PLAYOFF EDITION - 4.26.2008
Ok Ladies and Gents, we’re about to drop the puck on the second leg of this high energy playoff season. Sorry I was away for most of the first round, but I’m back and locked on. If you know anyone who is a sports fan and doesn’t enjoy playoff hockey..no need to know them. Playoff hockey has the most energy and intensity of any of the major team sports’ playoffs….And the Rangers are well on their way toward the coveted Lord Stanley’s Cup. All they need to do is follow a few simple what I affectionately call ‘Zeke’s Rules’:
First and foremost…Energy, Energy, Energy…get ready for the intensity the top line Pittsburgh will send out and come out hitting. Once Malkin and Crosby feel the energy our checking line as well as Dubinsky’s line can bring, we’ll be in their head’s early and often leading to offensive chances for the Rangers.
Secondly, Finish—The checking line will get their chances and we must get some goals from that line (watch for Sjostrom)…the other lines will be plenty productive
Third, Intensity—Jagr needs to continue his intensity…I’ve been tough on him this year and rightfully so, but he has shown up as of late and it must continue. Which brings me to my forth rule
Forth, Controlled aggression—Avery needs to show controlled aggressiveness and key on getting Hal Gill off of his assignment of Jagr. This will help to free up Jagr…watch for good scoring chances from Straka and Dubinsky
With these simple rules, the rest will fall into place…good goaltending from the King, great defensive play not only from the defensemen, but from the back checking forwards, and of course the exceptional penalty killing.
It starts Friday night Ranger’s Fans….Let’s go get’em!!!
Until the next time Zeke Speaks!!!!
SECOND EDITION – 3.26.2008
Welcome back, Ranger’s fans…for another installment of Zeke Speaks……
Let me start off with a simple question…How nice would it have been to see Jagr finally bend the nets with about 3 minutes left in a huge spot to win the game?…ahh, forget I even asked. Anyway, the Rangers completed the task in the shootout with a pretty goal from our new go-to guy Nigel Dawes.
Not a bad 2 points when Callahan is by far the best player on your side. Without a lion-hearted performance by Callahan, the Rangers would have skated softly to the showers wondering if it was even worth dressing for the occasion. King Henrik did play well in goal and of course Drury, who shows up to play every night, seems to find himself in the right spot when a big goal is needed. It seems to me that when the Rangers come out the aggressors early, they roll. When the opponent comes out hitting and dictating the pace, it seems like you don’t hear much from guys like Shanahan, Jagr, and Gomez.
By the way, let’s leave the fighting to Colton Orr. When he gets into a scrap, the job gets done and it seems to energize the team. Last night’s duel seemed to flatten the team more then the punches did to the left ear of Avery. Don’t get me wrong…I appreciate Avery’s energy and style of play (it definitely makes the Rangers a better team), but keep it controlled and timely.
Here are your shootout top three the rest of the way:
Sjostrom (you may think I’m crazy, but watch the hands on this guy)
Followed by Drury if needed
Let’s go Rangers fans—it’s almost playoff time and the Isles are on the outside lookin’ in!!!
Until the next time Zeke Speaks!!!!
FIRST EDITION Welcome, to a new column entitled “Zeke Speaks!” This is something Zeke and I have been cooking up for the past month or so, and finally it has come to fruition. It is well written, and insightful, and if I know the author as well as I think I do, there may be a sprinkling of what one could only call a sense of humor. This is important because it gives visitors of BleedingBlue yet another opinion from a fellow die hard fan (other than my assinine babbling) – something this site has been lacking……until now.Check back often as this column is sure to take off. Enjoy, and please leave comments. Zeke would love to read them! Without further ado…
I was ready to write my first segment after the Rangers had completed their game against the Mighty Ducks where they looked both lackluster and without a sense of purpose against the mighty west coast. We will probably all agree that the west seem to be bigger, faster, and more talented than we thought. To compete alone, the Rangers needed to make some changes, let alone make a run at the playoffs. That’s when Coach Renney and his crew went to work
The following are my thoughts on the Rangers recent turnaround, which has started with a sense of purpose and confidence now permeating the locker room:
Stick Check – aggressive forechecking and energy from the checking line.
Young Guns – a confident, well balanced first line with the injection of youth and passion from Dubinsky. This has helped to overshadow and counterbalance a very unenergetic Jager who seems to be aging before our very eyes. He seems to have relegated himself to playful stickchecker and the occasional playmaker rather than the aggressive finisher and leader that he’s getting paid to be.
Avery Arrived – a more focused Avery who is paying more attention to playing hard-nosed hockey and less to taking ill-advised penalties and media interviews.
Solid, positional defense with a maturation of Rozsival, Staal, and Girardi (only to get better from here)
Kick Save – King Henrik steady between the pipes.
Zeke’s Forecast – As for the remainder of the season, first we need to maintain that passion and confidence. I believe the biggest key from this point forward rests on building chemistry. Lock up those lines! (Maybe Prucha can help us down the road sometime… maybe!!). Equally as important as team chemistry, the remainder of this season rests on Jager – both on his stick and more importantly, in his head.
Playoff hockey is just around the corner….
Hang in there Ranger fans…until the next time Zeke speaks.