|A Season To Always Remember|
What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on DOINOW.com! Can you believe it, the NHL regular season ends today! We are days away from the playoffs!
The Rangers finished their final and 82nd game of the season, defeating the Washington Capitals, on the road, with a score of 4-2. As a result of the win, the Rangers set franchise records in points (113) and wins (53). For Lundqvist, he becomes the first goalie to win 30 games, in his first 9 out of 10 seasons. (That’s if you don’t count Brodeur’s strike years.)
I’m skipping the normal intro here. You’ve been here long enough to know the spiel. (If you don’t, just check any of other blogs I’ve written here.) I think everyone should just sit back, take a moment to reflect and really appreciate what we’ve seen this season.
Really, just think about this season. Think about how you felt going into it. I can remember watching the Rangers lose the Stanley Cup on my birthday, and wondering how this team would rebound heading into this season. We all know how rare it is to get to the Cup, especially with this franchise. Was last year it? Would we have to wait another 20 years?
It’s easy to blow off what happened this season, RIGHT NOW, and say it’s all about the playoffs. It is. If the Rangers lose in the first round, this season will be considered a failure, rather than the start of something magical. However, for this moment, right now, I am remembering standing there, heartbroken, after the Rangers lost the Cup. I then remember thinking what the fuck is Sather doing, by allowing Stralman to walk, then signing Dan Boyle for the same money Stralman wanted. Actually, I’m still thinking that!
I can remember watching baseball games in the summer and just replaying the Cup finals in my head. What if Hank didn’t blow every lead he had? What if they came back to NY up 2-0? What if Hank wasn’t outplayed by Quick? What if Hank didn’t lose 3 OT games? That Girardi turnover was burnt into my mind as well.
As preseason tickets went on sale, I tried to suppress last season’s memories from my mind. I took in three preseason games, just to get back into it and forget last June. While it was a Cinderella year last season, there is no question the Rangers could’ve and perhaps should’ve, won the whole damn thing.
I watched the preseason games, and had high hopes for Kevin Hayes & Anthony Duclair. Hayes has been everything as advertised, if not more, while it’s a shame we will never see what Duclair could’ve done as a Blueshirt. The preseason seemed to take forever, I was just ready to get back into the thick of things. It was when I got the idea to start this blog, after a three year sabbatical from writing & a short stint on HipHopShortStop.com. I figure I would share my passion and crazy opinions (Although some of you came around on the Hank vs Talbot talk) with other crazy diehard Ranger fans.
While I usually roll with JEFFREY to Ranger games & sit in his season seats when his friend Mr. L can’t go, I knew both JEFFREY & Mr. L would be using their seats for opening night. I was excited to get my opening night tickets in the mail. I splurged for bridge seats, because I love that section 327 view. I remember being pumped for the game, in my Jeff Beukeboom jersey, as I walked down 33rd street, which was turned into RANGERSTOWN for the day.
RANGERMANIA was in the air on opening night. I pre-gamed at STOUT, where I took in the NFL games. The Giants were actually alive at the time & had somewhat of a chance. All I had was fantasy football, but even that couldn’t settle me down. I couldn’t wait to walk into MSG.
Walking into MSG and feeling that ice in the air was mind-numbing. HOCKEY WAS BACK! The Rangers did a huge introduction for the team, before the game, giving them entrances like they were Hulk Hogan walking down the aisle at Wrestlemania. I had goosebumps.
Then it happened. The Rangers got killed 6-3, by the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs. All that energy I had, the high hopes, that maybe they could get back to the playoffs & Cup, drained out of my system, faster than the urine draining out of me from all the cheap beer. Really? 6-3 to Toronto? What the fuck Hank?
I kept telling myself, “it’s only one game.” And really, that’s what it was. Imagine my horror when the Rangers got creamed, two nights later, to the Islanders, with another 6-3 score. I liked Talbot a lot last season, but never did I think he should’ve started at any point during last year’s campaign.
|You may have heard of Cam Talbot on this blog!|
I always liked Cam Talbot. I thought he had potential. However, this was always going to be Hank’s team. The Rangers, after those two 6-3 drubbings, went on a three game win streak. I was off to Montreal with Tommy Dasani & Borgata Ray. What a vacation/trip that was. $200 to sit 2 rows off the ice was worth it, and I got stories & experiences that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, Hank got beat again, this time 3-1. Things didn’t get much better, when I attended the next home game, a 5-4 Rangers win over Minnesota, a game the Rangers were down 4-0 and got 5 goals in the third period. Another Rangers first, a trend that lasted throughout the season.
As the season wore on, I thought it was time for Talbot to really get some serious looks. Hank was not cutting it, especially after signing that ridiculous contract. Long term contracts rarely work out in any sport. Talbot started grabbing some victories. Hank continued to get blown out. There was one stretch where Hank got abused, three games straight, by the TB Lightning, with scores of 5-1, 4-3 and 6-3. I had enough. It was time for someone to become the conductor of the Talbot Train!
On December 8th, the Rangers started a massive winning streak, it was the turnaround of their season. They could do no wrong. They were the hottest team in the league up til January 13th. Rick Nash was just on fire and looked like he would win the Hart Trophy. Sweeping California. Sweeping Western Canada. All this on the road. The Rangers were en fuego.
Then it happened. The Rangers ran into the Islanders. Twice. The Islanders destroyed Hank once again, at scores of 3-0 and 4-1. Hank was 0-3 vs our biggest rivals. Hank then lost to Boston, again, and he would finish 1-8 in his last 9 against the Bruins this season.
I was chirping for Talbot. You know it. I don’t have to tell you. I would get my wish, but it didn’t happen because AV yanked Hank for being terrible in big games this season, it happened because of an unfortunate injury, on 1/31 against Carolina.
We all know what happened next, Talbot and the Rangers went on an incredible winning streak. Talbot set all types of goaltending records during his 17-3-3 stretch. We had a goalie controversy. Of course, Hank is the man being paid, so when Hank came back on 3/28, he promptly dropped another game to Boston, rather than riding the hot hand.
|Hank can rewrite his legacy with a Cup victory in June|
Lundqvist is back in net. I don’t think he’s 100% nor looks anything close to that 2012 year, when I thought he was in his prime. Lundqvist finished off the season strong, but is he better than Talbot, RIGHT NOW? I really don’t think so. However, he’s the man between the pipes, barring an injury or anything else. Many Hank detractors and non-Ranger fans will be quick to point out you can’t be called “King” without a crown. Hank can change all that, just like Lebron James did when he was calling himself King with no championships.
Until Lundqvist wins a Cup, he will never be better than Richter. If Richter didn’t get hurt at the end, the records Hank is compiling now, due to tenure & being a great goalie, would be Richter’s. If Lundqvist can win the Cup this year, he will have it all – the records, the best season in Rangers history and that elusive Stanley Cup that he’s never touched.
Last year’s squad was a Cinderella team. This year’s team is in Win or Bust mode. This is the best chance the Rangers have ever had to win a Cup since 1994. It is amazing how nervous I was at the beginning of the season to where we are now. Now I’m just as nervous.
16 wins to go.
|He could be the face of the franchise one day|
So yea, there was Game 82 today. Going into this game, I wasn’t expecting much. Nash & Staal were rested again, while Zucc rejoined the line-up. I was expecting a game similar to Thursday – “Don’t get hurt & give Hank work.” I didn’t care if the Rangers won or lost this game, as long as they came out healthy. When it was all over, the Rangers did set all types of winning records, but coming out healthy, whew, I sweat that out like Melissa McCarthy, with a ton of gas, in a crowded elevator.
The Capitals needed to win this game to lock in home ice for their first round match up with the Islanders. As I write these words, the Islanders haven’t played yet. The Caps can still get home ice, but only if the Islanders lose tonight. However, it was the Rangers that came to play.
In what looked like a half empty building on TV, with the majority of the people there being Ranger fans, the Rangers gave the Caps a ton of fits today. Hayes got the scoring going, 12 minutes into the period, by backhanding one by Holtby. 1-0 Rangers. Really, just like Ottawa, Washington didn’t look like they wanted to play, until the third period.
Derick Brassard would score three minutes later, on a PP goal. I was shocked. Not only did Brassard actually shoot, but the Rangers got a PP goal out of it! Both seem like rare occurrences at times! 2-0 Rangers.
Marty St. Louis would feed Dominic Moore early into the second period & Moore made this nice backhand move, that Holtby should’ve probably seen & stopped. He didn’t and the Rangers were up 3-0. The rout was on! I really couldn’t believe what I was watching. I really thought the Caps would be fired up and ready to go.
|Richard Winner & Ovi should be MVP too|
Ovi would take the 0 off the board, on a powerplay goal. No fault of Hank’s at all. Ovi is just that great. What amazes me about Ovi is that Washington does the same shit every PP and every time, Ovi is left wide open to fire away. This happens every time, in every game Ovi is. No one has figured it out yet! This is why Ovi should be MVP. Even when you know it’s coming, he still beats you.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, give me Ovi over Crosby any day! Not only was he scoring, but at one point, he had more hits than the Rangers whole team. He was just leveling guys like usual.
After Ovi’s goal, the game got chippy, especially in the third period. There were penalties all over the place. At one point, Sheppard, Miller & Fast were banged up. Tim Gleason decided to play dirty and instigate fights with his cheap & late cross checks. Washington just got dirty.
The dirtiest the Caps got was when Gleason cross checked Glass after a whistle and started throwing punches at him. Glass wasn’t even set. However, when it was all said and done, Glass kicked the shit out of Gleason & left him bloody. For Ranger fans, you would rather see that than Glass scoring. You need a guy to be tough for this team in the playoffs. If Glass is taking guys out and stepping up to the plate, teams will be quick to think about being dirty with the blueshirts.
|Sam & Joe|
Don’t take this wrong. Sam Rosen is one of my favorite commentators ever. Joe Micheletti isn’t JD, but he’s not bad either. I think both of these guys do a great job, year round, hands down. However, I thought they were overselling Lundqvist a bit. Joe & Sam went on and on how Washington came up flat, they didn’t look motivated, the Rangers were dominating, etc. They talked about Washington only having two shots in the third period, with 9 minutes to go. You get the point- Washington looked horrible today.
However, after saying all that, they then immediately say how great Hank was and how Hank is 100%. BASED ON WHAT? Do they have to say that to make Hank’s family and fans feel good? I mean, if Hank is putting up 40 saves as opposed to going 22 out of 24 like he did today, I get it. But how can you tell me Hank looks amazing, when he wasn’t tested that much? Can we chill on the hype? He’s overpaid enough based on past hype.
While talking about the MSG guys, I think everyone in the studio has been great year-round as well. I enjoy Vally’s take, Duguay’s analysis, Carter’s thoughts, Leetch’s defensive point of view and I think Al Trautwig does a good job in leading the conversation. I’m really going to miss the MSG guys once we are forced to hear Pierre MaGuire non-stop on NBC.
|You can send these shirts back to Africa if the Rangers don’t win the Cup|
That’s it folks. Game 82 is in the books! This season couldn’t go better, even in our wildest dreams. It’s a wrap and there are only 16 more wins to get. It’s going to be a stressful two months, but it will all be worth it to see the Rangers with Lord’s Stanley Cup in June. There are really so many different stories, if the Rangers can do it. Lundqvist redeems himself. AV finally wins the whole post season, to go along with his 3 Presidents’ Trophies. You have a whole squad of young guns, who could win a Cup together. Could it be like the late 1990’s Yankees? We don’t know. All we know is that it will be exciting and that….
“WE WANT THE CUP!”
I’m sure I’ll have something up between now and Thursday. Make sure to check out my RANGERS REPORT CARD BLOG, also posted on DOINOW.com
LET’S GO RANGERS
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