Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Avery's Impact, Sad Departures and Warm Welcome's

I find it absolutely amazing what finding the right pieces of the puzzle will do for a team and its performance. At the trade deadline, Glen Sather made the right moves for a change. He got rid of a defensive pariah, Dmitri Kalinin and brought in a steady, but under performing Derek Morris. Morris has more than fit the bill as a defensive player with a good shot, and one who can actual tee up with the best of the blueliners. This move alone, improves a defense that suffered with excellent players trying to make up for the dramatic weakness of their partners. In the long run this should be a move that strengthens the overall team and the powerplay. Unfortunately with the departure of DK, we had to say goodbye to both Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha. While Nigel Dawes became a steady every game player for the Blueshirts, contributing some speedy gritty work ala Mark Pavelich, Petr became the Rangers odd man out. Remarkable that for a team that could not score on the powerplay at all, they would have left him out of the mix for so long. Its hard to fathom why? I put that on Renney. I'm not sure where the logic was in putting a guy who scored 30 goals in his first year on the pine for so long, but then again, I'm not the coach. He'll get a good shot in Phoenix and I hope for his sake they resign him next year and shows everybody what they were missing. My prediction is he'll be another one of those who got away. Unfortunately, the moving of Dawes and Prucha was probably necessary for us to get rid of Kalinin. Thank you Mr. Maloney.

Hello, Mr. Antropov. The Rangers have coveted his size and strength for the last two years, but couldn't get Toronto to pull the trigger. We got him for two draft picks and he's already paying dividends. His large size makes him an important linchpin for the powerplay and its clearly benefitting the team. Hopefully we retain his services for the next few years by resigning him and watching him blossom into a top power forward. I think that the emergence of Antropov could spell the waning days of Zherdev. The flashy forward with an uncanny ability to handle the puck just doesn't look like the same player as we saw in the beginning of the year. Maybe big Nik will inspire Zherdev to new levels and hope spring eternal. The emergence of the power forward and the pest have helped Gomez find both the scoring touch (not that he has much of one) but also his playmaking has stepped up. He's still prone to over doing it, but he's playing his best hockey late. We need some people to step up if this team is going to make the playoffs and get past the first round.

Speaking of the playoffs, it seems as if Mr. Dolan forgot there was a recession. First round tickets for the 300's sections are going for $85 per ticket for season ticketholders. I thought last year's prices were ridiculous, but then again the prices for the last two rounds seem almost reasonable. I guess he figures we aren't getting there so he can cut us a break on those rounds.

Now across the Hudson, we have the record holding Marty Brodeur making the dreaded Devils look like frontrunners to come out of the East. Zach Parise has blossomed into a goal scoring threat the likes the Devils haven't had since the early day of Patrick Elias. The guy can do it all and he makes his teammates better too boot. The Devils are on a roll and have closed within striking distance for the top spot now held by front running Boston. While the Devils have publicly stated that they don't really care if they have the top spot, we know they really do. Home ice tends to be less of a factor since the Devils can't seem to sellout without a major push from the visiting fans to show up. I find this very sad since the Prudential Center is probably one of the nicest arenas I have ever visited. Good food and normal arena prices, plus some other nice perks like hand rolled cigars. Come on Devils Fans show your team some support. You guys will come to whoop and holler at MSG, but you won't go to Newark for the same and much less expensive experience. It makes me shake my head.

While the Devils have been perennial contenders, the Islanders have been cellar dwellers for far too long. They made some big changes in the offseason to bring in veteran leadership, but once again their franchise goalie has dropped out of sight. But dare I say it, all is not dark for the men in the yellow raincoats! They have the nearly there defenseman Mark Streit, a player I would have loved to see the Rangers scoop up than let's say Wade Redden. He's the type of guy you can build around. Now that they have actually gotten rid of some of the veteran bleedership, the young guys can have some room to roam. Its starting to payoff. The Islanders are starting to gel as team and the young guys are getting valuable ice time. The goaltending situation doesn't appear as bleak, with Yan Danis tending the nets with improving fashion. Is he prone to mistakes, sure, but he's learning. The Islanders have actually beaten some pretty good teams of late and can look to build on that for next year. They have the luxury of having a top backliner who won't get the white hot spotlight he might in other places. Let's see them bring in another good puck mover back there and a not over the hill scoring forward next year. Then the Islander-Ranger-Devil's triangle of torment will have some real meaning down the stretch. With any luck they'll get either the first or second pick in the draft and find a piece of the puzzle without having to wait too long. I'm looking forward to seeing what they got.

Just as an FYI - does anybody find the irony in having Mike Milbury assess the worst trades/signings for the year? NBC you just crack me up with that one.

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