NYR/BUFF 1/3 Review: The Rangers Suffer From “The Itis” & Stink Out MSG Like The Knicks, Lundqvist Struggles Against Another Bad Team As Usual (We Miss You Skapski), More Love For Frank Boucher (PUT HIM IN THE MSG RAFTERS) & More From A Terrible Game

What’s up everyone and welcome to the first blog of 2017, right here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I hope your New Year went better than the Rangers first game of the New Year. In the first game of 2017, the Rangers laid a stinker, in an uninspiring effort to the lowly Buffalo Sabres, losing 4-1 on Tuesday night in MSG.

Many Ranger fans are overreacting and doing the “Sky is falling” stuff right now. For me, while this game was alarming, the fact is the Rangers have had a lot of rest over the last two weeks, are coming off the siblings road trip and nearly half the team watched the Knicks stink the joint out the night before. I wonder if the losing stench of the Knicks in MSG is contagious?

Granted, I feel bad for the fans who paid for tickets to tonight’s game. I feel really bad for the people who go to one game a year, and chose to pay for this one. Sorry, no refunds at M$G. (Thanks Travis for the M$G line!)

Speaking of my buddy Travis, I talked about him in my last blog. He’s finally launched his new podcast, aimed at high school hockey in New York. You can listen to the “Hudson Valley Hockey Podcast” at https://soundcloud.com/user-99641532 . Travis is a good guy looking to promote the game, so if you got the time, give it a shot.

My buddy Avery Salamon had good seats for Rangers/Av’s!

When I last left you, the Rangers came back to trounce the Coyotes. In their final game of 2016, the Rangers stream rolled the league worst Colorado Avalanche, after an early shaky performance from Lundqvist. The Rangers were riding a 3 game win streak going into tonight’s game with the last place Buffalo Sabres, who were 1-4-2 in their last 7. Leave it to Lundqvist to help turn Buffalo’s fortunes around!

Skapski is 2-0, with only 1 goal allowed in 120 minutes, against the Sabres!

As is always the case whenever Lundqvist makes a start, he just reinforces my argument that he is overpaid and overrated.  Tonight, he was outplayed by ANDERS THE GIANT. NHL veteran goalie Anders Nilsson, another Swedish goalie (And one who was moved out of town for Cam Talbot in Edmonton) made 24-25 saves tonight for $1M a year. The highest paid goalie made 15-19 saves tonight for $8.5M. The only thing Hank is the “King” of is the negotiation table at contract time.

Let’s also not forget that two seasons ago, Mackenzie Skapski, then 20 years old & called up because of Hank’s throat injury, not only shut out these Sabres in one game but gave up only one goal in another. In two games against the last place Sabres this season, Hank has given up 4 goals in each game and is now 0-2. How regal.

As I always ask – WHY WON’T THE RANGERS HOLD LUNDQVIST ACCOUNTABLE? He is the most overrated and overpaid player in the game. You got 4 more seasons of this shit too. I don’t understand this philosophy of preferring to lose with him than try to win without him.

If the playoffs were to start today, the Rangers would play the Penguins. Like last season, the Rangers are better off going in as a Wild Card and avoiding Pittsburgh all together. Can anyone in their right mind, barring any serious injury, see the Rangers with Loose Legs Lundqvist, beating Pittsburgh 4 times in a 7 game span? Hank has struggled with every last place team in the league, whether it’s Colorado, Buffalo, the Islanders or Carolina! When he’s forced to play a good team, like Minnesota, he takes his throne on the bench!

Someone on twitter commented at me that Raanta isn’t the answer. If you’re going to ignore that Raanta has better numbers than Lundqvist and plays tougher teams than Lundqvist, than I can see why. I even had this conversation with Steve Valiquette, who said “Hank played against CBJ, STL, NSH & DAL”. Last time I checked, only one of those teams is in the Rangers division and two of those teams don’t even qualify for the playoffs. Lundqvist, routinely, has missed games against top teams, whether it be Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, etc. He’s played a majority of games against bottom feeders, and has struggled in all of them. How is this getting Hank ready for the playoffs if he’s seeing subpar competition during the season & getting owned during it?

The Rangers will be in store for a rude-awakening come the playoffs. Lundqvist must play the tough teams during the regular season unless you’re going to give me what I want and let Raanta play in the playoffs. Does anyone expect him to start against the Flyers tomorrow? You know, the same Flyers that will probably end up with a playoff spot this season? Of course not. Hank will miss tomorrow’s game against a playoff team, but at least he was ready to give up four to last place Buffalo tonight!

Oh and as I said with Talbot, keeping Raanta and trying to do whatever you can to get rid of Lundqvist is what’s best for the team. You’re getting better stats against higher competition out of your back-ups while a once perennial superstar continues his fade. How can anyone say that the highest paid goalie in the league is “worth it”, when he’s never won a Cup and hasn’t been in All Star or Vezina consideration since signing his deal? Not to say I told you so, but I told you so – Lundqvist has been declining ever since the Cup loss to the Kings and it’s been getting worse and worse with each season.

Don’t believe me about Lundqvist’s decline – just do a google search over the last three years for “RANGERS GOALIE CONTROVERSY”. For the last three years, ever since Hank signed his new deal, that’s all you will read about. You’ll get the quotes about “it’s still Hank’s team”. What you will also get in the Spring is quotes about “We need to get better next year.” Same old shit.

Between Lundqvist and Carmelo Anthony, MSG is going to be silent like a funeral for a young child in the Spring.

The seasons and years change but one thing stays constant – Lundqvist without a Cup.

While I’m piling up on Lundqvist here, truth of the matter is that you can’t hang this loss on just him tonight. It’s a fact that he’s not capable of stealing games anymore. I mean, he already amended his “Give me two goals and I got this” quote to “We gotta win the 3-2 games.” Perhaps the Lundqvist of the Torts era wins this game 1-0 with a 19 save shutout performance. Today’s Lundqvist? It’s 4 goals against and the team could never get out of the hole that the highest paid goalie put them in.

The Rangers were awful tonight. Completely dreadful. Like many of us, they looked like they didn’t want to go back to work today after the holidays. It was a case of the Monday’s for the Rangers, big time. They had the “itis” all night. The first and third periods were especially woeful, as the Rangers logged only 5 shots a piece in those periods. They went stretches of 8-10 minutes without a shot on goal. Most of the offense came in the second period, but Anders The Giant was able to do what Lundqvist couldn’t and that was deny goals.

There really isn’t much to say about this game except to say that the Rangers flat out sucked. It happens, and considering all the circumstances, you can’t jump off a bridge, but it’s cause for concern. After all, Buffalo came out to play and they have nothing to play for.

Here’s the official box score from ESPN.com, with my thoughts to follow:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail BUF NYR
12:17
Zemgus Girgensons (4)
Assists: William Carrier, Brian Gionta
1 0
19:21
Evander Kane (9)
Assists: Sam Reinhart, Kyle Okposo
2 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
3:27
Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Interference

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail BUF NYR
1:03
Justin Bailey (1)
Unassisted
3 0
15:55
Nick Holden (8)
Assists: J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg
3 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
6:34
Dan Girardi: 2 Minutes for Slashing
9:33
William Carrier: 2 Minutes for Interference

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail BUF NYR
1:10
Jack Eichel (7) (Power Play)
Assists: Sam Reinhart, Matt Moulson
4 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
0:18
Jimmy Vesey: 2 Minutes for Hooking
4:07
Nick Holden: 2 Minutes for Delaying Game – Puck over Glass
17:31
Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Holding

Goaltending Summary

Buffalo Sabres Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
A. Nilsson 25 1 24 .960 59:55 0

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 19 4 15 .789 60:00 0

The Boondocks, despite being controversial, was a good show that made you think.

As stated, this was just a horrible game for the Rangers. They didn’t even get a shot off until near the halfway point of the first period. Most of the Sabres goals came off turnovers. While I thought Hank could’ve stopped at least two of them, the Rangers defense didn’t give him much of a chance either.

The Rangers as a team looked lifeless. Even the first line, of Stepan/Kreider/Zuccarello, who have just been dominating lately, were cold as the ice they were skating on.

After a 2-0 first period, where Lundqvist allowed a goal with less than a minute to go (He has to be leading the league in most goals allowed in the first & last minute of a period) because he gave up a bad rebound, I still thought the Rangers would win this game. All season, they’ve had these games of different periods. They would come out crappy for the first period, then Papa John a period (3 goals) later on. It just never happened tonight.

Even entering the second period, down 2-0, I was waiting for the Rangers to wake up. Instead, Justin Bailey scored his first goal of the season. That’s another bad trend for the Rangers – many guys are scoring their first or second goal of the season against them.

Nick “Bobby Orr” Holden would net the Rangers lone goal of the game, making the game 3-1. The Garden woke up a bit. The Rangers would get some chances and it looked really close to being a 3-2 game after 40 minutes. However, credit to Anders the Giant, he buckled down during key points during the Rangers offensive attack.

Going into the third period, down 3-1, I was still the optimist, waiting for the Rangers to wake up. However, Jack Eichel, who burnt Lundqvist for two goals in the last meeting between these two NY clubs, beat Hank again on a picture perfect powerplay goal. 4-1 Sabres, and the game was essentially at the point of no return.

In fact, the Rangers didn’t even get a shot off in the third period until more than 10 minutes elapsed. That’s not what you want to see from a playoff team against a last place team. Again, whether it’s going back to work after a holiday, the siblings trip, having the time off or whatever, the Rangers just never got it going tonight. I don’t expect that trend to continue. However, that’s probably not something that will console people who spend big money to attend these games. I just feel bad for the family man who spends his paycheck on taking his kids to one or two games a season and gets this in return. However, that’s pro sports. You’re not gonna see a shutout or a hat trick in every game.

Nick Jensen, called up because Matt Puempel is dealing with a concussion, and really how unfortunate for Puempel, who has been playing well as of late, didn’t do much of anything. I feel bad for Tanner Glass. When is he going to get his shot? The Rangers should just trade him or let him out of his contract. It’s not fair to a guy who can help an NHL team. I’ll tell you what, even if I’m a bottom of the barrel team, I would bring in Glass for his leadership and to help mentor the young guns. That’s what Glass is doing in Hartford right now.

If you’re looking for anything good in this game, the Rangers PK was 4-5 and Buffalo only scored because they dialed up a perfect PPG that was scored by one of the brightest young talents in the league. Aside from that, this is a game to forget and you gotta hope the Rangers wake up for Philly tomorrow (or today by the time you read this.)

This game was a complete abortion (not to make light of a real abortion) so let’s move on to something better, before closing this blog.

I am probably the only person you will ever see wearing this jersey at MSG

I originally wrote a blog about Frank Boucher two years ago, then updated it earlier at the beginning of this season. In case you missed it, here it is:

Don’t Let History Be Forgotten! Time for The Rangers to Finally Honor The Greatest Ranger Ever, Frank Boucher

 

I was happy to receive this email from a long time fan & reader of this blog today:

Mr. SEAN McCAFFREY:

Just read your OUTSTANDING post on behalf
of FRANK BOUCHER.

I’m nyc native – 57 – attended my first nyr game at msg with
one of my most important mentors in sports tv/radio production –
marv albert.

For years – I have written letters/and sent e-mails to dolan and sather – as well as
annual communication with larry brooks.

It’s an absolute disgrace, insult to the men/their remarkable legacies and their families – as well
as frankly a bad mark for the entire NHL – by ANY objective, rational,
and non-political standards – “total body of work” as nyr –
FRANK BOUCHER, BILL COOK, and JEAN RATELLE should
all be added to the msg rafters – at 3 separate pre-game ceremonies
next season – no more waiting for these truly legendary rangers!
(if need be – combine boucher/cook on one night just like howell & bathgate)

I’ve spent the past 40 years in sports tv/radio production – have some
other out-of–box ideas to finally get this done….need some help –
and for young nyr fans to get off their cell phones long enough to truly appreciate
that history/tradition/great teams & players – at the end of the day – is
what defines a franchise – along of course with the city it plays in and
– the FANS who make it all possible!

Best of 2017 to you!

J.R. Hellman

Like Mr. Hellman, it disgusts me that Frank Boucher gets no respect from the Rangers. Obviously, I never saw Boucher or Cook play, so I can’t say who was better, although most historians give the nod to Cook. For me, as a Rangers fan, Boucher’s legacy is more important, with a near 30 year run with the team. Boucher won 2 Cups as a player, another as a coach and was also the GM of the team. He wore every hat besides owner for NYR. Yet, if you look at the rafters of MSG, you would think greatness started post 1960.

In the NHL’s 100th season & the Rangers 90th, when will the Rangers get off their asses and right some wrongs? Even if the Rangers are lazy and just retire “The Bread Line” in one shot, I’m down with that.

There have been many times I’ve been at Ranger games, both home and away, while wearing my Boucher jersey and people ask me if Boucher is my last name. They haven’t even heard of the guy. As someone who studied American history, as someone who reads a ton of books on sports history and as someone who enjoys reading/watching history, it’s a shame people don’t know who he was. He doesn’t have to be a household name, but most Ranger fans can tell you who Rod Gilbert is/was, even if they’ve never seen him play. Boucher deserves the same respect as the player who wore number 7 long after he did.

I’m just a fan who enjoys writing about the Rangers after having a few Labatt’s. I got no pull. However, I’m hoping these words reach someone who does. I don’t care if the Rangers don’t even do a ceremony for it, just get Boucher’s name in the rafters of MSG. Educate the fan base. What really hurts Boucher and Cook is that they aren’t alive and don’t have any immediate relatives who are. There’s no family pressure. Let’s create fan pressure and make the Rangers do the right thing. Without guys like Boucher & Cook making hockey successful in NY, who knows if there would be a NY Rangers in 2017 anyway.

See you tomorrow after the filthy Flyers game.

As always,

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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