in this time of little news.
So look for us to get more up and running as the summer winds down and the temperature drops around the country. Hockey time is almost here and not a moment too soon.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Episode 5!!!!!!

Episode 5 of From the Blues to the Desert will be airing at 12:30PM EST on September 3rd. Make sure you tune in at Youcastr via the link at the right (labeled From the Blues to the Desert). Mike and I will be talking about the news, shootouts for the Rangers and Yotes, look at the Battle of Alberta, and much much more. Make sure you send emails to bluestothedesert@yahoo.com with questions, comments or whatever to be read on the show. 
Also, We will be setting up a Skype account where you, the listeners, can call in and give us your opinion during the show!! We will announce on the show how to use Skype to get us. You can get it here. It is free. Just click 'Download' in the right hand corner and go from there. It is as easy as using AIM or ichat...just make sure you have a microphone you can use to talk to us. 
It is going to be fun! I won't sound like a tin can and the listeners can call in! 

Shootout Preview: New York Rangers


The Rangers participated in 17 shootouts last year going 8-9. Nigel Dawes was the top shooter going 5/9 while making Martin Brodeur look like a 5 year old goalie while Brendan Shanahan was a staple for the shootout. But Dawes can't be the only person that will be relied on to be a good shooter for the Rangers if Shanahan doesn't return. 
Other major candidates for the shootout include 2 of this year's offseason acquisitions. Markus Naslund has a wrist shot that is as good as Shanahan's. The difference between Shanahan and Naslund is that Naslund has some speed and some moves as well which makes him much more unpredictable. He will be a good addition to the shootout lineup. 
If anyone has seen videos of what Nikolai Zherdev has done during actual play to score goals, imagine what he can do in the shootout with no one around him. His skills are above and beyond anyone on the team right now when it comes to undressing the goaltender. Jaromir Jagr was supposed to be the biggest skill player for the shootout but didn't ever want to do it. Zherdev will take that role and will participate in the shootout for sure. 
Other candidates include Petr Prucha, Fredrik Sjostrom, and maybe Brandon Dubinsky. But there is no doubting the fact that the Rangers have a good shootout lineup for this season.
In goal, they have Henrik Lundqvist who thrives on these pressure situations. Every year, he has made big saves in the shootout and kept the Rangers going during these competitions. He will need to continue that kind of play. Steve Valiquette has done well also.
So the verdict? The Rangers have a very good shootout team with 3-5 guys who have the skills to be formidable shootout opponents and two goalies who are very tough to beat. Hopefully they won't need to go to the shootout too many times this year, but at least they will have a decent chance each time. 

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