NYR/PITT Review: King Fleury Outplays “Baby Stuff” Lundqvist, Same Old Nash & Special Team Trash, NYR Limping To The Finish Line, Friendly Canadians, Realistic Expectations & More In this Monster Blog

King Fleury handled the baby on Sunday.

Welcome Ranger and non-Ranger fans to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Sorry I haven’t been around the last two games, but with a 5AM start at the real job on Wednesday, I didn’t have time to do a Buffalo/NYR recap. I wisely decided to go drinking & watch hockey all day, from 12pm-12am on Saturday, so there was no chance I was going to waste my time recapping the Rangers 3-2 loss to Detroit. After all, if they aren’t going to give any effort, why should I waste my time?

Couple of things before getting into this train-wreck at MSG on Sunday afternoon:

  • If you haven’t already, cast your vote for the Steven McDonald award. This is the annual award that is given to the Ranger that exerts the most extra effort all season. After these last few games, it’s tough to pick someone, because everyone looks in la-la land these days.
  • The Rangers now head to the west coast for games against three hot teams. It begins Wednesday in Anaheim, Thursday in LA and concludes Sunday in San Jose. Since the Ducks & Kings games both start at 10:30PM, there will be no way for me to recap those games on this site, due to my work schedule. I’ll see if I can get something up, but if you really want my opinion on those games, you can follow me on twitter @NYCTHEMIC for all the misery and agony!
  • Not going to waste your time recapping the Sabres & Wings games, as it’s too late, but I will say, I dreaded this weekend. I don’t get how the NHL keeps preaching about player safety and all this crap, then books a team to have three days off, only to follow it up with an away/home back-to-back. How does that make sense if you want your players healthy? This isn’t baseball, hockey is a physical game. Going into this game, the Rangers finished at 5PM yesterday, in Detroit, hit the airport and were home roughly around midnight. They then lost an hour with the time change for a 12:30PM start today. The NHL player safety committee, as well as Gary Bettman & his incompetent referees, are just a fucking joke.
  • When I was in Toronto for the Rangers/Leafs game & to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame (And yes, you can read those blogs by checking the archives on the right hand of the site) my friends & I met a nice couple. They actually started talking to us because I was wearing a Frank Boucher jersey. I mean who wears a Frank Boucher jersey besides me? Anyways, we got to talking and as it turns out, the guy was from Kemptville, Ontario. Kemptville is where Frank Boucher made his home after his hockey career and where he died. Turns out, a bakery in Kemptville has a huge mural for Boucher. Here it is:

The Rangers have insulted themselves & the fanbase by not retiring or honoring Frank Boucher’s #7

I have told you on this blog that I’m a fan of history and enjoy traveling. I will always keep Boucher’s name alive until the Rangers retire his number 7. I just thought it was a cool story to share. How random is that we go to Toronto, find someone from Boucher’s home town, and he sends me this picture when he gets home? Hockey fans, especially Canadian hockey fans, are some of the classiest and friendliest people in the world. I don’t know if I would describe myself as friendly or classy after this weekend of losses, but I digress!

When I started this silly little blog last season, I did it because I enjoy writing and enjoy the Rangers. I love the Yankees & Giants too, but nothing beats a hockey game live. Baseball is too long and boring at times, and I don’t have the time to recap 162 games nor follow the whole league. Football is once a week. There’s just something about hockey that I enjoy more than the other sports.

If you knew me from my wrestling days, you knew I could write and get controversial at times. If you discovered me through your devotion to the Rangers, you now know I have no problem expressing my opinion, even if it’s unpopular.

What I didn’t expect was the Rangers to fall apart like this. I really thought when I started my blog last year, the Rangers would win the Cup. I thought the Rangers would do it in 2014 too, once they knocked out the Penguins. After the Cinderella run in ’14, I thought the Rangers would march right back to the Cup. And they almost did.

Just to be clear, I’m not some bandwagon fan. I’ve been a Rangers fan my whole life, although admittedly, I stayed away from the 2005 season a bit, because I was so mad about the lockout & mad about Sather trading Leetch & Graves. For myself, I thought this would be cool to share my opinions with my jackoff friends and people who cared to read it. If the Rangers won the Cup, I figured I would print out all these recaps, bind them together, and have cool keepsake for myself or another Ranger fan, 20, 30, 40 years down the line. It would be fun “time-capsuling” the blogs, and go back and read the emotional roller coaster to the Cup. But yea, that didn’t work out that way!

Going into this season, as I’ve been saying all along, I think it’s the Caps/Hawks playing for the Cup in June. Sometimes it’s just infuriating to write the same old shit after every game. When @catzuccarello parodied me (As you’ll see below), she wasn’t wrong or far off. If you’re a realistic Rangers fan, you know this season is just killing time. The only thing that matters is the playoffs. Especially this “win-now” team. This isn’t the Oilers. This isn’t the Coyotes. The Blue Jackets. The Maple Leafs. You can look at the bottom of the standings, and you can say how all those teams are rebuilding for the future. I really think a team like the Oilers will win a Cup within 5 years if they do everything right. For the Rangers, this is it. You gotta get the Cup now. The window may have been already slammed already, but the Rangers are all in, at least money-wise, on this current squad.

What drives me so fucking nuts is that the Rangers look uninspired right now. They kind of remind me of the ’00 Yankees – just a bunch of overpaid millionaires that will get to the dance, but can’t get the job done.

Based on my web stats, I get more traffic after Ranger losses than Ranger wins. I guess people want to see what I’ll say next, especially when Lundqvist has a shit-show game, like he did today. However, I would rather be writing about wins and this team streaking into the playoffs. Alas, if only the Rangers dumped King Contract & gave the starter job to Cam Talbot!

If I had a nickel every time I saw a puck dribble through Hank’s legs, I would be able to afford to buy him out of his disgusting contract.

It seems that many of you guys have noticed my writing style and writing nuances on this blog. I got this email, after the Sabres/NYR game, that I didn’t have time to recap, from a reader, @catzuccarello on twitter. I found this hilarious:

I pretend to write your blog (since you didn’t do one for tonight’s game) so humor me:

Welcome to another blog here on you know the deal, blah blah, Lundqvist’s contract sucks ass, he’s no King until he drinks from the cup. He’s the twisted magician: he got the big contract but hasn’t pulled the cup from the hat yet- all that comes from the hat is $$$. To keep it from sounding like the broken record, just check out the archives on the lower right hand corner, where you can read in depth why I feel the way I do about Lundqvist. Actually, you can read any of the archives for all my stuff Rangers relating! Yeah, so lets go into it now. Raanta is the real king. You read that correctly. He’s already got a cup so he’s not just some prince who kisses you and turns into the frog-or whatever that thing goes. He’s a king. Lundqvist is the prince …he kisses you one night and poof you get the frog. Some nights, you might get another animal. The one who doesn’t take the soft goals, the one who stands on his head all night, the condom animal! Nothing getting through those legs!

Let’s talk kingly things. Lundqvist could have taken the page from Robin’s Hood. Take from the rich and give to the poor NYR. LOL He could have said you know what? My contract is hurting this team so lets take a few million off and give it to the team so we can afford players to shape this team- spread that love around and build a cup worthy team- he could have take one for the team like Zuccarello did. He isn’t make the money he wanted but his heart is with the NYR so he got less money and is happy to be a Ranger. this makes him the team player-he took a big one for the team. Lundqvist has money. He’s got restaurant and dandruff commercials and lucrative dealings in Sweden. He’s got the new building that he lives in-5 story brownstone in the village- that he sunk 5M into just to renovate- forget the purchasing price (think of the contracts we could have had with that $$$).

Congratulations my Norwegian friend, you nailed me perfectly!

I guess I can be repetitive on this site, but I’m only working with the material I’m given on the ice!  Plus, as time goes along, the blog is getting more traffic, so sometimes I feel I have to restate things I’ve previously talked about or it comes off incomplete.

Call it egotistical, call it being realistic or make the call to make me GM, but I feel these last few seasons, everything I’ve predicted has come true. I said not signing Stralman was a mistake. I said signing Boyle was a mistake. I said the Duclair trade was a mistake. I said trading two number 1’s for MSL was a mistake. I said giving Lundqvist his contract was a mistake. I said trading Hagelin for Etem was a mistake. I said Staal’s contract was a mistake.

What I don’t get is that in sports, when a team wins a championship, other franchises tend to copy cat the formula of success. The Broncos have won the Superbowl and you see teams trying to load up on defense. Whether it’s small-ball, money-ball, west coast offense, dump and chase, hack-a-Shaq or whatever, whatever won a championship is usually emulated. That is why I will never understand Lundqvist’s contract.

You know my spiel on that horrendous contract, and if you don’t, you can read it by clicking here . However, not one top 5 paid goalie has ever won a Cup in the salary cap NHL. Look how Chicago is winning. Look how LA is winning. Yes, you need a decent goalie, but he can’t be 13% of your cap. You need to score in the playoffs. The Rangers don’t have that. Yes, blame Nash if you want, but you know the Nash/Aroid problem. Now it’s your job to address it. You need to add those role players. The Rangers just have no money, because of Hank’s contract. The biggest problem with overpaying a goalie is that he can not change a game when you’re trailing or tied. You need that Patrick Kane, that Jonathan Toews, that Alex Ovechkin, etc, that can grab the puck and find twine. At his best, Lundqvist can keep you in games, but he can’t win them if nobody can score.

King Hypocrite, you know the guy who said, “I want a cup in NY at all costs” and “Give me two goals and I got this” (For the record, the Rangers gave him 2+ goals in each game this weekend and Hank did not have “this”) may never win a Cup as a Ranger. The Rangers may never win a Cup with him. When Hank’s career is all said and done, and he looks back, he can blame his contract negotiations, that he had, when his best years were beyond and not ahead of him, as the reason he never won a Cup.

And to be clear – my sole purpose here isn’t to dump on Lundqvist. It’s the system. The cap is strict. We’ve seen 3 lockouts in the last 20 years, two in the last 12. The NHL is greedy. Hockey players are the least paid athletes out of the four major sports. Gary Bettman brags about how much money the league is making, but the teams are forced to work under tight financial restraints. If there was no salary cap, these Lundqvist arguments wouldn’t even come up.

It’s too late to change it, and it will be an issue during the next CBA, presumably another season that will either be partially or fully locked-out, but the cap needs to raised & there should be an option to re-work contracts, just like in the NFL.

Fuck – I’m 2200 words in and we haven’t even gotten into the game. Let’s go:

Every King has a crown, here’s King Fleury with his.

The Rangers dropped a 5-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. This loss was on the heels of the 3-2 OT loss to Detroit on Saturday. Where Lundqvist was the best player on the ice Saturday, making 40 saves, he was horrible on Sunday. giving up easy goals left and right.

Again, it’s not on Lundqvist. People, especially the millennials who don’t know who Mike Richter is, will reply, “IT’S A TEAM GAME.” Sure, it’s always a team game when they lose, but everyone screams “HENRY!” or “KING” after every Rangers win. You can’t have it both ways.

That said, the Rangers are impossible to figure out. After having three days off, they came out flat and uninspired on Saturday. Then, with a flight, a time change and a less than 24 hour turnaround, the Rangers came out on fire for the Penguins. Go figure.

The Rangers biggest problems remain the same. The PP, while it has scored in the last 4 games, is still atrocious. The penalty kill is even worse. Rick Nash, in his second game back, is still the same old Rick Nash. He plays well, but always comes up short. At $7.8M and when you compare him to other players in the league making the same money, he’s a bust and even more overpaid than Lundqvist. Granted, Nash hasn’t said the same things as Lundqvist and there is an age difference, but Rick Nash’s Rangers career has been nothing but a disappointment. Sure he’s had great games, but when it matters, the playoffs, he doesn’t come up big. You can make an argument that he was battling through concussions and the ilk, but still, bottom line, he’s been under-whelming for the club.

Rick Nash may sell jerseys, but he’s not selling playoff tickets or Stanley Cup winner jerseys for that matter either.

How many times have you seen any of the following this season:

  • The Rangers go on a breakaway. Before they shoot, the goalie tips the puck and no shot is made.
  • The Rangers have a wide open net and either airmail the puck or Scott Norwood it.
  • Kevin Hayes has a brutal turnover that results to an opponent’s goal.
  • The Rangers get a huge game tying or possibly game winning goal, late in the game, only for the other team to score with less than 3 minutes to go in the game.
  • Lundqvist gives up a softie at the worst possible time, after playing incredible all game.
  • The PP doesn’t get a shot off.
  • The penalty kill looks as lost as a tourist in Times Square.
  • Dan Boyle is slow and beat to a puck that could’ve been cleared.

I mean all these things happen time and time again. Some people on the twitter say “Why don’t you root for the Caps then if they are so good?” I’m a Rangers fan. However, I’m realistic. Unless something drastically changes in the spring, the Rangers will be packing in the season much earlier than they have been these last few seasons.

In addition, for the people who dare question my fanhood for calling out players and thinking the team won’t win it all this year, I drop about $10K a year on tickets, merchandise, going to away games, etc. I’m more pissed about this loss, because I lost $400 of my gambling winnings on this mess today! I put my money where my mouth is!

How can any one who watches this team and watches the entire league, especially the Eastern Conference, think that the Rangers, in their present state, have a shot in hell against the Islanders or Capitals in a best of 7 series? Save me the history lesson, I know it. These Rangers aren’t the same Rangers as last year or the year before that. Neither are the Islanders and neither are the Capitals. This is why I think when the Rangers left the ice, in May of 2015, as Tampa celebrated their ECF win, it was the closest the Rangers will have gotten to a Cup for some time.

Chris Kreider has been stepping up as of late. Maybe he finally realizes he’s in a contract year?

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here, so if you’re looking for bright spots, there are few. For starters, the new Rangers line of 19 (Fast), 20 (Kreider) and 21 (Stepan) have been producing points. You just hope you’re near $20M line of Nash, Staal and Zucc can do the same. Brassard, who missed Saturday with the flu, returned Sunday to take his centermen’s job on the second line. I think you gotta keep Nash/Staal/Zucc together though.

The Rangers, who were without Tanner Glass, due to an upper-body injury, saw some fire from both Kreider and Zucc. Kreider beat up Kunitz as the puck dropped in the third period. Zucc took a horrible slashing penalty when he slashed the stick out of Ian Cole’s hand, late in the second period. Just a dumb penalty that happened in front of the ref. After the game, Coach AV said it was a stupid and undisciplined penalty to take. Guess everyone has different standards to live up to, as AV didn’t bury Lundqvist for his bitch fit against the Penguins a few games ago. The frustration is running downhill.

What’s not so bright is the Rangers expensive defense, specifically Marc Staal (-3) and Dan Boyle (-4) combined for a plus/minus of negative 7. Coach AV has also been quick with the leash, benching Miller & Moore. Yea, because it’s their fault Hank gives up soft goals. With the extra time, the money men in Nash and Staal didn’t score either. I don’t get AV’s leash at all. Boyle, Hayes and Kreider have been way worse than Miller ever has been this season.

The story of the game saw the Rangers come out fast in the first period and peppered Fleury with a ton of shots. Give Fleury credit. There was a period of time there where he broke down and looked like he was destined to become a back-up. He’s turned himself into one of the better goalies in hockey.

I thought the Rangers would come out just like they did in that Philly game, in Simmonds return to MSG, after the McDonagh hit. I thought that because of the smack Fleury talked about Lundqvist. You know, how Lundqvist was doing “Baby Stuff” when Hank had his meltdown and flipped the net over. However, Fleury backed his words up today, while Lundqvist looked horrible. For the second straight game, Fleury was the better goaltender. Fleury really kept his team in the game in the first period, when the Rangers sent 19 pucks his way. However, in what has become an alarming trend as of late, the Rangers had a paltry amount of shots after that, only posting 2 shots in the second and 6 shots in the third. You can’t win games if you don’t shoot the puck.

The Penguins would keep getting one goal leads, the Rangers would tie the game, then Lundqvist would give up an easy goal for the Penguins. This happened four times. On the fourth Penguins goal, the Rangers ran out of time to tie it. However, they had plenty of chances but tripped over their own dicks. They couldn’t convert on multiple PP opportunities. They had 3 breakaways that Fleury either broke up with his stick or saved it with his mitt. The Rangers couldn’t finish the job.

Here’s the official box score, from ESPN.com, with my notes in italics:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail PIT NYR
11:56
Patric Hornqvist (18) (Power Play)
Assists: Sidney Crosby, Kris LetangAfter the Rangers failed on two powerplays and a breakaway, the Rangers horrible PK took their first shift of the game. Hornqvist got one to ricochet into the net. It just looked like Lundqvist was having a baby stuff game compared to King Fleury.
1 0
18:06
Chris Kreider (16)
Assists: Derek Stepan, Kevin KleinKreider scored his second goal in two days, off the same sort of play. Kreider crashed the net and got a deflection. He did the same thing when Yandle bombed the puck from in between the dots and deep. That’s something going for the Rangers at least.
1 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
4:13
Olli Maatta: 2 Minutes for High-sticking
5:41
Ian Cole: 2 Minutes for Delaying Game – Puck over Glass
11:18
J.T. Miller: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick
19:38
Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Hooking

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail PIT NYR
7:30
Conor Sheary (4)
Assist: Justin SchultzSoft goal allowed by Lundqvist, the usual.
2 1
8:59
Derick Brassard (25) (Power Play)
Assists: Keith Yandle, Derek StepanYandle has to stay here no matter what, I mean just give him the money he’s making now (1/2 is being paid by Arizona for this season) and give him Dan Boyle’s contract. Promote McIlrath or Skjei full-time. Defense solved. Yandle has been great offensively for the Rangers. This time he fed Brassard and Brassard scored early into a powerplay.
2 2
15:55
Conor Sheary (5)
Assists: Tom Kuhnhackl, Eric FehrBreakaway goal. Fleury was 3-3 on stopping breakaways. Lundqvist was 0-1. That’s why I suspect Fleury has a crown and Hank does not.
3 2
Time Team Penalty Detail
8:52
Patric Hornqvist: 2 Minutes for Tripping
17:24
Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Slashing

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail PIT NYR
5:04
Ryan McDonagh (9)
Assists: Jesper Fast, J.T. MillerA wrap “Mac-Around” goal for the Captain. This was a nice play that came out of nowhere. Huge way to tie a game, a game the Rangers should’ve been dominating on the score board.
3 3
11:09
Matt Cullen (11)
Assists: Dominik Simon, Brian DumoulinFrom behind the net, Cullen shot the puck, it bounced off Staal and slowly made its way through Hank’s legs. KING!
4 3
19:21
Sidney Crosby (29)
Assists: Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan RustEmpty netter.
5 3
Time Team Penalty Detail
0:01
Chris Kunitz: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
0:01
Chris Kreider: 5 Minute Major for Fighting
2:19
Derick Brassard: 2 Minutes for Slashing
2:19
Eric Fehr: 2 Minutes for Slashing
5:36
Ian Cole: 2 Minutes for Slashing

Lundqvist is a baby too, but no one is a bigger baby than the NHL’s resident King of Tears, Sidney Crosby

While the Rangers were playing a tough back-to-back, the Penguins won this game without Malkin. Crosby, the highest paid player on the Penguins, had a goal and an assist. Eric Staal and Rick Nash didn’t crack the scoreboard. Fleury, making way less than Lundqvist, outperformed him.

I hate talking about money so much, but this is the environment the NHL has created with their strict and tighter than a nun’s asshole salary cap. It’s part of the game and you need to look at salaries when evaluating players.

My mantra all season has been playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. This is another frustrating loss, but in the grand scheme of things, won’t mean nothing for the playoffs. The Rangers will play the Islanders and hopefully the Islanders don’t embarrass their big brothers that badly. Maybe the Rangers catch playoff magic in a bottle and run the table. Who knows? Games are won on the ice and not on paper.

Bottom line, as horrible as this weekend was for the Rangers, it’s not the end. The end however, may be earlier than previous seasons.

At least I got this to look forward to!

Due to the weak Canadian dollar, things going well at work and up a butt-load of money by hitting a few strategic hockey bets, I will be hitting my fourth Canadian city this season. I did a recap of Montreal last season, but it was such a fun time that me and my friend, Mr. Borgata Ray, will deal with French language again!

Don’t mean to pile up on my Canadian readers here, but the weak Canadian dollar allowed me to visit Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal this season. I just hope things are this good next season, as I’m thinking about dabbling to either Ottawa or Winnipeg, in addition to doing the west coast swing! Oh, but I’m not a real fan according to some idiots on twitter for thinking the Caps will win the Cup!

The Rangers have their west coast trip this week, starting Wednesday. As said earlier in this blog, I won’t be able to recap those games. If I can, I’ll try to get something quick up, while on the treain to work. I’ll try to be back next Saturday for the Sharks recap.

The following week, the Rangers have Florida and Boston at home, Monday & Wednesday respectively, before heading out to Montreal on Saturday. I should have blogs for all three of those games, and I’ll definitely have another Montreal picture gallery from my visit there.

An unlucky 13 games remain on the docket for the Rangers, then shit gets real. The dry run of the regular season will be completed and the real hockey will begin. Let’s hope this team finds out a way to get it done.

As always,

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *