What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As I write these words on my computer, I got the NFC Championship game on. The Rangers didn’t give much effort today in Detroit, in their 1-0 OT win, so I’m going to follow suit. Plus, I want to power through this blog and get back to the football!
After two days off, the Rangers gave an effort that made you wonder if they were drinking & pedaling around Detroit during the wee hours last night. A 12:30PM start is never player-friendly, but the Rangers did have two days off before this game. Luckily enough for the Rangers, Detroit (and their fans) didn’t bother to show up either.
I’ve never seen a deader and emptier building at the Joe in Detroit than I did today. Granted, I don’t watch many Red Wing games from start-to-finish, but I can’t remember this storied franchise ever looking this pathetic. The Red Wings, who have been to the playoffs for 25 straight years, are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-1990 season. Their arena, the Joe Louis arena, is in its last year, as the Red Wings move to the Little Caeser’s Pizza Ice Palace next season. Talk about the ugly face of corporate advertising. Some buildings should avoid being corporately named, like Yankee Stadium, MSG or Fenway Park. The same applies here. If the economy doesn’t make Detroit residents depressed already, the renaming of Hockeytown’s arena will do it.
I still can’t get over how empty Detroit was today. The whole lower bowl was empty on TV all game. In its last season, it’s like the fans don’t want to be bothered if the team isn’t going to make the playoffs. Sure, the NFL championship games are on today and it was an early start, but to see an Original 6 game played in front of an empty and dead crowd was sad. It looked like the crowd used osmosis on the players too, as both teams looked lethargic, lazy and unmotivated. The two goalies, Henrik Lundqvist and Jared Coreau, were the only two players that showed up. Granted, they didn’t have much work, but they did their job when their number was called.
As always, this Rangers team, come the playoffs, will live or die with Henrik Lundqvist. He’s the highest paid goalie in the league and routinely has been proven to be overrated and overpaid. His stats are horrible and he’s playing the worst hockey of his career in 2016-2017. While it was good to see him get a shutout in a crappy game, Ranger fans should also consider the quality of opposition. Detroit looked terrible and aren’t a playoff team. That said, Lundqvist did his job today and that’s all you can ask for. We will need these type of games from him when it comes against teams that matter – the Penguins, the Capitals, the Bluejackets, the Flyers, the Canadiens, the Senators and hell, even the NY Islanders.
I always preach that the good teams should always beat the bad teams and the Rangers did just that today. There are exciting 0-0 games. My favorite 0-0 game to this day, was Dan Girardi beating the Islanders in OT in the Coliseum. I attended a great 0-0 game earlier this season, when the Rangers beat the Blackhawks in Chicago, after a Holden OT winner. Both of those games had playoff vibes to them. This game was not that. This felt like a preseason game. Just a lackadaisical effort from both squads.
Fans who watched this entire game must be insomniacs, as this was easily the most boring game of the season. At least they were rewarded at the end, as a late Detroit goal would’ve just been infuriating.
As far as the biggest stories coming out of the game, Thomas Vanek of Detroit didn’t play the final forty minutes of the game, as he ate a shot from his own team in the closing seconds of the first period. Kevin Hayes didn’t play the third period, after what looked like a knee-to-knee hit. As of this writing, it’s not known if Hayes will miss any time or was just shaken up here. Hopefully it’s nothing, as Hayes is playing the best hockey of his young career.
Again, this is a quick blog with the football playoffs on, so let’s get right to the box score, credit to ESPN.com:
1st Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
||Mike Green: 2 Minutes for Interference of Rick Nash|
||Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Delaying the game|
2nd Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
||Kevin Klein: 2 Minutes for Holding Anthony Mantha|
||Dylan Larkin: 2 Minutes for Tripping Brady Skjei|
||Pavel Buchnevich: 2 Minutes for Interference of Gustav Nyquist|
||Mike Green: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick Kevin Hayes|
3rd Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
||Jonathan Ericsson: 2 Minutes for Hooking Mika Zibanejad|
||J.T. Miller (16)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Mats Zuccarello
|No penalties this period|
Ranger fans right now are like America – divided. You have the pro-Hank guys who will bring up his history & what he’s done and you have the people like me, looking for change. I understand what Hank has done for this team, but at the same time, he hasn’t won a Cup and I think with this salary cap, the Rangers are better off moving on from him, going cheaper at goalie and upgrading the team in other areas. That said, it is funny how many people hate-read this blog, just to see what I’ll say about Lundqvist next.
Like Jekyll and Hyde, the Rangers have seen vintage Henrik Lundqvist (albeit, not that much) and the Rangers have seen Henrik Lundswiss, the guy who gives up 4+ goals a game. I thought it was silly to coddle and give him a Broadway Hat after the Toronto game. If anything, he deserved it today. As of this writing, there have been no pictures with the hat. I’m assuming Miller gets it for the OT winner. However, if you want this hat to have credibility, Hank deserved it.
It is just funny how the Rangers defense gets dumped on by Ranger fans when Hank has bad games, but no one is talking about how good the Rangers defense was today. The Rangers blocked 17 shots vs Hank’s 21 saves. McDonagh was a monster out there as well. Klein continues to regress a bit, but he blew a bigger offensive chance today than hurting the team seriously defensively. Many Ranger fans are killing Klein on social media, but you could argue that outside of the McDonagh steal from Montreal, Klein for Del Zaster was the best trade Sather ever made.
I thought both goalies played well for the most part, but to be fair, they weren’t challenged much. If you want to slam Hank, he was beat by Vanek, but Vanek screwed up and hit the post. Hank was also sloppy with his puck handling as usual and even freezed the puck on the PP twice, when it didn’t warrant freezing. Those are the only criticisms you could have of him today, as he continues to try to find himself. Again, keep in mind what type of team Detroit is. An effort like this against Pittsburgh would mean volumes more.
It’s tough to tell on TV vs being there live, where you can see everything, but since the Dallas debacle, it looks like the Rangers really have put an emphasis on blocking shots and playing tight defense rather than continuing their aggressive offense. Again, you can judge this better live than on TV and I watched the last two games on TV. The Rangers escaped and got the fuck out of Detroit with two points, but you have to wonder if this is going to be the norm now.
I have no problem with whatever system AV wants to use, as long as the team is winning. I just remember those Torts years, especially that 2012 year, when Lundqvist was in his prime (and the best he’s ever played in my opinion) that the Rangers were just shot. You can only eat so much rubber during the course of the season. You can’t have your players taking more rubber than a Thailand hooker. One of the keys to winning in the playoffs is being healthy. I know I said this countless times, but what if Zucc doesn’t get hurt in the 2015 playoffs? You can even argue Klein hasn’t been the same since breaking his arm by eating that Ovi slap-shot.
I think you just want to limit risks. I understand the Rangers are trying to get Hank’s confidence back, but at the same time, I don’t want to see guys dropping like flies and being banged up because they are forced to eat pucks because the star on their goaltender is dim. While I think this game was an aberation altogether, I wouldn’t want to see the Rangers offense drop off because they are just focused on making sure the feelings of their goalie are ok.
This game was 59 minutes of REM inducing play, with a minute of excitement sprinkled in. In the three vs three OT, Mats Zuccarello, who was double shifted after Hayes went down, found himself two on one against Red Wing back-up goalie, Jared Coreau. Zucc, who will never shoot the puck (He had a great chance of ending this game in regulation, but opted to turn over the puck than shoot it), made a perfect pass to JT Miller and Miller buried it for the winner. With the GWG, Miller leads the Rangers with 5 GWG’s this season.
This is a game you’d like to forget, unless you’re Henrik Lundqvist. He played well and hopefully this leads to a turnaround for him. I’m more jaded than most and try to keep things in reality. After all, this franchise has only won 4 cups in 90 years. I will always believe the Rangers, as a team, are better off without his contract. That said, he’s here and he played as perfect of a game that you could play. My biggest concern is if the Rangers are going to trade offense to stay home all the time defensively. However, it’s time to move past this game that was presented to you by “Sleepy’s” and move on to the next one.
One player I want to mention before closing is Rick Nash. He’s played well since returning from hurting his nut sack. However, with the Rangers going 0-4 on the PP, one thing I noticed was that he didn’t crash the net. There were a few times where he was off to the side of the net. He needs to use his big body and get in front of the goalie, especially a game like this, where one fluke deflection would’ve ended it. Nash is at his best when he’s aggressive in front of the net and I’d like to see more of that.
Rangers host the Kings tomorrow night in MSG. The Kings have been horrible this season, due to the injury to Jonathan Quick. With the Wings having a bad year and the Kings having a bad year, these are two great starts for Hank to get his confidence back. He’s always played well against Philly, who the Rangers close with on Wednesday night, before the ASG.
Also worth mentioning – Matt Puempel skated with the team this morning. With Fast out until after the ASG and with Hayes dinged up, Puempel could slide into the line-up tomorrow.
Gotta cut this short, it’s football time. I like the Pats and Falcons today, as I told ya on Thursday.
As always, LGR
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