NYR/DAL 12/15 Review: Lundqvist (And Raanta) Shut-Out Dirty Dallas, Defending Lundqvist More than NYR Did (That Means Something!) Rule 78, Eakin-Gate, Two Alarming Things in the Rangers 2-0 Win, Nash’s GWG, RIP Craig Sager, Where’s Tanner Glass (Or Cloutier) When You Need Him & More

 

Lundqvist and Raanta posted the first ever team shutout in NYR history.

Note: this blog is rated TV MA for obscene language. Sorry in advance, it happens after a game like this.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com.

Unfortunately for the second blog in a row, I have to mention another sports personality’s untimely death. RIP to long-time NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager.

Image result for craig sager suits

Craig Sager may have passed today, but his wardrobes will live with us forever.

As everyone knows, Sager was battling cancer for a long time and fought right to the very end. Despite his aggressive cancer, he even covered this year’s NBA Finals. He would go to the hospital, get his treatment, rush off to the NBA Finals and go back to the hospital for more treatment. Sports Illustrated did a really good article on him during this time, and it’s worth going out of your way to read.

His interviews with San Antonio’s Greg Popovich were always hilarious. I’m glad we got this exchange last season:

I don’t watch basketball as much as I used to, because of what it’s turned into (The superstar dominates everything, no defense, lack of a team game, only 4 teams have a chance of winning an NBA title, rivalries gone, too many fouls, only the last two minutes of a game matters, etc) but I was happy to see the out pour of kind words for Sager from all four major sports today. From all accounts, he was a good guy and universally liked, just like a Vin Scully or Sam Rosen.

Turner Sports released the following:

RIP Craig Sager.

 


The Rangers defeated the Dallas Starts on Thursday night, 2-0, in Dallas. This game featured the return of Henrik Lundqvist, making his first start since being benched in favor of Antti Raanta. Like anything with Lundqvist, this game was not without controversy.

As you can tell from the video above, Cody Eakin absolutely destroyed Lundqvist with a hit. For a lot of Ranger fans, this was a bigger shot in Dallas than the one JFK took! (Ok that was a bad joke. Pretend you’re drinking and at a comedy club. Laugh, it’s ok!)

This hit came during the halfway point of the first period. As a result of the hit, Eakin was thrown out of the game and the Rangers got a 5 minute powerplay. Raanta would also take over the nets for the entire PP, as Hank was taken to the locker room. I assume Hank was taken to the locker room as part of the NHL concussion protocol. If you recall, Hank took over for Raanta during one of these concussion protocols and gave up 2 quick goals before Raanta returned. Fortunately for Lundqvist and the Rangers, Raanta was able to keep the shutout protected.

This hit has been dissected by a million people in a million different ways. Here’s my complete take on it:

  • Watching it live, I joked saying the last time Lundqvist got hurt like this, the Rangers won the President’s Trophy. I guess jokes like that warrants death threats!
  • Seriously though, I didn’t think the hit was that bad. I think it looked worse than it really was, just because all of Hank’s gear flying all over the place. I figured Hank would have to leave the game just because of the concussion protocol. I figured he’d be back in the second, but he did return with about five minutes left in the first.
  • I just don’t know what Cody Eakin is supposed to do here. With replay, you can slow it down. You have to watch this in real time to really get a grasp of this.
  • Part of this is Hank’s fault. He is so sloppy playing the puck, that if he made his original pass, rather than stalling, this doesn’t happen.
  • Hank is eligible to get hit here. He has the puck and is out of the crease. Of course, jumping into the hit (Which admittedly, I didn’t realize Eakin jumped seeing this live) is not legal.
  • What’s Eakin supposed to do? He’s flying around the ice for the puck and Hank is in his way with the puck. Granted, you don’t jump, but there was going to be a collision & a penalty either way.
  • The same fans calling for Eakin to go to the electric chair are the same fans that praised Kreider for skating into Price in 2014.

If Eakin didn’t jump, this would’ve been a clean hit years ago. Just like the NFL makes rules to protect their quarterbacks, the NHL has done the same with their goalies. Here’s the official rule form the NHL Rule Book:

Rule 78 – Protection of Goalkeeper

The revised crease rule is intended to implement a “no harm, no foul, no video review” standard. The rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed – i.e., goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates more than incidental contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

(a) If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

(b) If an attacking player initiates any contact, other than incidental contact, with the goalkeeper, while the goalkeeper is outside of his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

(c) In all cases in which an attacking player initiates other than incidental contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the offensive player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). See also Rule 47 (c) – Charging.

(NOTE 1) In exercising his judgment under subsections (a) and (b) above, the Referee should give more significant consideration to the degree and nature of the contact with the goalkeeper than to the exact location of the goalkeeper at the time of the contact.

(NOTE 2) If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed to be contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

(NOTE 3)A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

(d) If (i) a goalkeeper initiates contact with an offensive player who is in the goal crease; and (ii) such contact (a) is initiated by the goalkeeper in order to establish position in his goal crease; and (b) results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

(e) If, after any contact initiated by a goalkeeper who is attempting to establish position in his goal crease, the attacking player does not immediately vacate his current position in the goal crease (i.e., give ground to the goalkeeper), and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. In all such cases, whether or not a goal is scored, the offensive player will receive a minor penalty for interference.

(NOTE 4)The overriding rationale of subsections (d) and (e) above is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player.

(NOTE 5) In attempting to establish position in his goal crease, a goalkeeper who engages in acts which would otherwise warrant a penalty (e.g., cross-checking, slashing, etc.) will be assessed an appropriate penalty.

(f) When a goalkeeper has played the puck outside of his crease and is then prevented from returning to his crease area due to the deliberate actions of an attacking player, such player may be penalized for interference. Similarly, the goalkeeper may be penalized, if by his actions outside of his crease he deliberately interferes with an attacking player who is attempting to play the puck or an opponent.

(g) If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper’s vision and impair his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

(NOTE 6)For this purpose, a player “establishes a significant position within the crease” when, in the Referee’s judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is within the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.

(h) Subject to (i) below, if an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

(i) In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and offensive player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.

(j) In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed. If applicable, appropriate penalties will be assessed.

(k) A goalkeeper who deliberately initiates contact with an attacking player other than to establish position in the crease, or who otherwise acts to create the appearance of other than incidental contact with an attacking player, is subject to the assessment of a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

(l) An attacking player who, in the judgment of the Referee, initiates contact with the goalkeeper, whether inside or outside the crease, in a fashion that would otherwise warrant a penalty, will be assessed an appropriate penalty (minor or major and/or a game misconduct) and will be subject to additional sanctions as appropriate pursuant to Rule 33A – Supplementary Discipline.

(NOTE 7)For purposes of this rule, “contact”, whether incidental or otherwise, shall mean any contact that is made between or among a goalkeeper and attacking player(s), whether by means of a stick or any part of the body.

(NOTE 8) The above-stated standards relating to when a goal will be disallowed will be applied in all situations in which the puck enters the net regardless of whether it was directed into the net by the attacking or defensive team.

Here’s the part that applies here:

(NOTE 3)A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.

I’m not a lawyer or a referee, but the way this is all worded, it’s up for interpretation. The second Eakin jumped (which is charging) this was an automatic penalty. However, if this was just a collision, I could see this being ruled as an accident. I mean, is the guy supposed to pull up and risk injuring himself against the boards? It’s really a tough situation.

Of course, Ranger fans who can’t look at this objectively want a needle in Eakin’s arm, but what else would you expect?

Here is what Eakin said after the game:

(Credit: http://www.wrongsideoftheredline.com/2016/12/stars-notes-eakins-hit-on-lundqvist-may-cost-him-niemi-deserved-better-in-loss/)

“I was coming in pretty fast, I was trying to create some energy and intention was to go for the puck and not make contact with him or his head,” Eakin said. “It’s a collision that my momentum carried me a little bit off my feet.”

I believe him for what it’s worth. He doesn’t have a reputation for being dirty.

Dallas coach, Lindy Ruff added:

“I understand the call. There was no intent on his part. As a penalty killer he’s trying to gain speed so he can get back,” Ruff said. “I watched the play and Henrik (Lundqvist) was off the wall originally and I think he just mishandled it for a second. When he went to go play it, he went into the wall. Cody said he was just trying to jump by him. I know it doesn’t look that way but there was no intent on his part.”

And Coach AV said this:

“First thing is the league better do something about that hit,” Vigneault said. “It’s everything that you want to take away from the game. A hit to the head, forward motion and it’s a goaltender on top. That happens in the playoff and your goaltender’s got to go out of the net, they’d better do something about that. They’ve got to take care of business.”

When you watch the play back (As I have about hundred times already) and hear the post game quotes, I think it was a wrong time, wrong place thing. Eakin probably takes a 3 game suspension for this, because the NHL has to do something. They can’t just let this go unpunished or you risk copycats. That said – it’s a fucking joke the Rangers didn’t do anything afterwards.

 

Tanner F’N Glass

In my headline I said two things alarmed me and it was both from a result of this play. Lundqvist ate a big hit. Eakin was correctly penalized, kicked out of the game and the Rangers got a 5 minute PP. Refs did their job. However, the Rangers DID NOT.

We all know, I’m not the biggest Hank fan in the world. FAR FROM IT! However, how do you let your goalie get crushed like this and do nothing about it? You had Skjei and Vesey just watching, with Miller, Nash & I believe Holden on the ice.

I’ll give Skjei a pass, since he has a bunch of stitches in his face and wearing a mask because of the injury suffered on Tuesday night. Still though, if he did throw down, he would’ve been a legend in the eyes of Ranger fans…

Vesey is 22 years old and just watched. I get he’s young and all, but where are the stones?

Of course this led to Ranger fans tweeting out, “THIS IS WHY WE NEED MCILRATH!” I get it.

Listen, we all know I’m not a Lundqvist fan at all, I despise his contract and don’t think he’s the greatest guy in the world. That said, as a team, you always got to stick up for each other and that shit can never go unpunished when it comes to the goalie, even if he is overpaid and overrated.

The fact that Eakin skated to the locker room, untouched, is a fucking disgrace. I would like to think if Kreider or Klein was on the ice, they would’ve tossed the gloves. I mean, you had 6’4″ Rick Nash there and he didn’t do shit.

Lundqvist got completely destroyed by a non-rival team in Dallas. What’s going to happen in a real rivalry game with playoff seeding on the line? What happens in the playoffs? Who the fuck is going to stick up for this team?

I know many of you hate Tanner Glass. I know he had a horrible first season year. But he was great in his role last year. Is Hrivik that great? Lindberg? Give me a Tanner Glass, a guy who the team loved and will always stick up for this team. I wouldn’t be shocked if he isn’t called up on January 17th against Dallas. Perhaps that game against Dallas will be like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre against Philly from last season.

We all know the NHL is trying to phase out fighting and make the game cleaner. One of the reasons I love hockey and many others love hockey, is because the sport usually polices itself. I was at that game against Philly last year, after the dirty Simmonds hit on McDonagh. Glass and McIlrath came out to whoop ass and I never heard the bougias MSG (pre-renovation) as loud as it was that night. The fans want the players to hold their own and police themselves. The fact that the Rangers didn’t retaliate absolutely disgusts me. This isn’t polo.

By not defending Lundqvist, the Rangers basically said it was ok to pull this shit. The toughness of the Rangers have been questioned a few times this season. They are lucky to have won this game because I think this would be a much bigger issue if (a) they lost and (b) Hank was seriously injured.

Once again, the Ranger reporters have failed us. I’m scouring the internet right now and haven’t seen one reporter ask AV or Lundqvist about where was the team after that hit and how come no one went after Eakin? Will any of these reporters ask the tough questions? This isn’t even one of my Lundqvist hate rants either, I’m defending the guy!

IT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT THAT NOT ONE RANGER DEFENDED LUNDQVIST AFTER THE HIT. And that’s the bottom line because I said so.

What has the world come to where I’m defending Lundqvist more than the team did tonight?!?!?!

I had flashbacks to the Torts years tonight. Photo credit: NY Times

The lack of retaliation really bothered me after the Lundqvist hit. However, my frustrations reached a new high watching the Rangers PP. I had flashbacks to the Rangers vs Bruins 2013 playoff series, where the Rangers were something like 2-41 on the PP. (Not sure the exact number, but it was something ridiculous and it’s too late to google it!)

Before the Eakin hit, the Rangers were already on the PP, after Spezza was called for “Kneeing”. To be honest, I don’t remember many “kneeing” penalties being called these last few seasons, but a PP is a PP.

So with Eakin getting the major, the Rangers had 52 seconds of a 5 vs 3, followed by 4:18 of a traditional 5 vs 4 PP. The Rangers proceeded by not scoring.

That bugs the hell out of me. After a hit like that, if you’re not gonna man up and defend your goalie, at least make them pay on the scoreboard. Instead, the Rangers contributed to the Antti Niemi highlight reel. While Niemi made some great saves, the Rangers did the same old shit of overpassing themselves out of chances. It makes you just want to rip the hair off your ass!

The Rangers PP needs to get better, especially when the playoffs come around. The Rangers need to get tough, especially when the playoffs come around. Yes, the Rangers won 2-0, but they stole this win, rather than making a statement by saying “no one fucks with us.”

Before diving completely into this game, here’s the official box score from ESPN.com since NHL.com is still impossible to use:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR DAL
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
5:56
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for High-sticking
8:10
Jason Spezza: 2 Minutes for Kneeing
9:19
Cody Eakin: 10 Minute Misconduct
9:19
Cody Eakin: 5 Minute Major for Charging (Served by Jiri Hudler)
19:04
Radek Faksa: 2 Minutes for Roughing
19:04
Nick Holden: 2 Minutes for Roughing

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR DAL
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
10:03
Oscar Lindberg: 2 Minutes for Tripping
16:14
2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Chris Kreider)
19:54
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Delaying the game

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR DAL
7:08
Rick Nash (12) (Shorthanded)
Unassisted
1 0
18:56
Mats Zuccarello (8)
Assists: Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes
2 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
6:22
Jesper Fast: 2 Minutes for Interference
11:21
Jason Spezza: 2 Minutes for Hooking

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 27 0 27 1.000 54:20 0
A. Raanta .000 5:31

Dallas Stars Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Niemi 29 1 28 .966 58:21 0

The man cave fridge was stocked tonight and these were going down quick due to my anger!

This was one of the most chippiest games the Rangers played all season. It also felt like a “Murphy’s Law” game, where anything that could go wrong, would go wrong.

The Rangers missed open nets, hit cross bars, couldn’t convert on PP’s, over-passed, took dumb penalties, didn’t defend their goalie, and just looked like the Bad News Bears out there.

Obviously, the talk of the first period was the Eakin hit on Hank. The 60% empty arena (The place was fucking empty like someone wiped the place out with a bad fart) woke up after the 5 minute PK. The game would continue this momentum pendulum until Nash scored a breakaway SHG, in the third period.

Raanta played during the entire 5 minute PP. Hank was able to return. Kinda sucks about the concussion protocol gimmick, as Hank lost his shutout. As a result, for the first time in 90 years, the Rangers recorded their first ever team shutout. In Raanta We Trust!

Dallas wasn’t that great either, as they blew multiple opportunities, even going 0-5 on the PP. It felt like the Rangers were trying to give this game away. Lundqvist had a great game, perhaps the biggest game of this season thus far for him. After all, his back-up is outplaying him for $8M less and once again, the highest paid goalie in the league will not make the All Star Game.

There was a 4 minute frantic style of play in the second period between both teams. Both teams made mad rushes to the net, but either tripped on their own dicks or would be robbed by the opposing goalie. For as great as Lundqvist was tonight, so was the cheaper Antti Niemi & Niemi is playing on a worse team. This is why I say Hank is overrated and overpaid.

Again, while this game was probably  great for a fan with no skin in the game, this was nerve-wracking and frustrating as a Ranger fan. While the game was entertaining, I was still pissed about the Rangers not showing any toughness. In fact, I was rooting for Lundqvist to do this, but he probably didn’t want to risk breaking a nail:

I was at that Cloutier game and even though it was nearly 20 years ago, I can remember everything about that day. Man, hockey isn’t what it used to be, and I know every generation says that!

Seriously though, how great would’ve it been if Hank, seeing that his team wasn’t going to defend him, went out to the center line and challenged Niemi?

I’m wondering and it has to be asked – did the Rangers not defend Hank because they are pussies or because they are sick of Hank and his bullshit? We know how Hank always throws his teammates under a bus after a loss but wants all the credit after a win. Could that be a reason why the Rangers didn’t defend “his honor” tonight? I mean, even in a beer league you’ll see the players defend their goalie after a hit like that!

Give credit to Steve Valiquette of MSG Networks – he even called out the Rangers for not retaliating. And yes, he’s a former goalie and an ex-teammate of Hank, but he is 100% correct.

Anyhoo – this game got exciting and what was a quiet game was ramped up after the Hank hit. The second period saves from both goalies were amazing.

Again, I’m not a Lundqvist guy at all, but he deserved to get this W. Plus, fuck Dallas. Anytime you can beat Dallas twice in one week is great. LET’S GO GIANTS! FUCK THE COWBOYS!

The third period had your asshole puckered up a bit, as the Rangers started on the PK, after a dumb McDonagh delay of game penalty, with 5 seconds left in the second period.

The Rangers continued to take sloppy and dumb penalties, which again, looked like they were trying to gift the game to Dallas. This time, Jesper Fast took one for interference. Luckily for the Rangers, during the kill, Rick Nash wound up on a breakaway and sniped one. 1-0 Rangers with a little less than 13 minutes remaining in the game. Due to the strong play of Lundqvist and the Rangers D, it was the only goal they needed.

And man – how big was it that Mike Babcock played Nash on the PK during the Olympics? That has worked out well for the Rangers.

Dallas would continue to make a game of it, but Lundqvist wanted this win. With under a minute to go, Zuccarello broke his goal-scoring drought with an Empty Netter. This came right after Grabner missed a wide open net by hitting a post. Hey, at least Zucc snapped his streak and hopefully this gets him going.

Dallas pulled Niemi again, 57 seconds left in the game with the Rangers up 2-0. The score held and the Rangers took a tough two points in Dallas.

Lundqvist looked better tonight than he did on Tuesday.

Of course, because Lundqvist had a good game tonight, and trust me, he deserved this win after the shit Dallas pulled, we have Ranger fans doing the “KING IS BACK”, “LUNDQVIST IS THE BEST GOALIE IN THE NHL” and all that other jazz. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but pump the brakes.

Beating a shitty Dallas team doesn’t change the fact that Lundqvist is having another sub-par year. It doesn’t change the fact that he has lost to a lot of bad teams with back-up goalies.

Bottom line is this – Hank can play like this every night, but at the end of the day, he will be judged by what he does in the playoffs. This is a TEAM GAME, as many of you point out. I still think his contract is not what’s best for the TEAM. Until he can prove he can carry a team single-handedly to a Cup, I think his contract is a mistake.

However, for one night, Hank redeemed himself and stuck it in that Big D ass. While I would like to be rah-rah and chest out for this win, I still can’t get over no one defending him after the hit and the Rangers terrible PP. At least it’s only December and not April, when the games really matter.

Rangers go to Nashville on Saturday, followed by a home game less than 24 hours after the Nashville game ends, against the Devils. As far as what goalie starts what, I would think Hank starts Saturday, with Raanta playing Sunday. If it’s the other way around, I really don’t have an issue with it. I don’t see Hank playing both games, because really, there is no reason to.

Depending on my schedule, I may be back Saturday night. If not, see you after the Devils game on Sunday.

As always,

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

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