What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This will probably be a quick one, as it’s 11PM as I start this and I have a miserable, pathetic and downright disgusting LIRR train to catch at 5:30AM. I don’t know what’s worse – the price gauging at M$G or the LIRR? Seriously, the LIRR raises fares two weeks ago and since then, the LIRR has canceled trains & have had nothing but problems. Sounds like the Rangers special teams!
Anyway, the Rangers dropped a 2-0 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday night. As a result of the Caps win, they take home the President’s Trophy for the second year in a row. No small feat. It’s a nice accomplishment, but as you all know, while it looks nice hanging from a banner, it means shit without a Stanley Cup.
Going into this game, I really didn’t care what happened, as long as no one got hurt. In fact, I talked about all of this on Monday night. In case you missed that blog (I usually post blogs after Ranger games, this one was posted on a non-Rangers night), you can check it out here:
Return of BCBS: Looking at NY Rangers vs Montreal Canadiens In The First Round, Hank’s Record in Montreal, NYR Closes The Season With 3 “Meaningless” Games, The Olympic Debate, How American and Canadian Fans Differ, Remembering Kerri Strug & Why I Have To Agree with Bettman, Cam Talbot Proves To Every Nay-Sayer That He’s an NHL Starter & More NHL/NYR Thoughts & Opinions
Also in case you missed it, here was my recap of the last Washington/NY game, “The Shattencup” game:
NYR/WSH 2/28 Review: The “ShattenCup” & Thoughts on The Trade, Selling a NYR Cup Dream, Ovi & Lundqvist Still Vying for a Cup, NHL Screws Me Out of $400+, Rangers Lose To Washington For The 1st Time This Season, “The MeTRIO”, Rangers Injured; But AV Hurts The Team The Most & Much More From a Loss & a Trade That I Don’t Think Will Have Any Bearing on the Playoffs
I’ve talked about this a million times on this blog – I like Alex Ovechkin. He has a great personality, plays the game hard, is a great ambassador for the sport, was hilarious in those FOMOH commercials and does a lot of work in trying to promote the game to kids. I’ve plugged two previous blogs already here, but just check the archives or do a google search – Ovechkin always tries to brighten young fans up. Most recently, during his Western Canada trip, Ovi found a young Caps fan, brought him to the Caps locker room, took pictures and gave him free shit. Those are memories that will last a life time for that young Albertan.
I’ve seen Ovi play dozens of times live. He’s always flipping pucks to kids. Little things like that go a long way. On the ice, he’s a warrior. He hits, he shoots, he blocks shots, he sets up teammates. Listen, I’m pulling for a Rangers vs Oilers Stanley Cup Finals, which I hope the Rangers sweep. If the Rangers & Oilers are eliminated from the tournament, I’m hoping Ovi gets his Cup.
I know I’ve talked about the Lundqvist & Ovi comparisons on this blog before too. It was cool to see both of these Cupless leaders talk before the game. While Lundqvist is obviously on the decline, Ovi is still in the prime of his career. Both were very outspoken about the Olympics. Ovi said yesterday that he still plans on going. And really – what can the NHL do about it? Are they going to suspend one of their top players? What if Crosby, Lundqvist, Kane, Toews & other stars around the league follow suit? Will they risk their guaranteed money? I talked about the Olympics in my last blog and really, this isn’t the last of it. If anything, I think the NHL’s press release was the start of negotiations.
Sorry, this won’t be a long one, so let’s get right into it. As usual, the official boxscore from ESPN.com:
1st Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
|No penalties this period|
2nd Period Summary
||Alex Ovechkin (34) (Power Play)
Assists: Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov
||Chris Kreider: 2 Minutes for Holding Nicklas Backstrom|
||Justin Williams: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick Brendan Smith|
||2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by J.T. Miller)|
||Karl Alzner: 2 Minutes for Roughing Jimmy Vesey|
||Jimmy Vesey: 2 Minutes for Roughing Karl Alzner|
||Brendan Smith: 2 Minutes for Holding the Stick Lars Eller|
3rd Period Summary
||Evgeny Kuznetsov (19)
Assists: Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams
|No penalties this period|
|New York Rangers Scratches|
As the Rangers wind down the season, before puck drop tonight, they had 9 meaningless periods of hockey to play. For AV, it’s all about wanting Hank to be ready, despite a better option on his bench. It’s always a team game, unless there are stats proving that Lundqvist is a sore spot.
Before this game started, I was talking to several of my NHL gambling friends and how I would play this game. I thought this was a tough game to predict. While Holtby, the reigning Vezina winner (Another Vezina winner that still plays like one, while Hank just gets paid like one) was playing tonight, the Capitals played last night. However, the Rangers had nearly half their team scratched. In the end, I liked the Capitals to win this game and the over. (5.5). I went 1-2, which means LOSER in the world of hockey parlays!
I really expected this game to be a barrage of Capital shots on Lundqvist against an inferior Rangers team. That didn’t exactly happen. In fact, it was the Rangers who out-shot the Caps in a slow first period. I know I wasn’t the only one shocked.
As shown from the scratch list above, Nash, Skjei, McDonagh, Holden, Zuccarello & Fast were all out. In other words, the Rangers were missing several weapons. I don’t mind, because it’s all about getting ready for the playoffs. This was a meaningless game & at points in this game, it felt like I was watching a preseason game.
With all the roster shifting, this is what AV rolled out:
First Line: Kreider/Buchnevich/Stepan – I think this may be the first time these guys were on the same line this season.
Second Line – Pirri/Zibanejad/Vesey – I know this was the first time these guys were on the same line this season.
Third Line – the “Hey, Grab Me a Miller” line. One of the hottest lines the Rangers have had at points this season.
Fourth Line- Glass/Puempel/Lindberg. Another line teaming up for the first time this season.
Defensively, AV went like this:
First Pair: Staal/Klein. These two as your first pair is scary. I know Staal has played through so many injuries, but you don’t realize how much he’s truly regressed unless you sit up close at a game and track him.
Second Pair: Smith/Girardi. I can see why Detroit fans mockingly “thanked me” for the Smith trade. Girardi remains underrated to me. NYR fans hate him more than I hate Lundqvist’s contract. If you’re gonna bury Girardi, you gotta bury Lundqvist too.
Third Pair: Clendening/Kampfer. This was their first pairing this season. For guys who haven’t played in a bit, they were fine tonight.
Going into this game, I thought the Rangers would lose 5-2, 4-2, something like that. Instead, it was a low scoring game, that didn’t feature much offensive action until the half-way point of the game had passed.
If you’re looking for the positives here they are:
- Lundqvist played well, all things considering
- Rangers limited the Capitals offense
- Rangers didn’t let this game get out of hand
If you’re looking for the negatives, of a game you really couldn’t criticize, they would be:
- King Holtby got a shutout and outplayed Lundqvist.
- Brendan Smith remains a penalty machine
- Even with all the line changing and lack of chemistry in some areas, NYR couldn’t even muster up one goal.
Onto the game itself.
This was a slow game. My favorite part of the first period was reading tweets from my Capital fan friends. They hate the NHL on NBC guys as much as Ranger fans do.
Quick digression – for all the talk about “The Olympics needing to promote the game of hockey”, how about the NHL promotes the game in America? I have talked about this before, but quick, entertain this:
- NHL on NBC features the same 5-6 teams. You need to promote stars. McDavid is gonna be the Crosby of his generation. Feature the Oilers more.
- Once the football season is over, put games on Monday night. Fans are used to watching sports on Monday night, whether it be Monday Night Football or even the NCAA Championships in football or basketball.
- “The Night You Love To Hate” is a horrible tag line. Come up with a different promotional slogan.
- Try to get some celebrity involvement to draw casuals.
- Get a hot chick. Sex sells. Call me a “male pig” in the same vein Jesse Spano used to call Slater one, but more people rather look at a decent looking woman who knows what she’s talking about than Pierre McGuire.
- Sell stories. For example, Ovi does a lot of great things, but you wouldn’t know it unless you were a hardcore fan. The NFL does a good job at promoting their stars. The NHL is so weak in this department.
- Encourage live social media tweeting or some sort of gimmick. While “trending on twitter” doesn’t necessarily mean more eyeballs all the time, it doesn’t hurt to be trending on twitter and getting attention.
Granted, tonight was tough to sell. You had the Rangers scratching nearly half their team in anticipation for the playoffs. The Capitals, who played last night, didn’t seem so hungry to win the Presidents’ Trophy. Cap fans were going nuts on twitter, because they know the negative history that Presidents’ Trophy winners have, in correlation with winning the Cup. Maybe that could’ve been a story, that the NHL on NBC crew could’ve done a package on. New fans watching the game may then have a vested interest in the fate of the Capitals.
Then again, what do I know? I’m not in the NHL or TV business. I’m sure promoting a night as “something to hate”, while featuring the same 6 teams, is doing wonders for the league!
I know this may shock people, since it’s coming from me, but Lundqvist played well tonight. He allowed two goals this game. The first goal, allowed in the second period, was an Alex Ovechkin PP goal. Ovi missed 4 or 5 straight shots, but still stayed in his circle on the Caps PP. On the 6th shot, Ovi fired it, Klein tried to block it, and the puck deflected off Klein’s glove and past Lundqvist. This was a tough one to stop.
Going into this game, I didn’t want to see any shotblocking from the Rangers, because I didn’t want to see any injuries. Leave it to Klein, of all people, who had his arm broken by an Ovechkin slap shot, just two years ago, to attempt a block here. I guess it’s just instinct. 1-0 Caps.
The second goal of the game came early into the third period, when Evgeny Kuznetsov, on a breakaway, beat Lundqvist easily, despite not much net to shoot at. Lundqvist looked to have Kuznetsov sealed off, but Kuznetsov got the shot off and scored anyway. Lundqvist has been brutal on the one on one game this year.
As far as the Rangers best chances, Hayes, on a breakaway, skated himself into a tough shot that was easily stopped. Puempel had a weak backhander in front. Grabner remains snake-bitten.
As a result of this 2-0 loss, Hank is 1-4 since his return. However, I wouldn’t put this loss on him. How rare is that coming from me?
Quite frankly, most of this game was boring. I guess as a fan, it’s hard for me to be emotionally invested in a meaningless game. I’m all about Montreal right now. This game plodded along and was slow at various points. I mean take a look at again at the SOG department:
Shots On Goal
There wasn’t much action here tonight. Lundqvist did have to make 3-4 big saves in there. Holtby did the same. With all the mix-matched lines, the Rangers seemed happy to just move the puck and not sustain any real type of offense.
You really can’t analyze this game, as the Rangers are playing out the schedule. The games will matter next week.
What this win did mean is that we got a few playoff match-ups set:
Rangers vs Canadiens
Penguins vs Blue Jackets
Capitals vs second wild card
While the Canadiens are going to be a tough out, if the Rangers can get by Montreal, the second round should be so much easier. For the reigning and now defending Presidents’ Trophy winners, while they may make easy work of the second wild card, trying to move past the second round, for the first time in the Ovi era, is no walk in the park. Whoever wins that Pens/CBJ series is going to be a tough out.
The playoffs are near. There are 6 more “meaningless” periods to go. The only big thing left in the regular season for the Rangers is the annual Steven McDonald Award. I know that Ranger fans, my patriotic cop buddies, like Ryan Gaynor & my boss who trolls this blog after a few shots of “Maker’s Mark”, are all looking forward to that. My pick? Obviously Raanta! However, I think the field is wide open this year. If Raanta doesn’t win, you can definitely make a case for guys like Zucc, McDonagh, Miller, Grabner, Hayes, Kreider, etc. You know who won’t win it? The overpaid and overrated diva goalie! To quote my friend Dolgi, “Oh wow, I made a save. Look at me, I’m a King!”
Rangers finish the season this weekend, in Ottawa on Saturday & the Penguins, at home, on Sunday. Neither game means shit. We are less than a week away from forgetting this entire regular season and playing the games that count. The Rangers need 16 more wins, starting next week. Will they win a Cup before my liver kicks? Time will tell.
Depending on the work schedule, I’ll try to have a blog up after the Penguins game on Sunday. To be honest, with work & these games being meaningless, it’s tough to really analyze these games.
For my wrestling fans, I finished the new Pete Gas & AJ Lee books. Maybe I’ll review them this weekend too. I know some of you know that AJ Lee wrestled for my wrestling promotion back in the day, so I’ll tell some stories from that time. I’m also starting a book on Sawchuk, so I’ll try to get something up on him as well.
These playoffs can’t start soon enough. My fingernails are already chewed, the bowels are in overdrive and I’m ready for “put up or shut up time.” Let this be the year that the Cup returns to M$G!
Sorry for going home early & only doing 3000 words rather than my normal 5000 word manifestos, but I got a dirty little alarm clock in a few hours.
See ya over the weekend, sometime.
Let’s Go Rangers
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter