|Has there ever been a more appropriate time to use this picture?|
Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. As always, especially since this column will talk a lot about the New York Ranger goaltending situation, make sure to check out the archives on the right hand of the site. There are plenty of Lundqvist & Talbot articles to read, that’s for sure. When you’re done with that, don’t forget to try the black bean soup at the Bold O’Donoughe’s in East Rockaway, never eat the chicken at the Nassau Coliseum, tip your bartender, start your car for at least 3 minutes on a cold winter day, and always, and I must stress ALWAYS, believe in Cam “Fucking” Talbot.
Wednesday morning was just another normal day for Ranger fans. The Rangers had the Boston Bruins visiting the Garden at 8PM for the NBC Game of the Week. I’m not a fan of the Rangers being the Game of the Week, because you don’t get the MSG preview show or Sam Rosen calling the game. NBC or MSG, the bottom line was that this was a huge 2 points on the line, especially against a team that has had Henrik Lundqvist’s number for the last 3 seasons.
At about 10am or so, I just finished posting my “Goodbye to the Nassau Coliseum” blog, and a big thank you for all the feedback I got on that column. As I was scrolling around twitter at about 11:45am, I saw several Ranger & NHL reporters post that Hank “would be unavailable for tonight’s game.” The word “unavailable” is not a positive word. This wasn’t Hank getting a day off, but Hank not even feeling comfortable to suit up, in case of something disastrous happening to Talbot.
As mid-morning turned into noon, it was reported that the Rangers had recalled MacKenzie Skapski from the Hartford Wolfpack, the NYR affiliate in the AHL. Cam Talbot, who woke up on Wednesday, thinking he wouldn’t get any rink time, until the back-to-back games on the weekend, was named the starter for the future.
|Talbot Prevented Another Boston Massacre|
As I write these words to you, 12 hours after the NYR/Bruins game, I haven’t seen one official report on Hank’s injury. Here’s what we know as fact, as of 11:00AM, Thursday morning:
– Hank has an upper body injury, related to the puck to the throat injury from Saturday.
– Hank finished Saturday’s game, against the last place Carolina Hurricanes, after being hit by the puck in the throat.
– Hank played Monday night, against a bottom of the standings Florida Panthers.
– Hank was scheduled to play Wednesday night, against the Boston Bruins.
– Hank hasn’t played the Bruins since the 2013-2014 season. His numbers in those 3 games played: 11 Goals Allowed, a .867 Save Percentage, 3.72 GAA & 3 losses.
– In the 2013 playoffs, Hank was 1-4 vs the Bruins, giving up 14 goals in 5 games.
– In Hank’s last 8 games against Boston, Hank was 1-7.
– On Tuesday night, Hank attended a signing, where he was paid to attend.
Conspiracy? Who knows? All I know is that Hank was fine all week, took a paid signing on an off-day, but the second Boston came into town, he was mysteriously hurt. Was Hank ducking the Bruins? Probably not, but all you got to do is read the facts and draw your own conclusion.
|A Typical Ranger vs Boston Game Under Hank’s Recent Watch|
What we don’t know is the timetable of Hank’s injury. Some reporters are saying he can be back by Saturday, which would really make it look like he was ducking Boston & this was a great way to illicit sympathy. Some are saying he will be back after the weekend. Some reports are as drastic as saying he may miss the rest of the regular season. As of now, it’s probably somewhere in the middle, where he will miss a few games, but will be back to blaming his teammates after losses in no time.
With Hank injured, this opened the door for Cam Talbot. It seems that with each passing day, the Talbot Train is starting to fill up. You know my spiel here on this site, and you can read the archives if you need the whole rundown. For your money, Talbot is the better deal than Lundqvist. Talbot is $8 million less a year and for the first time in two years, the Rangers beat the Boston Bruins. Dollar-for-dollar, in this salary cap era, Cam Talbot is the better bargain. If Hank won a cup and didn’t blow the Stanley Cup finals to a goalie who now has two Cups & gets paid half the money, I would at least say he earned it. Until then, he’s like Peyton Manning before beating Rex Grossman in the Superbowl. A great player, perhaps a compiler, but never won the big one.
Cam Talbot’s career stats are mighty impressive and are better than Hank’s. Talbot’s stats this year are better than Hank’s, in the small sample of games he’s played. What makes it more impressive is that Talbot is usually thrown cold into games. He could be off for 2-3 weeks. He is not getting regular day action & can’t build any rhythm. He only plays when Hank needs a day off. On the snap of a finger, Talbot needs to be ready and prepared. Up to this point, Talbot has excelled in this department.
|Leading the Talbot Train on the way to MSG. Talbot shirt available at WEBLEEDBLUE.com|
Originally, I was 50/50 about attending last night’s game, just because I have been out several nights this week, did the Barn the night before and all these games add up against your bank account. However, the second Talbot was announced as the starter, under these conditions, I made the call to JEFFREY. It was Talbot Time.
Unfortunately, JEFFREY sold his tickets on Stubhub because it had been a long night the night before. However, at the last second, around 6:15PM, JEFFREY somehow found two bridge seats in 328. The bridge seats are bougias as fuck, but they are beautiful. It was also amazing, after attending a game at the shithole called the Nassau Coliseum the night before and being back at the Garden the next day, just how truly bigger MSG is. MSG may hold 2000-3000 more fans, but due to all the bougias seats, you could’ve fit more, if it was just straight seating.
As we got to our seats, JEFFREY & I met two people visiting NY from Switzerland. They told us about hockey there. What a different culture. Switzerland alone has four different languages – German, French, Romansh and Italian. Most Swiss people also speak English as fifth language. We discussed hockey here in the United States vs hockey in their country. In between periods & commercials, it was really cool to hear their stories of the sport in their country.
Dominic & Angela, our new buddies on the bridge, showed me YouTube clips of their teams from the NLA, in Switzerland. Just amazing how the game is received. In the NLA, you got crowds treating the game like soccer in Latin America, with huge flags and fireworks in the stand. Dominic & Angela were surprised about how quiet MSG was for an Original 6 game. They were right in their observation. We explained how NY is different, hockey isn’t as well received as opposed to the NFL, NBA & MLB, especially country-wide. They couldn’t believe an NHL game was so quiet. Let that be a lesson to MSG- your bougias ass way of doing business has hurt the fan experience and flattened out the crowds. At least you’re able to profit off your $48485 pile of sushi.
|Cam Talbot, 10 seconds before puck drop|
Obviously this was a big game for me, in many regards. First and foremost, the Rangers are creeping up in the standings and can take first place by Sunday. Secondly, it was an Original 6 game, where the Rangers have posted an 1-8 record in their last 9 games. Of course, Cam Talbot was starting so if he lost, I would never hear the end of it from people who say they are Ranger fans, but bury Talbot out of their blind loyalty to Hank. There are even some idiots who trash Talbot’s wife. What a way to support your team, going after an innocent woman who does charity work for the team. Might as well root for the Islanders with that type of class.
Listen, I guess sarcasm and being tongue-in-cheek, doesn’t translate well if you don’t know me in real life. I feel like I have to repeat myself over and over. I DO NOT HATE HANK. HANK IS THE THIRD BEST GOALIE IN RANGERS HISTORY. HIS NUMBER WILL BE RETIRED. THE ONLY THING I HATE ABOUT HANK IS HIS CONTRACT. I THINK IT LIMITS THE TEAM MOVING ON, FOR THE NEXT 7 YEARS. HOW MANY LONG-TERM DEALS IN SPORTS EVER WORK OUT? I WOULDN’T CARE ABOUT HANK’S CONTRACT IF WE WEREN’T IN THE CAP ERA. If you can’t process this, then I don’t know what to tell you. However, if your idea of saying Hank is great by burying Talbot or Talbot’s family, you’re just sad. Plus, both goalies have the same amount of Stanley Cups, although Hank has been around 9 extra years.
|Hey 10,000 people can’t be wrong! Thank you for all the support!|
I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, when Rick Nash took the puck on a breakaway. Again, I feel like a broken record. EVERY TIME RICK NASH GETS THE PUCK ON A BREAKAWAY, I EXPECT HIM TO SCORE. That’s an impossible feat, but seriously, Rick Nash is on fucking fire. I don’t have the stats, but Nash has to be over 90% in scoring, while on a breakaway. He doesn’t get stoned very often.
If Rick Nash continues his level of play, as he already sits as the league leader in Goals Scored, Nash might be the first Ranger since the 1991-1992 season to win the MVP/Hart Memorial Trophy. He may also break Jagr’s single-season record for goals scored as well. Again said it once, said it a million times, this is the first season Nash has been truly healthy, and the Rangers are reaping the benefits of it.
Being able to relax a bit, with a 1-0 lead, I noticed that Boston looked flat. Do you know how I know off the top of my head the Rangers were 1-7 w/Hank, in the last 8 games Hank started against the Bruins? Because I attended every one that was at MSG, except for one playoff game. Those train rides back are brutal. An Islander loss hurts more, but losing to Boston always sucks.
Boston has been able to dominate the Rangers in recent games due to being bigger. While the Rangers are faster & better skilled, strength & power has won out every time. Just like the Rangers have owned Pittsburgh as of late, Boston has pimp slapped the Rangers like whores. However, for the first time in two years, Boston didn’t look as powerful as they used to.
Of course, as I was thinking that, the Bruins scored two goals within two minutes, with the first goal coming from Lucic, after another horrible Rangers turnover in front of the net. The next tally came from Bergeron, again off another turnover. This time, Bergeron beat his defender with speed & ease and tapped in a puck right in front of the net. Just like that, off two bad turnovers and two bad defensive lapses, Boston had scored 2 goals off of 5 shots. Don’t mind you that both goals were definitely on the defense, but you can bet my phone, facebook and twitter were blowing up from people who know I’m a Talbot guy.
|This meme is ridiculous but funny|
Two more things here, in regards to Talbot vs Lundqvist. There have been plenty of times the defense has let Hank down, making it impossible to make a save. However, when you’re the the highest paid goaltender in the NHL, I expect you to make spectacular game saving stop time-to-time. Talbot is the least paid goalie in the league, so you can’t really demand him to make elite saves, although that’s exactly what he’s been doing during his short career.
The biggest thing to take away from this, is how many times do you hear Hank bury his defense after a loss? “We have to skate better.” “The defense was burnt.” “We need more help in preventing turnovers.” Constantly, time and time again, Hank will throw his teammates under the bus. Talbot, in the rare times he loses or gives up goals, doesn’t bury his defense or skaters in interviews after the game. This is why Talbot is hanging out with Ryan McDonagh and was front & center in the Rangers team picture on the plane ride back from Florida, while Hank was no where in sight. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, when the book & career of Hank is over, you will hear teammates from this era say that he was a weird guy and tough to get along with. He doesn’t hang out with NOBODY and I really wonder if it’s because he always buries his teammates when things don’t go his way.
With the Rangers down 2-1 after the first, of course these Ranger fans, who like to break my balls, were coming in hot. “IN SKAPSKI WE TRUST” was my personal favorite, so next time I see you, a beer on me, Garrett Gorton. However, ball breaking aside, this wasn’t a game the Rangers should’ve let slip away, although they easily could’ve. We’ve seen it before.
|The 3 Goal Scorers vs Boston|
Derrick Brassard (PASS THE BRASS!) and Derek Stepan (KEEP ON STEPAN!) are very similar to me. Both are young bucks. Both are centermen. Both have the same name, despite the different spelling. Their style of play is alike as well. My biggest knock on both Brass & Step is they both need to shoot more. Good things happen when the puck is flying off their stick into the direction of the goalie. I know no one wants a puck hog reputation, but these two are way too nice and need to put more shots on net. I feel like when either one scores, the Rangers usually win.
In the second period, with the Rangers down 2-1, Ryan McDonagh, who had a bad first period, forced a turnover and kept the puck in the zone. Kreider eventually got the puck and found Brassard for a beautiful wrist shot, tying the game at 2-2. I was able to breath better for sure!
With a little over three minutes left in the second, Nash found Stepan primed for a shot. Stepan tossed another wrist shot in Rask’s direction and again Rask was beat. Looked like a soft goal from my vantage point, but I’ll take goals anyway I can get them. Little did I know at the time, that was the game winning goal!
The third period was hectic. This is when Cam turned it on. As I said earlier, he gave up 2 goals in 5 shots, with both goals on the D. Talbot finished up with 18 saves, a product of the defense clamping down and just good goaltending. The Rangers had empty net disease in the waning minutes of the game, missing the net on several occasions.
|The Standings Before The Boston Game|
All in all, I thought Talbot looked good tonight. By no means did he win the game by himself, but he did his job. Can’t blame the guy for Boston’s lack of production and looks. He did what Hank wasn’t able to do in two years – Beat Boston. The bottom line is this with Talbot, and Coach AV said it himself – Talbot isn’t a liability. Arguably, he’s the best back-up in the league and could be starting for several teams around the league. Any game Talbot starts is winnable. It’s not like the Islanders with Chad Johnson!
With the win the Rangers are two points out of first place, with two games in hand. Pittsburgh has 66 points with 51 GP. The Isles have 65 points with 50 GP. The Rangers have 64 points, with 49 GP. The Rangers control their own destiny. They are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs this season, but where will they be seeded? They can be number 1 if they continue to produce like they did tonight.
Two things I’d also like to make mention of. Tom Hanks appearance at the game, with Wilson (Castaway) was hilarious. Sadly, it was the loudest reaction the quiet Garden. The other thing I would like to mention is that with a mostly clean third period, there weren’t many TV timeouts. The clock was pretty much running from the “FOXWOODS FINAL 5” until the final buzzer. I bring this up, because ever since he started doing it, this was the first game I’ve attended where Dancin’ Larry wasn’t doing his DANCE DANCE DANCE! I know some people are anti-Larry, but I enjoy his passion and fandom for the team. I look forward to his spots while waiting for play to start up. However, Hanks & Wilson made up for Larry’s absence.
I’ll be back over the weekend with recaps of the Predator & Star games.
As always, LET’S GO RANGERS!