What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As I start this blog, it’s past midnight. I have just returned home from the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, after the Rangers 4-2 victory over the last place Colorado Avalanche and feeling great about the victory! I got lucky, as my friend, who is a season ticket holder, couldn’t make this game. When he offered me these tickets on Wednesday, I really wasn’t thinking this could be a historic game. I just saw a Saturday night game, no work the next day and a fun night out. When the Rangers handled the Predators on Thursday, it’s when I realized the Rangers & Lundqvist, had a shot to make history.
I sat in section 111 tonight, where a face value seat is $130. However, because it was a Saturday night and because Lundqvist was going for career win 400, fans/brokers were salivating at the mouth to rip off Ranger fans. Take a look at these prices on Stubhub for this game:
Since I always monitor the secondary market for “blog research”, I was checking this game all day. The seats I had were going for $400, nearly triple face value. As you see from the picture above, the cheapest seat on Stubhub was $160. Paying $160 to sit by yourself, in the second to last row of the building, is just insane.
I’ve said this a million times on this blog and even did a blog entry on just this topic alone (Check the archives on the right hand of the site to find it), but I really wonder where the next generation of Ranger fans will be coming from. You rarely see kids at these games anymore. It’s just too damn expensive. M$G believes the corporate dollars will carry them for eternity, which is unfortunate for the parents with kids.
What also makes this ironic is that M$G does not sell beer in the aisles, like any other NHL team or any other sports team in general. I’ve been to 15+ NHL rinks in my time, and every rink has a beer man going through the aisles, except for MSG. The only thing that is sold in the stands at M$G is cotton candy. I’ve never seen one fucking person buy this cotton candy shit in my life.
By now, we’ve all heard and seen all the drama with Charles Oakley and M$G resident asshole James Dolan. In one of the excerpts by Oakley, he called Dolan a racist. I’m not a fan of people calling other people “a racist” so loosely, which is what we’re seeing a lot of these days, in the Trump era. Seriously, every liberal, who is losing an argument with someone who voted for Trump, always retorts with, “Well, you’re a racist”, when losing said argument.
However, I had my officially licensed NYR logo Sherlock Holmes hat on tonight. I noticed that out of the 8 men I saw selling cotton candy tonight, all 8 of them were black. You have to wonder if James Dolan only hires black men to sell cotton at the Garden! There is not a beer vendor in the stands. There is no one selling peanuts in the aisles. Water? Popcorn? Hotdogs? Ice cream? Forget it. THE ONLY THING BEING SOLD TO PEOPLE IN THEIR SEATS AT MSG IS COTTON FROM BLACK MEN. Someone get this blog to Charles Oakley, I will testify on his behalf.
Seriously – if you haven’t been following this Oakley vs Dolan drama, Oakley has a slam dunk lawsuit against Dickhead Dolan. Yesterday, on the worst rated sports radio program in the afternoon slot in New York, Dolan went on the Michael Kay show and said Oakley had alcohol issues. That is the pot calling the kettle a cotton candy vendor, considering Dolan’s history. Dolan basically slandered Oakley and painted him out to be a raging out of control drunk. With Oakley claiming racist issues with Dolan, who knows, the Oak man might be right.
What is funny and sad to me, is that I talk to several ex-Rangers, people in the Rangers media & people who are or were involved with this organization over the years. I am not a journalist, so I don’t have to abide by “the code of journalism.” This is a silly blog, written by someone who is currently rounding beer number 20 for the night. However, I’m also near 35 years old, believe in a gentleman’s code and wouldn’t betray someone’s confidence in me. I can’t repeat conversations I’ve had with these people on this blog, but all I can say here, is that with everyone I ever talked to – not one person has a nice thing to say about Rangers owner James Dolan.
As much as some of you love to argue with me about Hank, or say I’m soft about AV or Girardi, or whatever else we may not share the same opinions on – one thing we can always agree on – JAMES DOLAN SUCKS. We have the worst owner in sports, bar none. I know I’ve done a detailed blog on him before (Again, I’ve had 20 beers, search the archives yourself if you want my take) but he is just the worst owner in all of sports. He makes John Spano, Marge Schott and Donald Sterling look like saints.
A thousand words in and I still haven’t even talked the game yet. That is something you only get here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com!
Since I haven’t talked about the game yet, let me tell you about a couple of things that I like and hate about MSG. Besides the ridiculous prices for beer ($12.25 for a warm Stella, GTFO), I hate the free t-shirt shit. If anything, just have the “Rangers Blue Crew” find little kids and hand them the shirts. That is who should get the shirts, because if a kid gets something, it’s a memory for life.
It drives me up a fucking wall when I see all these idiots, many of them half in the bag, jumping up and down like little girls at a Justin Beiber concert, for a t-shirt that they can buy for $5 on Amazon or $20 at MSG. I’ve seen this scenario plenty of times – some drunk retard (actually, that’s a bad word to use here because it is offensive to people who are actually retarded) catching a shirt, boasting to his friends about nabbing a cheap piece of cotton (all goes back to cotton), all while a little kid sits there with a frown. If you’re over 18 years old, sit the fuck down and let a little kid have his day.
Speaking of sitting the fuck down, I had some fat guy with a yamaka (or a “Kippah”, to be politically correct, and we all know that I strive to be PC, haha!) sitting in front of me tonight. I was in section 111, which is behind the net where the Rangers shoot twice. Every time the Rangers brought the puck into the zone, this guy’s matzoh ball filled ass was in my face. I get it, we are excited for a Rangers goal. However, you don’t have to jump up and down like a crazed “Price is Right” contestant every time the Rangers dump the puck over the blue line. These people are the same idiots that scream “HOMERUN” at a baseball game, after a 200′ pop fly.
I know I’ve been to many sports games in my life and maybe for others, they have not been. Still, you don’t have to jump out of your seat during every play. While on that, the ushers at MSG need to also reinforce the “no getting up and down during play” rule. I shouldn’t have to see the fat ass of some guy, wearing a Brian Leetch jersey, which best fit 10 years ago, make his way slowly down the stairway, while carrying a plate of nachos and a jumbo hot dog. Wait for the whistle. You could also eliminate this problem if racist Dolan had black men sell other items besides cotton at M$G!
If you’re like me, you like to dabble in gambling. Whether it be Superbowl boxes, a little Quickdraw at the bar or a simple $20 bet with a friend over a game, it’s fun to make games interesting. This is how I now treat the “Steiner Sports” booth at M$G. Again, check the archives for when I really did a rant on this. (I pulled an Emerson “FUCKING” Etem puck for $40, the worst $40 I ever spent in overpriced M$G.)
That said, I’m a sucker for sports memorabilia and light gambling. I watched a few people pull pucks and my one friend pulled a Richter and Grabner. Tonight, I pulled a Girardi and a Grabner. I told you before, when I won the Etem puck, it was a light box. Always try to weigh the boxes in your hand. If one puck feels lighter than the other, take the heavier box, it means it has a case, which means it’s a good player.
From the 5-10 minutes I was at the booth tonight, I saw some poor fucker pull an Etem puck. I saw one person pull a Giacomin, a puck I’ve won in the past. I saw someone pull a Zucc. The only pucks I didn’t see pulled were Messier & Lundqvist, which besides Richter, are the two biggest grabs you could get. For $80, I definitely got cheesed a bit, but to me, it’s Saturday night and a night out. Trust me, I would be a lot more pissed if I got an Etem puck again. I think I would shove it up Dolan’s ass!
After this long-winded intro, which you probably won’t get anywhere else, let’s get to the game. As usual, here’s the box score from ESPN.com, followed by my thoughts, rants, raves and opinions:
1st Period Summary
||Kevin Klein (2)
Assists: Brady Skjei, Oscar Lindberg
||Gabriel Landeskog (11)
Assists: Nathan MacKinnon, Fedor Tyutin
||Nick Holden: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Mikko Rantanen: 2 Minutes for High-sticking|
2nd Period Summary
||John Mitchell (2)
Assists: Blake Comeau, Jarome Iginla
||Patrick Wiercioch: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
||Carl Soderberg: 2 Minutes for High-sticking|
3rd Period Summary
||Kevin Klein (3)
Assists: Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg
||Rick Nash (16)
Assists: Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh
||Kevin Hayes (14)
Assists: Michael Grabner, J.T. Miller
As I talked about in Thursday night’s blog and on twitter, I really had no problem with Henrik Lundqvist starting against Colorado. I know AV said that Raanta would play during this homestand, but I have no problem with AV lying (Maybe lying is severe, perhaps going back on his word is better) and going with Hank here.
My only issue with tonight is that Hank better start Monday against CBJ. As I’ve been saying all year, Hank needs to beat the CBJ’s, MTL’s, PITT’s and WSH’s of the world, to get ready for the playoffs, not the bottom of the barrel teams. Hank has to start Monday, and that’s the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so.
That out of the way – I have no problem with Hank getting the chance to win his 400th game in front of a M$G crowd. However, deep down, you have to think of this – is this the best thing for the team? Raanta hasn’t started since coming back from his injury in Montreal, which was a month ago. Raanta has been very hot for NYR this year. The only time Raanta has seen, since his injury, is in mop-up work, after Hank was spanked by a Metro playoff team (again) in the CBJ.
I love how the Hank fanboys will always give you the “It’s a team game” bullshit when Hank has a bad game, but ignores the “team game” line when it really applies. If this is a “Team Game” and doing what’s best for the team, then Raanta should’ve started tonight. Let Raanta return and get his feet wet against the shittiest team in the league. Let Hank rest for a real challenge on Monday night, in Tortsland, Ohio.
While I’m probably the conductor of the “Trade Hank” train, it is not lost on me on what Henrik Lundqvist has meant to this franchise, in his career. That said, for the past three seasons, he’s been overpaid, overrated and outplayed by his back-up. We’ve seen the league shift from elite goaltenders carrying teams to Cups to more evenly balanced teams winning Cups. Since the new cap was installed, not one top 5 paid goalie has won a Stanley Cup. Hank, one of the oldest players in the league, is the highest paid goalie.
Even if you’re the most ardent supporter of Lundqvist in the world, you have to admit that Talbot & Raanta, for way much less money, would be a better alternative for this team. The money saved on Hank would be better used elsewhere. You could also make the same argument for Nash, Girardi or Staal, but as I’ve said in the past, Hank is the one who said, “I want a cup at all costs”, before holding the team up at contract time. Hank also has outside revenue streams and this was his second big money contract, while for 5, 18, and 61, it was their first shot at life changing cash.
While you can’t deny Hank his moment in the sun, winning his 400th game tonight, to call him one of the greatest goalies of all time is pretty much a sign of your age. While I will say it is debatable if he’s the best goalie in NYR history, because really, only Giacomin and Richter can compare, he’s not even in the top 10 in the league this season.
Since I know I will get this comment from some of you, here are my top 10 goalies of all time, in no particular order:
- Patrick Roy
- Martin Brodeur
- Terry Sawchuck
- Jacques Plante
- Ken Dryden
- Georges Vezina
- Grant Fuhr
- Domenik Hasek
- Eddie Belfour
- George Hainsworth
Out of his modern day contemporaries, I would rank Carey Price and Jonathan Quick above Lundqvist. You could also make a case for Luongo or Fleury here too.
What is great for Hank’s numbers and makes the issue tough to debate with younger fans, is that Lundqvist isn’t playing in a challenging era. Goalies are extremely protected and are in the net dressed in armor that even King Arthur would envy. Even if you look at Richter, compare Richter and Hank and their pads. Lundqvist also gets to pad stats and wins against crappy teams.
The original 6 goalies played only 5 other teams, made of the very best in the world at that time. In today’s NHL, Hank gets to play crap teams like Buffalo, Colorado, Arizona, etc. The expansion era goalies only had to deal with 11 other teams. When you add more teams, you water down the quality of teams because guys who wouldn’t make the cut are getting NHL contracts. This applies for all four major sports.
Lundqvist has also been fortunate to play in the no-tie era. Who knows how the goalies of old would’ve fared? I don’t have the time to look up all the stats right now, but take a guy like Mike Vernon (385 wins) or Beezer (374 wins). It’s safe to say they would have 400+ wins if they were playing in the no-tie era.
What also has helped Lundqvist, and as we’ve seen with the way Talbot and Raanta have flourished, is working with one of the best goaltending coaches of all time, Benoit Allaire. There never used to be a thing such as a goaltending coach, nevermind film review sessions. Again, a product of the era, which makes this debate tough to judge.
Brodeur, who to me, is the greatest goalie ever, has 691 wins. While he split some time in the no-tie era, he would’ve had 700+ wins if his whole career was in that era. While Lundqvist probably has 70+ wins in overtime (he has 73 career OT losses), it’s just tough to compare. In this era when OT is a point, teams will play for the point, rather than being aggressive and trying to win in regulation.
This is not to say Lundqvist hasn’t had a good career. He’s a future HOFer no doubt about it. Sadly, his jersey will be retired before Greschner, Boucher, Cook, Ratelle, Hadfield, etc. He is a Rangers all time great and you could argue he’s the best goalie to never win a Cup. You just hope you’re not making that argument after his Rangers contract ends in four years.
As @scottyhockey says on twitter, the best part about going to a Rangers game live is that you don’t have to hear Joe Micheletti. I can’t comment on the announcers tonight, because I had the pleasure of not watching them shill Papajohn’s pizza.
As I was popping the lid off my second beer at MSG, Kevin Klein scored the first goal of the game, two minutes in, after a deep slapshot. This goal came off a faceoff win from Lindberg, with Skjei finding Klein all alone. I’m not as hard on Klein as others have been. I just don’t think he’s the same player ever since breaking his arm stopping a 100+ mph slapper from Ovechkin. I was glad to see him have a game like this tonight. Remember when he was a scoring machine a few seasons ago?
The Rangers were looking to skate into the locker room up 1-0, but for some reason, Derek Stepan, with 25 seconds left, had the puck and refused to shoot at an open net. Colorado capitalized on a turnover, skated up the ice and boom, Colorado Captain, Gabriel Landeskog (he’s rumored to be trade bait) got a slap shot goal for himself, with 15 seconds left on the clock. 1-1 after twenty minutes, a period the Rangers dominated for the most part.
The second period was one of those Ranger periods we’ve seen all season. It was just a slow, boring and frustrating period to watch. The Rangers did absolutely nothing against the worst team in the league. They had trouble moving the puck. They went 0-2 on the PP (finished 0-3 on the game) and to quote my deceased grandmother, who was sharp as a tack at 93 years old, “were slow as molasses.”
This brings me to this again – WHY ISN’T MICHAEL GRABNER ON THE POWERPLAY? The Rangers power play suuuuuuuuuuccccccckkkkkkkkks! Why isn’t the best scorer on the team on the PP? What is the argument to not put him on it? Ride this hot horse! I’m not one of these guys who hates AV like some of you fans, but I seriously have to question AV here. Give me one reason why Grabner doesn’t deserve PP time? It’s highly probable if Grabner is on the PP, he leads the NHL in goals right now. How many fucking times, as fans, must we watch this PP shit the joint out? Give Grabner a chance and see what he does with it. One breakaway on a PP and it should be a Rangers goal.
John Mitchell would score the lone goal in the second period, after he took a rebound and easily put it through loose legs Lundswiss. 2-1 Colorado. While my good friend Tommy and the guy chatting next to us thought it would be “one of those games”, I reminded them that the Rangers were the best third period scoring team in the NHL. The Rangers made me look good when the game was over.
With twenty minutes to go, the Rangers woke up for the third period, with the game on the line against a bad team. We’ve seen this team Jekyll and Hyde their effort all season, but for the most part, the Rangers have dominated third periods.
Kevin Klein got on the board again, scoring his second goal of the game, with another slap shot. The assists again came from the fourth line, with Lindberg & Fast getting credit. This was Klein’s third goal of the season. While Klein scored 17 goals a piece in his first two years with NYR and 11 last year, I don’t think we’ll see Klein score double digits this year. I hope I’m wrong on that.
It was 2-2 NYR, early in the third period. After a controversial play, where a Kreider goal was ruled no good (It was debatable, but the call on the ice was no goal and there was no good evidence to overturn the call), Rick Nash got a puck luck fluke goal. Stepan, after refusing to shoot at the end of the first period, took a go of it and Nash deflected the puck in against Colorado back up goalie, Calvin Pickard. 3-2 good guys.
The Rangers defense clamped down a bit, with a one goal lead with 15 minutes to play. As the clock became Colorado’s enemy, Pickard was pulled and Kevin Hayes netted an empty netter to seal the deal for the Rangers and for Hank’s 400th victory party. I’m shocked MSG didn’t have balloons, strippers and confetti dropping from the ceiling for this. Again, it’s only a team game when Lundqvist loses. As I write these words to you now, now at 1:30AM, I just read the report of Larry Brooks, of the NY Post. Kevin Klein wasn’t even mentioned! If you were to believe Larry Brooks, Lundqvist won this game all by himself!
One thing that Brooks brought up, which is a great hypothetical, is “what if Raanta wasn’t injured?” Raanta may have beaten Montreal (The game Lundqvist blew badly in relief), after Hank’s debacle with Dallas. However, Hank has now started 11 straight games and should start again on Monday. Funny how these things play out. That’s hockey Suzyn!
My closing thoughts on tonight’s game, about the Rangers team, is that while they played ok enough to win, I was concerned that the Rangers forwards didn’t bring the same punch they have brought in recent games.
As you can imagine, Rangers social media and the team themselves is agog and star-struck by Lundqvist. No where is it mentioned that Colorado is a last place team, Hank is having the worst season of his career, Hank has been benched more times this season than any other time in his career or that he was booed out of the building a month ago. Nor is it mentioned that the Rangers just finished a soft stretch of games.
Winning 400 is a great accomplishment. For many years, the Rangers only won games because of Lundqvist. (What is never mentioned, yet again, is who knows how the Rangers fare if they didn’t build the team around the goalie? It worked for Chicago, LA and Pitt!) In the Rangers current incarnation, the team is giving Lundqvist wins. Rarely, although there have been a few times (One game vs Philly particularly) has Lundqvist been the dominating force behind a Rangers victory.
However, as many of you remind me, it’s a team game. 400 wins is nice, and Hank will probably crack Top 9 all time in wins before this season is over. At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean shit without a Stanley Cup. After crapping the bed against bad teams earlier this year, Hank is racking up wins against bad teams with a 100% healthy NYR team in front of him.
The Rangers have many Metropolitan division games left before the season closes. I want to see Lundqvist play every game against CBJ, WSH and PITT. These are the teams we have to worry about as Ranger fans. I’m not worried about Colorado, Buffalo, Arizona, Carolina, etc. I want to see Lundqvist play his best against the best. If AV cowardly throws Raanta in there against the top teams (Which is what AV was doing before Raanta’s injury), while Hank compiles victories against bad teams, it doesn’t serve the team any good, unless Raanta is going to be playing in the playoffs.
While I doubt I will ever give Lundqvist a pass on this blog until he wins a Cup (And even if he wins one, for the money, it was never worth it when you look at how many Cups Pitt, LA & CHI have won in the Cap era. I also thought it was hilarious he got the Broadway Hat tonight, despite Klein deserving it more, but hey Team Game you know lmao!), I will close this blog tonight saying…
Congratulations Henrik Lundqvist. May you get your Cup in a Rangers jersey, preferably this season.
See ya Monday night.
LET’S GO RANGERS
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter gimmick
PS: I met four followers of the blog randomly walking around MSG tonight & it was cool shooting the breeze. I will say, after seeing what @EddieEdmundo does for a job, I’m jealous!