NYR/FLA Recap: Talbot Steals Another One, Fourth Line Questions, Hank vs Cam Again, Skapski, The Great Jagr, Defense, Missing PP, Dan Boyle’s Wife & More After a Presidential Fugly Win!

WHO YA GONNA CALL? GOALBUSTER

Welcome everyone to another blog here on the new & improved DOINOW.com. There’s a lot to get into, so don’t forget to check out the archives on the right hand of the site, as I do not like to rehash things I’ve already said. Don’t forget to try the black bean soup at the Flying Puck of Nassau County, the Bold O’Donoghue’s, don’t drink & drive, green beer = green shits and always, and I mean always, use “IN CAM WE TRUST” as your personal mantra!

The Rangers, on the second game of a back-to-back, hosted a team on the playoff fringe on Sunday, in the Florida Panthers. There are only two ways to describe the Rangers 2-1 victory over the Panthers. The first way is BUTT FUCKING UGLY. The second way is CAM FUCKING TALBOT. Take your pick. Either way, you won’t be wrong.

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Dan Boyle, before the game, with his wife screaming like a Price is Right contestant

The Rangers were in a celebratory mood before the game. I mean what’s not to celebrate? The Rangers are playing their best hockey, as a team, since 1994. We all know what happened that year. Where last year’s Eastern Conference Championship team was solid, they had a lot of breaks along the way. If the Rangers could’ve got by the Kings, it would’ve been a Cinderella season for them. Let’s not forget that Hank lost 3 games to the Flyers in the first round, against a back-up goalie. The Rangers were down in a 3-1 hole in the second round, before Marty turned things around. Montreal beat Boston, the same team that has made Lundqvist their personal bitch for the last two years. Then Kreider took out Carey Price, and bam, Rangers are in the Cup Finals.

The Rangers, despite what seems like never winning a fucking faceoff and not allowing Sam Rosen to say his catch phrase of “It’s a Power Play Goal” in what seems like forever, are winning games in every way imaginable. The only thing consistent about the Rangers and their victories of late is the strong play of Cam Talbot. You have to wonder. If Lundqvist was hurt in game 2 of this year’s season, would Talbot be challenging Price for the Vezina right now? In either event, this is a great time to be a Rangers fan and the Rangers seem giddy as well.

In fact, the Rangers are so giddy right now, that they are charging their loyal season ticket holders for 12 playoff games, in full. How nice of the Rangers to drop $7000 bills on the majority of their season subscribers! If there is really one knock on the Rangers, it’s the fact that they think their fans are made of money. There’s a reason why you see a ton of suits and not too many families at Ranger games.

With the cash coming in and the team as the best overall team in the NHL right now, the Rangers decided to celebrate Dan Boyle, for playing his 1000th game. Sure, Boyle has probably suited up for maybe 30 games this year (don’t have the number off hand), but the Rangers gave him this huge ceremony. The best part about this ceremony was watching Boyle’s wife celebrate like she just answered the million dollar question on “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” Boyle also has two kids, which shocked me, because it seems every shot he takes is 30 feet wide. (Drum shot, thanks Jaimie for the joke!)

I mean I get it. Boyle is a Hall of Famer. Great career. I just thought this 15 minute ceremony/celebration for Boyle was as silly as the Yankees retiring 4 numbers in one season. Seemed a bit overboard, but when you’re drunk with happiness, I understand.

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SKAP DON’T TAKE BUFFALO CRAP!

After polluting a Foo Fighters song for Dan Boyle, the Rangers then turned focus onto their 20 year old goalie, Mackenzie Skapski. Skapski’s journey to his 2-0 record, 1 shutout has been an interesting one. He shouldn’t even be here. If Lundqvist doesn’t go down, he’s not here. If two goalies don’t get hurt in the minors he’s not here. Sometimes these are the best stories. Skapski is here and he’s undefeated. The biggest thing for Skapski right now is that he’s getting an NHL education, practicing against Hall of Famers and getting time under Benoit Allaire. Talk about jump-starting a career.

We all know I’m Team Talbot all the way, but I’m really enjoying watching Skapski as well. Skapski was focused on the big board of the Garden on Sunday to a thunderous ovation. The kid couldn’t stop smiling. Just imagine where you were when you were 20 years old! Skapski is having the time of his life and he’s not even legally able to have a beer! (Don’t worry, I’ll help you out in that department Skapski!)

Maybe because I’m older, (I’m 33) and I will nor ever had a shot at playing professional sports at any level. However, I can’t help myself but living vicariously through Skapski and rooting the kid on. It’s really one of the best “feel-good” human interest stories the Rangers have going on this year. Who knows? Maybe Skapski is dealt in the off-season. I don’t know. However, for this season, I’m enjoying myself watching Skapski perform and soaking it all in. Ginger power!

Sorry folks, but the Talbot Train is almost filled to capacity

We all know I’m the conductor of the Talbot Train. I’ve been saying it from day one last season that this kid will be special. Anyone who knows him, has said in interviews that he has dominated every level of play he’s had a stop at. If he had more games under his belt, we could be very well be talking about Talbot as a Vezina contender.  In a game where the Ranger skaters played their absolute worst, Talbot bailed them out like the U.S. bailing out the banks.

Just go back and rewatch the game. There were about 5 really bad turnovers the Rangers the made that led to wide open Panther shots. Time and time again, Talbot turned down all comers. I don’t know if it’s because the Rangers played their second of two back-to-back games this week or if the bubble was due to burst, but Talbot was once again the best player on the ice and won the game for his team.When you talk elite and great goalies, you are talking about goalies who can steal games. Once again, Talbot put on his “Point Break” Nixon mask and robbed another team.

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PLEASE REPORT IF FOUND!

Outside of Talbot’s consistency, one thing stayed true about the Rangers during this impressive win/point streak. They could not get a powerplay goal. It’s almost a parody at this point. Time and time again, the Rangers go on the powerplay and either you have guys passing around while not looking to shoot, or they can’t even get set up. If you had to do a shot every time the opposition clears the puck on a Ranger powerplay, you would be piss drunk at the end of the two minutes. If you did a shot every time the Rangers took a shot, you would be able to drive right out of your local watering hole legally.

The Rangers faceoff woes continued as well. The one goal that went in, by Brandon Pirri, halfway into the third period, was after Talbot stopped 30 tough shots. The Rangers got lazy, had another faceoff in their zone, promptly lost it, screened their own goalie and bang, 2-1 Panthers. It’s amazing that was the only goal that went in, as Talbot was lights out, bailing out his team on turnovers and lost faceoffs.

The majority of this ugly game saw the Rangers chase the Panthers around. By the time the Rangers got the puck, they had to change, because they were so tired of chasing the Panther’s around, especially Jagr’s line. And let’s talk Jagr a bit here. I love watching the man play. If you don’t remember, I did a column about Jagr, during the All-Star Break.

Check out my Jagr article here, for a refresher:

http://doinow.com/the-nhl-all-star-fiasco-looking-at-the-one-of-the-greatest-players-of-all-time-jaromir-jagr/

A man who could’ve potentially had 1000 NHL goals

How great is Jaromir Jagr? I talked about it in my previous column, but if it wasn’t for lockouts, being treated like shit by the Rangers on the way out and his KHL years, we could be talking not about a guy with 900 NHL goals, but a guy closing in on a 1000. I was a big Jagr fan-boy during his Rangers run and I still like watching him play today. It was fun this year, to watch the shitty Devils play, just to watch the oldest guy on the team be the best guy on the team.

Jagr was explosive once again, here tonight. You would never know the guy was 43 years old. He out-skated the Rangers all game, took a ton of shots, made beautiful passes and dominated the puck. The guy rarely turns over the puck and always has the right angles. It’s going to be a sad day when Jagr does hang it up. It’s really a shame the NHL doesn’t do more to show their appreciation. They really take him for granted.

On a side-note away from this game, I really hope Jagr doesn’t finish his career in Florida. I hope he signs with a playoff team next year, put him on a fourth line with some young guns and hope for the best. He deserves one more crack at the Cup and it won’t happen in Sunrise, Florida. The Hollywood in me would like to see Jagr end up in Pittsburgh, even if that’s not good for the Rangers. Last season could very well be Jagr’s last year and I hope the NHL pulls out a New Years Eve party for this legend.

What kind of Sheppard pun will you make?

James Sheppard, replacing someone who must have nude pics of AV in a compromising situation, in Tanner Glass, on the fourth line, scored his first Rangers goal of the year in the first period. Sheppard, acquired at the trade deadline from the Sharks, was a salary cap move when the Rangers dumped Stempniak to Winnipeg.

Sheppard’s first goal of the game, coming with less than 3 minutes to go in the first period was all him. Sheppard dominated the puck, found Hunwick and Hunwick’s shot rebounded out. Sheppard grabbed the puck again, wrapped around and beat Panther’s goalie for right now, Dan Ellis. It was pure power and focus that put Sheppard in the position to score, as he fought and fought and continued to play.

Oh and how about this stat:

Tanner Glass – 52 games, 0 goals

James Sheppard – 3 games, 1 goal

Listen, AV should win the Jack Adams Coach of the Year award. However, I will never get his fascination with Tanner Glass. I wish one of these real reporters would have the balls and flat out say “what the fuck bro? You got a crush on Glass?”

This is Matt Hunwick for you new fans jumping on the Rangers bandwagon

Matt Hunwick would score the game winning goal. Hunwick, who wouldn’t even be in this game, if it wasn’t for Klein’s arm injury, looked shaky at times. He had a few bad turnovers, one that really stood out in the second period, where Talbot just stoned Jagr on. However, he assisted on Sheppard’s goal because of the rebound and got his own here. Even with injuries, it doesn’t matter – the Rangers are winning games.

Before writing up Hunwick as a new face Ranger, let’s be real. He’s been with the team all year, alternating games with John Moore until the Yandle trade. Hunwick was kept as the Rangers 7th defenseman, in case someone got hurt. Nobody wants to see Mike “The Turnover”  Kotska back on the ice or “The Undertaker” Dylan McIlrath taking 38438583 penalties a game. Keeping Hunwick was a smart move. I’m sure when the Rangers kept Hunwick on for insurance, it was more because they were worried about Boyle. However, Klein took a freak injury and now Hunwick is doing his role and doing it well.

With twelve minutes to go in the game, Hunwick bombed a slapshot from deep, beating Dan Ellis. It looked like Fast stole Hunwick’s goal, but it was later ruled that Fast didn’t get the cheap tip deflection. It was great to see Hunwick get the goal on that, because he found himself wide open and took a shot. That’s what you want to see. You don’t want to see guys passing up shots, like the way Jesper Fast did early in the first period, as he opted to make an extra pass to Hayes, that went nowhere. In one of the ugliest games the Rangers played all year, they needed shots and Hunwick came up big with his slapper. Let’s not also forget Dom Moore, who assisted on both of the Rangers goals tonight. Huge production from the fourth line center.

This was my facebook profile picture for 6 months

The Rangers, after Pirri’s goal, were able to steal a victory over the Panthers. It’s not like the Panthers didn’t try. The Panthers got a ton of shots off, especially after McDonagh was called for hooking with less than three minutes to go in the game. The Panthers quickly pulled Ellis, giving them a 6 vs 4 advantage to close the game. I feel Talbot has had a few games like this, where he’s at a two man disadvantage to close a game. Like those games previous, Talbot, like Jon Taffer, SHUT IT THE FUCK DOWN and wound up with 38 saves, first star of the game and probably another NHL star of the week award.

Like the closing seconds in Washington, the Rangers saw another player get hurt. Where Klein will miss 3-4 weeks after his arm ate a slapper from Ovechkin, the hero of last year’s playoffs, Martin St. Louis limped off the ice with knee pain. It looked like his knee buckled, and MSL said to the trainer that he thought something popped. However, in the good news department, Coach AV & the Rangers are saying they don’t think it’s serious. On the bright side, the Rangers only have two games in the next 6 days, which makes me wonder, when will they be making up these 3 games in hand they have on the Islanders? Perhaps Marty gets a day off against the Blackhawks. We’ll find out more tomorrow.

I wonder if Talbot is telling Hank to “GET LAWST”, Mike Francesa style!

We’ve had these debates a million times on twitter, facebook and on these blogs, but I feel I got to say it again here, now that Talbot has a ton more games under his belt. WHAT MORE DO YOU HANK FANS WANT? Talbot is the real deal. He’s not a flash in the pan. He isn’t lucky. He is a great goalie. Bottom line, when Hank returns and takes over, what happens when he shits the bed, like he usually does at the start of the season? Do you panic? I just don’t see how you rest the hot hand in Talbot right now.  We have now had a huge healthy sample of Talbot, and it’s great.

Would you bench Brady for Bledsoe in 2002? Bench Rodgers for Farve? Keep Beezer over Richter? Keep Wettelend over Rivera? I mean really, there is a full blown goalie controversy here. Sure, I’ve been saying from day one that Talbot is better than Hank, THIS SEASON. I don’t care about Hank’s past. Sure, Hall of Famer, great Ranger, yadda, yadda, yadda, but RIGHT NOW, who gives you the best chance to win? You don’t know what you will get from Hank. Will you get the Hank from 2012, who should’ve won a Cup that year if his team wasn’t 2 for 734737457373474374 on the powerplay in the playoffs and beat up from blocking shots all year under Torts? Or do you get the Hank that started this season, being blown out 9 times, losing to everyone, had his team 12 points out of first and was in the bottom half of the league in SV%, and GAA?

Folks, say it with me- THIS IS THE BEST RANGERS TEAM SINCE 1994. This is not a postseason to be wasted. For as great as the Rangers have been all year, it means shit if Hank comes back and the Rangers are a first round exit. Really, it’s the Cup or bust this year, especially when you factor in the trades made and how the Rangers are in salary cap hell with Hank.

I get it. You don’t want an $8.5M insurance policy on the bench. If the Rangers don’t get it done in the playoffs, everyone will be questioning pulling Talbot for Hank. I just don’t want to see this playoff opportunity wasted and I really don’t have faith in Hank. Before you talk about last year, read the beginning of this column. Luck, MSL, missing Boston, playing back-up goalies, etc, were just as much a factor in the Rangers run as Hank. It wasn’t the old Hank who carried them to the playoffs, like in previous years. Hank’s 33, with a ton of miles on him, and this is a life threatening injury that no one can predict how he’ll bounce back. I’m sorry, right now, Talbot is the guy.

Outside of “look at Hank’s history”, can you give me one reason to pull Talbot right now? History is just that, in the past. The time is now, and Talbot Time.

I’ll try to sneak in a blog during the break til Wednesday.

Until then,

FIRST PLACE RANGERS

WE WE WANT THE CUP

LETS GO RANGERS

IN CAM WE TRUST

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the TWITTER machine

#33problemsbutaswedeaintwon (Thanks Feiner!)

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