Tag:New York Rangers
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Marc Staal takes another step in return



By: Adam Gretz


Marc Staal was able to take another major step in his return from a concussion on Monday morning when he was not only cleared for contact, but was also able to take part in a full practice with his New York Rangers teammates.

Said Staal, via Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record, "I totally felt fully confident going on the ice and taking some hits. There was no doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do."

Staal, the Rangers' best defenseman, hasn't played in an NHL game since last April due to post concussion syndrome. The concussion is believed to have happened during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes in February when he was on the receiving end of a hit from his older brother, Eric. Marc ended up missing a couple of games immediately after the hit, but ultimtely returned to the lineup. The severity of the injury wasn't fully known until he reported to training camp this season.

At this point Staal hasn't ruled out playing in the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Philadelphia, but also knows that it's important not to rush himself back into the lineup.

In his four NHL seasons Staal has scored 20 goals to go with 61 assists and is currently in the second year of a five-year contract that pays him an average annual salary of $3.975 million. Without him, the Rangers have raced out to a 21-8-4 start and enter the week on top of the NHL's Atlantic Division.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 24, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Top NHL stories and moments in 2011

By Brian Stubits

There was a lot of good in 2011, but also a lot of bad. By bad, I really mean tragedy. It was an unforgettable yet forgettable year all at the same time.

As we hit the heart of the holiday season, here is a look back at the year that was in hockey with the top 10 moments/storylines of 2011.

10. Summer acquisitions -- This is when the magic happens in the NHL's salary cap world and franchises are made or destroyed.

It was over the summer that two teams in particular built the nucleus for their surprising starts this season, the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers. Minnesota was the host for this year's NHL Entry Draft and really did leave an impression. Not only did they come away from the draft with a few new prospects in their system but they also swung a deal to land Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks for Brent Burns. The Wild swung another deal with the Sharks that landed them Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. Of course their biggest summer acquisition might have been the hiring of head coach Mike Yeo.

The Panthers meanwhile continued to use the draft to make their system better and also swung a big trade, taking on Brian Campbell's big salary from the Blackhawks in exchange for Rostislav Olesz. That kicked off a wild spending spree that lasted through free agency and the core of the team that's in first in the Southeast was built just like that. Like the Wild, they also found themselves a new coach who has returned big dividends early in Kevin Dineen.

The unrestricted free-agent class was led by the pursuit of Brad Richards, who eventually signed with the New York Rangers after a day of courting, including from the Maple Leafs while GM Brian Burke was in Afghanistan. But the most intrigue was on the restricted front where Steven Stamkos' future was wildly speculated before re-signing with the Lightning and Shea Weber stayed with the Predators after the biggest arbitration award ever.

A couple weeks in the middle of the year set up the last couple of months in the year and even with what was perceived as a weak free-agent class, this year was no different.

Look back: Free-agency tracker

9. Winter Classic -- As sad as it is to think about, games hardly ever are the top stories in sports any more. But in hockey, the Winter Classic will always matter, it's that big of a showcase and spectacle for the NHL.

As is the case with every Winter Classic -- as fans of all the less-fortunate teams will remind you -- it was a marquee matchup of two high-profile teams from the East with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps eventually prevailed in a game that might be the most memorable Winter Classic thus far for a variety of reasons, one of them makes an appearance later on this list.

But first of all the lead up to the game featured the first 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series on HBO and it was riveting. While technically most of it aired in 2010, it is tied in with the Winter Classic so it counts. It left fans anticipating the next version like a kid awaits Christmas, this year's version featuring the Flyers and Rangers.

Mother Nature also left her mark on the game. It was the first Winter Classic thus far that the weather was so uncooperative that they had to delay the start of the game. Unseasonably warm temperatures and rain in Pittsburgh led to the game being pushed to the night and it did provide a pretty memorable setting at Heinz Field. 

Look back: Caps win Winter Classic 3-1

8. Realignment -- While the fruit of this labor will be seen starting in 2012, it was a large conversation for the entire second half of the year, spurred by a development that appears further up this list.

I don't know if there was a person in hockey -- both within the game and covering it -- that didn't have their own idea for how the realignment should be done. In the end the six-division format was blown up, an effort that was from all accounts led by Gary Bettman himself.

The biggest drama in the whole saga revolved around the Detroit Red Wings' desire to move to the Eastern Conference. Well, without an Eastern Conference to move to any more, I guess you could say that was taken care of.

Look back: NHL announces realignment

7. Lokomotiv plane crash -- The KHL is to the NHL as the NHL is to ESPN. That is to say the only time we ever seem to hear about the KHL is when something bad happens.

Unfortunately, that was the case this summer when the airplane carrying the KHL's Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team barely got airborne before it crashed, killing everybody on board except a member of the flight crew.

The tragedy was already tough enough for the hockey community in North America simply for the fact sheer sadness of the lethal error. But what made it really hit home in the NHL was the number of former NHL players who died in the crash.

Among those who died in the crash were Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demitra and head coach Brad McCrimmon, all of who were in the NHL at some point in their careers. In the case of McCrimmon he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff as recently as last season before he took the chance to be a head coach in Russia.

Nothing from the ordeal was more chilling than the sad, sad story from a professional driver in Dallas who was tasked with picking up the family of Skrastins to drive them to the airport hours after the tragedy. Honestly, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it again. It was truly a horrible day for hockey.

Look back: Lokomovit team plane crashes

6. Vancouver riot -- For the second time in as many Stanley Cup trips for the Vancouver Canucks, the hockey-crazed city erupted into a violent storm following its team's loss in the decisive Game 7. A similar eruption happened in 1994 after the Canucks fell to the New York Rangers.

The night began with a massive gathering in the streets of Vancouver for the fans to all watch the game together on a big screen. Many saw that as an ill-fated moment from the start and boy were they right. Soon after the game and season were finished, the hooligans of Vancouver were just getting started.

Looters took to the streets to cause mayhem, and cause mayhem they did. The result was a night full of rioting embarrassing to the city, a lot of videos to live on in YouTube glory (like this classic), at least 25 people being charged (including Miss Congeniality) and the romance, sports and maybe general photo of the year, the "riot kiss" seen up above.

The unfortunate part (OK, one of them) was the fact that the riot completely overshadowed what was really a great postseason and season for the Canucks. Vancouver was the best team all regular season long and as fine of a year as they ever have.

Look back: Riot erupts after Stanley Cup Finals

5. Brendan Shanahan takes over -- There has been no bigger overarching story in the second half of the year than what Shanahan has been doing as the new head of player safety having replaced Colin Campbell. His arrival on the job has coincided with the attempt to expand and clarify Rule 48.1, the one dealing with headshots. The focus has also been ramped up on boarding.

His impact has been felt from the get-go. In the preseason he was very busy and then really sent some shock waves through the league when he suspended Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski for eight games.

It's at the point now that every questionable hit is immediately scrutinized and I'm still not sure if that's good or bad. Obviously the good is that it continues to put a microscope on bad hits in an attempt to rid the game of them. On the bad side, some clean hits get more attention than they should and the consistency of punishment applications has been a bit bedeviling, just ask the Sabres fans.

However Shanahan has done something that I've yet to find a person complain about and that's making videos for each and every suspension wherein he explains exactly what the thought process was that led to the decision. The first one he made in the preseason was a breath of fresh air and welcome transparency. All season he's been a busy, busy man.

You know you've watched a lot of Shanahan suspension videos when you can recall that he has done videos in front of three different backdrops and you can tell when he gets a haircut.

Look back: A look at Shanahan's handy work

4. Winnipeg Jets return -- At one point, it looked like the old Jets -- the Phoenix Coyotes -- were going to be the team to move to Winnipeg. Fans were elated as it seemed that with a clear potential ownership group and new, albeit small, arena, the NHL would be coming back to the 'Peg after 15 years.

Then they pulled a little switcheroo on everybody when the Coyotes announced they were staying in Phoenix for another year, so attention turned to the Atlanta Thrashers. A few transactions later and hockey was back in Manitoba (and the NHL had to realign -- Winnipeg in the Southeast?).

The push was one to rename the team the Jets like the old franchise in town and after much debate, the fans won out, although a new logo would be introduced. Not lacking in flair, the Jets showed off their new uniforms in an unveiling at a military base with the players wearing the new duds walking out of a cargo plane.

The first game of the Jets. 2.0 came in their new home at the MTS Centre and they fell in defeat to the Montreal Canadiens, but you couldn't tell. The great hockey city that is Winnipeg was happier than a pig in you-know-what just to have the NHL back. When Nik Antropov became the first player to score for the new Jets, the roar was deafening. Maybe the best way to measure the city's appreciation and love for having hockey back would have been with decibels.

After a slow start (again, they were the Thrashers) the Jets have really come to find a comfort on home ice, as many thought they would. With a 12-6-1 record at home this season, the Jets have the best home mark in the Eastern Conference next to Boston's 13-6-1. It seems that a little excitement really can go a long way.

Look back: Thrashers relocate to Winnipeg

3. Sidney Crosby's concussions -- This was the biggest development to come out of the aforementioned Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby caught an elbow to the head from the Capitals' David Steckel that rocked the game's best player pretty good. He certainly appeared out of sorts but was back in the lineup a few days later against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A check from Victor Hedman led to Crosby experiencing another concussion and he didn't play again for the rest of the season. He finally did return to game action in November, playing eight games before being shut down again for post-concussion symptoms.

Before he went down, Crosby was on pace for one mammoth season. To illustrate how good he was playing before the injury, he still finished the season as the Penguins' leading scorer by a whopping 16 points despite playing only 41 games.

For literally almost a year, the hockey world sat and waited for word on Crosby returning. There was speculation he could come back for the Penguins' playoffs games. There was talk that he might retire. None of that happened, but what did do was bring another reminder of the seriousness that are concussions.

It's not good business for the NHL when the top players aren't on the ice, let alone the best player. I'd like to think it isn't the case, but you have to wonder if Crosby's absence didn't go a long way in facilitating the NHL's actions on trying to remove bad hits as well as enacting strong concussion protocols.

The way the Penguins have handled the Crosby situation has been one of the best parts of all -- or maybe the only good part, depending on your point of view. They have been incredibly patient the entire time, insisting they didn't want to do anything to jeopardize Crosby's health and future.

But because of his most recent setback, Crosby Watch 2011 will move on into Crosby Watch 2012.

Look back: Crosby's recovery efforts

2. Deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak -- The NHL's summer of sorrow began in late spring when the tragic news came down of New York Rangers and former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard's death. The autopsy concluded he died of a lethal mix of alcohol and Oxycodone.

Later in the offseason the NHL was then shook by the news of deaths of Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, separated by only two weeks. Both players were fighters themselves, each suffered from depression and both apparently committed suicide (Rypien's was classified as such, Belak's death treated as such by Toronto PD).

The news of their deaths was sad and shocking in their own right. These were all players 35 or younger who all shared a role in their hockey careers. It was also a catalyst for the discussion of fighting in hockey. No tie can be drawn between each of their deaths and fighting, but it at least begged the question.

Since the three players died, the conversation has picked up. It was really spurred along by the New York Times' in-depth piece that looked at the life of Boogaard and the study of his brain. The findings of the Boston University lab found Boogaard's brain was already showing signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a deterioration of the brain due to repeated blows to the head.

Look back: Boogaard | Rypien | Belak

1. Bruins win Stanley Cup -- If he didn't already have the designation by all before, Tim Thomas certainly earned it in the playoffs. He is the best goalie in the world.

Thomas pretty much put the Bruins on his shoulders and carried them past the Vancouver Canucks in a great seven-game series that led to the Bruins hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Of course Thomas topped it off with a shutout in Game 7 and took home the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, an incredibly well-deserved award.

But in addition to Thomas, it was one heck of a series. The first six games were won by the home team. We had one game ending a few seconds into overtime. Who can forget the man that scored that goal, Alex Burrows, was caught biting Patrice Bergeron in a scrum and the resulting taunts at Burrows from the Bruins later on.

There was Nathan Horton getting leveled and concussed in Boston in a moment that some feel changed the series. The Bruins responded to that by running the Canucks out of their building in Games 3 and 4. Horton made another impression when he was seen pouring TD Garden ice on the rink in Vancouver before Game 7, a superstitious move that will live in Bruins lore.

We had Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo pumping Thomas' tires after critiquing his aggressive style in net. Then of course item No. 6 on this list, the post-series riot in Vancouver.

The series was about as memorable as it gets. The ratings were as good as they have been in decades, too. And the Bruins' post-championship romp back in New England became a legend with a reported $156,679.74 bar tab that included one Amstel Light. It kicked off a great summer tour with the Cup for the Bruins, Michael Ryder's Cup mishap included.

There is no disputing the Bruins earned the right to lift Lord Stanley's Cup after one great Final.

Look back: Bruins win Stanley Cup

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:55 am
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

By Brian Stubits

There is a growing trend in hockey and quite frankly, it's stupid. That's the best word I can think of to describe it.

There is a lot of discussion these days in the NHL on fighting and hitting. The two physical aspects of the game were already intertwined, but they seem to be colliding even more these days. With Brendan Shanahan's focus on removing bad hits from the game through the use of his Shanahammer, maybe the players are more on edge and aware of it themselves.

Here's what I don't get. The old-school hockey people continue to complain about these measures taking hitting out of hockey. Players don't seem to want anything to do with that, nor do many fans -- removing hitting, that is.

So why is it that when a player delivers a clean but vicious hit in today's NHL, they have to "answer the bell" as Ryan Kesler of the Canucks put it? I understand fully the concept of a guy having to answer for a bad hit. After all, that's one of the biggest arguments people use for justifying fighting in hockey, the enforcers are out there to discourage the other team from taking cheap shots at your teammates. If any liberties are taken, then you'll have the liberty of meeting the other team's tough guy.

As long as fighting is "allowed" -- I'll play along with Gary Bettman's semantics game that fighting isn't allowed, it is punished -- I have no qualms about a player having to answer to somebody's fists about a bad hit. That's a case of reaping what you sew when you add a couple of the bad stitches into the equation.

But enough is enough with fights after good, clean hits. Nothing is going to take hitting out of the game faster than players having to face a fight for every good check they deliver.

It happens on a seemingly nightly basis in the NHL. The best, most recent example came on Wednesday night in a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks. It was after that game that Kesler talked about answering the bell. What he was referring to was a bit hit levied on him by Niklas Kronwall. Here's a look at the play.

Could the Canucks have some beef with the hit? OK, a little. Kronwall did leave the ice to make the hit, but it was a man coming at him with the puck on his stick. Also, right or wrong, there was no penalty given on the play. Still, Kesler was revved up and obviously wanted a piece of Kronwall.

“I like the hit, but my only problem with the hit is that he doesn’t stand up for himself,” Kesler said. “If you're going hit guys like that, you're going to have to drop the gloves.

“I gotta get my head up. Obviously you see him backing up and you know that’s his move there. I think you have to put the blame on the ‘hittee’ a little bit, but I also think he’s gotta stand up for himself.”

The always vocal Kevin Bieksa put his two cents in on the situation as well.

"Because how sneaky it is, it's a little bit dirty," Bieksa said after the game. "If you're going to do that, you should pay the price and he hasn't paid the price yet. So he loses a little respect in my book."

So let me get this straight: Kesler had no problems with the hit and even implicated himself for part of the responsibility but thinks Kronwall still needs to put his dukes up? Why? Because, as Bieksa puts it, it was sneaky? If you have no problems with the actual hit, then requesting the guy to fight isn't the answer. You guys still have more time to play, you are free to hit Kronwall in return.

Thanks to the magic of HBO and 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic we saw another example of this concept at work.

In the Rangers' recent visit to the Phoenix Coyotes, Mike Rupp was seen laying a good, solid hit along the boards on Kyle Chipchura. Moments later he is being jumped by the Coyotes' Raffi Torres, whereupon the refs immediately come in and are insisting to Torres it was a clean hit from Rupp. (NSFW Warning: In case you didn't know, NHL players -- and the refs -- have potty mouths. You've been warned.)

As a side note, maybe the most interesting part of the second episode was following the refs into their locker room where they discussed the hit a little further.

Now neither of this incident or the Kronwall/Kesler one resulted in a fight, but that wasn't for the lack of trying from the instigators. There have been plenty of other hits this season that have led to fights after what the referees and later the NHL deemed were OK hits.

Quite frankly, players getting aggressive toward others for clean hits is as threatening to hitting in the game as any league official. If guys are going to have to "answer the bell" when players come knocking after a good hit, then in essence the players themselves are discouraging hitting among their fellow athletes.

It almost feels like a machismo thing to me. A guy gets clobbered during play so he has to save face and get the guy back. Not to sound like a cranky old man, but I'm tired of it.

Don't read this as an anti-fighting column. It's not that. Instead it is anti-stupid fighting. Asking guys to drop the gloves are good hits is a waste of time -- literally as the player will have to sit at least five minutes if he gets the fight. Just get back up and play hockey.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:00 am
 

24/7: Flyers-Rangers Episode 2

By: Adam Gretz

Episode two of HBO's 24/7 showed us two very different sides of Rangers head coach John Tortorella. On one hand, we saw the type of intense, expletive-filled rants and speeches in the locker room that we expected to see in an effort to get his team moving. That's what happened during the first intermission of a recent game against the St. Louis Blues that the Rangers eventually lost.

But we also saw his softer side, as his relationship with a 10-year-old Rangers fan with cerebal palsy by the name of Liam Trainer was highlighted. The two met through the Rangers' Garden of Dreams Foundation, and Tortorella's face lit up when speaking about him and how he's kept in contact with him. The Rangers even gave him an early Christmas present by setting he and his family up with tickets for the Jan. 2 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.

"I'm glad he's part of my life," said Tortorella.

It was nice to see that Tortorella is more than a hockey coach that screams at people on the ice and, away from the rink, can be more than willing to give back to his community.

Episode two MVP: Flyers coach Peter Laviolette

I'm giving it to Laviolette for this season, and this reason only: How many times have you, as a fan, watched your team play a game in Montreal and get called for a penalty that leaves you saying, "they only got that call because it's in Montreal."

If you haven't said it, you've probably thought about it at some point. Well, you're not alone, and coaches react the same way you do. After Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr was tripped as he carried the puck into the offensive zone (with no call) the play went down to the other end of the ice and resulted in a slashing call on Flyers rookie Sean Couturier. Laviolette was livid and started screaming "Typical Montreal" at the officials. He did this multiple times, even after he left the bench.

I also like how he edits himself when talking to referees. Instead of dropping F-Bomb's with the officials during that exchange he made sure he said "frickin'", and then proceeded to let loose with his expletives once back in the locker room.

Three moments that stood out

1) Speaking of referees, one of the interesting angles provided this week was footage of the referees locker room after the first period of the Rangers-Coyotes game (the one that ended with Brad Richards' goal with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation) as they discussed an incident involving Rangers forward Mike Rupp and Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. I realize the show is focussing on the two teams, but the referees and their involvement in the game is a pretty huge part of it, and I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more from them.

2) After the series debut last week we all wanted more Ilya Bryzgalov, and we got him this week. It appears that his teammates have started to refer to him as "universe" after his speech about how it is "so humongous big" while others joked that they would be sure to never kill a tiger after he explained how it's illegal and will result in the death penalty in certain countries. But we also had some fresh moments for the, let's say unique, Flyers netminder.

For one, he reads Tolstoy while on the plane, and he also compared his husky to a beautiful woman saying, "My husky, she's basically a hot girl, man."

When talking about how crazy it is to play goalie in the NHL and put himself in front of shots every night, Bryzgalov suggested that it's the defensemen in front of him that are crazier.



You know what? He's not wrong.

3) We learned just how young some of the Flyers rookies are. How young? Couturier, a 19-year-old rookie and first-round draft pick from this year, lives in the extra bedroom of Danny Briere's house, and that he is closer in age to Briere's three kids than he is to Briere himself, his teammate. We also learned that Zac Rinaldo is amazed that he gets to play on the same ice as Jaromir Jagr, which impresses him because he used to be able to play with Jagr on Sega Genesis as a kid growing up.

More 2012 Winter Classic News Here
24/7 Flyers-Rangers Episode 1

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:19 am
 

Bryzgalov's Winter Classic Philly mask is awesome

By Brian Stubits

All Ilya Bryzgalov has to do is stop the puck more often than not to endear himself to the Philadelphia faithful. Or he could just make the most awesomest Philly-centric mask ever for the Winter Classic.

The Flyers goaltender who has already won legions of fans from the Legion of Doom faithful with his appearances on the debut of HBO's 24/7 is having a mask made just for the Classic. That's not unusual. In fact, it's commonplace. Henrik Lundqvist has his special mask ready to go.

The mask isn't completely finished in the video shown on the Flyers website, but it doesn't have to be to see how amazing it will be.

Bryzgalov's request for the design? He wanted it to showcase Philadelphia sports. So the top of the mask has the Winter Classic logo displayed prominently. On one side are images of Reggie White and Michael Jack Schmidt airbrushed on. The other side is still being worked on. It already has Julius Erving at the top and then it will have toothless Bobby Clarke below him. On the front of the mask is a banner that looks to be waving in the wind that just says "BRYZ" with the Philly Phanatic peeking his head around. Lastly, the back of the mask will feature a photo of Philly's boxing icon. No, not Rocky, but the late, great Joe Frazier.

The mask will only be worn once and after that it will be sold to charity. I can only imagine how many Philly fans will be trying to get their hands on this mask. It's pure awesomeness.

More Winter Classic News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 10:59 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 11:23 pm
 

(Video) Rangers win with 0.1 seconds on clock



By: Adam Gretz


It would be impossible to score a goal later in regulation than the one Brad Richards scored on Saturday night to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 win in Phoenix. We've seen buzzer beater goals in the NHL this season, but none have been as close as this one.

His shot beat Coyotes goalie Mike Smith with just 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock, and it couldn't have possibly been any closer.

Initially it was waived off, and at first glance there didn't appear to be any chance that it was a good goal. But the play was reviewed to make sure the puck crossed the goal line in its entirety before the clock hit zero, and sure it enough, it did. Barely. By the slimmest of margins. The Phoenix Coyotes were that close, probably a matter of inches, to having the game to go overtime and picking up at least a point in the standings.

Instead, they lose in one of the most crushing ways a hockey team can.

"Very frustrating," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett following the game. "When we've seen a number of them like that before. The mistakes keep piling up, and you give away points like that. It's not good."

If nothing else, it's going to be amazing to see the Rangers' reaction to that goal and this win on Wednesday's episode of 24/7 on HBO.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Limited edition Artem Anisimov video game cover!

By Brian Stubits

One thing we learned from the first episode of this year's 24/7 series on HBO, it's that the New York Rangers got a pretty good kick out of Artem Anisimov's stick-shooting celebration that set off a bit of an uproar from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One of the top three moments of the show was when the Rangers walked back into the locker room after the second period where Anisimov was serving his misconduct. The first player to walk in was Sean Avery, who looked at Anisimov with a Grinch-like grin and chuckle. Marian Gaborik was next and had pretty much the same reaction.

"You shooting at the goalie?" a teammate is heard asking Anisimov.

"No," Anisimov responds. "Just reload my weapon, you know?"

While Anisimov, coach John Tortorella and some of his teammates did come out and say it was wrong, that doesn't mean they can't have any fun with it. So the teasing continues.

The above photoshop was tweeted out by the Rangers' Mike Rupp, who describes this particular version of EA Sports' NHL 12 thusly: "It's good, kinda a Hockey/Call of Duty hybrid."

Love it. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is probably my favorite part about watching 24/7, seeing the guys having fun with each other and interacting. We usually only see these guys on the ice, so it's great to see sides like this. Of course, Twitter has helped in that regard, too.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:34 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:48 pm
 

24/7: Flyers-Rangers Episode 1

By: Adam Gretz

HBO's 24/7 kicked off on Wednesday night, following the two participants in this year's Winter Classic (the Flyers and Rangers) as they prepare for their Jan. 2 showdown in Philadelphia.

Unlike last year's matchup between Pittsburgh and Washington, where one team (Pittsburgh) was playing on top of its game and the other (Washington) was struggling, there was little contrast this time around as both teams came into this year's documentary near the top of the NHL, giving most of the episode an "all is well, everything is cool" sort of feel.

It was difficult to find any real adversity for either team until the end of the episode when Claude Giroux's concussion was featured. It was obvious right from the start that it was't going to be good, and while we didn't get to see anything involving Giroux's time in the quiet room after the collision, we did get a brief glimpse of the Flyers trainer telling coach Peter Laviolette that Giroux simply wasn't feeling like himself.

A few quick takes on Episode one...

Episode one MVP: Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov

He wasn't featured all that much, but wow did Ilya Bryzgalov make a first impression. His only two appearances were a brief stretch early in the episode that was nothing but him spending a minute talking about the size of the universe and space, and how it makes everything that happens on Earth, as well as our solar system, seem so insignificant. "Just be happy," he said.



Later, he was presented with a rare bottle of Russian liquor that featured a picture of a Tiger on the bottle, and he then went into a discussion about how there are so few tiger species left in the world and how it is illegal to hunt them.
 


An entire episode that simply follows him around for a day would be pure insanity.

Four moments that stood out

1) The mini-brawl that was sparked by the shooting gesture of Rangers forward Artem Anisimov against the Tampa Bay Lightning last week had a big part in the episode, including him pleading his case to the officials in the penalty box, why he did it, and the sight of him apologizing to his teammates in the locker room for putting his team at a disadvantage. When asked where he learned it, Anisimov sighted an unnamed player he played with in Russia that used to do it after big goals and how it always fired the crowd up. He said he always promised himself that he would do it if he scored a big goal in the NHL. Apparently that goal was big enough.

When asked if he was "shooting at the goalie," he simply smiled and said "Just reloaded my weapon."

2) The New York Rangers pay for dinner on the road by putting all of their credit cards in a hat and then pulling them out, one at a time, until there is only one card remaining. And that's the person that gets stuck with the bill.

3) The Philadelphia Flyers post-game victory celebration in their locker room? Dancing to the song "Knock Knock" by Mac Miller. Very bizarre.

4) Perhaps the best, nicest moment of episode one: Rangers captain Ryan Callahan giving his grandmother a kiss after scoring a goal in his hometown of Buffalo and bringing a tear to her eye.

The unnofficial F-bomb count

If you had Flyers coach Peter Laviolette as the first person to drop an F-Bomb, you win the prize, as he let loose with four of them in an eight-second span in the shows opening minutes.

The unofficial final tally (by my count): 44
John Tortorella F-bomb count (again, by my count): 11

Biggest complaint of the night

Needs more Bryzgalov.

More 2012 Winter Classic News Here

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