Tag:Mike Rupp
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 12:21 pm
 

The value of Jordan Staal



By: Adam Gretz


The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to get one of their injured centers back this weekend, and while Jordan Staal's absence didn't have quite the same impact, intrigue or uncertainty of his teammate, Sidney Crosby, that doesn't take away from how important he has been on the ice for Pittsburgh, or how important his return to the lineup will be going forward.

Over the past month, since Staal was injured in a game against the New York Rangers during a colission with Mike Rupp, the Penguins were getting by with Evgeni Malkin carrying the load at center, and what was basically a patchwork group at the position behind him, a situation that has become all too familiar for a team that is built on the strength of its centers (when all are healthy) over the past two seasons.

That resulted in Malkin seeing a lot of assignments against other teams top lines and, honestly, required his line (along with James Neal and Chris Kunitz) to provide almost all of the offense. With Staal back, the Penguins once again have the player in their lineup that does a lot of their heavy lifting when it comes to drawing the toughest assignments, which can possibly help to free up Malkin's line even more and take some of the pressure off of them.

"Especially on the road there have been situations where it's been head-to-head for Malkin with the other teams top line," said coach Dan Bylsma before Pittsburgh's 8-5 run-and-gun win against Winnipeg on Saturday.

"Now with Jordan in the mix and his line, especially with [Matt] Cooke and [Pascal] Dupuis getting the opportunity to match up against other teams top lines, for the most part, it will free up Evgeni a little bit. Also, I think it's a tough matchup against Jordan as well, which can lead to situations where it might be advantageous to get Malkin's line up against different pairings and different people. Jordan brings a lot in that regard, he's going to be bring a big responsibility against the other teams top line, and it should be helpful in the match-ups and situations Geno's line can find themselves in."

And that's the beauty of Staal's role.

If you look back at his career with the Penguins, especially over the past three years, he's always been the center -- even when you include Crosby and Malkin -- that seems to draw the toughest matchups (using Behindthenet's Corsi Relative Quality of Competition), and this season has been no different. Even though he typically draws the most difficult assignments on the team, his line usually ends up coming away with the upper hand, not only in terms of goals for/goals against, but also in terms of controlling possession of the puck and keeping it in the offensive zone.

Looking at something as simple as On-Ice Corsi, which is simply the total shot-differential (goals, saves, missed shots, blocked shots during 5-on-5 play -- it's basically a way of measuring puck possession and offensive zone time) when a player is on the ice, Staal entered the weekend third in the NHL among players that have played at least 30 games this season, and he's been a positive player in that area in each of the past four seasons. And he's been able to do that while playing against top competition and starting a large percentage of his shifts in the defensive end of the rink.

In other words: When Staal's line is on the ice, the Penguins are keeping the other teams best players bottled up in their own end, which is a pretty good way of making sure they're being shut down. That's an extremely valuable role, and it's one that Staal has excelled in. He's become a big-time player, even though he's never been one that puts up huge numbers offensively.

His return to the lineup gives the Penguins another top-center to pair up with their MVP contender (Malkin) which could make them one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference come playoff time, even if they don't get Crosby back anytime soon.

(Corsi and Quality of Competition data via BehindTheNet.ca)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 5:45 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:48 pm
 

Boulton, Boll fined $2,500

By: Adam Gretz

The NHL announced a pair of fines on Wednesday afternoon, fining New Jersey's Eric Boulton and Columbus' Jared Boll $2,500 for incidents during Tuesday's slate of games.

Boll was fined for an illegal hit to the head of San Jose's Joe Thornton just 20 seconds into the first period of the Blue Jackets 6-0 loss, and you can see it at the very beginning of the clip featured below.



He was given a two-minute minor during the game.

Boulton was fined for slashing Rangers forward Mike Rupp during the Devils' 4-3 shootout win. He was not penalized on the play.

As always, $2,500 is the largest fine the NHL can hand out for an on-ice incident, and all money goes to the Players Emergency Assistance Fund.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:59 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 2:06 pm
 

President Clinton gets a puck, gives Jagr salute

By Brian Stubits

Former president Bill Clinton decided to take in the New York Rangers' home game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, New York's first game since the Winter Classic win in Philadelphia.

Unlike the majority of high-profile guests, President Clinton elected not to sit in a suite but instead right on the ice. I'm glad he did, too, it resulted in a pretty cool moment.

Gesturing to somebody on the ice, Clinton was soon getting a puck flipped over the boards and into his waiting hands. Watch.

Yes, after giving the all-too presidential thumbs up, President Clinton than gave a salute to the ice crew member. It would have only been better if it were Mike Rupp who tossed the puck. Because apparently somebody was watching the Winter Classic.

Politics aside, Clinton always seemed like a guy I'd enjoy having a beer with (same goes for George W Bush). This does nothing to change my mind there. Giving the Jagr salute back to a Ranger? Awesome.

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

Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:21 pm
 

Bobrovsky, Flyers can't hold off Rangers



By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA -- You can't blame Flyers coach Peter Laviolette for starting Sergei Bobrovsky in net for the 2012 Winter Classic.

The team's regular starter -- and highest paid player -- Ilya Bryzgalov is currently fighting through a brutal slump and sits near the bottom of the NHL in most goaltending categories, while Bobrovsky has played extremely well in recent games, including the Flyers' past two wins on the road in Dallas and Pittsburgh. Laviolette was basically playing the hot hand, and at the moment, his best goalie.

Still, the decision was one of the biggest talking points heading into Monday afternoon's game, and for the first two periods it was looking as if his decision was a wise one. Not only because Bobrovsky was once again playing well, but also because it didn't really matter which goalie the Flyers had in net as the Rangers struggled to generate any sustained offensive zone pressure or scoring chances.

Through 40 minutes of play many of the Rangers' shots were simply weak wrist shots from out near the blue line that were easily turned aside or gloved out of the air. Even the Rangers' first goal, the first one of the day that went to forward Mike Rupp, wasn't entirely Bobrovsky's fault as the puck was deflected between the circles off the stick of Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros.

And then early in the third period everything started to shift in the Rangers' direction, and it all began with Rupp's second goal, a bad angle shot that somehow found a way to sneak in behind Bobrovsky. It was a bad goal, and in the end, it proved to be a costly one.

"It was tough," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "I thought he played a strong game, and certainly he'd probably like to have another crack at that one. He seems to be confident in there. I think it did set us back for a little bit there, and the third one to go ahead on the backdoor rebound. It was tough for our team for a five-minute stretch there, and then we seemed to get back going there at the end of the game but it was hard to get through, with the ice the way it was and they were just dumping it behind us and playing defense in front of us, and it was tough to get back through the neutral zone and get back to generating the offense we did in the first two periods."
More Winter Classic Coverage


Along with jumping out to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, thanks to goals from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux, a breakthrough on the scoreboard that seemed to validate their early dominatino of the puck possession game, the Flyers held a commanding 26-16 edge in the shots department heading into the third period. But that advantage was quickly erased over the final 20 minutes as the Rangers started to pour it on offensively while also preventing the Flyers from entering their zone and creating the type of chances they were getting with regularity over the first two periods.

"It seemed after they got up a goal, maybe five, six, seven minutes into the third period they got pucks redirected down into our end and we found ourselves breaking out a lot and I thought maybe we got a little bit spread out and couldn't generate anything. It didn't seem like we could get the puck in, I don't know about the forecheck but it seemed like we had trouble getting through the neutral zone based on the way they were putting the puck behind us."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:17 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:11 pm
 

Jagr talks injury, Rupp salute

By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr played just seven minutes during the Flyers' 3-2 loss to New York in the Winter Classic on Monday evening, leaving the game with a left leg injury.

He was seen leaving the ice late in the first period to head to the locker room with what was originally described as an equipment issue. But when he left the game for good after just two shifts in the second period it was obvious that it was something related to an injury.

When asked after the game if it was an old injury Jagr simply said, "I got speared last game and there was swelling in that muscle. Maybe because it was too cold and we couldn't heat it."
More Winter Classic Coverage

He would only say that the injury was to his left leg and would not specify where, exactly, the injury was bothering him. He also said that he knew immediately after his second shift in the second period that he wouldn't be able to return to the game, and even though he never took another shift, he remained on the bench the remainder of the game and even hinted that he might have had an opportunity to play in the third period if the Flyers would have had a two-man advantage.

"I like my teammates and wanted to part of that," said Jagr of his decision to return to the bench. "I knew it wasn't going to get any worse if I sit on the bench, and I want to be part of that. I'm part of the team and to sit here I would watch it on TV anyway. That way I was close, and you never know, maybe there would be a power play or a 5-on-3 and coach would put me back in there."

Jagr said he didn't think the injury was serious and that he "should be back soon."

Even though he never returned to the game, or factored into the goal scoring during his limited time on the ice, his presence was still felt in some small way as Rangers forward Mike Rupp celebrated the first of his two goals by saluting the crowd at Citizens Bank Park, a celebration that Jagr has been doing after every goal he scores throughout his NHL career (including in his first return to Pittsburgh as a member of the Flyers last week).



"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," said Jagr when asked about his reaction to Rupp's celebration. "He decided to do it, and he scored, and it was a good goal, too.

He then paused for a moment and smiled, "We still got to play them three more times and I think I'm going to score and salute him back."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:02 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:51 pm
 

Rupp turns tide for Rangers' Winter Classic win

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- You always hear about how important the next minute after a goal is. The game can flip like a switch in a heartbeat. One second a team is celebrating their goal, the next they're reminded to get back in the game.

That's how the 2012 Winter Classic flipped and how the Rangers came away with the win. For the first 35 minutes or so it was all Flyers. They had the chances, they had the possession and they had the lead.

The Rangers have guys who can do that. Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards ... they both come to mind. Mike Rupp can flip momentum in a game too, but that's usually by dropping his gloves, not by dropping pucks in the other team's net.

It was Rupp's goal just 49 seconds after Matt Carle gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-0 lead in their (neighbor's) house. That's when the Rangers finally seem to find their footing on the patchwork outdoor ice of Citizen's Bank Park, just shy of 38 minutes into the game. Or maybe it was his Jaromir Jagr salute after the goal that juiced up the Rangers. Either way, they had life.

"The crowd's going, you're down 2-0," Rupp said after the game while sporting the Broadway Hat, the Rangers' victory token this season. "Any game that you get that next shift -- there's times where you're looking to maybe pick a fight, you're trying to get a big hit, you're trying to play in their zone -- just to change the tide a little bit. I think a goal is the best way you can but it's just trying to throw things at net and keep it simple."

That's a good way to describe it, it was simple. It wasn't a thing of beauty -- nothing that's going to make Rupp look like the scorer that he isn't -- just a wrister from the slot with a defenseman trying to close the shooting lane.

"It was a key moment of the game because they had all the momentum on their side," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Again, the game is a series of momentums, how quickly you get it back vs. losing it. We go down 3-0 that's tough sledding, as far as trying to come back there. We end up scoring the next goal right there and it puts you right back in."

As for that salute? Well at first Rupp didn't want to talk about it, pulling a Peter Laviolette and saying "I don't know what you're talking about" with a smirk. But it happened, and he knew it.

"No pre-thoughts, just kind of excited in the moment," Rupp said.

The Flyers and Scott Hartnell sure seemed to notice it as he appeared to be chirping at Rupp before the third period. You were thinking that's how Rupp affects a game for the better for his team, with a little tangle, not a stick and dangle.

"He [Hartnell] just wished me a happy new year and I did the same," Rupp said, leaving what's said on the ice to stay on the ice. "So, hopefully he has a good year and he wished me the same."

More Winter Classic Coverage

Good thing for the Rangers that didn't result in a fight. It was within the next few minutes -- when Rupp would have still been serving a five-minute major if he did fight -- that he struck again.

It was Rupp again that tied things up and took us back to square one, before the lights were making an impact on the ice. His high, short-side goal somehow leaked by Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

From there it was all Rangers, save for the final two-minute flurry from the Flyers after the flurries had finished falling at Citizen's Bank Park.

"We've been a good third period team all year long," Tortorella said. "We just wanted to just try to get pucks to the net and grind away. I thought we really started grinding -- and really in the conditions that's the only way you're going to be able to play. It suited well for us. I don't think we did a good job in the first half but I think we found ourselves as it went on."

As big as that first goal for Rupp was, the key to this game for New York might well have been the first period. The ice was tilted -- against the wind, mind you -- in favor of the Flyers. They dominated play. It was all Philly. Still, the Rangers took the long walk back to the clubhouse through the third base dugout at a 0-0 tie. The Flyers had some very good chances to notch the first goal then but couldn't get it in.

That won't be as obvious of a key to victory as Rupp's two goals, but it certainly was.

"Early on in the first period there a couple breakaways, some breakdowns, he makes the saves there," Tortorella said. "He was put right on the center stage there and answered."

Lundqvist is used to center stage. He owns center stage. But Rupp? It's not often he gets to have the leading role. That would explain his humility with the Broadway Hat on. Either that or he was really humiliated. Artem Anisimov interrupted his interview after the game and asked 'Why they give you Broadway Hat?"

"Just wanted to see how dumb I look because it doesn't fit," Rupp responded. "Good question."

It might have looked dumb, but it had to feel great. The whole thing had to feel great, really. From playing in the Winter Classic again and getting the snow he wished for last year -- albeit briefly -- to scoring two goals, his first two since returning from injury.

"It was a great experience again and it feels good to win this time," Rupp said, referring to last year's Winter Classic loss while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "I just got to shoot the puck twice and fortunately it went in.

"You want to contribute; I was able to tonight so it felt good."

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: January 1, 2012 3:05 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Winter Classic preview: What to look for

By Brian Stubits

It's hard to remember the Winter Classic is just another game on the schedule. In reality it is just that. The winner of this game gets nothing more than two points in the standings.

But in practical purposes, the Winter Classic is anything but normal. It is annually the most-watched game of the season and it's not even close. It's commonplace for players and even coaches on occasion to do some chirping before games. But general managers throwing down the gauntlet like the Rangers' Glen Sather did a couple months ago? Yea, that's no ordinary game.

Plus, you know, they play it outside and all.

Without further ado, let's look ahead to the NHL's annual "celebration of hockey" on Tuesday in Philadelphia between the Flyers and the Rangers.

The weather

It goes without saying this is the only game of the season when this matters now that the NHL has stopped the Heritage Classic in Canada.

The initial game-day in the extended forecast called for rain and warm temperatures. That has been altered, for the good. Now the game-time temp is supposed to be 41 degrees and the only element to deal with will be the wind, where it is expected to blow in excess of 20 MPH.

So the ice itself should be alright for the game. As for the wind? It might have an impact, but we're not talking football here where the ball will be affected by strong gusts on field-goal attempts or deep passes. It sure beats precipitation fogging up visors.

Home-field advantage

Not in this game. There is virtually zero home-ice advantage of which to speak in the Winter Classic. Both teams are equally inexperienced with the sheet of ice in Philadelphia. Despite two times the amount of fans in the building, the noise level doesn't factor in. As a matter of fact, it's diminished with fans so far from the ice and no roof.

"I think you go back to our building over there when it matters and when it counts to have our fans behind us, I think it's really important," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said on Sunday. "We are looking forward to getting here and on this ice out here in front of that many people and having a great game."

But the points stands, don't expect the Flyers to have a big advantage just because they're the home team and the Citizen's Bank Park seats will be full of folks garbed in black and orange. Of the five Winter Classic games played to date, only one of them has seen the home team come away victorious and it took the Bruins an overtime period to beat the Flyers in 2010.

One advantage that I suppose you can credit to the Flyers is the fact that they have multiple players who have experienced Winter Classics before thanks to that game at Fenway Park two years ago. I put little stock into that, however. Once the game begins, experience means squat. Rangers coach John Tortorella agrees that won't mean much.

"We have kept our schedule, our whole way we have gone about our business has stayed the same and it will say the same tomorrow," Tortorella said. "We go day-to-day as far as how we prepare and that's what we have  done  right  on through this, we'll be doing the same thing as we get ready to play tomorrow."

Goals not galore

More on Winter Classic

Just continuing to look at the trends of past games, don't expect to see a lot of scoring. Only the game at Wrigley Field between the Red Wings and Blackhawks showed off much in the way of offense as the teams combined for 10 goals. The other three games combined have only seen nine goals (the Penguins won in a shootout).

That could just be as simple as a coincidence, there certainly is not a big sample size we're talking about here. Or it might be a real trend. I'd like to think that some of the uncontrolled elements play a role the lack of scoring in games, particularly factors such as glare, discomfort and surroundings.

I'll take my chances and say don't expect a lot of scoring on Monday. That's a bit easier to say knowing Henrik Lundqvist will be manning one crease.

Fighting chance

Half of the Winter Classics thus far have seen a fight. Each of the last two renditions featured impromptu boxing matches. So it's not like the players are going to shy away just because of the spotlight.

In the case of these two foes, there is a lot of dislike to put it mildly. Only the Blackhawks-Wings tilt compares favorably to this year's matchup in terms of a true rivalry. So it's likely some bad blood will spill over.

That seems especially plausible when you realize that last year's fight between the Penguins and Capitals featured Mike Rupp facing John Erskine. You'll recall that Rupp signed with the Rangers in the offseason so he'll be on the ice on Monday.

Players to watch

First for the Rangers, keep tabs on Brandon Dubinsky. The young Rangers forward was off to a very tough start this season, it had to be frustrating. It wasn't until Dec. 22 that he scored his second goal of the season. For a guy that had 24 goals last season, that's quite a drop.

However he is starting to return to the mean. What, you thought that only worked in the regression sense? Not exactly. Dubinsky enters the Winter Classic having scored a goal in each of his last two games and three of the past five.

For the Flyers, I'd love to say Ilya Bryzgalov but he's just going to be sitting on the bench, enjoying his tea in a thermos. Now if NBC can just get him mic'd up for the game, they'd have the best on-ice commentator in the sport for the broadcast, with all due respect to Darren Pang.

However it does mean that the actual Flyers starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be worth keeping an eye on. He's been playing very well lately for the Flyers and with Bryzgalov's struggles, this could be an opportunity for Bobrovsky to stake a big claim that he should continue to get a lot more playing time. Remember, it was just a season ago that he was their starter and came to the NHL with a lot of promise.

Prediction

I'm a sucker for trends, so I'm going to stick with them in this game. I've got the visiting Rangers winning a low-scoring affair. Plus, in a situation like that I'll take Lundqvist over Bobrovsky. I'll put my name down for a 3-1 prediction in favor of New York.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: December 31, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 2:03 pm
 

Raffi Torres fined for elbow on Jan Hejda

By: Adam Gretz

One of the most common complaints about NHL discipline, whether it was under Colin Campbell in previous years or the current leadership of Brendan Shanahan, is the sometimes overwhelming lack of consistency from one incident to another. If you're going to call it one way for one play, make it the same way across the board.

It rarely, if ever, seems to work out that way.

The NHL's disciplinary committee was busy on Saturday announcing a couple of fines, and along with the surprising non-suspensions of Tomas Kopecky and Mike Rupp following Friday's Rangers-Panthers game, the NHL also announced that Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres has also avoided the Shanaban for his blindside elbow to the head of Colorado's Jan Hejda earlier in the week (Here's the play, in case you missed it the first time around).

Instead of missing any games, Torres was simply given the maximum fine of $2,500.

Message: not sent.
Hejda is expected to be in the lineup for the Avalanche on Saturday when they visit the Anaheim Ducks.

There was also no penalty called on the play, and it recieved little attention in the aftermath. It almost seems that unless a player is seriously injured (or injured at all) and it's a play that's shown on highlight reels across the league the NHL has no interest in handing out a stiff punishment.

More NHL Discipline News

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com