NYR/TBL 3/6 Review: King Raanta Shuts Out The Bolts in a 1-0 OT Pressure Cooker, The Era of “The Glassiah” Tanner Glass Begins & Why He Should Be Appreciated, My Favorite Picture of the Game, Benoit Allaire, Ranger Problems Still Glaring With A DOA PP & Scoring Drought, Will Nash Turn The Corner & More From A Game Raanta Stole For the Rangers

King Raanta posted another shut-out tonight, his third of the season. Photo Credit: NY Rangers.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com! The Rangers just defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 1-0, in OT. Here’s the current mood:

 

Despite some fans calling this game “meaningless”, before the puck dropped, I wouldn’t subscribe to that theory. While I understand this wasn’t a “must-win” game, the Rangers needed to turn it around after dropping their last three home games. All three of those losses saw former Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist get outplayed by other Vezina winners, in Bobrovsky, Holtby & Price.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was furious after the effort against Montreal on Sunday. We all were. Feeling that his team needed a kick in the ass, the Rangers recalled Tanner Glass (making his NHL debut this season) and defenseman Steven Kamper from Hartford. More on Glass below.

With the Rangers needing a win to change their fortune, AV decided to sit Lundqvist, who has terrible numbers against Tampa, in favor of Antti Raanta. You know my speech already on Raanta vs Hank, but if you still think Hank is a better goalie than Raanta in 2017, you need to take off the blinders.

I mean, let the numbers speak for themselves:

GOALIE STATISTICS
PLAYER GP W L OTL GAA TOI SV SV% SHO TGA TSA PIM
Antti Raanta 22 13 5 0 2.24 1134:03 519 .925 3 42 561 0
Henrik Lundqvist 50 29 17 2 2.66 2816:57 1296 .912 2 125 1421 0

Keep in mind that Lundqvist makes $7.5 million more than Raanta.

It’s funny, after the game, Steve Valiquette was ranting and raving about how smart Tampa was to trade Bishop’s contract and go with the younger, cheaper and just as good Andrei Vasilevskiy. UM, HELLO? Does Cam Talbot ring a bell? You know, the guy the Rangers had and can possibly set the all time win record in a season for the Oilers? How about the guy you just watched tonight, Antti Raanta? The bias for Lundqvist and flat out ignoring the facts is incredible!

Listen, I get what Lundqvist has meant for this franchise. I also know what Messier, Leetch, Graves, Giacomin, Bathgate, Howell & Ratelle meant for this franchise. Unfortunately, especially in the cap era, you have to MOVE ON.

Another fact ignored by Valiquette and the “I just want Hank to get a Cup” people, is that the disparity among goalies isn’t what it used to be. Goalies are getting better. Sure, there are some stinkers out there, but the difference from the best goalie in the league, to the tenth best goalie, to the 30th best goalie, isn’t as bad as it used to be. Goalies are just getting better as time goes on. It’s why Hank’s $8.5M salary is ridiculous under the current cap conditions.

With the Rangers having another terrible game in front of their netminder, King Raanta held down the fort and made a ton of saves. He made 10 PP saves, even featuring one sequence where he made a flurry of four key saves. He would also make several big saves with under a minute in regulation, and would make a game changing save in OT.

Now I know what the Hank fans will say. “Tampa isn’t Pitt, MTL or CBJ.” However, Raanta has beaten CBJ, was on his way to beating Montreal before getting hurt and beat Pitt. Raanta has also started most of his games on the road, has better numbers than Hank and has beaten a ton of quality teams, such as Chicago, CBJ, Pitt, etc.

In tonight’s game, both Raanta and Vasilevskiy were phenomenal. One soft goal changes the game. Raanta prevented soft goals. Ditto Vasilevskiy. How many times this season can you say that about Hank? I talked about this in my last blog, which you can read here:

NYR/MTL 3/4 Review: Lundswiss Exposed Against Another Top Team Again, Rangers Look Softer than the M$G Toilet Paper, Canadiens Dominate & Man-Handle NYR, Lundswiss Now 1-9 Against CBJ/PITT/MTL (But It’s Not His Fault!), Talbot Making History in Edmonton, & Much More From A Depressing & Concerning Loss from M$G

 

While the Rangers were losing 2-0, Hank gave up an incredibly soft goal, where he was lost, to make it 3-0 with 90 seconds left in the second period. If he was alert, the game would be 2-0 going into the third. I’m not saying the Rangers win, but I’m saying it’s easier to come back from 2-0.

Raanta was just a beast out there. I would rank this as his second best start of the season, as I think his first back-to-back start, where he was on the road in Chicago, and won another 1-0 overtime game, was just a hair more impressive than this win. The reason I bring up that Raanta swept a back-to-back start (Against the Jets & Chicago) is because he should start tomorrow in Florida. Seriously – give me one reason why he shouldn’t start tomorrow? It’s baffling that the Ranger reporters don’t even ask AV this.

That said, it’s going to be sad when the Rangers let Raanta go at the end of the season, since the modus operandi is “We have to win for our diva egomaniac goalie.” For the second time in three years, the Rangers have a better goalie than Lundqvist right in front of their nose. While teams like Pittsburgh and Tampa make the switch, the Rangers try to see how far they can push the textbook definition of insanity.

Tanner Glass looks pissed even in interviews!

In my last blog, I told you all about what a fan I am of Tanner Glass. I even wrote this in the preseason:

The Saga of Tanner Glass: Why AV’s Favorite Son Should Be On The 2016-2017 New York Rangers, Shooing Away the Glass Haters, Why I Think Gerbe Hangs Around & More

 

It made me happy like an Islander fan in shit, when I saw that Tanner Glass was called up to the team on Sunday morning.

This is what I first saw when I opened up my Twitter feed on Sunday:

Ron Duguay has been the voice of Glass fans on the MSG Networks.

I know many of you follow me on social media, and if you don’t, it’s @NYCTHEMIC, but I was jumping up and down when I heard the news. Duguay said it the best on the MSG pregame show on Monday night, “You need to have more than just skill guys on a team. You need to have some grit.” Well the Rangers got their dose of grit in Tanner Glass.

I’ve been preaching about Glass all season. I know he’s not the greatest hockey player in the world, but he’s just a guy that gives you that extra oomph. What is also never mentioned is his leadership. The guy has been an alternate captain or captain at every level in the league. He even wore the “A” for the Rangers in a few preseason games. He’s a solid veteran and if empowered, can help change a locker room, especially with a team that’s 0-0 heading into a third period.

Of course, Rangers twitter exploded about Glass. Some are talking about the guy like he’s worse than Bin Laden. Some, like me, appreciate what a player like Glass brings. Listen, what is Brandon Pirri doing right now for the team? He’s there for a PP. You know, the PP that is now 0-22, 1-36 in their last 13 games and 3-55 in their last 19 games. They have scored 3 powerplay goals since January 19th. Obviously, this isn’t all on Pirri. That said, he’s there for the PP. Obviously, when Grabner is healthy, I want him on the PP. I also want Glass on my roster for his intangibles, so I wouldn’t mind scratching Pirri the rest of the way.

Going into this game, I expected Tanner Glass to have the most energy and to be a mad man out there. After all, he’s been chomping at the bit all season to get back with the club. He’s had to make that depressing drive through the heart of Hartford on a daily basis, passing a Hartford Yard Goats baseball stadium, half empty restaurants and then drive home through the flickering & dim street lights. It’s not the life that he thought he would have this season.

So how did Glass do tonight? Well there is this:

 I thought this fight was an impressive showing from Glass. The guy is helmetless pounding on a guy with a helmet and a visor.  Luke Witowski should’ve manned up and tossed his cap too.

While watching this fight, all I could think about was the books I’ve read by or about NHL enforcers. Whether it be John Scott or Derek Boogaard or Bob Probert, they all say the same thing – they didn’t want to fight, they had to fight. They knew they were the spark for their team. They just wanted the fight to be over with.

Think about it. How fair is it if you’re Tanner Glass?  You are called up after being besmirched all year in Hartford and expected to trade fists. Plus, even if you do trade fists and get hurt, you could be sent back to the minors tomorrow. Tanner Glass is in an unenviable position, but that’s what he brings to an NHL team. While I think Glass is more than just a fighter, the Rangers called him up here to toughen these patsies up. For tonight, it worked.

It was pretty funny, before the game, MSG Networks had three different segments about Tanner Glass, like it was Mark Messier returning to the Garden. “The Glassiah”, while not on the same level as Messier, as you may have noticed, did positively effect his team though.

The first period had the “Glass effect” all over it. After Tanner’s fisticuffs, Jimmy Vesey got chippy and got his first roughing call of the season. You had Rangers finishing their checks and hustling. The only problem was Tampa goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy (And for the sake of the rest of this blog & my spell checker, it’s just gonna be Vasy from now on), was able to close the door on the Rangers.

What is underrated in the game of Tanner Glass is his forechecking and being able to force turnovers. One big play, later in the game, saw Glass intercept a puck because he hustled up his ass up the ice. Glass then found Vesey in front of the net. Vesey couldn’t deliver the dagger, but the fact is, Glass, due to being a nagging forechecker, forced a turnover and created a scoring opportunity. However, he will be most remembered for his fight tonight, for better or for worse.

Due to penalties on both sides, Glass wouldn’t get much time in the second period. In fact, Glass only finished with 5:17 of time on the ice. Glass isn’t on any of the special teams & with the 5 minute major in the first, his time was limited. However, you may as well throw him on the PP, since it’s so dreadful.

You know I always rant and rave that Michael Grabner should be on the PP. I kept ranting and raving on social media that he should be thrown out there. I was waiting for someone to correct me to say that Grabner wasn’t playing tonight, just so I could say, “Grabner in street clothes is better than this PP!”

While on the injuries, everything remains status quo. Girardi, Grabner, Klein & Fast are all out.

The line-up changes tonight were Glass, obviously, for Matt Puempel. As described above, I would scratch Pirri. Kampfer was in for Adam Clendening. The NY Post ran a story saying that Clendo was pissed about the scratch, but I wouldn’t make an issue about his comments. Of course he wants to play. If he was happy about being scratched, I would be pissed.

Seeing this bag in Florida made me feel good. Shit, I’ve been calling for this all season!

Let’s get to the official box score, courtesy of ESPN.com. You know it’s sad when ESPN gives you faster & better hockey coverage than NHL.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR TB
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
3:57
Jason Garrison: 2 Minutes for Holding
6:34
Tanner Glass: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
6:34
Luke Witkowski: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
7:12
Brandon Pirri: 2 Minutes for Slashing
10:53
Jimmy Vesey: 2 Minutes for Roughing
10:53
Brayden Point: 2 Minutes for Roughing
14:12
Gabriel Dumont: 2 Minutes for Boarding

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR TB
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
4:13
Chris Kreider: 2 Minutes for Interference
12:13
Rick Nash: 2 Minutes for Interference
13:49
Adam Erne: 2 Minutes for Cross checking
15:01
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Kneeing
16:50
Andrei Vasilevskiy: 2 Minutes for Delaying the game (Served by Jonathan Drouin)
16:56
Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR TB
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
2:52
Brandon Pirri: 2 Minutes for Tripping

OT Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR TB
3:56
Mika Zibanejad (9)
Assist: Ryan McDonagh
1 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Raanta 38 0 38 1.000 63:56 0

Tampa Bay Lightning Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Vasilevskiy 34 1 33 .971 63:56 2

I was wearing my Raanta jersey proudly tonight!

If you didn’t see the game, you missed a great one. The first period, despite being scoreless, was a fun battle with great goaltending from both sides. That would be the story of the game, aside from a second period that went on forever because the referees wanted screen time.

The Rangers looked energized out there. Glass brought the fight. Others followed. In a scary moment, Gabriel Dumont did this to Kampfer:

Textbook behind the back 5 minute hit here, but these refs…

Despite hitting Kampfer in the back and sending him head first into the boards, Dumont only got a 2 minute boarding.  I always say the NHL refs are the best out of the 4 major sports, but they’ve had a down year this season. This is as blatant as it gets. I don’t even care about the potential 5 minute powerplay, because the Rangers suck on the PP & they wouldn’t do anything anyway. By only hitting Dumont with two minutes is just a disgrace. Why should Dumont change his style of play? This hit was only worth two minutes. Luckily, Kampfer was able to return to the game.

In a period where the Rangers out-shot the Bolts 12-9, both teams skated to the locker room 0-0. The second period would be another star-studded affair from the zebras.

Glass is lucky he didn’t break his hand on a helmet or visor.

I will say, this was a good 0-0 game, but not a great one. Both goalies were phenomenal and we saw a lot of jaw-dropping saves. However, what separates this game from good to great was the atrocious second period. The referees called 6 penalties in the period and for tacky shit. Meanwhile, slashes would be ignored. I just can’t figure out these refs. It’s like playing Jenga after 20 beers.

The Rangers would go 0-3, in all on the PP, while Tampa finished 0-6. Not every PP was a full two minutes. I believe Tampa even had a 5 second PP in there, but it counts as a PP shift. The Rangers just looked horrible on their PP’s. In fact, their PK had better looks at Vasy than their PP.

I always say PUT IN GRABNER, and while he wasn’t an option tonight, something has to give. Send out the whole fourth line. Rick Nash can’t buy a PPG. He gets close but this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades. Stepan just kept turning over the puck. Zucc, who was shooting the puck more, was making that extra pass to nowhere. This coaching staff must fix this PP or the Rangers will be toast in the playoffs. You can’t keep blowing all these scoring opportunities.

The highlight of the Rangers second period was Raanta. There were no soft goals. There was no blaming the defense. This was a goalie, who mind you hasn’t played in 8 days, wanting to prove he’s a starter. Do you know how hard it is to be thrown into games cold and to put on an effort like this? But hey, it’s all about Hank, the cupless diva who can’t even spend a few minutes with kids.

I present you this:

 

The two posts above are from facebook from two fans who have no agenda. I want to state, I’ve NEVER had a negative interaction with a current or ex-NHLer. Sometimes fans bother these guys when they are eating and when they are with their kids. You just can’t do that. In the first case, it seems Hank blew off people on a day he wasn’t playing. I just don’t respect that.

You gotta remember, when I was a kid, I was an autograph seeker during the 1990’s. While Gretzky, Messier & Leetch would sometime duck out and try to avoid the throngs of people waiting, if you caught them, they would sign/take pics. The person that always stood out to me, and I’ve told this story a million times, is Adam Graves. The guy would purposely meet the fans after every game. He would even sign for the 50 year old creepy men, who were obviously selling this stuff. I can understand blowing those guys off, since they are trying to make a buck off you. It’s one thing to blow off a kid and another to blow off an adult trying to pimp your signature.

However, Adam Graves would always sign for everyone and couldn’t be nicer. He’s still like this to this day. I get that Hank may be swamped, but that’s part of the responsibility as a star. I don’t want to paint a picture that Hank is a scumbag to everyone, but I’ve heard these stories before from fans. However, Hank does run a charity and also does pose with fans before games. You just gotta catch him at the right time. That said, Henrik Lundqvist is no Adam Graves. Then again, few are I suppose.

Thanks to Bob Groder for a few of the pics in this blog, including this one. This was my favorite picture of the night. I still say Hank cost us the 2015 ECF. He just struggles with Tampa for whatever reason.

Back to the game.

In what’s been the case for the last few games now, the Rangers got a bit of a jump, then trailed off. They led the shots 12-9 after one, but then would get out-shot in the next two periods. There was one stretch in the second where Tampa had the first 9 shots and I don’t think the Rangers recorded a shot until halfway through the second period. This team just goes in these funks. AV has to rectify this.

Going into the third period 0-0, I was nervous. I didn’t want to see Raanta’s no-no broken up, but Tampa is desperate for points. I did find it odd that Joe Micheletti was talking about Tampa playing for a tie with ten minutes left in the third. They sure didn’t look that way and would apply a ton of pressure in the last 90 seconds of the game.

How do you describe Rick Nash tonight? To say “he had a game” would be fair. He crashed the net a little bit and that’s when I think he’s at his best. However, he just couldn’t score. His best play was in OT, where he battled through two Tampa defenders and was just robbed by Vasy. Nash has a lot of “oh so close” moments. I hope to be there to see the day where it’s a done deal that he will finish.

On Derek Stepan… ugh. I like the guy, but is he going to score this year?

On the newest Ranger, Brendan Smith, I thought he was solid tonight. He broke up a huge two on one attempt in this game. The way Raanta was locked in, he may have stopped it, but at least we didn’t have to find out.

This was really a game where the Rangers could’ve lost 5-0 if it wasn’t for Raanta. We’ve seen Lundqvist give up 5 goals to this team plenty of times, even giving up 6 in two straight games in the 2015 playoffs. To be fair, this isn’t the same Tampa team (No Stamkos or Callahan tonight) but Raanta was simply the man tonight.

The third period was a goalie clinic. Raanta would finish with 12 saves. Vasy made 8. Both goalies would finish the game with 38 and 33 saves respectively. Raanta was certainly the more challenged of the goalies, having to stop higher quality and closer shots. As a guy who has been singing the praises of Raanta all year, I felt vindicated!

The three on three OT was exciting, yet made you shart yourself, if not full out shit yourself. Raanta made a huge save. The Rangers would win the game when McDonagh poked the puck to Zibanejad on a breakaway. Just like he did in the Devils game, Z-Bad scored the game winner in OT.  While Z-Bad gets the cheers and the hero badge, don’t get it twisted, if it wasn’t for Raanta, the Rangers aren’t even playing an OT game.

Give credit to Vasy too. He was a monster out there. I really wish the Rangers could learn from all these teams moving from their high priced goalies for younger, cheaper and just as able goalies. Raanta has been a stud all season long, while Hank is being paid Vezina money for pedestrian numbers.

How ironic that both Talbot & Raanta became fathers for the first time this season and are having career years? The best may still be ahead for both.

While on the Ranger goalies, you gotta give credit to Benoit Allaire. Allaire took a 7th rounder in Henrik Lundqvist and turned him into a Vezina winner. Allaire helped  Talbot and now Talbot is making history in Edmonton. Allaire is now with Raanta and Raanta is playing the best hockey of his life. It’s a shame Allaire doesn’t get the credit he deserves with this club.

Updated standings:

Metropolitan Division
GP
W
L
OTL
P
GF
GA
Diff
L10
STRK
Capitals
65
44
14
7
95
212
139
73
6-3-1
L1
Blue Jackets
64
41
17
6
88
205
149
56
6-3-1
W1
Penguins
64
40
16
8
88
223
180
43
6-3-1
W2
Rangers
66
42
22
2
86
211
173
38
5-4-1
W1

The Rangers are two points behind and have played two extra games than both the CBJ and Pitt. They are now 15 points ahead of the second wild card, the New York Islanders. Basically, with 16 games left, the Rangers are keeping pace for that crossover playoff bracket.

What drives Ranger fans nuts is that this team is just consistently inconsistent. Remember when they scored 5 goals a game in the beginning of the season? In the last 15 periods (and one OT), the Rangers have scored only 6 goals. In their last four games, they’ve only scored a goal a game. That’s not gonna cut it. AV has to figure out how to get his team to produce on offense again. A lot of the low scoring has to do with the PP, because the Rangers are horrendous on the man-up.

I do believe the Rangers have the talent to produce goals and score again. We’ve already seen it this season. The Rangers, with only 16 games remaining, have to fix their problems. As we saw last week against two of their three potential first round opponents (CBJ/MTL/PITT), you’re not gonna have the luxury of figuring out your problems in the first round. Pittsburgh showed us that last year too. The Rangers simply have to execute on the PP and go back to looking for deflections, setting up screens and being there for rebounds.

As far as tonight, as a loyal subject in the Kingdom of Raanta, I am happy with the win. However, I’m not fooled. This team is still struggling to find their way. If anything, Tampa, like Boston last Thursday, should be more upset about letting two points get away. We all know the Rangers are built on goaltending, and perhaps have the best goalie coach in the league in Allaire, but you’re not gonna win playoff games if you can’t score.

Rangers go a little bit south tomorrow night and will play another Florida team struggling for a playoff berth, in the Florida Panthers. Expect Ranger jerseys in the crowd to outnumber Panther jerseys at a ratio of 100:1. Sunrise, Florida has always been Rangerstown!

In closing, I am happy with Tanner Glass. I still believe Raanta is the better goalie than Lundqvist this season. And despite it all, I still think this team could make a Cup run, especially if they could figure out this fucking powerplay.

See you tomorrow night.

As always,

Let’s Go Rangers

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

Comments

  1. what’s even more depressing than swisscheese in goal tonight, is swisscheese in goal for the next 3-4 years, or however many friggin yrs he has left on this awful contract, while talbot and raanta shine elsewhere in the league. no cups in NY anytime soon. who would take swisscheese anyway with his declining consistency and dollar drag? oh how i’d like to see king smooth in goal tonight instead of the spawning salmon. talk about buzz kill

  2. just a theory, but look at the excitement around the yankees with all these young, talented players after the nightmare of fossils from the last few years. despite being competitive deep into the season, they were damn near unwatchable. if the rangers continue to indulge the fossil king, will fan enthusiasm tank? will Gorton, like Cashman, get the detonate signal from ownership two years past expiration date? not at all? lundqvist a ranger for the rest of this contract? dark days ahead for rangers fans if so. playing from behind game after game does not sound very exciting. Raanta!!

    1. NYR just raised ticket prices nearly 100% for some seats. They don’t give a fuck about fan enthusiasm because they know the corporations will buy the seats.

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