NYR/CHI 12/13 Review: King Raanta Dominates Again But So Does Scott Darling, AV’s Win-Win Scenario, Rangers Offense Needing “Hair of the Dog”, No McDonagh, RIP Alan Thicke & More

“Fuller House” Season 2 Guest Star Alan Thicke with Espo, Mr. Hockey & The Great One. Photo Credit: NHL.com

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. While the somber news is to report that Raanta took a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night in MSG, even more depressing was finding out in the third period, that “Growing Pains” actor & Canadian TV icon, Alan Thicke passed away.

From TMZ.com:

TV icon Alan Thicke has died … TMZ has learned.

We’re told Alan had a heart attack while he was playing hockey with his 19-year-old son, Carter. He was transported to Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center around noon today, and pronounced dead there.

Law enforcement sources tell us … a company that recovers organs was contacted, so some of Thicke’s organs could be donated.

He’s survived by his 3 sons — Robin, Brennan and Carter … and his wife, Tanya.

Alan played hockey regularly at a rink in Burbank. We’re told he and Carter were on the ice around 11 AM when he started having chest pain, then got nauseous and vomited. The ambulance picked him up around 11:30 and took him to the hospital.

The Canadian born actor was most famous for his role as Jason Seaver, the dad on the ’80s sitcom, “Growing Pains.” Most recently, he was on the Netflix reboot, “Fuller House” … and also had a cameo on the first episode of “This Is Us.”

Alan also hosted game shows, talk shows, and wrote several famous TV show theme songs for “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Wheel of Fortune” as well as “Growing Pains.”

He was 69.

As a child of the ’80’s that watched a lot of TV in the ’90’s, Alan Thicke was one of those guys that you saw all the time. Obviously, as Jason Seaver, on “Growing Pains”, we all saw Thicke every week. Most recently, he was on an episode of “Fuller House”. (Not ashamed to admit I binge watched the series on Netflix!) Of course, watching the TV dad of Kirk Cameron trying to date Kirk’s real life sister, Candace Cameron, playing the role of DJ Tanner, was funny.

Thicke was a native of Canada and many guest starring roles he would have would acknowledge it, comically, such as his role in “How I Met Your Mother.”

Thicke died playing hockey, which is the way most Canadians want to go out. RIP to an actor that will always live forever through syndication.

I was a loyal subject in the Kingdom of Raanta tonight.

As Axl Rose once said, “nothing lasts forever, not even cold Antti Raanta reign.” The Rangers hosted the Blackhawks on Tuesday night, after beating them in Chicago, 1-0 in OT. The Hawks would take this game 2-1, with Toews and Seabrook back in the line-up. Goalie Scott Darling had another great game against NYR. Give it up for both Darling and Raanta – in 121 minutes of hockey, both goalies gave up 2 goals a piece against the hottest offenses in the NHL.

Just think, a puck bounce here or there, NYR vs CHI could’ve been the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row. (2014 & 2015) For the second straight game between these two teams in four nights, we saw another goalie clinic between goalies being paid a lot less than their starting counterparts.

For the first time in Hank’s career, he was a healthy back-up for four straight games in a row. How could you not play Raanta tonight, coming off of two shutouts? For anyone talking a goalie “crisis” or “controversy” – let’s be real, the only time there will be a goalie controversy is if Hank is sitting on his overpaid and overrated ass come the playoffs. I have no doubt Hank will be playing in the playoffs and I have no doubt that he will have his doors blown off as usual. But that’s talk for a different time.

Maybe that’s why King Bench has been so horrible this year. You need both eyes open!

I wrote this on my twitter @NYCTHEMIC before the game:

“Chicago will be 100% healthy tonight with Toews back. Starting Raanta is win-win.

Chicago is gonna be full boar and want to avenge their loss from Friday. Hank can’t even beat last place teams with back up goalies. If Raanta wins, AV looks good. If Raanta has an off game due to Chicago’s great offense, Hank comes back & this “crisis” is averted. AV wins either way.

The only losing scenario for AV is Hank comes back tonight and has his doors blown off by Chicago. Tonight is Raanta’s biggest game of his NYR career.”

Barring a shut out or a 2-1 win, I thought Hank would play Thursday in Dallas. While Raanta played excellent tonight, I don’t see AV using the “Raanta is the hot hand” excuse and giving Raanta fifth start in a row in Dallas. As I said above before the game, I think AV was protecting Hank and riding the hot goalie at the same time.

Put it this way – the Rangers were missing their highest paid & maybe best forward in Rick Nash. They were missing their best defenseman in Ryan McDonagh, who was out with the flu or flu-like symptoms. They’re also missing Zibanejad, Puempel and Buchnevich. Raanta was thrown in a bad situation tonight. Imagine if Hank played under these same conditions and lost 5-1? It would just fuel the fire to the “Goalie Crisis”, as Larry Brooks exaggerated in his NY Post column today.

The best case scenario in my fantasy world, or if I was GM, is AV keeps riding Raanta and keeps benching Hank. Maybe if they keep benching Hank, he will waive his NMC. If you don’t think moving Hank is a good idea, you’re lost. HANK’S CONTRACT SUCKS. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Not one top 5 paid goalie has won a Cup in the cap era, and Hank won’t be the one to snap that streak.

Raanta and Lundqvist are two different people too. Maybe it’s a Finnish vs Swedish thing. Even after a loss, Raanta is gracious and took blame & responsibility, unlike Lundqvist who blames everyone on the team besides himself. There’s a reason no one hangs out with Lundqvist away from the team. Lundqvist is a woman-beating egomaniac asshole. We all remember that team picture from two season ago, where the whole team was on a plane together hanging out, while Hank took a private jet.

If you’re on a team or do “team projects” at work, do you want to hear one guy blame everyone else for their shortcomings? That’s the overpaid goalie in a nutshell. Instead, Raanta, who is underpaid and underrated, credits his teammates in wins and takes responsibility in losses. It’s so refreshing to hear a NYR goalie talk this way. We haven’t heard a NYR goalie talk like this since Talbot, who also outplayed and outperformed King Nothing during his tenure here.

If you are one of those people rooting for Raanta to fail so King Nothing can come back and shit the joint out, I wonder if you would root for your Ferrari to break down so you can drive your old Yugo around the block.

I think I was still the only person in the building to sport a Raanta jersey tonight!

Tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks was an ugly and uninspiring loss. That said, the Rangers were missing a lot of players. Clendening played for McDonagh, who was out with the flu. Skjei missed some time in this game, after taking a skate to the face. The Rangers looked hung-over a lot during this game. Maybe a Bloody Mary would’ve woken them up. They looked like they could use some hair of the dog. While Raanta kept the team in the game, the Rangers overpassed themselves out of a win. We’ve seen this time and time again from the Rangers, they will always make the extra pass rather than taking a shot and hoping for a rebound or a deflection.

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the game, here’s the official box score from ESPN.com:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CHI NYR
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
4:07
Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Hooking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CHI NYR
5:18
Trevor van Riemsdyk (1)
Assists: Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov
1 0
8:15
Jesper Fast (3)
Assist: Oscar Lindberg
1 1
18:51
Artem Anisimov (13)
Assists: Brian Campbell, Artemi Panarin
2 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
12:14
Chris Kreider: 2 Minutes for Boarding
12:14
2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Richard Panik)

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail CHI NYR
No scoring this period 2 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
No penalties this period

Goaltending Summary

Chicago Blackhawks Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
S. Darling 34 1 33 .971 60:00 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Raanta 26 2 24 .923 58:41 0

S. Darling (Blackhawks – G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: .971

A. Anisimov (Blackhawks – C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Raanta (Rangers – G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .923

 

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Hank would’ve had more room laying out in the crowd tonight

Before getting into it, this was another depressing crowd at MSG tonight. I was sitting near a bunch of Blackhawk fans, and they asked me, “Is it always this quiet?” They were shocked with all the empty seats and how people miss the first 5 minutes and last two minutes of a period, so they could run to the Delta Clubs. As someone who attends a lot of road games, while MSG may have history (That they sometimes acknowledge, as there is still no evidence in the rafers that Frank Boucher & Bill Cook were more successful than Messier in a blue sweater), for the most part MSG is a joke.

I really can’t think of any other arena that has people in suits in good seats, dead silence and empty seats like MSG during any given game. It’s the environment that James Dolan wants and created. Even the Hawks fans next to me said they felt bad cheering because they didn’t think it was allowed. It really is a shame to see what MSG turned into. Watch any MSG game before the renovation and it really is night and day.

For the game itself, it was another goaltenders duel. You could argue that the best Rangers on the ice were former Blackhawks, in Hayes & Raanta. Chicago is a great team, we all know that. It’s tough to score on these guys, even with Darling in net. Both teams played solid defense, although the Rangers had more lapses than the Hawks. For as good as Holden can be at times, sometimes it looks like he bought a ticket and just watches.

After a scoreless first period, Raanta lost his 176+ minutes of scoreless goaltending, as Trevor van Riemsdyk scored in the second period, in front of an open Raanta. However, Jesper Fast tied it. There was a belated celebration to this goal, as the refs reviewed to see if it was a high stick goal. It wasn’t and the game was tied at one.

Keeping the Ranger tradition of letting any ex-Ranger score in MSG, Artem Anisimov scored point blank in front of Raanta, with two minutes remaining left in the second period. I didn’t notice if Holden had a beer and a hot dog when this goal went in, but I did notice the great view he had as a spectator to this goal. That would be all the scoring for the game, as both goalies were great in the third period, playing another scoreless period.

For the Rangers, and yes, keep in mind they were missing a bunch of guys, they just couldn’t get much going. In the limited times when they did, they were a day late and a dollar short. They did the over-passing stuff, instead of shooting. They missed an open net. They shot many times at the Indian head of Darling’s jersey. Chicago also got a lucky break, taking no penalties, even though I saw from my seats a high stick to Staal and an interference on Kreider. To be fair, the Rangers only took one penalty. It was mostly a five on five game, with a four on four mixed in as well.

What drove me fucking insane was with Raanta pulled with 90 seconds to go, the Rangers showed no sense of urgency. Instead of pressing forward or even doing a dump and chase, they kept skating backwards. Even with 20 seconds left, instead of shooting, they kept skating backwards and looked to pass first, rather than going bombs away with shots. In a one goal game, the most exciting and most frantic part of the game is with the goalie pulled and a team employing a 6 vs 5 offense. Instead, the Rangers looked like they would rather protect the empty net rather than trying to tie the game. Whether you lose 2-1 playing conservatively or lose 3-1, because you went balls out for a goal, it’s still an L.

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The Rangers sure made you want to drink a bunch of these tonight!

I don’t expect 4+ goals a game from the Rangers offense, especially when they are banged up, but I expect them to kick into an extra gear, even if it’s in panic mode, with the game on the line. I was really hoping for a good game from Zucc tonight, but he was one of the biggest culprits of the extra pass tonight.

I’ve said it before, I enjoy the good low scoring goaltender battles, especially when the Rangers win. While I thought Darling was tested a little bit, I thought Raanta had to make tougher saves on his end. It just seemed the Rangers kept shooting at Darling, rather than trying to shoot past Darling.

As I said before the game, AV was in a win-win situation tonight. If Raanta stole this game, he looks great. If Raanta lost a tough one, he can go back to Hank. The worst scenario tonight would’ve been Hank getting his doors blown off, after two Raanta shut-outs.

That said, the Rangers draw Dallas on Thursday, on the road. I would expect Hank to play that game. You know he will want it. However, what will the reaction be if he gets spanked? Will these people with Lundqvist blow up dolls, like that reporter from WFAN, Sean Hartnett, just blame rust? If has a great game, will those same people say “The King is back?”, like it’s a great thing that the highest paid goalie goes through these funks every season and comes up short in the playoffs?

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Rangers will try to rebound on Thursday in Dallas

As I’ve said all season, the regular season is just a way for teams to make money and for the league to make a profit. You can only judge this team by how they play in the playoffs. While I’m all about Raanta outplaying Hank (It’s what’s best for the team, because Raanta has a better contract & makes one of the worst contracts on the team expendable), we all know that AV won’t have the balls to start Raanta over King No Cup come playoffs.

As far as tonight’s game, give NYR credit for playing a tight low scoring game against the best team in the Cap Era NHL, especially missing Nash & McDonagh. Raanta continued to play well, but I think we all know, barring a 1-0 game, Hank was gonna play Thursday.

Oh, I talked to several Ranger fans that are concerned about the standings and playoff seeding. Talk to me in March about that. Unless the Rangers go on a major Islander-esque free-fall, it’s too early to worry about that now.

Dallas isn’t as good as Chicago, so hopefully NYR goes back to their winning ways. Hopefully the Rangers go back to their Papa John 3+ Goals a Game offense. Maybe the Rangers can ask the Giants about beating Dallas too!

See ya Thursday night.

LGR

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

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