Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Last Night Lookback: NYR (4) vs PIT (3) + Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors
For those Ranger fans who felt slighted by the media, wondering what our team need to do to be considered an elite contender, you now have an answer. Beat the Crosby-led Penguins. Immediately after registering last night’s 4-3 win, the New York Rangers were officially nominated for elite team status. Usually these sorts of suggestions spend anywhere from a week to a month kicked around as rhetorical questions by the hockey media before being confirmed or denied by the team’s on-ice performance. After the Rangers’ next five games, we’ll know the consensus – two games on the road against Carolina (should win) and Tampa Bay (could win), two more back at home where they’ve been fire on ice (avenging the home opener against Toronto and then another look at the Lightning), finished up by a trip to Buffalo. If they win all five games, expect to read a lot about the Rangers going into the New Year. Drop more than two of those games and we’ll all be back in schitzo-mode before you can say “Bobby Ryan Trade Rumors”. Speaking of which, we’ll get to those later…
Last night’s battle was an intense one. It was the first meeting between the two teams since Matt Cooke went elbow first at Ryan McDonagh’s head, and the obvious tension was on display with two early fights between Avery and Kennedy. The game had a very physical feel to it, almost chippy, but the pace was fast enough that the refs let them play on, at least for the first 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Three straight Pittsburgh power plays, and the obvious league-wide pro-Crosby conspiracy, helped the Penguins gain momentum and finally put one in. Down by a goal going into the second, but as I said in my last post, anything is possible for this team in a close game.
The tying goal, scored just over eight minutes into the second by Ryan Callahan, was pure sex on ice. With the power play winding down, Gaborik sparked a final chance by dancing around one defender, juking past another and sliding Callahan a brilliant pass between the legs of a third helpless penalty killer. After such a nasty goal, you could hear the Garden faithful injecting life into their team, and the Rangers responded appropriately. Six minutes later, Carl Hagelin’s fast-as-fuck-flow was back it again, this time assisting on John Mitchell’s first goal as a blueshirt with a beautiful back pass. Mitchell’s tally, a gorgeous wrister that made Mark Andre-Fleury look like moldy Swiss cheese, earned him the Broadway hat when all was said and done. Two more tallys, one from Richards and another power play tally from Gaborik, brough the score to 4-1 heading into the second intermission… or not! Malkin’s goal, off a rebound with 6 seconds to go, really changed the nature of this game and let the Penguins roll into the third with momentum they shouldn’t have been allowed to have. Then again, I thought we really dodged a bullet with that called-off Sauer own-goal. Oh well, I thought, still a two goal cushion…
Make that a one goal lead. Pascal Dupuis’ goal less than four minutes into the third brought the shock back into blueshirt fans. Everyone knows we have a propensity to give up our three goal leads, and against a quality team like the Penguins, letting them crawl back into a game like that is very dangerous. Thankfully, the Pens decided to shoot themselves in the foot by taking 4 penalties over the last 10 minutes, allowing us play the Foxwood’s Final Five and beyond with at least a one man advantage. Our five-on-three looks toothless, and in my opinion it’s a microcosm of this team’s true problem. We should be burying those opportunities, making things easier on ourselves. Instead, we let teams chip away at our lead and make it a game again. We missed about two or three quality odd-man-rush chances yesterday, usually without even registering a shot. If we play that Penguins game the right way, capitalize on one five-on-three chance and one odd-man-rush while eliminating the penalties, we probably win that game 6-2, fully embarrassing Crosby in the process. Instead, second chances for visiting teams and heart attacks for Ranger fans. Jeez boys, let’s make it easy for ourselves every once and a while. At least everyone showed up – Gabby, Richards, and Cally led the way while Girardi and McD shut down Sid and Co. Lundy once again was a huge part of the win, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Biron in net on Thursday considering the opposition and the team’s upcoming schedule. All in all, a good team performance to extend the new winning streak to three.
So you’d think the Rangers are satisfied with how things are going, yes? You’d think they’d be content with their core, ready to rise up the rankings one game at a time, but you’d be wrong. According to rumors, Glen Sather is very interested in acquiring the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan. The Ducks have been struggling all season and are supposedly looking to add offensive depth and a top-4 defenseman, as well as a pick or prospect in exchange for the young star. Ryan is a bonafide NHL star with an extremely bright future. The New Jersey native was drafted one place behind Sidney Crosbitch for crying out loud! When this kid of star comes to the trading block, you at least need to kick the tires and see what it’ll take to get him.
For the Rangers, it sounds like Dubinsky is the main attraction of a trade package that could include additional pieces. This is nothing new for Dubinsky, who is always part of any rumored deal involving New York. He and Cally used to be the foils – if you wanted a young star, you were asking for one or the other. Now, there’s no chance Cally ever gets moved, so it’s Dubinsky by default. I know this is a sensitive subject for Ranger fans as Brandon has proven himself to be a fan favorite for all the right reasons. I had to talk my fiancé off a ledge after telling her about the rumor. The fact that she just bought a Dubinsky heritage jersey may have influenced her fury, but I could tell that she wouldn’t be the only angry party if this Bobby Ryan trigger is pulled.
Can they avoid dishing Dubi? Probably not. Anisimov is the likely substitution, but he doesn’t have as much of an offensive upside and you’ll likely need to add in another established forward to sweeten the pot. Wojtek Wolski fits the bill, as do Christensen and Zuccarello, but I don’t see any of those options intriguing Anaheim. Wolski’s trade history shows he probably won’t pan out, Christensen was already waived by the Ducks back in ’09, and there are too many TBD factors about Zuccy’s strength and ability to thrive in this league. So along with Dubi, we’d most likely be losing a defenseman, prospect or top-4 (Staal, Girardi and McD are reportedly off-limits). I can see Sauer or MDZ as part of the deal, but if we somehow avoid giving up a starting player than we’ll be on the hook to lose either McIlrath or Erixon. Factor in the chance of losing kids like Krieder or Bourque and you have a lot of Ranger fans questioning why we’d break up the chemistry of a winning team and ship out some of our future for one underperforming Duck. It’s a fair question, too, but I think it has an obvious answer. Bobby Ryan makes our team more talented. We’ll lose a little depth for a strong superstar upside. Look at what two threatening lines has done for us this season with just the Richards addition. Throw Ryan on any line and all of the sudden it becomes a lot harder to strategize defending the Rangers.
The more interesting question to me is why the Ducks want to trade Ryan at all. He IS the future of that team, one of only two players on their roster locked up under contract until 2015, and he just signed an extension. I’ve heard rumors that the Ducks have internal payroll problems and it’s one of the reason they simply haven’t just fired Randy Carlisle, who himself recently signed an extension. Think about it. Your team is struggling and they need a kick in the dick to get going. Do you fire the coach and bring in a new voice, a proven tactic that often works wonders (see: last year’s New Jersey Devils) or do you trade the youngest of your super-star goal-scorers. I go with the former 99 times out of 100. Only time I vote to trade Ryan is if payroll calls me up and says, “Hey, can we think twice about firing the coach we just agreed to pay millions of dollars regardless of whether he’s actually coaching here?” At that point, with saving cash as my main motivation, then I start taking calls to see what I can get in return. It’s an interesting situation with almost every team in on the young forward. Sather’s offer is going to go up against good ones from Nashville, Detroit, Buffalo, New Jersey and Boston. Let’s reserve the intense panic for AFTER something actually happens. Until then, plenty of space on the ’94 Parade facebook page to bitch about how awful this would be.
Well that was fun! Until next time, here’s another Ranger Haiku courtesy of yours truly. I call this one “Local Blackouts Kind Of Rule”.
Thank you, MSG
For not subjecting me to