NYR/ANA 3/26 Review: Five Past Lundqvist (BUT IT’S NOT HIS FAULT!), Admitting Lundqvist Has Peaked, Crappy Refs, Are the Rangers Destined To Be One & Done Let’s Chew Gum, Stepan & Nash Both Score In The Same Game Again, Watching The Inevitable But Knowing You Can’t Do Anything About It, Kevin Klein Returns But MSG Ignores It & Much More From An Ugly Loss

Lundqvist doing what he does best these days – throwing a hissy fit at a ref after giving up a goal. Photo Credit: USA Today.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. In case you missed last night’s late game, you can get my 5000 word manifesto on King Raanta’s shutout here:

NYR/LA 3/25 Review: King Raanta Shuts Out & BEATS LA, The Return of Lundqvist & Wondering How Long His Leash Will Be in the Playoffs, Finding Sam Rosen, The Joe Micheletti Comedy Hour, Rick Nash Grinds My Gears, A Rare Stepan Goal, Line Changes & More Ranger Ranting & Ravings

 

Tonight, the Rangers, with the returning Henrik Lundqvist, were defeated by the Anaheim Ducks, losing 6-3.  The talk of the game is obviously about the return of Lundqvist.

I’ve done this topic to death here on this blog. It’s just aggravating watching this crybaby, game in and game out. When I think about it, what drives me nuts the most is that I know I’m right about this goalie topic, just like how I was right about Talbot.

We all know the deal. Barring injury, Lundqvist will start in the playoffs. The goal for the next 6 games will be to get “Lundqvist ready for the playoffs.” How pathetic is that? He’s only had the World Cup of Hockey & the entire season to be ready for the playoffs. The way this man is coddled by people is sickening. I’m surprised he doesn’t get a Stanley Cup playoff participation trophy every season too.

So many times, I have the Lundqvist fan-boys come at me and tell me that “it’s a team game”, like they are dropping some pearl of wisdom at my doorstep. Of course, it’s only a “team game” when it’s convenient for them. If this was truly a “team game”, then AV would park Hank’s ass on the bench and would be focused on getting Raanta ready for the playoffs. After all, Raanta has been better than Hank all season long. Going with Lundqvist for the playoffs is just a move on reputation alone. It’s not because he earned it this season.

Unfortunately, I will sit back and I just know Hank will get torched by Montreal in the first round. Raanta will probably get a start for a Game 3, when the Rangers are already down 0-2. For some reason, people just can’t admit that Father Time has caught up to Lundqvist. Very few athletes are able to be at the top of their game at the end of their careers. There are guys like Mariano Rivera, who retired on top and Tom Brady, who is the best QB ever for my money, but they are rarities and not the norm.

The goaltending position isn’t like a fine wine. Goalies don’t get better as they near 40 years old.  Like me, Lundqvist is closer to 40 years old than 30 years old. The things you could do when you were younger are harder to do when you get older. For example, I used to be able to do a ton of shots with my 20 beers at a bar. Now, as I approach 35 years old, I can do 2-3 shots with my beer. Anything else, and I’ll have a hangover the next day. Same thing applies here for Lundqvist. He can’t put down as many shots as he used to!

Ever since winning the Vezina in 2012, it’s been a slow and steady decline for Lundqvist. Photo credit: NHL.com

Many of you follow me on social media and sometimes will just read my one liners than actually read what I put in these blogs word-for-word. Sometimes, some of you guys get so bent out of shape, that I admittedly “troll” you guys on Hank, just because I laugh about how nuts people get over the opinion of someone they don’t know in real life. Tonight alone, I got a death threat from someone who obviously needs some sort of mental help. Another person told me that Lundqvist was better than Marty Brodeur & is one of the top 5 goalies of all time. Obviously, that is fucking ridiculous. However, that person is entitled to that opinion and I won’t lose any sleep over it. If that person really believes Hank has had a better career than Fat Marty, than more power to him, it doesn’t affect my life.

That said, I just don’t know how people ignore the facts. Just look at the stats and numbers. Raanta is better than Lundqvist in 2017. We are seeing teams go younger at the goalie position and winning. Time and time again, fans are scrambling to make excuses for Lundqvist. These people can’t see the forest for the trees.

Tonight, Lunqvist had a bad game. Everyone is quick to blame the Rangers defense. Newsflash: Raanta plays with the same defense and doesn’t have these 4,5,6 goals allowed games on a routine basis. Raanta was in many situations of peril last night, and do you know what he did? He stopped everything. Breakways, screens, deflections, two on ones, you name it.

The next excuse is that Hank was coming back and needs time. Guess what? When Raanta returned from his injury, after nearly 3 weeks off, he came back and shut down the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that is much better than the Ducks.

Another excuse is that “The Rangers play better in front of Raanta.” Say that’s even true. If you think like that, then shouldn’t Raanta be your playoff starter? It’s a “team game” after all, and if Raanta is what’s best for the team, why must we suffer with this Lundqvist project every fucking season? I do like that it’s never considered that maybe the Rangers don’t play better in front of Raanta. Maybe the Rangers play better when Raanta is in net because Raanta is better than Lundqvist. Perish the thought!

I’m sure Lundqvist will eventually have a good game in these next upcoming 6 games. That said, I’m sure he’ll have another stinker. There’s just no consistency with him anymore. Unfortunately, I just know I will be watching the Rangers fail this Spring with Hank again, while everyone points fingers and ignores that the person who gives them the best chance to win this season, is Antti Raanta.

Oh and I love the people who are so quick to put down Raanta, are the first ones to make excuses for a Hank loss. These are also the same people who said Cam Talbot would never be a starter in the NHL. The loyalty to Lundqvist is admirable, but it also makes you delusional. You know what’s really sad – when “unbiased” reporters attack fans for saying Lundqvist isn’t the same anymore, but have nothing to say when Talbot & Raanta shine this season. Does Lundqvist have these reporters bought or what?

Seriously – read what non-NY media outlets say about Lundqvist this year. Go read an Edmonton publication and how they are raving about Talbot this year. Even the stuff on the MSG networks is getting so sugary, I’m getting a cavity. Hearing Steve Valiquette & Joe Micheletti make it seem that Lundqvist is the only goalie in the league that puts up with deflections and screens was mind-boggling. All I can say, is just like last night, I hope AV has a shorter leash with Lundqvist come these playoffs.

Kevin Klein returned tonight, but the MSG Networks figured that was a non-story. Photo Credit: CBS sports.

I’m on record – I enjoy the MSG Networks crew. I may criticize them from time to time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I enjoy their work. However, tonight was a disgrace. The MSG Networks mentioned how Lundqvist was returning tonight about 7678967896789678967896867896789 times. (They didn’t mention he’d be in playoff form too! 5 goals allowed, someone is getting ready for Pittsburgh!) MSG Networks omitted that Klein was returning tonight. Are you serious? Kenny Albert mentioned it matter-of-factly after the puck dropped, but there was not one mention on the MSG pregame show. As Chris “Mad Dog” Russo would say, “poorly produced.”

With Klein back, here was what AV rolled out:

Nash/Zibanejad/Vesey

Kreider/Zuccarello/Stepan

Hayes/Miller/Grabner

Fast/Lindberg/Buchnevich

On defense:

McDonagh/Klein (Replacing Girardi, who got the day off. I’m assuming why make Girardi play back-to-back games? Might as well keep him as fresh as possible for the playoffs.)

Staal/Holden

Skjei/Smith

While I don’t expect to ever see Pirri or Puempel in this line-up ever again this season, unless there is an injury, I don’t like Tanner Glass on the bench. He should be out there.

I have talked about how Smith will be out of this line-up come the playoffs, as Girardi & Klein will both be playing. However, after tonight, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t scratched for the San Jose game. He had a terrible game tonight.

As noted, Lundqvist returned tonight. I had no problem with that going in, because in reality, the Rangers will eventually clinch a playoff spot. It’s just a matter of when. The Rangers can clinch a playoff spot tomorrow if the Islanders lose to Nashville. That said, if the Islanders win tomorrow night, I think you can’t fuck around. Let Raanta play in San Jose, lock the playoff spot, then you can have your fun Lundqvist shit show experiment for the rest of the season.

Time for the official box score, courtesy of ESPN.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR ANA
5:54
Rick Nash (22)
Assists: Marc Staal, Mika Zibanejad
1 0
8:55
Patrick Eaves (26)
Assists: Cam Fowler, Ryan Getzlaf
1 1
14:32
Derek Stepan (15)
Assists: Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello
2 1
18:00
Ryan Kesler (21) (Power Play)
Assists: Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler
2 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
2:07
Corey Perry: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
2:07
Corey Perry: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick (Served by Rickard Rakell)
2:07
Brendan Smith: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
3:34
Rick Nash: 2 Minutes for Tripping
17:14
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Tripping

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR ANA
9:39
Josh Manson (5) (Shorthanded)
Assist: Ryan Getzlaf
2 3
13:10
Brady Skjei (5)
Assists: Jimmy Vesey, Mika Zibanejad
3 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
8:55
Corey Perry: 2 Minutes for Slashing

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR ANA
2:19
Andrew Cogliano (16)
Assist: Ryan Kesler
3 4
4:23
Patrick Eaves (27)
Assists: Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf
3 5
18:22
Nick Ritchie (13)
Assist: Corey Perry
3 6
Time Team Penalty Detail
19:05
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Tripping

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 33 5 28 .848 58:37 0

Anaheim Ducks Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
J. Bernier 28 3 25 .893 60:00 0

Hank apologists will blame anyone but Lundswiss for tonight’s loss. Whatever happened to the “Give me two goals and I got this” guy?

Ranger fans and Joe Micheletti will make every excuse in the book for tonight’s loss, but if you’re going to ignore Raanta has been better and put up with a worse defense last night, then what’s the point? Bottom line is Lundqvist is the highest paid goalie in the league. If he can’t make big stops, why are you paying him this much money? If you’re always going to give him a pass, can someone point me in the direction on how to get that job? I would love to get paid $8.5M to never be held accountable, say whatever I want without backing it up and get all the credit, but never any of the blame.

Let’s not forget, Lundqvist was the guy who said “Give me two goals and I got this.” He amended that quote this season, when he said, “I have to win the 3-2 games.” Maybe after tonight, he can change it to, “Give me 3 touchdowns, a field goal and a safety & I’ll keep it close.”

Before recapping the entire game, let’s get this out of the way first – the refs were completely atrocious tonight. They arguably swung this game in favor of the Ducks. The Ducks benefited by getting one goal, and the Rangers having a goal waved off. The Rangers lost by two goals, so was the fix in? I think these refs are too stupid to fix games. They are just incompetent and inconsistent.

For starters, Corey Perry hit Brendan Smith in the back and sent him into the boards. Smith retaliated and hit Perry from behind. No call either way. After that, these two got into a fight. If Perry was called for the original questionable hit, there would be no fight. It’s funny, after all this, I said watch the refs start calling ticky-tacky penalties. That’s exactly what happened.

A minute after Perry & Smith were sent to the box for their fight, Nash was called for a phantom tripping call. You can’t make this up. These refs have been so fucking terrible this year, but since they don’t get reprimanded & like Lundqvist, never held accountable, they can change the tone of the game whenever they want.

Nash, who was wrongly penalized, would score the first goal of the game, 6 minutes into the first period. Similar to his goal against the Islanders, Nash took a strong shot at Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier. Bernier got some of it, put Nash muscled this puck so much that it trickled by Bernier. 1-0 good guys.

Lundqvist, showing that he hasn’t missed a beat, immediately surrendered a goal 3 minutes later. Lundqvist gave up a bad rebound on a Cam Fowler shot and Patrick Eaves took the puck and beat Hank. 1-1. Of course, Micheletti blamed Marc Staal for the goal. It’s like Micheletti lives in his mother’s basement too. Plus, not for nothing, if you’re looking to blame anyone but Hank, for not controlling the rebound, Nick Holden was more out of position than Staal.

With under five minutes to go in the first period, Derek Stepan joined Rick Nash in the scoring. Nash, who has now scored in four straight games (One goal was an empty netter), saw another alternate captain go on a multi-game scoring streak. This time, Stepan was the benefit of a 3 on 1 rush. Zucc and Kreider made perfect passes and even Stepan couldn’t ruin the shot by ringing it off a post. 2-1 good guys. Let’s hope this is the turnaround for 21.

However, because Lundqvist is gonna Lundqvist, he blew the lead late into the period. With Smith in the box for tripping (Smith would take 3 penalties tonight & arguably had his worst game as a Ranger), Kesler deflected a deep slap shot from Getzlaf and got a PPG. This was controversial.

What concerned me about this play was that Lundqvist once again struggled with a deep shot. Hank’s reads on deep shots are as bad as his stick handling this season. What was controversial was that Kesler’s stick looked to be high on the deflection. You know me, I’m not the biggest Hank fan in the world, but even I thought this was a high stick. The refs took a look and said otherwise. That said, while I thought this should’ve been disallowed, Lundqvist has been terrible at reading deep shots & needs work in this department.

What also bothered me here was Hank throwing his diva hissy fit. In recent seasons, he’s been a little cunt when he gives up goals, whether it be finger pointing, screaming at his D, whining at refs or flipping his own net. This is a sign of a someone who is rattled. For a guy who used to be so cool, calm and collected, he seems more unhinged than one of those people ranting about Jesus at Penn Station.

2-2 after twenty.

It’s tough to see the Rangers lose after Stepan & Nash both miraculously scored in back-to-back games together. Photo Credit: Newsday.

The Rangers, who were out-shot in every period tonight, struggled to get anything going offensively in the second period. For about 8 minutes there, the Ducks had a 3-0 shot advantage over the Rangers. Corey Perry, who seems to get dirtier with each passing season, took a slashing call. The Rangers power play would once again betray them, this time leading to a short handed goal. Josh Manson beat Hank on an odd-man penalty kill rush. In a save that Raanta made last night, Hank looked befuddled and was beaten. 3-2 bad guys.

At the 13 minute mark of the second period, the Rangers would tie it up, this time off the stick of the birthday boy, Brady Skjei. Skjei turned 23 years old today. Damn that made me feel old. This goal was similar to the Stepan goal, as Skjei benefited off a good Rangers rush. Vesey & Zibanejad joined Skjei and Skjei got it right by Bernier to tie the game at 3.

At this point in the game, all 3 Ranger goals were hard work goals. They perhaps could’ve got two more from Kreider, who nearly missed a deflection for a goal and had a shot ring off the pipe.

I’ve talked about Raanta and his “BITCH PLEASE” mic-dropping glove save. When he does that, he’s in the zone. Tonight, I didn’t really see anything that made me feel confident in Lundqvist. He looked a tad jittery and never exuded that confidence that we’ve seen from him before. With the game tied at 3-3 after two periods, I felt the Rangers were going to have to win the third period 2-1 to win the game. I knew Lundqvist was bound to give up one, but instead he gave up two goals in two minutes, blowing the game for the Rangers.

The Rangers had a crappy third period, which is out of character for them. However, they gave Lundqvist two leads and gave him three goals. I talked about this last night. Raanta, when the Rangers are playing bad, keeps them in games. Lundqvist just puts them in these holes and the Rangers have a tough time digging themselves out of it. I wonder if Lundqvist realizes that you get 50% off Papajohn’s when the Rangers score 3+ goals, not when he gives up 3+ goals.

Cogliano would score two minutes into the third period after a Ducks faceoff win. The puck bounced off Lundqvist and Lundqvist gave up another crappy rebound for the easy Cogliano slam dunk goal. 4-3 bad guys.

Two minutes later, Lundqvist looked lost, as Patrick Eaves got his second goal of the game. 5-3 bad guys.

The Rangers, late in the third period, looked like they had a goal from Marc Staal, but the refs deaded the play, despite the puck being live. This was the second controversial scoring play to go against the Rangers. The Rangers essentially lost by two tonight (The Ducks would add a meaningless empty netter) and these refs hurt them tonight.

The Rangers would pull Hank with three minutes remaining, down two goals. The Rangers would turn the puck over and Nick Ritchie would put the game away with 90 seconds to go, with the EN goal. 6-3, your final.

Image result for alain vigneault gum

While it would’ve been nice to see Lundqvist have a strong outing, in reality, this loss doesn’t kill the team. It still looks like they are lock for the first wild card. I am nervous about Montreal, as I mentioned in last night’s blog. I’m very concerned about this whole “CODDLE BABY HENRY” shit. We have a goalie in Raanta that is playing well, yet we are trying to force Lundqvist to revert to his prime. It hasn’t happened this season.

I’m really hoping we don’t have a repeat of last year with Alain Vigneault – “One and done, let’s chew gum!” However, I can’t do anything about it. I feel like Marty McFly and Doc Brown. I know what happens in the future, but unlike them, I can’t alter the future. I will have to sit back, watch the Rangers continue their insanity by rolling out Lundqvist & expecting to win a Cup and just ride this terrible contract out.

What also will be a kick in the pants will be watching Raanta start somewhere else next year and be successful, just like Talbot. Seriously, when will someone in the organization finally admit that Lundqvist doesn’t have it anymore? With this upcoming Vegas draft, the best bet for NYR is to get Hank to waive his NMC. This way you can protect Raanta, although, I do feel that if he can start somewhere else, the Rangers won’t chain him down here. That said, you could trade Raanta for a better haul and suffer with Lundqvist, since that seems to be the plan.

Say you get Hank to waive his NMC & protect Raanta, do you really think Vegas is going to draft Hank, just because he may be an attraction? No GM is going to give a middle of the pack goalie 13% of their salary cap. Only Senile Sather is stupid enough to do that.

I know that Hank will eventually have a good game during this stretch, but the two key games to me, are the ones against Pittsburgh. If Hank has his doors blown off like usual, I feel it will be more of the same for the Rangers.

The Rangers special teams are also so inconsistent, you don’t know what you will get on any given night. The best bet the Rangers have at making a deep playoff run, this season, is to average 4-5 goals a game, just so they can keep up with what Hank gives up. All I can do is watch & hope that I’m wrong. That said, when it’s come to the topic of Lundqvist these last three seasons, I haven’t been wrong on this blog. Just check the archives, it’s all there.

“We’re gonna need a better goalie than Lundqvist.”

Up next for NYR, the finale of their California road trip, as the Rangers head on south to San Jose to the Shark Tank. On who starts in net, it all depends on what the Islanders do tomorrow. If the Isles lose, meaning the Rangers clinch a playoff spot, then continue your Hank Frankenstein experiment. If the Isles win, I’d start Raanta and lock this down, since five out of the final six games are against top teams looking for the number 1 seed in their division. (Pittsburgh twice, Sharks, Caps & Sens.)

I’m cutting this one short tonight, because while I could’ve done another 2000 words on Lundqvist, you’ve heard me say it all before. Just like the Rangers in the playoffs with Hank, I’m defeated. I will just never understand what this guy has over this team. He’s not what’s best for business and he’s not what’s best for this team RIGHT NOW. All I can hope is that AV sees the light and inserts Raanta into the playoffs before Hank puts this team into a hole that they can’t get out of.

See ya Tuesday.

As always,

Let’s Go Rangers

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

Comments

  1. in the likely rangers/montreal matchup, rangers may get lucky as montreal has trouble scoring, way weak up the middle. but with swisscheese, they’re still likely to score three. which means Rs will have to score 4 against Price. don’t see that happening. Habs are flawed, but price/ swisschees? price all day everyday. Raanta/ Price? wouldn’t make a call, but think that would be a pretty damn good series. that could be 2-1 every game. habs couldn’t get scoring at trade deadline, so went big crusty. rangers will need glass every game. it’s all up to AV. a meek one and done, or a real compete for the cup. how quick to pine swisscheese? down 1-0 games, down 2?

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