New York Hockey: Sean Avery

Additional quotes from Rangers 9/11 event

September, 7, 2011
The Rangers toured around New York City and visited firehouses throughout the city Tuesday as part of a 9/11 remembrance event. You can read more about the event here. As always, there were plenty of quotes that couldn't make the final edition of the story. Here are some leftovers from the Rangers about the event:

Forward Brad Richards: "It's big for me because it's my first month in the city and it's the 10-year anniversary, so different looking from different cities and looking from afar when it all happened but now that I'm living here it's kind of a different feeling and a great way to introduce myself to New York is to meet some of these people and see how everybody got affected on that day."

Forward Brandon Dubinsky: "It's an incredible experience just being here with some of the families that have been affected and hearing there stories and stuff like that. It's truly special to be a part of this whole thing and hopefully show our support for the guys that do so much for us on a regular basis and we can just enjoy playing hockey, and they're out and doing real life and putting their lives on the line and stuff like that. It's just incredible and humbling."

Forward Brandon Prust: "It's definitely a sad day but it's good to get out and good to see everybody and I can't imagine what these people went through about 10 years ago and it's good to shake some of their hands and just thank these guys for what they do and it makes our jobs look easy, that's for sure."

Forward Sean Avery: "I just think, first and foremost, it's our duty as the New York Rangers to be here and then secondly it's an opportunity to come meet these guys and guys that maybe haven't been in New York as long, making a connection and it helps the players get that identity of what New York is like. I think it's important to do that for sure."

Avery arrested

August, 5, 2011
Rangers forward Sean Avery was arrested after allegedly shoving a police officer at his home in California.

Read more on the story here.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It sounds so simple, but made such a difference. Following the Rangers' Game 3 win against the Capitals Sunday, the players credited their energetic start as a key point in helping them grab their first game in the series.

With Game 4 on deck Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Garden, the Rangers are focused on making sure they once again bring the energy and hard-hitting play right from the start as they try to even the series at 2-2.

“We got to raise our bar again, we know they’re going to come back and they’re going to be ready to play and ready to play hard,” forward Brandon Dubinsky said. “We have to be ready to match or beat their work ethic and be prepared ourselves.”

While the Rangers didn’t score a goal in the first period of Game 3, they believe that an inspired effort helped galvanize them for the rest of the game. The team came out with energy, played hard and made hits as they set the tone early.

Forward Erik Christensen said that in the team’s video session, he and his teammates saw effective forechecking and that when they finished their hits, they came up with the puck, sometimes leading to aggressive plays at the net. He said there were plenty of clips of the team being physical.

A key role in that energetic start was the play from the line of Sean Avery-Brandon Prust-Brian Boyle, which Rangers coach John Tortorella specifically mentioned as a catalyst for the team. Boyle echoed Dubinsky’s belief that the team has to match the intensity the Capitals will bring as they try to avoid dropping two straight.

“We gotta really bring it for Game 4 and sustain it. It’s really easy to get up for a playoff game, the crowd’s going nuts, everyone’s going nuts, but to sustain it is tough,” Boyle said. “You have to keep your head about you but to keep playing with that energy is something we can do and that’s what our gameplan is. We just have to go out and do it.”

THEY LIKE THEIR FANS: A new group of Rangers commented Tuesday on Washington coach Bruce Boudreau’s claim that Madison Square Garden’s reputation exceeds the actual experience and the fans don’t get that loud during the game. Just like Monday, the Rangers didn’t fire back any shots, instead just commending their fans.

“I heard about it but I don’t have anything to say about it,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “We all had a great time playing at home and it was loud enough for us and I said after the game that it was a great feeling to be back in the playoffs, play at home in New York and feel the atmosphere and the excitement and we definitely feed from that and we’re going to feel that again tomorrow.”

Added Dubinsky: “I don’t care. It’s that time of year when we have to focus on playing. Us as players, we love playing here at home and we feel like our fans are the best and the most passionate, so I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

THE MUSTACHETEERS: There’s a third member of the Playoff Mustache Club: defenseman Brian McCabe. The veteran sported a new mustache with handlebars during practice Tuesday morning, joining Boyle and Dubinsky.

“It worked for Dubi so I told him if we had a good game and won I’d do it too,” McCabe said. “Man of my word.”

The players who have not grown mustaches seem to be having a good time laughing at their teammates' new facial hair. Lundqvist said Dubinsky’s mustache is “so bad it’s good” and called it one of the uglier mustaches he’s seen. Tortorella called them “those silly mustaches.”

Dubinsky was just pleased to see a new member of the club.

“I told (McCabe) to get rid of the handlebars. I think just the regular mustache is where it’s at but he insisted on the handlebars so I’m just happy he jumps on board,” Dubinsky said. “I guess it’s my plea for everyone to jump on board, get a muzzy. It’s the cool thing to do and it’s a lot of fun.”

MAKE OR BREAK?: As much as it was important for the Rangers to finally get one game in this series, it might be even more important for the team to get Game 4. Were the Rangers to lose tomorrow, they’d be down 3-1. As cliché as it may sound, there’s a huge difference between 3-1 and 2-2 in the series, and Boyle recognized that.

“This is the biggest game so far. Big stage and it seems like everything is getting more intense,” Boyle said. “We’re trying to get better, they’re trying to get better, seems like each game is ramped up. It’s a huge game for us and we know they’re trying to get at us and win one in our building. We want to even the series.”

ZUCCARELLO TO AHL: Tortorella explained to reporters Tuesday about the decision to send rookie Mats Zuccarello down to the AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale. He said the team is confident with its lineup right now, which included Avery over Zuccarello for the last two games of the playoffs, and the team has to keep an eye on allowing Zuccarello to develop. The Whale is currently in the playoffs, so the rookie will get to play in those games.

“To [not] skate Zucc every day here is counterproductive to him when he could be playing in the American League playoffs,” Tortorella said. “That’s part of the process for him. He’s doing some really good things for us here but we have to find exactly what he is as we continue growing as a hockey club here.”

Rangers send Zuccarello down to AHL

April, 18, 2011
The Rangers announced Monday that they have sent Mats Zuccarello down the AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale.

Zuccarello had been recalled on April 8, tallying an assist in the season finale against the Devils and playing in Game 1 against the Capitals in place of Sean Avery, playing for just 7:30. He hasn't played the last two games, though, as Avery has returned to the lineup.

The rookie likely finishes his season with six goals and 17 assists in 43 games (including playoffs) and two game-winning goals.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers and Capitals certainly won’t be able to complain about a grueling schedule. The teams get two days off between Games 3 and 4 as well as between Games 4 and 5. While they can’t do anything about it, the Rangers wish there wasn’t such a long break between games.

“I know if you’re asking me personally, I’d rather play, I’d rather play every other day,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said following Monday’s meetings. “TV kind of rules with that, doesn’t it? Nothing you can do about it.”

“I go with the flow,” left wing Ruslan Fedotenko said. “Day between [games], that’s great, but two days between, that’s good too. I’m not taking too much and thinking too much. It’s just regroup and be ready for the next game.”

Added right wing Marian Gaborik: “It is what it is, we can’t do anything about it. But I think it helps to give us one day to recover and then tomorrow we go back to work and have a good practice and play on Wednesday.”

AVERY BACK IN THE MIX: After being a healthy scratch in five of the Rangers' final 11 games, as well as the first game of the playoffs, Sean Avery has rebounded to give the Rangers quality minutes in the past two games. He’s logged 19:07 of ice time in the two games and has three shots on goal.

“He’s a good player, he’s a fast player, he can use his speed on the forecheck and physical play, so it’s always good and setting the tone for the rest of the team,” Fedotenko said. “It’s always good when the opposition has to look over his shoulder and hesitate to make his play and think about that big hit, and not playing the puck, that always gives us an advantage.”

Avery, while a fan favorite, couldn’t find time on the ice down the stretch. He was scratched in the season finale so rookie Mats Zuccarello could be used in case of a shootout. He again found himself on the bench with Zuccarello starting in the playoff opener, before being reinserted to add some forechecking for Game 2.

Tortorella credited Avery for his play in Game 3, a 3-2 Rangers win, saying he was consistent in getting in on the forecheck, getting to the net and finishing his checks. His performance was part of a great day for his line, which also included Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust.

“Sean’s biggest assets are his legs,” Tortorella said. “If he starts thinking, he hurts himself. He just needs to go play and use his legs and he’s a very effective player.’

IT’S A MUSTACHE-OFF: It’s not a team-wide movement -- yet -- but Boyle is intrigued to see if he and Brandon Dubinsky’s playoff mustaches will become a fad.

“We’ll see if we can get some more guys on board,” Boyle joked.

The mustaches were of course discussed Monday, and of course, joked about.

Boyle, who grew the mustache first and said he’s going for a Captain Morgan look, said he’s not going to keep his facial hair after the season.

“I’m not really going for style points with this thing, it’s more of a facial hair for the playoffs type thing,’" Boyle said. “My beard is pretty terrible.”

When asked to compare whose mustache was better, Boyle said that’s for others to decide, but said that Dubinsky’s gets the award for being the worst. “You can see it from a mile away,” Boyle quipped.

Gaborik had a different description for Dubinsky’s mustache: “It looks worse, but actually it’s kind of funny. Coolest I would say.”

A GREAT LINE: Even though the line of Avery-Boyle-Prust didn’t score a goal or record an assist, Tortorella applauded the trio for jumpstarting the Rangers early in the game.

“They certainly set the tone in the first period for us. They gave us some good shifts right on through,” Tortorella said. “Brian Boyle arguably has probably been one of our most consistent forwards through the first three games. He had two really good chances on the power play in front of the net and I thought that line gave us some good energy, they kept their discipline, and really in the first period where it was kind of not sure where it was going to go, both teams kind of like waiting, we certainly didn’t have that mindset, but they gave us some energy and I thought we really got involved after that.”

NO GOALS FOR GABORIK: The postseason hasn’t proven to be the galvanizing force for Gaborik, as he has now gone 12 straight games without a goal, which is his longest stretch of the season. While he’s taken 11 shots in the three games, he doesn’t have a point in any of the contests.

Despite the zero points, Gaborik’s confidence doesn’t seem to be shaken.

“I feel pretty good out there. I have to keep going with my legs and you can tell the goals that are scored are all around the net so just have to drive the net,” Gaborik said. “Much better in front of (Michal) Neuvirth yesterday, being in the blue and in his face and that’s how you have to get goals.”

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES: Backup goalie Martin Biron said he has no timetable for his return from a fractured collarbone ... The Rangers talked about the increased pressure on Neuvirth and how the 35 shots led to their three goals ... Several players talked about the Rangers finally getting a bounce on the Dubinsky goal.

Donnie Pucks: Avery is back

April, 15, 2011
It's amazing how popular Sean Avery is.

When fans found out that he was a scratch for Game 1, they thought it was the worst idea in the world.

Well, tonight he's back in and Rangers fans are thrilled.

I tweeted it as soon as it was official and Rangers nation went nuts.

@Peedjeans: Good move, Torts adding some jam.

@DJSturch85: Intensity upgrade


@thebrymann: Thank God. He could spark the team

and believe me there were more.

It's incredible what he does to this fan base. He might be the popular player on the team.

It's not a surprising move. After Mats Zuccarello took that first period penalty in Game 1, you had the feeling that Avery would be back.

But let's not forget why Sean was out in game 1. He sometimes coughs up the puck and will take the bad penalty.

Avery will either be just what the doctor ordered for this team looking for that energy to get to the net and finish. Or, he will put the Rangers in a tough spot to even this series.

There is one thing that has gotten lost in the conversation about Avery -- love him or hate him. He has been a good solider for this team; first line, fourth line, in or out. He has not complained and has done right for the team.

No matter what happens tonight number 16, will be the man to watch all night long.

And I have a feeling that win or lose, he'll be the talk of Rangers nation all weekend.
According to Andrew Gross of The Record, rookies Mats Zuccarello and Matt Gilroy will get the call tonight, while veterans Sean Avery and Steve Eminger will be healthy scratches in Game 1. With Zuccarello and Gilroy in the rotation for tonight, the Rangers would likely play seven playoff rookies tonight during the game, with only backup goalie Chad Johnson not likely to see playing time.

Aside from the experience factor, these moves shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Avery had been a healthy scratch as of late and Eminger has been inconsistent with his playing time. Then again, these moves might just for one game only. If the pair of rookies struggle tonight, coach John Tortorella could call upon the veterans in Game 2.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Senators

March, 24, 2011
The red-hot Rangers try to keep their hot streak going tonight against the last-place Ottawa Senators. Here are some things to watch for in tonight’s contest.

STAAL RETURNS: As previously reported here, defenseman Marc Staal will make his return to the lineup after missing the two previous games with an undisclosed injury. Matt Gilroy will be a healthy scratch and Steve Eminger will get ice time. Sean Avery will be the other healthy scratch.

“(Eminger) has played well,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “Gilly hasn’t been real bad, but I just like the way Emmy’s played underneath the hashmarks and his physical play.”

HOTNESS: The Rangers look to keep alive their longest winning streak of the season against the Senators tonight. The Blue Shirts have won five games in a row and are peaking at the right point of the season with the playoffs right around the corner. With each additional win, the Rangers move closer and closer toward securing a playoff berth.

As well as the team has played recently, goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been just as hot. The goalie is now 7-1 with a 1.98 goals against average and .932 save percentage. He’s also recorded two shutouts. In his career, Lundqvist is 10-11 with a 1.98 goals against average versus the Senators.

THE YOUNG ONES: Keep an eye on the line of Wojtek Wolski, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello. While that combination of players has just one goal in the past six games, Tortorealla thnks they are on the cusp of breaking out.

“They’ve been OK. They’re close. Wolly has really worked on his board play, I thought he made some really goods plays last game as far as protecting pucks and things we are asking him to do offensively,” Tortorella said. “We talked about that today. They’re close, they haven’t produced a lot there, they have done some other good things, hopefully we’ll get some goals out of them.”
NEW YORK -- The Rangers don't have to do much soul-searching to find out why they've won just four of their last 15 games and were just swept in a three-game homestand that concluded Thursday night with a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

The reason for their sub-par play, which drew the ire of fans Thursday with a smattering of boos, is quite obvious.

"You can call it bad luck, you can call it whatever you want, we simply have to score some goals," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We had some breakdowns, but we didn't certainly give up many chances tonight."

As the Rangers try to hold on to to their claim to a playoff spot -- they have fallen to eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- they will look to score their scoring woes as they head into the final 16 games of the season. The Rangers scored just four goals on a homestand in which they lost each game in regulation.

In the last 15 games, the Rangers have scored 37 goals, but that statistic is deceiving. In the Rangers' four wins, they have scored 19 goals, leaving them with just 18 goals in their 11 losses. They haven't scored more than two goals in a loss since falling to Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 1.

"Lately it feels like we're chasing in a lot of games and it's tough," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "Teams just back up and make it really tough for us. We get the chances, we don't bury them. You don't score, you're not winning."

While the Rangers never held a lead in their first two losses in this three-game home stretch, the Blue Shirts appeared to have righted the ship Thursday with a goal by Sean Avery just 3:13 into the game. Instead, that goal would be the Rangers high point of the game, as they failed to score on their next 39 shots and were just 1-of-41 on the night.

Tortorella thought a key stretch in the game was his team failing to get the second goal on two power play opportunities in the first period while leading 1-0. The Rangers had some good chances, including a near-goal by Ryan Callahan that was stopped by a falling Jose Theodore, but came up empty. In fact, the Rangers were 0-for-4 on the power play on the night and just 11-of-59 in the past 15 games.

As the Rangers faltered with a man advantage, Minnesota tied the game up on its only power play of the game.

"We are getting chances, goalies are making saves, but at the same time, this time of year, you have to find ways to bury them," Callahan said. "I had a pretty open net. We are playing good hockey, we just have to get a goal when we need it."

While the locker room was rather quiet and empty after this loss, the Rangers weren't shy in critiquing their lack of offense. Defenseman Marc Staal said he'd rather have 20 shots and score on four, similar to the Wild's line of four goals of 19 shots, then have the Rangers' line of one goal on 41 shots.

Brandon Dubinsky is taking it upon himself to score a big goal to galvanize this team. Callahan was critical on not scoring in the first to make it 2-0. They all realize their offense has gone into intermission in a critical point of the season.

Tortorella wants them to fight their way out of the slump -- one goal at a time.

"Guys that care end up pressing when they're not getting it done. They try to do even more, and that’s what pressing is," Tortorella said. "We've got to stay within our structure, stay together as a hockey club and try to find a way here."

Rapid Reaction: Wild 3, Rangers 1

March, 3, 2011
Recap | Box score | Photos

NEW YORK -- This is a homestand the Rangers will want to forget. The Rangers lost for the third straight time at Madison Square Garden as they fell to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night. The Rangers are now 4-10-1 in their last 15 games.

WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: The Rangers need to start picking up points if they want to get one of those eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. In their last 15 games, they have accumulated nine of a possible 30 points. Entering Thursday, they were just one point ahead of eighth-place Carolina and just three points ahead of ninth-place Buffalo, but both teams have played fewer games than the Rangers. With Carolina defeating Buffalo on Thursday, the Rangers settled for zero points while the Hurricanes picked up two -- and leapfrogged New York.

IT'S NOT HALLOWEEN: It's usually not a good thing when the home team is getting booed off the ice after the second period, but that's the sound the Rangers left the ice to as they trailed 2-1. The Wild scored two goals in the period, including one on the power play, to suck the energy out of MSG. The Rangers even held a 25-11 shots advantage at that point, but it didn't matter to the fans. the Rangers were also booed at various points in the third period after Minnesota took its 3-1 lead.

OUT IN FRONT: Before the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella said his team needs to get off to faster starts. In each of the last two losses, the Rangers have trailed after the first period and never led in either game. Thursday, the Rangers finally scored in the first period. Erik Christensen parked himself behind the net and found a streaking Sean Avery down for the score to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 3:13 into the game.

STAY OUT OF THE BOX: Another point Tortorella made before the game was how the Rangers need to stay out of the penalty box. It cost the squad Sunday against Tampa Bay and once again hurt the Rangers against the Wild. After Christensen went to the box for high sticking, Minnesota tied the game off a deflection at 4:36 mark of the second period.

BUT DO SOMETHING WHEN THEY'RE IN THE BOX: The Rangers had four power play opportunities, but couldn’t score on any of them and are now just 11-of-59 in their past 15 games. When the other team converts their only power play opportunity, and you can’t score on your multiple attempts, that’s not a good sign.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: The Rangers outshot the Wild 41-19 but still lost by two goals. Wild goalie Jose Theodore stopped 40 shots.

UP NEXT: The Rangers head north of the border for a matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Entering Thursday night, Ottawa was in last place in the Eastern Conference and had the second-fewest points in the NHL.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

February, 22, 2011
The Blueshirts clash with the Canes in Carolina. Here are three factors to watch for when the puck drops.

Stand And Deliver

I’m a big believer in finding big meaning in small events. That’s not to say I’m like the plastic-bag kid in “American Beauty,” but when two teams go head-to-head for one of the conference’s final playoff spots, I think how the teams play says a lot about how things will unfold down the stretch.

Ganas. Chutzpah. Pick your pet term for desire and intrepid action. If the Rangers don’t add any more high-end scoring through a trade and if Marian Gaborik doesn’t return to the ice (and to form) soon, the Blueshirts are going to have to grind for every goal. That takes a lot of energy and endurance. Working in the Rangers’ favor has been a schedule with a few long gaps between games. After Sunday’s loss to the Flyers, Marc Staal told me he feels pretty good stamina wise, better than at this time last season. That could be key both tonight (the Rangers’ fourth game in six days) and during the home stretch in March/early April.

Keep Rolling Hank The Tank?

Henrik Lundqvist has started five straight games and if he gets the nod tonight in Carolina it will equal his longest consecutive-start streak of the season. Lundqvist has stood up to a (very) heavy work load in the past, and it makes sense that the Rangers would want their No. 1 netminder between the pipes tonight against the Canes. But if you don’t start Martin Biron here, when do you give Lundqvist his next night off? Friday the Rangers play the Washington Capitals, while Sunday the square off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, both with big-time offensive threats. If he starts tonight, I circled Tuesday, March 4 against the Buffalo Sabres as the next likely off night for Lundqvist. It will be interesting to see if head coach John Tortorella rests Lundqvist before that, or if Lundqvist can stand up to the work load. For the second question, the smart money is on "yes."

Who’s Going To Step Up?

Gaborik may not have been producing on par with his career norm, but he was the Rangers’ leading point scorer since their skid started Jan. 25 (1 G, 7 A). The Rangers could certainly use a big effort from dynamic forward Mats Zuccarello and recently-acquired Wojtek Wolski Tuesday night. And a return to early-season form for (the battered) Brian Boyle (2 G, 1 A in the last 10 games) could go a long way as well. Matched with Derek Stepan and Sean Avery Sunday, Zuccarello’s line seemed to be the team’s best. Perhaps they’ll be able to carry that effort over to Tuesday.

Rangers Roundup

December, 6, 2010
The Rangers couldn't shake a slow start Sunday at the Garden, and now get to rest until heading back into action on Thursday, again against the Ottawa Senators. Here's a look around the media landscape after Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Sens.

Morning Links

W2W4: Islanders vs. Rangers

December, 3, 2010
Thursday night’s battle certainly didn’t disappoint and Round 2 Friday night promises more of the same when the New York Islanders visit the Garden to face the New York Rangers. Here’s what to watch for when the action gets going.

The Odd Couple
Sean Avery supplied exactly what John Tortorella was hoping for Thursday when he placed him on the top line with Marian Gaborik. Three assists for Avery -- and three goals for Gaborik -- and you can bet the duo will again skate with Erik Christensen between them. But can they be as productive?

Though he’s known more for his work as an agitator, Avery isn’t without playmaking skills. He pursues the puck well and has the ability to produce when he gains possession. The best example of that came when he stripped the puck from Trevor Gillies along the boards and set up Gaborik in front of the net. His physical edge also promotes a little more chaos in the offensive zone than, say, Alexander Frolov. It’s an unorthodox line combination, but it could have some lasting success. We’ll see if they can sustain it through two games tonight.

The Crease Question
After Martin Biron got yanked following several soft goals Thursday, it will be interesting to see if John Tortorella puts him back in the crease Friday or if he turns to Henrik Lundqvist as originally intended. The Rangers next skate Sunday at home against Ottawa. If The King were to start both contests, that would make two consecutive weeks of Lundqvist playing in three games in four days. My guess is we’ll see Lundqvist tonight, with Biron getting a shot to bounce back Sunday.

Meanwhile for the Islanders, you’d have to expect Dwayne Roloson to get the nod, considering the Isles’ standard goalie rotation and the fact that Rick DiPietro did nothing to suggest he deserved another go, allowing six goals Thursday.

Put Up Your Dukes, Again
No Rangers-Islanders game is complete without a fight or two. Derek Boogaard and Gillies got the dance card going Thursday with a first-period throw down. Now, I’ve seen several posts around the ol’ Interwebs saying you could argue that Gillies actually won the fight. I guess you could argue that gravity will reverse itself tomorrow, too, but I think you’d be wrong on both counts. Boogaard may not have landed a lot of his blows, but he threw about 20 punches compared to two or three left-hand jabs from Gillies. Just because the Islander landed on top at the end of the fight doesn’t mean he gets the decision, though hats off to the Isles' enforcer in the courage department.

I also enjoyed the Praying Mantis/Crouching Tiger ninja moves Gillies busted out to open the bout. Maybe he’ll unleash his Hidden Dragon tonight if they get a rematch opportunity.

The Start of Something?
Perhaps the cure for the Isles’ offensive woes is for them to just play the Rangers. The five goals mark the high-water mark since they hung a five spot on the Avs on Oct. 16. True to yesterday’s preview, Blake Comeau struck for a goal and an assist. Meanwhile John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Radek Martinek each put up two assists. It will be interesting to see if the Isles can keep it up on enemy ice Friday ... and beyond.

The 9th Best GM?

Just one link to share with you right quick: Forbes has ranked Garth Snow the ninth best GM in the NHL in terms of production for the money. Curious to hear your thoughts on that one ...

W2W4: Rangers vs. Islanders

December, 2, 2010
The Rangers and Islanders do battle Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum. Since we’ve got two area teams slugging it out, we’re upping our key factors to watch for by one. Yeah, we’re crazy like that. Here’s what to watch for when the puck drops.

Isles’ Offense

The Islanders may have snapped their skid, but they still aren’t lighting up the scoreboard, topping the two-goal plateau just once since Oct. 27. The last time the Isles took on the Rangers it produced a season-high six-goal performance, so maybe tonight’s matchup will jump start the offense. One player who loves to see the Blueshirts? Blake Comeau. For his four-year career, Comeau has put up nine goals and a point per game against the boys from Broadway. Considering he has just two assists in the past 14 games, I’m sure coach Jack Capuano would love to see a breakout game tonight.

Power Outage

As we discussed yesterday, the Islanders have been hopeless with the extra man, failing to score a PP goal in their last eight contests -- a stretch that spans 29 power plays. Only problem about snapping out of it tonight is that the Rangers have flaunted one of the league’s best PKs. Since Nov. 5, only two teams have hung a power-play marker on the Blueshirts: The Caps and the Lightning. The Bolts actually burned them for three PP tallies, but against Steven Stamkos, three goals may have been getting off easy.

Juggling Act

According to reports from Rangers practice Wednesday, Sean Avery will skate on the top line with Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik. It’s one of the few combinations Rangers head coach John Tortorella hasn’t tried this season, but it’s an intriguing one. Gaborik has usually suffered from receiving all of the defensive attention whenever he’s on the ice. The one thing Avery is best at? Distracting the opposition and getting them to do something dumb. (How'd that motion go again, James Wisniewski?) If the pest can even prompt a momentary lapse in the Islanders’ defensive focus, it could be enough for Gaborik to strike. Of course, Avery will still need to make plays with the puck and feed the sniper. And as Rangers fans should know by now, there’s no guarantee this line lasts the whole game.

The First Is The Worst ... for Isles

The Islanders still haven’t won a game after giving up the first goal this season, so needless to say the first marker will be an important one. A brief lapse in the first period Monday night cost the Rangers the opening goal against the Penguins, who then extended it to a three-goal margin and never looked back. In a rivalry game like Thursday night’s, emotions are going to be high and the Blueshirts will want to squelch any early momentum for the home team. If the Rangers can strike first, it would be a big blow to the Islanders and their fans … who are well aware of how the rest of that script has played out this season.

Dubinsky calls out Crosby

November, 29, 2010

In a between-periods interview with the MSG network, Rangers winger Brandon Dubinsky took a jab at Sidney Crosby after the station replayed footage from the first period in which Crosby appeared to slew foot Ryan Callahan (a play that actually resulted in a penalty on Callahan for interference).

"That's just a dirty play," Dubinsky said while on the MSG set. "That's just the type of guy he is. He tries to get away with all that kind of nonsense and complains a lot."

Watching the replays of Monday's action, it also appeared Crosby slew-footed Sean Avery in the third period. This time Crosby earned a tripping call, offset by a matching minor to Brandon Prust, who took exception to the play.

Surrounded by reporters in the locker room later, Dubinsky declined to pursue the point. Via Ranger Rants:
"I don’t want to turn this into more than it is," Dubinsky said. "I’m not going to sit here and talk about Sidney Crosby because I don’t really care what he’s doing and I don’t really care what he does on the ice."

Crosby responded in the Pittsburgh room after the game. Again via Mr. Andrew Gross:
"How many penalty minutes do I have this year, if I’m that dirty?," said Crosby, who has 15 penalty minutes this season. "I mean, please. Show me all those dirty plays. It’s a battle and he falls. I think Dubi has done his fair share of things out there that are questionable. I guess he’s talking again. But I’m not surprised.

"It’s a battle (with Callahan)," Crosby added. "He’s holding me going up ice and I’m trying to push him off. Is it that calculated? I’m trying to get to the net. I’m not worried about that kind of thing. If I tripped him, I tripped him. Am I dirty hockey player? C’mon. I think Dubi is smarter than that."

Since Crosby is asking, his PIMs go beyond just the 15 he's been pinched for this season. Through Nov. 23 last season he had 39, which was a pretty solid clip that dropped off as the season continued.

Does that make Sid the Kid a dirty player? No. Does he take a lot of contact (legal and otherwise) as an NHL star? Absolutely. Does he need to stand up for himself? Certainly. But it may be how he's responding that's grating Dubinsky and some other players. Either way, I wouldn't expect this debate to die anytime soon.