NYR/NSH 12/17 Review: “Vintage” Lundqvist, Jimmy Vesey Gives Predator Fans a “DX Crotch Chop”, My DX/Predator Hockey Playing Days, Crushing a Cancer Survivor, UFC Thoughts & More from a Win That Glen Sather Envisioned When Building This Team

Zucc put Nashville away in the shoot-out tonight

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Not sure how long I will go tonight, as I want to get back to my “The Man in the High Castle” binge-marathon. If you haven’t seen or heard of it, it’s one of Amazon’s newest shows. It’s an alt-period piece with the premise of the Nazi’s & Japan winning World War 2. If you like history and drama, it’s a good show.

While my “real-life” (as opposed to online) good buddies Ricky O (@JCWRICKYO) and Borgata Ray (@BORGATARAY) were in Nashville tonight, to attend the Rangers 2-1 SO victory over the Predators & my other friends bar-hopping, I decided to take in all the action from my couch! You know you’re getting old when you elect to stay in to watch the games, with one of the pros being “easier bathroom access.” After all, these beers aren’t going to pee out themselves!

I’ve written about this before, so check the archives on the right hand of the site, but if you’re a sports fan, having two TV’s going on at once is mandatory these days. With the weather horrible, I had the Rangers on my big screen & the UFC on the smaller screen. I didn’t have to bust out the iPad tonight, as the UFC ended before the Oilers started! First world problems.

I’m just glad I’m not a Jets fan! I skipped that garbage. Seriously, if anyone paid to go to the Jets game, you need your head examined!

Cold beer, UFC and Rangers hockey. What more could a boy ask for?

Before talking Rangers, just a few UFC thoughts, as I know many of you guys watch UFC too:

  • I thought this was a great card and a good free show to showcase Mickey Gall and Paige Van Zant on. If Gall keeps rolling, he could be a PPV draw. Unfortunately for PVZ, her stock took a hit in a crushing first round loss.
  • There was too much Ronda Rousey on this show (She fights on 12/30 on PPV) and nothing about Amanda Nunes, you know, the womens bantamweight champion. I get Rousey is the draw, but the name Amanda Nunes was an afterthought. If Rousey gets crushed again, UFC will have spent all this time building Rousey up, while ignoring a potential new star.
  • But I guess, and let’s be honest, being an attractive female fighter is what UFC is going to push the hardest anyway. That’s why the men promo pictures are of them in fight mode, while the female fighter promo pics are of them half naked and dolled up. No different than pro wrestling and these days, UFC does pro wrestling better than pro wrestling.
  • Congrats to Urijah Faber on a great career. He couldn’t get the finish in the fight, but dominated all three rounds. He fought his heart out tonight.
  • I understand TV networks have to cross promote shows on the network, but please, please, please – NEVER SHOW SKIP BAYLESS AGAIN. Not one casual or hardcore UFC/MMA fan gives two shits what Skip Bayless has to say about Rousey. Jay Glazer knows MMA and is on Fox’s payroll. Let him be the talking head if you need one.
  • As someone who was in the pro wrestling world for 10 years, I can’t help but root for Mickey Gall. He’s pro wrestling 101. As long as he keeps winning, the UFC should put a rocket on him. Punk was an easy win. Beating someone physically superior in Sage Northcutt was hugely (or “Bigly”) impressive tonight.
  • You can see UFC wants to push PVZ hard, as the new woman face of the brand, especially if Rousey loses, but even if she won tonight, I don’t think she’d ever have a real shot at the women’s strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczk. (And yes, I had to google on how to spell Joanna’s last name!) Of note, during the UFC press conference, hyping the MSG debut in September, only Joanna showed up at the Rangers preseason game that night.
  • I usually find the 2 hour Bellator shows more entertaining, because they are booked to have mismatched fights, so you see a ton of finishes. However, for a two hour free show on Fox, I enjoyed the entire card.
  • UFC has over-saturated themselves with too many meaningless shows and now too many meaningless championships/interim championships, that it’s impossible to watch everything & know what’s going on all the time. I skipped the last show because it’s just too much and you can see the new owners are trying to milk you for every dollar you have. I’m just glad this free show was better than the last PPV, which reportedly had the lowest buyrate of the year.

Ok Rangers time!

Another fucking god-awful photoshop from yours truly!

There were many storylines going into this game, none bigger than Jimmy Vesey, who was originally drafted by the Predators, only to make it clear he wasn’t going to play there. The Preds then traded him to Buffalo, as Buffalo tried to sign him. However, Vesey waited them out too and after his college career was over, chose to play for the NYR. Of course, Predator fans were not happy about that, and let Vesey know about it during the Rangers 2-1 SO victory tonight.

My friends at the arena and the MSG announcers said that there were a lot of anti Jimmy Vesey signs in the crowd tonight. Every time Vesey touched the puck, he got booed or loud “VESEY SUCKS” chants broke out. I was really hoping he’d get a hat trick tonight, but he did score the first goal in the shoot out. I was hoping he would go to center ice and give the Predator’s the DX “Suck It” Crotch Chop, but alas, Vesey is classier than me!

Funny story when talking about DX and the Nashville Predators. In a time long ago, when I was a sophomore in high school, my hockey team’s name was “Degeneration X”. This was when wrestling was all the rage and everyone had nWo or Austin 3:16 shirts on at school every day. My town finally got a local rink, so my friends and I all signed up to play. The jerseys available at the time were all the NHL jerseys, but we could pick our own logo for the front. The Predators had just entered the league, so we chose the original Nashville Predator jerseys, with the DX logo on the chest. I was trying to find the jersey in my house to show you a picture of it, but I have no clue where my girlfriend put it, as of course, it’s not in my closet where it belongs. However, 8967389467364786373789463 of her purses are in my closet though. Ugh.

And for those wondering how those 1998 Degeneration X’ers did in the Nassau County league, we were fucking awful. It was the worst thing you ever saw. Even our own parents couldn’t stop laughing. If your mother told you she had to do her hair every game or if your father said “I have to get my prostate checked”, you would understand. We were that bad.

The real problem was that we were a thrown together team playing against teams that have played together their whole lives. My friend, and I’ll leave his name out of this for his protection, was the worst fucking goalie you’ll ever see. To be fair, it was his first time playing goalie too. He was 6’4″ but Ben Bishop he was not. As for me, I was a huge Jeff Beukeboom fan, so I played defense. Since our goalie was so bad, half the time I didn’t even cross the center line, because I knew he needed the help! Plus, by the time I got to the center line and back, these kids that were older and have played longer than us, would be doing laps around me!  My game consisted of checking anything around me as hard as I could and clearing the puck.

While a Brian Leetch I was not, I do have to admit, I had a good nose for getting my stick on the puck and heaving it out of the zone, icing be damned!  A sweet dangle with grace for a goal? Yea, that wasn’t me! We had one good kid on our team and I felt bad that he had to play with us every game. He deserved better. Sorry Boccio!

Oh shit, in another relevant story on my DX playing days, we were playing some team where the other goalie just recovered from some sort of cancer. I can’t remember what it was. Whether it was Hodgekins or something else, I just don’t remember the details. I’m going back almost 20 years now. What I do remember though, is this goalie, who obviously, all the parents were rooting for and the other teams in the league played soft around, came out of the crease one game against us. Mind you, the scores of my games were usually something like 17-3, kind of like a Jets score in the first quarter.

Anyway, this kid who just recovered or had his cancer go into remission, was the opposing goalie. He left the crease and went behind the net, just like Lundqvist the other night. While Lundqvist bobbled the puck before the hit, the puck here was on the goalie’s stick. I should also mention here that our team wasn’t the most deft and adept at skating either. Anyway, one of our forwards, who played O-line on the varsity football team, fucking crushed the kid. I’m talking worse than the shot Eakin gave Lundqvist. This was a Marcellus Wallace rape of a hit. This was 100x worse than the shot Bryce Petty took tonight. The kid’s helmet, gloves, skates, anything you can fucking imagine, went flying! Even thinking about it now, I can only envision this play in slow motion with myself adding in the dramatic “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo” from the bystanders.

The refs didn’t know what to do as they were stunned in horror. You could hear the parents let out the biggest “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!” and the mother of the kid screaming from the crowd. This was a fucking Law & Order times Oz times Sons of Anarchy times Scarface murder scene.

To make the story even better, the kid who crushed the goalie was the son of the coach! Of course, as his father and coach, he had to rip his son a new one. I kinda felt bad, because at the time, it was a clean hit under the rules. I don’t think my teammate got the unwritten memo about not physically trainwrecking a cancer survivor!  It was just fucking brutal. I can remember a lot of screaming and cursing. Again, my memory is kinda hazy on detail stuff, but I want to say our forward only got a 2 minute penalty for this. We were lucky it wasn’t a 5 minute major, or we might’ve lost 24-2 rather than 19-2.

And yes, I’ve done it again, went on another tangent that has nothing to do with the Rangers. It’s ok, this is the ADD generation anyway! This is also why I like doing these stupid blogs, sometimes funny memories are jogged up!

Oh and for the record – the goalie left the game, but played in the next game after that and last I heard, is living a healthy life. All’s well that ends well!

For shits and kicks, my friend snuck into the Rangers locker room tonight. I asked him to take a dump in Hank’s bag, but he refused!

So, yea, the Rangers had a game tonight….

Let’s go the box score from ESPN.com with my analysis to follow after:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NSH
7:47
Rick Nash (13)
Assists: Kevin Hayes, Nick Holden
1 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
9:14
Marc Staal: 2 Minutes for Slashing
12:13
Filip Forsberg: 2 Minutes for Tripping
17:59
Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Hooking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NSH
9:22
Mike Fisher (9)
Unassisted
1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
4:50
Kevin Klein: 2 Minutes for Slashing
17:00
Petter Granberg: 2 Minutes for Slashing

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NSH
No scoring this period 1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

OT Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NSH
No scoring this period 1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

Shootout Summary

Team Detail NYR NSH
Shootout attempt by Ryan Johansen saved by Henrik Lundqvist 0 0
Shootout GOAL scored by Jimmy Vesey on Juuse Saros 1 0
Shootout attempt by Craig Smith MISSES 1 0
Shootout GOAL scored by Mats Zuccarello on Juuse Saros 2 0

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 32 1 31 .969 65:00

Nashville Predators Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
J. Saros 27 1 26 .963 65:00

J. Saros (Predators – G): Saves: 26, Save Pct.: .963

M. Fisher (Predators – C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

J. Vesey (Rangers – LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

As usual, Ranger fans traveled well to this game. I knew two people personally who went plus a ton of people from social media who went.

While many of you think it pains me to compliment Lundqvist (it doesn’t), he had another phenomenal game tonight. It was a vintage 2008-2013 era type of game for him, where he put the team on his back and hoped for the best.

This doesn’t change anything for me though because figure this, Predator’s back-up goalie, Juuse Saros, making $575,000 a year, opposed to Lundqvist, making $8.5M a year, also had a phenomenal game. Both goalies let up a goal a piece, but the Rangers were better in the shoot-out. I’ve buried Hank for being horrible in shootout/breakaway situations. I’ll give him credit for two great games in a row, but Nashville tripped over their own dick on the shootout. Grandma Suzie from Boston could’ve saved the horrendous attempt Ryan Johansen took.

As a HOCKEY fan and someone who analyzes the rosters in the cap era, I still believe you can’t win a cup with a top 5 paid goalie in the cap era. I’ve yet to be proven wrong. As a RANGERS fan, I’d love to see Hank win a cup, because that means the RANGERS have won a Cup. My narrative remains unchanged – I want Hank and his contract out of here. I don’t think he can get it done. His contract sucks. I don’t like him personally for hitting the Islanders girl, the way he handled his contract negotiations, the way he blames his teammates after game, the whining, the crybaby faces, etc. That said, I’m forced to root for him to win, because that means the RANGERS win. I don’t root for him to lose, although I won’t lie – there have been times that I root for Hank to get blown out so Talbot or Raanta could’ve taken over and won the game! I’m still rooting for the NYR to win in either event!

It’s funny, before this game, MSG aired a special on the 1994 Cup team. I’ll save you my memories and stories from that time, because I have already gone off on enough tangents as it is! Aw fuck it, here’s just one story from that time:

I can remember watching Game 7 from my house with my dad and little brother. My grandfather, the patriarch of the family, had season tickets and would always call us to talk Rangers & Yankees. He went to Game 7 at MSG. I just turned 12 years old (my birthday is June 13th) and my brother was 4 years younger. However, we didn’t go to sleep after the game, despite it being past our bed time. We had to wait for our grandfather to call us whenever he could get to a payphone!

Anyway, the reason I brought that story up is because during this MSG special, you saw Richter & Messier playing and talking about their play. When I see Ranger fans go off on Nash & Lundqvist, it makes me want to shit myself. The people who talk about Lundqvist being the greatest of all time and how Nash is amazing, weren’t alive when payphones were a thing. I’m not trying to “age-shame” anyone, but do your fucking research, please. I didn’t see Frank Boucher or Bill Cook play, but I have read enough about them to know that both deserve to have their numbers retired at MSG. Ditto Ron Greschner, who played when I was a kid, but I was too young to remember.

I know as we get older, we tend to romanticize things and remember things better than they actually were, as we remember them through the eyes of our childhood selves. However, whenever I watch the highlights, or pop in my 1994 Rangers DVDs (I have a huge 28 disc box set that was released years and years ago) these memories hold up. Messier was that good. Richter was that good.

Even a short 22 years removed, the league has changed so much in that time, but to me, those 1994 Rangers really did give you a memory to last a lifetime. Let’s hope these Rangers give the new generation a memory to last a lifetime too!

I don’t know if these two fucks are about to kiss each other, but I would like to see the two highest paid players on the team kiss a cup in Ranger jerseys

While Jeff Gorton is the GM of this team, this is still for the most part, due to bad contracts, the team that Glen Sather built. Don’t forget, Nash was trade-bait this summer. Rick Nash, the highest paid skater on the team at $7.8M is being paid to score goals. Henrik Lundqvist, the highest paid goalie in the league, is being paid $8.5M to be the best goalie in the NHL. The Rangers also give Dan Girardi & Marc Staal over $6.5M each to be elite defenders. Has this all worked out this way? Of course not.

However, the Rangers won tonight 2-1 in another goaltending clinic, from both sides. The Rangers have gotten a lot of great goaltending ever since that ugly loss to the Islanders. Some will say Raanta “inspired” or “revved” Hank up. I hope that’s bullshit, because Hank shouldn’t need his back-up to outperform him every year to be motivated.

This 2-1 win is the team Sather envisioned. They got a goal from Nash. The defense was on point. When it wasn’t, Lundqvist played at an elite level and denied all comers. For one night, this game plan worked. The big question remains – can this ever work in the playoffs?

King Raanta held court during warm-ups

Rick Nash scored early into the first period. It was a beautiful goal. He dominated and skillfully skated by two defenders and top shelved a goal. We didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the only score in regulation for the Rangers.

The Rangers fired and peppered away, but after a great looking goal from Nash, Saros calmed down and showed he can play too. I really thought the Rangers would be advertising Papa Johns in this game, but give credit to Saros, he made a ton of big stops.

With the Rangers carrying a lead of 1-0 in the first period, Nashville would get on the board next, half way through the second period. Mike Fisher got one by Lundqvist. A “fluky goal” might be exaggerating, but it would take super-human Talbot strength to save this shot!

For the next 30 minutes, both goalies stood on their heads, as this game went into OT.

In the 3 vs 3, the Rangers had the best look, as Kreider absolutely fucked up in front of a wide open net. He had a few chances tonight that he wasn’t able to convert on.

With the crowd giving him shit all game for spurning them, Jimmy Vesey scored the first shootout goal after Johansen royally blew his chance. I still don’t get why the home teams want to shoot first. Do they want to pressure the other goalie?

Craig Smith then missed his chance at tying the shootout. Zuccarello made a sweet move, and the Rangers took the game, the shoot-out and two points, winning 2-1.

For the Rangers, it’s good to see Lundqvist in a groove. As I’ll say all season – only the playoff performances will matter. That also applies to Rick Nash.

Hudson rivalry game tomorrow!

With the win, the Rangers move into a virtual tie for first place in the Metro. To be honest, I’m not really worried about the standings until March. As long as the Rangers have a playoff spot, it’s all I care about. The playoffs are a whole new season and anyone can get hot and win it all.

The Rangers, as we speak, are on a plane back to NY, as they host the Devils Sunday night in MSG. As far as who starts in goal, I do not care. You can make a case for Lundqvist, as he had time off and is hot right now. You can make a case for Raanta, who shut the Devils out a week ago and you don’t want him getting cold either.

Bottom line, I do not care who starts in goal tomorrow. However, I do care about who starts in net on Tuesday night, against the Penguins. I want Lundqvist in that game.

Beating Dallas & Nashville, two teams that aren’t playoff teams right now, is what you’re supposed to do. Unless the Rangers play them in the Cup, they most likely won’t see these teams in the playoffs.

The Penguins, the reigning Cup champions, have given Lundqvist fits for the last two seasons. They have put up 4+ goals a game against him, multiple times. So while others may push “THE KING IS BACK” nonsense, let’s see how he does against a team that he will most likely see come playoff time. As of right now, the road to the Cup for the Rangers goes through Pittsburgh. The Rangers & Hank have been terrible in the last 10+ games against them. Tuesday will be a huge test and we’ll see who these Rangers really are.

However, for now, enjoy the shootout win and let’s hope the Rangers make short work of the Devils tomorrow. Depending on my schedule, I may be back tomorrow night too!

Until then…

LGR

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

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