NYR/CAR Review: No Time Like Miller Time, Hank Continues To Shine, Rangers Do What They Are Supposed To, Roster Changes & More From A “Road Game-Home Game” For the BlueShirts

I don’t know what’s up with the random Asian wearing a Penguins jersey, but I do know JT Miller is heating up!

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As always, you can check out the archives for the blogs you missed on the right hand of the site or search a player/team/subject in the search box as well.

Before getting into this game, the Rangers made several roster changes after their OT win over Vancouver on Tuesday night.

The Rangers signed Daniel Paille on Thursday. Paille, who won a Cup in Boston, comes to the Rangers at a $575,000 cap hit. For a team in cap hell, it’s questionable signing, especially if they want to make a bigger deal right before the trade deadline. The Rangers basically signed Paille for the fourth line and for the penalty kill.

Paille, a former first round pick (9th in 2002, for the Sabres), has a ton of NHL experience, but has been toiling in the AHL. As a result of the Paille signing, the Rangers sent Jason Megna back to the Hartford Wolfpack.

My first reaction to this signing was “why”? The Rangers do need help on the PK, but Paille is going to be on the third line PK. Again, this brings up why would you let Hagelin go without negotiations, as he was a great for the PK. Fuck Sather!

If the Rangers were in first place and playing exactly like last year, the signing would make sense. Some veteran help for the playoff push. For a team that has been struggling, adding more money to the cap seems senseless. For the Rangers to pull off any big trade now, they will have to trade one of their big contract guys, and really, who exactly is in the Marc Staal/Dan Girardi/Rick Nash market?

Megna, who had a great debut, cooled off a bit and is going to the Wolfpack for playing time. Paille, who is 31, gets the roster spot and actually played in tonight’s game, due to Kreider being scratched due to neck spasms. Like many, Paille had a solid debut for the Rangers, recording shots on goal and being on the ice for the McDonagh goal. Paille is a grinder type, in the vein of Carcillo/Dorsett. He’s a more offensive version of Tanner Glass. However, do you need two gritty guys on your team when your biggest weakness is offense?

While the Rangers did stomp out Carolina tonight, for the 19th time in 20 games, bluntly, Carolina sucks. This was a great win for the Rangers tonight, but it wasn’t because of Paille. The Rangers still need scoring or hope that Rick Nash starts scoring like the way he is being paid to score.

The Rangers flushed Carolina with ease

There are several different stories to lead with after this game. The Paille signing. Miller scoring two goals. Nash being injured twice. Lundqvist continuing to own the crease. The Rangers defense stepping up and scoring. For me though, you gotta talk about us a bit – the loyal NY Ranger fans.

This was a home game for the NY Rangers. Despite icy and snowy conditions, Ranger fans traveled and owned an empty building. Granted, Candy Cane fans probably didn’t show up because they had to do stuff for their homes or work and the Ranger fans were already there, whether on vacation or just traveling for just the game. Still, this was a Rangers home game.

Don’t be fooled, the team sees and hears all. Coach AV said this after the game:

“Everywhere we go the New York Rangers cult follows us…this fan base is the best I’ve ever seen.”

As someone who travels to see this team play (I hit up Edmonton and Calgary this season, and will be going to Toronto next month), it makes me happy to see the team give us fans some acknowledgment. For anyone that travels to these games, we all know how expensive it gets. We all work hard, hence the name of this blog, the BlueCollarBlueShirt, and it’s cool the team appreciates it. It’s one thing to go see the Rangers play the Islanders or the Devils on the road (Which I’m sure most of us have. For me, “The Rock”, not the wrestler, is the best building in all of the NHL for a game) but it’s another to travel far distances to see the team play. It’s even better when your investment pays off and they win!

So if you were at the game tonight, give yourself a pat on the back and thanks for making noise. With all the Ranger jerseys in the crowd and the team getting hot early, the Hurricanes never had a chance in front of their 5 fans that came out.

JT Miller.

You might as well leave the hat in number 10’s locker!

How about that JT Miller? Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and JT Miller will all be free agents after this season. Going into this season, you would think in order, the priority would be to sign up Kreider, then Hayes, then Miller. However, it looks like Miller might be the man to make sure the Rangers retain. It’s only a matter of time before Miller Lite beer gives this man a sponsorship! Speaking of Miller Lite and a sponsorship, I just want to put it out there, I’m willing, able and agreeable to being sponsored by Miller Lite! I must have 50 of them during a week! 75 of them, if the games go into overtime!

Let’s get into the nuts and bolts a bit. Here’s the official scoring summary from NHL.com, with my notes about the game at the time and goal scored in italics:

1st Period
14:01
NYR
Ryan McDonagh (6) ASST: NONE

This was a pure snipe goal by our captain. With Hurricane’s starting goalie Cam Ward out with injury, Eddie Lack got the call. Lack has a chance to get a starting goalie job in the NHL, with Ward out for an elongated period of time. However, tonight didn’t help his cause.

McDonagh, capitalizing off a turnover, buried one over Lack’s shoulder. McDonagh has been an offensive beast lately. Norris candidate? He belongs in the conversation, but it seems like the year of John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars.

Speaking of Rangers defensemen, Dylan McIlrath was once again a healthy scratch. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I would make Boyle a winger and have number 6 on my line-up sheet every game.


1 – 0 NYR
17:53
NYR
Keith Yandle (3) ASST: Oscar Lindberg (9), Kevin Hayes (14)

A tic-tac-toe goal for Mr. Yandle. This play was all started by Kevin Hayes. If Hayes can make 78374377433 plays like this, for the rest of the season, it will make up for his brutal first half of the season. Hayes forced a turnover, held the puck, found a streaking Lindberg, and Lindberg dumped it to Yandle for what essentially would be called a “lay-up” in basketball. Great play, great execution, great hockey, great goal. More impressively, this was the first time in 3 months that the Rangers had two defensemen score goals in game. The last time that happened? The same time the Rangers last won two games in a row. To quote Alanis Morrisette, “isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”


2 – 0 NYR
2nd Period
03:29
CAR
Joakim Nordstrom (3) ASST: Andrej Nestrasil (10)

This was a tough one. Boyle created a turnover, but it also looked like he took a high stick before it. Hank was beat, and easily. I still think Hank should’ve stopped it, but we all know I’m Hank’s toughest critic too. There probably should’ve been a penalty here, and this cost Hank the shut-out. More on Hank in the next section of this blog.


2 – 1 NYR
09:41
NYR
J.T. Miller (11) ASST: Jesper Fast (8), Derek Stepan (11)

After this week, you can bet there will be more Miller jerseys sold. Miller continued his torrid scoring affair, this time sniping one right past Lack underneath the left circle. I’m at the age now (I’m 33, will be 34) where I’m older than most of the players in the league. I get joy in watching younger players do well, which is why it infuriates me when I see someone with talent, like a Cam Talbot, like an Anthony Duclair, like a Carl Hagelin, dealt for less. I’m glad to see a young gun do well. Maybe I do have a heart after all, as I like to see people live their dreams. Miller is doing just that right now.


3 – 1 NYR
11:51
NYR
J.T. Miller (12) ASST: NONE

This goal was FUCKING SICK. Miller created a turnover, then undressed Lack and put it by him. Take notes Derek Stepan! Miller’s American partner, Derek Stepan, started the second period by missing a breakaway and coming close to a goal at the end of the second. Just couldn’t finish, just like Rick Nash in every Ranger game, except 3, ever. Miller did the work and finished the job. Let the good times roll!


4 – 1 NYR
3rd Period
NONE

 

Contrary to what you may think, I hope Henrik Lundqvist gets his crown

Lost in the recent Ranger games is the play of Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist, who started the season playing like his 2012 Vezina season, fell off the truck and flat-out sucked for a period of time, being benched 4 times in 7 games. Lundqvist has turned it around, and posted another win, this time making 30 saves on 31 shots. I was surprised he wasn’t named a star of the game, as Miller, McDonagh and Jordan Staal were your three stars, respectively.

Offense is always sexier than defense, so when you put pucks in the net, that will get the talk. I’m not going to go into a long diatribe here, because I have already, and you can scour the archives for them, but simply, I do want Lundqvist to get his crown, because he’s a New York Ranger. I don’t care how this team does it, I just want to see the Rangers win the Cup.

Lundqvist, who has played longer than Alex Ovechkin, is the NHL’s new Ray Bourque. Along with Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla and Roberto Luongo, he’s an NHL statesman without a Cup. Bourque eventually did it with the Avalanche in his final season, where you saw Bruin fans openly root for the Avalanche to win a Cup. Despite what you might think, I don’t dislike Lundqvist. I hate his contract. After carrying the Rangers for the majority of the career, he’s regressed. How couldn’t he, after all the games played and carrying the load for so long? When AV took over, that’s when Lundqvist started to decline, not that one has to do with the other.

Will the King ever get his crown? I just don’t see it happening under the current NHL salary cap and rule amendments. I hope it happens, but realistically, it’s just hard to envision. I’ll go to the grave saying that if the Rangers had the 2012 Lundqvist, they would’ve beat the Kings in ’14 and would’ve got to the Cup in ’15.

Despite losing games in the last two weeks, Lundqvist has not been at fault and has played well. He won’t get the headlines for these last two wins, as JT Miller will, but make no mistake, Lundqvist seems to have shaken whatever got over him the last month.

That’s the face I make when I see how much Nash gets paid per season

Speaking of high contracts, how about Rick Nash? I have to shout out reader of this blog and someone fun to follow on Twitter, @Fixxser. We seem to share the same opinions on the team. He’s also been calling Rick Nash “Erica Lindros.” After he said that, what happened? Nash got injured twice!

Nash first hurt himself by going right into the boards with one of the most uncoordinated white boy moves of all time. Nash was favoring his leg after he went off the ice. Nash would later return, in the third period, only to take a shot to the knee of the same leg. Talk about bad breaks. With the Rangers up 4-1, I was expecting Rick Nash to score his usual “A-Rod” meaningless goal, but instead rode the period out on the bench writhing in pain.

From initial reports from the Rangers post-game presser, it looks like Nash will be ok. He’s been playing well for the Rangers – if he was a fourth liner. Bottom line and not to beat a dead horse beyond death here, the guy just doesn’t score goals. He’s way overpaid too. $7.8M for a guy who has 1/2 the production JT Miller has and has done next to nothing in the playoffs. You can’t say Nash is bad, but he’s not great either. Just imagine if he produced points, as little as 25% as Ovechkin does for the Caps.

Rick Nash, who won’t be a free agent until 2018 will probably remain a Ranger until that deal runs out. After all, who would trade for that contract? It’s a shame too. Rick Nash is a likable guy. He plays hard. He does everything right. He just can’t score the puck to save his life this season.

The Rangers return Sunday afternoon in Ottawa

For the Rangers, this 4-1 win was their first two game winning streak since Thanksgiving. The Rangers look to build on this streak, when they take on the piss-poor Ottawa Senators on Sunday at 3. Luckily for me, I got the two TV’s in my man cave, so I can watch this and the NFL playoffs at the same time! Shit, I’ll even do NFL and Royal Rumble too!

With so much sports on Sunday, so much drinking to do and an early start time for my job on Monday, I’ll return with a blog after the Sabres game. After recapping the Sabres, I’ll do the Mid-Season Report Card and if I have the time, recap the All Star Game. I really hope the NHL does something to honor Jagr at the ASG. The man is a living legend and one of the top 5 hockey players in NHL history. He should be respected and revered in the same way Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant have been in recent years.

While mentioning an NBAer, did anyone see the bitch slapfest between the slugs in the Knicks/Clippers game on Friday night? I hope Tanner Glass fucks everyone up on both teams!

For the Rangers on Friday night, this was a game they needed to win. The ‘Canes suck and were missing their starting goalie. You need to win these types of games. You need to grab the two points against teams you should easily beat on paper. With the Islanders winning on Friday night, against the aforementioned lowly Senators, the Rangers kept pace for second place in the division, with the Isles a point behind. The first place Capitals were idle, with their game against the Ducks being postponed due to the storm.

The Rangers have a couple of easy games coming up, against bottom feeder teams. This is the time to close the gap a bit between themselves and the Caps. We all know, especially after last season, that winning the President’s Trophy doesn’t mean a Stanley Cup, but you don’t want the Caps going into the playoffs with ease and their players rested. Let the Caps fight and struggle to earn the Metropolitan Division Championship. There’s plenty of time left in the season for the Rangers to make a run, and what would be better than a four game winning streak as we hit the All-Star break?

Be safe in this storm. For the people that buy milk & bread, all I gotta say is “why?” Do people really eat bread and drink milk every day. My girlfriend knew better and brought home a case of Labatt Blue Light and Ellio’s Pizza! LBL & EP > milk and bread any day, twice on Sunday’s!

See ya Monday night/Tuesday morning!

Win or lose, as always…

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on that twitter machine

Comments

  1. Good stuff Sean, me, the wife live in Raleigh now, been waiting all season for this game. It was a great home for us NYR fans pre & post game. Seeya in March…

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