Sorry for the delay in getting this up. If I went with my original draft, written on my phone on the train home from NYC after the game, it wouldn’t have been pretty. I’m more coherent here in this version!
You know the normal intro by now and if you’re new and just checking this site out for the first time, just check out the archives on the right hand of the site for previous blogs.
Well the expected happened Saturday afternoon, and the Rangers season is over. After two back-to-back grueling playoff losses, this year ends like a fart in the wind. In fact, it seemed like the Rangers themselves knew it was a done deal, as they tore down all the Rangerstown stuff in front of MSG immediately after Game 4. When I arrived at Penn Station for work Friday morning, anything Ranger related, sans one banner was all gone, like a thief in the night. The fact the Rangers weren’t plugging their parties or their signings for Game 5, just told me that even the non-players associated with the team gave up too.
Here’s the story of the season right here, the 2015-2016 Playoff Stats for Goalies:
So for the people that tweet me, email me, DM me, telegraph me, Pony Express me or morse code me, save me the shit. The number 1 reason the Rangers got their asses handed to them in 5 games to the Pittsburgh Penguins is because of Henrik Lundqvist.
Listen, the offense and defense doesn’t get a free pass here. However, it’s what I’ve been saying all along, where the same rant is repeated until you’re to bored tears, but not one top 5 paid goalie has ever won a Stanley Cup in the cap era of the NHL. EVER.
I am not a fan of Glen Sather, nor James Dolan either. Dolan is obsessed with money and ripping his customers off. Trust me, I have Cablevision, I know all about it. The Garden is a funeral home for playoff games because real fans can’t afford to go. Glen Sather is just senile and if wasn’t for Mike Milbury, you could argue that he is the worst GM, EVER, in NY hockey history. If it wasn’t for those Edmonton years, where Gretzky and Messier fell into his lap, he wouldn’t have the job he has today.
It does start at top. Dolan doesn’t care about the team. It’s sad that the Rangers don’t have an owner like a George Steinbrenner, a Jerry Jones, a Donald Trump or a Mark Cuban. For all the quirks about those three men, they don’t accept losing. Do those men have their negative sides? Of course. However, their drive to be the best is always there. Dolan only cares about money and that careless attitude about the product on the ice (and on the basketball court) is why he’s never seen his Rangers or Knicks win a championship.
I’ve talked about this before, in reference to Dolan. Lundqvist and Carmelo Anthony may sell a ton of jerseys & tickets to corporations, but these players don’t win championships. However, Dolan is money first, winning second, so it doesn’t matter. It’s not like his building will be empty, even if it might sound empty the majority of the time.
When you talk about stupid owners, James Dolan is on the top of the list. His stuff with Isiah Thomas alone takes the cake. His stupidity and money first attitude has trickled down to the GM position. Yes, Jeff Gorton might be the GM on paper, but Glen Sather was running this team for the last 15 years. This is his team. Plus, he has a CONTRACT FOR LIFE with Dolan. What type of owner signs that?
Think about it – in all of NY sports history, not one other GM, besides Sather, has lasted 15+ years with a team and not won a championship! Even the pathetic Jets try to make changes.
This team needs a complete overhaul. While you can’t get rid of the owner, anything Sather related needs to go. Sather is too attached to these players & won’t cut bait. The Rangers need new blood at the GM job. Someone who is not emotionally attached to these guys and doesn’t need to worry about if a previous deal makes the team look dumb, such as the contracts of Lundqvist, Nash, Staal and Girardi, aka the Mount Rushmore of Bad Ranger Contracts.
You need someone to walk in there, and say “yes, this team has bad contracts and have made a bunch of mistakes.” Sather won’t do it, because it makes himself look bad. Gorton won’t do it, because he doesn’t want to make his mentor look bad. Dolan won’t do it because he still thinks the Oilers are the greatest dynasty in hockey going today & thinks Sather is the Babe Ruth of hockey GM’s. Gorton & Dolan continue to fail their fans with their ineptness and as a result, it might be another 54 years before Ranger fans see a Cup.
Is Lundqvist the worst contract on the team? Of course not. Nash has a worse deal. Girardi does too. Ditto Staal. However, as I’ve said before, Lundqvist already made his money. He already had that big money contract. The other three men did not. Lundqvist is the one on the record saying dumb shit like “Gimmie two goals and I got this” or “I want a Cup here in NY at all costs.” When Lundqvist is spitting out all these dumb quotes, but continues to regress and blinds the fans with red goalie lamps going off non-stop, he’s his own worst enemy. It’s hard to have sympathy for the guy, considering he makes a ton of money, not only playing for the Rangers, but because he plays for the Rangers in NY, has a ton of outside revenue coming in. Such as restaurants, modeling, clothing line, etc.
I get the emotional attachment to Lundqvist. For a long time, he carried the team. That hasn’t been the case these last three playoff runs. Was he great at times? Of course, but he’s also been bad. Extremely bad. And the seasons all end without a cup. I get fans wanting Hank to get a cup, but when is enough truly enough? Is it about one guy or the team winning a cup?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Paying your goalie the most in the league & overpaying your defensemen hasn’t been working for the Rangers.
The Rangers had two really good cracks at it. The 2014 year with LA and last season with Tampa in the ECF. In both series, the Rangers weren’t deep enough and were beaten by a better goaltender. The way the Rangers have structured their team, Lundqvist needs to be elite every night. When he has an off game, the Rangers are toast. It’s the way the Rangers are designed under the cap. Lundqvist can continue to blame his defense, his offense, his hair stylist, whoever, but bottom line, he makes the most money and he knew what he was getting himself involved with when he demanded the most money at his position.
The Rangers have even put Lundqvist in the position to win. He blew every two goal lead they had in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. He gave up back-to-back touchdowns to Tampa last year, even when the Rangers gave him 5 goals on the board. You can talk about his Game 7 record, and that’s great, but it means he has a 50% winning percentage before that game 7. Why can’t he lock it down and shut it down?
This contract runs for another 5 years, until Hank is 40. He’s regressing rapidly and the Rangers care about selling jerseys and money. The Rangers won’t trade him, they are too scared of losing their cash cow. However, how much money will Lundqvist generate for the team if he continues to tarnish his legacy with games like these? Wouldn’t the Rangers make more money, if they, you know, won a Cup?
As I’ve been saying all along, the best thing for the Rangers THIS SEASON, would’ve been to deal Hank and keep Talbot. Say what you want about Talbot, but he can do the job. Even if you think he’s a worse goalie than Lundqvist, (I’m not comparing careers here, I’m just talking about the present) the Rangers still would’ve been better off. The $8M extra you could’ve invested in your offense would’ve went a long way this year. Sure Talbot would’ve got an extension, as he did in Edmonton, but for this season alone, the Rangers had a real chance, but decided to try to win for one player on the back of the jersey instead of every man representing the front of the jersey.
If you even look at Lundqvist’s last several playoff exits, they are all similar:
- 2012- Employing Tortorella’s shot-blocking system, Lundqvist looked like a stud. Until his team was so tired and beat up from blocking shots, they had to rely on him against the Devils. The Devils made quick work of “The King.” By the way, if Lundqvist profits off of being the “King”, is Martin Brodeur a God amongst Gods of the entire universe?
- 2013- Lundqvist was abused by Boston. Boston lit him up in every regular season outing. Come the playoffs, Boston made quick work of Lundqvist.
- 2014- Lundqvist got a ton of luck, from the death of MSL’s mother sparking the team to the Carey Price injury. He ran out of luck when he had to be a better goaltender than a Cup Winning King, King Jonathan Quick. Quick, much younger and cheaper than Lundqvist, got his second cup that year. Ironically, in Lundqvist’s best season statistically, 2012, when he won the Vezina, it wasn’t Lundqvist raising the Cup, it was the American, Jonathan Quick. It’s just something about Swedish products, whether they be meatballs or furniture from Ikea, that just isn’t as good as their American counterparts.
- 2015- the Tampa Bay Lightning owned Hank all season long, posting 6 goals several times. When they met in the playoffs, the Lightning owned Hank again.
- 2016 – the Pittsburgh Penguins (And the Islanders for that matter too), owned Hank all season long. When they met in the playoffs, the Penguins owned Hank again.
Again, let me stress, it’s not all Hank’s fault. I agree with that point. The fact remains, his contract is not an asset for this team. You can’t restructure hockey contracts. The best thing for the Rangers would be trying to trade him, although he has a NTC in his deal and I can’t really see any other team taking on his contract. The other option is not protecting him in the upcoming expansion draft next year, when the NHL will most likely give Quebec and Vegas franchises. Even then, I don’t know if a new franchise would want an albatross of a contract that Lundqvist comes with.
What drives me insane the most, is that I predicted all this, but deep down, didn’t want any of this. Just check out the archives on the right hand of the site. Read my blogs from last year. Read the blogs I wrote before the season started. I predicted all of this. Even my recent predictions panned out. I said it was a horrible move to win Game 82. I talked all about why. I said I don’t care about the pride shit, this team is beat up, injured and needs an easier road.
This is not to say the Rangers would’ve waltzed right through the Panthers. However, it was the easier option. The Rangers wanted to be chestbeaters in game 82 and now just hang their heads in sorrow. It’s a shame they didn’t treat this series like how they handled Game 82. Another season lost. Another year of Lundqvist getting older.
When you compare Lundqvist to other recent NY great athletes, like an Eli Manning or Derek Jeter, the only true comparison you can make is that some of their prime years were lost with bad teams. However, those players were able to win their teams to a championship, something Lundqvist is incapable of doing. Lundqvist can’t score goals. He can only try to keep the other team from not increasing the score. He hasn’t done a good job of that lately. The teams that keep winning all the time are the ones that score goals.
Just look at the other series around the league, if you want to ignore that the Rangers just lost in 5 games to a team that started rookie back-up goalies making $8M less than Hank. Greiss has been remarkable for the Islanders. Neuvirth has been near-perfection for the Flyers. Young and cheaper goalies are doing their job and putting their team in a position to win. Lundqvist hurt his team this playoff round and when his team couldn’t figure out a rookie goalie, all Lundqvist could do is sit back and implode.
Lundqvist was absolute shit in this series, ending the series by being pulled from the last two games and giving up 10 goals in nearly 60 minutes of consecutive ice-time. It kinda pisses me off that AV pulled Lundqvist in Game 5. He should’ve left Lundqvist in there to take the beating he deserved.
However, what about everyone else?
To me, the turning point in the series was Game 3. The Rangers had a goal taken off the board because JT Miller was off-side by a cunt hair. The referees ignored Kris Letang slashing Stalberg in the face. The referees were brutal all series. Even when Kunitz committed a penalty and skated to the box, the refs told him it’s ok, it’s a no-call. The referees didn’t call this series down the middle, and that’s a fact, no matter what team you root for.
A goal taken off the board, especially with the Rangers being paid to be a defensive team, not an offensive team, was demoralizing. Lundqvist, who used to have ice in his veins in these late 1 goal games, now wets the floor like a new puppy. The Rangers were able to get him a goal, later on in the game, but as usual, Lundqvist blew the lead and blew the game. Yes, one Ranger goal on offense is not enough. However, Lundqvist is being paid the most at his position to carry his teams in these types of games. We’ve seen him do it before. He’s not doing it now.
After losing a heartbreaker in Game 3, the Rangers were just embarrassed and outclassed in every which way in Game 4. Again, I predicted all this but was rooting against it. I really wanted to believe. However, there was no way the Rangers were going to win three straight against this team, no matter what they did the previous two years in the playoffs.
So the Rangers come into Game 5, trying to force a Game 6, and they came ready to play in the first period. The Rangers got on the board first. Lundqvist gave it back on a soft goal. The Rangers regained the lead. Lundqvist fell apart, and would give up the next 5 goals in the game. The wheels were off.
For the sake of documenting this game, here’s the official box score. No notes in italics this time, because you get the point by now, I think Lundqvist is overpaid and overrated:
1st Period Summary
||Rick Nash (2)
Assists: Dan Girardi, Brady Skjei
||Carl Hagelin (1)
Assists: Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino
||Dominic Moore (1)
Assists: Jesper Fast, Marc Staal
||Phil Kessel (3) (Power Play)
Assists: Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang
||Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Boarding|
||Evgeni Malkin: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Kris Letang: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
||Rick Nash: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
2nd Period Summary
||Bryan Rust (1)
Assists: Trevor Daley, Matt Cullen
||Matt Cullen (2)
Assists: Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl
||Conor Sheary (2)
Assist: Sidney Crosby
||Bryan Rust (2)
Assist: Evgeni Malkin
||Dominic Moore: 2 Minutes for Roughing|
||Conor Sheary: 2 Minutes for High-sticking|
3rd Period Summary
||Chris Kreider (2) (Power Play)
Assists: Raphael Diaz, Derick Brassard
||Matt Murray: 2 Minutes for Tripping (Served by Phil Kessel)|
The day started off so nice. I arrived at Mustang Harry’s for the Dancin’ Larry party. I kinda figured it wouldn’t be as so well attended as the last game, just because of the Rangers being in a 3-1 hole and it was a beautiful day out. However, the hardcores were there. By the time I left there, I hurt my hand from punching the bathroom wall and iced it on the way home on an angry train ride home from Penn Station.
Also, for anyone who rides the LIRR, a big fuck you to the LIRR, as usual. Only one train every hour, and my train was delayed. The people who run the LIRR must also run the Rangers. So incompetent.
The Rangers got the first goal of the game, with Dan Girardi leading the way. He blasted a puck and I thought it deflected off a Penguin, but it wound up bouncing off Rick Nash. The Rangers get a nice deflection goal. Good things happen when you shoot the puck.
Immediately after, Carl Hagelin, who abused Lundqvist like his bitch all series, skated around everyone, made a bounce pass off the boards, and got the give-and-go goal from Kessel. He was right in front of the net and everyone could see where the play was going besides Lundqvist and the Rangers defensemen.
The Rangers, unlike Game 4, fought back. The fourth line skated up the ice, and again, put the puck on net. The Rangers got another wacky deflection, off Hornqvist, and Dominic Moore got a big goal.
That would be the last Rangers goal that gave them a lead for the season.
From there, Pittsburgh reminded themselves that they own a certain piece of property in Sweden and decided to plant their seed all in its face.
Kessel took a bomb of a shot that had Lundqvist fluttered. You know pee dribbled out for the King on that shot. As usual, Lundvist allowed first time goal scorers to come to his party, as Rust picked up a goal. Lundqvist was also a fan of redemption stories, as he let Matt Cullen take some shots off his dime. Big bad Conor Sheary was a fan of the light show, so Lundqvist welcomed him right in, and the red light was flashing like railroad crossing.
Raffy Diaz, the new quarterback of the powerplay, brought up for this game, would actually play well and would assist on a meaningless Kreider powerplay goal. The final – Pitt 6, NYR 3. Close the book on another cupless season.
Being right never hurt so much. I’ve talked about all the moves I’ve hated in the last few seasons here. Getting rid of Duke. Keeping Hank. Losing Stralman. Adding Boyle. Losing Hags. Adding Eric Staal. Losing Talbot. Signing Jarrett Stoll. The contracts, how they handled Game 82, everything. I’ve said it here and was proven right at the end of this season. Some people tweeted me saying you must be happy about being right, but no, that is not the case. In fact, I was betting against being right about this team, and lost a few pennies in the process. I also lost out on these:
As far as where the Rangers go from here and looking forward, I’ll do a blog about that down the line where I can really expand. I’ve read and seen a bunch of different opinions out there. To be brief, as I want to really do a whole blog dedicated to the future, the only thing for certain is that Dan Boyle has played his last game as a Ranger.
As far as guys like Nash, Girardi, the Staal’s, etc, sure it would be nice to move those guys, but who’s gonna take the contract?
As far as the free agents, the Rangers got to keep Yandle. Everyone else is replaceable. Including Miller. Including Kreider.
When it comes to the coach, it’s not on him. There is a bigger “FIRE AV” contingent on Ranger fans than the “LUNDQVIST IS OVERPAID” bandwagon I’m leading. Can’t blame AV when his team can’t score on a back-up & his elite goalie is leaking like Hurricane Katrina levee.
I’ll go more into this later in the week.
In fact before giving this blog a rest for a bit, here’s what I got planned:
- Looking at 2016-2017
- Pictorial Review of the 2015-2016 season
- Spotlight on Brady Skjei & Dylan McIlrath
- Looking at the upcoming expansion
- 2015-2016 report card
Win or lose, life goes on. I had a fun season, despite all the agony that goes along with it. Through hockey, and being fortunate with a good job, I was able to visit Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary for games this year. I’ve done Montreal before, but to go out to Alberta? That was a once in a lifetime bucket list trip. This season, while I wish was longer and ended like a bloody Tarantino movie, was fun. No season will be like 2014 for me, but I did the most traveling and met more people this season than any other season.
Looking ahead, me and merry band of nitwits, are thinking about doing the California loop this year, and perhaps a shot to either Ottawa or Winnipeg, as we try to bucket list our way through every NHL arena. Two seasons from now, it’s VEGAS!
I’m perhaps one of the most angriest people out there, with the Irish temper and all, and yes, it will take time to move on, but this sucks. The Rangers were the team I thought they were. The goalie blew up in front of our faces like a Wild E. Coyote cartoon.
I’ll give my thoughts on how to fix or at least try to get better for next season. For this core though, the window is closed.
As far as the rest of this season, I’m personally pulling for the Caps or Panthers. Anyone but the Islanders or Penguins. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ovechkin get it, because if anyone deserves a cup more than Lundquits, it’s Ovechkin. It would also be cool to see Jagr hoist one up, nearly 25 years after he hoisted his last one.
Oh and for the fans that say “well the Rangers had too many miles on them from deep playoff runs” or crap like that, just stop. Yes, LA was just eliminated and Chicago just tied their series at 3-3 after being down 3-1, but those teams have won multiple cups and never give up. These Rangers gave up and when Lundquits takes his throne on the bench for two straight games, unlike King Crawford or King Quick, this team can’t win a Cup. I’m just crossing my fingers that there won’t be a King Greiss come June.
It’s gonna be tough to watch the rest of the season play out. I don’t feel as disappointed or heartbroken as the last two years (2014, the team lost the cup on my birthday and in 2015 all I could think about was what if Zucc wasn’t hurt?) I think deep down, we all expected a first round exit the second the Rangers decided Game 82 was a must-win game for them. Too bad they didn’t treat this series like Game 82.
If there’s a bright side for the end of the season, those cool 2016 playoff hats and NYR Family shirts will be on sale tomorrow, so at least there’s that.
Report card and Looking Ahead blogs coming later this week.
Until preseason in September, Let’s Go Rangers!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter