What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. For the first time ever, I’m presenting three blogs on the same day. Again, you can read about my trip to Toronto by visiting http://doinow.com/toronto and check out my two book reviews concerning the WHA & Gordie Howe at http://doinow.com/wha
Due to my busy work schedule & my trip to Toronto, I was unable to recap the Blackhawks & Leafs games. The Rangers PK was absolutely brutal against the Blackhawks. I still think Lundqvist needs to come up bigger than he did. That’s what he’s getting paid to do. I understand the PK sucks, but if you can’t make the saves, then you shouldn’t be getting the most money in the league to do so.
The game in Toronto was a gift, as the Leafs are absolutely brutal. Credit to Raanta for settling down after letting one up early and playing his best game of 2016. It was also great to see the Rangers PP finally make a team pay for once.
Since my last game recap, the Rangers have had some roster moves. The Rangers waived Daniel Paille and sent him down to Hartford. Paille was signed to do something for the Rangers PK but wound up being a bust. Do you know who’s not a bust on the PK for any of his teams this season? That’s right, Carl Hagelin! Great trade Senile Sather!
The Rangers are still looking for a solid PK winger. Etem didn’t work out at all. Neither did Paille. The Rangers called up Marek Hrivik after his performance on Saturday night for the Wolfpack. I wonder when Ryan Bourque will get his crack with the team? Bourque has already watched teammates McIlrath, Glass, Megna, Skjei and others get time with the team this season. Gotta be tough for the Captain of the ‘Pack.
On the injury front, Ryan McDonagh is out again, after taking another cheap shot, this time from Toronto’s Leo Komarov. The NHL suspended Komarov 3 games. Just like AV, I wonder what the suspension would be if McDonagh’s name was Sidney Crosby. When it comes to these suspensions, if the offender intentionally cheap shots or has intent to injure another player, they should at least be suspended for the same amount of games missed by the player they hurt. What’s 3 games if McDonagh is out two weeks?
While McIlrath has filled in for McDonagh nicely, even if he’s been shaky a few shifts, the Rangers will need McDonagh back if they plan on doing anything in the playoffs. McIlrath is doing great against these crappy non playoff teams of the world, but as we saw against Chicago, the Rangers need McDonagh’s defense against top flight teams.
One player the Rangers haven’t missed at all since the All-Star break is Rick Nash. It’s not like they will miss Nash’s production in the playoffs either. You will not hear the Rangers brass talk like this publicly, but I wonder if they are shaking their heads and regretting paying Nash $7.8M a year. Nash, who has had a history of concussions in the past, is now dealing with a leg injury. I don’t know if the Rangers will ever see the Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nash had a decent run from October-February last year for the Rangers, but has been disappointing for the most of his Rangers career. It’s amazing how many big names bust out in NY, whether it be Lindros, Holik, Redden, Gomez, Drury, etc.
With the Rangers having a trend of beating up on non-playoff teams and losing to playoff teams recently, the Rangers hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night. The Wings currently hold a wild card berth but have been reeling lately.
On paper, this seemed like a game the Rangers should’ve dominated. The Wings were coming off an OT loss the previous night in Buffalo. Jimmy Howard was starting. The Rangers had two complete days off. The Rangers had a solid record against Detroit in the last 5 games. They were even a -$170 favorite going into this game! The Rangers should’ve easily handled the Redwings, but alas, it was another sweat job at the Garden.
Like many recent NYR/DET games, this was a low scoring and at times, boring, affair. It’s amazing that MSG was pure electricity just a week ago, but sadder & quieter than a funeral of a young person. It was deader than Big Ang in MSG. (Oh relax, she had a sense of humor too and when you smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day what do you expect?)
The Rangers didn’t really inspire the fans that attended this game either. It’s like the Rangers needed an arch-nemesis on the ice to play inspired hockey. Too bad Simmonds can’t suit up for the opposition every night.
I’ve talked about this before and for anyone who attends games, this isn’t news, but MSG just sucks. It’s great the Rangers somehow have a great home record this year, but the corporate seats and all the suits just sucks the life out of the place. I’m in a fortunate place in life where I can afford good tickets on a regular basis, but I know I’m one of the few diehards that can routinely sit decent regularly. I really feel bad for the hardcores. If I was a father raising children, I might consider becoming a Devils fan, where the building is nicer than MSG and tickets are affordable. It’s a fucking shame what the Rangers have done. It’s only a matter of time before they jump on that Yankee paperless ticket rule too. The greed in professional sports is just disgusting.
In my Hall of Fame blog and my WHA blog, I talked about what a fan I am of history. Sometimes I feel like I was born 30 years too late. I would’ve enjoyed the old days of hockey/sports in general and life. Based on my web traffic stats, most of you, at 89%, reading like this are like me, an adult over the age of 25. We love sports and we live vicariously through our teams. It’s a way to escape some of the mundane crap in our daily lives and a chance to have fun & relieve stress from our workdays. At the end of the day, the games are for kids. It saddens me to see how unaffordable attending games are at the professional level. Where will the new generation of fans come from if the professional teams are pricing out the American nuclear family of four?
In front of a lifeless crowd, the Rangers started off hot, getting off the first 7 shots. After that, Detroit battled back. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Jimmy Howard were amazing in net and also got help from the posts too at times. However, after having a few good games with the powerplay, the Rangers reverted to their awful selves and went 0-4. Luckily for the Rangers, their PK went 4-4 which had a lot to do with Detroit looking bad on the PP.
This game felt like an old John Tortorella game as the Rangers blocked a ton of shots. Lundqvist got the shutout, making a paltry 22 saves, where Jimmy Howard made 29 saves on 30 shots and also stopped a penalty shot from Jesper Fast. I’m one of Lundqvist’s biggest critics as you know, so you can take it where it comes from, but I thought this was one of the most quietest shutouts of his career. The Rangers blocked a ton of shots. The Wings hits a bunch of posts. The Wings almost had the game won in OT, but Kreider was able to get the puck out of the net. Lundqvist himself even said he had a bad feeling on the play.
Regardless, I can’t take anything away from Hank. He played a good game. His best? I don’t think so, but when you post a shutout, you can’t really criticize too much. I think he got a little luck though tonight. I’ve seen him play better and I don’t think he was challenged much. He certainly wasn’t challenged as much as Jimmy Howard, who made a few beautiful saves, including stopping Fast on a 2 vs 0 situation in front of the net.
The Redwings, looking tired from playing an OT game the night before, got a solid effort out of Jimmy Howard, who stood on his head the whole game. However, the Rangers not only had to play one original 6 team tonight, they had to play two, as Toronto fucked them all night.
After a snoozer of two periods of hockey, the circus came to town before MSG had a chance to convert the arena from hockey to the circus. These refs put on a show that the NHL should be embarrassed of. It’s amazing how no referees are ever held accountable or punished.
After a relatively clean game, the referees went buck wild with the bullshit. Kevin “I look more stoned than Animal House” Hayes scored one of the most ugliest mother fucking goals you’ll ever see.
As Hayes was scoring, Jimmy Howard was tripping Oscar Lindberg. As Howard blatantly tripped Lindberg, Lindberg’s skate caught Howard in the head. The call on the ice was goal. Detroit challenged the play and the goal was waved off. So I guess goalies are now allowed to trip people during shots and there will be no penalty called and if you score, the goal is waved off too. I’ve never been so fucking angry watching a game this season.
Really, go watch the play. How do you trip a player, not get a call then reverse a goal? FUCKING BULLSHIT.
As the game went on the refs started calling bullshit penalties left and right. I love watching hockey. I like that it’s a mans game. Listen, I understand CTE, and I know the game has to evolve/change with the information we have today, but at the same time, this is a man’s game. This is not basketball with a bunch of flopping pussies and touch fouls on every play. There are gonna be hits. Like R. Kelly with a minor, it’s gonna be rough out there. You gotta let these guys play. The penalties called in that Blackhawks game and the calls in this game brings down the sport. The players are the people fans pay to see, not the referees. Refereeing 101 tells you that you should not be the focus or decide an outcome in a game. For the entire third period, I felt like the Rangers not only had to play the Wings, but the refs too.
Go through the history of this blog in the archives, located on the right hand of this site. I rarely bitch and moan about the refs. However, this game was a fucking disgrace. These refs should be fined and suspended. They almost cost the Rangers two points. I’m not even saying that as a Rangers fan. If Cal Clutterbuck on the Islanders scored the same goal on Howard that Hayes scored, I would say it was a goal too. I’m one of the most realistic Ranger fans out there, as we all know. I’m far from Mr. Rah Rah Rah, but the Rangers got fucked multiple times from shoddy officiating.
Even with the referees getting their TV time, the Rangers still had opportunities to win this game before OT arrived. Jesper Fast had a penalty shot where he just looked over matched by Jimmy Howard. The Rangers then had 2 vs 0 right in front of Howard, where Fast couldn’t bury it. Kreider went Scott Norwood in front of the net. Luckily for the Rangers, Detroit was just as inept as the Rangers were in the PP department.
When the game hit the 60 minute mark, at 0-0, the Rangers were lucky to get a point because of their failure to deliver on the PP and because of the refs. I had a bad feeling that in the 3 vs 3, Larkin’s speed would be the difference.
Detroit got an opportunity on Lundqvist early into the OT, but somehow Lundqvist made the save and the puck died in front of the goal line. Kreider was able to get the puck out of the crease. Kreider was then able to feed Kevin Hayes the puck and the Rangers had a two vs one on the other end. Hayes got the puck to Klein and Klein buried it past Howard for the 1-0 OT victory.
The second Klein scored, I jumped out of my seat and screamed “FUCK YOU REFS!” Looking back at that, it’s sad that the refs had such an impact on this game. I should’ve been more happier about the Rangers goal, but I was more excited about them overcoming the adversity from the zebras.
With the win, the Rangers gave themselves more distance in the standings. While they won’t catch the Caps for first, the Rangers got a solid hold on second place, which would guarantee them home ice in the first round. The Rangers have been solid at home all season, so this would be a huge advantage come playoff time.
I’m on record as saying I think the Caps vs the Hawks is your Stanley Cup Final this year, but of course I want to see the Rangers win the Cup. I want to see Henrik finally and truly become the King of NY. Wins like this makes me think the Rangers have a fighting chance, although deep down, I don’t see how anyone beats the Caps this year in a best of 7, barring injury.
As the February 29th trade deadline approaches, Ranger fans have to be realistic. Many fans want to see Nash, Staal, Girardi and others shipped out. Bottom line is that it’s not happening. After all, what team would want these overblown contracts? Montreal looks like they have a problem with Subban and as much as I’d love to see Subban in a blue sweater, the Rangers can’t afford him and it’s not like Montreal is going to hand him over for Rick Nash (a comparable salary) either.
The best bet for the Rangers is to get some role players and to hope their paid guys play up to their contracts. Hayes is starting to improve a bit. Stepan is playing better. Ditto Brassard. If the Rangers could get Nash healthy and scoring, in addition to having Kreider play the way everyone thinks he can, the Rangers can make a run in the playoffs.
As always, the key to the playoffs will be limiting the turnovers, special team production and Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers, who looked like a tire fire for a bit of time back there, have turned it around a bit and have posted a bunch of wins for two points a piece. The Rangers just got to continue to roll, lock down the playoff spot and get everyone healthy for the Cup push. Is the window closed on this team like many experts are predicting? We’ll find out soon enough.
For the Rangers, this was a huge two points, as they beat two teams at once.
The Rangers now have a three game road trip against teams all looking to make playoff pushes. The Rangers draw the Devils Tuesday night, the Blues Thursday night and have a mid-afternoon game with the Stars on Saturday.
With a day off between each game, I’m not sure if Raanta fits into the mix. The Blues & Stars are non conference opponents, so it would make sense to give Raanta one of those games, before the Rangers host divisional opponent, the Blue Jackets, at home, next Monday night. We’ll see what AV does.
Thanks for taking in this blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Make sure to check out the two other blogs posted today. You can get them on the main page.
Depending on my work schedule, I’ll try to return Tuesday night for a Devils/Rangers recap.
Until then, as always,
LET’S GO RANGERS
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet