At noon (USA Network), the men's Olympic ice hockey competition begins as Team Sweden takes on the Czech Republic.
The obvious draw for Rangers fans is the matchup of Henrik Lundqvist & Carl Hagelin vs. Jaromir Jagr.
With Lundqvist's return to form after a slow start to the season, Sweden is now seen as a favorite for the gold medal. And despite his struggles, none of Lundqvist's Swedish teammates ever lost faith in him (via NHL.com)...
"I don't think us players ever doubted him," Sweden captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Every time we come here for the national team he plays well. He got us to gold in Turin and he played well in Vancouver too. We never doubted him. I think it was more of the media people that saw his game, how he was with the Rangers at the start, but it's not just him. The whole team had a tough start. They had a lot of injuries."
Lundqvist told Dan Rosen at NHL.com that he was able to turn his season around by focusing on the smaller details of his game, such as playing deeper in his crease, where he is most comfortable. The King said he realized he was challenging shooters too often which was taking him out of his comfort zone. He added that once he started to play with more patience he started to play much better.
Here's Lundqvist on his strategy at Sochi...
At noon (USA Network), the men's Olympic ice hockey competition begins as Team Sweden takes on the Czech Republic.
By Jmacwilli (aka Say my Name)
Character. Fans love to tout their favorite players as being worth exponentially more to their team because of this notion of "heart and soul", or "character", or being an "identity player". From nervous hand-wringing to abject anger directed at anyone who dare consider these players as expendable they light up blogs with their fear and/or venom.
The funny thing is this notion is rarely considered by GM's as they are putting together their teams, and rightfully so. A player is judged 98% on his skills and effectiveness, 2% "character". And no, I am not talking about whether he rescues cats from trees and smiles at children, rather that "game" character that fans endlessly drone on about.
THAT kind of character is the kind that is applied to successful teams/individuals in retrospect...after performance has occurred. Doesn't anyone find it interesting that you never hear of "character" players who don't perform? Were it so critical wouldn't there be at least ONE team who kept a below average performer (impact - not stats) simply for such a rare and vital trait? And what of losing teams? Why do we hear so little about the character of terrible teams? Are they simply devoid of character? C'mon you know the answer...
Holy King Messier just oozed character, right? It was instrumental to the success of both the Oilers and the Rangers, right? Well, what happened when he went to Vancouver? Did the most charismatic leader in perhaps ALL sports suddenly LOSE his character? Or, and more likely, did character simply not move the needle as compared to being less effective due to age and not playing with skilled players like Leetch, Kovalev, Richter, Zubov, Graves, Lowe, Gretzky, Beukeboom, Nemchinov, Anderson, etc...?no comments
Update, 9:15 a.m.:
This morning, Callahan was skating on a line with Parise & Backes. Stepan was still an extra.
...wow, that's a huge step up from fourth line to playing with Parise.
Yesterday, practice for most Olympic men's ice hockey teams began, including for all seven Rangers players.
For Team USA, Ryan Callahan found himself on the fourth line with Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny, while Derek Stepan was an extra skater with Blake Wheeler.
Ryan McDonagh was on the second defensive pair with John Carlson
Here's the full lines (via Pierre LeBrun)...
Here's a pic of Callahan at practice (via Rangers Twitter)...
Team USA's first game is Thursday vs. Slovakia.
...while Stepan didn't play himself off the Team USA roster, it does look like he played himself out of the lineup. Not very surprising.
...seems like Callahan is going to have the same checking and penalty kill responsibility he had four years ago in Vancouver, which obviously suits him perfectly.
Here's Team Canada's full lineup...no comments
If the Rangers are unable to compromise on an extension with Dan Girardi before the March 5th trade deadline, the likely route for Glen Sather will be to move the veteran defenseman.
However, Joe Haggerty at CSN New England says that the Rangers high asking price of a first round pick and perhaps a top prospect for Girardi will apparently keep the Boston Bruins, who have been reportedly interested in the 29-year old, away.
...with the Bruins losing Seidenberg, they're obviously looking for a defenseman, however, they really haven't suffered in the standings, so giving up a large package for essentially a rental probably isn't realistic.
"Eyes on the Enemy" is a continuing bi-annual series on the NY Rangers Blog giving fans updates on the Rangers closest rivals. Part 1 of the Olympic version of 'EotE' will focus on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Any contract figures listed below are courtesy of capgeek.com
Standings: 29-24-5 (25 ROW) 1 point behind Detroit for final wild card spot; 3 points behind Philadelphia for 3rd in Metro Division.
Record vs. NYR: 2-1-0 (NYR @ CBJ 3/21)
Available Trade Deadline Cap Space: $3,998,229
Columbus entered this season by moving to the Eastern Conference via re-alignment after having finished just a point outside the Western Conference playoff picture a season ago. Coming off Sergei Bobrovsky's vezina winning season in addition to getting a full season out of Marian Gaborik and acquiring UFA Nathan Horton, was supposed to guide Columbus to their second postseason appearance in their history. Things haven't exactly gone the way fans expected back in October, but not everything has had a negative impact.
The Olympic break means the Rangers are done for a few weeks, but every other North American league is still going at it. Expect more frequent prospect updates during this time.
Today we highlight the recent play of 2013 third-round pick Adam Tambellini. The Calgary Hitmen played three games in a four-day span from this past Wednesday to last night, and Tambellini scored four goals while adding two assists during that span. Here is video I put together of the four goals.
As I've said before, Duclair and Buchnevich have been front-and-center, and the result is fellow third-round pick Adam Tambellini falling in the background. Though that is somewhat fair, it doesn't mean that he's a prospect to forget. Tambellini is by far the most raw of the three but is still a quality prospect with tremendous upside. The above video shows some of his best assets, which are his hands and shooting ability, his knack for getting into scoring areas, and his general hockey IQ; it's easy to see while watching him that he came from a hockey family.
What you might notice, though, is that all four goals came from the powerplay. It's nice that he can be a weapon on the powerplay, but once it gets to 5-on-5 play the ice gets tighter and he's not as assertive. Part of that, I think, has to do the fact that he still hasn't grown into his body yet. This summer is going to be an important one for Tambellini, as he'll need to add a lot of muscle to his frame to really make his case as a long-term prospect. Fortunately, that's something which is easily done so long as Tambellini is committed. What can't be added in one summer is silky hands or high hockey sense, both of which Tambellini already has. That's what has allowed him to score eight goals and total 19 points in 15 WHL games, and it's what makes him an inriguing, worthwhile prosect.
Keep reading for other prospect news, including a strong showing from Ryan Graves and another Wolfpack win.
Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets dispatched two scouts to Madison Square Garden on Thursday and to Pittsburgh on Friday night to watch the Rangers.
Last week, it was reported that Blueshirt representatives were in attendance at two Blue Jackets games.
Columbus has been rumored to be interested in Ryan Callahan.
Brooks says "you’re not being realistic" if you believe it’s out of the question that Callahan could rejoin former teammates Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov in Columbus.
Apparently one of those people who are unrealistic is Columbus Blue Jackets President John Davidson, who recently noted that Columbus is not looking for short term fixes (via Columbus Dispatch)...
Pat Leonard at the Daily News reports that Ryan Callahan will spend some one-on-one time with his agent during the Winter Olympics in Sochi to discuss where they stand in the negotiations with the Rangers.
Leonard adds that despite the Olympic roster freeze that began yesterday at 3pm, Glen Sather is allowed to continue talking with NHL teams and player agents and even is permitted to re-sign players during that time period.
...what I've found very interesting the last few days is that more and more Rangers fans seem willing to risk losing Callahan for nothing this offseason, in return for keeping him around for a potential Stanley Cup run this Spring.
...and with Callahan's trade value not where Sather wants it, along with the captain remaining steadfast on his seven-year, $47 million demands, it might be the Ranger GM's best option.
Meanwhile, Darren Dreger at TSN says that as long as Dan Girardi isn't focused on testing the free agent market, there is a deal to be made with the Rangers.
However, he does warn that if Callahan and/or Girardi are interested in making it to the start of free agency on July 1st they both could be traded.no comments
Back on January 7th, Rick Nash, amidst a two goals in 11 games slump, admitted that he was spending too much time on the outside and needed to get inside to score goals.
Luckily for the Rangers and their fans, he took his own advice as he became much more aggressive driving to the net and getting to the dirty areas to make plays. Which not surprisingly led to a goal scoring binge including nine tallies in the next ten games.
Unfortunately, it looks like Nash has reverted back to his perimeter play the last five games as he's spent more time roaming near the sideboards than causing havoc in the crease.
And the result of this regression has been a pointless streak of five straight contests.
Similar to Derick Brassard's reluctance to the shoot the puck more often, Nash needs a reminder of how much more effective he is when he's using his size and strength to make plays with the puck instead of floating around the outside flicking harmless shots at the net.
Nash's inability to create his own offense is allowing defenses to play more straight up, which is making it difficult for his linemates, who have begun to struggle alongside of him, to find open ice.no comments
The New York Rangers (32-24-3) defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (40-15-3) by the score of 4-3 in a shootout, tonight. For a box score, go to Yahoo! Sports.
...now that's how you go into the Olympic break! Absolutely dominating effort 5-on-5 as the Rangers were the complete antithesis of what they were last night. They dictated the play, forechecked hard and if it wasn't for a couple of ill-advised penalties probably would have won that game in regulation.
...screw Callahan's extension, when are we going to start talking about re-signing Pouliot to a multi-year deal? So impressed with his willingness to go to the net and pay the price to score.
...i'm not sure what Girardi's current contract demand is right now, but after tonight, I'd give him whatever he wants.
...speaking of Girardi, who knew he was going to be the answer to the Rangers power play struggles?
...it might be time to start giving Sather credit for deciding against amnestying Richards.
...hearing Yzerman canceled Nash's flight to Sochi after the game.
...there's a good chance David Poile did the same to Stepan.
...it's a shame Staal's concussion and eye issues scared Team Canada away, because he'd be a huge asset for them in the Olympics.
...have to assume Crosby and Malkin are not looking forward to going up against McDonagh again in Sochi.
...anyone who doesn't have Sweden as a gold medal favorite hasn't been watching Lundqvist the last month and a half.
...only thing sweeter than Zuccarello's shootout move was his slash on Kunitz after the Penguins forward took an extra poke at Lundqvist.
...at least someone's sticking up for teammates as it seems like AV has completely neutered Carcillo since that Flyers game.
...tonight's victory once again proved when given time and space to skate, the Rangers can hang with anyone in the NHL. The final litmus test for me comes on March 2nd when the Bruins come to town. If the Rangers are able to create offense using their speed game against that tough, physical line-up then I think it's safe for everyone to officially get on the "Stanley Cup Threat" bandwagon.
...i was really looking forward to sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the Olympics, but instead I'm going to be completely freaked out that all the momentum and chemistry the Rangers have accumulated the last eight weeks will dissipate into the Sochi air.
...next game is February 27th when the Blackhawks come to town.