When I concluded my last blog, after the Stars game, I said don’t overreact to the win. The Stars finished playing 7 games in 11 days and were extremely shot. They weren’t playing as aggressive as they normally do in that game. Granted, fans are fans, and had their chests out and said the Rangers were back.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news to people, but this team is not back. In fact, readers and people who argue with me based on my opinions, said the Rangers will win the Cup this year. At the beginning of the season, I said it would be the Caps vs the Blackhawks.
Bottom line is this, the Rangers did ABSOLUTELY nothing during the off-season. They got worse. They traded Cam Talbot, who played lights out for them, for picks. You know how I feel about that. I would’ve tried to get Hank’s contract out of here and try to get me some scorers. Raanta has been fine as a replacement, so at least there is that.
The Rangers then dealt Carl Hagelin, because SURPRISE, they have to overpay a goalie. The Rangers got Emerson Etem in return, who was so bad, that they just traded to Vancouver for Nicklas Jensen. Rangers GM/Sather’s Puppet, Jeff Gorton is now trying to defend Sather’s Hagelin trade, saying they were more interested in Gropp. And I’m more interested in winning a $1 scratchoff over Powerball.
Speaking of Gorton, according to a source who works in the Garden office (Yes I have sources too, granted take it for what it is, it’s just the chatter I got) Sather is still running this team. Gorton is the GM in title only. The fact that Sather is still involved in this team and even allowed to pick his own successor shows you that owner James Dolan has no clue about hockey, and quite frankly doesn’t give a shit. As long as the team is profitable, it’s all he cares about. After all, how do you justify employing a GM for 15 years with not one championship? Then you let the guy pick his successor? Tell me any other team in NY where that is acceptable. Shit, tell me any team in any sport where that goes on!While the Capitals were out there picking up TJ Oshie and Justin Williams, the Rangers decided to sign former Cup Champion, Jarrett Stoll. Stoll was signed to help the teams with faceoffs, despite having a ton of centers on the roster. I guess senile Sather didn’t learn from his Ryan Malone experiment, and was anyone shocked that Stoll was traded to the Wild, nearly two months into the season?
Anthony Duclair, who I’ve talked about a ton on this blog (check the archives), was considered to have an “attitude”. I really don’t know if that’s a racist kind of thing from Sather, since he’s from that time where that stuff was common, but someone else who had an “attitude” was Viktor Stalberg in Nashville. The Rangers gobbled him up. Has he been bad? No. Has he been good? No. If he leaves tomorrow, will you miss him? No.The Rangers pushed Marty St. Louis to retire after a dreadful playoff outing. I really thought he had a year left, but he wasn’t even offered the veteran’s minimum. The Rangers did not get anyone to replace his regular season contributions or his leadership.
The Rangers have notoriously signed guys who were Captains in other places. Marty St. Louis, the ex-Bolt captain, really took on a leadership role during his stint here, that never was replaced. Rick Nash, the long time Bluejacket captain, never grabbed that brass ring. He was always happy to be the wallflower. Even now, with Marty’s “A” still out there, as no one else has taken it, Rick Nash sits happily back. I talked Nash last blog, but here’s a guy getting elite money, and he’s happy to be passing the puck and not taking a more tighter role in the locker room.
Does a lot of the blame for this horrid stretch fall on the Rangers captains? Ryan McDonagh is playing his heart out, but is young. I truly think having MSL still around would help McDonagh. McDonagh has no one to lean on or get advice from. Girardi & Staal, the two alternates, might as well put the $ logo where the “A” is. They are constant reminders about the Rangers cap woes and salary hell. Even Stepan, who shows flashes of brilliance at times, hasn’t lived up to his new contract yet.
Sather really screwed this team over and did not allocate his money properly. I’ve gotten into that plenty of times here. People wanted to argue with me when I said it at the time. Now everyone is seeing the product and is starting to come around.
Ask yourself these 3 questions, and again, because some of you wanted to argue with me, I have to pat myself on the back here for saying all this at the time:
Were the Rangers, on Opening Night 2015, better than the Rangers team that lost the ECF in May 2015? I would say no.
Did the Rangers make one trade/acquisition from the trade deadline to now, that betters the team? I would say no.
Are the players from this team, that were here last year, better now than they were last year? I would say no to that too. The falloff is incredible. Lundqvist, horrendous. Kreider, fucking terrifying. Hayes, brutal. Girardi, regressing. Staal couldn’t score in front of an open net. I guess you can say Zucc is better, but he was also rumored to be a vegetable in April 2015. So I guess there’s that.
And Glen Sather still has a job here and got to pick his successor. If Dolan wasn’t fucking me enough with his disgustingly high Cablevision bills, he sure found a new way to pound me with Glen Sather.
With NO to all three questions, it’s kinda hard to think that the window hasn’t slammed down on the Rangers Cup chances. Rangers might need a rebuild before they are a serious Cup contender again.My friend Tommy Figs, who has his own blog, wrote a column on Ovechkin prior to this game. You can read it by visiting http://www.fantasybullybusters.com/2016/01/alexander-great.html?m=1. I agree with everything Tommy said here, and I have been saying it since I started this blog. Ovechkin is the best player in the NHL. If I was GM and could pick one player to build around, it would be Ovi. The guy does everything. He scores. He passes. He hits. He’s wicked on the powerplay. He’s not a pussy like Crosby. He has more strength and punch than Kane or Toews.
Again, without sounding redundant, since I’ve said it here before, Lundqvist’s contract sucks. When you see a guy like Ovi, it really gets my hemorrhoids flaring up, because this guy doesn’t have these stretches where he flat out sucks. He doesn’t have these slumps. He doesn’t fight with his coaches. He doesn’t scream at his teammates. He delivers every night. He is a leader. That’s what I want from my star and highest paid player. The Rangers haven’t had that since Mark Messier. Granted, Jagr produced when he was here, but I don’t think he ever truly embraced NY, again, FUCK YOU SATHER.
So the Capitals strolled into MSG Saturday afternoon, for a 1PM matinee game with the Rangers. This game would be a true test for the Rangers. They just knocked off the top team in the league, albeit a tired one, in the Dallas Stars. Braden Holtby, who I told you was better than Lundqvist and had a much better contract than Lundqvist, hasn’t lost a regulation game in his last 21 starts. He’s playing incredible.
The quick skinny on this game was that the Rangers outplayed the Caps for the first 19 minutes of this game but Holtby was remarkable. Nothing would get by. Then, Dan Girardi coughed up a terrible turnover and gave Ovechkin a belated Xmas gift. Lundqvist, was out of position to make a save, but even so, the turnover was brutal that Lundqvist would’ve probably been beaten like usual anyway.
To make matters worse, the Caps quickly won the faceoff, and got another shot off with 2.1 seconds remaining. Hank made the save, but quickly had to turn around to make sure it wasn’t in the net. When I see that, I know he’s gonna have another one of his 4+ GAA games. And that’s exactly what happened.Heading into the second period up 1-0, the Caps scored again, on a Justin Williams breakaway, that dribbled through King Five Hole’s legs. It’s a save Hank makes a few months ago. In basketball, you have the shooter’s bounce. For Lundqvist, he’s lost his magic touch, and saves we’ve seen him made before, are now goals. He’s got no puck luck going for him right now.
The Rangers constantly challenged Holtby, and Holtby was flawless through two periods. He really made several incredible saves and the Rangers also missed some wide open nets. With the score 2-0 going into the third, it looked like all was lost.
Give credit to this Rangers team and Lundqvist. Despite the game looking like a done deal, the Rangers clawed and chipped away. Lundqvist made several impressive saves. The biggest problem with Lundqvist, as it’s always been on the ice, is that he’s just not consistent. The third period was the best hockey he’s played in some time. The Rangers got unlikely goals from the “Murders Row” of Lindberg, Hayes and Stalberg, making the game 3-2. The Rangers could’ve put the game away several times in the closing seconds, as McDonagh missed a wide open opportunity and Nash/Moore bungled what should’ve been an empty netter.
With 5 seconds remaining, Backstrom beat Lundqvist through the legs to tie the game at 3-3. We were heading to OT.
The Rangers once again had a chance to finish this game in OT, but Stepan and Nash fucked up an easy goal. Ovechkin then marched right down the ice and beat Lundqvist through the legs. 4-3 Caps.
Here’s the official scoring summary, from NHL.com, with my notes in italics:
I know sometimes my opinions aren’t popular with the majority of the Rangers fanbase, and I think it’s because I’m realistic. There is one thing to be delusional fan and one thing to want the team to win, but know it’s unlikely. I was the first to call out Lundqvist, and I found out that was sacrilege with many people. When I first called out Hank’s contract and his hypocritical comments two years ago, everyone told me to go fuck myself! Now, I see a growing population in the Rangers fan base supporting my view.
The be all of it is that Hank has been great for the Rangers. Number will be retired and all that pomp and circumstance. Bottom line is that at age 34 and only getting older & his skills regressing, he’s a middle of the pack goalie in the NHL today. The stats don’t lie. The records don’t lie. He’s good, but he’s not an elite goalie in the NHL anymore. His contract is horrendous and it hurts this team. I respect him for what he’s done in the past, and for many years, he was the rock and foundation of this team, but now his contract is just the crack in that foundation. As I’ve said numerous times, the NHL promotes scoring. Paying a goalie that much money is ridiculous, especially when every other starting goalie in the league is a better value than Lundqvist.
Another opinion fans did not agree with me on at the beginning of the season, is when I said the Rangers won’t win the Cup this year. People are starting to agree with me on that too. Anything can happen in April, we all know that, but the odds aren’t in favor of the Rangers. Why should they be? The Rangers will most likely see the Capitals in the playoffs, like they always do. The one way I can see the Rangers beating the Caps in a best of 7 series this year is if Holtby falls apart. He has a ton of miles on him this season. He doesn’t take nights off. Unless Caps coach Barry Trotz lets Grabauer play towards the end of the season, Holtby might play 70+ games.
It’s very important that the Rangers, and even the Islanders, start to close the gap a bit with the Caps double digit lead for first place in the Metro. If the Caps can coast the rest of the season, they will be well rested and ready for the playoffs. It’s a luxury the Rangers could definitely use, especially with an older team. Barring a major trade, I just don’t see that happening. I hope I’m wrong.The above picture was taken when Yandle was shipped to NY for John Moore, a number pick and Anthony Duclair. It’s not even a year old, yet all the hot talk and buzz is that the Rangers will be looking to trade Yandle before the deadline. Why is that? Because the Rangers have no money and can’t offer Yandle something substantial right now. The Rangers are also trying to spin it that Yandle wants to test FA.
Yandle is only on the Rangers right now because the Coyotes are paying half of his salary. However, Dan Boyle’s contract comes off the books next year and the money Boyle is getting could go to Yandle. The Rangers have the majority of their money locked in with their defense and could be thinking of promoting Skjei and McIlrath full time next season.
What really infuriates me, as you know, is the Rangers traded Duclair, who has more goals than every other Ranger besides Zucc & Brassard. They also gave up a pick and a solid hand in John Moore. Where Carl Hagelin turned into Jensen, an AHLer, this Yandle trade could continue to do damage to the Rangers future. FUCK GLEN SATHER!
Unless you’re getting Stamkos or the Sedins, I don’t think the Rangers should trade Yandle. He’s been their best offensive defensemen this season and trading for less would be a massive mistake. Trading for him was a mistake to begin with, as Duclair should’ve never been in that trade, but it looks like the mistake ball will keep on rolling downhill.You know my take on Lundqvist already. If you have been living under a rock, just go check the archives for it.
If you remember earlier this month, Alain Vigneault called out Henrik a bit in the media.
Here are some quotes from AV:
“We need Hank to re-become the Hank that he’s used to, for us, and from there, I think everything else should fall into place.”
“No doubt we have a few players playing sub-par, not naming anyone, it’s pretty evident 4 those who follow us closely.”
Lundqvist, who never takes criticism well, I mean just look up the quotes around the time he got Tortorella out of town, decided to get petty and catty with AV through the media.
With the game 3-2, with less than a minute remaining, Lundqvist thought the Rangers should’ve taken a time. AV does keep his timeouts close to his vest, but he would later explain that he didn’t want to give Washington a chance to get a breather or set a play up. Lundqvist commented about not taking the time out to the media after yesterday’s game. The quotes:
“Our players were tired, there’s no question. A little break there before the last face-off would have been good, but we didn’t take that break so we got caught out there. They’re a good team. They got a couple looks. Ugh, it’s just frustrating.”
Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News added more to the story. This is from his article in Sunday’s Daily News:
“He grunted audibly in anger, called the defeat “extremely frustrating,” leaned back and shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t know what else to say.” Then he capped it off with: “It just sucks, the way we battled back and played well in the third and in the end just gave up the last one.”
Two words for Henrik Lundqvist: SHUT UP!You know my ramble. Highest paid player. Doesn’t deliver every game. Never has won a Cup. All you gotta do is go through Henrik’s career. When things are going good, he gets all the praise. When things are going bad, “it’s a team game” and it’s never his fault.
Hank is paid a lot of money to do his job. You can’t have it both ways. He’s been one of the worst goalies in hockey the last 6 weeks and is ranked 20th or worse in every goalie stat. The problem isn’t a timeout. Like a street whore, Hank’s problem has been with opening his legs. King 5 Hole has been exploited through the wickets far too often in the last 20 games. It is amazing for how good he was the first 6 weeks of the season, how far he’s fallen off since.
To me, Hank is being a petty little bitch because AV called him out first. Goalies, like NFL kickers or closer pitchers, are all neurotic guys. It takes a ton of focus, skill and being able to handle the pressure every time you go to work. I get it. At the same time, this isn’t the first time with Hank. He did this with Torts. He loves making money off being “The King”, but calls out his teammates when things are going bad. Very rarely does he take responsibility for himself, like most stars do.
The last thing the Rangers need is a mutiny between the goalie and the coach. I’m hoping these two work this shit out and put it to bed. Hank was influential in getting Torts out of here, even if Torts had to go. AV has to be allowed to coach this team, without worrying about pressure from his goalie to management. AV, in his short tenure, has been one of the greatest coaches in Rangers history already. With James Dolan and inept Sather around, the Rangers can’t afford AV to be walking around eggshells when it comes to his Cupless netminder. Hank already got one Cup winning coach out of town, and the Rangers can’t afford to lose AV either.
This losing streak is not AV’s fault. Where I thought Tom Coughlin ran his course a bit with the Giants (they lost 5 games in the final minute because of horrible clock management), AV has plenty to still give. I do blame Sather a lot for the Rangers trouble, as I blame Reese with the Giants. However, the Giants star players showed up and showed emotion. Eli and Beckham performed every game, minus the Minnesota game, where Beckham was suspended. There are roster problems with both teams, but the Rangers need Lundqvist to act more like Eli Manning and not to become King Crybaby.
Up next for the Rangers on Monday night are the Boston Bruins, who feature that dirty piece of shit Brad Marchand. Early word from practice is that Raanta will be starting, which sounds like it can be interpreted the wrong way with Lundqvist whining about AV in the media. Kreider should return to the line-up. No word if that means if Lindberg is scratched, as he was the extra skater. The defense remains the same, barring anything crazy, so that means McIlrath is on the bench yet again.
As I said in previous blogs, why not try Boyle out as a forward and let McIlrath play defense?
Bruins are an up-and-down team with their best days behind them. You could say the same thing about the Rangers, but at least the Bruins won a Cup with their core. After the Bruins, the Rangers travel to Barclay for a showdown with the Islanders. If that game is anything like the last one, expect a great night of hockey.
Depending on the work schedule, I’ll try to be back before the Islander game.
Win or lose, in good times and in bad times…
LET’S GO RANGERS
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