NYR/BUF Recap: The Biggest Night in Skapski’s Life, Rangers Dominate,The Powerplay & Much More

In Skapski We Trust?

Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. As always, thanks for your support and checking this site out. Don’t forget to tip your bartenders, always raise the points when holding Jacks or higher in Broadway, try the to-go chicken noodle soup at the Bold, and always, ALWAYS, use “IN CAM WE TRUST” as your personal mantra.

Do you remember what it was like being 20 years old? Do you remember where you were in life at 20 years old? I’m sure many, like me, were doing the community college thing and working a menial job. At 20, you may have been mastering the art of funneling or shotgunning beers. You may have needed accutane to battle the last remaining pimples of your teenage years. At 20, one of my biggest concerns was why Cablevision wouldn’t carry this new YES Network & how would I be able to watch Yankee games.

For Mackenzie Skapski, when he looks back at his life 20 years from now, he will remember winning his first NHL game at 20 years old, in an original six Rangers sweater. The man can’t even legally drink beers with his teammates to celebrate his win! This will be a night Skapski will never forget.

Whether Skapski becomes a future MSG trivia question or he grows in the organization, he will never forget his first game, a win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The Broadway Hat & the 3 stars of the game

Going into last night’s game with the last place and lowly Buffalo Sabres, many questions came up. Does Talbot start his 9th game straight? Do you go with the 20 year old ginger soulless rookie? When is Hank coming back? One thing was for certain, the Rangers had to get the two points against the Sabres. The Sabres, who are in tank mode and are in the McDavid sweepstakes, were on the second game of a back-to-back, started their back-up goalie and are the worst team in the league. Anything but two points would be unacceptable.

It was announced around 5PM, Friday afternoon, that Skapski would be making his NHL debut. To me, that told me a few things. It means Hank won’t be coming back anytime soon. (NHL reporters are saying he could miss 10 more games.) If Hank was coming back, say Sunday or Tuesday, then you would just ride Talbot out, because you couldn’t be fucking around and lose these two gimmie points against Buffalo. With Hank not coming back soon, it means AV wanted to give Talbot a rest.

Once Skapski was announced as the starter, I figured it was due to Hank not coming back right away. This was a perfect way for Skapski to debut. The Rangers are scoring goals at a record pace. The Sabres, for lack of a better term, “suck ass.” The Sabres were starting their back-up on the second game of a back-to-back. If there was ever a cushier way to assimilate someone making their NHL debut, I haven’t seen it. With Hank not coming back soon, this was the perfect game for Skapski to get his feet wet with. Little did Skapski know how his NHL career would start…

Yes, we all know when his birthday is

14 seconds into the game, Matt Moulson scored off a pass from Torrey Mitchell. 1-0 Sabres. Before you could put the beer to your lips, the last place Sabres were leading the Rangers. It was another classic Rangers breakdown. For as good as the Rangers have played this year, they are extremely weak in faceoffs and the defense can fall apart at the drop of a hat. That’s exactly what happened here, as the Rangers screwed up another faceoff in their defensive zone. The Rangers then made a turnover and bang, Moulson is wide open in front of the net.

While the goal was no fault of Skapski, I’m sure he was dribbling a little piss after that. I mean, it’s 1-0, 14 seconds into your NHL debut and the first shot you face becomes a goal. That can’t be too heartwarming.

However, after that, something happened – the Rangers dominated. It was what they were supposed to do. They carried their goaltender. They dominated the puck. They wouldn’t let  Buffalo get any shots off. It was like what you would have down on paper – the good team kicked the shit out of the bad team.

To put this in perspective, the Rangers led the Sabres, 16-6 in shots, after the first. After the second, it was 31-12 in the shot department. The Rangers made Harlem Globetrotter passes and just teed off on Michal Neuvirth. Give Neuvirth credit, he made a lot of big saves. This could’ve been a real rout, but Neuvirth made a ton of big stops. All this puck domination allowed Skapski to watch the game in front of him, settle down and get his bearings. The Rangers didn’t pinch, were careful with the puck and outside of a slap shot from a bad shooter’s angle, Skapski wasn’t tested for the first forty minutes.

Hagelin has been heating up

With the Rangers down 1-0 quick, you had to question if that first goal was going to be the sign of things to come. However, the Rangers recollected themselves and played dominating hockey.  Hagelin tied the game, 5 minutes into the period, on a breakaway goal. This was a goal that almost didn’t happen, because Hags is so freaking fast, that he had to control the puck and get his shot off before he crashed into the boards.

When you see me go on my King Contract rants and raves, it’s because of guys like Hagelin and Zuccarello. These young bucks are the future of this team, are both free agents at the end of the season and to see them go over money, when you have a goalie who says he wants to win at all costs, but then demands to be the highest paid goalie in the NHL salary cap era, well that is infuriating and hypocritical on Hank’s part.

While people will look at the score and think everything is alright because the Rangers won, the Rangers failed in one aspect of the game, in the powerplay department. With a near 2 minute 5 vs 3 powerplay, late in the first, the Rangers could not find the net. The Rangers powerplay has been held scoreless the last few games. You can have good powerplays and not score, but a 5 vs 3, against the worst team in the league? I’m sorry, the Rangers had to bang one home there. I’m sure the PP will be addressed come today’s practice.

MVP

When it’s all said and done, there is no question that Nash is the MVP of the Rangers this season. However, he might finish the season with the “Rocket” Richard & Hart trophies to boot. Nash scored the game winning goal, taking a pass from Brassard and scoring on slap shot on the glove side. Brassard has been hot too, making passes like he’s Magic Johnson or Joe Montana (two athletes who retired while Skapski was in diapers) out there.

With the Rangers up 2-1, the Rangers just dominated the possession of the puck and shot at will. It was like watching a varsity vs jv scrimmage. Skapski got some light work at net, but nothing crazy.

Nash, trying to get his 38th goal, to tie Ovi in Washington, took another shot later in the period that bounced right off Neuvirth and onto the stick of Mats Zuccarello. Zuuuuuuuuc slammed it home. I could’ve scored that goal from my bar stool. 3-1, the good guys.

I’ve said it a ton of times on this site, but the Rangers, when it comes down to it, needs to make Zucc a priority. You can’t let this guy walk. He is the firestarter of this team and does so many little things right. He is a guy you want on your team. Sather has a big job come the end of the season, but making sure Zucc is still here, should be on top of the list.

The boys, the gf and of course, flashing the “33”!

Heading into the third period, with a 3-1 score, all the Rangers had to do was keep on doing what they were doing. They did just that, but once again, they went into one of their spells where they couldn’t get a handle on the puck. Buffalo went on a roll, out-shooting the Rangers 13-12 in the third, after being dominated 31-12 after the first forty minutes. This is where Skapski was tested a bit, as he stopped everything that came out of him, but held down the fort during two Sabres powerplays.

Watching Skapski was fun, as it really brought the human element to the game. Just knowing he’s 20 years old makes it exciting. You can feel for the guy. There were times out there, I would say about 3-4 times, that he was literally flopping in front of the net like a fish out of water, perhaps overplaying out of nerves, but at the end of the day, the guy did his job.

As I said earlier, if there was anything to be nervous about after this game, it was that the Rangers were 0/4 on the powerplay, which is concerning due to who they were playing. A big congratulations to Mackenzie Skapski on the biggest night of his life. Don’t worry, Skap, you might not be able to drink a beer legally, but I drank plenty for you, in celebration.

When will Hank return?

Since Hank has been dealing with his life-threatening injury, the Rangers are 6-1-2 without him. Everything is working out, the goaltending and the offense have been great. You would like to see the Rangers play the way they did against Buffalo all the time, as it gave Skapski a nice night, and hopefully that will come.

When Hank first announced his injury was life-threatening, I said there was no way he would rush back. He can’t. With the Rangers playing so well, at least the team can be relieved that Hank can recuperate without it affecting the team’s performance on the ice. They’ve snagged 14 out of 18 points and now trail first place by three points, with two games in hand. Praise be to Talbot!

The Rangers have three winnable games on the schedule this week with CBJ, CGY & ARI. We could be talking about the FIRST PLACE NEW YORK RANGERS later this week.

I will be in the Garden on Sunday night, with the legend known as JEFFREY (Or as he’s now known as Jeff Samardzjia) in section 213. Feel free to buy the big guy in a Talbot jersey a beer!

A must two points were secured here and the Rangers take on Nash’s old squad, the Bluejackets, for a Sunday nightcap. I’ll have the blog up either late Sunday or early Monday morning, depending on these damn LIRR trains.

On a side note, it was great seeing everyone at the Bold for the game. It’s always better to watch the games with rabid fans.  I had a great time. A big shout out to Scotty Burke! And thank you to Maggie Mae, the hillbilly queen, for dealing with all of us! You got one hell of a toilet on ya!

Until then,
LET’S GO RANGERS
IN CAM WE TRUST
WE DON’T TAKE NO SKAP FROM ANYONE

Sean McCaffrey
BULLSMC@aol.com
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter

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