Too many men

Do we really need to remind the Rangers that often that you can only have six guys on the ice? It’s bad enough Henrik Lundquist and his pads are bigger than two guys, but getting caught with that extra skater as many times as they have is a little undisciplined.

I get a few too-many-men penalties after the lockout. It’s been a while since you’ve done this sorta’ thing, sure, no problem. It corrects itself. But we’re almost three weeks into the season. Concern has to start cropping up on that New York bench.

When asked about the recurring problem, Ranger coach John Tortorella told MSG, “It’s fairly easy to know what guy you are taking off the ice,” implying his players simply aren’t paying attention.

It’s gotten to the point where it has begun costing the Rangers games. And if bench minors prevent you from winning games in a 48-game season, pack your bags.

Kelly Chase

The longtime member of the Blues organization, as both player and broadcaster, took the analyst seat on “NHL on the fly” Monday night, during which he gave his personal top-five power rankings in the league.

The aforementioned Rangers were in Chase’s top five. Now I don’t typically like grouping below .500 teams in with the hottest in the league (which NHL.com had them at No. 10 at the time), but whatever.

Everyone is hanging on the Rangers because they were the “sexy” pick at the beginning of the year. But teams often struggle to find an identity for a little bit when a big change (i.e. Rick Nash) occurs. You don’t owe a loyalty to them to say they’re one of the best teams in the NHL when they really aren’t at that time.

Don’t think I’m saying the Rangers are not to be taken seriously. Because they are. This is still a deadly team. But deadly teams can hang out in the 8-10 range of the power rankings when they go through bad stretches. The bottom line is, I know Chase knows better than to put NYR in the top five (at least I hope he does). We just got a fresh face on NHL Network, and I’d hate to see it turn toward that Barry Melrose “only one team to beat ever” mentality.

San Jose knows what I’m talking about.

No hate for Joannette, Rooney

Hockey: even our refs are tougher than most athletes. We’ve all probably boo’d Marc Joanette in the past, but the NHL referee gets big respect after he took a puck to the face from Dion Phaneuf Monday, lost a few teeth, required medical attention from the training staff, and returned later that period.

THEN, he goes right back out and refs last night’s game in Washington. When you get blood on your uniform in most sports, you have to be taken out by the official. He IS the official.

Referee Chris Rooney also suffered a scare in the Stars/Avs game Monday night when a puck fired by Dallas defenseman Jaime Oleksiak deflected off the skates of Paul Stastny and hit Rooney at the base of his head.

Although Rooney was down for quite some time and did not return, he left on his own power and has supposedly checked out alright.

Kunitz overshadowed

Bad time for Chris Kunitz to make a statement for No. 1 star of the week, huh? Most other weeks, scoring five goals, two of them game-winners, and three assists will get you top honors for the week. But he was bested by Thomas Vanek’s 10 points in four games.

Not only did Vanek score five goals and five assists last week, he also recorded his second five-point game of the season against the Bruins last Tuesday. That makes him the first Sabre in 20 years to record multiple five-point games in a season. A couple guys named Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny (ever heard of them?) did it last in 1992-93.

Vanek’s efforts also gave him the league lead in points with 19.

Phil not overshadowed

Vanek may have stolen the spotlight from Chris Kunitz, but there were no shadows to be found around Punxsutawney Phil Saturday. The little guy didn’t see his shadow, thus guys in big hats suppose that means an early spring.

Tell me when that actually happens.

John Erskine

I obviously mean the one playing for the Washington Capitals, and not the greater New York City-based author from the early 1900s. That John Erskine did nothing wrong.

The John Erskine of the present, however, did. During a game with Philadelphia last Friday, Erskine jutted out his elbow in the direction of passer-by Wayne Simmonds, clipping his noggin. That contact, coupled with the subsequent tumble to the ice caused a concussion to the Flyer forward. Simmonds is out indefinitely.

Erskine was suspended for three games by everyone’s favorite vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan, and is unable to return to action until Feb. 9 against Florida. Erskine thinks the suspension wasn’t warranted (who would’ve thought?), saying the hit wasn’t “reckless,” as Shanahan so noted.

The Washington Post reported Erskine didn’t like the suspension because he’s not a repeat offender (only drawing a fine in the past), and he was “kind of on a role there.”

I’m sure Wayne Simmonds was starting to think the same thing until he momentarily lost the ability to think.

John Equine

Anyone watching the Edmonton/Vancouver game Monday night saw a trivial sight in the crowd. After Ales Hemsky scored in the final minutes of the first period, giving the Oilers a 1-0 lead, the corner camera captured one fan wearing a horse mask pounding on the glass with all the other front-row-seat sitters.

The man behind the mask was Rick Banack, who wore the disguise to mock what he called the long face of Roberto Luongo, suggesting Luongo’s face looks equine.

Banack isn’t an Oilers’ fan, however. Instead, he’s a Maple Leafs fan. He doesn’t want to see Luongo come to Toronto, so he decided to make fun of his facial features.

Raffi Torres is back

...And possibly not as bad as ever. Phoenix’s Torres missed the first eight games of the season due to a carried-over suspension issued in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last year. As you may recall (unless you’ve been hit by Raffi Torres) the perennial tough-guy launched at the head of Chicago’s Marian Hossa when the two teams met in the playoffs a season ago.

Fortunately for Torres, his team went far without him. So not as many games would carry over to this season. In an interview with azcentral.com, Torres said, “I can’t afford to go through something like that again.”

To which I can only imagine Marian Hossa’s brain responded, “YOU can’t afford to go through something like that again?!”

I give Raffi three weeks before his next suspension.

Well that does it for this week’s Humpday Hater Report. Be sure to check back next week for more.

Until then, happy hating!