NYR/NJD 3/21 Review: Rangers “Scott Norwood” Themselves to an Overtime Loss at The Rock, Big Picture, Penalty Kill Becoming a Problem, Joe Micheletti & His “Little Things”, Rangers Try To Get Tough Without Glass, Schneider & Raanta Come Up Big & More

How to sum up tonight’s loss in one picture.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Unfortunately, this will be a quick one, due to a 3:45AM alarm clock in my future. Tomorrow night will be a bit longer, as I want to review the new “Ice Guardians” documentary I saw, comment on James Dolan, plus give some thoughts on the Vegas expansion draft, in regards to the Rangers. In other words, stay tuned tomorrow night after the Ranger/Islander game!

As I have stated numerous times on this blog, I love going to games at The Rock. To me, it’s the best arena for hockey in this area and one of the better arenas in all of the NHL. Tickets weren’t too bad for this either. If I wasn’t a somewhat semi-responsible adult, I would’ve traveled to the Rock for this, but being more hung over and tired than usual on a Wednesday, wasn’t in my plans!

I did a massive rant in my last blog about King Raanta and other Ranger subjects in my last blog. If you missed it, you can check it out here:

NYR/MINN 3/18 Review: King Raanta & Rangers Tame The Wild (Har, Har, Har), The Playoff Push, Never-Ending Line-Up Changes, Political Correctness, The Traveling “Glassholes”, Are We Near the End of Raanta’s NYR Career, Putting The “Special” in Special Teams, A Huge Leslie Jones Rant, Talbot Making History & More

 

This rivalry has lost some juice ever since Marty retired, but this game brought some good action.

Tonight, at the Rock, the Rangers dropped a 3-2 OT decision to their Hudson River rivals, the NJ Devils. For the Rangers, as long as they don’t go on a massive winning streak and the other three Metro teams don’t go on a massive losing streak, the Rangers are fine. I talked about this in my last blog. Now is the time to shake up lines, try new plays and work on other areas that you think need work. All the Rangers gotta do is stay pace with everyone else and get that first Wild Card.

I know many fans are doing the doom and gloom shit after tonight’s loss and are even saying the Rangers are an easy first round exit. However, you gotta watch what the Atlantic teams are doing. They aren’t lights out either. In fact, they struggle more than the Rangers do. Outside of Montreal’s Carey Price, the Rangers should have the goaltending advantage against any of the Atlantic teams. I also feel that the Rangers are deeper with their four lines than any of the Atlantic teams. Tonight’s loss doesn’t change my prediction – the Rangers are going to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Just like the Talbot era, whenever Raanta loses a game, my twitter feed blows up. It’s amazing how people just read headlines and not my full opinions. Yes Raanta lost tonight, but I wouldn’t pin any of the goals on him, just like how fans don’t pin goals on Lundqvist. That said, Raanta is $7.5M cheaper than Hank and the TEAM would be better using the savings on Hank, by putting that money into their defense. Raanta still has better stats than Hank too. If you’re watching what Talbot is doing in Edmonton, it’s nuts just  thinking (and knowing) that NYR will let another cheaper, younger and better goalie go.

In fact, I think the Rangers would be better off asking Hank to waive his NMC for the Vegas draft and protecting Raanta. I don’t think any GM would deal for Hank’s horrible contract, except for the Stars, who overspend at the goalie position & get limited results. I’ll go deeper on this tomorrow.

McDonagh had one of his weaker games of the season tonight. Photo Credit: SNY

The Rangers weren’t at their best tonight. In fact, you can sum up this loss very briefly:

  • The Rangers continued to shoot wide
  • The Rangers special teams continued to fail
  • The Rangers couldn’t execute in front of the net
  • Derek Stepan has a voodoo jinx on him
  • Schneider was able to match Raanta save for save.

I know I usually go on long rants here, but again, time is of the issue. Let’s get right into the box score, courtesy of ESPN.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
5:43
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Holding Kyle Palmieri

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
15:16
John Quenneville (1) (Power Play)
Assists: Joseph Blandisi, Pavel Zacha
0 1
16:53
Oscar Lindberg (7)
Assists: Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan McDonagh
1 1
18:22
Taylor Hall (18)
Assist: Kyle Palmieri
1 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
1:36
Steven Santini: 2 Minutes for Cross checking Chris Kreider
6:35
Derek Stepan: 2 Minutes for High-sticking Pavel Zacha
14:46
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Tripping Beau Bennett
19:43
Miles Wood: 2 Minutes for Instigator Nick Holden (Served by Joseph Blandisi)
19:43
Nick Holden: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Miles Wood
19:43
Miles Wood: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Nick Holden
19:43
Miles Wood: 10 Minute Misconduct for Instigator Nick Holden
19:43
Blake Coleman: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Jimmy Vesey
19:43
Jimmy Vesey: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Blake Coleman

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
1:21
Rick Nash (19) (Power Play)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Kevin Hayes
2 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

OT Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
4:05
Joseph Blandisi (3)
Assist: John Quenneville
2 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
5:43
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Holding Kyle Palmieri

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
15:16
John Quenneville (1) (Power Play)
Assists: Joseph Blandisi, Pavel Zacha
0 1
16:53
Oscar Lindberg (7)
Assists: Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan McDonagh
1 1
18:22
Taylor Hall (18)
Assist: Kyle Palmieri
1 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
1:36
Steven Santini: 2 Minutes for Cross checking Chris Kreider
6:35
Derek Stepan: 2 Minutes for High-sticking Pavel Zacha
14:46
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Tripping Beau Bennett
19:43
Miles Wood: 2 Minutes for Instigator Nick Holden (Served by Joseph Blandisi)
19:43
Nick Holden: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Miles Wood
19:43
Miles Wood: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Nick Holden
19:43
Miles Wood: 10 Minute Misconduct for Instigator Nick Holden
19:43
Blake Coleman: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Jimmy Vesey
19:43
Jimmy Vesey: 5 Minute Major for Fighting Blake Coleman

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
1:21
Rick Nash (19) (Power Play)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Kevin Hayes
2 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

OT Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR NJ
4:05
Joseph Blandisi (3)
Assist: John Quenneville
2 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Raanta 28 3 25 .893 64:05 0

New Jersey Devils Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
C. Schneider 40 2 38 .950 64:05 0

Jimmy Vesey has gotten more physical ever since he met Tanner Glass. Photo Credit: NY Post.

Coach Alain Vigneault rolled out the same lines and D as he did during Saturday’s win over the Wild. I am still not a fan of these lines, because breaking up Miller/Grabner/Hayes makes no sense to me. The new fourth line, dubbed the Kid line, of Vesey/Buchnevich/Lindberg, is producing points, but I don’t like Fast on the third line. I also don’t like the omission of Tanner Glass. Say what you want, but he brings something special to this team and brings something no one else brings.

This game started off very slow and it kinda dragged a bit for the first 35 minutes or so. However, a fight, late in the second period, would wake up these teams, which set up for an explosive and action packed third period, which was then followed by a thrilling OT. Ranger fans would’ve loved this game if NYR pulled it out, obviously. That said, this was still a great game to watch as a fan. We just didn’t get the desired finish.

The first period was kinda slow to start off, but by the end of it, the Rangers took a 14-11 shot advantage into the first intermission. Both goalies held down their forts, keeping the game at 0-0. McDonagh would take a terrible and blatant holding penalty, but NJ wouldn’t make NYR pay.

For most of 40 minutes, the Rangers would come close to scoring, but be denied. The Devils couldn’t do much and it seemed like the Rangers were playing down to their competition more than the Devils playing up to their competition. In other words, it was a NY Giants football game.

After missing numerous chances to score goals, the Devils finally made the Rangers pay, when John Quenneville logged his first NHL goal, a powerplay goal. This goal came off the Devils third powerplay of the evening, and really, it was only a matter of time before the Devils scored, since the Rangers were letting the Devils hang around.

Quenneville’s PPG came with less than 5 minutes remaining in the second period. He was left all alone, got the puck from cross ice and easily put it into the open net. That was a play the Rangers couldn’t execute all night. 1-0 bad guys.

As a result of Quenneville’s goal, the Rangers PK has now given up a goal in 7 straight games. Special teams have given me hemorrhoids all season.

Quenneville’s goal seemed to wake up the Rangers a bit, as under 90 seconds later, Lindberg took a perfect pass from the commie and beat a diving Schneider. 1-1 game. Hey, the Kids line is producing points, but at what cost? No Glass, a broken third line and Fast playing above his pay grade.

However, the Devils weren’t done. 90 seconds after Lindberg’s goal, Taylor Hall took a cross ice pass from Palmeri and scored from the same spot as Quenneville did. The Rangers D left Raanta high and dry, which is something Ranger fans are used to. 2-1 bad guys.

To close the second period, there was a huge brawl, with three separate fights. Miles Wood kicked Nick Holden’s ass. Blake Coleman took Vesey to the cleaners. The rest of the players hugged each other, like those Brokeback Mountain guys from the Tin Cup Whisky commercials. This is where you miss Glass. While it was admirable that you had the Rangers showing a willingness to fight, the Devils pounded them.

What I didn’t like was that Wood got an instigator penalty. I don’t like the instigator penalty in general and I’ll talk more about that tomorrow night in my “Ice Guardians” review. In short- you’re allowing more cheap shots to be taken in games, because guys are scared to fight, because they don’t want to put the other team on the PP with this instigator penalty.

At the end of 2, it was 2-1 Devils.

“Ok, Hank, I will have your dry cleaning ready for you in an hour.”

Joe Micheletti had another one of those games where you wondered how the hell does he have a job? From saying the NYC weather was warm to mentioning the Devils weren’t a playoff team about 8780780780788 times, Micheletti was more brutal than usual. Since Lundqvist is out, Joe’s new modus operandi is to talk about how great Rick Nash is and how Stepan is playing well but not scoring goals.

NEWSFLASH: NASH AND STEPAN ARE THE TWO HIGHEST PAID FORWARDS ON THE TEAM. THEY ARE PAID TO SCORE GOALS. IT’S GREAT THAT THEY DO THE LITTLE THINGS, BUT THEY ARE PAID TO DO THE BIG THINGS TOO.

As fans, we all want these players to do well and execute, but can anyone speak with any sort of objectivity on the MSG Networks? Only Ron Duguay will call it like he sees it. I know it’s a Dolan thing, but it’s hard to take the announcers seriously when they are telling me how great Papa John and Rick Nash are.

It was funny, during this second intermission, I said maybe AV could sneak Glass into a Nash jersey for the third period. What happens? Rick Nash scores a backhanded PPG to start the second period, 2-2, tie game! Perhaps my negative reverse jinx on Lundqvist will one day result in a Cup too!

I will give Joe some credit here though, when Nash scored, he said Nash has to score more goals. No shit, but at least this stopped his “little things” speech. (I was going to make a little things/penis joke, but I am too mature for that. Yeah right! I wonder if Joe has been given the “little thing” speech from wife! I kid, I kid! After all, Joe isn’t married, he would never cheat on his Lundqvist blow up doll! <Rim Shot>)

Stepan, who is showing everyone that his goal in Detroit was a fluke & not the start of a turnaround, rang a GWG off the crossbar. Joe did say Stepan was “snake-bitten”, but at this point, it looks like he’s been devoured by a T-Rex. Joe then went into his “little things” speech for Stepan.

Listen, I want Nash and Stepan to do well, but they are just not performing to their contract. I expect guys like Grabner and Miller to do the little things. The fact that Grabner has the most goals on the team & Miller has the most points is great, but it is also tells you what kind of season Nash & Stepan are having.

The “FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE” of the third period was a shit show for the Rangers. It turned into the King Raanta show, with Raanta making the majority of his third period saves in this frame of time. The Rangers just fell apart defensively and Raanta kept the game tied, despite numerous great looks from the Devils. To be fair, Schneider held his end of the bargain for the majority of the third period.

It’s just amazing how the Rangers can play a strong defensive game for 55 minutes, barring a lapse or two there (It happens with every team, no NHL defense is perfect) and then completely fall apart with the game on the line. The Rangers were lucky to have the chance to play for two points in the OT.

In the overtime, the Rangers had some great looks, but Schneider made saves. Other times, the Rangers just couldn’t get the good shot off. The end of the game saw McDonagh take the typical wide right blast, Quenneville took the easy rebound off the long ricochet and fed Blandisi, who was all alone with Raanta. 3-2 in the OT, despite the Rangers taking three times the amount of shots as the Devils in the OT. In fact, this was the only shot the Devils had, but when you’re left all alone in front of the net, it’s the only shot you need.

It’s time for the Glassman to return. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Normally, a loss to a cellar dweller team would have me up in arms, but big picture folks – wild card, wild card, wild card. Here’s the updated standings:

Metropolitan Division
GP
W
L
OTL
P
GF
GA
Diff
L10
STRK
Capitals
72
47
17
8
102
232
161
71
5-4-1
W2
Penguins
72
46
17
9
101
252
199
53
8-1-1
W3
Blue Jackets
71
47
18
6
100
228
164
64
8-2-0
W4
Rangers
73
45
24
4
94
233
192
41
5-3-2
L1
Islanders
71
33
26
12
78
210
218
-8
4-4-2
L2

The Rangers are comfortably ahead of the Islanders for the first Wild Card and comfortably behind the Blue Jackets for third place. The Rangers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 7, which means any combination of Ranger points & Islander points missed, will lock the Rangers spot in the playoffs.

The Rangers play the Islanders tomorrow. A regulation win would bring the magic number to 3 (2 points for the Rangers win, 2 points missed for the Islanders.) I’m really not concerned with the Islanders catching the Rangers, as much as I am with the Rangers catching third place. However, I gotta think that AV, who must never listen to me, is aware of last year and will try to play for the Wild Card. I told everyone last season that beating Detroit on the final day of the season was a mistake. I guess AV had to see it for himself.

As far as tonight’s loss, there are causes for concern. The Rangers MUST improve on special teams. They also need a full practice of shooting on net. While shooting wide and hard will kill you in OT every time, it does no favors for you 5 on 5. You’re better off giving up velocity for accuracy. At least with a shot on net, it could go in, or you get a deflection or a rebound. Shooting wide gives you no chance to score & can lead to a rush the other way. This is just simple stuff the Rangers haven’t grasped.

The Rangers also must figure out why they play down to their competition, rather than stomping on their throats. The Rangers, especially with Raanta in net, always play well against tougher teams. The Rangers need to be motivated and kick the shit out of the teams that they are supposed to kick the shit out of.

As far as tomorrow (or tonight, depending on when you read this) for the Islanders game, I would still roll out Raanta. Lundqvist is expected back for the Cali loop (which takes place after the Islanders game).

On an aside, speaking of the Cali loop, the Rangers & Oilers will be doing the same tour this weekend. If anyone wants to donate $2000 to me, so I can fly out and watch 6 games, let me know! (I kid, I kid, but hey, if you want to send me money so I can go to games, I won’t be opposed.) These games are important for both teams. NYR could clinch their playoff spot while Cam Talbot could tie & then break the all time record for wins by an Oilers goalie in a season. In Cam We Trust!

Raanta has handled back-to-back’s well all season. He’s sleeping in his own bed tonight and there was only an additional 5 minutes of travel than a home and home back-to-back.

I would also get Glass back in the line up. Ranger/Islander games are usually physical. I would sit Fast, put 10/40/13 back, put Vesey on the second line and let Glass play with Buch & Lindberg. I know that’s an unpopular opinion, as everyone is overrating Fast these days, but I think it’s the right move for this game.

I would also go with Kampfer over Clendo as well, since Kampfer is better defensively & the Rangers, especially with Lundqvist, always struggle to prevent goals with the Islanders.

If you have the means, the Garden of Dreams does a lot of good work.

I’m not going to give you my whole Garden of Dreams spiel, I did that the last three fundraisers. However, if you got the means, a $100 donation goes a long way to a charity that tries to better down on their luck kids. An experience with Garden of Dreams could change a jaded kid and give them hope. The Rangers held another fundraising drive tonight and before the puck dropped, they already raised $10K. I’m sure they probably did ten times as much by the time this game ended.

While I will never find Dolan as charitable as someone like George Steinbrenner (more on that tomorrow, but did you know that Steinbrenner’s charity is paying for the education, of the kids of the EMT, that was murdered last week?) it is important to try to create and instill optimism in the next generation. After all, it’s not like they will be able to afford tickets to these future black tie affair games. Yea, more on that one tomorrow too!

In closing, this was an exciting game to watch, at least for the last 25 minutes or so. I’m not thrilled with the loss, because a lot of problems still remain with this team. That said, I think the entire Atlantic division is more flawed. Time will tell.

Time for a 4 hour power nap and then to deal with the miserable LIRR!

Long blog tomorrow!

As always,

Let’s Go Rangers

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *