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August 27, 2006

Comments

the kayaking would probably be very good in building back up the up strength in Jagr's shoulder and arms ...I hope he does.

Has anyone considered the fact that Jagr may not know how to swim.

Rangers in 3rd? The Devils have done nothing to their roster, and losing Gomez cannot help them. The Flyers' big pickup was... Lars Johnsson?

With a healthy Jagr and Lundqvist, and some key signings (including the great loss of Tom Poti), the Rangers should take the division easily.

From my brief experience with kayaking in Lake Placid last week, the most difficult part for Jagr should be getting into the boat without it tipping.

While there, I didn't get to see the Rangers' Michael Sauer, who was hurt. I did see one game b/w U.S. and Sweden -- Phil Kessel played, but the most impressive player on the ice was a kid from Sweden, Mattias Ritola, a Red Wing prospect, who stood out in his puck handling abilities.

Too many questionmarks at MSG to suggest the Rangers will win the division easily.

Here's a tip for Renney: rather than putzing around with kayaking, take the team for a jog up Sleeping Beauty or Buck Mountain. If that doesn't build character, then nothing will.

Who's going to believe these hockey wizards? Let's see the geniuses at SI picked the Rangers to be dead last (2005-06) in the division! Like Ruchin said above, Jagr (healthy) Hank. Yeah, lets add Shanny, Prucha (old form before injury). Add the Carolina duo and maybe a hot kid from the Pack like Dawes or Immonen and we may have one helluva a team. (I hope)

Bob if you ask Renney and co where they would like to be picked; I bet they are very happy with where those "experts" have them picked at.

It takes all the pressure off the Rangers and keeps expectations (hopefully) at a more reasonable level.

Sorry though the worst thing to do is to start believing that the Rangers will take the division with ease. That only serves to put a bulleyes on the team.

Except for those clowns on the Island I for one think there will be a dogfight again in the divison.

I am not at all fooled by the Devils supposed cap issues as Lou always finds ways to win just like he did last season.

As much as one likes to hate those Philly bums they too always show up as well.

And add a Malkin to the Pens makes them a very dangerous young team that is well coached (not to mention how well they played in the second half).

Let us also not forget that it was the Rangers who stumbled down the stretch last season. Perhaps lowering expectations so I for one almost prefer a slow start with a second half rush towards peaking as a team.

Last season it seemed as if the team peaked way too early so I do not want this "win the divison with ease" stuff.

Oh and Rucchin

Geoff Sanderson is no slouch of an addition. Hating the Flyers I can understand but blindly dismissing them as a threat is flat out crazy to do.

They finally appear to have found a goalie and always find ways to be there when the crunch time shows up. Not to mention they have Hitchcock behind the bench and he always has a trick or two up his sleeve.

Jess

Neither is Kyle Calder. I still think their D is too slow-footed (aside from Pitkanen; the loss of Johnsson will hurt). And, I don't like their goaltending in a big spot. But, they are STACKED at the forward position.

I agree Jess, Renney would probably prefer the same prediction as 05-06. I think we all know that our team was quite a pleasant surprise last year. In my mind we had 3 or 4 key factors. JJ playing like a mad-man, Prucha coming from nowhere to surprise the league, Hank showing that he was not only good but upper tier in nets and the team buying into the team concept of defence. Sure the extra little surprises were also there like Kaspar being a human bowling ball every game but the 2 biggies were JJ and Hank. In order for this team to find last years success, those 2 have to be playing at the same intensity of last season. Just hope carry over injuries to both don't show up on the ice.

Ok first off it seems that the clowns on LI are very unhappy that the Cablevision/MSG are taking Joe Micheletti from them as JD's replacement.

To be honest I for one can't really blame them given the timing of (what still has not been made official) this move as it is going to be hard for them to find a quality TV at this point of the summer.

Still if you want to look at it from the long term then realize that:

(a)Micheletti reportedly has one year left on his MSG contract so he just might be a one year gig.

(b)Long term this might cost Cablevision as now with 2 other sport's networks operating in NYC that they might walk away knowing that they can possibly get a better TV deal.

(c)Joe Micheletti has no Ranger roots to fall back on so in replacing JD (like him or not he has Ranger history) you are getting someone who truly is an outsider and even worse is coming from the biggest rival. Poor choice who from what I see will not be well received by the majority of Ranger fans.

JAS

Forgot about Calder so thanks for that. Philly's d may be slow BUT they remain effective. I do disagree with you on the goaltending IF it is Niittymaki who is the starter and not Esche. Their key will have to be do they have depth to overcome the expected Forsberg injury parade.

Bob M

I am going to disagree with you on this:

"In order for this team to find last years success, those 2 have to be playing at the same intensity of last season."

No to me to repeat last year's "EARLY SEASON" (since we do not want a repeat of the end of season collaspe) success then it is more about others stepping up to take the pressure off both Jagr and Lunqvist.

Getting a more concerted team effort will actually help both Jagr and Lundqvist have better seasons knowing they do not either have to score a hat trick every night or pitch a shutout.

Rangers never had a dependable 2nd scoring line option last year and that in my eyes has to be the key to this year. Find one and you have a chance, don't and you will work Jagr/Lundqvist to injuries.

Jess, I respect you opinion about JJ and Hank and yes they need someone else to step it up. I hope that will continue to be Prucha and hope Shanny can find net. I like you would love to see another 20 something kid from the minors really make an impact and put some numbers up. I don't want to see JJ and Hank carry the team on their back (again) I just want to see them in top notch game shape for every outing. I have concerns with those injury bugs from last year to JJ, Pruchs, Hank and even Kaspar. None were quite the same when returning from injury. With Pruchs and Hank, it may have been more mental than physical but guess we will have to wait and see.
BTW, "are we there yet?" This seems to be the longest off season in history! Let's get this thing going, I'm bored and need some game.

JJ and Lundqvist are the keys to next season. A strong start from JJ will make Shanny's line much more effective. Lundqvist could put a lot of pressure on the opposing offense if he plays up to last year. The defense is improved, but Tyutin needs to play at the level he is expected to. With the loss of Moore we need to find a replacement on the PK. I think the PP is fixed with Shanahan's addition. I agree that two young guys (Dawes and Immonen, IMO) will be good and I hope they can produce some good numbers. Remember, we lost first in the division by one point. Injuries at the end were a major contributors (Malik, Kaspar, Lundqvist, Betts, Rucchin). We had very little injury problem throughout the season, but loosing two solid D's, a goalie and two centers turned out to be more then the team could adjust to. First in the division is not out of the question, however a few more things need to be demonstrated before we can start looking at first place. Let me also point out that we are not talking about our chances of making the playoffs. This team looks strong enough, the coaching looks demanding enough, the management looks like they are willing to hold people accountable and the fan base is pumped up enough that we should have a good year. This is the second year of "rebuilding" and the future is beginning to look very bright.

Bob

My hockey season it seems has not ended as every time I tried to take some time off something happened.

Not to mention how several of the CHL teams with Ranger prospects have been at training camp for the last week or so.

Rangerbill

I am hoping that you are being sarcastic about this being the 2nd yr of rebuilding because in my eyes rebuilding died a quick death the moment the Rangers traded for Sykora.

"A strong start from JJ will make Shanny's line much more effective."

Sorry got to disagree with you here as in my book the opposite is true. Strong contributions from not only the 2nd line but others as well will mean that Jagr doesn't have to play a ton of minutes every game but instead top out around the 18-20 mark so he remains fresh the entire season. How old is Jagr and how many minutes a night should he have to play?

Geeting solid backup work from Weekes or whoever will give Lundqvist more time off and how many times did Lundqvist say he was tired last season? I can live with Lundqvist giving us 55 quality starts IF (and only IF) the Rangers have a solid backup.

If anything the mantra "less is more" could be used to say a fresh Jagr/Lundqvist is a more effective tandem.

JESS, I just don't where to start. I'm certainly not being sarcastic about rebuilding. We have the strongest group of young players in a very long time. If rebuilding died a quick death the moment the Rangers traded for Sykora then your eyes are shut tight. Kondratiev signed with Lada Togliatti of the Russian League August 18, 2006! Maybe you just hate any Devils players? Sykora was a good addition, however when he was really needed at the end of the season he just didn't finish. At 30 years old, that is sufficient for me to let him go. I can use a young player in his spot and if he doesn't come through I can chalk it up to "gaining experience". I may begin to accept your "faux-rebuilding" position if the Rangers start trading young prospect for older, big name veterans...but I just don't see that coming. Your still in the past, I hope! I fully understand what you are saying with respect to Jagr and Shanahan. However, my point is simply this. Jagr is going to be percieved as starting the season with a shoulder problem and that will make him a target. If he doesn't have a strong start, the opposing teams will place their best defensive players against Shanahan and his line. This could present problems for that line, depending on who Shanny's linemates are. Personally, I'd like to see Immonen between Shanahan and Prucha, but I want whatever works. However, if JJ gets off to a strong start, then the opposing teams will need to contend with the Jagr AND Shanahan lines and that can only be good for us. I think your analysis ignores the potential that Jagr's shoulder may not be ready. If he is fully ready, then your point about Shanahan is right on. As far as minutes are concerned, players like Jagr, Lemeaux, Gretzky, Messier, Thornton and a few others are outside the mold. Minutes on the ice are simply an additional period of "feeding frenzy". 22 minutes for Jagr should not be any problem. The problem he presents is to the coaching staff. It is easy to put him out in every critical situation and they must not give in to that temptation. Here a strong second line will be of immence help. I think that is what your trying to say. At the end of the season the coaching staff over-played Jagr to break the goal scoring record and win the scoring title and it really hurt instead of helping. With respect to Lundqvist, my point about him being key is simply this. Without him playing up to last years performance we simply won't win as many games. Weekes is simply not that good of a goalie. He is very streaky. At the top of his game he can beat anybody but as we saw last year his average game leaves a lot to be desired. I know he is a real addition to the team and that may be the best reason to keep him, but he has to win big games and not give up soft goals. IMO, if Lundqvist is not on his game this season, we will have an average season, finishing fifth or below.

What happens to this "youth movement", Rangerbill, if guys like Immonen and Dawes make the team this season, get banged around, and fail to produce numbers offensively? Are they given time to continue their development the following season, or are they instead replaced by the next wave? What have you seen to date to suggest a commitment by Sather & Co. to the type of "youth movement" where young players are actually given an opportunity to grow within the organization, including on the NHL level? I look forward to reading the interview with Sather by Jess, he of the tightly shut eyes, with the hope that maybe he'll say something to warrant confidence in the direction of the team. Last year genuinely seemed like a good start, but I'm still not convinced that the overall approach of this regime is where it needs to be.

Ultimately, much of what you write, Rangerbill, is hard to argue with, starting with how important a healthy Lundqvist is to this team. But beyond that, the big question that remains, which you don't really touch on, is how this team will come together as a team? Will there be the right balance of finesse and grit? Will some new players emerge to take care of PK duties, and to provide energy and passion to the team, so that they can continue to build on what was started last season? To throw around predictions now about winning the division, or even whether the team will make the playoffs, is pointless to me until we actually get a sense of how these guys will perform as a team on the ice. Again, there are simply too many ??? to predict anything with any degree of confidence at this point.

throwaway, I fully agree. The concept of "team" is very important. All the technical aspects of the game don't amount to much if you end up with 20 individuals on the ice. We saw all too much of that over the past 8 years or so. I'm not one for predictions until I see what the lineup is going to look like. I also don't want kids up with the big team just to make it look like we are rebuilding. I'm not in the locker room, not behind the bench, not looking at film and not evaluating these kids in Hartford. But I can read and it sounds to me like some of these kids are ready. I have a philosophy about youngsters that goes something like this. Play against guys of equal or lesser skill and stagnate, play against players of equal or higher skill and find out what your limit is. If Pock, Immonen and Dawes are thought to be ready to test the NHL waters, I say jump in. I've never been happy keeping guys in Hartford to ripen. It seems that they never do. Maybe they loose confidence, maybe they think the world is against them; I don't know. But everybody can tell if a young player has a chance once you see him for some reasonable period of time at the NHL level. (Zake Parise) That is what I think these guys are ready for. If they are not ready, send them down, at least they will know what they have to do to get back to the big time. With respect to predictions, the Rangers have improved themselves in the off season. The biggest area of this improvement is on defense. Replacing Poti and Strudwick with Rachunik and Ward plus the signings of Richter and Pock gives us depth. I'm less concerned with the PP, but the PK gives me a lot of question marks. Ortmeyer and Moore need to be replaced...that's a tall order. All in all, I think the team is better, on paper, then last years edition. The key, as you rightly point out, will be the entire teamwork issue. They all need to get used to raising their sticks at the end of home games!

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