Again, just as some quick reminders, these blogs aren’t as frequent as last year due to my busy work schedule. You can always keep up on the latest blog updates by checking out the right hand of the site for the archives. You can also follow/live tweet the games with me at @NYCTHEMIC on twitter.
Since I last left you, the Rangers continued their winning ways, winning three straight games to increase their winning streak to 9. Here are the results since my last update, with a few thoughts on each game:
Rangers 6 – Blues 3
Personally, this was a great game for me. I was able to score RINKSIDE tickets for 1/10th of face value, due to the Stubhub wait-til-the-last-second trick. In fact, here’s my cousin and I celebrating the Zucc goal:
For my cousin, it was his birthday. It was like the Rangers knew, as they pounded the Blues with 6 goals and sending starting goalie Jared Allen to the bench mid-way through the first period after getting 3 goals on 5 shots. The Rangers have been a lot like that this season. They’ve scored in bunches, but will also go through long periods of time with nothing. Whatever they’re doing though, it’s working.
Zuccarello continues to be a leader of this team. I said this last blog and I really believe it, but playing with Marty St. Louis has really helped his game. Zucc is on the money with his passes and every time his number is called to get on the ice, you always expect something to happen. Like guys like Ovechkin, Benn and Jagr, he’s someone to keep your eyes on every shift.
You gotta wonder when will Zucc get the “A” on his jersey. It has to be a matter of time. He is the best skater on this team. It’s funny, I see reporters saying that the Rangers are inconsistent and I understand why they write that. However, you can’t call the Rangers inconsistent when every game, Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist show up.
The Rangers owned this game from the jump, with Zucc making a sweet ass pass to Brassard for the first goal. Zucc would score his own goal, on a beautiful breakaway. Kevin Hayes followed suit, with his own breakaway. I’m surprised he shot the puck in front of a wide open net, instead of passing! Hayes is still young and on a veteran team, so I get why he defers the puck, but Lindberg is a rookie and he knows you gotta fire the puck at the net when given the opportunity.
The Blues, spotting the Rangers 3 goals, would fight back a bit, getting goals from Jaskin and Taransenko. For the record, I think the Blues have the most frustrating names in the league. Literally. I’ve never seen more non-vowels strung together like this roster.
The Rangers got a sigh of relief when JT Miller made the game 4-2. However, Brouwer socred a PPG goal, shortening the Rangers lead to 1. The Rangers not willing to blow a 3 goal lead, got the lead back to three with a wicked shot from Captain Ryan McDonagh, with Dan Girardi stamping the game home with an empty netter.
For Lundqvist, it was his worst game of the season, statistically wise, but make no bones about it, he’s playing the best regular season hockey of his career. That includes 2012 when he won the Vezina. The guy has the most saves and wins in the league, near the top of the league in save percentage and is averaging 2-3 highlight reel saves a game.
Rangers 2 – Senators 1
With the Rangers winning streak up to 7, I figured with a road game in Ottawa, followed by a game the next night at home against the Leafs, the Rangers were going to drop a decision. That wasn’t to be had. Once again, Henrik Lundqvist kept the team alive. While Zuccarello didn’t appear on the stat sheet until the shoot-out, make no bones about it, he’s their best player right now.
In fact, I’ve only missed one home game at MSG this season. I am in NYC every day for work. I talk to Ranger fans, I go to Ranger bars, I read all the Ranger stuff on social media. While Henrik Lundqvist may be the most famous Ranger today, Mats Zuccarello is the most popular. I see more Zucc jerseys and shirts than any other player. I’d be interested in learning the jersey sale numbers. Granted, the sales is a skewed stat, since Hank has been around for 10 years and Zucc is newer to the league, but still, Zucc is taking over MSG faster than Lin-Sanity and will be here a lot longer than that.
While the Rangers smacked around a top 4 team in the league, at the time, in the Blues, the Rangers battled to earn their 2-1 win on the road. The Rangers played a chippy game. Chris Kreider got the first goal, a POWERPLAY goal, two minutes into the game. Erik Karlsson responded with his own PPG, four minutes later, to knot the score at one. Then, for nearly 54 minutes, we saw scoreless hockey.
Anderson had a superior game than Lundqvist, facing 12 more shots, but when it mattered the most, Lundqvist outdueled Anderson in the shoot-out.
After a 1-1 game, we saw an exciting 3 vs 3 overtime. Everyone has their take on it and here’s mine: I don’t mind it. Are there better ways to decide a tie? Probably. However, you can’t deny the 3 vs 3 is nuts and awesome to watch. What we do know is that this OT doesn’t reward the better team all the time. One bounce, one carrum, one guy slips, I mean anything can happen, and you got a breakaway or a 2 on 1 the other way.
My official opinion on the 3 vs 3 OT is that I love it if my team isn’t in it!
The shoot-out is another topic that’s been talked about to death. Some people hate that a skills competition decides the winner of a 65 minute war. I get it. To be honest, I’d rather the three vs three until we get a winner. I’m glad the NHL nixed the tie from hockey, so I will take a shootout over a tie any day. I’d rather pay money to see my team win or lose, then pay to see no conclusion.
Lundqvist stepped up in the shoot-out, after struggling with it last season. Zuccarello once again did his part, out-thinking Anderson by not deking as much as a scout would say he would. Dan Boyle, a topic of much conversation and an Ottawa boy, scored the game winner.
Whether you like Boyle or hate him like my friend JEFFREY, the only thing we can all agree is on that he won’t be here next season. I don’t think he’s a bad guy or anything, but he looks worse now than MSL did in the playoffs. It happens to all the great players and even the not-so-great ones. Look at the struggles Peyton Manning is currently having.
Rangers 4 – Leafs 3
After turning away Ottawa, the Rangers immediately flew back home to host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last time the Rangers played the Leafs, Zuccarello scored a hat trick. While he didn’t score a hat trick this time, Zucc continued the theatrics with another game winning goal.
After being able to score tix on the glass for the Blues, I was able to get $100 MSG Suite tix through the Stubhub trick. It really is disgusting to see how the other half lives, but man, I love it. The sight lines are great and more importantly, no bathroom lines.
For people looking to capitalize, Sunday games during the NFL season are usually cheap on the secondary market. Corporate seats are for sale because most of these big-wigs aren’t in the city and don’t go to the game. They usually give up their seats to their secretaries, who don’t care and in turn, take 10% of face value for the seats. For $100, I ate like a pig and was able to watch the Giants game at the same time. Just look at this ridiculousness:
I know this is BLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS.com, but when you can score tickets like these, you have to do it. Life is short so you gotta capitalize on the opportunities you get. Sure, I could’ve went to the game for $40, but for $60 more, I got the full VIP experience. Plus, who wants to be the richest man in the cemetery anyway?
While Zuccarello and Lundqvist are grabbing all the headlines in the tabloids and social media, Ryan McDonagh is also having one of his best starts too. After playing with a broken foot during the playoffs last year, Mac is back to 100% and already has 3 goals on the season. Not only is Mac shutting down the top lines on the opposition, he has been more offensive-minded.
After Peter Holland scored late in the first period, the Leafs took a 1-0 lead heading intto the locker room. Again, I sound like a broken record, but there was Mats Zuccarello to feed Ryan McDonagh, 44 seconds into the second period for the first Rangers goal. Some of you may call Lundqvist “King”, but Zucc is “King Midas” right now. Just golden.
With Raanta in net, giving Hank a break since he played the night before, the Rangers helped the cause, as Derek Stepan got one of the flukiest goals ever, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Stepan took a near 90 foot shot and Bernier bobbled it. I’m sure you’ve seen this goal 1000 times by now. However, Jeff Lupul was able to put one past Raanta on a rebound, making it 2-2 after 2 periods.
Zuccarello, who seems to be the Rangers permanent star of the game, even winning the NHL Star of the Week award, assisted on another goal, this time off the stick of Brassard. However, Dion Phaneuf tied the game 90 seconds later on a real tight shot. 3-3.
As I’ve mentioned on these blogs, I’m working a ton of hours a week and have a 5AM train every morning to work. I’m up at 4AM. With the game looking to go into OT, meaning I would be stuck in the city for an extra hour, I just resigned myself to the fact that I would be extra groggy on Monday. I just hoped the Rangers won, because then I don’t mind being tired and full of beer gas the next day!
Leave it to, guess who – Mats Zuccarello to score the game winner, with 54 seconds left in the game. What more can I say about the guy without being redundant? Not only is he producing goals and assists (He’s the leading goal scorer and has the most points on the team), he’s agitating the opposition, involved in every loose puck, in everyone’s face and flying all over the place like a maniac. Maybe more so because of his stature, but he reminds me of Theo Fleury in his prime.As I put the finishing touches on this blog, on Wednesday morning, on my disgusting LIRR train to work, the defending President Trophy winners are currently in first place in the entire league. For the last 2 and 1/2 seasons, the Rangers have been the best regular season team in hockey.
Games are won on the ice, but the numbers the Rangers have been putting up are impressive. I hate to do the copy and paste shit, but really, you need to read the official press release from the team after the Toronto game:
– START ME UP – The Rangers have registered 14 wins and 30 points in the first 18 games of the 2015-16 season. The Blueshirts have established franchise records for the most wins and points earned in the first 18 games of a season.
– WINNING WAYS – The Blueshirts extended their point streak to a season-high 13 games (11-0-2), and they extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games. New York’s nine-game winning streak is the third-longest winning streak in franchise history, and it is the first time the Rangers have registered a nine-game winning streak since the 1972-73 season (10 wins – Jan. 19 – Feb. 10, 1973). The Rangers are one win away from matching their longest winning streak in franchise history (New York has posted a 10-game winning streak twice – Dec. 19, 1939 – Jan. 13, 1940; Jan. 19 – Feb. 10, 1973). The Rangers’ 13-game point streak is tied for the seventh-longest point streak in franchise history, and it is the first time the Rangers have posted a 13-game point streak since the 2007-08 season (Feb. 9 – Mar. 10, 2008; 10-0-3). The Blueshirts have also matched their longest point streak since teams were first awarded a point for an overtime loss in 1999-00. In addition, the Rangers have registered an 11-0-1 record in their last 12 games and have earned at least one point in 16 of 18 contests in 2015-16 (14-2-2).
– LEADING THE WAY – The Rangers have posted a .762 points percentage since Jan. 1, 2015 (47-13-5 record). Since Dec. 8, 2014, the Rangers have registered a 56-14-5 record in 75 games (117 points; .780 points percentage). New York has posted the best record in the NHL since Jan. 1, 2014 (92-36-13 in 141 games; .699 points percentage).
– BACK-TO-BACK – The Blueshirts have posted a 5-0-0 record in the second game of back-to-back sets this season. The Rangers have posted a 15-1-1 record in the second contest of their last 17 back-to-back sets. In addition, the Blueshirts have posted a .766 points percentage (24-7-1 record) in the second game of back-to-back sets since the start of the 2013-14 season and a .721 points percentage (49-18-3 record) in the second game of back-to-back sets since the start of the 2010-11 season.
– HOME COOKING – The Rangers extended their home winning streak to eight games and have outscored their opponent, 33-11, in the eight contests. The Blueshirts have posted a 16.2 shooting percentage over their last eight home games (33 goals on 204 shots on goal). New York’s eight-game winning streak at home is tied for the fourth-longest home winning streak in franchise history, and it is the eighth time the Rangers have posted a winning streak of eight or more games at home in franchise history. The last time the Blueshirts posted an eight-game winning streak at home was during the 1990-91 season (Oct. 8-31, 1990). In addition, the Rangers have earned at least one point in each of their last nine home games (8-0-1) and in 10 of 11 home games in 2015-16 (9-1-1). Dating back to last season, the Blueshirts have earned at least one point in 40 of their last 50 home contests (34-10-6), including 23 of their last 28 home games (20-5-3).
– GOALS GALORE – The Blueshirts have recorded three or more goals in four of the last five games, seven of the last nine games, and nine of the last 12 contests. The Rangers have also recorded four or more goals in seven of the last 12 games. New York ranks fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.11) this season.
– SHOOT TO SCORE – The Rangers have played nine games in 2015-16 (including tonight) when they’ve tallied four or more goals while recording 30 or fewer shots on goal. The Blueshirts played 11 such games last season, and eight such games in both 2012-13 (48-game season) and 2013-14.
– STRONG FINISH – According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers registered the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation for the first time since Dec. 17, 2011 (Rangers at Coyotes – Brad Richards tallied the game-winning goal at 19:59 of the third period).
– DOWN, BUT NOT OUT – The Blueshirts have now posted a 4-0-0 record in games which they have trailed after the first period this season. New York leads the NHL in wins when trailing after the first period in 2015-16.
– THREE’S COMPANY – New York has registered three or more goals in eight consecutive home games for the first time since Dec. 23, 1997 – Jan. 24, 1998.
– ON POINT – A Rangers defenseman tallied at least one point on each of the team’s four goals in tonight’s contest. Blueshirts defensemen recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in the contest. Rangers defensemen have tallied 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) in 18 games in 2015-16.
– FOUR SCORE – The Rangers have posted a 105-1-1 record in the last 107 regular season games in which they have registered at least four goals, dating back to Oct. 31, 2011 vs. San Jose. In addition, the Rangers have posted a 126-1-2 record in the last 129 regular season games in which they have notched four or more goals, dating back to Nov. 14, 2010 vs. Edmonton.
The Rangers are the hottest team in the NHL. Have been for some time. We know the deal. I’ve said it a bunch of times. You can’t argue with what they are doing now. They are exceeding expectations. However, they’ve been one of the upper echelon teams in the league for some time now, and the Stanley Cup eludes them. Simply put, it has to get done. No one remembers who had the best regular season record. Everyone remembers who won the Stanley Cup. There’s nothing you can do about previous season finishes now, so all you can do now is play well and win. The Rangers are doing just that.
— Everyone is throwing it in my face that I thought this team would be worse than last year’s team. Everyone forgets it’s November. Remember where the Rangers and Islanders were last year in the standings at this time? Remember how they finished the season?
— Every time I see Zucc play, I just wonder “WHAT IF?”, in regards to last year’s playoffs.
— Dylan McIlrath has improved so much from what we’ve seen in his sporadic appearances over the last two seasons. Better than Boyle? Not so sure. Worse than Boyle? Not sure about that either. He does bring the physicality and toughness, but Boyle is still better offensively.
— The Rangers fourth line is producing and clicking like the team of two years ago. That’s with 5 guys playing for three spots. Still not sold on Etem at all.
— We all know the Patrick Marleau talk. I don’t see who you deal for him though. I don’t see the Sharks chomping at the bit to get Boyle back or for Etem or Stoll. You need to give someone of name value up because of the cap hit. Plus if you’re going to make a move for Marleau, what was the point of dealing Hagelin for nothing? To be honest, I would rather see a player like Wayne Simmonds on the Rangers, someone who is tough and can score. The Rangers have enough high price guys not living up to potential, in Rick Nash alone.
— Lundqvist and Raanta are making history. We all know I’m the Talbot guy and Talbot is on a horrible team right now in Edmonton, so to me, it really shows you the value (And I’ve said this a million times too) of Benoit Allaire. Also helps the Rangers have a top of the league defense, compared to the Oilers. Still, can’t take anything away from how Hank and Raanta are doing.
— I thought it was classy of the Rangers to take a moment of silence out for Paris. I don’t want to politicize here, but if I may say a few words, and I will, since it’s my blog, but my condolences to anyone affected. Still, I’m furious the U.S. is bringing Syrian refugees and have spent $4.5 billion on this. We have homeless vets, the highest taxes anywhere and our own cops being shot, but we can piss money away? Now we want to bring in refugees/illegal immigrants to live off our dime? This is ass backwards.
— Props to the Ranger fans who screamed “SHUT UP” during the moment of silence before the Toronto game as one guy was screaming “LETS GO RANGERS”, like fans usually do during the national anthem. This is what happens when you play a late game on a football Sunday. I’m sure alcohol was involved. Still, it wasn’t the worst moment at MSG. Right after 9/11, the WWE had a show. Lilian Garcia belted out a beautiful National Anthem, only for half the arena to chant the Stone Cold “WHAT” after every bar. There was a lot of nervous laughter in the building.In closing, I want to bring up a topic that I believe is truly important for Ranger fans. I’ve written about Frank Boucher before, and I’m going to reprint an article I wrote about him last season.
If you visit https://www.change.org/p/new-york-rangers-madison-square-garden-get-new-york-ranger-frank-boucher-s-7-in-the-msg-rafters there is a link to petition to ask the Rangers to put Frank Boucher’s jersey in the rafters. It only takes two seconds to sign it. If you know anything about the Rangers, you shouldn’t need me to convince you to sign a petition asking the Rangers to honor this NHL Hall of Famer. If you don’t know who Boucher is, here’s my original article from 10/22/14:
Mark Messier. Brian Leetch. Mike Richter. Rod Gilbert. Eddie Giacomin. Harry Howell. Andy Bathgate. Adam Graves. All Ranger greats. All house-hold names to Ranger fans. However one name supercedes them all, yet doesn’t have his last name hanging in the MSG rafters. That man is no other than the greatest Ranger of them all, Frank “Raffles” Boucher. I am hoping that this article reaches the men who make the decisions at the Garden, because it is a travesty that Boucher’s #7 isn’t honored at all.
Unless you are in your late 80’s, chances are, you’ve never seen Frank Boucher play. That’s ok, neither did I. However, I have spent countless hours researching Frank Boucher’s career, reading game accounts, read Frank Boucher’s autobiography and took in a whole lot of knowledge reading the various works of the Hockey Maven himself, a one Mr. Stan Fischler. The fact is, you did not need to see Frank Boucher skate to understand that not only should his number be retired by the New York Rangers, the Chase Bridges should be named after him too.
To give you quick and straight facts, Frank Boucher was an original member of the inaugural 1926 New York Rangers. He won two Stanley Cups as a player, in 1928 and 1933. When he retired, he was the NHL all-time leader in assists. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy 7 times until the trophy was just handed to him and the NHL got a new trophy. He was a First Team All Star on many occasions. He was also the coach of the 1940 Stanley Cup team. He would later on become the general manager of the squad. His affiliation as a blueshirt lasted from 1926-1955, unparalleled by any other individual in New York Ranger history.
So I ask, why do the Rangers forget about him? Why isn’t he adored in the same vein as Babe Ruth? Ty Cobb? Conn Smythe? Art Ross? Maurice Richard? The Rangers, with only 4 Stanley Cups in their history, the least amount of championships/cups than any other Original 6 team, you would think, would want to honor the man who was responsible for 75% of them. Instead, Boucher is not even an after thought, it’s like he never existed.
Obviously, players of the modern era and for Ranger fans, players of the 1994 team are honored at great lengths. Fans remember them. Fans still see them. As time moves on, we can not forget the past. We need to learn from the past and embrace it. No offense to any of the retired numbers hanging in the MSG rafters, but none of them accomplished what Frank Boucher did for the New York Rangers.
Boucher was destined for the NHL. He was one of four brothers to eventually make an NHL team. With only six teams hiring professional hockey players at the most elite level, it was hard to make an NHL team. One must not forget that shifts were longer and it wasn’t unusual for a player to log 80% of ice-time during a game, as opposed to the 33% or so we have today.
Boucher, who spent time as a Mountie before joining the NHL (and you should hear the ribbing he gave to one of his team mates about his stint as a Mountie, as he made up grand stories for his own amusement. You can find the stories in Frank Boucher’s “When The Rangers Were Young” autobiography.) originally started his professional career with the Ottawa Senators. He later moved on to the Vancouver Maroons in 1922. In this era, there were different leagues that competed for the Stanley Cup. Prior to the Original 6 era of the NHL, the PCHA became the Western Canadian Hockey League, then renamed the Western Hockey League. By 1926, all of it was dissolved due to money losses and NHL player rights were divided by the Original 6 teams.
Ironically, the Boston Bruins bought Frank Boucher’s NHL rights in 1926. He would never lace up for Beantown, as the future Toronto Maple Leaf legend Conn Smythe, who was working for the Rangers, signed him on the advice of Bill Cook. Bill Cook, his brother Bun and Frank would later form the Bread Line, winning two championships together.
Smythe never liked Boucher. Boucher talks about why vividly in his autobiography. It didn’t matter though, because shortly thereafter, Smythe would be fired by the Rangers. Lester Patrick would take over for Smythe and the rest is history. Just imagine if Smythe never left the Rangers. How different would NHL history be today?
Boucher, a center, was officially an original Original 6 New York Ranger. He was named the classiest player in the league 7 times in 8 years, until the Lady Byng Trophy was just given to him. As classy as he was on the ice, he was just as classy off the ice, traits that Coach Lester Patrick saw when he hand-picked his successor.
The Rangers would win two Stanley Cups during Boucher’s playing career. After taking over for Patrick prior to the 1939-1940 campaign, Boucher would lead to the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. In his first year as a professional head coach, Boucher had won the Cup! How about that Mike Keenan? Sadly, it would be the last Stanley Cup Frank Boucher would ever see the Rangers hoist. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Rangers won a Stanley Cup, 17 years after Boucher’s passing in 1977.
During Boucher’s coaching career, Boucher would achieve various levels of success. World War II was all the rage during the early 1940’s. A military draft crippled the Rangers, and the Rangers had many holes in their line-up. It was so bad, that Boucher came out of a 7 year retirement and played 15 games, where he actually recorded 14 points. While World War II was fought over serious and life changing issues, for the New York Rangers, it was a war that also hurt their club, and it took a while to rebuild.
Frank Boucher, displaying characteristics that won him the Lady Byng trophy so many times, would be asked to be Patrick’s successor once again, as Boucher moved from behind the bench to the front office as the Rangers new GM in 1949. Boucher again would have various levels of success at this role and saw the Rangers lose in the Stanley Cup in 1950. Despite the loss, it showed that Boucher was successful and smart at every level in the game, because as a player, coach and general manager, his team made the Stanley Cup.
As a coach and a GM, Boucher was a pioneer. Boucher was the first coach to use two goalies regularly, common place today. He would even alternate them in shifts, until he abandoned that philosophy and alternated them every game. He also would introduce the center red line to the game.
According to Frank, in his autobiography, he left the Rangers for good in 1955, when he thought he deserved to be let go due to consecutive seasons of losing. He went to a local Irish pub and never looked back. That was nearly 60 years ago. We are nearly 60 years removed from the greatest Ranger in history leaving the franchise. With the big 6-0 anniversary coming up, perhaps it’s about time the Rangers & MSG show some respect, and honor Mr. Boucher.
I understand the logistics in all this. Frank has been dead for 37 years. His family is dead and his kin aren’t in any sort of public limelight. As someone who attends 40+ games a season, travels to away games, goes to preseason games and is at playoff games, I don’t care if the Rangers do a big ceremony or if I just happen to look up one night and see Frank Boucher’s #7 next to Rod Gilbert’s #7.
The greatest Ranger of them all doesn’t even exist in MSG. It’s about time the Rangers & the Garden change that. Do not let this career be forgotten. Boucher is one of the reasons the Rangers are even here today, and we should be thankful for that. As we get older, we need to be reminded of the past. It is a shame Frank played in a time with no cameras and most of the witnesses who saw him play are dead. However, the numbers and facts don’t lie. His contributions on the ice and off the ice make Frank Boucher the greatest Ranger of all time.
So I beg of you. I plead with you. Shout it from the rooftops. I hope someone with power in the Rangers organization or MSG see this one fans cry for help. Frank Boucher is a Hockey Hall of Famer. Why isn’t his number up in the rafters? We are so quick to chant “POTVIN SUCKS” about 293 times a home game. Now it’s time to chant “WE WANT BOUCHER!” Make room Gilbert and Bathgate, hopefully you will have a new friend in between you. A true Ranger fan can only hope.
Thank you Frank Boucher, your legacy remains with at least one Ranger fan.
Again, show your support and sign the petition for Frank Boucher in the MSG rafters at:
Following Tampa on Thursday, the Rangers continue their Florida swing by visiting the lowly Panthers in Sunrise on Saturday. The Rangers then have two games before Thanksgiving at home, with the Predators and Canadiens visiting MSG. I plan on being there on Monday night, so if possible, I’ll do another three game recap before a big regular season showdown with the mother canuckers.
It’s a great time to be a resident of Rangerstown right now. I just want to get to the playoffs now!
LET’S GO RANGERS.
RIP to the lives lost in France due to extremist religious cowards.
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