Note 1: As usual, this is gonna be a long one, but I promise you’ll enjoy it if you stick with it!
Note 2: I had this blog ready to go, but of course NHL Free Agency was today & the Tavares stuff happened. If you’re here just for the free agency stuff, which includes Tavares/NYR/and everything else about free agency, scroll to the bottom. As you know, yes, I could do separate blogs for more web traffic, but that’s never been my game here. Only on this blog can you get 10k words in one place, ad free!
Note 3: This blog may take a bit to load due to all the media. So sit back, get your beverage of choice and enjoy! That, or just read chunks of this blog during bowl time. To each their own!
What’s up everyone and welcome to the second Summer of Delorean blogs, right here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Many readers enjoyed these blogs last year and I had a fun time doing them. For those keeping track, this is the first Delorean blog of 2018.
In today’s blog, I will be looking at a first round series of the 1980 playoffs, as I venture back in time to April 9th, 1980, for a Game 2 between the Rangers and the Atlanta Flames. If you recall, the year prior, the Rangers were in the Stanley Cup Final & looking to return, during the Stanley Cup playoffs of 1980.
In case you forgot, missed out, or new to this blog, every summer, I’m trying to catch up on games from past eras in New York Rangers history. What makes this a little tough, is that despite the Rangers 90+ year history, it’s tough to find full length games, pre-1970.
As I’ve said in past Delorean blogs, the Rangers aren’t like the New York Yankees. The M$G Network isn’t like the YES Network, where countless games are archived. Due to the NHL’s roots of being made up of nearly 100% Canadians, with a few Americans sprinkled here & there and before the era of Europeans & Russians being ushered in, it’s nearly impossible to find full length game footage of American hockey franchises. Furthermore, as you obviously know, televisions entered the US market around 1947, and it would take five years before televisions became commonplace. Even with the advent of TV, generations of Americans preferred the radio over the new media medium.
So while the Rangers first entered the league during the 1926-1927 season, hockey on TV didn’t really take off until 30 years later. Off the bat, that’s a third of the Rangers history that’s unavailable to watch. That truly is a shame, as while there are clips from the era of the Original Rangers, there are no full length games out there. I would’ve loved to watch full games with Frank Boucher and the Cook brothers.
It wasn’t until really the 1970’s, where the sport was marketed for television, at least here in America. That said, it’s still tough to find every game from that era. Plus, these games aren’t viewer friendly, as the footage is grainy, there’s no running clock and the announcers don’t exactly give you time cues. The lack of a clock, especially during powerplays, puts you in a state of limbo at times.
While Rangers footage isn’t exactly easily accessible, fortunately for me and for fans of this blog, reader Mike Jurkowski has a full library of Ranger playoff games and sent me a ton of games for review. This April 9th, 1980 game was one of them.
For regular and new readers a like, I approach these game reviews as if I’m my current age (36) and living in the time of when the game was played. To get a feel of what these blogs are all about, you can check out the previous Delorean blogs here:
The Sixth Delorean Blog: May 12th, 1995, as the Rangers take on the Quebec Nordiques in Game 4! My First Ever Playoff Game, Steve Larmer = the OT Hero, Mike Richter Adds Another Moment to His Legacy After Healy Struggles, Brian Leetch, Matteau Fights, The Lockout, Tons of Free Video, Collective Soul, The Jerky Boys & Much More From a Memorable Playoff Victory
The Fifth Delorean Trip: The New York Rangers vs The Toronto Maple Leafs from 4/15/1971 in a Playoff Series Ending Game 6! NYR History in Photos, Irving Felt Builds MSG, Captain Bob Nevin Carries the Team to Victory, The GAG Line Brings The Heat, One of Eddie Giacomin’s Best Games Ever, Senile Sather Throws Dukes, The Stemmer, Teddy Irvine, Tons of Videos, Programs & The Ads In Them, Frank Boucher Talk & Much More From 1971
Return to the Delorean IV: The NY Rangers vs The Philadelphia Flyers, in a Do-or-Die Game 5, from 4/15/86! Vezina Winner John “Beezer” Vanbiesbrouck Outduels Jennings Winner Bob Froese, Huber’s GWG, Videos, The Ron Duguay Trade, Rosen/Esposito, Keenan vs Sator, DWI Goalies, Richter, Greschner Leads, Maloney Seals It, Isles Dynasty Finally Over & Much More In This In-Depth Playoff Game Review!
Back to the Delorean Part III: The New York Rangers vs The Philadelphia Flyers From 4/10/1982! Cam Connor Wins It, Eddie Mio Saves It, Captain Barry Beck, Mike Rogers & Tom Laidlaw Come Up Big, Ron Duguay Screwed By The Refs, The Case For Greschner, The Maloney Brothers, The F’N Islanders, Ranger Fan Programs Today vs 1982, The Go-Go’s & Much More From A First Round Game 3 Match-Up
Return to the Delorean: New York Rangers vs The Broad Street Bullies aka The Philadelphia Flyers From April 25, 1974 Review. Fights Galore, The GAG Line, Parent vs Giacomin, Brad Park Dominates, The Underrated Teddy Irvine, Wayne Gretzky’s Favorite Player, Shero vs The Cat & Much More From Game 3 of the 1974 Semifinals
The DeLorean Blog: Reviewing & Recapping Game 5 of the 1979 Semifinals Between the New York Rangers & New York Islanders As If The Internet Existed In 1979. Hedberg The Hero! The Hockey Sock Rock Delivers! JD Goes Nuts! POTVIN SUCKS! Duguay Dashes, ONE MORE WIN FROM THE SCF, MSG Networks vs YES & Much More In This Comprehensive Game Review!
The 1979-1980 season was a rough one for the Rangers. Looking back at it in time, and with hindsight vision being 20/20, it was the start of a dark era. After coming up short to the Montreal Canadiens during the 1979 Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers didn’t go far in 1980. Even worse, this was the year that the Islanders won their first of four Stanley Cups. Put it this way – if you think the Rangers are suffering now, during this alleged rebuild, there was never a worse time in history to be a Rangers fan, than the years of 1980-1985.
I’ve said this in previous Delorean blogs – I hate reviewing this era of time, just because of the eventual outcome. That said, it’s nice to put faces to names & be introduced to players I wasn’t aware of. For example, before doing this blog, I never even heard of Warren Miller.
For the record, I’ve also purposely ignored reviewing games from the 1994 playoffs, because everyone knows and has seen those games. Then again, based on the younger generation on Twitter, who believe that Henrik Lundqvist is more important to this franchise than Brian Leetch ever was, maybe everyone has not seen that era of the Rangers. If these reviews start getting depressing, we’ll whip out some games from 1994.
For older fans and for new fans looking to learn about their team history, after you read this blog, if you haven’t already, check out this book:
Thin Ice, a brutal tell-all, recaps the entire 1979-1980 season, including the 1980 playoffs. I reviewed this book last year, and for more on the book, check out the review at: http://doinow.com/thinice/
You’ll really want to check out the review (and the book for that matter) as you’ll never see another book written like this ever again. The book is a wild account, and certainly isn’t meant for today’s current generation of being politically correct & being fake outraged all the time.
One of the many excerpts from “Thin Ice”, pertinent to this Delorean blog, is the following:
The Maloney-Davidson accident occurred on March 16th, 1980, three weeks before the playoffs were set to begin. Davidson, who already had a buttload of injuries in a relatively short career, whether it be his knees or from “double-vision”, took a brutal shot to his Achilles tendon here. Fortunately, JD didn’t suffer major damage, as he was able to return and play throughout the playoffs. However, this would be JD’s last season as a full-time goalie.
For Dave Maloney, who had shaky relationships with his teammates, at least according to player and reporter accounts from that time, didn’t garner himself much favor with this moment of frustration. Compounding matters, as Captain, Maloney was supposed to be above lapses of judgement.
Maloney, who was the youngest captain in Rangers history, would see the “C” taken away from him and given to the elder statesman, in Walt Tkaczuk, in the following 1980-1981 season. When Big Walt retired at the end of the season, instead of reverting the “C” back to Maloney, Barry Beck was named captain of the Blueshirts.
The Maloney incident would’ve been a bigger deal today, in the era of Youtube, Twitter and viral videos. However, while maybe millions of fans didn’t see the incident, just as they would’ve today, fans in New York knew all about it. Rangers leadership was shaky behind the bench too, as Rangers head coach, “The Fog” Fred Shero, was in a perpetual state of booze. In fact, after a 4-13-3 start to the 1980-1981 season, he would resign, stating his drinking problem as the reason for vacating his position.
The end of the 1980 season was the end of the good vibes and happy-go-luckiness of the season prior. As fast as the “Rock & Sock” Rangers caught eyes & as Ron Duguay wowed fans with his “Ooh La La” Sasson jeans commercials, the good times ended just as fast. Fans may romance about that era, but the fact is that the Rangers ascent to the top of the league was a short-lived moment in time. In fact, it would take the Rangers nearly a decade to be respectable again, as guys like Craig Patrick (who seems to be universally hated by anyone who ever played for him) and Phil Esposito, couldn’t get the team over the hump.
While speaking of Esposito, let me share you with a book review I did on his autobiography, “Thunder and Lightning.” You can read the review here: http://doinow.com/6417/
I just wanted to be clear about Esposito before moving on. While he was one of the greatest players in NHL history, it is no secret that he hated being traded to the Rangers, and quite frankly, never cared playing for the Rangers either. During this era of time, Espo came off two successful Stanley Cup Final wins, both with the Boston Bruins. To this day, he believed that if he stayed in Boston, he could’ve won several more.
Espo, in his book and in interviews before and after the book, said he just didn’t like the Rangers environment at that time. He thought his Ranger teammates were more prone to partying, and enjoying their money, than the winning culture instituted in Boston. (Remember, this was in the era of the WHA, which drove player salaries up to unprecedented heights, that were never seen or thought of before. For the first time in the history of the league, NHL owners had to pony up.)
To Espo’s point, it’s funny, or sad, depending on how you look at it, in the recently released Gilles Gratton autobiography, which you can find the review of here: http://doinow.com/62018/ , when Gratton said:
In other words, Rod Gilbert, considered to be one of the All-Time Great Rangers in NYR history, was slipping mickeys to his goalie before a game. The Rangers subsequently lost that game. Gilbert and Esposito, who never got along during their time together, came from two different backgrounds. Espo was from a winning culture and was all about winning any way possible. Winning didn’t seem to matter as much to Gilbert and if getting a laugh meant losing a game, so be it. That seems to be a common problem with the Rangers. Where having fun was allegedly more important to Gilbert, in today’s era of the Rangers, it seems that making money is more important than winning. Must I remind you of Henrik “I want to win at all costs” Lundqvist’s contract negotiations?
To be fair, Gilbert hasn’t commented on this Gratton story, but Gilbert provided plenty of testimonials throughout the book, which means he endorses the book. I know it was a different time and era, but where Gilbert was out partying, popping pills and drinking, Esposito put winning above everything else – even his own family.
Going back to Esposito, while I slammed his run as GM of the Rangers (Fans may point to all the playoff runs the team had, but in that era, 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs) Espo blames ownership for some of his failures. According to Esposito (so consider the source, as this wasn’t confirmed by ownership of that time) he could’ve flat out bought out Messier and Gretzky, from Edmonton, during the 1980’s. It surely is believable, considering what eventually happened with both 11 and 99. Is this revisionist history? Or was ownership only concerned with filling seats? Only Espo truly knows.
What links Esposito, Davidson, Maloney, Shero, “Thin Ice” and the Rangers altogether, besides their time in Blue, was everyone was on a downward trajectory or done with the Rangers, by the time the 1981 season was over. Espo retired. Davidson attempted comeback after comeback, with no success. Maloney lost the C, never was able to earn it back and found himself in Buffalo. Shero would never coach in the NHL again. “Thin Ice” exposed every problematic issue going on during the 1979-1980 season.
While the Rangers would ultimately win this series against the Flames, by the time they were bounced by the Flyers in the next round, it took the Rangers 10+ years to dominate & become the talk (in a positive manner) of the NHL again. During that ten year stretch, Ranger fans were subjected to the height of the Islanders franchise and never had a true superstar to rally behind. While these early 80’s Rangers turned into guys like Kelly Kisio, Tomas Sandstrom, and John Vanbiesbrouck, it wasn’t until the emergence of the 9th overall pick in the 1986 draft, a one Brian Leetch (you may have heard of him) that the Rangers finally had that stud that they were severely lacking.
Before setting the scene of April 9th, 1980, in case you missed them, here are my most recent blogs:
BCBS 6/26: Fully Examining The Era/Error of “Senile” Glen Sather at the Draft Year-by-Year, Taking a Look at Every Player Drafted & Ignored by Sather, The Greatest & Worst Picks in Sather’s NYR Tenure, Sather’s Terrible Trades, Why There’s Extreme Cause For Concern For Ranger Fans, Sather’s Highs & Many Lows, Looking At People Who Chart/Grade Drafts & More NYR/NHL News, Notes & Opinions
BCBS 6/23: Recapping & Reviewing the NHL Draft, What To Expect From The Three New Rangers, Why Ranger Fans Are Flipping Out, Wahlstrom vs Kravtsov, Experts vs Social Media Draft Experts, Rangers Announce Schedule, The Rasmus Question & A Dark Fear Is Rumored – Cam Talbot to the Islanders?
BCBS For 6/20: “Gratoony The Loony” Gilles Gratton Autobiography Book Review, NHL Awards Preview & Predictions, Win Free NYR Tickets, Mike Hoffman Drama, NHL Draft, Potential NHL Trades, Barry Trotz, Why The Isles Are Looking Good, Carcillo’s Message & Much More NYR/NHL Thoughts, Opinions & News
BCBS Stanley Cup Final Blog: The Washington Capitals Win One of The Most Drama-Filled Stanley Cup Finals of All-Time, The Great 8 Cements His Legacy, The Vegas Golden Knights & Their Fanbase, How the Pens Schedule Helped The Caps, Lou Lamoriello Wastes No Time Shedding Weight, Ranger Talk, “The White Swedish” Replaces “The White Russian”, Lundqvist’s New Title & Much More SCF/NHL Talk
“Patrick Roy- Winning. Nothing Else” Book Review: 500+ Pages on One of the Greatest Goalies/Players of All Time, As Told To You By Roy’s Father; The Conn Smythe vs the Vezina, Roy’s Illustrious and Hardware Filled Career, The Montreal Screwjob, The Avalanche, Roy’s Talent as a HC, Personal Roy Stories, Who’s The Best Goalie Ever & Much More About One of The All-Time Greats
The history of the Atlanta Flames is a short one. While the NHL tries to test new markets all the time, whether it’s Sunrise, Phoenix, or Vegas, the inception of the Atlanta Flames was born through the spirit of competition.
Due to the emergence of competing leagues and the growth of the sport, the NHL was forced to abandon its 6 team league in 1967. In 1967, the league entered its “Great Expansion” and doubled the amount of teams in the league. After accepting teams from Philadephia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Minnesota, LA and California (later known as simply Oakland) in 1967, the NHL later added two more teams from no-brainer hockey markets, this time in Buffalo and Vancouver.
The NHL was happy with their 14 teams, but with strong money behind the new World Hockey Association (WHA), the NHL had their first true competition & headaches since the days of Eddie Livingstone. Keep in mind, without Livingstone, there would’ve never been an NHL, as the NHL was created out of the roots of the NHA, in a successful attempt to keep Livingstone out of the top level of professional hockey.
With the WHA threatening to enter existing hot markets and new markets alike, the NHL had to counter-act. In 1972, the first season of WHA play, the NHL accepted the New York Islanders and the Atlanta Flames into the league, thus turning the league into an evenly and manageable 16 team league. If it wasn’t for the WHA threat, who knows if the NHL would’ve granted Atlanta a franchise to begin with? Ditto the Islanders, as Rangers management were infuriated by the addition of the Islanders. While it may have eventually happened, the only reason the Atlanta Flames were in existence, in 1972, was because of the WHA.
The WHA, whose creators wished for an NHL merger from the start, finally saw their merger take place in time for the 1979-1980 NHL season. Former WHA franchises, the Edmonton Oilers, the Winnipeg Jets, the Hartford Whalers and the Quebec Nordiques were added to the league. This made the league a 21 team league, as previously, Washington and Kansas City (who quickly moved to Colorado) entered the league for the 1974-1975 season. (Of note, the California/Oakland Seals, moved to Cleveland, became the Barons and soon merged with the Minnesota North Stars.)
The NHL, now with 21 franchises, had more teams than ever before. It was decided that the 1980 playoffs would be a 16 team format, which meant only 5 teams wouldn’t make the playoffs. The league also decided to hold their playoffs with a 1-16 seeding tournament, rather than letting divisions and conferences determine match-ups, as we are accustomed to today.
The Atlanta Flames, just how fans of today’s generation remember the Atlanta Thrashers, struggled financially in Atlanta. The Flames were like the New York Islanders of today – they couldn’t draw shit. Also like the Islanders, their barn, “The Omni” (A famous arena in pro wrestling circles too) was dated the second it opened. Like the Nassau Coliseum, the Omni didn’t feature luxury seating and wasn’t corporate friendly. While the year was still 1980, it was evident that corporations were making the world go round.
By the time the Flames entered this first round series with the Rangers, there were rumors that this would be it for hockey in Atlanta, with three different cowboy/rodeo markets rumored to be in running for the team – Dallas, Houston and the eventual winning bid city, Calgary. Once the Rangers eliminated the Flames from this series, then Flames owner, Tom Cousins, claimed to have lost over $12 million dollars with the franchise and quickly sold the team to Calgary investors, on May 21st, 1980.
In other words, the Rangers had the Flames out of the tournament by the third week in April. Just over a month later, the team went all the way north and all the way west, where they became the Calgary Flames.
Fun note: the Flames were named for an event during the American Civil War. They weren’t named the “Flames” just because it was cool sounding or looked good on a jersey. 38 years later after the sale, a Canadian franchise is still honoring Civil War events from the American South. Isn’t that amazing Suzyn?
The 1980 playoffs saw the 8th seeded Rangers draw the 9th seeded Atlanta Flames. Of note, this was the largest field of teams in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 1979 playoffs featured 12 teams and just a season later, with the four teams coming in from the WHA, the tournament now fielded 16 competitors.
To put this into perspective today, 16 teams now make the playoffs in a 31 team league. In 1980, the same amount of teams made the playoffs out of 21 teams. Thus, you could make the argument that the NHL could expand the playoff format. If anything, it increases league revenue, which is why I’m surprised that playoff expansion hasn’t happened already.
The first round, once a best of 3 series, was pushed to a best of 5 series. Every other round would be a best of 7 series.
As far as the teams themselves, the Rangers and Flames, as you can tell from their seeding, were middle of the pack teams. The Rangers only edged out the Flames by 3 points for the home ice advantage. Going into the series, the Flames were 3-0-1 in the regular season against the Rangers, so the Flames weren’t exactly shook of the big market team that was just in the SCF a season ago.
Leading the way for the Flames was a Swede, in Kent Nilsson, who finished with 40 goals and 53 assists, as Nilsson was hitting the prime of his career. In net for the Flames was Dan Bouchard, who had an amazing NHL career. Of note, Jim Craig, the goalie for the 1980 American Gold winning Olympic team, was also on the roster, in a move solely designed to generate tickets. Craig didn’t work out and neither did Atlanta’s box office.
After this near 4000 word intro (these Delorean blogs always go long because these are my favorite blogs to do) before I get into the Delorean, rev up to 88 MPH and go to 4/9/1980, let me set the table and show you what was going on in America on that date.
The following information comes from ThePeopleHistory.com:
Cost of Living 1980
How Much things cost in 1980
Yearly Inflation Rate USA13.58%
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 963
Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve 21.50%
Average Cost of new house $68,700
Median Price Of and Existing Home $62,200
Average Income per year $19,500.00
Average Monthly Rent $300.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.19
Average cost new car $7,200.00
Ground Beef Lb $1.39.00
Pontiac Firebird $5,992.00
Men’s Casual Shirt $14.00
Magnavox VHS Recorder $699.00
VHS Home Movie Camera $1,599.00
Tomi Cosmic Combat Electronic Game $28.99
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head $4.77
LCD Pendant Watch $34.95
Mens 3 Piece Suit $89.95
As much as nearly everything was so much cheaper then, electronics is what always gets me. A VCR, a movie camera and a video game would set you back $2328.99, (in 1980 money) before taxes. Today, you can do all the functions, of all three items, on the simplest of cell phones & for under a hundred bucks to boot.
- “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” by Pink Floyd. As a huge Floyd fan myself, I popped when I saw this was number one.
- “Working My Way Back to You” by The Spinners.
- “Call Me” by Blondie. Another fucking classic.
- “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. The hits keep coming.
- “Too Hot” by Kool & The Gang.
- “Him” by Rupert Holmes.
- “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross.
- “Special Lady” by Ray, Goodman & Brown.
- “Desire” by Andy Gibb.
- “How Do I Make You?” by Linda Ronstadt
Oh and for you Star Wars people (I am not one, as I’ve never seen any Star Wars movie from start-to-finish), “The Empire Strikes Back” dominated the movie scene, doing more than double the box office than what second place (“9 to 5”) did.
Now, are you ready for some hockey? It’s time to take my 2018 36 year old self to April 9, 1980!
NOTE: AS ALWAYS DURING THESE “DELOREAN” (FLASHBACK GAME REVIEW) BLOGS, I AM PRETENDING THAT I AM 36 YEARS OLD IN 1980 AND WRITING THIS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE GAME ENDED. IN REALITY, I WAS 26 MONTHS AWAY FROM ENTERING THIS WORLD! ENJOY!
What’s up everyone and welcome to another report, here on the BlueCollarBlueShirts fan newsletter. As a result of the Rangers 5-1, Game 2 victory, at MSG on Wednesday night, the Rangers pushed the Flames to the brink of extinction, as they now hold a 2-0 lead, in their Best of 5 first round series. For the Rangers, who came into this series cold, it’s now the Flames that look to be extinguished. To put a cherry on top of things, the Kings beat the Islanders tonight, 6-3, to even up that series at 1 game a piece. With the next two games being played in LA, I got three words for ya: “SEE YA ISLANDERS!”
Going into this game, after the Rangers early overtime heroics from Steve Vickers in Game 1, I had a good feeling at puck drop. Right from the onset, it looked like the Flames felt like they let Game 1, and maybe the series, fall right through their hands. The Rangers pummeled the Flames with four first period goals tonight and the Flames were simply overwhelmed. For a team rumored to be on the move, Atlanta looks like they can’t pack their bags fast enough.
Prior to the game, I was thinking of going, as tickets were only $10 for decent seats. However, with an early work day tomorrow, I decided to watch the game on TV with friends and enjoy a few of these bad boys:
I’ll tell you what, as a beer drinker, beer never tastes better than when your team has a 4-0 lead in the first period. I suppose a 5-0 lead and maybe the beer tastes better, but I’m not going to push it. I’ll take 4-0, after twenty minutes, any day of the week.
What also makes this game better, is that with now 16 teams in the playoffs (out of 21 teams), the Rangers got an easy win tonight. On a related note, with 16/21 teams in the playoffs, it’s kinda overkill, no? What’s next, a team in Las Vegas that makes a SCF in their first year because of all these watered down teams? Ok, I kid, I kid, that’s a stretch.
Before getting into the game itself, let me get you the box score from the Wikipedia 976 hotline:
|Atlanta Flames||1–5||New York Rangers||Madison Square Garden||Recap|
|No scoring||First period||03:02 – pp – Phil Esposito (1)
06:32 – Anders Hedberg (1)
12:33 – sh – Dave Maloney (1)
14:32 – Phil Esposito (2)
|No scoring||Second period||No scoring|
|Willi Plett (1) – pp – 09:05||Third period||15:18 – Warren Miller (1)|
|Dan Bouchard 27 saves / 32 shots||Goalie stats||John Davidson 20 saves / 21 shots|
This Rangers team, made up of players largely part of last year’s Cup run, saw Hedberg get the GWG tonight. With his Swedish brethren, Ulf Nilsson, healthy for these 1980 playoffs, I don’t think there is any way to stop the Rangers. The Swedes are the future of the league. With John Davidson having balky knees, maybe the Rangers can even get a Swedish goalie one day. I’m know I’m sure that I’d love to see that day!
I thought referee Ron Harris and his linesmen of Ray Scapinello and Bob Luther, did a good job calling this game. Of course, Flame fans would think completely otherwise, as I’ll talk about below. We’ve seen shaky officiating in the playoffs, and if you’re a Flames fan, I hear your cries of agony.
In tonight’s win, nearly every Ranger made the box score in the point department and everyone was on the right side of the plus/minus stat, except for that badass Cam Connor. Of course, Connor made the stat sheet for a penalty. On the flip-side, everyone on the Flames roster had more negative signs than the country of Russia! If you’re sympathetic to your foes, you have to feel bad for Flames netminder, Dan Bouchard, who took a beating and the officials were of no help either. For us Ranger fans, Davidson stopped 20 of 21 shots and had an easier game than normal. He needed that, especially after the Game 1 stress affair.
Let’s get to the game itself, as I got an early wake-up call tomorrow.
Cam Connor wasted no time in this game, as 23 seconds in, he went after Bobby Murdoch. Connor got called for high sticking and Bobby Murdoch retaliated with an elbow, thus boxing both men.
Here’s a video of the penalty, taken on my insanely expensive JVC CamConnorCorder:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
Greschner started off strong in this game, shutting down the Flames on several opportunities.
Oh and by the way, I know I’ve said it before, but you would think with all this technology today, the NHL would figure out how to put a running clock and the score on the screen. That’s why I prefer to be at the game, at least I know what’s going on, clock-wise.
After going 0-4 on the PP in game 1, the Rangers scored on their first powerplay of this game. Take a look at Espo, here at the 3:02 mark of the first period, burying a goal after perfect passes from Ron Greschner and Barry Beck:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
Talk about a perfect cross-ice pass from Barry Beck. 1-0 good guys.
In the “Things I Know I’ve Said In The Past” department, it’s amazing how in this era of advertising everywhere, from Marlboro ads in our Sports Illustrated and Budweiser ads all over Times Square, I’m surprised that the NHL hasn’t put ads around their fresh white boards. Seems like an easy marketing idea.
The Rangers, with the 1-0 lead, wouldn’t take the foot off the gas, as they had no problem aggressively dumping and chasing the puck. With Davidson and Bouchard both employing the stand up technique of goaltending, I thought both goalies were evenly matched, skill wise.
The Rangers, employing a walkie-talkie system, with their assistant coach with the broadcast crew, were able to deploy favorable match-ups throughout the game, especially in the first period, after several offside calls.
The Rangers, got a fortunate no-call at around the 6 minute mark. The Rangers blatantly iced the puck, but for whatever reason, the referee and the linesmen ignored it. This set up Nilsson to Hedberg for the second goal of the game. To say Dan Bouchard was incensed, would be an understatement. Here’s the goal:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
You can’t blame Bouchard or the Flames for being angry here, but it’s not like the Rangers haven’t been on the wrong end of these situations either. My heart bleeds for you Atlanta! Oh, 2-0 good guys.
Even three minutes after the Hedberg goal, and after a few Busch Beer commercials, here on this WTBS feed of the game, the Flames were still whining about the goal. It just took them out of the game, and the Rangers quickly amassed a 10-1 shot lead.
I also gotta say, this D-unit of Beck and Greschner just stifled Atlanta all night long.
Vickers, with two goals last night, would take a holding call at the 10:15 mark of the first, to give Atlanta a powerplay. However, another call, this time in the form of a quick whistle, benefited the Rangers again. Here’s JD and Nilsson:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
With Vickers in the box, Greschner took an interference penalty with 12 seconds remaining on the Vickers penalty. This gave Calgary a short 5 vs 3 PP. Calgary came close to scoring, but Pronovost couldn’t find the twine. The Calgary PP then turned into 5 vs 4. However, it would be the Rangers striking, as Ulf Nilsson found Captain Maloney for the short handed goal:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
3-0, Rangers, with an even strength, powerplay and now a shorty goal in the period. I won’t lie, the Rangers got some fortunate calls (and no calls) and the Flames couldn’t fight off the adversity.
On the Rangers fourth goal, scored two minutes after Maloney’s 3-0 tally, it was just a case of everything going right for the Rangers and everything going wrong for the Flames. Here’s Espo:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
I mean, here’s the story for the Flames tonight. Davidson is out of position, way out of net and making saves. Then Espo gets a soft goal past Bouchard. Granted, this goal was just the straw on the camel’s back for the Flames, as it was Murphy’s law tonight for them.
4-0 good guys and the Flames chances of winning this game were as good as Jimmy Carter getting re-elected. Yeah, I said it!
With under two minutes to go, Espo almost had a hat trick, but Bouchard finally made a crucial save. Despite having a monster game, Flames announcer, Jiggs McDonald, said that “Phil Esposito complains a lot.” That was very blunt.
As the period came to a close, Big Walt got banged up and had to be helped off the ice. He didn’t return for the rest of the game, which also could be because of the score.
Again, and to not harp on this, with 50 seconds to go, the broadcast finally showed the clock. Why not show it game all game long?
Before the teams could get in the locker room, Eddie Johnstone and Willi Plett had a dust up, and got off-setting 7 minute penalties. (2 min for slashing, 5 min for fighting.)
And finally, with a few ticks left, Davidson stoned Kent Nilsson on a breakaway. What a period for the Rangers.
The second period saw MSG roar, as it was announced the Kings were beating the Islanders 3-0. Jiggs McDonald also let us know that this game was world-wide, as it was being broadcast in Sweden. With an influx of Swedish players in the league, the NHL is creating a whole new generation of fans there.
The Rangers did a real good job of applying pressure and keeping Atlanta off the board. The referees tried to make up for their first period gaffes, allowing blatant penalties on Esposito to go uncalled.
This second period, saw the Rangers officially lose two players for the game. Big Walt, injured at the end of the first period, an ankle injury, was done. Also hurt was Cam Connor, who busted his hand. Connor had to go to the hospital and his game 3 status is yet to be determined.
After a brisk second period, with some physicality, the score remained 4-0, good guys.
Oh, on an aside, did anyone see the ad for cable subscribers? Here it is:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
Who in the hell is going to watch a 24 hour news station on TV? Get a life.
Just like the second period, the third period started off with a roar, as the Islanders were now losing 5-0. The Islanders are such a joke.
At the 1:50 minute mark of the third, Don Maloney took a penalty, giving the Flames another PP they wouldn’t cash in on.
Despite being past his prime a bit, Phil Esposito gave hockey fans a clinic on how to close a game. His movement with the puck, even up 4-0, kept the the pressing Flames on their heels. It just seems like the Flames have no one who can stop #77.
I can’t lie, by this point in the game, all I was doing was watching my stopwatch. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but because there is no running clock on the TV, I run a stop watch to know how much time is left in the game. I was just counting down the minutes and seconds & hoping no more injuries would occur.
Worth mentioning, despite the 4-0 deficit, the Flames didn’t pull Bouchard. Seems silly to me, as I would want a fresh Bouchard for Game 3. You gotta wonder what Flames head coach, Al Macneil, was thinking. After all, back-up goalie, Pat Riggin, isn’t horrible.
Speaking of Game 3, if these special teams stay the same, the Flames season will end on Friday.
Atlanta would get another penalty at 7:51, as Dean Talafous took a silly tripping penalty, while in the offensive zone. Yes, it’s 4-0, and the game result most likely decided, but this was a dumb penalty to take.
While on the PP, at the 9:05 mark, Willi Plett tipped in a Eric Vail shot. 4-1 good guys, and again, Talafous can’t be taking penalties in his own offensive zone. This gaffe would be magnified if the score and time remaining were different.
With under 5 minutes to go, the Rangers put the final nail in the coffin, courtesy of Warren Miller, with Marois and Duguay picking up the assists. Check it out:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) June 30, 2018
5-1, good guys, your final, at Madison Square Garden. Oh, also worth mentioning as we get to the end here, the Rangers outshot the Flames, 7-3, to close the third. The Flames just could not overcome the first period, something that Jiggs McDonald made sure to whine about as the game came to a close.
While the Rangers had a little “Beatles” magic in this game, as in getting “a little help from my friend”, due to some questionable officiating in the first period, the Flames just couldn’t get themselves in this game. Bad calls and no calls happen all the time and the good teams are able to overcome & fight their way back into games. The Flames just wilted. There was no gas to their fire.
With the win, the Rangers are now 2-0 in the series and can sweep the Flames on Friday. If this series ends Friday night, it looks like the Rangers will draw their arch-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the second round. Ironically enough, the Flyers won their Game 1 against Edmonton in overtime and blew out Edmonton 5-1, the same score as the Rangers win tonight, in their Game 2. Looks like we could see two teams, both being winners of a first round sweep, do battle in the quarterfinals. With the way the Flyers have been playing (Clarence Campbell Bowl winners) it’s going to be a tough one for the Rangers. However, the Rangers must handle their business against the Flames on Friday.
I’ll be back after Game 3, hopefully to talk about the Rangers sweep. It’s been 40 years, on the dot, since the last Rangers Cup. I got a good feeling about this year, especially with the way Esposito has looked in this series. Let’s just hope Big Walt and Cam Connor are able to return for Game 3. See ya then.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, or for readers around my age or younger, this exposure to ghosts of Rangers past. It is my goal of these blogs to illustrate and show clips of ex-Rangers. It’s one thing to read books or know names, it’s another to see these guys play. Most of these games I review are on YouTube and if you can deal with grainy footage, it’s a way to know the franchise better.
As far as what happened, in case you don’t know by now, the Rangers finished Atlanta in four, then lost in 5 games to the Flyers. The Rangers would struggle in the playoffs for most of the 80’s. It wouldn’t be until 10 years later, where the emergence of Ranger draft picks in Brian Leetch & Mike Richter, the free agent signing of Adam Graves and the Mark Messier/Jeff Beukeboom trade, that changed the course of history forever for the Rangers, at least for a season.
When I take the Delorean out for a spin next, we will travel to a more recent time, as we will look at April 18th, 2007. On that date, the Rangers took on another Atlanta team, in another first round series, this time with the Atlanta Thrashers. Stay tuned.
Delorean and book review blogs will be coming all summer, with blogs on current news in between, so keep it here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com for more.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy these flashback blogs as much as I like doing them.
As always, “LET’S GO RANGERS”
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter
PS: Don’t think I forgot you Greg aka @fixxser ! I’m waiting for you to offer me your second seat for opening night! Enjoy those seeds!
As you can tell from the above, I had this blog all wrapped up and ready to go. Then, free agency happened and there was so much big news going on, that I had to comment. Again, I know I could break this all up, but here’s some bonus blogging for your leisure. I’ll try (emphasis on “try”) to keep it short.
The big news of the day was John Tavares leaving the Islanders and joining the Toronto Maple Leafs. Of course, by now, you’ve probably read 7868789678967896 different tweets, articles, facebook comments and seen video on this ordeal. I’m not going to rehash or report the news here, but I want to make a few comments.
I saw a few writers say “Toronto gave Tavares the best chance to win.” To me, that’s bullshit. If he wanted the best chance to win, he’d sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the veterans minimum. That would give him the best chance to win.
Realistically, using the variables presented, the best place for Tavares would’ve been Tampa. He would’ve made more money there than anywhere else, due to the tax laws. Tampa is a loaded team, was a game away from the Stanley Cup and could use a scorer. Toronto is still a young team and like the Islanders, either miss the playoffs or get bounced out of the first round. (And yes, I’m aware of the one year where the Islanders made the second round, but let’s not forget they tanked games during the stretch of that 2015-2016 season, so they would avoid the Penguins. I’m not blaming them. In fact, I suggested the Rangers do the same. However, the facts are, the Isles tanked and got an easy match-up with a beat up Florida Panthers. Then they got spanked in the second round.)
Based on the statements by Tavares, from his twitter account (I’ll get to that shortly) and his press conference, the reason he went to Toronto is because that’s his hometown. Just like how Shattenkirk took a friendly deal with the Rangers last year. However, this Tavares situtation is obviously 1000 times bigger than Shatty’s situation, due to Tavares being one of the best point scorers in the league. Plus, Shatty was a rental Washington picked up at the trade deadline. St. Louis, where Shatty made his name, wisely traded Shatty and made a return off of him.
In the case of Tavares, the Islanders trusted him, put heart above business, and when you put heart above business, you get that heart shoved up your asshole. The Isles let one of the NHL scoring leaders leave and got nothing back in return. You just can’t be a GM and use your heart instead of using your brain. Need another example? How many Cups have the Rangers won with that terrible Henrik Lundqvist contract? How many starting goalies have they sent to other teams? You get the point.
For the sake of prosperity, here’s what Tavares said on his Twitter account. Of note, Tavares, like a teenage girl breaking up with her first boyfriend, quickly changed his header from “Hockey player for the New York Islanders” to “Hockey Player for the Toronto Maple Leafs.” Talk about catty:
Here’s Tavares, going on an immediate tweet storm, five minutes after the news was broken that he would not be returning to the Islanders:
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
I’m thrilled to be starting a new chapter of my career and life in Toronto with the @MapleLeafs. I feel very fortunate to come join a team with a great young core and play where I grew up learning and loving the game. I can’t wait to get started!
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
Not everyday you can live a childhood dream pic.twitter.com/YUTKdfMALl
— John Tavares (@91Tavares) July 1, 2018
Quick aside, I hope Henrik Lundqvist posts childhood pictures of him laying on Frolunda bed sheets.
So Tavares is no longer an Islander. For Garth Snow, this is the final thing fans can talk about to slam Snow’s tenure as an NHL GM. Lou Lamoriello, in a statement, put a little shade on Tavares, as Lou credited Tavares for his “individual success”. It seems that Tavares agreed with Lou & that was another reason to leave.
Tavares, during his press conference, the same press conference where he looked as shaky as Michael J. Fox riding a rickety roller coaster during a Texas tornado, would confirm Lou’s statement. He said the Isles didn’t win and he felt that he let people down. You could see this has been a whirlwind of a day for Tavares, as even when he was asked about the Islanders, he had a tough time making eye contact with reporters and cameras.
If you want to laugh uncontrollably, to the point where you lose control over your bowels, click on those Tavares tweets that I linked above. The fan outrage is incredible. Death threats, debates about Tavares being a heterosexual, and pure unbridled hatred from Islander fans, oozed out as fast and ugly as popping a 100 pound ass pimple.
Let me share some of comments from Islander fans. Keep in mind this is a miniscule sample. More shocking, this is some of the saner fan comments that were directed at Tavares. Again, if you want raw hatred and want to laugh, check out the replies on the tweets of Tavares yourself.
Note: Thanks to Kimberly Ann, of the “Garden of Ill Repute: The Skjeidy End of Rangerstown” facebook group, for screen capping these:
From love to calling him a loser!
Again, if you have free time, you must check out the Islander fans going nuts.
Some fans wished bodily harm on Tavares. Other fans desired objects being rectally inserted into Mr. Tavares. Then you had several fans wanting to apply voodoo jinxes on him. However, one Islander fan took the sensible approach and burnt $200:
To me, as a Rangers fan, I love this. It would’ve been nice if Tavares went to the West, just to get him out of the conference. If he had to stay in the East, I would’ve liked to see him with Tampa, just because the Rangers get Tampa’s first round draft pick if Tampa wins the Cup.
To me, I don’t blame Tavares. The management, in this case, ownership and Garth Snow himself, had to deal Tavares by the deadline if he wasn’t going to sign. That’s how you avoid a moment like this. Lamoriello is left to clean the pieces.
Personally, I don’t think this is the end of the Islanders. Yes, they lost the greatest Islander since the 80’s dynasty. However, it looks like they had a great draft. They finally have a heirarchy that’s been successful. They have Barzal. They are trying to right wrongs and trying to right them quickly. Losing Tavares sucks for the Islanders, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are done either.
Let me personally congratulate John Tavares for signing with Toronto. I’d also like to give him some advice. Those things in the crowd, you know, sitting in those seats? Those are called paying fans. I know you’re used to playing in front of empty buildings with SUV’s in the front row, so this may take some adjusting and adapting to.
I also find it ironic that the biggest crowd Tavares has ever drawn for the Islanders, hasn’t happened yet. That happens, on get this, on APRIL FOOL’S DAY (not making this up), as Toronto comes to the dump in Nassau to play the Isles.
If I, a Rangers fan, has any rage for Tavares, it is a rage of jealously. After all, Tavares is getting paid $77M to work from home, but I have to take the terrible LIRR or the jam-packed LIE to work every day. SAD!
However, I can relate to Tavares. Back in the summer of 2003, when I was 21, I left my job of being an assistant manager at Genovese to become an assistant manager at CVS. The CVS was 2 minutes closer to home. While I didn’t exactly have the same courting process, I’m sure that not only Genovese, but other suitors, like Rite Aid & Duane Reade, felt burnt too!
All joking aside, I understand Tavares. You just look at the other teams in the league and what they are doing to win, and the Islanders were on the other end of the spectrum for so long. They had weak ownership. They had a terrible GM. They had coaches who couldn’t get over the hump. They had goalies that would only show up whenever they played the Rangers. They never had a superstar or the “2” of a 1-2 punch to play with Tavares. Instead, the team was just a big pile of number 2.
Most importantly, and I think this weighs into the decision of Tavares, just as much as Toronto being his home town – the Islanders are nomads. John Tavares will be 28 by the time the 2018-2019 season starts. By the time the Islanders get a new building, Tavares will be on the back half of a 7 year contract. Before that building is built, if he stayed, he doesn’t know where he will physically be playing with the Islanders. Are the games at Barclays? The Nassau Coliseum? Eisenhower Park? Hot Skates? During the intermission of “Disney on Ice?” The Islanders, just like “Disney on Ice”, are a Mickey Mouse organization. However, Disney embraces that, whereas the Islanders feel like that they are bigger than they actually are.
Truly think about this – the Islanders perennially lead the league in worst attendance. How does a team playing in a big market struggle to draw? It’s so hot in Arizona that they can’t even produce ice in their home freezers! Yet the Arizona Coyotes outdraw the Islanders. The Florida Panthers built their arena over a swamp and the median income there is $4.59, yet the Panthers outdraw the Islanders. Does Tavares want to be the face of failure? Obviously not.
When it comes down to it, the only thing Islander fans should be kicking Tavares about is the way he went about this. I’m not even talking about the trade deadline. Sure, he gave Isle fans false hope, but it is management’s job to do the right thing. They have to be smarter than a 27 year old.
What I’m specifically talking about here is that Tavares didn’t tell the Islanders that he wouldn’t be returning until after 12:00PM, the opening of free agency. Obviously, the Islanders were left sitting like an abandoned child waiting for their father to come home after “going out for cigarettes.” If the Isles knew Tavares wasn’t returning, they could’ve entered the Paul Stastny or Tyler Bozak sweepstakes. Instead, they had to scramble to find a center and may have rushed into signing Leo Komarov.
In closing on Tavares, the Islanders have no one to blame but ownership and Garth Snow. They let this situation get to this. This should’ve been handled by the trade deadline. It wasn’t. Instead, the Islanders let one of the best players in the league get away from for free. I mean, even the Rangers got a draft pick & a player for the bust known as EMERSON FUCKING ETEM. If there is one word to sum up the Islanders during all this J(oining) T(oronto) drama, it would be “SAD!”
The Rangers made two moves today, but for the first time in a long time, weren’t a major player at this time of year.
The Rangers re-signed Vladislav Namestnikov to a two year/$8M deal. To me, and really, this is such a minor thing because the Rangers look terrible on paper for next season, if you’re going to give this guy $4M a season, you couldn’t have kept JT Miller for $5M a season? Then again, Namestnikov never had an issue with Henrik Lundqvist, like JT Miller did.
The JT Miller stuff is something I’ll never understand anyway. The Rangers asked Tampa to take him, and would say stuff about him not fitting in with AV’s system. They fired AV less than two months later. So why would you get rid of the guy, if the coach was the issue? I’m not saying Miller changes the foundation of this team or anything, it just strikes me as odd and there’s more there. You get that feeling whenever Miller is asked about the trade.
The Rangers, who have the biggest fucking hard on for Swedish players in all of the NHL (And I bet the Rangers pay more money for Swedish players than the entire Swedish league in Sweden) signed another mediocore Swede today. The Rangers landed Fredrik Claesson for $750,000. It’s not like the Rangers have enough defensemen signed and drafted this year. With all these lackluster Swedish signings, I’m wondering if Jeff Gorton even knows where Canada is on a map.
What irks me about this signing, outside of the Rangers signing yet another Swede, is that I’d like to get Anthony Duclair back & they could’ve got Duclair for similar money. Duclair is only 22, was set up to fail in Arizona, and would fit in for a team trying to rebuild. I think there is more there to Duclair and if this “Quinnenial” coach can really develop players, he should have field day with “The Duke”.
And now, a couple of quick shots and I promise I’m done here:
— Ryan McDonagh is staying with Tampa, getting 7 years/$47.25M. You can argue that’s a lot of years, but Tampa is trying to win now. If Tampa wins a Cup within the next three years, you’d sign up for it. Shit, I would sign Emerson FUCKING Etem and Nick Holden to 7 year/$70M contracts if it guaranteed a Cup win. Tampa is trying to win now with McDonagh and this could work out for them.
— Michael Grabner is going to Arizona, getting 3 years/$10.05M. No word on what the Rangers offer was. Grabner cited his desire to win, which makes Arizona a weird place. I’m glad Grabner is finally getting life changing money too. Grabner, in his interview with the NHL Network, mentioned how Derek Stepan sold him. Grabner also gets a chance to play in front of a Cup winning goalie, something that he never had with the Rangers!
— With McDonagh/Miller/Stralman/Callahan/Girardi in Tampa and Grabner/Raanta/Stepan in Arizona, it looks like these ex-Rangers had their fill of bad NY winters, Penn Station and an overrated Swedish diva. You could also say that they like not being taxed out the butthole too.
— Paul Stastny, once on the Rangers radar years ago, is going to the Vegas Golden Knights for 3 years/$19.5M. Talk about an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” deal. Who would’ve thought, that in year 2, the VGK is a destination team for players looking to win a Cup?
— John Moore, another former Ranger, got 5 years/$13.75M to go to Boston. Who would’ve thought Moore would’ve been worth that much? This could speak to the free agent class he’s in. Also, and I think I’ve mentioned this in prior blogs, with the upcoming CBA coming up, these teams could be signing ridiculous contracts, knowing that either the cap will be raised tremendously, Bird rights will be installed or they will be allowed to amnesty themselves out of bad deals.
— And while there were other dealings today, I’m closing with the signing of Rangers Killer, Jaroslav Halak. The Halakness Monster joins Boston, on a 2 year/$5.5M deal. Be prepared for Lundqvist to lose every game to Boston next season.
Thanks if you stuck it out this far! I know this was a long one, but hell, what else do you have to do? See ya on the next one.
As always, “LET’S GO RANGERS”
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter