NYR/DET Recap: Goaltending Goliath’s, NBC Sports Drops The Ball Big Time, Rangers D-Men, Hank, First Place & Much More

FIRST PLACE RANGERS!

Man, I’m going to have to stop and take several deep breaths while writing this blog entry here on DOINOW.com. What a fucking hockey game tonight, between the Detroit Redwings and New York Rangers. This felt like a playoff game. If there is one thing that everyone can agree on, the final 5-6 weeks of the NHL season are going to be exciting. Sure, you can make the point about how anyone has a chance in the playoffs. You are right. However, the games across the league on any given day have been exciting. You have to love hockey right now. Whether it was the Islanders stealing a point by scoring with .01 seconds on the clock, Ovi playing out of his fucking mind or the goaltending Goliaths in Detroit tonight, the NHL is peaking at the right time.

First things first, welcome everyone to another blog here, on the all new DOINOW.com. There have been many site changes. Check out the RANGERS REACHOUT section. It’s a work in progress, but if you do anything Rangers related, and want a plug, drop me a line and I will put your link/plug up. You can also follow my live tweets on the right hand of the site, find previous articles, search the site for specific topics and do anything else your heart desires.

Couple of site news before proceeding with the game recap. Check out Joe DiLeo’s column on Daniel Murphy on the front page. Joe will be blogging about the Mets this year. He has a great writing style and is a diehard orange & blue fan. I promise you will enjoy his work.

We have also launched an official facebook group, where you can talk New York sports, with most of the chatter about the Rangers here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1564026407193056/

Feel free to join, as it is a Facebook group to talk about whatever sport topic your heart fancies.

I have had people ask me about submitting articles to DOINOW.com. Feel free to email me at BULLSMC@aol.com. As long as it’s properly edited and not typed out like a two year old, we’ll give it play. DOINOW.com is for the fans, by the fans!

As always, try the black bean soup & the new coconut cream margherita with oregano at the Bold O’Donoguhes, in East Rockaway, courtesy of Maggie Mae, don’t fart & cough (Unless you’re just asking for problems) and always, and I mean always, use “IN CAM WE TRUST” as your personal mantra!

Whether you agree with me or not on Talbot vs Hank, we can all agree, I’ve been the conductor of the Talbot Train from Day 1!

As I talked about above, the NHL has been on fire, as it hits the homestretch. There have been many exciting hockey games all over the league. It is funny, while the Rangers are putting some distance between the third place Penguins and fourth place Capitals, I can see the Rangers/Isles/Pens/Caps finishing 1-4 and I can see them finishing in any order. This Metropolitan division seeding won’t be determined until the last day of the season, me thinks.

With the Islanders stealing a point in Dallas on Tuesday night, reclaiming first place in the division, the Rangers entered their Original 6 match-up against the Detroit Redwings, needing at least a point to take back first. At the end of the night, the Rangers lost in OT, but are in first place, with two games in hand on the hacks in Uniondale. Again, what a finish we are in store for as hockey fans.

The Rangers looked to dine on “Red Wings” on Wednesday night, in a game aired by NBC Sports. What we saw was a fast paced game, tons of shots and a goaltending clinic by both Jimmy Howard and Cam Talbot. Let me get this beef out of the way – NBC Sports was fucking horrible in presenting this game.

There were many shots in this fast paced game. However, NBC could not give you the replays. Even on Detroit’s first questionable goal, a puck that looked kicked in by Justin Abdelkader, NBC had no replays available. Marc Staal would later blast a shot, that looked like it could’ve been a goal (it wasn’t) but no replay was available. Even when the action headed to the right side of the center line, you had a camera angle that had a rail taking up half the shot. PISS POOR PRODUCTION BY NBC.

Sure, I’m a homer. I love MSG. Give me Sam Rosen and anyone, any day of the week. I’ll take Bill Bidto, and his fastest 150 seconds in…..the…. National Hockey League any day over that asshole Mike Milbury. How does Milbury even have a job? Don’t you have to be successful for a job in TV?

The announcers are good, as Doc and Eddie O. are always on point, but I do miss Sam Rosen. I do miss the MSG pre and post game shows. The in-between analysts were terrible. Give me John Giannone over Pierre anyday. I can care less what the fourth liner on the Redwings had for dinner on March 3, 1987.

What really killed the production for me mostly, were the lack of replays and balls to call out the referees for bad calls. Sure, I’m biased watching these games, but there were a lot of questionable calls at the end, and the announcers glanced over it. Even the first goal, that looked like it was Pele’d in, didn’t even register with the announcers. The camera work was beyond terrible. It even took what felt like 5 minutes to get a replay of the game winning goal.

I know many people have trouble following hockey because it’s so fast and newbie fans need time to learn how to follow the puck, but the production here tonight was detrimental in attracting new fans to the sport. To quote Chris Russo, “POORLY PRODUCED MICHAEL.”

CAM F’N TALBOT

Tonight’s game was a goaltender battle. Both teams had extended stays in each other’s defensive zone and produced a ton of shots. The goalies came up huge, making big save after big save. Penalty kills were big. The goalies had to bail out their defense on a ton of turnovers. The only time Howard got a break was when Dan Boyle would miss the net by what seemed like 50 feet. This could’ve easily been a 6-5 game, but both Talbot & Howard stood on their heads all night.

Detroit got on the board first, after a mad rush to the net. Eventually, Justin Abdelkader (Who whenever Doc called out his name, it sounded like “Applicator”, make your tampon jokes now!) punted in a puck. Looked like a no-goal. As I said, NBC basically ignored showing a replay, where MSG would’ve had 10 different camera angles in slo-mo. The referees barely seemed to care, and ruled it a goal about a minute later. It’s funny how one referee said the Rangers were on-side when Stepan scored that quick goal vs Philly on Saturday, and how fast the NHL reversed that goal, but here tonight, a questionable goal was ruled ok within 30 seconds. INFURIATING. Have some fucking consistency, Bettman.

The kicked in goal, which of course started after a Rangers turnover and a pass that couldn’t be stopped by McDonagh, would be the only goal allowed by Talbot in regulation. Talbot would go on to make 29 saves and these weren’t gimmie saves. These were game saving saves, especially during an extended four on four, which turned into a four on three to close regulation. The four on three is the worst advantage you can give up, with all the open ice. It’s what would eventually burn the Rangers. Of course, the Redwings got the four vs three advantage on a questionable penalty. If there was anything consistent about the refs this game, it was their ability to make questionable calls all game.

After he scored, my friend Tommy said “The best contract in the NHL.” We all had a good laugh at that.

Dan Girardi. I don’t know what to say. Is he a grinder, have a ton of heart and put his body on the line in all situations? Yes, yes and yes. However, is he a turnover machine? Unfortunately, yes to that too. I give Hank a lot of shit, and deservingly so, for his bad contract (Again, read the past blogs, not going to get into it here) but I hear a lot of Ranger fans chirping about Girardi’s contract. Is Girardi a great defenseman? Sure he is. Is he worth what he’s getting paid? Probably not. Again, this is the NHL salary cap era and fans spend too much time talking the cap than the games. It’s what Bettman has created with this tight cap. Fans wouldn’t care what Girardi was getting paid if there was a higher cap or no cap at all.

With a powerplay winding down, late into the first period, Girardi was able to take a puck from Nash and sneak it by Howard. I couldn’t believe it went in, but it did, for DG’s third goal of the season. It was a big goal, late into the period, giving the Rangers a 1-1 tie with Detroit. The game would stay that way until overtime.

My favorite WeBleedBlue.com shirt!

The second and third periods were great hockey. It would’ve been better if I didn’t have a rooting interest in this game, but if you’re a hockey fan, this was rollercoaster exciting. Both teams fired a bunch of shots, and the goalies came up big. The third period produced five penalties and both teams were able to kill them off. Both teams blocked a ton of shots. Both teams forced a ton of turnovers but both teams were able to prevent the turnovers from hurting them. It was a heavyweight fight here.

I don’t know how other Ranger fans feel, but I’m going to assume that many fans, like me, hate the Islanders, Devils and Flyers. However, when it comes to Detroit, especially since they have been a Western Conference team for so long (Moved into the East during the last re-alignment)  and that they are an original 6 franchise, I harbor no ill-will towards them. They have always been a classy organization. They have a great history. They have always been fun to watch. Any fan, of any era, can remember great Red Wings during their time.

To this day, if you’re a Rangers fan, how can you hate the Redwings? They have a classy and great coach in Mike  Babcock. He even helped Rick Nash’s game. All three games the Rangers played Detroit this season, have been great, one goal affairs. There is a reason Detroit is called Hockeytown, USA and you have to respect their legacy in the NHL.

This was a great game, no bullshit fights, no intentional cheap penalties, no crybaby bullshit. Just 60 plus minutes of exciting hockey. Do I have a  problem with the referees? Sure, I thought they rushed to call the first goal and called some questionable penalties late. No fault to Detroit, that’s on the refs.

Two questionable calls happened at the end of the game. Abdelkader blatantly hooked Brassard and it was called. However, Brassard was called for a slash on what I thought should’ve been a dead puck. Four on Four time, with a little over 2 minutes to go in the third.

 

Stepan would then be called for holding, against Nyquist, with 47 seconds left in a 1-1 game. If anything Nyquist was all over Stepan. To make that call, so late in a game, was complete BS to me. This then led to 4 vs 3 PP to close the last minute of the game. A weaker goalie than Talbot, if they didn’t collapse previously in this shot-fest game, would’ve easily collapsed here and gave Detroit the win in the final minute. When you watch any game, you want to see the athletes win a game, not the referees.

 

The last 40 haven’t been pretty

With 47 seconds left to go, and Detroit with a 4 vs 3 advantage, the worst advantage to give your opponent, the Rangers were tested. The Redwings got a bunch of shots off, none bigger than Talbot’s glove save on Kronwall, with 10 seconds to go. There was no way that shot should’ve been stopped. Talbot made the biggest save of the night, which got the Rangers into OT.

As a result of going into OT, the Rangers took back first place. Since they have more regulation & OT wins than the Islanders (36-34) and two games in hand, the Rangers are in sole possession of first. Sure the Islanders can just get into OT or even win tomorrow, and take back first, but for tonight, with the games in hand, the Rangers capitalized and took a point in the standings, in a game where the Rangers couldn’t find the net for shit. Howard wound up with 39 huge highlight reel saves.

Heading into OT, Detroit had a 1:13 four vs three PP. The Rangers defense couldn’t get a clear. Ex-Devil, Marek Zidlicky found himself in a huge multiple man scrum in front of the net, lifted a puck and it dribbled down Talbot’s back for the game winner. Let me make it clear, neither goal tonight was on Cam Talbot, and if anything Talbot prevented this game from being a blowout. On the flipside, Jimmy Howard did the same thing.

Zidlicky’s goal came as the powerplay was set to expire, but the Rangers couldn’t get a clear and Detroit was able to make use of all the open ice, with only 7 skaters. Does this goal happen if Stepan isn’t questionably called for a hold? Probably not.

In a game where the Rangers couldn’t score, I’m elated to see Talbot stand on his head and get the Rangers a point. The Rangers have games in hand on the Isles, Pens & Caps and have created breathing room. There is no doubt – the Rangers are a playoff team. How many rounds they can secure home ice for, well they are in control of that.

Where the Islanders stole a point, by scoring a goal with .01 seconds left on Tuesday night, the Rangers fought for this point. This was a great game to watch, and it was a game you just have to tip your hat to Jimmy Howard for being a motherfucking beast tonight. I don’t think the lack of goals here tonight will be anything to worry about moving forward, as the Rangers just ran into a brick wall man here.

LGR

QUICK SHOTS:

– Dan Boyle played his 1000th game. His Rangers tenure has been a fiasco. I still don’t know why the Rangers signed a 40 year old guy, way past his prime, instead of keeping Stralman. You can argue that if the Rangers kept Stralman, they would’ve never dealt for Yandle, in turn keeping the Rangers future, the draft picks and Duclair, right where they belong.

– Tanner Glass was scratched. I expect this to be an on-going thing. It’s time for AV to cut bait on him. Maybe they can send him to the Wolfpack until he’s embarrassed and quits, getting his contract off the books? One can dream.

– When it came to crunch time, AV chose Dom Moore as his center. Moore had the best game, faceoff wise for AV’s centermen tonight.

– Yandle seems to be adjusting well. Give him 8-10 games to learn the system, learn his teammates and be a contributer.

– Girardi & McDonagh aren’t having their best seasons.

– One again, Kevin Klein made many big stops, stick checked perfectly and had some huge clears.

– Nash, Zucc & Brassard were all over the net tonight, but couldn’t hammer one home.

– Zucc had a near game winning goal, that rose high. Ditto Marc Staal. The offense was there, but to quote John Sterling, “It’s a game of inches, Suzyn.”

– This third line of Hags/Miller/Hayes could be the best third line in all of the NHL. Who’s better?

– On Youtube, there are clips and game highlights of the Rangers 1933 Cup win over Toronto. You have to watch it. I did a huge article on Frank Boucher before here (How Boucher & the Cook Brothers don’t have their numbers retired at MSG, I’ll never know), and man, it was great to watch them play. I love reading and watching the history of the Rangers. Sure World Wars, Stanley Cup games all being on the road due the circus being at MSG, injuries & other occurrences have hurt this team historically, but to watch the history, in front of your eyes, man it’s a glorious thing. I’m also a huge American history buff, so to just watch NY in 1933, how people reacted/dressed at that time, is fun for me too. Let me say it one more time, FRANK BOUCHER IS THE GREATEST RANGER OF ALL TIME AND HIS NUMBER 7 BELONGS HANGING IN THE RAFTERS! They retired 9 twice, they can retire 7 twice too. I don’t even care if they give Boucher a ceremony, just get it done.

The Rangers have several days off, before a late Sunday night game with the Chicago Blackhawks. I talked about it earlier, I hate these late Sunday night games, but at least the Rangers will now have 3 full days of rest in between games. The Rangers have a murderers row of teams during this stretch, already taking 3 out of 4 points. After Chicago on Sunday, a first place match-up with the Islanders is on tap for Tuesday and a Metropolitan clash with the Caps is on Wednesday. Rangers then have Buffalo & the Panthers on the weekend.

As far as Hank goes, some reporters are saying he needs two more weeks. The Rangers won’t confirm. The biggest thing here is that Hank doesn’t have a normal hockey injury that you can rush from. For all the shit I talk about his contract on this blog, he has a life threatening injury. You can’t bring him back until he’s 100%. You can’t play with his life, and if you did, you think the NHL wants to be sued?

I’ll save my extended thoughts on Hank’s return for when it happens, but I can’t lie – I’m nervous. Hank wasn’t exactly lights out this season. He’s getting older. He needs to win a cup now and go down as the greatest goalie in Rangers history. The Rangers have mortgaged their future on this guy.  When two goalies went down in the All-Star voting, Hank still wasn’t selected. He wasn’t having a normal year. Is he breaking down? Who knows. He’s a slow starter notoriously, so you want him back sooner than later to get whatever kinks and rust he has, out of his system, heading to the playoffs. I’m Talbot’s number 1 fan (Non-blood related) but I’m not delusional. This is Hank’s team come April. He needs to be the Hank of 2012 come playoffs or the Rangers are fucked.

I’ll try to squeeze in a Yankee blog sometime before Sunday. I really want to get the time to write about one of my favorite Yankees ever, Bernie Williams. Time permitting, that will happen. If not, see you late Sunday for NYR/CHI recap, another original 6 game and a huge two points on the line.

One thing is for sure – what a great time to be a hockey fan.

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine

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