Tag:Ryan McDonagh
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:03 pm
 

Reports: Rangers no longer in Rick Nash chase

Columbus fans might get their wish ... for the remainder of this season at least. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

It looks like those fans at Madison Square Garden last weeks changint "We don't want you!" to Rick Nash are going to get their wish. At least for now, they aren't.

Multiple outlets reported on Sunday that the Rangers, long seen as the favorite to swing a deal for Nash if he were dealt before the trade deadline on Monday afternoon, are out of the race. They just weren't willing to bend to the Blue Jackets' insistent asking price.

Here's more from Katie Strang of ESPN New York.

Barring a drastic change, a deal to bring the prized winger to New York does looks unlikely, a source told ESPNNewYork.com

The Rangers were believed to be the front-runners for the former No. 1 pick whose availability has dominated trade talks in the days leading up to the deadline, but New York does not appear to be willing to concede to Columbus' demands.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson's asking price for the franchise player is reportedly significant; according to multiple reports he is asking for a roster player, top prospect and a first-round pick, if not more.

All along the rumors had it that the Jackets wanted either Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan and the Rangers weren't going to surrender any of those players. It was a stalemate and neither was willing to cave.

The asking price for Nash has always been high in this saga. Not that you can blame Columbus GM Scott Howson for staying so demanding in it all, mind you. But to make it a bit laughable, Darren Dreger of TSN says that that high price has actually gone up.

NHL Trade Deadline
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This Nash saga has gone back and forth a lot. When his agent spoke up for the first time about the rumors, it sounded like the urgency was being put on the Jackets to get a deal done sooner rather than later. Then a contender falls by the wayside and the cost reportedly goes up.

It would appear to leave the Maple Leafs and possibly the San Jose Sharks in the conversation. There is also the possibility of dark horses in the Predators and maybe even the Flyers. But really it doesn't seem like the Jackets are going to find a deal that's amenable to them and Nash to where he'll be dealt on Monday.

Then again, who knows? We'll just have to wait and see by 3 ET on Monday.

More from Eye on Hockey

Nash: "I'm a Blue Jacket today"
Nash's agent speaks, Preds trying to get in

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

Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:49 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 6:31 pm
 

Rangers emerge as favorites in eastern conference

RangersBy: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- The Rangers were the definition of mediocrity during John Tortorella's first two full-seasons behind the bench in New York.

New York finished right around the league average in points despite having one of the highest payrolls in the NHL. They missed the playoffs on the last day of the 2009-10 season thanks to a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and then snuck in as the No. 8 seed last year before losing in the opening round to the Washington Capitals in five games.

This season, however, the Rangers have emerged as the top team in the Eastern Conference, and even after their 2-0 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night still hold a commanding nine-point lead (as of Wednesday afternoon) over the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. That is no small margin, and at this point in the season it's not one that many teams let slip away (or in the case of Boston, are able to overcome). Barring a late collapse the Rangers, even if they won't admit it, are a pretty safe bet to enter the playoffs as the top team in the East.

Even though it's a pretty solid position, it's not one that the Rangers are particularly comfortable with at this point knowing what remains in front of them.

"There's a lot of hockey left," said center Brad Richards on Tuesday night. "It's not just Boston, there's a lot of teams. The team we just played is right there, too. Philly, New Jersey, there's a lot of good teams behind us and there's a lot of work to do. I mean, we're not disappointed with where we are, but we can't look at it and think we're safe or anything like that."

Tortorella will deny that he thinks about its current standing in the East, but he has to know what a turnaround the Rangers have experienced this season, even if he denies it.

"I don't even think about first place," added Tortorella when asked if his team has a target on its back due to its current spot in the standings. "I think about every game we're trying to win, I don't even look at the standings. We're just trying to get better as a team and trying to prepare each and every day trying to win hockey games."

It's pretty clear that the expectation in New York is significantly higher than simply being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And quite frankly, it should be.

This is, after all, one of the NHL's marquee franchises. It's also one that hasn't won a Stanley Cup since 1994, and has won just two playoff series -- total -- since 1997. If there's going to be a Rangers team that makes a deep postseason push, this one looks like it might be the one as they've proven to be, through four-and-a-half months to be the top team in what is a very winnable conference with more mediocre teams than great ones.

With still 24 games to play in the regular season the Rangers are set to shatter their win totals from the previous two seasons and have a chance to crack the 50-win mark for the first time since that Stanley Cup winning season back in '94.

The biggest factors in the Rangers' sudden improvement aren't necessarily the addition of another big-name, big-money free agent (this past summer it was Richards, the Conn Smythe winner on John Tortorella's 2003-04 Stanley Cup winning team in Tampa Bay), but the play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, as well as the rapid development of young defensemen like Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto, and the always steady presence of veteran blueliner Dan Giradi.

The performance of Lundqvist is the biggest reason for their success this season. He's a legitimate MVP contender at this point, and is currently tied (with Brian Elliott) for the league lead in save percentage at .940, a mark that no goaltender has ever achieved over a full season (Tim Thomas' .938 mark for the Bruins last season was the best). He's been a game-saver quite a bit this season and has put together an impressive argument to be the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy since Jose Theodore took it home during the 2001-02 season.

But for as good as Lundqvist has been, it can be easy to overlook how valuable the pairing of McDonagh and Giradi have been.

During the absence of Marc Staal during the first half of the season, and even after his return, the 22-year-old McDonagh, acquired in the now laughably lopsided trade that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal, and 27-year-old Girardi has been given the task of playing some of the heaviest minutes in the NHL this season, being used to match up against the other teams best players on a nightly basis (and starting the majority of their shifts in front of their own goal) and still shutting them down. Using the Qualify of Competition metrics at BehindTheNet, McDonagh and Girardi rank third and fourth respectively in the NHL this season in terms of facing the toughest competition at even strength this season and have been among the toughest defensemen in the league to score against.

They're a stout team defensively, and while they have a formidable group of forwards anchored by Richards, Marian Gaborik and captain Ryan Callahan, they may just be missing that one final piece up front to add that final touch of goal-scoring to push them over the top.

The Rangers have been rumored to be connected to the Rick Nash sweepstakes and if they're able to add him before the 3 p.m. Monday trade deadline, watch out.

Tortorella has finally given the Rangers faithful something to brag about.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:24 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:44 pm
 

Nash reportedly down to five possible teams

Nash reportedly has a wish list of five teams. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Look what the Columbus Blue Jackets started. Now every few hours there is a new Rick Nash update after word leaked they'd consider trading their captain.

Then again, we can thank them for what they jump-started, too; the NHL trade deadline.

Nash is available at the right price ... for a couple of teams. Five to be exact. Because of his no-trade clause, the Jackets had to ask Nash for a list of team's he'd waive it for to approve a deal. Who's on it? Would he put any big-market teams on there considering he's seemed to enjoy playing in the smaller Columbus market?

Thanks to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch who has been all over this story like the league's discipline offices on Matt Cooke, we have the teams that are believed to be on the approved side.

Boston, Los Angeles, the Rangers, San Jose and Toronto are believed to be on the approved list for Nash — he would have to waive a no-movement clause in his contract before he could be traded — but the return the Blue Jackets seek could vary widely from club to club.

The Rangers and Kings have been the first two teams mentioned with Nash since the rumors began. So it's interesting they're on the list. The Maple Leafs are involved with every big name available in some capacity, so this will only stoke that fire. The Sharks have good friend Joe Thornton. And the Bruins? Well that'd just be unfair.

It goes without saying that this is just one small step for the man. There is still a giant leap or two to go.

It's going to take a lot to get Nash from the Blue Jackets. The good news for the suitors: there isn't really a position the Jackets couldn't use help at. A goalie will be at the front of all the talks, but they need defensemen and help scoring, particularly if they trade Nash and Jeff Carter. Plus, you can never really have enough scoring regardless.

Portzline speculated on what it would take to get the GM Scott Howson to trade Nash, looking specifically at the top two contenders.

The Blue Jackets are said to want at least one young roster player along with a combination of top prospects and quality draft picks. Using that criteria, the Rangers seem to make the most sense, and the New York Post reported on Tuesday that the two sides have had preliminary discussions.

The Rangers have a player the Blue Jackets have pursued for years in forward Brandon Dubinsky, but they’re also stocked with young defensemen — Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh and Tim Erixon, among others — and forward Chris Kreider, currently playing at Boston College.

The Blue Jackets play on Sunday at the Rangers.

Los Angeles could provide something the Rangers cannot — a top goaltending prospect. Jonathan Bernier, the No. 11 overall draft pick in 2005, has spent the past two seasons as the seldom-used backup to Jonathan Quick. However, the Kings don’t have young prospects to match the Rangers.

Well it sure sounds like a certain President's Trophy contender is in the cat bird's seat here, now doesn't it?

My concern about the Rangers trading for Nash -- aside from the heavy cost -- is the fit. Not that I would foresee any problems with Nash jelling with the Rangers, it's just being wary of messing with a good thing. Obviously the Rangers have that part down pat. They have the best points percentage in the league and are seven points up on everybody else in the East while no team has played fewer games than them.

No doubt adding a little more scoring would help the Rangers this season. If they have an Achilles' heel, it's probably still the offense. I'd just be leery of fixing something that's not broken.

More from Eye on Hockey

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

Posted on: February 14, 2012 11:53 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 12:06 am
 

Do the Rangers have the No. 1 seed secured?


By: Adam Gretz


There are still two months to play in the regular season, but with their 3-0 win in Boston on Tuesday night you can probably assume that the New York Rangers have all but locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Maybe not officially, because, after all, there is still a chance that the Bruins could put together another run where they look like the '75 Canadiens, and the Rangers could always hit a rut down the stretch, but with Tuesday's win New York opened up a nine-point lead over Boston for the top spot in the conference.

That's a significant lead, and a deficit that large, this late in the season, can be almost impossible to overcome, even though the teams have two more games remaining against one another. That's a lot of ground to make up, and with the way the Rangers are playing right now it's hard to see them slowing down enough to allow Boston to get back to the top.

Since the start of the '05-06 season the average No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference has finished with 112 points, so for arguments sake let's just go with that. The Rangers would only need to put together a record of 15-9-3 over their final 27 games to reach that mark. Boston, by comparison, would need to go somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-6-2 in its remaining 28 games.

This is a pretty amazing development given how dominant the Bruins looked as recently as a month ago, and how ordinary they've looked since the start of January, having won back-to-back games just twice since the start of the new year. They haven't been able to win consecutive games since Jan. 10-12.

I haven't always been a believer in the Rangers this season, particularly earlier in the season, but it's hard to ignore what they've been able to accomplish to this point.

Henrik Lundqvist, having earned his 7th shutout of the season in Boston, is not only playing like a favorite for the Vezina Trophy, you can also make an argument that he's in the race for the Hart Trophy as the league MVP as well. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have been one of the best defensive pairings in the league this season, while Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik have done their part to carry the offense.

The Rangers made a pretty big statement on Tuesday night, and right now they've put themselves in a position that very well could make the road to the Stanley Cup Finals go right through Madison Square Garden. And just imagine what they might look like if Rick Nash would happen to end up on Broadway.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 22, 2012 3:19 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 3:34 pm
 

Bruins' Andrew Ference suspended three games

By Brian Stubits

Brendan Shanahan works on weekends too.

The NHL's chief disciplinarian handed down a three-game suspension to Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference on Sunday for his boarding of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in Saturday's game.

We'll let Shanny take it from here.

This ruling is all about the hit, so the three-game punishment makes it pretty clear Shanahan didn't like it one bit. He describes the play being in clear violation of the boarding rule, highlighting the part about pushing a player from behind.

The things that Shanahan really accentuates about the hit are the factors of how far from the boards that Ference pushed McDonagh on the play and how there was plenty of time for Ference to read the situation and react differently.

The other two factors that Shanny considers -- injuries on the play and previous discipline -- are non-factors here. McDonagh doesn't appear to have suffered an injury on the hit and Ference's only discipline history in his 12-year career is a fine for a foul gesture (remember this one in the playoffs last season?)

My take: Three games is fair. The precedent for such hits falls in line here. If anything, I thought maybe two games considering factors two and three, but if the league wants to get these messages across they will have to continue to hand out stiff punishments.

More NHL Discipline news

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

Posted on: January 21, 2012 4:08 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 10:41 pm
 

Ference charging penalty proves costly for Bruins

By: Adam Gretz

The Boston Bruins are a physical team. An extremely physical team. It's what they do, and it's a large part of why they won the Stanley Cup last season (Tim Thomas had a lot to do with it, too, of course) and why they've been one of best teams, if not the best team, in the NHL over the first half of this season.

Sometimes, however, they can take it a bit too far, as was the case in overtime of their 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday, a game that did not fail to live up to the expectations that existed heading into it.

Just a little over a minute into the extra period, with the game even at two, Boston's Andrew Ference was guilty of a costly charging penalty when he sent Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh flying face-first into the boards.

This is the play that resulted in a five-minute major penalty, as well as a game misconduct, and will most likely earn a second look from the NHL  with the possibility for some supplemental discipline:



Said Rangers coach John Tortorella after the game: "One of the most dangerous hits I've seen in a while. It's an easy call to make"

Not only did it leave the Bruins shorthanded for the remainder of the overtime period, and without the services of Ference, it also led to the game-winning goal off the stick of Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik with just three seconds remaining in overtime.

It was Gaborik's second tally of the game and his 25th of the season, moving him into a three-way tie (along with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel) for third place in the goal-scoring race.

Now we wait to see how many (if any) games Ference has to sit for the Bruins.

Update: Ference is scheduled to have a phone hearing on Sunday, meaning that if he is suspended it will be no more than five games.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 12:48 pm
 

Cooke won't be disciplined for alleged slew foot

By: Adam Gretz

Matt Cooke is probably never going to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to any play that is even remotely close to being dirty or against the rules.

Given his history and the list of plays that make up what is basically a career lowlight film, he doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point, either. But that doesn't change the fact that he has made a legitimate effort to clean up his game this season after numerous suspensions, including one last season that turned out to be a 17-game banishment (10 regular season games and all seven of Pittsburgh playoff games) for a hit to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

In 46 games this season Cooke has been issued just 14 penalty minutes, a total that over 430 players in the NHL have topped this season, including 12 of his own teammates. Because he's Matt Cooke, however, guilt is always going to be assumed when he's the focal point, as it was on Thursday night for an alleged slew foot incident during the Penguins' 4-1 win against the New York Rangers that put him squarely in the crosshairs on Friday

This is the play in question, via Empty Netters' Seth Rorabaugh:



You can see another angle (and get some expert commentary) by clicking here.

Cooke has done some bad things on the ice in his career, but this isn't even close to being one of them, even if the Rangers believe it was a slew foot. Richards did not participate in the Rangers' skate on Friday.

There was no penalty called on the play, and according to TSN's Darren Dreger, he won't face any discipline from the NHL.

And he shouldn't, because that's not a slew foot. At its worst it's tripping, at the very least it's two players getting their feet tangled up as they turn into each other going for the puck. Pretty common occurrence, and if it involved almost any player in the league likely wouldn't have even been a blip on the NHL's radar on Friday.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Classic ends in penalty shot; Torts rips refs

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first 35 or so minutes, the fifth edition of the Winter Classic was on its way to being the most forgettable. By the end, it was one of the most memorable. And it was a Henrik Lundqvist save away from being the most controversial.

With 19.6 seconds left and a mad scramble in front of the Rangers net, the play was blown dead. What came next was a penalty shot from Danny Briere, the Flyers trailing 3-2, the result of Ryan McDonagh covering the puck in the crease according to the officials.

It was the most dramatic moment in a Winter Classic to date.

"It was just a big scramble in the end they started to get pucks in front," Lundqvist said. "I didn't really see the puck I just stretched out my right leg and tried to stay on the post there and then I hear the whistle and then I hear the ref 'penalty shot.' I couldn't believe it."

Not surprisingly, neither could Rangers coach John Tortorella. "The penalty shot, I still don't understand."

The fans came to their feet when Briere circled in his own of the ice, getting ready for the chance to tie the game. Briere got the call instead of Claude Giroux, tied for the NHL's league lead in points after his beautiful backhand goal earlier in the game.

"We had a choice between the guys that were on the ice," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It comes down to really between Danny and Claude, they're both regulars in the shootout. I think Danny, being a natural goal scorer, thrives in that area a little bit more. It was my decision."

So Briere came down deliberately, eventually firing the shot at Lundqvist's five hole. Denied.

More Winter Classic Coverage

"I just tried to be patient and do my thing," Lundqvist said. "He's a tricky guy. If I make the first move he's going to score. Obviously there's a lot of pressure on me there. I couldn't believe when he called it a penalty shot but it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. The end was pretty intense but it was great."

It was definitely intense. The Rangers had to find every bit of strength to hold off a massive Flyers push to close the game that was aided by some penalties, ones that Tortorella wondered about after the game. For as forthright as Lundqvist was admitting to his surprise, Tortorella was as subtle as an elephant walking across down the street.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said afterward. "It started with the non-call on Gabby's [Marian Gaborik] walk, he gets pitch-forked in the stomach and then everything starts going against us.

"For two good referees, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they did want to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. They're good guys, I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was disgusting."

One of those calls that didn't go their way was against Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. He was advancing up the left wing with about a minute to go, hunting an empty-net goal to end the suspense. He was taken down by Kimmo Timonen. Instead of a goal for the Rangers, Callahan was called for holding the stick to match Timonen's interference.

"Apparently I was holding his stick," a bewildered Callahan said after the game. "The stick was up by my chin. It was a tough one."

As a result Callahan, one of the Rangers' best shot-blockers, was left to watch that dramatic sequence from the penalty box.

"I was in the box but from what I saw it looked like Richards was pushing the puck out of the crease," Callahan said. "Hankie then comes up with a huge save to win it for us."

It was a huge save that likely saved the Winter Classic conspiracy talk from being at a fever pitch. What Tortorella said was a bit tongue in cheek -- I think -- but there would have been a lot more of the same cries coming from outside.

It certainly made for one memorable finish, that much can't be disputed.

Photo: Getty Images

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

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