What’s up everyone and welcome to my first game review of the 2017-2018 season. I promise I’ll keep this shorter than usual, since we have a game on Sunday night. In other words, this blog will be nearly dated by the time you read it.
Just to catch up, I attended opening night. With my work schedule, which includes a 4:30AM alarm clock every morning, by the time I got home Thursday night, there was just no way I was going to be able to do one of my manifestos. As always, this blog is a hobby, not a job. I wish I had more time to devote to this, but alas real life.
As far as opening night, and the Rangers 4-2 loss, to the worst team in the league last season, in the Colorado Avalanche, I thought it was depressing, disappointing and disgusting. While Colorado goalie, Seymon Varlamov, had a fantastic game, Henrik Lundswiss did not.
By now, many of you know me as the guy who predicted the demise of Lundswiss. I’ve been saying it for the last three years. I wanted to keep Talbot. I wanted to keep Raanta. However, the Rangers have this insane idea, that no matter what they do, this will be the year that the “bedrock” of the franchise, in Henrik Lundwiss, will take this team to a Cup. That is fantasy and not reality.
Listen, many young fans will argue with me all day long, even after Lundswiss gets pulled after giving up five goals in one period (not the first time), like he did tonight. I was young once too. I remember how heartbroken I was when Don Mattingly was at the end. I have also told you my stories of being absolutely furious when Graves and Leetch were jettisoned out of NY. However, you need to leave the Lundswiss bubble and try to think what’s the best for the front of the jersey and not about an overrated and overpaid goalie.
While many of you have come around and are now saying “Sean, you were right all along”, some of you still send the death threats, call me gay (That’s a favorite one of mine) or say “YOO HAVE NO KLUE WAT YOO ARE TAWKING ABOUT!” And that’s fine. At the end of the day, I would rather be in a million social media wars, than watch these assholes kneel in the NFL! Welcome back hockey and welcome back you horribly run New York Rangers!
There’s so much to get into and I don’t want to go too long. Even my most diehard readers are saying I’m going longer than usual. I’m trying. However, because of my real-life job, I just don’t have the time to do a blog every day, so I just do these monster blogs when I can. I’m working on it.
Anyway, here are my last few blogs and then we’ll get into tonight & other on-goings in the league:
BCBS: Look Ma, No Politics! Filip Chytil Gets/Earns The Chance of a Lifetime, Rangers Roster Announced, NYR Preview, Young Guns, Tough Schedule, ESPN Plagiarism, NYR D, CZAR IGOR, How CTE Developments Are Going to Change Sports Forever & Where Were You When You Were 18 Years Old?
BCBS: What We’ve Learned From The Rangers Preseason, The “Barely Legal” Line & Why It Should Happen, The Marc Staal Problem, Dave Maloney, Too Many Damn Penalties, Avery vs Torts, Donald Trump vs Sports, Anthony DeAngelo Attacked by NY Post, Patriotism in Sports, Jagr Watch & Much More From Rangers Preseason
Hockey’s Back! NHL 2017-2018 Predictions: Analyzing All 31 NHL Teams, Who Will Win The Cup, Who Makes The Playoffs, Whose Window is Closing, Teams on the Rise, Who Fails & More. Plus: New York Rangers Preseason Preview & Thoughts.
New York Ranger Media Day Thoughts, AV’s Craziness and Why I’m Still Skeptical. Plus: An In-Depth “Behind the Bench” Book Review, as Craig Custance Interviews 10 Of The Best Coaches in the NHL Today, Including John Tortorella!
Frank Boucher Update: The Boucher Family Shares Exclusive Pictures/Heirlooms From Frank Boucher’s Career, The Latest Update on Trying To Get The Rangers To Notice The Greatest Ranger Of Them All, The Frank Boucher Award & More
George Grimm’s “We Did Everything But Win: Former New York Rangers Remember the Emile Francis Era (1964-1976)” In-Depth Book Review. Tons of Famous NYR Alumni Speak All Things Rangers, Many “Close, But No Cigar” Seasons, Comparison With Today’s Era & Much More
The Latest Rangers & NHL Rumblings: Time for Zucc & McDonagh To Step Up, Pets & Vets, NYR Whack Tanner Glass Like He’s Tommy In “Goodfellas”, Frank Boucher’s Family Reaches Out, Cam Connor, Arizona Rangers, Jagr Watch, Who Gets the “A” on the Jersey, Traverse Tourney, Kelly Talbot’s Efforts in Houston & Much More
The Sixth Delorean Blog: May 12th, 1995, as the Rangers take on the Quebec Nordiques in Game 4! My First Ever Playoff Game, Steve Larmer = the OT Hero, Mike Richter Adds Another Moment to His Legacy After Healy Struggles, Brian Leetch, Matteau Fights, The Lockout, Tons of Free Video, Collective Soul, The Jerky Boys & Much More From a Memorable Playoff Victory
Before getting into the Rangers, I just want to say RIP Tom Petty. He was the first rock musician I ever heard/became familiar with. A true legend. He also knew something Henrik Lundwiss never knew about:
After dropping the home opener on Thursday night, in a game where Seymon Varlamov was the best player on the ice and was much better than Henrik Lundswiss, the Rangers looked to turn their fortunes around in Toronto. “Looked” is the key word here.
Instead of getting their first two points of the season, the Rangers lost 8-5, to the Leafs, in Toronto, on Saturday night. No, Joe Girardi wasn’t managing this game.
When I did my Rangers preview blog, I talked about what I was excited about. The young blood. Kevin Shattenkirk. And that’s really it. The same problems plague the Rangers. I also said this in my preview blog, and it’s worth repeating again:
“I just don’t see how this team is any better than the team that lost to Ottawa in May.
Put it this way, if someone said to you, “Hey, how do you think your team will do if they lost their number 1 center, the goalie who had the better stats, the biggest shot blocker on the team, the best teammate who will throw down at the drop of the hat & a young player with potential?” What’s your answer?
With the number 1 center (Stepan), the best goalie from last season (Raanta), the warrior of the team (Girardi), the strong-willed Tanner Glass and Oscar Lindberg gone, the Rangers think that Kevin Shattenirk (A great offensive defenseman, but he’s not Karlsson), Pavelec (with goaltending that’s been weaker than the levees at New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) and Anthony DeAngelo (a headcase) are the answer. I just don’t see it.
I’ve talked about this numerous times. You can’t half-way rebuild a house. The Rangers are trying to get younger in some areas, but they still got Lundwiss & Marc Staal to drag them down. You gotta be in or out, or else you’re just in a perpetual state of mediocrity. Sure, the Rangers are a perennial playoff team, but they aren’t championship material. If the Rangers are happy with selling some playoff tickets, great. If they want to generate some real major money by winning a Stanley Cup, this isn’t the roster for that.”
The Rangers are 0-2 and like my NY Giants, look like a bad team at 0-2. On Thursday, they lost to team that was last place in the league last year. Colorado Avalanche reporter, Adrian Dater, said that neither Carl Soderberg or Matt Duchene want to be there. That said (take a shot) they still beat the Rangers. The Rangers followed up the home opener loss by getting completely embarrassed by the Leafs. Lundswiss was smoked like a cigarette off the lips of Dartman.
I know that it’s very early. Two games doesn’t make a season. We all know that the roster will change many times before the playoffs start. I get all that. Whether you agree or disagree with my opinions on Lundswiss, you have to admit, I have a great track record on my predictions, when it comes to the Rangers. Just check my archives here on this blog. I’m not trying to do the “pat myself on the back” thing here, but I’m just trying to share that I’m pretty good at calling these things.
What makes me nervous, is that with these two games, my worst fears are starting to be realized. Even if you’re the most ardent Lundswiss supporter, you have to admit he has lost a step or ten. In fact, watching this game, I had flashbacks of watching Marty Brodeur. Brodeur, who had a career 100 times better than Lundswiss could ever imagine having, despite Lundswiss not cheating on his wife, fell apart at the end. A multiple time Stanley Cup winner & finalist, Marty Brodeur looked like hell at the end. He was replaced by a younger goalie and eventually, the Devils had to tell their greatest player ever to hit the road.
Was it a cold move by the Devils? Devil fans may think so. However, it was the right move. Like anything else, the NHL is a business. It was time for the Devils to move on.
While Lundswiss (by the way, I am absolutely loving that the word “Lundswiss” has taken off on twitter. Even people that don’t read this blog or know me are now using that word!) may have a good game this season, which will have fans saying “THE KING IS BACK”, the fact is those games are far and in-between. I believe you will see sad, making faces on the bench Lundswiss, more than I carried this team & had a shut out, Henrik Lundqvist.
For me, as I’ve been saying for years, I think like the Devils, the Rangers need to move on from their star goalie. Every game Lundswiss plays just hurts his legacy even more. It’s always better to leave on top than to tarnish your legacy. With 3 seasons & 80 games left on his contract, if this stays the status quo, Lundswiss will have more bad years as a Ranger, than good years.
For those who didn’t see the game, here’s the official box score, courtesy of ESPN.com:
1st Period Summary
||Dominic Moore (1)
Assists: Nikita Zaitsev, Matt Martin
||J.T. Miller (1)
Assists: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes
||Zach Hyman (1)
Assist: William Nylander
||Jake Gardiner (1) (Power Play)
||Nikita Zaitsev (1)
Assists: Ron Hainsey, Nazem Kadri
||Zach Hyman (2)
||Kevin Shattenkirk (1) (Power Play)
Assists: Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider
||Kevin Shattenkirk: 2 Minutes for Holding|
||Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
||Nikita Zaitsev: 2 Minutes for Holding|
2nd Period Summary
||Mika Zibanejad (3) (Power Play)
Assists: Kevin Shattenkirk, Mats Zuccarello
||Marc Staal (1)
Assists: Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh
||Mats Zuccarello (1)
Assists: Marc Staal, J.T. Miller
||Brady Skjei: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||William Nylander: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
||2 Minute Bench Penalty for Too Many Men on the Ice (Served by Mitch Marner)|
3rd Period Summary
||Tyler Bozak (1)
Assists: Jake Gardiner, Mitch Marner
||Leo Komarov (1) (Power Play)
Assists: William Nylander, Auston Matthews
||Nazem Kadri (2) (Power Play)
Assists: Patrick Marleau, Leo Komarov
||2 Minutes for Delaying the game (Served by Chris Kreider)|
||Kevin Hayes: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
||Ryan McDonagh: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
This game was a horror show. Henrik Lundswiss and the Rangers, saw themselves at a 5-2 deficit, at the end of the first period. As a result, Lundswiss was pulled and Ondrej Pavelec manned the pipes for the final forty minutes.
Here’s the deal – are all the goals on Lundswiss? No. Are some of them? Yes. However, Lundswiss is the highest paid goalie in the league. You gotta make a stop. You gotta make those elite saves. That’s what you’re paid to do. It just goes to my point, he’s overpaid and his contract is an albatross & a detriment to the team’s success.
Put it this way, you could have Talbot and Stralman, plus a player to be named later, instead of Lundswiss.
While the defense & the team, in general, looked crappy in the first period, Lundswiss was no better. There were multiple times, after a stop, that he was looking behind his shoulder or between his legs. Just no confidence. Leaf fans even derided him with a Bronx Cheer after Lundswiss made a routine save. Watch for yourself:
— Steven Dean Bolger (@Steven_Dean0) October 8, 2017
Lundswiss tried to get back at the crowd by waving the puck, but by this point, you could see he was clearly rattled and TRIGGERED. Not exactly “bedrock”, as the NY Post & NY Daily News call him, material here.
The Leafs were all over the Rangers & Lundswiss, en route to their 5 goal first period. JT Miller would make this a 1-1 game though, after an All-American goal, with assists from Hayes & Kreider. While he doesn’t get an assist, Rangers Captain, Ryan McDonagh, started the play, with a sweet backhanded pass from behind the net of Toronto goalie, Frederik Andersen.
However, at 1-1, the Leafs just piled on. Bad defense, especially from Tony DeAngelo & Marc Staal and bad goaltending, saw the Leafs make this game 5-1. Kevin Shattenkirk, who also wasn’t the best defensively (Although no one expects him to be a lockdown defender), scored a late period powerplay goal, that looked to give the Rangers momentum. After one period, it as 5-2, bad guys.
In case you breezed through the ESPN box score, take this in one more time:
|New York Rangers Goaltending|
In other words, if this holds, this would be the third straight back-up goalie to post better stats than Lundswiss! I can hear the crybabies now (especially the Swedish fans who read this blog) “BUT THEY HAVE TO WIN FOR LUNDQVIST AND IT’S ALL THE FAULT OF THE DEFENSE!”
It truly is amazing, if Pavelec has a career season, he would be the third straight back-up goalie to do so. With how bad Lundswiss has been & with how great the back-ups have been, you gotta wonder if Rangers analyst (and perhaps a future coach one day), Steve Valiquette, is itching to get some playing time with the team. For all the good Allaire has done with Raanta & Talbot, too bad Allaire can’t save Lundswiss.
In the second period, the Rangers added three more goals, putting four unanswered goals on the board, to make this a 5-5 game. No one was more excited about this than me! It really backs up everything I’ve been saying – the Rangers play better without Lundswiss.
Now people will wonder why this is. My theory is that Lundswiss routinely buries his teammates after losses. Even after the home opener, he was calling out his defense for not playing well and his forwards for not converting on scoring chances. Let me ask you this. If you had two bosses, and one was a dick that blamed you for everything, and the other took responsibility & worked with you, who would you work for harder? I think that’s the case here. I mean, Derek Stepan chastised Lundswiss for acting like a baby in the playoffs last year, and we know where Stepan is now.
While on Stepan, something else I talked about in my preview blog reared its ugly head here. When the Rangers made the trade with Arizona, I told you I wasn’t a fan of it. The Rangers gave up a number 1 center & a number 1 goalie for a borderline 6th defenseman and a questionable first round draft pick. While I get why Stepan had to be traded (Huge cap hit was about to kick in), the Rangers were forced to trade Raanta, as that was the only way Arizona would make the deal.
Many of us are happy about Shattenkirk and hoping for the young players to become the new core. However, after only two games, it looks like this is a bad trade for a team trying to sell that their window isn’t closed and that they are a competitor.
As I’ve been saying, you can’t half-way rebuild a house. Either you get rid of all the old guys and bad contracts to rebuild, or else you’re left like the 2017-2018 Rangers. While Marc Staal had his best offensive game in recent memory, he & DeAngelo were brutal. In fact, AV changed up his D-pairs as Staal & DeAngelo were a defensive liability together. In fact, I expect Holden to start at the Garden against Montreal tonight.
While Z-Bad has been great on the PP, and really, in two games, Shattenkirk has been delivering on that unit, the Rangers are still left without a leader and number 1 center. To win a Cup, you need strong depth down the middle. The Rangers don’t have that. They are trying to sell you on that they are trying to win now, but trading Stepan & Raanta, for a defenseman that probably doesn’t belong on the team and a number 1 pick that the Rangers overrated, because he’s Swedish, that’s not a sign of winning now.
I could accept losing, if a rebuild was the plan. However it isn’t, and I think as Ranger fans, we’re in store for a long season. It could could be worse – we could be watching rapists, murderers, child beaters, woman hitters & other criminals, taking a knee during the national anthem.
The Rangers second period was the complete opposite of their first period. With goals from Staal, Z-Bad and Zucc (Who also had 3 assists tonight) the Rangers made it 5-5. The Rangers looked like a different team out there and the PP was even successful, going 2-3.
Pavelec, who saw the Rangers go 3/6 on the penalty kill, had a great start to his entrance in the game, helping to kill a Leafs PP. A 6-2 score probably ends the game in the second period. However, he did his job, and gave the Rangers time to tie it, like they did.
However, in the third period, the Rangers could not score. Tyler Bozak would break through, making the game 6-5, bad guys. The Leafs would add two more powerplay goals, leading to our 8-5 final.
While the play of Lundswiss and the defense was alarming, the penalty kill finishing at a paltry 50% stands out. The Rangers were a good PK team last year. Then again, this team is missing this guy:
In another one of my predictions looking true, the Rangers will miss Dan Girardi. Despite Staal’s offensive output tonight, the Rangers will miss the guy that made Lundswiss look like a star. Girardi ate more rubber than a Thai hooker during Spring Break, but he was the one jettisoned out of NY, and not Marc Staal. I understand Staal’s buyout would’ve come at a higher price, but I rather Girardi on my third D pair than Staal.
While the Rangers did get credited for 18 blocked shots, you didn’t have guys throwing their body at the puck. You had random deflections, stick work and other things to get you those 18 blocks. You didn’t have people diving in front of pucks, especially in this high scoring game.
With the loss, the Rangers drop to 0-2 on the season & are the only team in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan division without any wins or points.
While the focus of my anger is on the overpaid Swedish goalie, I won’t argue with fans that are on the anti-AV train. At least not tonight.
If you’re not familiar with my work, I like AV. Not going to re-hash why, just check the archives. In short, he’s been successful here as Head Coach, in my opinion.
However, if the losses keep piling up like this, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a huge “FIRE AV/HIRE RUFF” movement. Then again, it started the second Ruff was hired as an assistant coach.
What surprised me the most about AV tonight, was that AV gave Filip Chytil less than five minutes of playing time tonight. He didn’t get PP time either. How are you supposed to evaluate this kid like this? Furthermore, David DeSharnais & Paul Carey, got 13+ minutes each, and nearly tripled Chytil’s ice time.
It all goes back to this – the Rangers want to rebuild and win at the same time. You can’t do both.
For jaded fans like myself (4 Cups in 90+ years will do this to you), the worst case scenario was attained tonight. The season isn’t over by any means, but with a tough schedule ahead, the Rangers have a lot of work to do. Do you really want to be chasing the playoffs by the time Thanksgiving rolls around?
Tonight, the Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens (who also got shellacked tonight) do battle for the first time, since the Rangers beat Montreal in the playoffs last season. I would expect an angry and hungry Montreal team. With Price & Lundqvist, the two most highest paid goalies in the league, getting their asses kicked on Saturday, I wouldn’t be shocked to see both try to vindicate themselves in the Garden on Sunday.
Before going home, here are some quick thoughts from around the league:
- How about Vegas at top of the Pacific Division at 2-0, with two come from behind wins? We all know the NHL wants VGK to be successful & they had the best circumstances out of any expansion team in NHL history. They are going to be a fun story to watch all season.
- Speaking of Vegas, their twitter is the best NHL franchise twitter account going. Too bad the Ranger account doesn’t take notice.
- Cam Talbot had a shut-out in his first game of the season. (He also was hooked in Game 2, after giving up 3 goals, but I’ll pull a Lundwiss fan defense here – it’s the fault of the defense!)
- King Raanta had 40+ saves and a near shutout on Saturday night, against Vegas. Vegas pulled their goalie and scored a 6 vs 5 goal, before winning in OT. Still, a solid effort for Raanta.
- Alex Ovechkin has 7 goals in two games and two hat tricks. First time that’s been done in 100 years. However, we all know the Caps & WSH won’t get past the second round. I still can’t believe Sports Illustrated picked the Caps to win the Cup.
- Lots of high scoring games around the league, which tells me the defense is shoddy, the league changing the rules to increase scoring is working and the goalies are still a bit rusty. Just last night alone, you had two Vezina goalies pulled (Lundswiss/Price) & last years Vezina candidate, Cam Talbot, also pulled.
- The Blackhawks are raping the elite Metro teams. They put 10 goals past Pittsburgh on Thursday and added five more against Columbus on Saturday.
- After beating the Rangers on Thursday, the Avalanche were no match for a bottom of the barrel team, the NJ Devils, on Saturday. Speaking of the Devils, their new scoreboard is bigger than the five hole of Henrik Lundswiss.
- Yes, it’s early but both the Devils and Carolina are undefeated. If any team leap frogs the Rangers into the playoffs, in the Metro, it will be the Canes.
- If George Steinbrenner ran the Rangers, Igor Shestyorkin would have already been bought out from Russia.
- Don’t know if anyone else saw James Dolan crying about Fox Sports taking out anti-Knicks ads on MTA trains. We all love the Rangers, but we have one of the worst owners in the history of sports. That’s not even up for debate.
- Happy Birthday Frank Boucher. It’s a shame the Rangers continue to ignore him.
- From my buddy @Whalepack, who attends Hartford Wolfpack games – Lettieri had a bad first period during Friday’s home opener, but played well in the second and third. Defense and goaltending, which ended the tenure of Gernander, still plagues this team.
- Speaking of the Rangers affiliates, remember when Brandon Halverson was heralded as the guy to succeed Lundqvist? He’s in the ECHL now and hasn’t been pretty. It’s time for the CZAR IGOR era to begin anyway.
- Shout out to Rangers superfan, Bob Groder, for getting on the MSG broadcast tonight. He was the guy screaming “NO LEAFS NO” before the puck dropped.
- I’m more angrier and saltier than usual. My Yankees are ran by an idiot and so are my Giants. This is not a good time for me and my sport teams! Let’s Go Curb Your Enthusiasm!
- Tanner Glass is starting to become beloved in Calgary already, especially after a huge KO in his first game of the season.
- Speaking of the Flames, how about this:
— Will Nault (@Fan960Nault) October 8, 2017
Man, how can anyone not love Jaromir Jagr?
See you tomorrow night after Rangers/Habs. Hopefully I won’t have this song stuck in my head again:
Win or lose, as always…
LET’S GO RANGERS
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter
PS: Was this shorter-than-usual blog as sufficient as my normal blogs?