NYR/BOS 3/2 Review: The Patchwork Rangers Don’t Give Up; Remain The Best 3rd Period Team in the NHL & Beat a Potential Second Round Playoff Team, Lundqvist & Micheletti Shine on Hank’s Birthday, Upcoming NYR Fundraiser & Much More From a Sloppy Feel-Good Win

I know it’s weird for me to be so optimistic, but I really can see the Rangers competing for the Prince of Wales Trophy this Spring.

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. In case you missed it, I added a blog in between Ranger games last night. You can check it out here:

Gil Valle’s Raw Deal: The Untold Story Of NYPD’s “Cannibal Cop” Book Review & A Couple Of NHL Trade Deadline Thoughts

 

The Rangers defeated the Boston Bruins, 2-1 tonight, in a game they really had no business winning. Going into this game, this looked like a loss all over it. As recapped on previous blogs, the Rangers were without Dan Girardi, Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner, and Kevin Klein. In other words, you were without 1/3 of your starting defense and missing 2/3 of your penalty kill. With Girardi out, you were without your best shot blocker. With Grabner out, you were without your best scorer and for AV, that meant he was without the guy he orders to get him gum during Ranger power plays.

With the Rangers beat up, here were the new lines:

  • Kreider/Stepan/Zuccarello – despite their successes, this is not a normal line for the Rangers. Usually Nash is with Stepan. Kreider & Zucc play together a lot, and these three do play together on the PP from time-to-time.
  • Nash/Zibanejad/Buchnevich – AV has used this line before. This was an interesting line because Buchnevich just came back from spasms and the flu. He even got a tune-up game in Hartford the night before, where he scored two goals.
  • Vesey/Hayes/Miller – Vesey was on this line, covering for Grabner.
  • Pirri/Lindberg/Puempel – I would have to go back and check, but I think this is the first time all season that all three of these guys were in the same game. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember these three playing in the same game, as 2/3 are usually the healthy scratch.

Here were the new D pairs:

  • McDonagh/Smith – Smith is the newest defenseman to the team. He has history with McDonagh, playing with him in Wisconsin. Former Ranger captain/Current Rangers analyst made a good point. Smith is used to playing 16-18 minutes a game. Tonight he played 20. Is it that much of a difference? Only he can say.
  • Nick Holden/Marc Staal – these two are used to each other by now.
  • Skjei/Clendening – this might be the best offensive pairing on the Rangers defense today.

For Boston, they weren’t missing any of their regulars. The only person of note who didn’t play was Drew Stafford, who was acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

As you see, the Rangers were the walking wounded. Chris Kreider didn’t practice yesterday. Buchnevich is coming off an injury & illness. The Rangers were also on the road, so if there was any a game the Rangers could’ve lost and you could’ve made an excuse for it, this would’ve been the one.

However, despite Boston having every right to win this game, when it was all said and done, the Rangers, primarily due to the solid play from birthday boy Henrik Lundqvist, stole the win and the two points. If you’re a Bruin or a Bruin fan, you have to feel that you were kicked right in the fucking nuts.

Put it this way – the Rangers were beat up and shot to shit. The Rangers were terrible for 40+ in this game. In the end, they pulled out a win. Just think, if everything goes our way (Rangers as the first wild card), the Boston Bruins could be a potential second round opponent. That doesn’t scare me like it did in 2013.

Speaking of that 2013 playoff series with Boston, I had the same feeling watching this game like I did watching that series.

Let’s get into it. First the box score from ESPN.com, as always:

1st Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR BOS
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
8:51
Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Hooking
17:59
Dominic Moore: 2 Minutes for Tripping

2nd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR BOS
No scoring this period 0 0
Time Team Penalty Detail
3:06
Frank Vatrano: 2 Minutes for Hooking
19:05
Marc Staal: 2 Minutes for Tripping

3rd Period Summary

Time Team Scoring Detail NYR BOS
5:10
Pavel Buchnevich (7)
Assists: Nick Holden, Rick Nash
1 0
9:35
Oscar Lindberg (5)
Assists: Matt Puempel, Brady Skjei
2 0
12:56
Brad Marchand (29)
Assists: David Pastrnak, Colin Miller
2 1
Time Team Penalty Detail
9:43
Colin Miller: 2 Minutes for High-sticking
17:38
David Backes: 2 Minutes for Goalkeeper Interference

Goaltending Summary

New York Rangers Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
H. Lundqvist 33 1 32 .970 60:00 0

Boston Bruins Goaltending

Player SA GA Saves SV% TOI PIM
T. Rask 21 2 19 .905 59:33 0

If you didn’t know from hearing it 38967467863784963894 times on the Rangers broadcast, today was the birthday of Henrik Lundqvist. He picked up two points & had a great game tonight. Do you know what he got me for my birthday 3 years ago? Two goal blown leads left and right and a Game 5 SCF loss!

Where to even start with tonight’s game?

For the Rangers, I wasn’t expecting much. They were beat up and missing a lot of players. With the injuries, AV had to adjust his lines accordingly and guys who weren’t used to playing together were on the same line. You also had a new face on your first pair defense, so going in to this game, I was expecting a lot of sloppiness. And that’s what happened.

If you’re look for the the bottom line, the bottom line is the Rangers won this game because Lundqvist played like it was 2013. While you can’t ignore his struggles against the MeTRIO teams, it was good to see him stone a potential playoff opponent here. It’s up to the Rangers & Lundqvist to figure out why he can’t play like this against Columbus or Pittsburgh. I know some younger fans will do the “IT’S THE FAULT OF THE DEFENSE” shit, but the defense wasn’t that great tonight and Hank made some big stops. He’s gotta be the goalie he’s paid to be against the division rivals.

However, for tonight, Lundqvist made a ton of tough saves and kept his team alive, as the Rangers tried to find a balance & get past the sloppiness. It would all pay off in the third period.

There really are so many things to get into. I’ll get into the power play at the end of this blog (Another 0-4 shit show), but how about the shot category? The Rangers were out-shot 33-21. In the first period, they were out-shot 9-3. At one point in the second period, the Rangers had 9 shots on net, 9 shots that went wide and 4 shots that were blocked. 9 SHOTS THAT WENT WIDE! Seriously, this has been a huge problem for the Rangers. Every night is “Scott Norwood Appreciation Night”. They don’t hit the net for their lives!

There was one play, I forget if it was the first or second period, because both those periods were so terrible, that they blended in together, that Nash had a breakaway. Instead of driving to the net, he stopped short and flung a shot that went wide. I don’t know if his failure on the breakaway is in his head, but a play like that is inexcusable. There would also be a play, late in the third, where Rask was trying to get out of net for the extra skater. Zucc got the puck and Rask had to skate back into net. The net was half empty, yet Zucc shot it right at Rask. There were a lot of these little plays, that will be forgotten because of the final score. However, the Rangers really do need to get their shit together, because this stuff doesn’t fly against the MeTRIO.

The first two periods of this game were horrible, unless you are just a fan of Lundqvist, which many of you are. I’ve seen exciting 0-0 games before. This was not that. This was a one-sided effort with Lundqvist constantly being tested. On the other end, Rask could’ve read “War and Peace” and the Rangers offense wouldn’t have noticed. More pucks hit the net and the glass, than actually making contact with Rask! Nothing was more woeful than the first period, where the Rangers only registered three shots on goal.

For forty minutes, the Bruins had a shooting gallery on Lundqvist, while the Rangers offense played like Lennie from “Of Mice & Men.” AV looked like Willy Loman out there, especially watching his power play and chomping on gum like a teenage girl. This was just a tough 40 minutes to watch.

In fact, I have talked about my friend, JEFFREY, on this blog. He is another miserable diehard Ranger fan. He is probably more miserable than me, but doesn’t hate Hank’s contract as much as I do. Here’s a sample of our texts at around 8:30pm (Half-way past the second period mark of the game):

If you’re not familiar with the iPhone, JEFFREY is gray and I am blue. It is funny, after about a ten minute stretch of physical play that was allowed, the refs would call a BS penalty, late in the second period.

While JEFFREY is more pessimistic than me and has the will-power to turn off these games, I stuck with it. I wouldn’t say I was rewarded as a result of the eventual 2-1 victory, but I can honestly say, I felt proud of this team. Despite every excuse possible in the event of a loss, the Rangers wouldn’t give up and stuck with it.

However, many fans had to feel like JEFFREY for the first forty minutes of this game. The missed shots. The terrible PP. Nash being Nash. It was all there. The only thing the Rangers had going for them after the first period, besides Lundqvist, was a good penalty kill. Outside of that, it was like they were skating on a surface made of slurpees.

The Rangers did pick it up a bit in the second period. There was a ten minute stretch, as I said above, where both teams were really allowed to go at it. Jimmy Hayes leveled his brother. Zucc got away with a slash. Both teams were allowed to hit. However, I knew these refs, who can do whatever they want without the fear of punishment from the league, wouldn’t let this go on forever. They would bang Staal for a phantom tripping call near the end of the second period.

Speaking of the refs, they were brutal, and both teams had every right to be pissed. Two penalties were called that changed the game. The first non-call was when Rick Nash was blatantly slashed on a Rangers PP. This would’ve gave the Rangers some 5 vs 3 time. At the very least, it puts the Rangers on a PP, rather than being even strength when Marchand scored his goal.

The other penalty happened with a little more than two minutes left in a 2-1 game. David Backes, playing the puck, skated into Lundqvist. Lundqvist, perhaps fresh off the Oscars, did a sell-job equivalent to Ric Flair flopping on his face. Backes was banged for interference. Of course, Ranger fans were happy with the call, because a Rangers PP means two minutes off the clock. However, if you’re a fan of the B’s, I can see why you were be fuming. There were other non-calls throughout the game, so there was no consistency from these officials. On the bright side, at least we didn’t have any goal reviews tonight.

After forty minutes, the score remained nil nil. The Bruins had to be frustrated, because they had a lot of great chances, but Lundqvist was on top of his game.

This is the Lundqvist I want to see against Pittsburgh.

If you can recall that 2013 playoff series with the Bruins, you will remember that the story of that series was Lundqvist was a one-man show and the Rangers PP sucked ass. That’s what you had tonight.

Now don’t get it twisted. To clear up some of the social media interactions I have with you folks, I still think Lundqvist is overrated and overpaid. If you could trade him tomorrow, I would do it. That said, I root for the front of the jersey and not the back. I want him to win because that means the Rangers win. I want him to win a Cup because that means the Rangers won a Cup. Whether I think he can win a Cup or not is a different story. As long as he’s wearing the diagonal R-A-N-G-E-R-S letters on his chest, I want him to win. That said, I would trade him in a heart-beat because I think his contract sucks.

With Lundqvist keeping this game 0-0, I remarked at the time, that I thought the best third period team in the NHL would get a fluke goal and win it. How Nostradamus of me. (For the record, I say this during every Rangers game that they aren’t winning!)

I don’t know how fluky it was, but perhaps because Tuukka Rask had the first two periods off, five minutes into the third, Buchnevich caught Rask off-guard with a shot from the circle. 1-0 Rangers. You could see the frustration and panic on the faces of the Bruins. They did everything they could and yet couldn’t muster up a tally.

Lindberg would pad the lead four minutes later, putting the Rangers up 2-0.  On the Lindberg goal, Puempel & Skjei had the assists. This is what you want to see. Scoring coming from everywhere. The Rangers best run of the Lundqvist era also saw the Rangers have a fourth line that produced. You’re starting to get that recently, with Lindberg. The fourth line, who have really been just there this season, have stepped up these last two weeks. You hope Fast can get back into this line-up sooner than later, because he was turning a corner too.

And how about that Brady Skjei? He’s been a point machine for the Rangers blue line. What more can you ask for? I’m so happy the Rangers didn’t trade this kid for an over-the-hill type. While it’s a shame the McIlrath/Skjei connection never worked out or really ever had a chance to, since McIlrath would’ve been better in a different era, at least Skjei is working out for the Rangers.

With a 2-0 lead, I thought the Rangers would give Hank a shut-out for his birthday. It wasn’t meant to be.

Someone who doesn’t get enough credit for the Rangers goaltending success – Benoit Allaire.

With the Rangers up 2-0, that little rat, Brad Marchand, would break up the no hitter. I was hoping new Ranger, Brendan Smith, would lay this slew footing fuck out. That would’ve been a way to make an impression.

While on Smith, it’s tough to judge these guys just on TV. The cameras follow the puck, where as live, I can follow players from time-to-time. I thought he played ok. I heard Maloney rave about him afterwards, and he was there. Gotta take the Captain’s word for it. What I did notice was a bad penalty and a play where he let the puck go offside. However, those were the only two things I noticed. With a defensemen, if you’re screaming their name and it’s not because they scored, it usually means they fucked up somewhere. I didn’t have that feeling at all tonight with Smith.

The Marchand goal shouldn’t have even happened. I talked about the refs missing a slash on Nash before. Anyway, Nash was slashed and no call. A Rangers PP expired. Marchand than skated between Holden and Staal, then scored a flukish goal by Lundqvist. It was just one of those plays, akin to that lacrosse shot looking goal Hank gave up on Tuesday. It will always amaze me how Lundqvist can be so dominant and so keyed in, then something like this happens. It ALWAYS happens when he has a lead too. When the Rangers went up 2-0, Lundqvist started losing his stick again and was flopping all over the ice. He got a break on the first Boston rush. Then this play would happen on the next Boston rush. He just does not play well with a lead and it can be infuriating.

With the score 2-1 and 7 minutes left to go, the Rangers tightened up a bit. While the defense was kinda spotty tonight, as a lot of good shots were allowed, they did hold their own with the game on the line. McDonagh blocked a shot that looked like it would’ve been a goal without him there.  Still, Lundqvist had to make a few challenging saves.

Tonight was a Lundqvist, and not a Lundswiss, game.

Backes would be called for goalie interference with two minutes and change left in the game. The Rangers killed their own PP. The last desperate effort saw a faceoff in the Rangers defensive zone, with Rask pulled and the extra skater on. The faceoff took place with 2 seconds left, enough time to win a draw and blast one. The puck went perfectly to Torey Krug, but he wiffed and that was that. A 2-1 victory for the Rangers.

As I said, this wasn’t the greatest win of the season. It was a proud win though. This team did not give up and stayed with it. They found a way to win. This was definitely a confidence booster.

What didn’t give you confidence tonight was the Rangers power play. I know, I know, I sound like a broken record, but the Rangers PP was like stepping in diarrhea right before you go into a job interview. IT FUCKING STINKS and IT IS EMBARRASSING!

The Rangers PP went 0-4. Since Grabner was scratched tonight, I can’t even go on my PUT GRABNER ON THE PP spiel. The PP is just awful. All it does is kill two minutes off the clock and that’s not even 100%, because Lundqvist is making more saves on the PP than the opposing goalie is making on his PK! The PP is broken. I’m not with these guys every day, obviously, like the coaching staff is, so I really don’t have a fix, outside of saying use Grabner when he’s healthy.

I really think the Rangers have lost their mojo and it’s in their head at this point. They are very hesitant to take shots and look for deflections & rebounds. We used to see Kreider and Nash crash the net, but we don’t see much of that anymore. I really don’t know what the quick fix is right now but the Rangers better find it. You can’t keep blowing every man up opportunity you have. That is not the sign of a Stanley Cup champion.

The only suggestion I have for the Rangers, is maybe “The Make a Wish Foundation” or “Garden of Dreams” can take on the Rangers PP as a charity case!

If the Rangers lost this game, all the talk would be about how the Rangers failed Lundqvist and the PP. However, since they won, al the talk is how great Lundqvist was. We can not forget about how bad this PP is, despite the win. The Rangers are good, but not that good, where they can win playoff games with a lifeless PP.

I also want to mention, for all the shit I give Micheletti on this blog, he was good for the second game in a row. Shit, after tonight, he could bow to his Hank statue in his bedroom for all I care!

In my final words about tonight’s game, <struggling….choking….and feeling weak….> “Happy Birthday Henrik Lundqvist.”

An easy “Lundqvist cares more about his hair than the game” joke can be made here. I still have it!

Standings update:

Metropolitan Division
GP
W
L
OTL
P
GF
GA
Diff
L10
STRK
Capitals
63
43
13
7
93
208
134
74
7-2-1
W2
Blue Jackets
62
40
16
6
86
200
146
54
6-3-1
W1
Penguins
62
38
16
8
84
214
175
39
5-3-2
L2
Rangers
64
41
21
2
84
209
169
40
6-3-1
W1

As a result of the Ranger & Columbus wins, Columbus remains in second place and has two games in hand over the Rangers.

The Rangers are in a virtual tie for third place with the Penguins, with the Penguins owning third because they have two games in hand.

You can call me a fake fan all you want, but for the rest of the season, while I’m rooting for the Rangers to win, I’m all about the Blue Jackets & Penguins winning. LGCBJ, Go Pens Go!

A game like tonight, where a thrown together roster beats a possible second round opponent, has me salivating like a homeless person with a beer. I can fucking taste it!

In 2014, the Rangers “Cinderella’d” their way to the SCF. In 2015, I thought the Rangers had their best shot at the Cup, in the Hank era, but couldn’t beat Tampa. Last year, I thought they were dead meat.

This year, I feel they are dead meat if they are the 2 or the 3 seed, as I have gone on record about, near 87768967896 times on this site. If they can draw that Atlantic crossover, I really do see them playing for the Eastern Conference Championship. It is so weird to feel so strongly about these scenarios. As much as I can see them having a crack at the Cup, I can see them as a first round exit if they draw CBJ or Pitt in the first round. In either event, I’ll be a nervous wreck no matter who they play!

The Rangers will be helping the NRYH program this Sunday

A final plug for a good cause.

The NY Rangers Alumni and North Rockland Youth Hockey Association will be playing a Benefit Game on March 5, 2017, at 4:00 PM at Sport-O-Rama in Monsey, NY.

NYR alumni appearing are: Rod Gilbert, Ron Duguay, Steve Valiquette, Glen Anderson, Nick Fotiu, Andre Dore & Stephan Matteau.

The event is offering all sorts of prizes and experiences. You can get more information at:

https://t.co/DcOzUjXzI0 or visit their twitter page @

Plus, diehard Ranger fan @travjax71 will be on hand to cover & work the game.

If you’re in the area, help support a good cause and hopefully some future American born NHL players!


I’m debating about going to Saturday night’s game with Montreal. All depends on how bad M$G is going to be with the tickets!

In either event, I should have something up late Saturday or early Sunday morning recapping, what I think will be, Hank vs Price. This could be a potential first round preview, so it’s a good test for both clubs.

Until then, as always…

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweeter gimmick

Comments

  1. watching nyr last night the word “disarray” kept popping in my head. terrible luck for Fast and rapidly emerging 4th line. they have been pretty dynamic lately. and where, oh where, has Stepan gone? Hayes looked a little lost last night. Vesey looking much better lately. last night’s games: except for Sabres, Isles, no one scored more than three goals. NYR/Habs sat likely to be an offensive snoozer.

    1. Yea, Stepan needs to figure it out, he’s not producing the way he’s being paid either. I think Saturday’s game will be better, just because these lines have a day to practice. The PP is just atrocious tho.

  2. You’re on a roll today, Sean! You had me laughing out loud with this one:

    “With Grabner out, you were without your best scorer and for AV, that meant he was without the guy he orders to get him gum during Ranger power plays.”

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