NOTE: This furious blog is being presented to you by Labatt Blue & Gretzky’s Whisky!
What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. This is a blog I rather not be writing. After tonight’s loss, my time would much be better served watching “Law & Order SVU” on my DVR & going to bed. Instead, I’m sacrificing sleep, because after all, I doubt I can sleep much anyway, since I’m full of piss and venom right now!
In case you missed it, here’s last night’s review of the Rangers 3-2 OT loss to the Devils:
NYR/NJD 3/21 Review: Rangers “Scott Norwood” Themselves to an Overtime Loss at The Rock, Big Picture, Penalty Kill Becoming a Problem, Joe Micheletti & His “Little Things”, Rangers Try To Get Tough Without Glass, Schneider & Raanta Come Up Big & More
Right out the gate, in my opinion, tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders is easily the worst loss of the season. This isn’t even up for debate to me. Here’s why this is the worst loss of the season in my opinion:
- Rangers lost 6 straight home games going into this game. As a result of the loss, the fucking Knicks have had a better 2017 at MSG than the Rangers.
- After losing to a terrible team & another rival in the Devils last night, the Rangers needed a rebound win here.
- The Rangers had a chance to close their magic number of clinching a playoff spot from 7 to 3. Instead, they lost in regulation and kept the Islanders alive.
- The Rangers could’ve given the Islanders a huge blow to their playoff hopes. Instead, they made them a contender for the tournament.
- The Rangers continue to be exposed worse than a WWE diva. The are taking it up the ass more than Paige!
- Instead of improving their areas of weakness, the Rangers continue to fall into an abyss, specifically on special teams.
- Confidence in this team is starting to erode.
- While yes, the Rangers did help their playoff seeding by strengthening their grasp of the first Wild Card, losing back to back games is never acceptable when it comes to the Devils & Islanders. You can’t defend that.
- With a single digit amount of games left, the Rangers look no better than they did at the beginning of the season. You want your team to streak into the playoffs, not limp in.
- Losing to the Islanders is never a good thing, but with everything else compounded, even my optimism for the playoffs took a hit tonight.
- The Rangers essentially lost to a homeless team. This loss is the equivalent of being mugged by a bum at Penn Station.
Listen, I’ve been preaching for some time that these final weeks of the season are kinda meaningless for the Rangers. It’s all about the playoffs, we know that. The playoffs are a different animal. You can experiment with things, because right now, wins and losses really doesn’t affect your bottom line. In fact, a win streak could hurt your playoff seeding more than a losing streak. That’s just the playoff system right now.
That said, the Rangers weaknesses are overshadowing their strengths. These two losses to the Devils & Islanders weren’t bad games. The Rangers played great 5 vs 5. However, the Rangers have been so bad at special teams, that it is costing them wins and points. You can play great 5 on 5 for most of the game, but games are being swung because of how bad the Rangers are on special teams. It’s a real cause for concern.
While special teams was a huge factor in tonight’s loss, I’m pinning tonight’s loss on Alain Vigneault.
If you know me in real life, follow me on twitter or are a loyal reader of this blog, you know I’m not one of these anti-AV people, which you see throughout the Rangers fanbase. Far from it. AV is arguably already one of the top 5 coaches in NYR history. I don’t blame the Rangers playoff failures on him, as much as I blame an egomaniac overpaid goalie, who has blown games and given up 4,5,6+ goals in key games. AV isn’t the one who signed Girardi, Nash, Staal or Lundqvist to terrible contracts either. AV is working with what he’s given.
I just want to be clear that I am a fan of AV. However, many of my “real-life” friends and social media friends are not. I hear it all the time. “He’s a soft French fuck.” “He can never win a Cup.” “He cares more about his gum than winning.” I always defend AV, but at least for tonight, I blame him solely for the Rangers loss tonight. I just want to be clear, I’m not jumping on the “FIRE AV” train, but I am pointing the finger at him for tonight’s loss. Here’s why, bullet list style:
- AV has broken up his hottest line, Grabner/Hayes/Miller, so he can put Fast on the third line. I’m sorry Ranger fans, too many of you fools overrate Fast. You guys have him as the next captain. He’s a fourth liner. Can he evolve to a second or third liner one day? Sure. However, he’s not at that level yet and how many times must we hear that “the window isn’t closed.” His role on this present team is a fourth liner.
- I understand that NYR has some wiggle room here and can experiment with new combinations and lines. That said, it’s time to cut bait on Fast as anything more than a fourth liner in 2017. In fact, I would rather scratch Fast than the commie.
- AV is too loyal to his core. Sorry, this is a business and you gotta evolve with the times. As much as I hammered the Rangers for sticking with Lundqvist all these years, it’s time to look at Derek Stepan a bit. I’m not saying to scratch Stepan, but he simply can’t be on the PP anymore. The Rangers can’t afford to wait for Stepan to figure it out. This shit has gone on long enough. It really is at the point, where you gotta wonder if the Rangers traded the wrong center to Ottawa for Zibanejad. Let Stepan earn his PP time like anyone else.
- AV is loyal to a fault and can’t see the forest for the trees. Stepan is an albatross out there. Like I said last night, he’s not snake-bitten, he’s been motherfucking devoured by a T-Rex and then butt raped by Jaws. Listen, we all love Stepan and we get what he’s done for this team. However, this is NOW. He is being paid a lot of money NOW. The Rangers need to win NOW. That’s the problem with many of you Hank apologists, you get too nostalgic about players. Leave the previous seasons in the past, especially for a team with a history of LOSING. If this team was the Blackhawks, I’d feel a bit better right now, because there is evidence to support they would figure it out. This team has not given me that hope.
- The Rangers top goal scorer, Michael Grabner, remains on the bench during the PP, which is prime time ice time. Grabner gets breakaways on PK’s all the time. He gets to the net. THE POWER PLAY FUCKING SUCKS!!!!!! How would it hurt this team to experiment with Grabner on the PP instead of Stepan? Yes I know Stepan is a center, but do what you got to do to make it work. Hayes can center with Grabner and Miller flanking him.
- Because of the love affair with Jesper Fast, the Rangers best line of Grabner/Hayes/Miller is broken up. With Fast’s “promotion”, Vesey has been “demoted” to the fourth line. Get Vesey back on the second line and roll the commie, Glass and Lindberg on the fourth. Yes, Tanner Glass. Playoff hockey is physical and you need a fucking man out there, not a soft European. (I wonder if that qualifies as hate speech too, ha! If you don’t get that reference, check the archives of this blog, located on the right hand of the site.)
- Marc Staal isn’t a Top 2 defenseman. He wouldn’t even be a top 4 on 50%+ of NHL teams. There is no reason to put him with McDonagh. McDonagh has to compensate for Staal’s shortcomings. Until Girardi can return, Holden or Smith should paired with the Captain. Staal has just never been the same after the eye injury and has lost a step. You can’t keep your head in the sand like a fucking ostrich on this.
- The non stop dump and chase is predictable. Can the Rangers ever use the drop pass and fly 5 men into the offensive zone? Dumping and chasing when you’re down a goal is a sure fire way to lose games.
While I do support other AV controversial decisions, such as letting Raanta play more, putting Glass in the line-up and switching his gum from Bubbalicious to Big League Chew, his other decisions tonight squarely led to this Rangers loss. Inexcusable. This wasn’t a must-win game, and really, there aren’t any must-win games until you’re on the brink of elimination, but this was a win the Rangers needed to boost confidence.
Let’s go to the ESPN box score and get into this infuriating game:
1st Period Summary
|No scoring this period||0||0|
||Chris Kreider: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
||John Tavares: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
2nd Period Summary
||Mats Zuccarello (15) (Power Play)
Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Derek Stepan
||Anders Lee (27)
Assists: Anthony Beauvillier, Nick Leddy
||Rick Nash (20)
Assists: Oscar Lindberg, Nick Holden
||John Tavares: 2 Minutes for Hooking|
||Scott Mayfield: 5 Minute Major for Fighting|
||Tanner Glass: 5 Minute Major for Fighting|
||John Tavares: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
3rd Period Summary
||Nikolay Kulemin (12) (Power Play)
Assists: Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang
||Andrew Ladd (20) (Power Play)
Assists: Anders Lee, John Tavares
||Brock Nelson: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Kevin Hayes: 2 Minutes for Slashing|
||Michael Grabner: 2 Minutes for Delaying Game – Puck over Glass|
||Mats Zuccarello: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
||Anders Lee: 2 Minutes for Tripping|
I know I get long-winded and type like a mad-man on these blogs, but if you want the short end of it, here’s why the Rangers lost tonight:
Power Play Summary
|Team||PPG / PPO|
|New York Islanders||2 of 4|
|New York Rangers||1 of 4|
The Rangers PK gave up two goals. They have now given up power play goals in 8 straight games. The PP, shockingly, scored a goal, but were still 25% on the night. One Rangers PP featured no shots on goal. Another Rangers PP forced King Raanta to make a two on one glove save. But hey, at least AV had his best goal scorer on the bench, where he belongs during the PP! I mean seriously, did Grabner fuck AV’s ex-wife or something? I just don’t get it.
Watching the Rangers on special teams is like being a cuckold. You’re just watching the love of your life get fucked. Multiple times.
The Rangers played another strong 5 vs 5 game, but the Rangers must not know, that rarely does any hockey game feature 60 minutes of 5 vs 5 action. There are these things called power plays and penalty kills. There are strategies you can employ to increase your success a man up and strategies to use on defense when on the penalty kill. The Rangers are currently unaware of either. At least the Rangers have figured out how to raise ticket prices by up to 100% despite the team not winning dick since 1994. James Dolan, you cocksucking asshole- you the real King.
Here’s a controversial take on the Rangers penalty kill, which was once a strength and now is a big weakness- the Rangers miss Dan Girardi. Yes, the Dan Girardi that 99% of Ranger fans will dump on, but will make any excuse in the world when Hank gets torched. Ever since Dan Girardi went down, the Rangers PK has been terrible. Are the two things linked? Maybe, maybe not, but Dan Girardi’s shotblocking and ability to clear the puck are extremely underrated.
Time and time again, the Rangers, while on the PK, are able to get the puck in their defensive zone but can’t make the clear & the change. Staal, Skjei and Holden all had trouble making clears and it bit the Rangers in the ass. I’m not saying that Dan Girardi can come back tomorrow and “Abracadabra” the Rangers PK woes are solved, but I do think he can help in this department.
Here’s what stings so bad about tonight’s loss – the Rangers played well 5 on 5. They even outshot the Islanders in every period. The Rangers, who have been a shit show on ice during second periods, actually had a great showing in the second. However it all goes back to special teams.
Put it this way- John Tavares, the best Islander on the team, took three separate penalties. For 6 minutes, arguably the best skater on either team was out of the game. The Rangers only made the Islanders pay once for that. It was essentially free rest for Tavares.
The first period exposed other Ranger issues. They simply can not finish in front of the net. It doesn’t matter who is in goal for the opposition. The Rangers will pull an Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter every time.
Raanta did his job in the first period, even having to make the previously mentioned two on one glove save, during a Rangers PP. Two of the Islander goals were on PP’s, with one of them being fluky as hell. They would occur later on in the game. After 1 period, the game was tied at 0-0.
I guess I should mention here that this was an NBC game. I’m gonna ignore the idiocy of Milbury and Pierre tonight. What I will mention is that for the first period, NBC rolled out a 1980’s Casio Clock as a game clock and decided not to show a PP clock. NBC fixed both issues in the final two frames. While I do miss the NYR analysts and crew, I must say, it was nice to get a night off from Micheletti & his tired cliches & bullshit.
This game picked up in the second period. Tavares got banged for hooking. Less than three minutes in, Zibanejad made a perfect cross ice pass to Zucc, that even me, 20 beers deep, could’ve tapped in past Islander goalie Thomas Greiss. Smooth play and it was nice to see the rare play where the Rangers execute in front of the net on the PP. 1-0 good guys.
Unfortunately, in an ode to Lundqvist, the Rangers allowed the Islanders to score less than a minute later, when Anders Lee was all alone in front of Raanta. Brady Skjei was close by, but seemed to have no clue who or where Anders Lee was. Speaking of not knowing who Anders Lee is, here’s Shannon Hogan of the Islanders:
Anyway, 1-1 after the Lee goal.
With the game 1-1, we had the best play of the game take place next:
Tanner Glass chucks knucks and then claps after his fight like a psycho pic.twitter.com/3jn1le0aiP
— Spittin’ Chiclets (@StoolChiclets) March 23, 2017
With the Isles scoring a minute after the Rangers, Tanner Glass laid a body on Scott Mayfield and the two threw down. Glass, unlike Holden & Vesey last night, won his fight. I’ll talk more about this in the “Ice Guardians” review, but this fight got the crowd louder than any other point in the game.
Less than three minutes after this fight, Rick Nash would muscle himself by an Islander defender and push the puck past Greiss. 2-1 Rangers. “The Glassiah” motivated his team again!
The Rangers would take a 2-1 lead into the locker room before the final 20 minutes. Things were looking good for the Rangers, but in the third period, the PK would give up 2 goals and the PP would be lifeless.
The Islanders started off the third period with Brock Nelson getting busted for tripping in his offensive zone. The Rangers capitalized on that opportunity by not registering a shot on the PP.
Kevin Hayes, 4 minutes later, got two minutes for slashing. In one of the flukiest plays ever, Beauvillier went for a half-shot/half pass and somehow, the puck hit Kulemin’s skate, took an awkward, but right bounce for the Islanders, as the puck sharply deflected past Raanta. Total fluke job, but it counts. 2-2 game.
Grabner, with 8 minutes to go, got tossed for two minutes for a delay of game. I had a terrible feeling at the time, because the Rangers were losing their best penalty killer. My gut feeling was right, as Ladd had an easy look at Raanta and got what would be the game winning goal.
With the Rangers down 3-2, with five minutes left, the Rangers had a good 90 second stretch with the puck, where they took shots, rebounded or grabbed the wide shot and kept making plays at the net. They couldn’t finish. Hayes had an easy look. He choked. Ditto Nash and Smith. McDonagh, after blowing last night’s game with his Scott Norwood blast, looked hesitant to shoot during all this. He would fire one blast, but it was easily blocked by De Haan. You could see last night was on McDonagh’s mind.
The Islanders would eventually get the puck and Raanta would make a save. The Rangers then would go on another mini-flurry and Raanta left the ice for the extra skater. However the Islanders were able to hold off the Rangers and wisely took their timeout to get a breather.
The final minute saw Zuccarello and Lee take penalties, giving the Rangers a 5 vs 4 (Raanta pulled) advantage, with a faceoff in the Islanders zone. The Rangers, as expected, did nothing with it. End of the game and yes, playoffs, playoffs, playoffs, but this was a terrible loss.
Enough about this game. The Rangers blew it. Up next for the Rangers is the California road trip. AV has a lot of decisions to make, such as his lines and D-pairs. Hank is also expected back, but really, goaltending hasn’t been the issue. Raanta has been more than suitable, if not better than Hank this season.
One decision AV should ponder over is with all his line changes and scratches, if he should scratch Stepan for a game or two. Maybe take some pressure off Stepan and hope that Stepan returns pissed off after being scratched. I doubt it will happen, but it’s an idea.
I must say – what a perfect time for the Rangers & MSG to raise prices & demand money up front right now for next season, when the team can’t win at home. Dolan 101 folks.
Before closing tonight out, I wanted to review a great documentary that I recently watched, called “Ice Guardians.”
Ice Guardians, which I watched on Amazon for $4, but I know you can find online for free if you’re one of those, was a great documentary about enforcers and fighting in hockey.
The documentary is basically 100+ minutes of talking head enforcers talking about fighting in the game of hockey, with a ton of subjects covered. For some reason, Canadian actor Jay Baruchel is one of the talking heads. I don’t know if he had anything to do with the movie, as the movie was directed and written by Brett Harvey, but I guess he’s there for some sort of name value.
As far as Baruchel’s contribution to this movie, it seemed out of place a bit. You had all these great enforcers, such as George Parros, Dave Semenko, Kevin Westgarth, Brian McGrattan, Scott Parker, Clark Gilles, Todd Fedoruk, Joey Kocur, Dave Schultz, Colton Orr and many others, talking about their time and various topics. You also had “skill” players, such as Brett & Bobby Hull, Jarome Iginla and Chris Chelios talking about how enforcers helped their careers. Then you had Jay Baruchel. Just seemed weird. I guess it’s because Baruchel is behind the “GOON” movies and he has a passion for the topic. Another talking head was David Singer from HockeyFights.com, as he fits the bill for this movie.
I will say, with the amount of talent “Ice Guardians” featured, I’m surprised John Scott wasn’t featured. He would seem like a no-brainer and some name value for this project. I don’t know if he was asked or not to appear, but outside of a clip of him, he’s not one of the talking heads.
I really enjoyed this documentary, because while it was a bunch of guys talking about various topics, pertaining to fighting/enforcers, it also raised some interesting questions, debates and talking points.
I took a lot out of this movie. To be fair, I had similar opinions going into this movie. This movie just strengthened those opinions. I would gather to guess that fans who don’t like fighting or enforcers would even second-guess themselves after seeing this movie.
The movie would basically defend fighting and having enforcers in the sport. However, this wasn’t a testosterone grunt show, as the movie intelligently and diligently explained their opinion throughout the duration.
I knew from watching other documentaries about the history of hockey that fighting has always existed in hockey. It’s only now that it’s being phased out of the game, for better or for worse. Like the movie, I’m inclined to think that it’s for the worse.
What really shocked me about this movie was that the movie was allowed to use NHL footage throughout. I haven’t seen an NHL or Bettman response to the movie. I would be interested in their take after seeing this. The movie points the finger at the NHL for the injuries of the stars of today.
The Official Trailer for “Ice Guardians”.
The movie also brings up that it is BIG HITS, not FIGHTING, that leads to concussion issues. The movie uses scientists to illustrate their point. In short, the brain gets rattled more from a hit and the fall, than punches. I’m sure fighting does lead to concussions, but you’re more likely to get a bad injury from a big hit. Just look at the problems Crosby & Nash have dealt with in their careers.
Another big talking point is the new instigator penalty in hockey. Players are now less apt to fight, because they don’t want to fight and then put the other team on a powerplay. (That doesn’t matter if you’re playing the Rangers though!) Instead of two enforcers going at it to get their teams going, they second guess themselves because they don’t want to hurt their team by putting them a man down.
Bob Probert, in his book “Tough Guy”, talked about how back in the day, you would have elite skaters, great skaters and a few so-so guys. Today, everyone is, at the very least, a great skater. The game has gotten so fast and strong, that guys there just to fight, like the Flyers of old, are just a distant memory. With the evolution of hockey players is the evolution of padding/protection/equipment.
Something that I didn’t even think of is, because of these new shoulder pads, you know, designed to protect your shoulders and upper body, these shoulder pads also make it easier to land big body checks. Brett Hull talked about how he would never hit anyone with his shoulders because it hurt. Now, because the players are dressed like Knights, it doesn’t hurt to hit anyone. With fighting phased out, players are now liable to go for the big hit, clean or dirty, because they don’t feel it and there are no consequences. You can clean hit a top guy with a big body blow, because you’re not going to to have to answer to the Broadstreet Bullies.
The movie doesn’t shy from controversial topics and does discuss CTE and long term effects for enforcers. No one makes you use drugs/pain killers, but in the case of Derek Boogaard and Bob Probert, they used them to cope with the daily pain as a result of their jobs. The movie goes back to saying that players have a better chance of being hurt with no enforcers, because it’s open season out there.
One thing that is undeniable, especially in America, is that fans like the fighting. It’s out of the European game, and because this is PC America, America is pussifying their game too. I forget who said it in the movie, but this is 100% accurate – more people stand and cheer for fights than a goal being scored. When there is a fight, every fan is standing, because a player from each team is represented. A fight is real, authentic and raw. If a goal is scored, especially an away team goal, you’re lucky to get 50% of the building to stand up and cheer.
As I said, no stone is left unturned. The movie does talk about staged fights, such as the Devils vs Rangers fourth line fight from a few years back. Staged fights are a result of the instigator penalty. If guys go at it at the same time, then neither team can get banged for an extra two minutes. Like many Bettman decisions, the instigator penalty is another failure, which really, sums up Bettman’s tenure as NHL commish.
The documentary doesn’t attack Bettman outright, like I would (haha), as they go the high road and use fact & people who played the game to explain why fighting and enforcers are necessary.
To be clear, the movie isn’t advocating wild brawls every night, but explains why fighting and enforcers should still have a roll. Unfortunately, while I agree with the producers, I just don’t see it happening. In the past, a guy like Dylan McIlrath would’ve been a long tenured NHLer, making good money, but because of the current NHL, will be a fringe minor leaguer. This is why I say Tanner Glass is underrated, because he can skate and fight & adapt to the game of today.
To be honest, I can’t remember who scored the game winning goal from last week’s NYR/Minnesota game. I will never forget this fight though.
I would highly recommend this movie to any hockey fan, no matter what your opinion is on the subject. If you are for fighting, you will obviously love this. If you’re anti-fighting, you may still be anti-fighting after seeing this, but at least understand the other side of the coin.
Ice Guardians is available on a bunch of platforms and more about the movie, with exclusive videos, can be found at IceGuardians.com. Check it out, you won’t regret it.
The Rangers have two days off, as they get settled in California for another back to back, with LA & Anaheim. After that, the Rangers then go south to play the Sharks. After that, it’s five games left and it’s a wrap on the season. Of note, two of those five games are with the Penguins. I hope Lundqvist plays those games, because if he can beat the Pens at home, he shouldn’t struggle with Montreal or Ottawa in the first round. However, Hank has been the Penguins bitch of late, so I won’t hold my breath.
Go check out Ice Guardians and I’ll see you over the weekend.
Let’s Go Rangers
@NYCTHEMIC on tweeter