NYR/CAR 11/29 Review: Adam Graves Continues His Blueshirt Sainthood, My Teenage Days, Ron Hainsey Gives the Rangers a Gift on “Garden of Dreams” Night, Rick Nash (Yes, Rick Nash) Puts The Team on His Back & More

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Adam Graves with Rangers “coach” Bryce Rogerson

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. After coming up lifeless and slow, like a zombie from “The Walking Dead” on Sunday night, the Rangers did more or less the same for forty minutes on Tuesday night, against the Carolina Hurricanes. However, the final twenty minutes of the game proved to be a different story, as the Rangers found their legs as the Canes lost theirs. The Rangers then went on to complete a 3-2 comeback victory over the Canes in MSG. The hero in the comeback? The $7.8 million dollar man, number 61, Rick Nash.

Kicking off “Garden of Dreams” week at MSG, the Rangers announced earlier in the day, the signing of 11 year old Bryce Rogerson, as an honorary coach. Rogerson has had some ordeal in life. Sam Rosen, Joe Micheletti & Al Trautwig all talked about how this kid had his first heart surgery before he was even born! Another reason to not understand Christian Scientists! Look at modern medicine today! These doctors are performing surgery while a child is still in the womb.

It really is amazing when you think about it. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that women smoked & drank during pregnancy and not an eyelash was batted. Even with what we know now, women still smoke and drink during pregnancy. Those kids grow up to become Islander fans! Seriously though – to know what’s wrong with a child before birth and then perform a surgery of that magnitude, it really is a miracle of modern medicine.

For more information on Rogerson and his day at MSG, where you can watch videos of Rogerson signing his contract, meeting players, going into the announcer booth, having a MSG tour, dropping the puck and all that good stuff, check out the facebook or twitter pages of the NY Rangers. They have videos & pics of Rogerson’s day.

Rogerson had a long day, as the Rangers went out of their way to make him a guest of honor. By the time he joined the broadcast booth in the second period, he was shot. Some may say he was shy with the cameras on him, but I just think he was shot & tired. He had a hell of a long day. However, with a 3-2 victory to boot, I’m sure it’s a day he will never forget.

While I am not rooting for sick children at all, I do like days like this, where a sports club, especially a team I root for, does a classy thing like this. I donate to the Garden of Dreams twice a year & the money does go for a good cause. In this day and age, everyone is trying to scam people for money under the guise of “charity.” I’m sure by now, you all know the Garden of Dreams is legit and trust me, I did my research before donating to them several years ago. The money collected usually goes to brightening up the spirits and the day of a kid, who has been dealt a bad hand in life. For more information on the Garden of Dreams, you can visit http://www.gardenofdreamsfoundation.org

One of the key people in the Garden of Dreams is Rangers LEGEND, yes LEGEND, Adam Graves. Graves was a great player on-ice for the Rangers, but has become a legend in this organization for all the work he does away from it. Many of you are probably familiar with the work of Graves, but for every story that is out there about the work he does, there’s about 99 stories not written. Graves is the John Cena of the Rangers. The guy has dedicated his life to working with under-privileged or sick children.  Neither man does it for good publicity. In the case of Graves, he has been retired for some time and could live anywhere he wants. He could be telling hockey war stories from a bar stool in Canada. Instead, he tirelessly works with charity organizations. He is the “Mother Theresa” of the New York Rangers & that’s not an exaggeration.

Too often, and I have written about this before, do we see stories about another athlete in trouble, especially in the NFL. How many times have we read about an athlete killing someone, getting a DWI, busted with drugs, hitting a woman, not paying child support, cheating on their taxes, getting caught with an illegal firearm etc? And that’s just a slow year for the NFL! That’s why it’s nice to be reminded about all the good work Adam Graves does.

Some of my autographed cards from one of the binders I can still find. I may be the only person in the world with 19 Manny Maholtra cards signed.

Adam Graves is one of my favorite Rangers ever. I talk about this all the time on this blog too – making memories for kids so they become life-long fans. Here’s my story – when I was deemed old enough to take the LIRR with just my friends, around 13-14 years old, I used to go to MSG all the time for autographs. My friends were all a year older, so when I was 15-16, (meaning my friends had driver licenses) I used to also go to the Nassau Coliseum for autographs all the time too.  I’d say there was a good 4 year period from when I was 13-17 years old, that I was at either the Coliseum or MSG, 2-3 times a week, getting cards or pucks signed. To this day, I still got 5-6 binders of cards signed from the players of the 1990’s.

Back in the no salary cap era, the Rangers had tons of big money free agents. The Rangers were also coming off the 1994 Cup, so they were bigger stars then, than they are today. I know fans today can’t believe that, but the Rangers really were the toast of the town from 1994-2000. This started just before the Yankees made their runs (Although they would rip off 4 World Series wins during this time) and the Giants were 6-7 years removed from the Scott Norwood Superbowl.

You got to remember, the Rangers won the 1994 Cup. To this day, I think Mark Messier could be caught in a Jared Fogle type of scandal and Ranger fans would still forgive him. The Rangers were larger than life and delivered the city an epic parade. From 1994-2000, a who’s who of hockey wore a blueshirt. Of course you had Messier, Graves, Richter & Leetch. You would later have Gretzky, who everyone knew was on his last run and wanted to see. Guys like John McLean, Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros and later on, guys like Holik & Jagr would enter the fold. MSG was the place to be.

Anyways, me and my good friend “Spiggy”, would anxiously go autograph seeking, with a sharpie and a disposable camera (A beeper during this time was big-time) in hand. If only I could find those old disposable camera pictures, but those pictures are long lost. I know in another blog I wrote about Spiggy sneaking into the Nassau Coliseum and stealing Patrick Roy’s stick. Check the archives for that story on this site!

We would wait for autographs no matter what the weather was. It usually was freezing outside. I still remember Messier & Leetch taking different ways out or having a car drive them to their car parked away from MSG. I can remember Richter & Gretzky doing the sunglasses and hat over their eyes stuff, like they were hiding like Carmen Sandiego. Two players from this time frame have always stuck out to me – Adam Graves and later on, Theo Fleury.

It could be hailing, freezing snow, or whatever, but Graves and Fleury would sign for anyone. There could be 10 people waiting or 100, but Graves & Fleury would sign for anyone and everyone. There was a time where I can remember Graves having his own sharpie to speed up the process! I’m 20 years removed from those days but I can still remember it so vividly. Those two players created a life-long fan in me. They were just great guys. To see what Graves & Fleury are doing now makes me happy. Sure, they took different paths to get where they are, but both are outstanding members of their communities. Both players are an inspiration and use their fame for positive results.

Graves doesn’t do this Garden of Dreams gig for press or because it’s a court-ordered community service. He does it because he genuinely cares. In an era of “bad athletes”, it’s always nice to see Graves doing his thing. You can’t say enough good things about the guy. The way I respect Graves the player and Graves the man is as intense as my disdain for the contract of Henrik Lundqvist!

While I was more fortunate growing up than Bryce Rogerson, meaning I didn’t have any severe health issues besides bad gas and acne, the way Graves took time out for me when I was a kid is still remembered to this day. It’s awesome that he’s still doing the same thing 20+ years later. Thank you Adam. I know Mr. Rogerson won’t forget about this night in 20 years either.

No, it’s not Hanukkah, Rick Nash actually got the Broadway Hat tonight!

While the Garden of Dreams was doing their thing tonight, the Rangers were ready to do theirs. And on an aside, I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t a fan of that National Anthem tonight. I get the Jimi Hendrix idea, but I wasn’t a fan of the original and tonight’s rendition was no better. I would’ve preferred to see a young kid belt it out with pride, rather than an overly-noisy & more-dragged-out-than-Aretha Franklin take on the song.

As is such with most Ranger games, this was a game of multiple stories. All good stories start with a beginning, so I’ll start there.

In what should’ve shocked no one, Viktor Stalberg had his best game ever inside MSG tonight. Every ex-NY Ranger comes back to light up Lundqvist and tonight was no different. I was more surprised that Lee Stempniak didn’t add to the tally than I was about Stalberg’s two goals. Stalberg beat Hank with a soft goal to start then got a deflection through the wickets of King 5 Hole. The Rangers found themselves down 2-0 to the worst team in the division after twenty.

The Rangers would get on the board, halfway through the second, when Nick Holden lifted a puck over the stick of goalie Cam Ward. 2-1 Canes. However, the goal was the only good thing about the first forty minutes, as the Rangers looked flat.

I don’t know if it was the bad weather or something else, but the Garden looked empty on TV. I know I was offered free tickets to the game but didn’t go for a few reasons. One- I’m sick of going to games & being angry at Hank flailing all over the place. Two – I gotta be up early tomorrow. Three – I rather save my money for my road trips and checking arenas off my bucket list. Four – I was in the middle of a “BANSHEE” marathon. And lastly, Five – I have a brand new case of Labatt Blue Light sitting in my fridge. I can’t keep paying $11 for warm and stale tap beer at MSG. It’s beneath me!

It’s not like the Rangers gave the crowd anything to cheer about either. Ottawa drew up the blueprint on Sunday and Carolina followed it. Dump and chase & the trap all day. Teams fear the Rangers speed more than they fear Lundqvist. Teams are now focusing on trying to slow down the Rangers, rather than trying to be aggressive with Lundqvist. I don’t blame them.

However, I don’t know if the Rangers were given cocaine laced Redbull between the second and third periods or if they didn’t want to let down the Garden of Dream kids, but they came out flying like Tony Montana at the end of “Scarface” in the third period. It was tough to tell if the Rangers were just that more hyped or if Carolina was just that gassed. Either way, it didn’t make for happy times for Cam Ward.

Rick Nash came out in beast mode. Nash started off the third period by skating through three defenders, shot a backhand to the goalies glove side and found twine.  Go see a video replay of the goal if you missed it. It was one of the best goals of the season.

The Rangers continued to fly and the Canes looked spent like an Amazon Prime account on Cyber Monday. (I gotta stop with the references, I’m coming off like a Monday Night Football Dennis Miller. Shit, I just did it again!)

Ron Hainsey wound up being the Rangers hero of the game. After being called for hooking (could’ve also been called as interference) on Ryan McDonagh, Hainsey was charged with a two minute penalty. Hainsey lost his shit and had murder in his eye. He went berserk like Chayton from “Banshee”. A ref even had to hold him back from another ref. Since this is hockey, he wasn’t tossed from the game, but was given another two minute penalty for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” As a result, the Rangers were given a 4 minute PP as the game was about to approach the “Foxwoods Final 5” mark.

Brady “Assist Per Game” Skjei got the puck and fired it. Nash got it and threw it in Ward’s direction. Vesey grabbed the loose puck and put it right by a sprawling Cam Ward. 3-2 Rangers with 2 more minutes of PP time remaining.

The Rangers wouldn’t get another PP goal, but the two minutes of being short handed took more energy out of Carolina. Hainsey came out of the box like a wildman, looking for a Jack-in-the-Box goal, but was denied by Lundqvist. Gotta give credit to Lundqvist, after putting the team in a 2-0 hole, he settled down. He’s still overpaid and overrated and remember, this is a game against last place Carolina. The Canes aren’t the Penguins, Canadiens, Capitals or Lightning, teams the Rangers will see in the playoffs. This also explains Hainsey’s frustration. There was no reason for him to blow up like he did, but he’s probably so sick of playing for a shit team that he just went ape-shit & hurt his team in the process.

As the game trickled down, Carolina pulled Ward but Carolina couldn’t do anything with the man advantage. Rangers came back and held on to win 3-2. Here’s the official box score from ESPN.com, for those interested:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
5:22
Viktor Stalberg (5)
Assists: Matt Tennyson, Joakim Nordstrom
1 0
12:55
Viktor Stalberg (6)
Assist: Jay McClement
2 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
10:06
Derek Stepan: 2 Minutes for Hooking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
9:13
Nick Holden (3)
Unassisted
2 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
1:25
Marc Staal: 2 Minutes for High-sticking

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CAR NYR
0:24
Rick Nash (10)
Unassisted
2 2
14:48
Jimmy Vesey (8) (Power Play)
Assists: Rick Nash, Brady Skjei
2 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
8:15
Jay McClement: 2 Minutes for High-sticking
11:32
Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Roughing
11:32
Noah Hanifin: 2 Minutes for Roughing
13:13
Ron Hainsey: 2 Minutes for Hooking
13:13
Ron Hainsey: 2 Minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Goaltending Summary

Carolina Hurricanes Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
C. Ward 21 3 18 .857 58:39 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 28 2 26 .929 60:00 0

 

While any win is a good win, a few things concern me, especially against a last place team. This is what bothered me:

  • Lundqvist has to be better. The money he’s making, you can’t keep giving up these soft goals left and right. Marc Staal also had to fish a puck out before it crossed the goal line. At least one overpaid player saved a game winning shot tonight!
  • The powerplay was shaky. Sure they scored one, but the last few games, the Rangers have reverted to the Rangers of old on the PP.
  • Another crappy start. Good teams will make you pay for crappy starts. The Rangers need to play a full 60 minute game.
  • Derek Stepan. Is he going to start earning his money this season? I’ve heard some chatter about Stepan being trade bait and depending on the haul, I wouldn’t be opposed.
  • No puck luck/not converting on chances. Ryan McDonagh had a two on one but failed miserably. Kevin Hayes had a direct look at the net and decided to pass. This is simply shit you can not do against the Pens, Caps, Bolts, Habs, etc.
  • There was a lot of fawning and praise for Rick Nash after the game. I saw people on twitter calling for Nash to be captain. Can we calm down? $7.8M a year. He should be doing this more often and against better competition than Carolina. Let’s hope he continues to roll.

I’ll just leave this here…

Remember when Lundqvist said, “Give me two goals and I got this”? Tonight’s a good night, so I won’t go on a rant here, but $8.5 million a year folks!

 

Jack Eichel. Pic Credit: BuffaloHockeyBeat.com

Up next for the Rangers, a NY showdown with the Sabres. The Sabres are another bottom feeding team, but sophomore sensation Jack Eichel has returned to the line-up. He scored a goal and had an assist tonight as well. With “Kids Day” on Saturday against Carolina at home, again, (Who scheduled that?) , might be a good time to start Raanta in net. BTW, I should have pictures of my new Raanta jersey that I got, during the 30% off Cyber Monday sale, on Shop.NHL.com, up here soon!

I’ll be back Thursday night to talk more about your first place New York Rangers.

Until then…

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

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