Are the NY Rangers a one-trick pony?

In a word, YES. One third of the way through the season, the New York Rangers find themselves 10th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 13-13-1. They’re scoring a respectable 2.89 goals/game (tied with Edmonton for 13th in the NHL), but giving up a disturbing 3.11 goals/game (24th). The Blueshirts’ bloated GAA can be traced in part to backup goalie Stephen Valiquette, who has a save pct. of .852 and a GAA of 3.74 in six appearances this season. Valiquette was waived Wednesday, and will try to rediscover his game in Hartford if he clears waivers. New York’s biggest problem, however, lies at the other end of the ice.

Off-season acquisition Marian Gaborik has been both outstanding and (mostly) healthy so far this season, and he’s the reason the Rangers are at .500 today. Gaby has 21-16-37 in 25 games. How huge is that? Without Gaborik’s 21 goals, the Rangers would be averaging a pitiful 2.19 G/gm – good for 29th in the league (and just .01 ahead of Carolina). Gaborik is not the problem: Almost every other Ranger forward is.

Read the rest of this post at On Goal Analysis…

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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2009 NHL Preview: New York Rangers

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the New York Rangers…

Team Play: ISSUE – It’s all about the “G”, baby. Last season, the Rangers’ biggest challenge was finding the back of the net. With just four 20+ goal scorers, led by Markus Naslund with 24 (Nik Antropov (28) doesn’t count, as he scored 21 of his goals in a Maple Leafs’ sweater), New York was one of only two playoff teams with a negative goal differential in the regular season (Columbus being the other). In fact, the Blueshirts’ 210 goals in 08-09 tied them with the Lightning for 25th in the NHL.

Two of the Rangers’ four “snipers” – Nikolai Zherdev and Markus Naslund – won’t be back. In an effort to not just fill those holes in the lineup, but also to increase scoring, GM Glen Sather rolled the dice over the summer. On 1 July, he signed oft-injured sharpshooter Marian Gaborik. Should Gaby’s groin/hip/whatever hold up (he has yet to play in a preseason game due to a ‘tender groin’), he should be just what the doctor ordered: Gaborik has averaged better than a point per game in each of the last four seasons. On the downside, he’s only played more than 65 games once in those four seasons.

The day before signing Gaborik, Sather pulled the trigger on a significant trade, sending underachieving pivot Scott Gomez to Montreal for winger Christopher Higgins, a proven 20+ man. On 9 July, Slats signed another 20+ club member, Ales Kotalik. Less than a week later, the Rangers dealt centerman Lauri Korpikoski to Phoenix for speedy winger Enver Lisin, who has been one of the Blueshirts’ best skaters in September, and should join the 20+ club in 09-10. More recently, New York added veteran forward Vinny Prospal, boosting the number of proven or potential 20+ goal scorers on the roster to eight – nine if you count holdout center Brandon Dubinsky. Thus, the New York Rangers enter the 09-10 season with significantly increased firepower for new Coach John Tortorella’s up-tempo “Safe is Death” system. The economy may still be in the toilet, but things are looking up on Broadway.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

Rangers coach suspended for Game 6 today

New York Rangers forward Sean Avery was benched for Game 5 because of his lack of discipline play in Game 4…and now the Rangers will play today’s potential series closeout Game 6 without head coach John Tortorella behind the bench due to his lack of discipline on Friday night.

The NHL imposed a one-game suspension on the Rangers head coach for his tantrum during a confrontation with a fan behind the team’s bench. His actions included Tortorella firing a water bottle into the stands that hit an innocent bystander and grabbing the hockey stick of Rangers forward Aaron Voros to use as a sword.

In the league’s statement about the suspension:

“We do not take this action lightly,” said league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. “It is the result of an entire day of investigation and evaluation that included the retrieval and review of videotape of the incident and discussions with Mr. Tortorella, other Rangers’ bench personnel and a number of other people, including the security personnel at the Verizon Center. That investigation revealed that Mr. Tortorella squirted a fan with water before Mr. Tortorella was doused with a beverage. While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot — and will not — tolerate any physical contact with fans,” added Campbell.

Assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld will direct the team in Tortorella’s absence. He is the only other head coach in league history to have been suspended in the playoffs. As the coach of the New Jersey Devils, Schoenfeld sat out Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals as a result of his famous “Have another doughnut” comment to referee Don Koharski following a Game 3 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Couch Potato Alert: 4/24

The Detroit Lions are now on the clock.

Well, they have been on the clock since the first week of preseason. The unofficial kickoff to the upcoming football season is here, as the 2009 NFL Draft will be the highlight event of the weekend. Your mock draft is due prior to the start of the draft. So be sure to cram in every player’s 40 yard time and wonderlic score during an all-night study session tonight. And if you want to play a good drinking game on Saturday, take a sip when Mel Kiper says “that was a value pick” or “he was the best player available.” I guarantee you will pass out halfway through the first round.

All times ET…

Sat, 4 PM: 2009 NFL Draft (ESPN/ESPN2/NFL Network)
Sun, 10 AM: 2009 NFL Draft (ESPN/NFL Network)

NBA Playoffs
Fri, 7 PM: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons (ESPN)
Fri, 8 PM: Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers (ESPN2)
Fri, 9:30 PM: Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets (ESPN)
Sat, 1 PM: Denver Nuggets @ New Orleans Hornets (ESPN)
Sat, 4 PM: San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks (TNT)
Sat, 6:30 PM: Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat (TNT)
Sat, 9 PM: Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz (ESPN)
Sun, 1 PM: Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls (ABC)
Sun, 3:30 PM: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons (ABC)
Sun, 6:30 PM: Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers (TNT)
Sun, 9 PM: Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets (TNT)

NHL Playoffs
Fri, 7 PM: New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals (Versus)
Sat, 1 PM: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers (NBC)
Sat, 10 PM: Anaheim Ducks @ San Jose Sharks (Versus)
Sun, 2 PM: Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers*if necessary (NBC)
Sun, TBD: New Jersey Devils @ Carolina Hurricanes (Versus)

Sat, 4:10PM: New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox (Fox)
Sun., 12 PM: Philadelphia Phillies @ Florida Marlins (TBS)
Sun., 8 PM: New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox (ESPN)

Couch Potato Alert: 4/17

John Madden was, um, colorful in the color analyst role on a NFL telecast. His catch phrases were the sound effects from the old Batman television series. After every play, you were guaranteed a “boom” or a “bam” from Madden in his description. He brought fun to the no fun league (NFL), and his name is synonymous in the gaming community for playing video football. And Madden was a maverick in another way; he left on top in two professions. He will be missed.

The NBA and NHL postseasons start this weekend, and there are a few good baseball games on the tube as well.

All times ET…

NBA Playoffs
Sat, 12:30 PM: Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics (ESPN)
Sat, 3 PM: Detroit Pistons @ Cleveland Cavaliers (ABC)
Sat, 8 PM: Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs (ESPN)
Sat, 10:30 PM: Houston Rockets @ Portland Trail Blazers (ESPN)
Sun, 3 PM: Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers (ABC)
Sun, 5:30 PM: Philadelphia 76ers @ Orlando Magic (TNT)
Sun, 8 PM: Miami Heat @ Atlanta Hawks (TNT)
Sun, 10:30 PM: New Orleans Hornets @ Denver Nuggets (TNT)

NHL Playoffs
Fri, 7 PM: Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Versus)
Fri, 10 PM: St. Louis Blues @ Vancouver Canucks (Versus)
Sat, 1 PM: New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals (NBC)
Sat, 8 PM: Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins (Versus)
Sun, 3 PM: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers (NBC)
Sun, 7 PM: Vancouver Canucks @ St. Louis Blues (Versus)
Sun, 10 PM: Anaheim Ducks @ San Jose Sharks (Versus)

Sat, 3:40 PM: St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs (Fox)
Sun., 1 PM: Cleveland Indians @ New York Yankees (TBS)
Sun., 8 PM: St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs (ESPN)

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