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NHL Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins came on strong in the second half of the season and have been rewarded with the highest honor with a Stanley Cup trophy. The last cup came to the team back in 2009 and this one couldn’t feel any sweeter considering last years performance, the mid-season firing of Mike Johnston and hiring of new coach, Mike Sullivan.

I often write about the New York Rangers, but there’s also a reason why I’m writing about the Pittsburgh Penguins outside of being relevant news after winning the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins have two individuals — a coach and player — that have made tremendous contributions to the team. Both of these individuals were former members of the New York Rangers organization. Lets take a look:

Mike Sullivan, Coach 

Once the assistant coach of the New York Rangers under John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan came to Pittsburgh when Mike Johnston was fired halfway through the season. Since taking over, the team went on to win 33 of 16 games (.675 win percentage) and took the cup from the San Jose Sharks. Sullivan has had interesting coach career spanning 14 years (2002 – 2016):

  • Providence Bruins (AHL), Head Coach
  • Boston Bruins (NHL), Head Coach
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • New York Rangers (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Assistant Coach
  • Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Player Development Coach
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL), Head Coach

Carl Hagelin, Forward

A tremendously fast, often considered ‘unrefined’ Swedish player, Carl Hagelin was with the New York Rangers organization for three years before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks. At the mid-season mark, Hagelin was subsequently traded to the Penguins where he certainly found his place contributing quickly on the third line. He played a pivotal roll with his speed on a line with Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino that frequently made the stat sheet during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Looking back, it is clear the NY Rangers lost two important individuals that later came together to hoist the cup. Carl Hagelin and Mike Sullivan must feel pretty good about where they are, and likely share the “everything happens for a reason” motto given their journey in the league.

via Bruce Heen: http://bruceheen.net/nhl-stanley-cup-champions-pittsburgh-penguins/

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Bruce Heen

 

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What Will The Rangers Look Like Next Season?

It’s a great question and one that isn’t certain based on the teams performance this past season.

Management has made it clear that ever player outside of Lundqvist, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich are on the table as far as trade talks. The Rangers will listen to all trade inquiries, even for some of their top players you wouldn’t consider, like captain Ryan McDonagh. That’s pretty incredible, especially since this team has performed well over the last few seasons, coming as close as you can get to winning a Stanley Cup. But close is not good enough, especially if you’re an original six team in the biggest market under the most scrutiny day in and day out. A change is needed and so the team is open to trade conversations to see how they can rebuild or position themselves to get that Stanley Cup they’ve been chasing since 93-94 season.

So will it be a rebuilding year, or just a makeover for the Rangers? Regardless, Henrik Lundqvist must be feeling a little uneasy since his time and productive play will likely tick a little downward every season from this point forward. A cornerstone of the team in so many ways, Lundqvist is arguably the best and most consistent goalie in the NHL. Just in the last couple of season with coach Alan Vigneault, he’s had the necessary team around him to make playoff appearances and deep runs at the Stanley Cup. At his age, you’ve got to think he’s a little upset or curious of the choices the Rangers will be making in the off season.

via Bruce Heen http://bruceheen.net/what-will-the-rangers-look-like-next-season/

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Bruce Heen

 

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NY Rangers, NY Islanders Set for Key Matchup

Bruce HeenIt isn’t often that the NY Rangers and NY Islanders are both playing extremely well in the same season. Today, both teams will meet at Madison Square Garden for what will likely be a great matchup considering how well both teams have been playing.

Comparing each team throughout the season, the Islanders have been a bit more consistent and sit further up in the standings. But over the last two months, the Rangers are surging and asserting themselves as one of the top teams in the league. Winning 13 of their last 14 games, the blue shirts are finally healthy and rolling over teams. We aren’t talking about bottom feeders in the league either, we are talking about high quality opponents. Teams like the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Ducks have been the latest casualties on a west coast road trip that portrayed telling signs for just how good this Ranger squad really is.

The New York Rangers came into this season with big plans, especially since they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year against the LA Kings. Hampered by injuries in the early going, the Rangers are finally healthy playing a great two way game that features their great scoring depth and speed. Averaging more than three goals a game, we are starting to take notice of a consistent offense and pressure that continues to force opposing teams into mistakes and ultimately goals for the Rangers.

There’s no science to the Rangers fluidity on the ice. They are simply clicking in all the statistical categories that truly matter. Their power play is finding the back of the net, they are killing off penalties, Henrik Lundqvist is standing on top of his head, and when he’s not playing, Cam Talbot is serving as a reliable backup that can win the team additionally games.

It’ll be fun to see both teams go at it tonight. The rivalry between the two teams proves to be a great one each time they face off. Since both teams are playing so well, you figure there will be a lot of emotions on the ice.

via Bruce Heen http://bruceheen.net/ny-rangers-ny-islanders-set-for-key-matchup/

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in Bruce Heen

 

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NY Rangers post second straight shut-out

Are the New York Rangers finally gaining momentum? It is a great question and hopefully it becomes more of a reality as the team continues on for the remainder of the season. The Rangers have shown glimpses of greatness, and yet they find themselves losing games in overtime or in shutouts. One would figure coach Alain Vigneault is preaching consistency to his team.

The Rangers are never not in a position to win, but they can’t quite find that winning formula to close out games. Either way, fans must like what they are seeing early on from the team. The talent is their and one of their biggest strengths, defense, seems to be lacking. It is bizarre, but hey, it’s hockey.

Looking on the bright side, the NY Rangers won two straight shutouts, the first against the Philadelphia flyer and the second to the Montreal Canadiens. Against the Flyers and with backup goaltender Cam Talbot, New York notched a 2-0 win giving Cam his first win on the season. The following game against the Canadiens, New York scored five goals with each forward recording a point on the night. Talk about balanced scoring and lines. If the Rangers can find a scoring balance like this on a consistent basis they can be a very dangerous team. With each line finding productive minutes and points, opposing teams will have their hands full preparing for an onslaught of fire power.

Only pointing out the NY Rangers for their stellar play would do a disservice to another team in the region that has been in a dark place behind the Blueshirts for what seems like an eternity. The New York Islanders are sitting quietly at the top of their division with an exceptional record early on. The fan base is kicking and screaming in joy after losing seasons year after year. It is great to see such a dedicated fan base respond to their team. You can’t help but love that about sports. If you’re team is winning, naturally everyone is going to be happy and no questions will be asked. Hopefully the Islanders keep it up. If so, they will win over their fans, which will only bode well for them as they make the move next season to the Barclays center.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Bruce Heen

 

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NY Rangers Come Back to Win Against NJ Devils

Bruce Heen

Although still early in the season, every win, especially Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime comeback victory over the Devils, is something to cheer about for the rangers.

“It’s important for everybody to believe that no matter what, we have an opportunity to get back in a game,” captain Ryan McDonagh (two assists) said. “And the strength of our team is doing it in fives. We’re not depending on one guy to try to create on his own. I like that guys are continuing to play with confidence even if we’re down now.”

The obvious hero of the game was Kevin Klein as he shot a game-winner at the 2:42 mark of the extra period. The Rangers have won three straight after falling three in a row but they’ve done so as a unit. Four different blueshirts scored on Tuesday at the Rock including Chris Kreider, Chris Mueller, Rick Nash and Klein.

“That was a little redemption for that one that went off my butt in the second period,” Klein said, wearing the ceremonial Broadway Hat.

The first five goals of the game were all scored on power plays, Derick Brassard’s line with Mats Zuccarello and Martin St. Louis resulted in the only consistent even-strength pressure, but when the Rangers finally broke through at 5-on-5, it was Nash scoring his NHL-leading eighth goal of the season off a rebound from rookie Kevin Hayes.

For more information read on at http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/kevin-klein-ot-goal-leads-rangers-devils-nash-nets-article-1.1982683

via Bruce Heen http://bruceheen.net/ny-rangers-come-back-to-win-against-nj-devils/

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Bruce Heen

 

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Dominic Moore Stays in New York

Bruce Heen

With the Rangers suddenly strapped for cash against the salary cap ceiling, the future of veteran center, Dominic Moore, remained uncertain. Moore managed to reach an agreement on July 1 with the new York Rangers for a two-year, $3 million contract with a limited no-trade clause to stay in New York.

“It was looking like it wasn’t going to be hard, and it ended up being a little harder than we thought,” Moore said of the negotiations in a phone interview with the Daily News. “But I’m very happy to have it all set and happy to be coming back for sure.”

34-year-old Moore believes he re-signed out of loyalty to the franchise that gave him a second chance after a long year off the ice. However his decision was also influenced by the fact he will continue to lead the Rangers when he was promoted onto a line with Chris Kreider and Martin St. Louis.

“Definitely,” Moore admitted. “There’s a lot to be said for that. The way the season started for me, I did kind of have to work my way up and work my way back into not only a position where the coaches trusted me, but where I trusted myself on the ice. But that’s something that when you put your time in, you want to build on it. I want to win first and foremost, and I’m happy with whatever role I’m asked to play. But versatility is one of the strengths I bring to the table.”

Moore was honored the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, and well deserved; Moore returned to the NHL following the January 2013 death of his wife, Katie, at the age of 32 from a rare form of liver cancer.

For more information read on at http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/new-deal-rangers-center-dominic-moore-charitable-article-1.1878193

via Bruce Heen http://bruceheen.net/dominic-moore-stays-in-new-york/

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Bruce Heen

 

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NY Rangers looking forward to next season

The NY Rangers deserve a pat on the back and some acknowledgement. After a beginning to the season that looked far from good, the New York Rangers responded and came to life. Clawing at the middle of the pack for most of the season, the Rangers found their way into the playoffs and surprisingly a spot in the Stanley Cup final against the big and mighty L.A. Kings. Though the Rangers lost 4-1 in the series, you can’t say that they lacked effort. The team was right in the mix almost every game (three of the five games were decided in extra periods). A different bounce of the puck could have resulted in a win for any of those games. When they say hockey is a game of inches they aren’t joking. The Rangers showed they can score, defend and skate with the best.

The Rangers, like many other teams in the league, face a number of decisions regarding resigning players. The team has already spoken out, saying they want to keep the group intact, hopeful to get back to the Stanley Cup next year. After getting a taste, it is no surprise just how anxious many players must feel after coming so close to the ultimate prize.

Another looming question mark is who will become captain? Many people believe Ryan McDonagh will likely be the candidate to receive the high honor. McDonagh displayed the kind of work ethic and leadership that people envision for a captain in the New York market. He does all the little things, works hard, and provides a scoring touch that we haven’t seen from a defenseman since Brian Leetch. You can see that McDonagh would love the challenge, and with departing veteran Brad Richards leaving, the distinguish is all but his.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Rangers shape up in the short off season. A lot of question marks will be answered soon and it’s exciting.

via Bruce Heen http://bruceheen.net/ny-rangers-looking-forward-to-next-season/

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Bruce Heen

 

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