What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Based on the feedback I’ve been receiving, it seems we have a lot of new readers on board this season. If you’re new, you can check out the archives on the right hand of the site. As stated numerous times, this is just a hobby for me and a way to vent or express celebration after a game. In my own head, I feel like I’ve written several serious and deep articles, and for the new readers, I’ll include those links at the end of this.
Oh yea, I guess I should plug the comment section. While I receive a bunch of emails, if it’s easier, you can always comment at the end of these blogs.
As I’ve also mentioned this season, due to my busy work schedule, these blogs may not be as long or as in-depth as last season. If I can edge out some free time, I’ll pump out some content. Anyway, here’s my quick take on tonight’s 4-1 (empty net goal included) loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
For the Rangers, to quickly analyze this game, they flat out could not execute on the powerplay. The Rangers went 0-5 during 8:30 of powerplay time. The Rangers were able to move the puck around and get shots off, but when you get four full sessions of PP time, you need to bury the puck behind the net. As a reader noted to me on twitter, when was the last time the Rangers PP has ever been consistently good? 1994?
You can’t win every game, but this was a game the Rangers will be mad about losing. I’m sure AV is livid just watching this game. The Jets started their back-up goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, and he wound up with 40 saves. While Henrik Lundqvist was solid throughout the game, the Rangers offense could not solve Hutchinson, and to Hutchinson’s credit, he made a ton of great saves. While Lundqvist made the highlight reel save of the night (again), with a save off his legs in the first period, it was Hutchinson who turned back scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity.
The big story going into this game was the line-up. Tanner Glass skated again, in favor of Jesper Fast, while Dylan McIlrath got his first start of the season, playing for Dan Boyle. The reason for these moves was because the Jets have a big and physical defense and AV opted for physicality over skill. Did the moves backfire? Tough to say. The Rangers had chances to score, but Hutchinson, showing shades of Cam Talbot (Like how I worked in a Talbot reference?) was just superb tonight.
I will never question AV. I’ve gushed repeatedly about him on these blogs. However, I don’t think you need Glass & McIlrath out there at the same time. I would’ve went with Fast over Glass and allow “The Undertaker” to have his first start. As far as how the game played out, would Fast make a difference over Glass? Probably. Would Boyle, known as a QB on the PP, be a factor, especially with the Rangers having 5 PP’s? Maybe. Still, this game came down to goaltending and Hutchinson was just remarkable and had the best game of his life. Funny how it always works out, when it comes to no-name players having their best games in NY, no matter what sport it is.
In the case of Dylan “The Undertaker” McIlrath, I thought he had a good game. He’s a first round draft pick and took the roster spot over seasoned vet Raphael Diaz. McIlrath has played in some games over the course of the last two seasons, but was always a liability. Sure, he could fight, but he contributed no offense (still doesn’t have a point in his NHL career) and was prone to taking dumb penalties.
McIlrath started off strong tonight, with a killer slap shot that was barely saved by Hutchinson. McIlrath followed up the play on defense, knocking a loose puck in front of Lundqvist and clearing it out of the zone. With all the special team work in the second period, McIlrath didn’t get much time on the ice.
As someone who has followed McIlrath’s career and has been a big fan of his, I gotta be honest, I would’ve preferred Brady Skjei as the Rangers 7th D-man. However, my favorite Ranger ever, Jeff Beukeboom, took McIlrath under his wing and really improved his game. With the Rangers having an old and turnover prone defenseman in Dan Boyle and having a core of defensemen with a ton of miles, with all these deep playoff runs, on them (Mac, Girardi, Staal) McIlrath didn’t look like a liability out there. I hope to see him in the line-up again soon. Maybe next Monday, against San Jose, the second game of a home back-to-back?
As far as this game, it looked promising. Both teams played a physical and first period. The Rangers got the first goal, after a beautiful rush from the first line, with Zuccarello burying the puck home, giving the Rangers the 1-0 lead. It would also be the last goal the Rangers got.
The Jets scored shortly thereafter, on a powerplay, off the stick of Nikolaj Ehlers, his first goal of the season. From there it was Lundqvist vs Hutchinson, as both made great plays on each end of the ice. Lundqvist, who in my opinion, is having the best start ever in his career, was outstanding. I’m not even going to mention the contract shit anymore, from this point forward, because I’ve hammered home that point to death, so the only gripe I have with his play is that he’s too cute with passing the puck. Whenever he tries to make an offensive play, it usually backfires, in the form of a turnover or one of his skaters getting crushed trying to get the puck. Just let the defender take it. Offense has never been Lundqvist’s strong point. He’s no Brodeur.
With a 1-1 score in the second, the game slowly fell apart for the Rangers. They had their chances to score, repeatedly, through powerplays, breakaways and moving the puck, but credit to Hutchinson, he was ready. On the other end, the Jets built their lead with their special teams. How ironic.
The Jets, after the PPG, got goals from Bryan Little on a short handed goal in the second period, then a power play goal from Bryan Little, before finishing off the game with an empty netter from Mark Stuart. No 5 vs 5 goals from the Jets. Special teams was the difference in this game.
After dominating the NHL in his first week, a week where he was named the second star of the week, Oscar Lindberg had a quiet night and only registered one shot. Now he’s only on pace to score 82 goals this season! After an insane week, where he had better numbers than McDavid and Eichel, Lindberg didn’t do much tonight. Expectations may be high, but Lindberg is a player in development.
As far as the lines, the top line of Zucc/Nash/Brassard had a good night, with lots of opportunities. I wouldn’t use the word “worry” yet, perhaps the word “concerned”, but I am concerned about the goal production of Nash & Kreider after four games. I’m sure it will come eventually, but you want to see these guys get going sooner than later.
NON GAME THOUGHTS:
Having the NHL package, and being able to watch presentations across the league, and maybe I’m biased here, but no one presents a hockey game like MSG networks. I mean I hate the Islanders & Devils, but MSG does a great job getting all the info out, has smart people behind the desk and are very good with the replays. I just wish the Rangers would employ Fischler, rather than having him waste time with a second rate team.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Al Trautwig, even if he’s a weird dude. Why is he a weird dude? Just read this: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/11/14/islanders-fan-angry-al-trautwig-called-my-mom/
This isn’t the only story about Trautwig vs fans. He blocks people on twitter, gets into wars with fans and all other sorts of surprising behavior. To me, I envy his job. He gets to watch Rangers & Knicks games for free. Ok, maybe I’m not so envious about having to watch the Knicks as of late! I never complain about Trautwig, but he kinda struck me weird, when during the second intermission, he’s asking Kevin Klein about his blue eyes. What hard hitting Pulitzer Prize stuff.
Steve Valliquette, the newest addition to the MSG staff, is superb. When I played hockey, I was always a defensemen. Growing up on the 1990’s Rangers (I’m 33), I loved Leetch & Beukeboom. I was also a huge fan of a certain #35. Richter vs Brodeur was great. After Richter moved on, we shortly got Lundqvist, arguably a top 10 goalie of all time. (Needs to win a Cup to get onto that list.) We also had the legendary Cam Talbot here. (Wow, two Talbot references in one blog, you guys are lucky!) I always enjoyed the defensive aspects of the game.
Ever since Vally got more screen time last season, I thought he’s been great. His mini web breakdowns and features on MSG are great. I understand the game of hockey, but obviously at nowhere the level Vally & his peers do. You can learn a lot from reading his tweets @Vallys_View and listening to his stuff on MSG. Trust me, I love Brian Leetch, but sometimes he comes off dry. Duguay is a personality, but rarely breaks everything that’s going on like Vally does. This fan appreciates the hard work that Vally puts into the broadcasts.
While on the topic of ex-Rangers, I wonder why Adam Graves, who works for the team, doesn’t do anything on-air. Maybe he’s not comfortable? Or maybe he’s too busy with all the charity work he does. I know I’ve written about this before, but Graves is the biggest humanitarian the Rangers have ever had in their employ. I even stopped watching hockey a bit when the Rangers traded him, because I was so furious.
I have a ton of personal stories about Graves. Just a short one here, so I don’t bore you, but when I was 12-16 years old, me and my friends would always hang outside MSG for autographs and pictures with our disposable cameras. (Remember those?) In the Rangers 90’s heyday, guys like Messier, Leetch, Richter and later on Gretzky & Lindros, would all try to hide and escape the fans waiting. Graves would sign anything for everyone and pose for pics with everyone, no matter how big the crowd was. That always stuck with me, even now 20 years later. As you can tell from the picture above (I may have been drinking beforehand), Graves will pose and sign anything for anyone.
When you hear all the bullshit about athletes, especially in the NFL, try to remember the good ones like Adam Graves. The charity work he does is just out of this world. I’m glad I was able to thank him for it, because he really is a role model and a hero.
Moving along, as far as other ex-Rangers, I wonder if Jeff Beukeboom will move up in the organization. He is being praised for his work in the Wolfpack. Maybe it’s time for him to join a big league bench.
If #23 does move up to the NHL, I wonder if Martin St. Louis would have any interest in the Wolfpack. He’s a local guy, and it would be great for the Rangers to keep him under their employ. Many current Rangers, the young bucks, credit him for helping their game and being an on-ice teacher. I still think he could’ve played this year, but I get it. I hope to see him in the Rangers organization whenever he’s ready.
One last ex-Ranger bit of news. Jaromir Jagr is talking about playing til he’s 50. I hope he does. Besides Cam Talbot (Third and last reference!) he’s my favorite ex-Ranger in the league today. Names like Gretzky, Messier, Orr, Howe, Roy and others get thrown around alot. However, Jagr is one of top 5 players in the NHL of all time to me. Just think, he was out of the league for over 4 years. If he hangs around, he’ll break every scoring record. I hope he gets a Derek Jeter farewell, whenever he decides to hang it up.
The Rangers, sporting a 3-1 record, and a healthy lead in the Metropolitan, this early into the season, will visit Montreal next. Montreal has been a rough place for the Rangers in recent times. Hopefully they can turn it around.
As promised, for the new readers, here are some blogs I think you should check out, if you have the time:
The Decade Long Saga of Henrik Lundqvist: My Final Words On King Contract, Why Lundqvist is Overpaid, When Lundqvist Soured Me, Will the Rangers Ever Win With Hank and His Cap Hit, Examining the NHL & Goalie Position & Much More
And for my fellow Giant Fans:
Michael Strahan, a Giant Hero vs Tiki Barber, a Giant Zero: How Two Superstars Took Completely Different Career Paths
Time permitting, hope to have NYR/MTL reaction. Until then, LET’S GO RANGERS!
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter