NYR/OTT 12/27 Review: Rangers Win Their Most Hard-Fought Game in M$G All Season, King Raanta Disposes Another Playoff Team, Nick Holden Has His Best Game as a Blueshirt, Stepan “Steps Up” (Yes, That’s Corny), How To Get a Good Steiner Puck Grab at M$G, Around The League (Holy Torts!) & Much More in This Massive Blog

Two legends who have won a championship in MSG! Mark Messier in 1994 and John Cena in 2004! No wonder Melo & Hank weren’t around for this shot!

Miss me? Well it’s good to be back after the Rangers beat the Ottawa Senators, 4-3, at M$G on Tuesday night! To me, this was the Rangers toughest and most hard-fought win of the young season.

Welcome everyone to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. It’s been over a week since I did a blog here, because of the NHL break & because of my disgust I had for this team after leaving MSG on Friday night. I hope everyone enjoyed their Xmas/holidays or whatever else you do. This 12/26-1/1 week is always a funny one. Many people take off/have vacations and you kinda lose track of the date a bit. I feel that real life starts to set in again on 1/2, once all the New Year’s celebrations have come and gone. Once you start seeing the Xmas trees on the curb, waiting for pick-up, you know that it’s time to start another calendar year.

So after getting embarrassed by the Penguins on Tuesday night, the Rangers returned to MSG on Friday night, in their last game before Xmas, hosting the on-fire Minnesota Wild. I attended that game and it was a complete shit show. I would like to forget that game and spare you the details, since you all know what happened. I will mention though, it’s another playoff team that absolutely destroyed Lundqvist. He can keep playing all the Carolina’s, Buffalo’s, etc all he wants, but as I have been saying all season, that isn’t the competition you will see in the Spring.

Since this is supposed to be a happy time of year, there were two good things that happened to me in NYC on that Friday night. I got to meet Mr. “Rangers Onesie” himself, a one Mr. Travis Jackson. If you don’t follow him on twitter, give him a follow @travjax71. He works in the school system and does a lot of work covering high school hockey. If you’re a younger person reading this or a parent of someone playing hockey, check him out, as he will be launching a podcast in 2017 covering all things high school hockey. I could tell he was a good guy from talking to him on twitter and it was a pleasure having one or more Molson Canadian beers with him! Bonus: he is the only other person I know in real life that owns a Cam Talbot Rangers jersey besides me or Kelly Talbot!

Another great thing happened to me that Friday night at MSG. However, to appreciate the story even more, let me reprint a story that I relayed in my 11/3/16 blog, in case you need your memory jogged:

I paid $30 for a puck worth $2

I’m a collector. Not a crazy one, but a collector none the less. I got a bunch of sports memorabilia in my house/man cave, much to my girlfriend’s chagrin. Unfortunately for her, we’ve lived together for 5 years and my habit isn’t dying.

So those con-artists at Steiner Sports were doing a $30 mystery puck gimmick tonight. For $30, you could get a puck signed by a variety of Rangers. The biggest names I believe were the top 3 goalies in NYR history – 1, 30 and 35. (I would do a Talbot joke here, but I’m sure you get it.) I even think I saw Graves on the list too.

As a gambler and someone who had $30 (aka the price of two beers in MSG) in their pocket, I figured I’d take a stab. I told my friends, if I get Emerson Etem, I’m gonna flip the fuck out. Of course, I pick out my mystery puck box and get EMERSON FUCKING ETEM. Even the Steiner Sports people were laughing at me. I don’t blame them. However, for a business, I know I’ll never support them again. Being laughed at for drawing an Etem puck for $30 is like having an Asian blackjack dealer tell you “AHHHHH SO SOWWY” as they pull a 6 card 21.

Steiner Sports got an asshole to pay $30 for an Etem autographed puck. I just know I will never buy from them again, because as I was talking to people on twitter and at the game, many people got an Etem puck. Seems that Steiner sports flooded the inventory with them. The best grab I saw was a Dubinsky puck. I didn’t hear of one person that got a Nash, Graves, Giacomin, Richter or Hank puck. Steiner Sports was taking out their trash on Ranger fans and many drunk fans with $30 were happy to oblige. Lesson learned.

My seats on Friday were right by that Steiner sports gimmick stand in the 100’s level. I see they are still running the same gimmick, but now it’s $40. However, the names were a bit better, as Emerson Etem was not on the list, which I assume is because I was the last asshole to buy that fucking piece of shit puck.

While I was dead-set against ever participating in this gimmick again, I had five hours of beer in me & since Etem’s name wasn’t on the list, at the risk of “I only hit you cause I luuuuuuuuv you”, I decided to give Steiner another chance.

Steiner Sports lets you pick out the mystery puck. What I noticed this time however, is that some pucks were heavier than others. Being an intelligent and diligent young man, I deduced that was because the puck inside was in a puck case, which means lighter boxes were shittier pulls (Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Dylan McIlrath, etc. And no offense to those guys, but they aren’t Messier, Richter, Graves, Leetch, etc.) thus not warranting a case. When I “won” the Etem puck, it was in fucking saran wrap!

So after noticing that some boxes weighed more than others, I pulled this:

He’s one of the Top 3 Goalies in Rangers history, depending on how you rank them! (Richter/Talbot/Giacomin, obviously!)

So if you’re an optimist, between the Etem puck and this, I paid $70 for a pretty cool looking Eddie Giacomin autographed puck and a worthless piece of rubber. Merry Christmas to me!

I don’t know if Steiner Sports will continue to have top guys mixed in with third and fourth liners, but if you decide to do the mystery puck gimmick, make sure to grab a box that is heavier than the others. These are the types of tips and tricks you can only get in this blog!

I’m still trying to confirm if Henrik Lundqvist texted this picture to his brother.

The Rangers have given up a touchdown and the extra point in each of their last two games. They were creamed by both the Penguins & the Wild, teams who are both playoff teams as of this writing. Ranger apologist fans will do the “Nash, Zibanejad & Buchnevich” aren’t playing excuse. While I understand the impact of Nash & Z-Bad, I do think people are overrating the Russian a bit. He’s a rookie who was just getting used to the NHL game before he went down. It’s not like he’s Ovi or something. At least not yet. Then again, remember Jamie Lundmark? Pavel Brendl?

Ranger fans need to realize that every team has injuries and every team will have their lumps and bruises in the playoffs too. Many people will tell me it’s a team game when Lundqvist loses, despite ignoring that same statement if Lundqvist wins! However, it is true. Hockey is a team game. When someone goes down, someone has to step up. Fortunately for the Rangers tonight, King Raanta, MatsVP, Nick Holden and the alternate captain, Derek Stepan, all brought the fire against the second place Senators tonight.

Before the game, it was announced that Henrik Lundqvist would miss the game because he had the flu. He just had three days off. He had even more time off if you consider he had his overpaid ass yanked before the half-way point of the game on Friday. Now I don’t know if the “flu” is a code-word for “monstrous diarrhea after eating Papa John’s”, if he faked being sick or if he was really sick, all I know is that I had the flu in October of this year, and I went to work every day. I guess Americans are just tougher than the Swedish.

I’m sure the cure to Hank’s flu is a nice start against the last place Arizona Coyotes on Thursday too. I’m sure he will be fine for that game, after letting Raanta do the heavy lifting tonight against a playoff team in Ottawa.

While I’m being funny and joking a bit (Although 50% of you will think I’m 100% serious right now), the fact is Hank keeps missing these tough games to play weaker teams. That’s great if AV is going to let Raanta play in the playoffs. If not, your starting goalie keeps taking starts against weaker competition. He’s gonna be in a world of hurt come the playoffs if this trend continues.

Plus, after the way Raanta played tonight, AV should let King Raanta get the easy game and beef up his stats a bit, when the Rangers take on the Desert Dogs on Thursday.

I’m feeling pretty queasy myself looking at this fuck!

With King Raanta taking his throne between the red pipes at MSG, Rangers prospect goalie Brandon Halverson got his first taste of MSG. Halverson was recently called up to the Wolfpack in October, which sent Skapski back to the ECHL Swamp Rabbits. Poor Skapski. The defense in Hartford has been so fucking bad that it doesn’t matter if it’s Halverson, Hellberg or Skapski, these goalies are in the Xmas spirit every night because they are getting lit up like Xmas trees.

It’s funny, even before the rise of Talbot, we have heard how Halverson could be the guy to succeed Lundqvist. Now the name Igor Shestyorkin keeps popping up.  Who knows what the future holds for the Blueshirts, but keep your eye out for Shestyorkin and Halverson. Both are highly praised Ranger prospects. The biggest problem on their road to success – Lundqvist has four more years here.

While Halverson wouldn’t see the ice, the Rangers are now 1-0 with Halverson on the team and with Lundqvist not in the building!

This was another one of those games for the Rangers where they Dr. Jekyll’d & Mr. Hyde’d it. They looked like dog shit in the first period. They were a completely different team in the second period. They then clamped down in the third period and after being down 3-1, came back to win 4-3.

When thinking about where to start with recapping this game, I am lost. Do you start with King Raanta’s performance? Holden’s best game of the year? Stepan leading by example? Zucc being Zucc? These four guys are the reason for the Rangers success tonight.

Let’s do the official box score from ESPN.com, because there is a lot to recap, then get into my review/take of the game:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail OTT NYR
2:02
Mark Borowiecki (1)
Assists: Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau
1 0
3:10
Zack Smith (8)
Assists: Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone
2 0
11:37
Nick Holden (5)
Assists: Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes
2 1
16:56
Cody Ceci (1)
Assists: Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau
3 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
10:25
Kyle Turris: 2 Minutes for Holding
10:25
Marc Staal: 2 Minutes for High-sticking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail OTT NYR
2:45
Derek Stepan (8)
Assists: Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh
3 2
14:55
Derek Stepan (9) (Power Play)
Assists: Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh
3 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
0:43
Ryan Dzingel: 2 Minutes for Hooking
5:57
2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Chris Kreider)
11:31
Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Roughing
11:31
Chris Neil: 2 Minutes for Roughing
11:31
Kevin Klein: 2 Minutes for Roughing
12:47
Dion Phaneuf: 2 Minutes for Roughing
12:47
Marc Staal: 2 Minutes for Roughing
14:49
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: 2 Minutes for Interference
18:49
Chris Kelly: 2 Minutes for Holding

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail OTT NYR
6:31
Nick Holden (6)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Matt Puempel
3 4
Time Team Penalty Detail
4:14
Mark Stone: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
4:14
Jimmy Vesey: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
4:27
Kyle Turris: 2 Minutes for Hooking
10:07
Michael Grabner: 2 Minutes for Hooking
13:32
Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Tripping

Goaltending Summary

Ottawa Senators Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
M. Condon 25 4 21 .840 58:14 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Raanta 36 3 33 .917 59:58 0

The Rangers found their inner Tanner Glass in the second period.

After the holiday break and all the time in the world to rest, the Rangers found themselves down 2-0 before four minutes expired into the first period. While the goals were the results of turnovers and deflections, we’ve seen Raanta stop these kind of goals before. We would later see Raanta put on a highlight reel for the final 40 minutes of the game. That second period alone may have been the best hockey Raanta’s played all year and it’s certainly footage for his agent.

Before the game, I tweeted out that I thought the Rangers would start off sloppy and King Raanta would be the best player on the ice. After the first 5 minutes, it looked like I was half right. When the game was over, you could argue that Raanta was the best player on the ice, although you could make the same case for Zucc, Holden and Stepan.

Quite frankly, the Rangers looked like shit in the first period. It was the same uninspired play we’ve seen over the last two hours of Ranger hockey. Now here is something that you get on TV, that you don’t get at the game – after the second Ottawa goal, Derek Stepan got fired up and was screaming on the bench, in an effort to wake the team up. The team certainly responded.

(You know what else you get on TV, that you don’t get at the game? Steve Valiquette & Al Trautwig. I swear, I am laughing like fucking Beavis sometimes, even when they aren’t trying to be funny. Trautwig was talking about teams streaking. I’m sure Al has went streaking a few times himself! Then Vally started talking about good dumps vs forced dumps. That sounded a lot like my Xmas after I ate! I may be near 35 years old, but the dumbest shit has me laughing like I’m 10.)

With the Rangers in a 2-0 hole, I saw many Ranger fans writing on twitter that they were turning the game off. Even my buddy “Mr. 250” John Alonzo had enough. Really? There were still 56+ minutes to play! I get the frustration, but aside from the greatest wrestler of all time, John Cena, making his return tonight, what else were you going to watch? An SVU repeat?

After Derek Stepan, another player who has a terrible contract (yes, he had a great game tonight, but he’s paid top dollar to be a first line center and these games aren’t common place for him. Let’s hope this is the start of something good.) riled up everyone on the bench, Nick Holden scored his first goal of the night.

Give it up for Nick Holden. He had two goals tonight, one being a GWG and the other being a huge momentum goal. His goal here was from practically the goal line, perpendicular from the face off dot on the bench side. He fired it at Senators goalie, Mike Condon, and somehow, it went in. You gotta see it for yourself. It was unbelievable that the shot went in, but good things happen when you shoot the puck.

Of note, yes, Mike Condon started tonight, not Craig Anderson, who is dealing with his wife who is battling cancer. Condon has played a lot this season, but it is worth mentioning that Anderson shut out these very Rangers, 2-0, a month ago.

It looked like this game was going to be 2-1 going into the first intermission, but Cody Ceci scored with three minutes to go in the period. This was a deflating goal for the Rangers. While I thought the first two goals were a result of screens and deflections, I thought Raanta lost this one and this one was on him.

That said – Raanta makes $8M less than Hank. Just imagine what the Rangers could do with Raanta & $8M more to spend.

As a result of “Don Ceci’s” goal (Tattalgia’s a pimp!), the Senators took a 3-1 lead into the locker room. It looked like it was going to be another one of those nights for the Rangers.

My dad got me the best gag gift of the year. Just don’t tell anyone I’m really using it!

The Rangers looked like they could’ve used a “MY SHINEY HINEY”, because their ass was black and blue from the beating they were taking. However, whether it was Stepan or AV, the Rangers rose from the ashes like something out of a Greek mythology tale.

King Raanta, after giving up 2 goals on the first 2 shots of the game, settled down to make the next 33 saves on 34 shots. The second period was pure highlight reel. He stoned powerplays, quick cross ice passes, one timers, deflections, etc. He was zoned in. There were three shots that I thought were definitely goals, but somehow, Raanta made the save.

As a result of King Raanta being lights out on his end, this gave the Rangers time to evaporate the Senator’s two goal lead. Stepan scored two goals in the period. The first, an All-American Goal, as the assists came from McDonagh & Kreider, came at the end of the powerplay. Stepan grabbed a rebound and took the loose puck and threw it into the twine of the Senators.

The third goal was a powerplay goal. King Raanta was interfered with by Pageau. The Rangers won the faceoff, Stepan got the puck and not even 10 seconds into the PPG, Stepan was 2/3 of the way to a hat-trick. 3-3.

The Rangers were fired up in the second period. The referees, who I thought sucked a pile of dicks tonight, were throwing guys in the box like they were the 1975 Flyers. Tons of penalties tonight. Some were blatant, some I thought shouldn’t have been called. I hope these referees come nowhere close to a playoff game this season. You can’t have these referees swinging games like they are NFL refs.

One of the biggest plays saw Zucc get into it with Chris Neil. Both were boxed. However, the whole team got into it.

In the “JUST SAYIN'” department, figure this: King Raanta gets touched. NYR makes OTT pay with a PPG within 5 seconds. Hank gets crushed in Dallas and NYR can’t do shit on a 5 minute PP. Zucc gets into a fight, the whole team is ready to throw down. Hank gets demolished and no one does a thing. Hmmmm……

I thought the second period of this game was the toughest and roughest this soft Rangers team have looked all season.

King Raanta was a wall after a horrible first period for him and the Rangers

The third period was a wild one. It included Jimmy Vesey’s first fight of the season, a little bitch fest with Mark Stone. Vesey must be a lover not a fighter.

Speaking of soft Rangers, how about Marc Staal? He got slapped around a bit out there, even getting into it with Phaneuf. Staal looked like one of those white honkey’s who got paid to get knocked by Mike Tyson in the late 90’s. Think Peter McNeely.

While Raanta was phenomenal in the second period, even me, the most ardent Raanta supporter, must admit he did get some help in the third. King Raanta received the benefit of his loyal servants, called the left post, the right post and the crossbar. Still, when challenged, King Raanta denied all incoming invaders, even when his team struggled to get the puck past the centerline moat!

Nick Holden would be the hero of this game, as right after a Rangers PP expired, he stuffed a puck right by Condon, moving the score to 4-3 Rangers. Then, in the closing seconds of this game, with the team sucking wind on a long 6 vs 5 shift, Holden smacked a puck before it could cross the goal line, bailing out Raanta & the Rangers. He should get another plus added to his +/- for that stick save.

While Raanta had a great game after a shaky first, Holden & Stepan both contributed with two goals, Mats Zuccarello showed why he’s the MVP of this team and why I’m proud to call him my favorite current NY Ranger. The guy just does everything. He reminds me of Dennis Rodman on ice. Rodman wasn’t the flashiest player and while he did dominate a stat category (Rebounds), Rodman wasn’t concerned about scoring. He was a team player and knew how to win. He fought the dirty battles and put in the work. That’s what Zucc does. While Zucc won’t be dying his hair and wearing a wedding dress anytime soon, (Or not at least until the Rangers get Hagelin or Brassard back!) he plays every game with the same work ethic Rodman once had.

Zucc was all over the place tonight, zipping around for pucks, making hits, preventing icings, playing D, etc. He logged an assist as well. Like Rodman, he is pass first, shoot later, which sometimes bites him in the ass. It sure bit JT Miller in the ass tonight, another guy who is getting like Barry Beck. I mean Miller had a breakaway tonight and instead turned over the puck on an ugly as fuck pass. After the play, Miller shot the puck at the glass. How about shooting the puck at the net on the first try?

While a lot of what Zucc did won’t show up in the box score, be well advised, Zucc was just as important to this win as Holden, Stepan or Raanta.

Oh and how about those Rangers special teams? While the PP remains shaky a bit (to be fair, they scored 1 and two goals happened right after the PP expired), the PK has returned. After terrible outings against Pitt & Minn, the NYR PK was 4-4 tonight. A strong PK will help in the playoffs.

For the Rangers, to come back after being down 3-1, against a good team, this was a big victory. The same problems plague the team. I still don’t believe this is a Cup winning team. The Rangers will need help at the deadline if they want to beat the Pittsburgh’s of the world. However, for one night, the Rangers showed their grit.

Before closing this blog, there are two topics I want to quickly hit, so here we go:

I wouldn’t mind if James Dolan woke up to the head of a horse in his bed. Or maybe in his case, a broken guitar!

You know how I always tell you about the Stubhub trick and how to get good seats for cheap here? Well check this out, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils all hosted games tonight. There weren’t many tickets available (Less than 600) to each game at 1PM (6 hours before puck drop). Check out the prices (without Stubhub fees):

No automatic alt text available.

Bar Stool seats, on average, a face value of $58, were the cheapest pair of seats you could find for tonight’s game, at nearly 4 times face value.

You could see the Cup champions play the Devils, for nearly 4 times as less as a Rangers ticket, on Tuesday night.

Obviously Islander tickets were the cheapest ticket in town, because after all, they suck. Still $47 for an Islander ticket is a lot. They are usually $6 on Stubhub on game day, providing they aren’t playing the Rangers.

I am assuming because of tourists, hockey tickets in town were at their peak tonight. I have never seen a Tuesday night Ranger game go for so much money and that includes rivalry games. I have sat in bougias seats for $75-$100. I can’t imagine paying near $300 to sit in bar stool seats in the 200’s.

Even Islander tickets were going for some coin tonight. While you wouldn’t break the bank, keep in mind, most nights, you can get Islander tickets for $6.

If there is a good thing about this, it’s that hockey is live and well in the metro area, at least during the week when tourists are in town and people have off from work/school.

It’s still a disgrace that Dolan’s M$G (Thank you Travis!) has such high ticket prices that it prices out the average fan. I always say this, where is the next generation of Ranger fans supposed to come from when the families can’t afford to take their kids?

I’ve easily been to over 1000+ hockey games in my lifetime. I’ll tell you what, aside from playoff games, I can remember the games from when I was a kid more than I do today as an adult. Perhaps alcohol is a factor in that department, but as a kid, I’ll never forget the Steve Larmer 3-2 OT winner against Quebec in 1995 with my father and brother. It’s just a shame the Rangers have become a Justin Timberlake team – Suit & Tie.

Love him or hate him, John Tortorella knows how to win. Pic Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning

For what seems to be the third straight year in a row, the Metropolitan division is the toughest division in hockey. Last year, the division fielded five playoff teams and if these teams stay on pace, the division will field 5 teams in the playoffs, yet again this year.

As long as the Rangers are a playoff team, I really don’t start getting antsy over the standings until the first week of March. This isn’t football where you live and die each week. By the way, HOW ABOUT THE NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS!?! LET’S GO BIG BLUE!

John Tortorella, after people questioning if his days were over as being a top coach in the NHL, has his Columbus Blue Jackets in first place in all of the NHL, with 3-5 games in hand over the other top teams in the league! His CBJ’s just won their 13th straight game on Tuesday night. He’s making the Wild, who have won 11 straight games in a row, look pedestrian.

While the season is at the 40% mark of games played, so it is early, what the Jackets and Torts is doing right now is incredible. Last season, Pittsburgh got hot in late January and ran it all the way to a Cup. Can hot teams of right now, like CBJ and the Wild keep this up? It’s very rare to see a NHL team go wire-to-wire and we know that the playoffs haven’t favored President Trophy winning teams.

The Rangers have only seen CBJ once this season and the Penguins three times. There will be a ton of division games coming up, and that includes the trailing Capitals and Flyers, who would both be playoff teams if the season ended today. I gotta go back to my stuff on Lundqvist. You know me, if it was up to me, I’d force him to waive his NMC and trade him. However, it’s not up to me. Barring injury or a Papa John’s flu, he will be starting if the Rangers make the playoffs. Hank needs to play these teams and stop taking nights off against playoff teams to play bad ones. It’s going to be a joke if he’s miraculously cured to play last place Arizona on Thursday. Goalies like Bobrovsky, Fleury/Murray, Holtby, Price, Dubnyk & Rask are playing nearly every game and posting elite numbers. When will the highest paid goalie in the league do the same? When will the majority of the Rangers fanbase hold Hank accountable the same way they do Dan Girardi after a turnover?

Oh and how about my new second team (because of Cam Talbot) the Edmonton Oilers? I predicted they would break their playoff drought this year and if things hold, they will. Talbot once again was named an NHL star of the week this past week. Every time I see him pick up another W or make another save (He has better stats than Hank), I’m happy for him but it kills me the Rangers passed on him for an overrated cupless aging Swede.

I would rather Jagr/Talbot on my team than the Swedish duo of Lundqvist/Lindberg!

Well that’s 5000 words in the books. This was a big win for the Rangers, especially if you do the standings watch stuff.

NYR returns Thursday with a game against last place Arizona. Expect Hank to be 100% healthy now. The Rangers then travel to the old Nordique franchise on Saturday 12/31, to play the Avalanche. The Rangers then get a few days off before kicking off 2017 with a game against last place Buffalo. I’m sure Hank is smacking his lips to play that game too.

See ya Thursday night after the Duclair & Desert Dogs game.

Oh and the bloom is off the Derrick Brassard trade. I made it the whole blog without mentioning him tonight! I’m happy he didn’t make NYR pay tonight!

As always…

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter

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