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Rangers vs Bruins Highlights 1/29/07


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Yeah no shit. What is wrong with Jagr? He hasn't done shit lately.

See the following:

 

Rangers woes.

 

Nothing's certain when it comes to Rangers, playoffs

By Damien Cox

Special to ESPN.com

Archive

 

NEW YORK -- At age 39, Madison Square Garden is, without question, the NHL's most fun and interesting venue, the only one left with the kind of idiosyncrasies, oddities and character that once typified rinks across the league.

 

 

Folks in Pittsburgh, of course, are clamoring to have the league's oldest arena replaced. And while the old Civic Arena (now the Mellon) is unique because of its retractable roof, it has never been viewed as a building particularly infused with character or ambience.

 

 

Of course, it was good enough for the Penguins to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in, and Sidney Crosby seems to like it well enough.

 

 

The second oldest NHL arena is MSG, and, not so long ago, it had company in the character department. In the early 1990s, the Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens were still around, as was the Boston Garden and Chicago's magnificent, if well-worn, Stadium.

 

 

Philadelphia's Spectrum, Jack Kent Cooke's Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles and The Arena in St. Louis, sometimes called the Checkerdome, had their own personalities. The San Jose Sharks, for a time, played out of the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The Tampa Bay Lightning played host to home games at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Both were horribly ill-fitted for hockey, but were different and peculiar.

 

 

Then came the cookie-cutter arena rage of the mid- to late-1990s. Players will tell you that while they once could close their eyes and identify all the old arenas by smell and feel, the new ones seem mostly copies of one another.

 

 

This leaves MSG and its sixth-floor rink -- with its low, sloping seats, terrible ice, strange smells and curious sightlines -- as one of a kind, at least for the NHL.

 

 

It's a pity, then, that with 2½ months left in the regular season, we can't say with any certainty whether there will be hockey this spring at the arena on 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd.

 

 

In recent seasons, it almost has been like a return to the days of the old Garden at 50th and 8th Ave., where, because of the enormous popularity and profitability of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Rangers also weren't seen at playoff time because the circus took precedence. (In the 1928 Stanley Cup finals, the Rangers had to play all their games on the road, but won anyway.)

 

 

Well, since Colin Campbell guided the Rangers to the 1997 Eastern Conference finals, there have been only two NHL playoff games played at Madison Square Garden. Both were first-round losses to the New Jersey Devils last season as the Rangers were swept out in four.

 

 

Two playoff games in nine years, including the lockout that wiped out the 2005 postseason. That's a famine by any measurement.

 

 

Given that the NBA's Knicks haven't been particularly busy at playoff time, either -- two playoff appearances in the past six seasons -- the Garden proprietors would be forgiven if they started booking shows and concerts now for the coming spring.

 

 

At this rate, Cablevision will realize its dream of building a new Madison Square Garden before the Rangers or Knicks get their next postseason victory.

 

 

The Rangers' return to the playoffs last season couldn't have come at a better time for the NHL, which sought to bounce back from the lockout. Coach Tom Renney's squad was surprisingly good and appeared poised to win its division until the Devils caught it on the last night of the regular season.

 

 

Similarly, this season's tumble, not as bad as the Flyers' but to a point where the Blueshirts appear likely to be scratching for a playoff berth until the final days of the season, couldn't come at a worse time for commissioner Gary Bettman's administration.

 

Season II of the "new" NHL has come with its share of pitfalls, including balky TV ratings on both sides of the borders and an All-Star event in Dallas that was widely panned and mocked.

 

 

Meanwhile, it appears Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles will miss the playoffs, as will the plummeting Bruins. Denver, a good market the second time around for the NHL, is also in tough, as is Toronto.

 

 

The smaller markets have done quite well. And while that has gone a long way to address the complaints of an uneven playing field that existed before the latest collective-bargaining agreement, it cannot be good news for the league to have almost all of its largest markets on the outside when the playoffs begin.

 

 

Having the Rangers in the playoffs is in the best interest of every other team. Islanders fans won't like it, but it's just a fact.

 

 

But will the Blueshirts make it? Hard to say.

 

 

The Rangers were ninth in the East heading into Wednesday's home start against the Maple Leafs, but running fairly hot, having won seven of their previous 11 outings. After seven straight defeats in late December started a wave of panic in Manhattan, the Rangers' turnaround has restored optimism in the Blueshirts' dressing room.

 

 

Four significant problems, however, remain.

 

 

• Jaromir Jagr is having a good season, but not a great one. He skipped the All-Star festivities to give his surgically repaired left shoulder a break, but he continues to believe the wing is giving him problems when he shoots the puck.

 

 

Jagr has complained about feeling "small" out on the ice, the result of weighing about 10 pounds lighter this season, and has only scored four power-play goals.

 

 

• Brendan Shanahan, meanwhile, has gone cold of late, and the problem of not having a No. 2 center to play with him (Jagr skates with Michael Nylander) is suddenly a major concern. Free agent Matt Cullen proved not to be a fit, and you can bet names like Peter Forsberg and Keith Tkachuk are going to be bouncing around Broadway up until the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

 

 

• A third area of potential concern is the amount of offense the Rangers receive from their blue line. They have no player of the Brian Leetch ilk, not many teams do, and the attempted rehabilitation of Sandis Ozolinsh into a prime-time NHLer failed. Michal Rozsival has played well, but, as the highest scoring Ranger blue-liner, he sits 31st among all defenders.

 

 

• Finally, there's the mystery of sophomore goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The young Swede's goals-against average is up and his save percentage is down. More important, there have been too many games in which Lundqvist has allowed a sloppy goal, an area that wasn't a problem for him last season.

 

 

There were those worrisome migraine headaches that bothered Lundqvist in the playoffs and throughout the summer, but that health issue apparently has been addressed.

 

 

Better play from Jagr and Lundqvist should be enough for a playoff spot, particularly if the Rangers start playing much, much better at the Garden. New York has 10 home wins; only the horrific Flyers (three wins on home ice!) have had fewer victories in the Eastern Conference, something that hasn't sat well with the noisy denizens of MSG.

 

 

It's as though the old arena feels slighted by the frequent spring absences of the hockey club and has decided to be less hospitable in return.

 

 

Damien Cox, a columnist for The Toronto Star, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Jagr targeted by refs?

 

Shanahan's rant more about Rangers than refsBy Scott Burnside

ESPN.com

Archive

 

Let's just check the standings before we address Brendan Shanahan's postgame rant from Wednesday night.

 

 

Hmmm. Shanahan's New York Rangers are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs (who, by the by, leapt over the Rangers into ninth place with the entertaining, physical win at Madison Square Garden).

 

 

The Rangers' 10 home wins represent the second-lowest total in the NHL.

 

 

As for Shanahan, the All-Star last scored at even strength Dec. 9 and has managed just three goals in his past 16 contests (although he has scored in back-to-back games for the first time since early December).

 

 

The Rangers, like Shanahan, seem to be treading water. Not a playoff team. Not a team in decline. A team, in some ways, going nowhere, like many of the Eastern Conference's swollen, unappealing middle class.

 

 

All of which might explain Shanahan's postgame rant in which he offered a thinly veiled complaint that NHL referees routinely ignore fouls on Rangers captain and superstar Jaromir Jagr because he's a European player.

 

 

"I don't know what it is, if there's some sort of prejudice or what the deal is," Shanahan told reporters after the game. "I've never seen a superstar player treated with so much disrespect in this league as Jaromir Jagr.

 

 

"He gets mauled every game. Mats Sundin goes down in the first period and gets a penalty call. Jaromir Jagr carries players on his back all season long and doesn't get calls.

 

"He gets hit late, gets hit high, gets hooked on the hands. He doesn't complain. He just plays and plays and plays. The referees seem to have a different set of rules for him, not just [Wednesday night], but all season long."

 

 

Blah, blah, blah.

 

 

Reading through Shanahan's carping, we are reminded of the sound Charlie Brown's teacher used to make. If, as Shanahan has suggested, the referees turn a blind eye to fouls on Jagr because he's European (or because he used to have a bad mullet), it flies in the face of Shanahan's own experiences.

 

 

It would appear the veteran forward has a strangely short memory when it comes to international hockey diplomacy. We don't recall referees bringing such agendas to the table when Shanahan was winning three Stanley Cups in Detroit on a team populated by Russians and Swedes, and most recently, in 2002, a Czech netminder named Dominik Hasek. Or even last season, when Jagr was finishing second in NHL scoring.

 

 

Just for fun, we looked at the Rangers' power-play opportunities this season. As of Thursday morning, the Rangers ranked 18th in power-play opportunities. A season ago, when the Rangers were the darling of the NHL and headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1997, they finished 26th in power-play opportunities. Where was the prejudice Shanahan speaks of then? Where were the Rangers' cries of outrage then?

 

 

Or is it possible Shanahan's anger and frustration aren't so much about the officiating but rather the team's inability to get into a rhythm that will take it to the postseason, as most assumed would be the case this season?

 

 

Still, we're prepared to give Shanahan a break.

 

 

He is the man, after all, who helped save the game during the lockout (or did he just invent it?), and he's looking for any edge that will get his team back into the playoffs.

 

 

So, who can blame him, even if his rant makes him look churlish and out of touch? Sort of like the Rangers.

 

 

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.

 

Shanny's rant.

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- Brendan Shanahan isn't the captain of the New York Rangers, he's just the guy who sticks up for him.

 

Shanahan ripped NHL officials Wednesday night after the Rangers' 2-1 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs because of what he feels is prejudiced officiating against captain Jaromir Jagr.

 

"I don't know what the deal is," an angry Shanahan said. "Guys hit him late, guys hit him high, guys hook his hands. He doesn't complain. He just goes out and plays and plays and plays. The referees just seem to have a different set of rules about the way people get to play against him.

 

"Not since [slava]Fetisov came over from Russia have I ever seen a star player get ignored by the referees, and I know the reason why they were ignoring him back then."

 

Jagr was reluctant to take over the Rangers' captaincy before this season. He was the natural choice to replace Mark Messier, especially after the Czech forward set team records for goals and points last season.

 

And the transition became easier when Shanahan brought his outspoken nature and leadership qualities to the Rangers dressing room following his departure over the summer from the Detroit Red Wings. The soft-spoken Jagr would much rather do his talking with skilled play.

 

"I think criticism is a great form of adjustment for us," Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the league's "war room" in Toronto. "The more honest criticism directed at us helps us watch our department close to make sure we do things right.

 

"Criticism isn't something we run from."

 

Shanahan took a large role in getting the NHL to tighten up its rules on clutching and grabbing once the lockout was settled before last season. During the year off, Shanahan formed a panel of hockey experts who made several recommendations that the league adopted.

 

Now he wants to see those rules applied. Toronto was 1-for-6 on the power play Wednesday while New York converted one of only two chances.

 

"I didn't think the game was called any different than games are called every night," Murphy said. "Jagr is a player that does get identified by the other team. I know the Leafs used Hal Gill against him, and Hal is a big strong guy. He is able to use his size and strength to eliminate Jagr in many different ways.

 

"They know Jagr is a key performer on the Rangers, but teams are allowed to play against him in a legal fashion."

 

The Rangers' comeback hopes were dashed when Matt Cullen was sent off for holding with 1:25 remaining. Shanahan didn't dispute that call.

 

"I just have a tough time sitting there throughout the game, especially in the second period, watching the calls against one of the best players in the league. The NBA didn't let people grab [Michael] Jordan by the waist every time he went up for a jump shot. Jags has to play through that all season long.

 

"It's not just tonight's refs, it's every night. I have played with other superstar players and they get a whole lot more respect than this guy, and I am trying to eliminate the reasons why that's the way it is."

 

Jagr had already finished speaking to reporters when Shanahan unloaded. Rangers coach Tom Renney showed surprise when told of the remarks, but didn't dispute the claims.

 

"You've got to wonder," Renney said. "I just watched 11 clips where the opposition held sticks, held jerseys, had faceoff interference, cross-checks. What did I miss? I think that sums it up.

 

"I'm not suggesting they didn't miss a few on us, too. It was one of those games where it would have been nice if we could have decided the outcome."

 

Murphy agreed that calls are missed in every game, but said he thought Wednesday's contest featured a "strong standard of rule enforcement."

 

"Our referees call penalties if players commit fouls by hooking, holding and interfering in ways that cross the standard of enforcement," Murphy said. "I think players that have the puck more like (Peter) Forsberg, (Mats) Sundin and Jagr get hooked and held more because they have the puck more.

 

"I don't think that's something I noticed tonight and I don't think it happens on a daily basis."

 

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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