Note: A rant about political correctness is in this blog. If that offends you, oh well! Also, hello @Fixxser/Greg, have a beer for me!
What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. On Thursday night in Buffalo, the Rangers defeated the Sabres 2-1 in OT. Chris Kreider got the game winning goal, as a 4 vs 3 PP just expired.
There’s a couple things to discuss about this game, a game that could’ve been a lot more high scoring if it wasn’t for good goaltending from both sides, missed opportunities from both sides and a few posts mixed in.
I talked about this on my last blog and on twitter – the Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Not only should the Rangers handle these guys with ease, they shouldn’t need overtime to do it. I think many fans overrate these types of wins and don’t look at the big picture. Winning an OT game against a last place team doesn’t really boost my confidence for the Rangers. If they were able to pull off a win like this against CBJ, PITT or WSH, I would be impressed. Barely scraping by to beat Robin Lehner and the Sabres doesn’t really have me pumping my chest out & screaming for the Cup.
For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist and not Hank Lundswiss showed up. As I’ve said a few times here, on any given night, you never know who will show up in the blue 30 jersey. It reminds me of this:
In a game where Henrik Lundqvist played extremely well, you could argue that he wasn’t even the best goalie on the ice tonight. Robin Lehner, who makes $6.25M less than Lundqvist, was just as good, if not better. To me, Lehner had the heavier work load and had to stop more high quality shots than his fellow Swedish countryman.
Tonight, Lundqvist did his job. Just remember the team he beat, the last place Sabres. The most concerning issue about tonight’s game, for me, was the Rangers offense. Michael Grabner and Rick Nash could’ve easily had a hat trick each. Lehner, while playing well, also watched Grabner & Nash trip over their own dicks & sticks at times. These are opportunities you can’t blow. Once or twice, I get it, you run into a hot goalie, but for this to be a constant thing, will be hell for Ranger fans in the playoffs.
This game even started out very familiar to the games during this recent stretch. The Rangers just missed opportunity after opportunity. Pavel Buchnevich, for the third time in four games, missed a wide open net. However, after missing a wide open net the previous two times, Buchnevich rebounded and scored. Tonight, he just missed an open net, which would’ve gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead early and take some pressure off the struggling goalie of the Rangers.
In the playoffs, defenses and goalies will be better than the Buffalo Sabres. To give up so many goal scoring opportunities in a game like this is scary. After tonight, Rick Nash & Michael Grabner should burn their sticks, because those sticks betrayed them tonight. Both players played well, but unlike a male porn star, (I wonder if Michael Del Zotto stalks them too?) just couldn’t finish at the end.
I hate to sound so sour after an OT win, but we as Ranger fans are not happy with JUST making the playoffs. We aren’t Islander fans! We want the Cup. Games like this show me that there is much more work to do and some roster tinkering to be had.
Let’s get to the box score. As always, full credit to ESPN.com because NHL.com is just impossible to use:
1st Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
||Kevin Klein: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Dan Girardi: 2 Minutes for Holding|
2nd Period Summary
||Mats Zuccarello (10) (Power Play)
Assists: Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller
||Taylor Fedun: 2 Minutes for Holding|
||Marcus Foligno: 2 Minutes for Holding|
3rd Period Summary
||Cody Franson (3)
Assists: Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Ennis
||Dan Girardi: 2 Minutes for Cross checking|
||Marcus Foligno: 2 Minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct|
||Chris Kreider: 2 Minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct|
||Chris Kreider (20)
Assists: J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad
||Taylor Fedun: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
After Tuesday’s 6-4 drubbing against the second place Blue Jackets, the Rangers won a squeaker in Buffalo. I had to wonder if Buffalo preached about taking long shots against Lundqvist. After all, remember this:
Ok, I forced that Muslim hockey joke in here. Seems a prominent Jewish writer was offended by me making a “Family Guy” Jewish joke in my last blog. Here’s the deal, I’m not going to apologize. I think Bill Maher said it best last Friday, on what America is turning into:
I know many people are overly sensitive because of the media’s coverage of Donald Trump & Trump in general (it is ironic, that the person offended, who works for a tabloid newspaper, has had some several anti-Muslim editorials printed in that very newspaper) but please, let’s not forget to laugh. I got a beer belly. If someone points that out to me at work or at the bar, I don’t get hysterical about it. It just means I make money (like a jew, har har har) to support that beer gut!
Maybe I’m wired differently where nothing really offends me and I have a strange sense of humor. There will be times where I’ll even say “Good job Lundqvist” on a 3 vs 0 breakaway, just to laugh at people getting riled up on Twitter. I have been fortunate to meet people who have the same sense of humor as me, but perhaps I forget that many don’t. I just find life easier if you can relax and laugh.
On an aside – the only time I was ever really turned off by a comedian (Outside of just bad comedians who aren’t funny) is when my girlfriend and I went to see Gary Valentine, who, ironically enough, is Chris Roach’s co-star on “Kevin Can Wait.” You gotta play to your audience. Gary Valentine didn’t do that on this night. In a room where 50% of the audience was made up of 30-50 year old women, Gary Valentine did a whole bit on miscarriages. To say this bombed like a Muslim (See what I did there, it all comes back!) would be an understatement.
As I said, nothing offends me and I have a fucked up sense of humor, but even I was cringing. Chances are, everyone knows someone who dealt with a miscarriage. I’ve seen AIDS & Cancer jokes worked into a stand-up act, but the death of a future baby is tough to get a laugh at. Not exactly knee-slapping material. I would probably put a miscarriage joke as the worst type of joke possible, because it will never get a laugh.
The worst part is, Gary Valentine got groaned and booed at immediately for this joke. Instead of blowing it off, he just kept trying to sell it. The audience kept greeting him with venom and he never regained the crowd after that. I haven’t seen a show of his after this one, but I would assume he took that bit out of his act.
Oh, and before I close on this – the Rangers are the same team that features comedians on their scoreboard, like Chris Rock, JB Smoove and Tracey Morgan at games. Are you offended by their stand up sets too? Maybe it’s the Irish in me, but everyone could use a drink and lighten up!
BlueCollarBlueShirts.com – the only Rangers blog that will go on a multi paragraph tangent on nothing Rangers related!
So yea, there was a Rangers game tonight…
Both teams had some good looks at net in the first period. Both Swedish goalies made some spectacular saves, as well as getting the benefit of an errant puck hitting a post or guys just not cashing checks in front of the net. Both teams put up double digits in the shot department after the first period, with the Rangers leading 14-12. However, both teams skated to a 0-0 first period.
Special teams would be the difference in this game. The Rangers went 3-3 on the penalty kill. The first two kills were full of great defensive plays. The third kill, the result of a terrible Dan Girardi penalty in the third period, was just a hodge-podge of craziness. Lundqvist was at his absolute best here, stopping what seemed like 4-5 good looks. He even stopped a cross ice shot point blank. The Rangers let the Sabres fire shots all over the place on this Sabres PP, but at the same time, the Rangers got two odd man rushes on the same PK. This team will definitely make you drink. There’s just no figuring these guys out at times.
The Rangers PP, losers of their last 16 attempts, would go 1-3 on the night, scoring their first PPG in what seemed like in forever. With a little under 3 minutes to go in the second period, Ryan McDonagh blasted a shot from the point. Zuccarello got his stick up and the puck looked to just graze Zucc’s stick, as the puck went past Lehner faster than Mexican food runs through my colon.
The goal, originally credited to the Captain, would go to Zuccarello. When I played hockey, I was a horrible stay at home defenseman, so I can’t really relate with McDonagh here. However, I’ll tell you what, if I’m Ryan McDonagh, I want Zuccarello to be picking up my dinner check after that!
After two periods, Rangers 1, Sabres 0.
As it is with most road games, I just wanted the Rangers to escape with two points, especially with Philly winning earlier in the night and on the heels of the NY Rangers for the first Wild Card spot. That cross-over Wild Card spot is more coveted than water in the Arizona Coyote desert.
Again, maybe it’s the way I’m wired, but I was just frustrated watching this. As a stand alone game, this was a fun hockey game to watch and bonus, my team won. However, big picture, this is just not acceptable come the playoffs. I’ve seen this movie before.
The third period was the best period to watch, if you had no rooting interest. The middle of the third period featured a little scrum between Zuccarello and the Sabres. Again, another team picking on the smallest player on the ice. To the Rangers credit, they were there to back Zucc up, unlike the times they have watched McDonagh get rag-dolled or Hank get smashed.
It’s funny, we’ve seen Zucc in these situations before, where the other team gangs up on him. To me, he is like a cleaner version of Theo Fleury. At least Theo was dirty, where he deserved to get smacked a bit. I think that’s why you always need Kreider on his line, because CK isn’t scared to throw down with anyone. Anyway, CK took an unsportsmanlike penalty here, which was just bullshit to me, because he was defending his teammate that was being ganged up on. The NHL referees are like a rubik’s cube, you will never figure it out.
A play on the ice may have been less controversial than I thought at the time. Lehner, blocking shots with mask (Maybe it’s a Swedish thing) had his throat protector smashed. If you look at the above picture, it’s that plastic piece that hangs off the mask. I guess we now know that these throat protector’s aren’t made of bullet proof plastic!
The referees blew the whistle so Lehner could fix himself up. However, he wasn’t afforded time to get a new protector for his mask. I thought this kind of went against everything NHL Player Safety stands for. I mean, we’ve lost fighting to a degree and the enforcer in hockey for safety. Sure, Marchand of the Bruins is allowed to slew foot anyone he wants, but for the most part, the NHL is trying to make the game safer for their players. We don’t need guys dying early, like Probert, Boogard, etc, because of safety issues and with the information we now have today.
Lehner was put back into the game without a throat protector. All I thought about was this:
With Lundqvist missing two months because of a puck to the throat, you would think the NHL would take several minutes to get Lehner get his mask fixed. However, the show must go on. Lehner went back out there without the protector. I thought this was a big deal. For starters, I know there is a gentleman’s code among players, but if this was a playoff game, I would just shoot towards the head, hoping that Lehner would be uncomfortable and sacrifice aggressiveness in net.
I asked MSG analyst and goalie guru, Steve Valiquette, his take on the matter, he said:
“It is not mandatory. Actually makes it harder to see in a lot of scrums.”
With how fast and big these players are today (Shea Weber has a 110 MPH shot), all I know is that if I was a goalie, I would want protection for my Adam’s apple. It still amazes me these psychopath goalies didn’t come up with the idea of the goalie mask until 1959, which is 42 years after the league was created/stolen from Eddie Livingstone. Granted, the game wasn’t as fast, the players weren’t as big, and in the early days, you couldn’t lift shots, but still a cheap “Jason Voorhies” mask is better than a hard piece of rubber flying at your grill.
Lehner went back in like a man, another part of the NHL player’s code, and to his credit, didn’t give up another goal until OT, on a play that he had no chance of stopping. Props to him.
With the Rangers clinging on a 1-0 lead, the Sabres would tie the game up right before the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE ad could pop up. Cody Franson was all alone and boom, just beat Hank. You know me, I’m not an ardent Hank defender, but I can’t blame him for this one. However, we all know that the Lundqvist of old would’ve stopped this and he would’ve got his shutout.
Hank did his job tonight. The Rangers offense just drove me nuts, as this game should’ve never been tied, nor gone to OT. Yes, Lehner played great, but the Rangers made him look great at times, like Ric Flair carrying a broomstick in a wrestling match. This easily could’ve been a Papajohn’s game twice over for the Rangers, but like my NY Giants, the Rangers let a bad team hang in there with them.
1-1 after three periods. 3 vs 3 time.
The Rangers caught a break early into the OT, as the Sabres fired a shot off the goal post. If that went in, that would’ve been crushing. However, Taylor Fedun took a slashing call, that the home crowd was not a fan of. The Rangers got the 4 vs 3 PP. Despite more wide open ice to make plays, the Rangers couldn’t beat Lehner. Again, burn your stick Grabner! This stick tonight just didn’t work for him, despite numerous opportunities. Time to get fresh wood. (Make your own erect penis joke here.)
The Rangers couldn’t capitalize on the PP, but just as the PP expired, Zibanejad found JT Miller up ice. Miller made a perfect pass to Kreider and all Kreider could see is twine for miles and miles. 2-1 Rangers, game over. If you want to find another big positive about this game, the Rangers shut down Jack Eichel, who has been a scoring machine against them.
For the Rangers, they needed to win this game. You can’t lose to bad teams. That said, this shit won’t fly against top teams or in the playoffs.
A game like this just makes me wonder what Jeff Gorton will do come the deadline. To me, that deadline can’t come fast enough. I want to see what this team will be for the playoffs already. With the expansion draft coming up, I can see the Rangers getting overly-ambitious when making trades. In other words, that could mean goodbye Kevin Klein.
When it comes to Gorton, I think he’s done a wonderful job dealing with the mess that Senile Sather has left him. Sather basically gave him a team full of skidmark contracts and now it’s Gorton’s job to bleach it out. I think the Eric Staal trade last year was a good move. Look at the year Staal is having this season. For Eric Staal, some players don’t work out in NY, especially being thrown in the mix late. Then again, as people pointed out to me, it’s tough for Staal to be at his best when he’s playing third line wing, as opposed to first line center. I wouldn’t call Eric Staal a bust though. It just didn’t work out.
Shattenkirk remains the prize, as if getting him means the Rangers will win the Cup. Must I remind you of the Yandle/Duclair deal? At the end of the day, while the Rangers do need help, if AV is going to go with Hank for every playoff start, the Rangers need 30 to be the goalie that they are paying for. If we have to do this Jekyll and Hyde shit every playoff game, you might as well start watching Spring Training baseball games.
As far as my overall take on this game, I’m glad the Rangers won, but I don’t go to bed confident that this team is a threat in the playoffs.
I’ve talked about this a lot recently, so this is not new – Joe Micheletti has been B-R-U-T-A-L this year. I understand part of the MSG contract is being a homer, but he can not say one thing critical of this team. Everything is rainbows and marshmallows. Lundqvist could give up a goal from Mars, and Micheletti would be blaming aurora borealis for it.
In fact, the best tweet of the night came from @scotthockey who said (and I’m paraphrasing him) “The reason M$G tickets are so expensive is because fans don’t have to hear Joe Micheletti!” Another long-time Rangers fan/sufferer, @papabeez said, “Micheletti is making me miss JD a little more than usual tonight.” I’m glad I saw these tweets from the older Ranger fanbase, which I lump myself in with, because we’ve seen/heard better.
Listen, nothing is ever going to replace JD and Sam. Nothing. In all my years watching sports, those two were the best. If you want to be fair, Joe could’ve never replaced JD. Just wasn’t happening.
That said, while Joe Micheletti has been hated by NHL fans for years (In fact, there are about 5 pages of google trashing him, if you google “Joe Micheletti sucks”. True story, I investigated this one myself!), he’s been tolerable to me. However, this season, it’s like his job has been threatened. He has just been too overboard with his comments.
Joe can never blame Lundqvist for anything wrong. Even a point blank shot or a 100′ goal, Joe is talking about screens and deflections, like every other goalie doesn’t deal with that. Joe is very rare to call out the defense too. Did Evander Kane make Kevin Klein look horrible or was Klein lost on the play?
I haven’t listened to much hockey on the radio, because in this day and age, unless you’re driving a car, why would you? I can watch every game on my phone if I’m not home. That said, I have been putting Maloney’s radio call on my radio app on my phone, when watching the game as an experiment. While Maloney is doing more play by play and has to be more descriptive, his criticisms and praise are fair and valid. Maybe one day, MSG will swap Maloney and Micheletti.
And it’s not just me, a large part of the Rangers fanbase has had it with Micheletti’s excuses. Listen, the Rangers have 4 cups in 90 years. Not everything is great. We want that Marv Albert, Keith Hernandez or Ron Duguay type, who tells it like it is. Even Valiquette at his job, will at least say, “I’m biased because I played with Lundqvist.” When Vally went after Ranger fans for booing Hank, that was fucking real. I didn’t agree with his opinion, (Fans pay a lot of money to go to games and have the right to express their opinion.) I respected his opinion and have no problems with it.
Joe has just been so bad all season and not calling the games in a manner that helps fans appreciate what they are seeing either. If you listen to Joe, you would think every goal against the Rangers comes from screens and deflections, which apparently don’t exist when the Rangers score. His constant “I think they have to take a timeout here.” is tired and never happens! His love for Papa John’s pizza, well here you go, after all the crap I wrote above about not being offended by anything – well that fucking offends me!
I don’t know what Joe is dealing with in his personal or professional life, but if he has pressure from MSG to sugarcoat everything, I wish someone would report that then. If that’s not the case, he’s been a disservice and not honest with fans all season. I never had a problem with his stuff as others did, but this season, it’s too hard to ignore.
Evelyn Raanta 02/02/2017
Mom and Dad are super happy to have her in their lives. Everyone is feeling great. pic.twitter.com/iZWopPpja9
— Antti Raanta (@ARaanta31) February 2, 2017
Congratulations to KING RAANTA on the birth of his new princess. I’m glad his baby didn’t look like this:
Rangers return on Super Bowl Sunday, at 2PM, with a tilt with the Flames of Calgary. I am thinking of using the StubHub trick and going to this game last second. It’s funny, I talked to two season ticket holders. One said he already sold his seats for triple face value and the other sold his tickets for nearly double. I was expecting this to be a cheap game, with people having SB plans. Looks like many others are thinking like me about going to this game. If tickets are cheap, I’m planning on going. If that’s the case, I may skip a Flames/Rangers blog, since I will be a stereotypical Irish man and drinking all day Sunday during the Rangers game & the Superbowl!
I remember last year, I was able to see the Oilers/Islanders on SB Sunday for $75 and sat second row behind King Talbot (Who had to do mop-up duty.) In fact, my Barclay experiences suck, I’ve seen the Rangers lose twice and the Oilers lose. I think I even saw John Cena lose there too, so fuck that place!
If I don’t go to the game, there will be a blog Sunday. If not, enjoy the Superbowl. I nailed the conference games and the over/under, so I leave you with this:
Patriots 33 – Falcons 24
Enjoy the weekend and as always….
Let’s Go Rangers!
@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter machine
PS: Someone get my man Greg an uber, he’s drunk tweeting again on his @fixxser account! Mazel Tov!