Rangers' Kreider Making Impression in Playoffs

Written by Christian A. on .

Chris Kreider has not missed a beat since joining the New York Rangers fresh out of college.

Since coming to New York, the soon to be 21 year old has seen his ice time steadily increase and his play continue to get stronger. Kreider scored the game winning goal in game 1 against the Washington Capitals, taking advantage of a perfect lead pass from Derek Stepan and blasting one past Braden Holtby.

He later assisted on the Brad Richards third period goal to make it 3-1.

“I guess I had a little time to think,” Kreider said when talking about his goal. “I thought I’m tired, I’m just going to try to get it on net.”

The goal was Kreider’s second goal of the playoffs and first one at Madison Square Garden. The rookie described it as “surreal experience.” Adding later, “I got goosebumps.” no comments

Devils Social Media Department Invites Fan to Game 6 After Twitter Spat With Panthers President

Written by Mike Salerno on .

The Devils, on the strength of a gorgeous overtime goal by Travis Zajac, pushed their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Florida to a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday night, winning 3-2.

But before the puck was even dropped in Newark this evening, New Jersey had already notched a big victory with their fans in the social media realm.

Yesterday afternoon, Panthers president Michael Yormark took to Twitter to declare that the familiar plastic rats, thrown onto the ice following Florida victories, will not be sold at the arena team store like they had been in past years due to some of them being tossed onto the ice during play.

Rather than alienating his own fan base by blaming them for firing them onto the playing surface during game action, he took Devils fans to task, claiming the opposing team's fans were deliberately trying to draw a penalty on the Panthers by repeatedly interrupting play.

Listen, Mr. Yormark. We're not saying you're definitely wrong here. But for a fan base that failed to sell out Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, we're hard-pressed to think there's an awful lot of them congregating in Sunrise for a few first-round matchups.

Now here's your daily reminder of why Twitter is a fun social media tool: no matter who you are, if you tweet something stupid, you will be held accountable. Yormark was no different, receiving plenty of responses from Devils fans irate with his allegations. Rather than take the high road, you know, like an established high-ranking official of a professional sports team, he chose to snap back at a few select fans:

No one cares what you think?! You mean to tell me that nobody in the Panthers offices caught this and even thought about mentioning something along the lines of "Hey, uh Mike? Not sure that's the best idea. Kind of makes us look like a bunch of confused degenerates."

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Yormark, this is the first time since the turn of the century your team is participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let the fans enjoy the ride. And in case you hadn't noticed, you're not exactly running a cash cow down there in Sunrise. Who are you to turn your nose up to a revenue stream, especially one that just-so-happens to be connected to the only time in your franchise's history the team wasn't a total embarrassment?

The Devils social media department, upon getting wind of this, showed Yormark a thing or two about taking the high road. Will Carafello, New Jersey's Director of Digital Marketing, personally reached out to Lauren Rubino, also known as @LaurenAshley07:

This was no bluff. A few minutes later, Carafello posted a photo of the tickets he was leaving for Rubino, who in fact attended a memorable Game 6 victory for her beloved Devils.

Oh, and as for her follower count? The Devils official Twitter account (@NHLDevils) as well as a number of bloggers, including Yahoo! Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski (admittedly a Devils fan) have spearheaded a campaign to get their fans to follow her. A number that sat at less than 75 around noon now stands at well over 1,000 and counting. Wyshynski pointed out that she's now only trailing Yormark by roughly 2,000 followers. It appears as though people do care what Ms. Rubino has to say after all.

Yormark and Carafello exemplified the glaring difference between the Devils and Panthers. Forget the on-ice success, or lack thereof in Sunrise. This is just the latest example of the Devils scoring huge points with a small, yet rabid fan base in New Jersey.

With the Flyers and Rangers to compete with on either end of their state lines, success at the box office becomes contingent on a number of factors besides just wins and losses. Interaction with fans is paramount. And few do it better than the Devils. Hats off to their social media department, who continues to be among the best in pro sports with regards to interacting with the people who essentially pay their salaries.

Shanahan Throws the Book at Torres, Banned 25 Games

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

Targeting the head? Check.

Unsuspecting player? Check.

Leaving his feet to deliver the hit? Check.

Injury on the play? Check.

Littered disciplinary history? You betcha, check.

Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety getting a punishment right during the playoffs? CHECK!

For the first time this postseason, Mr. Shanahan has finally made the right call. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced earlier today that Coyotes' Raffi Torres will serve a 25-game suspension for his hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa.

The vicious hit, which came midway through the first period of Game 3, went un-penalized by both on-ice officials.

Since we like to have a good time here at The Scratches, we decided we would compile a list of day jobs that Mr. Torres can enlist himself in over the next few months to pass the time. Well, to pass the time and help recoup the $21,341 he'll forfeit for each regular season game he misses next year--assuming the Coyotes don't play three-consecutive seven-game playoff series this year.

Take your pick, Raffi:

1) Making sure Scott Hartnell has a case of shampoo and conditioner in his stall at all times.

2) Giving day tours around the Grand Canyon.

3) Windexing the glass surrounding the visiting team's penalty box after all Canuck home games.

4) Making sure there are no duplicate verbs in Doc Emrick's big bowl of words.

5) Assisting the scorekeeper mark the scorecard for the Penguins-Flyers game.

6) Helping local Detroit restaurants prepare fried calamari, because all the unused squid that was surprisingly found at the Joe Louis Arena.

7) Helping Bill Murray and Bugs Bunny mix up Brian Boyle's "Secret Stuff."

8) Assisting doctors on the on-going process of how to cure Brian Burke's bitter-beer face, which has been permanently stuck on his face since the lottery picks were announced.

9) Playing for the New York Islanders. Oh, wait he already was punished.

10) Teacher's Assistant for Matt Cooke in his newly-founded "How to make it in the NHL" summer semester course.

Feel free to add any jobs that you think Raffi would be perfectly fit for in the comments below!

Brodeur Sets New NHL Record in Victory

Written by Christian A. on .

Is there a record that Martin Brodeur hasn’t broken?

As the New Jersey Devils defeated the Florida Panthers 4-0 in Newark, Brodeur earned his 24th career playoff shut out. That is one more than NHL Hall of Famer Patrick Roy and new league record.

Brodeur already holds records in regular season wins, in which he surpassed Roy for back in 2009. He also is the NHL’s all-time leader in shutouts and games played, along with a slew of other league and franchise records.

While Brodeur may not be the player he used to be, the future Hall of Famer sure showed he still has what it takes. He pushed aside 26 shots in the win and rebounded quite nicely after being pulled from game three on Tuesday after allow three goals.

Brodeur and the Devils play game five against the Panthers on Saturday in Florida.

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Givin' No Respect: Point The Finger At The Players, Not Shanahan

Written by Mike Salerno on .

Every spring, I anxiously await the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I badger my ignorant friends who's televisions are fixated seemingly every sport except "the coolest game on Earth." I do my best to convert a few of them into bonafide hockey fans by the time that beautiful trophy is awarded in mid-June.

This season though, in the first week of action, I sit here mortified with what I've been subjected to.

The National Hockey League, always considered a fraternal order of the finest frozen pond-perusers this world has to offer, has turned the Stanley Cup Playoffs into a sideshow of egregious acts that have jeopardized the very fabric of what the League has built itself on: respect for your fellow competitor.

While everyone focuses on the deplorable job of controlling this mayhem by NHL officials and Senior Vice President of Player Safety, few have wagged the finger at the biggest offenders, the players themselves.

Tonight's Blackhawks-Coyotes tilt, a series that's already seen a player's safety come to the forefront due to an illegal hit, featured the most flagrant of offenses we've seen in the past few days. That's saying something.

Raffi Torres, a player who has a list of prior offenses as long as Al Capone's rap sheet, went hurtling through center ice and propelled himself into an unsuspecting Marian Hossa just a few feet from the Blackhawks' bench. Hossa, without the puck for what seemed like a lifetime, was caught in a defenseless position as Torres' shoulder made direct contact with the side of his head. Moments later, the Blackhawks winger was taken off the ice on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital.

Despite the fact that there was no penalty called on Torres, there will certainly be some kind of supplemental discipline from Shanahan. But what's the point?

At the end of the day, these are people playing a game for a living. We can all sit here and pretend that getting your name engraved on a big, shiny silver cup is the ultimate prize until perspective comes barrelling through the door, ruining the ignorance party for everyone.

The NHL has never apologized for the product they put on the ice. They market the fact that the high level of competition sometimes yields injuries. That's understood by everyone involved and accepted as part of the game.

But not this. In the past few years, the league has gone from a celebration of great talents like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and the Sedin twins to a frightful exhibition of goonery dominated by Torres, Matt Carkner, Arron Asham and the artist formerly known as Matt Cooke.

Awareness for hits to the head is at an all time high as concussions have become an epidemic around the league. Doesn't that make it all the more confusing that these players continue to act out, and now with a bigger frequency?

In the past week alone, there have been seven suspensions handed out by Shanahan. Seven. That's as many as there were in the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs a year ago. That seven, by the way, doesn't include the lengthy one surely headed Torres' way as a repeat offender.

The real problem is that it's not just the "enforcers" that are getting in on the dirty work, either. Torres is just the latest to grab headlines for all the wrong reasons. 

  • Nicklas Backstrom, fresh off a debilitating concussion that kept him out for over 40 games, delivered a stick to the face of Bruins forward Rich Peverley in game three of the Washington-Boston series. He was given a match penalty and a one-game suspension.
  • Shea Weber, arguably the best defenseman in the game today, decided that in the waning seconds of game 1 of the Predators' series with the Red Wings, it was more important to jettison Henrik Zetterberg's face into the glass rather than take control of a loose puck. For his efforts, he was fined $2,500, the maximum fine allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement, but was not suspended.
  • Daniel Sedin is still nursing a concussion suffered after he took an elbow delivered by Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith in a game on March 20. Keith was given a five-game suspension and has since returned to Chicago's lineup. Meanwhile, the Presidents' Trophy winners are in a deep 3-0 hole to the Kings.
  • Andrew Shaw ran over Mike Smith behind the Coyotes net in game two, leaving Smith momentarily still. He shook it off and stayed in the game but was a last-minute decision to start game three. Shaw was given a three-game suspension.
  • James Neal, who has been the most effective Penguins forward in the series to this point, will sit out game four thanks to the flying shoulder he delivered to Sean Couturier in game three. Yeah, the game was out of hand at that point. We get it. You want to take out some aggression? Fine. You want to attempt to deliberately injure a 19-year old kid? You don't belong in the league. I don't care how many goals you scored this year.
  • Earlier in that game, Arron Asham reacted to a clean hit by Brayden Schenn by catching him in the mouth with the shaft of his stick. Then, as if to say "had enough yet?" he dropped on top of the Philadelphia rookie and delivered a body shot or two for good measure.

The Flyers and Penguins hate each other as much as anyone possibly can. That sure does make for some must-see television. But no game, no prize, no trophy can justify using your hockey stick as a weapon to retaliate to your teammate getting knocked off his feet.

Rivals my ass. That's just inhumane.

The old adage "playing with a complete disregard for your own safety" used to describe the honor of blocking a big, booming slap shot or going to fight for a loose puck in the corner. Now, it's been replaced entirely by something along the lines of "playing with a complete disregard for everyone else's safety."

At this point, the only solution is to take make hockey a non-contact sport. That's right. Take all the hitting out of the game. These players can't handle playing the game fairly. If they want to act like children throwing a temper tantrum, then let the league treat them as such.

Or better yet, perhaps we should replace the post-playoff series handshake line with a boxing ring inside a steel cage.

The players have disgraced not only themselves but every other man who has considered it an honor to play in the NHL over the years. Today's league is completely devoid of honor and respect for your fellow competitor. Sportsmanship, above all else, used to be one of the ideals that made this game great. Now it's a sick joke.

So this year, rather than imploring my friends to jump aboard the NHL bandwagon, maybe it's time for me to get off at the next stop. It's the only honorable thing left to do.

BREAKING: Marian Hossa Leaves on a Stretcher

Written by Frank Castaldi on .

Just over 10 minutes after Andrew Shaw's three-game suspension officially began, Brendan Shanahan will more than likely have himself another hearing stemming from the Blackhawks-Coyotes series.

Midway through the first period of Chicago's third tilt with Phoenix, Coyotes' Raffi Torres drilled Marian Hossa with a hard, high hit, resulting in the 'Hawks star being carted off on a stretcher. No penalty was assessed to Torres on the play.

The hit, which could have been an obvious match penalty, went undetected by both on-ice officials, leaving Blackhawks coach Joel Quennville irate as he spoke with analyst, Joe Micheletti, on the bench.

Quennville, who called the play "disgusting," was furious about the hit being missed by both officials, especially after the incident between Shaw and 'Yotes goaltender Mike Smith during Game 2, just a few short nights ago.

Torres is no stranger to the Blackhawks as far as controversial hits are concerned, either.

Just last year during the first round of the postseason, Torres' hit 'Hawks defenseman, Brent Seabrook, in similar fashion--he wasn't suspended nor fined on the play.

Although, he was given a four-game suspension for an eerily similar hit on the Oilers' Jordan Eberle just a few weeks prior to the Seabrook incident.

Will Torres earn a suspension this time around? The way punishments have been handed out thus far in the postseason, it's anyone's guess.

Young Flyers Making All The Difference Against Penguins

Written by Mike Salerno on .

The majority of people, whether it be fans, players or otherwise in Wells Fargo Center earlier today were sporting huge smiles as the Flyers thumped their Keystone State rivals from Pittsburgh for the second straight game. Philadelphia's second eight-goal outburst in as many games chased Marc-Andre Fleury from the Penguins' net all while pushing them to the brink of elimination.

But nobody's grin was wider than Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. Holmgren, who came under fire in the offseason for trading his pair of disgruntled stars, including team captain Mike Richards, for a slew of young assets, has been looking smarter and smarter every day lately thanks to the play of some of Philadelphia's top young guns.

Sure, the Flyers 3-0 series lead has had plenty to do with outstanding performances from all-world talents like Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Danny Briere. This is not a team devoid of big names by any means.

But as bright as those stars have shined during this series, if it wasn't for the play of Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds--all players Holmgren brought in last summer--, it's very likely that the Penguins would not only have a pulse in this series, but they might actually be the ones in the driver's seat.

Jets Fan Blabs to Media About Conversation With Claude Noel

Written by Christian A. on .

                         

It’d be a safe bet that NHL coaches will be watching what they say to fans in public from now on. Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel learned the hard way just how big a mouth some fans have.

From the Globe and Mail:

When Chuck Duboff headed for lunch at Stella’s Cafe in Winnipeg on Friday the last person he expected to run into was Winnipeg Jets’ coach Claude Noel. But the waiter sat Duboff right next to the coach and they struck up a conversation. Duboff, who shares Jets' season tickets with a group of friends, said he thanked Noel for his work last season and figured that would be the end of their chat. It wasn’t.

Duboff and Noel got into a long talk about the players, fans and ownership. Duboff dutifully wrote down a summary of their conversation (he also got a picture of himself with the coach).

Of course, after the head coach of an NHL team is kind enough to have a genuine chat with you, a fan, about his team the first thing you do is run and blab to the media.

Cool beans bro.

To make this story even more obnoxious, Duboff sent his story around to other reporters, according to Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press.

Among the topics that were discussed were goaltender ondrej Pavelec and how he played “ten games too many.” How Noel really gave it to Alexander Burmistrov during the Jets’ exit meetings and how he believed the Russian should have stayed in the OHL.

According to Duboff, Noel also admitted to being “overwhelmed the last time playing Pittsburgh...didn’t know how to match up against all of the Penguins talent.” He also reportedly said that he had spent the first two months breaking the bad habits of his players and that he thinks it will take a while to change the losing culture from the teams’ days as the Thrashers.

The Jets did not comment about Duboffs alledged conversation with Noel and weren’t happy that it came out to begin with.

You have to think the Jets coach isn’t too pleased about it himself. The guy takes the time to be nice and engage a fan and this is the thanks he gets.

Jets fans, you can thank Chuck Duboff if you run into Claude Noel and he isn’t too willing to have a conversation with you.

 

NY Ranger 'Fan Rides' Getting Blueshirt Fans Ready for Game 2

Written by Christian A. on .

The Rangers have a special subway train with their logo all over it and today they’ll have a double decker-bus decorated in Rangers’ décor in honor of their playoff run.

Today from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Ranger fans will be able to hop on two customized tour buses to wreak havoc… err I mean spread Ranger cheer through the city of New York. The bus goes on a direct route from Madison Square Garden up to Times Square and back.

This promotion was run last year to much success that Vector Media, who is behind the fan bus rides, decided to do it again this year  (click here to see video from last year’s “Fan Ride”).

“This is a shorter tour circling MSG and surrounding areas,” said Gary Greenstein, VP of Vector Media. “This tour is all about the fans, with music, chanting, etc. Think pep-rally.”

So a pep rally on wheels, sounds fun.

To add to the experience former Rangers Pete Stemkowski and Brian Muller will be along for the ride with fans. A film crew will also be on board to capture all the excitement and clips will be shown on the MSG video board during tomorrow night’s game.

So there you have Ranger fans, today before face-off you can spread your Ranger fandom and show the city that New Yorkers care about more than just April baseball and Knicks basketball.

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Not Fine: No Suspension for Weber Sends Wrong Message

Written by Brian McCormack on .

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Now let's get something straight here.

I am a proponent of physical play in the game. The quick-reaction tendency to hand out suspensions in the NHL this season has at many times concerned me, and has in some cases set dangerous precedents in limiting the abilities of the blue-collar players of the league. In addition, I've always been a firm believer in the responsibility of the puck carrier for his own welfare, and I believe that a player caught with his head down across the middle is often as responsible for his concussion as the hitter that clipped him, in some cases.

Anyone who has listened to our radio broadcasts would know this.

But a $2,500 dollar fine for Shea Weber's head-slamming of Henrik Zetterberg is flat-out ridiculous.


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